Europe Trip


I'm finally back from Belgium and caught up with work, rest and a bit of reading to start to put things together on the trip. Short story, Belgium and Germany both rock, while US Airways sucks. A couple of weeks ago, I posted up the sections of the paper that I wrote up, an overview of the Battle of the Bulge and the role that Norwich University students played (note, however, that it's a bit of a work in progress) during the battle.

Seeing a battlefield for one's self, however, puts an entirely new dynamic understanding the battle. Going to Belgium and Germany to look at the lead up to the Bulge, and the Bulge itself, helped me understand a lot, but also showed me where I need to continue to research to make the paper better. That'll likely happen this summer, as I update what I wrote a bit, and write up an article on the 2nd Armored Division for Armchair General.

Flying was a nightmare, and you can read the other post for the specifics - it's not worth remembering, honestly. But, getting into Brussels left me a little time to wander, so I walked a couple of miles from the hotel into the city center (I didn't want to worry about figuring out the bus and train system, and I was impatient). Taking out a map, I noted which streets I went down, and wandered my way over, which is something that I recommend in any foreign city - I did it in London, and in Athens, and I honestly believe that I got a better sense of the city than I otherwise would have. It's a neat place, entirely not what I expected, and a huge contrast from the downtown tourist section.

Meeting up with the group, we had our initial briefing, then set out the next morning to look at the northern advance of the 2nd Armored Division in the months preceding the Bulge, as Norwich had a member, Captain James Burt, who earned the Metal of Honor in Aachen for his actions during a firefight. We looked at several towns in the lead up to that fight, examining some of the logistical problems that would have cropped up, as well as some of the battlefield sites.

One of the parts that always hits the hardest when looking at battlefields is looking at the US Cemeteries: they're immaculate, haunting, and stark. We visited the Henri Chappelle American Cemetery and Memorial, where we discovered the final resting place of a Norwich Alum, Arnold McKerer, a 2nd Lieutenant from the 9th Infantry Division who was killed the day after he was deployed to Monschau. It was sobering, and drove a couple of points home: our institution had a real stake in the battle, and this was a tangible result.

Monschau was lovely: an ancient town, set in a valley, with traditional, German looking structures, a castle on one side, and some ruins on the other. I set out away from the group again and walked around the streets, covering most of it in the couple of hours that we had. It felt very touristy in some places, although it was gratifying to see that there were also German tourists there. I bought an wooden whistle for my dad, in the shape of an owl, then hiked up to the top to the Castle, and then to the ruins.

Monday, we set out from Monchau to look at the opening moments of the Bulge attack. Hitler and his forces achieved near complete surprise in their attack against the allies, which resulted in the near destruction of the 28th and 106th Infantry Divisions. This was in a heavily wooded section of the country, where there was limited mobility, units that were resting from hard combat and new to the front lines. As we drove to the first sites, we saw the remains of the Siegfried Line, dragon's teeth fortifications that were designed to stop an invasion. It's astonishing that they're still there, a pointed reminder of the war and Hitler's legacy.

Going into the woods was eerie. The temperature dropped a couple of degrees, and there's a peaceful calm feel to the woods. The trees are planed in lines, shooting straight to the sky. We could hear birds, owls and the wind as we walked to a monument to the 99th Infantry Division, the unit that fought in that area, as well as the Volksgrenadier Division that was also there. Moving in deeper, we came across the remains of the trenches and foxholes that the allies had dug in place, and listened to some discussion of life in the trenches. Such a violent past felt very out of place in those woods.

From there, we moved further West, towards St. Vith, and looked at the surrounding territory, and the intentions of the German military as they swept inwards. We had a couple of Norwich students perish in this area. Another stand saw more foxholes. We climbed out of the valleys and up into the high ground to the north of the section, where the 82nd Airborne Division held territory, before turning in for the night at Bastogne.

Tuesday, we focused extensively on the 2nd Armored Division, driving out to the western sections of the battlefield, 'classic tank country', according to our guides, BG (RET) Hal Nelson and MG (RET) Gordon Sullivan. Norwich University had focused on cavalry training early on, and we had a number of students present in the ranks, including the general, Ernest Harmon, who would eventually become the university's president in the post-war years. There were several key towns that we looked at that saw some major actions from our soldiers there, who worked to cut off the German advance, and stopping it in its tracks. I could spend an entire week there, looking at that, I think.

The last day, Wednesday, we stayed in Bastogne, where we drove out to the memorial, a towering star-shaped structure that spells out the actions of the bulge. It's an impressive memorial, one that would be a good place to stop to get a good overview of the battle. We didn't look much at Bastogne, but we saw where the significance came from, and the actions that the US 101st Airborne and 10th Armored Division played in helping hold the ground. From there, it was back to Brussels, where we had our final briefing and dinner, then departed for the night. I spend the next two days trying to get home, but ultimately, the trip was worth the trouble. I want to go back to that territory: it's gorgeous out there, with a fascinating role in the 2nd World War.

On Travel Literature

Something that I've discovered over the past couple of years is that I love to travel. Since I've gotten into college, I've done a small share of it; New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, England, Scotland, Greece, Germany, Ohio, Indiana and a lot of places in each of those locations.
Along the way, I've found that I also love to read about travel. Granted, movement from location to location is inevitable in any book or story, but there are some truly extraordinary reads out there about various locations and trips that people have taken. America alone has hundreds of locations and a wealth of tales across the nation. The world is big, to put it simply.
One of the first real travel books that I read was John Steinbeck's Travels With Charley. Steinbeck, along with his dog, (Charley) decided to take a trip across the United States, to reacquaint himself with a nation that he felt that he'd lost touch with. Starting from New York, he made his way up to Maine, across New England, New York, across the Great Lakes, the west, down the western coast line and back through the southwest and the South before returning home. Along the way, he mentions his dislike for maps, the diversity of American culture and a general assimilation of the culture as time went on.
Another favored author of mine, Hampton Sides, (Who I credit with getting me interested in the field of history with his book Ghost Soldiers) compiled a number of his essays from magazines together into a book called Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier. The front quote on the cover describes it perfectly:

"This may be the best road trip you'll ever take- full of strange visions, hilarious detours and sudden beauty in unlikely places."
- Burkland Bilger, staff writer at The New Yorker

This book isn't so much about travelling from place to place, but like Travels with Charley, it focuses on the sheer richness and differences across the nation, through a series of essays on things like Tony Hawk, Gordon Liddy, the Grand Canyon & Colorado River, Harley Davidson bikers, bike messengers, soldiers from Bataan, living in New Mexico and the first Marine soldier to die in the current war in Iraq. It's a complex painting of our culture, and in a sense, that's what travel writing aims to uncover. Similarly, Sebastian Junger, (Perfect Storm) also wrote an anthology of essays, similar to Americana, called Fire. Like Side's book, it's got a variety of subjects in between the covers, ranging from Smoke Jumpers, Kosovo, and Whale Hunters. I think think that essay anthologies can function the best as travel literature, given their lack of restraint towards subject matter and ability to cover many things.
However, there are a number of books out there on specific trips that people have taken, which are just as interesting and can cover an impressive amount of topics. One of the best examples that I can think of is the book (and BBC miniseries) Long Way Round, written by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, who, along with a film crew and cameras, took two motorcycles and went around the world, starting from London, travelling through Europe to Russia, Mongolia, Canada, the United States and back to London, over the period of several months. They saw incredible things, from country to country in Europe and Asia, meeting a number of interesting people along the way. They've got another project in the works, called the Long Way Down, going from Scotland to Europe to Africa, which also looks to be fascinating.
As far as travel writing goes, Bill Bryson is one of the best writers out there. He's written a number of books on the subject, I'm A Stranger Here Myself, about quirks of American culture for a UK newspaper, after he moved back to the US after 20 years. The Lost Continent is one that I'm currently reading, as he drives around the United States, looking at small town America, which is proving to be fascinating. For Walk in the Woods, he goes to a different type of travel, examining the Appalachian Trail system by hiking a good chunk of it. In each of his books, he goes to it with an astonishing brand of humour that makes it awkward to read any of his books in public, given that I'm giggling to myself every couple pages.

All of these books have something in common - the need and desire to understand culture, whether it's of a different country, environment or just ourselves in general. Travel, in my mind is not to go see something, at least, not entirely. Likewise, travel literature is not just for telling the reader about a new place. While seeing and being shown something new are the apparent reasons for why we travel in the first place (and it is a fantastic reason to do so) - I maintain that the primary reason that we travel is to find ourselves, to see who we (either as people or a culture) really are. Each time that I read something about travel, I'm constantly surprised; at the diversity and differences, how things change, for good and bad, and just how complex everything is. Same goes for whenever I'm going somewhere new - I've learned quite a bit, and yet so little about about the United States, and myself at the same time. The one thing that I've learned, is that we are amazing, terrible, interesting, complex, brave, frightened, bigoted, wonderful, indifferent and most of all, different, everywhere we go.


There's a kind of a restless feeling and it pulls me from within
It sets my senses reeling and my wheels begin to spin
In the quietude of winter you can hear the wild geese cry
And I will always love that sound until the day I die
Still I get that restless feelin' when I hear a whistle blast
See an image from the past
Of an old schooner flyin' down a sky that's overcast

Dammit, I need to go travelling somewhere. A random trip out to some random location. Yeah.

I remember...

First arriving at Customs with my belongings, meeting Barbara getting out, my first taste of the packaged sandwiches, the long tube ride to central London, meeting Fran for the first time, my first visit to the British Museum and the awe that it inspired, getting on the wrong bus with Will and ending up across the city with no clue where we were, Katie Bell's visit and my first taste of Indian food, finding Gosh Comics, learning to look the opposite way for traffic, using the bus, my first solo tube ride, the visit to the Tintin Shop, seeing Tintin live on Stage at the Barbican, getting blissfully lost on numerous backstreets, meeting Sara, a former Norwich Student, Chinese New Year with Luke and my roommates, hanging out with Jason and Zach, trying to watch Galactica with Ben, meeting the Marymount students, visiting Oxford for the first time and drinking in the Eagle and Child, my first beer, the Tate Modern and seeing the ledgends, House, MD and Prison Break, seeing Dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, Ben's Cookies in Oxford, The small Geology museum at Cambridge, getting lost trying to find it, seeing where DNA was discovered, calling home for the first time, My first day at the Charter School, meeting the professors, planning my trip to Scotland, the long ride up, seeing rocks for the first time and elevation, watching the Olympics, seeing Scotland for the first time and the problems finding my hostel, Hiking on a volcano, calling Rachel from my hostel and running out of change, seeing Goodnight and Good Luck and Munich in theaters, travelling to Stratford Upon Avon with the Marymount people and making friends with them, learning that I'm going to see Philip Pullman, learning to update my iPod on a school computer, then having it crash on me, Oscar season, depression, Thinking about my next trip, reading book after book after book, learning that Nate died, presentation on the Grand Canyon at Charter, meeting Philip Pullman for the first and probably last time, Booking Greece for my final trip, learning that I have a job for the summer, classwork and problems, visiting Norwich, the real one, getting drunk with Jason and Zach, Eastbourne with Katherine, discovering Green Wing, more school work, panic, Greece coming up too fast, early morning, flight, 10 hours in Munich, landing in Greece and meeting Chris, walking around and getting lost in Athens, seeing the Pantheon for the first time, meeting Heather, Emily and Meghan, meeting Chris and Todd, showing them around, visiting Marathon, flying home, meeting the Green Wing actors, Prediep's visit, showing him around the city, my last day at Charter, last trip with Lexia and sitting in front of a computer wondering what I've missed, and that there's too much to type.
But finally, the goodbyes. Goodbye to London, to Luke, Jason, Zach, Ben, Katherine, Melissa, Bryant, Mark, Joanne, Jeremy, Sara, Mr. Dean, Mr. Hand, Mr German, Mr. Henderson, Fran, Will and Barbara and anyone and everything that I've forgotten for the moment.



It hit me as I was on the train this morning. In a week, from that moment, I'll be on an airplane, going back home. Everything that I've known and been forced to get used to will be gone. The money will change, my friends will seperate and go their own ways and in the end, all we'll have is just the memories.
It's a bit sobering, at just how fast everything has gone past. I remember coming in very clearly. My own nervousness and self doubt even a day or so in, hoping to hell that I had made the right choice, coming out here.
So far, I have few regrets about making the trip. Now, I'm torn over returning. Now that I've lived here for four months, I'm reluctant to leave the confines of my squeaky flat, my own cooking, the city and the people around me that I've come to know and enjoy being around. In a week, that'll all be gone, and I'll be back home with familiar people and surroundings.
On the other hand, I'm eager to leave. To see my friends and family back home, to share my experiences, pictures and stories that I've slowly accumulated over the past 104 days that I've been here. To see my two dogs, my sister, my room and my own computer, and to be away from my roommate and for the near future, work in general.
Most of all, I'm aprehensive about what's coming up, I think. Living here has been a dream. I'm surrounded by things that are fantastic and different, and that'll be gone soon, and in the next year, I'll be coming up to my last year of school, and spat into the real world, something that I'm nervous about and not sure if I'm ready.
I don't have a plan, an idea or a clue about what to do next.


I've returned from Greece - had a really amazing time while I was there. Some parts of it just blew my mind, leaving me dizzy with excitement at just being there. A couple times I got frustrated with my inability to speak or understand any Greek, but thankfully, those times were few.

To put things into a little bit of perspective, my interest in Greek history (Or, history from that era in general) comes from a class that I took in High School - Three Democracies, a sort of history/philosophy/logic class that was all about the Greeks, how they formed Democracy, as well as their schools of thought and military history. While I didn't do paticularly well in the class, it left a big impression.

So, my trip. Lots of fun. Very long at times. I started out at 2:55 am local time to catch a night bus with my backpack and book bag, loaded down with the bare minimum of necessities that I'd be needing. Very early. There wasn't much traffic. I caught the 38 and travelled over to Hyde Park and panicked when I got off at the wrong stop, but I found it in time for the next bus, and spent the next hour on the way to the airport. Got there around 4:30 or so, checked in to the airline and went through security, where I then waited around for a little while for my flight to board. Got on, and I was on my way to Munich, Germany for a ten or so hour layover. I fell asleep on the plane and awoke to a really bad headache - it felt like someone was driving a nail through my skull. Not fun. Got off the plane, got my first impression of Germany from their airport - neat. Went to their passport control and got out into the city for a couple hours. Nice place, although it was raining slighty. I got to practise my German a bit, which was very rusty from two years of non-use, but I got around decently, although it was extremely handy that a lot of people spoke English. Everyone I met was very nice, extremely helpful, and unlike England, they would come up to you in the street and ask a question. I was asked for directions twice, and assistance from two workment lifting a cover over a door. On the way back, I went hopping on and off the Metro and walking around at various parts of the city. Very clean and nice to walk around. I'd like to return someday.

Returned to the airport and took a nap, got something to eat and boarded my next flight to Athens. Got a heacahe again, ate something that they gave me, which was decent, and arrived in Athens at about 10 pm local time. I got my bag and went up and found Chris, the guy who owns the Hostel that I stayed at. Nice guy, spoke very good English and was very talkative. Got to the Hostel and went to bed. Turns out I'd have a room to myself the entire time, which was nice, I wasn't too worried about my stuff going missing.

Got up the next day sort of late and set out. I wasn't too sure how to get to the Acropolis, but I looked at a map and set out. Four hours later, I was nowhere nearer to it than I was to the Olympic stadium. A bit discouraged and questioning my judgement of travelling to Athens, I set back. This part of the city was dirty, and Athenian drivers are both insane and fast. Plus, the sidewalks were extremely narrow and cluttered with rubbish. But I made it back, ran into Chris and he explained (probably for the second time) that I had to take this bus, then get on the Metro. Ah, so I did. And found the Metro station, got on, found it to be very similar to London's Tube system and found my way to the Akropoli station, where the Acropolis is. Got out, walked around (it had closed by this time) and took in the sight (and site) for the first time. Very stunning. Returned to my hostel, bought a Pizza, met the three girls (Heather, Emily and Meghan) who were also staying there that night, talked with them for a couple hours, when Chris invited us up to the loft for some drinks. Greek beer is really good. Went back down and called it a night.
Got up the next morning and went with the girls to the airport, so that I knew where I'd be going when I left - extremely helpful. Leaving them there, I returned to the Acropolis and walked around there for hours. Went to the Parthenon and the structures there, all of which were under reconstruction work. The Propylaea was really cool to see, as was the Erechtheum. From there, I went to the South Slope and saw the The Odeion of Herodes Atticus, Stoa of Attalos and the Temple of Hephaestus before getting lunch. Went on to see the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which was huge and amazing. Walked around some more before returning to the Hostel, fell asleep and met two new guys who just arrived from studying in France, Chris and Todd. There was also a couple from Spain who were staying for a couple nights and a guy from Canada, but I forgot their names. Got Pizza again with them, and the next morning, showed them how to reach the Acropolis before finding the bus station to head to Marathon.

Quick history lession - Marathon is considered the main place where Democracy was preserved from anhiliation. Greece, a democracy at this time, was at war with Persia because they supported a rebellion by a Persian colony. Persians are pissed, so they send a force of 25,000 soldiers to raze Athens. The Athenians are scared, but they mustered up 9,000 men, and another 1,000 or so from around the area, and they marched on Marathon to try and stop the Persian army. Here, the general Miltiades decided to change tactics and thinned his centre ranks, while boosting the outer ones. When the two armies clashed, the Persians broke through the centre easily, but the wings of the Athenian force came around and routed the Persians. At the end of the day, around 6,000 Persians were dead. Only about 200 Athenians were killed.

This story made a big impact for me in high school, and my geology professor, Dr. Richard Dunn, had recently done some work there, confirming some older theories on the topography at the time of the battle. I took a bus out there (REALLY cheap €2.90) Rode that for an hour, and got off when I saw the remains of the funeral pyre of the soldiers who died. It's still there after all these years, although it's shrunk over the time. Took some pictures and walked into the coast town, around where the battle was probably fought. Walked along the ocean for a while, that was nice. Got some sun and marvelled at the water. It was so blue - really cool.
I got chills thinking that I was walking where the battle was probably fought, although they're not entirely sure where the battle was fought exactly. But logically, I'd think that the funeral pyre would represent a fairly central location. I can't imagine that they'd move the bodies far. But it was awesome to visit. Walked a couple kilometers back to the bus stop and returned to Athens, where I then found the National Archeological Museum. Awesome place, but I wish that I spent more time there. I intended to the next day, but I didn't make it.

I returned to the hostel and got a quick bite to eat, leftovers from the night before. I had met up with Todd and Chris on the Metro back. Coincidentally, they were standing behind me on the same car. Weird. We hung out for a while at the Hostel, then went and got dinner at a resturaunt down the street.

The next morning, we all went down to Piraeus, the port city next to Athens, also with a lot of historical values there. Walked around a little, then I returned to the airport, showing Todd and Chris how to reach the National Archeological musuem and we parted. Got to the airport, ran around there a little, then got on my flight to Frankfurt and then on to London, arriving around 7 in the evening, reached the flat by around 8:30.

Had an awesome time. Took a ton of pictures, which you can see here and here.

It's nice to be back though. Overall, I loved the city, but I need to visit again. There's just way too much to see otherwise.


It's come up extremely fast, and I suspect that this will be my last post in a week or so, barring computer access in Greece, which I'm not planning on using if possible. (Maybe to upload pictures...) My day's starting at 3 am tomorrow morning with an hour long bus ride to Heathrow Airport, so wish me luck.

Have a good rest of the week everyone. Can't wait to see what happens next.


Counting down the hours until I leave. A bit nervous, but that's normal for me before setting off on a trip to somewhere I haven't been. Happened with Scotland and Eastbourne and even England. Now for Germany/Greece. But I think that I have everything together, and that's something. I've already had two friends tell me that they hate me for going to Greece. I'll send them mocking postcards.

Other than that, it's been a somewhat slow day - got a haircut and found that the cast of Green Wing, a British comedy that I really enjoy will be just down the road signing boxed sets. Me and a couple of friends will be going to do just that. Exciting!

Also updated a weeks worth of photographs on my photoblog, here. The current top ones are some of my favourites thus far. I'm thinking that when I return home, I'll be posting up a best of thing. I can't believe how fast time is coming to a close, and there's so much to do.

Oh yeah, and I found a CD/Tape player system with speakers that someone was throwing out. It makes a good addition to our flat.

Now, for more running around and getting ready.

Edit: Several Hours Later

Just got back from waiting in line to meet some of the members of the Green Wing cast. Green Wing, for those of you who don't know, is an extremely funny show here in the UK, just released on DVD and with the second series on the air now. I picked up the set after watching one episode, pretty cheaply too. Tonight they did a signing, got to have a couple of words with some of the cast members, nice guys, very happy for the fans to be there, which was a plus.

Sorry, it's kinda blurry. Fun times. Now, for food and packing.

Greece : 2 Days

Two days until I depart for Greece. In the meantime (and this is mainly for my benefit) I have to:

  • Confirm my flights
  • Confirm my hostel
  • Write up a quick budget
  • Buy a phone card and call home
  • Write up a packing list
  • Pack
  • Get all of my information together, flights, passport, ID, money
  • Change my travellers checks for Euros
  • Find out the best way to get to the airport (I'm thinking the night before and just waiting)
  • Get to the airport for a 7 am flight


And, from the Guardian today:

US plans strike to topple Iran regime - report

God. Say that it's not true, please, someone say something. Has anyone gotten the impression that war in one country, then a worse one in another, and now it's being considered that we're looking to go to war with a third? How the hell did we elect our current president into power.
The thing that scares me the most is that he's looking for a legacy to lead behind. That's the worst part.

Another government consultant is quoted as saying Mr Bush believes he must do "what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do" and "that saving Iran is going to be his legacy".

Presidents, or anyone, shouldn't actively look for a legacy. It's arrogant and in this case, downright scary. Hopefully, the White House's response that this is overblown and untrue is true. Because this scares me more than anything else.


Back from my trip to Eastbourne. Had a lot of fun while I was down there, it was great to get out of the city again and into a much smaller, much-less-touristy place. Eastbourne is a smaller town (Although citysized for VT) and it's on the southern coast - sharing the same rock formations as Dover, and it has the same white cliffs. It seemed like a pretty quiet place to live, and a bit of a retirement community, although we did see a lot of kids and dogs.
I went down with my friend Katherine, who's in my British Heritage class. Apparently her roommate and friends from her school went to Amsterdam, and because her parents are coming today, didn't go with them. So she invited me to come along. We picked a location, looked at train costs and Friday morning we got to the station, got tickets and rode the two or so hours down to the town. I paid for the train fares, she payed for the hotel, and we checked in, and went out to wander around the place. The beach was the first place that we went, found that it was all chert and rock, walked the length of that for a while, before hitting the chalk cliffs, about a mile and a half or so.

The Cliffs were really cool. I brought along my geology field book and took some notes, climbed around on them for a while and gave Katherine a lesson in geology theory and how the cliffs got there. Good to have a captive audience. We walked probably another mile down the cliffs, looking at the rocks and chatting, before turning back. Katherine got attacked by two seagulls, or thought that she did. Got a late and quick lunch and walked the other direction, through the town a bit for another couple hours, before returning. Watched some TV - she found a hilarious show called Green Wing, which was both confusing and side splitting. Really wacky british medical show - Definently have to find some more of it somewhere. Went to sleep, woken several times by drunk college students and later in the morning by a flock of insane pigeons. Got up, checked out, got breakfast and set out to find where to look for fossils. Checked at the hotel, library and tourist office, and none of them could really tell me. Checked my email at the library and found an e-mail that someone sent to me regarding fossils in the UK, and in Eastbourne, figured out where to go and we set out. To the Southwest of the town there's a large open park that runs along the cliffs. There's some paths, and some cows. We hiked along a couple miles to one point, then tried to find the way down to the beach, but we couldn't figure out where it was. Saw one of the lighthouses off in the water, then continued on to try and find the beach outlet.

Another two or three miles and we reached the second lighthouse, lots of hills later, and we turned back. Got a quick bite to eat at a pub on the road following the cliffs, then an hour or so later, we reached the town and got lunch at Pizza Express (The UK's equivilent of Pizza Hutt, but way better) then got back to the train station and back home. We were both exhaused, fell asleep on the train for a little while, then split up in the tube when we went back to our flats. I passed out for an hour, got some dinner and watched some TV before going back to bed.

Great weekend - really nice town with some good walks around it. Maybe someday I'll return. Took quite a bit of pictures - you can see them here:

Back to... Norwich?

I visited Norwich today - here in the UK. I'm guessing that there's some sort of connection between Norwich Vermont and Norwich East Anglia. Norwich here is much more interesting, with a castle. They've got it decked out with a really crappy museum that's designed to interest someone about the age of five. I walked around it in about half an hour and was most amused by the castle well, which was deep. But that's about it. Big waste, which is a shame. We walked around the town, which was interesting. Cool town. My roommate missed the train, which I was thrilled at, because he seriously needs to be ego checked and brought down a couple notches. I swear, the guy's an idiot. Too institutionalised at Norwich (the university), too uncreative, unintelligent and really not that great with kids. Which is odd, because he's intending on teaching after college. Let's see how long that lasts.
It seems like a lot of deadlines are coming up. Two papers due earlier this week, an exam tomorrow, trips and my flight home. It's scary how fast everything's coming.

On another note, has anyone seen a show called Grey's Anatomy? How is it?

And finally, iTunes has added Dave Matthew's Band to their music library. I wonder what toook them so long.

Oxford X 3

Went to Oxford for the third, and probably last time while I'm here. And, guess what?

I met Philip Pullman. Talked to him and shook his hand. He seems like a nice guy, just very distant.

I was up for a Literary Festival that the Sunday Times had put on in Oxford. Brian Aldiss, who wrote the short story Supertoys Last All Summer Long, one of my favourites, joined him, along with another two people who's names I forget, to talk about Science in Science Fiction. Interesting talk, although the questions weren't the greatest. I got signitures from the both of them.
After the excitement of waiting to see them on the stage, I was a little disapointed with them in person. They were both pleasant, but I guess I was just another fan. Not that I was really anticipating anything different.

Went to the Eagle and Child again, talked with a gentleman from Germany, where we talked about cars and the English Language. That was good. He spoke excellent English, and was there to brush up on it a bit.

Train ride home was uneventful, and I fell asleep. When I returned, I went to STA, and booked a flight to Greece. The way that the flights worked out, I was able to stop over in Munich for a short time. Now, to book a Hostel.


Whee. I'm tired. I got up late again, which I didn't intend to do, and while waiting for my laundry to go, I turned on the television and watched a short thing on rocks in the UK. I've been meaning to head over to Dover for a day or so to see some real rocks again. It was enough to finally get me over to Victoria Station to look up train tickets for the place. About £22, which is a little more than I expected, but not too bad. I also picked up a thing for bus tickets, which might prove to be cheaper. After that, I wandered around the area a bit, and ended up going in circles. Walked by Buckingham Palace, Green Park (which I liked more) and around a number of back streets. I don't know how I went in a giant loop, I just did.
When I returned to the FSU to do some work, I wrote up a power point presentation on the Grand Canyon, for a class later this week at the Charter School. The geography teacher that I've been helping out, Mr. Henderson, learned that I hiked part of it and I found myself assigned to do a presentation, which I'm excited to do.
But in writing it, I went over all my old photographs of the place. I really miss the place, the South West. The geology department went out on a trip this past week (I think) to Texas for driving around looking at rocks, and I really wish that I could be out there, because the past two trips, to New Mexico and Nevada/Arizona/Utah were some of the best experiences in my life, not to mention the most beautiful. I really like London, but it just doesn't have some of the things out there. But I digress. Maybe next year.
Still looking at Ireland and Greece, but I need to hear back from people about other travel plans. You know who you are.

Excerpt from the Black Book

While I've been here, I've been doing quite a bit of writing about London and travelling here. Mostly small observations, tips and places to see and visit here, sometimes as a reminder, but also something to pass on to if I know that someone will be visiting London. There's a lot that I wished that I knew about the city. Because it's an English speaking country, the culture shock has been very low. So, things that I've learned, and observations and thoughts that I've had along the way. Paraphrased and added to a little bit:

"It's worth it to visit locations other than the postcard scenes, ie, off the beaten path of the tourists. Museums and historical sites are well worth visiting, some more than once, but each one has a commom denominator - a large mass of other tourists, with cameras, loud children and no desire to really see anything else. This takes away from the various sites, in my opinion. Not all tourists are like this, but there's a good amount of them.
Some of the more interesting and intreging places are the ethnically concentrated areas around this city. South Hall and Brick Lane are two of these places, where there is a strong population of Sheiks from India and Muslims from Pakistan, respectively. These streets/neighborhoods are rich in culture that at first seems contrary to the traditional 'English' view from everyone. These places contain outstanding resturaunts, among other things. They usually have a very interesting history, with the current group being the lastest in a string of other ethnic groups that have inhabited the area.
It's facinating to see street signs in Hundi or Farci, and to hear those words in the air.
How interesting it is to be the odd one out. "
Last Entry, 14-3-05.


I'm going to see Philip Pullman.

That's right, Philip Pullman, the author who wrote The Golden Compass, Subtle Knife and Amber Spyglass.

Along with him, Brian Aldiss, who's a really amazing Science Fiction writer.

Oxford is running a Literary Festival, and when I was there, I found a pamphlet with the topics and speakers there. Pullman, Aldiss and a couple other authors are doing one on the Science in Science Fiction. So, I just booked a ticket, VERY close to the front row, so I'm getting a good seat for this. I doubt that they'll be doing a signing, but just being there will be plain cool. 25 days from now then.

Went to Bristol yesterday, had a very fun time there. Great city, very clean, small, homely. Had lunch at a very good cafe, walked around a lot. It snowed. Hard. Literally, I've never, ever, seen a snowstorm come up so fast. It was sunny when we went into a building, ten minutes later, we get out and it's coming down extremely hard. Visibility dropped and for about a half hour (We went to the cafe) it just came down. Insane.

Now, for class.

Latest Trip

So, I did do a bit of travelling again, this time with the Marymount Students that we're studying with. We were scheduled to go on the trip, all of us in Lexia, but for some reason, Ryan, the project Coordinator, didn't know that and there was a number of last minute phone calls to get me to go. They were happy to have me come along, they were just surprised that we'd thought that we're going on as well. So last minute, I was going along.
Got up at about 8 on friday, showered, and got myself down the road to where we were getting picked up, and by around 9ish, we were off.
It was the first time that I've exited London via roadway. The numerous other times that I've left the city was through trains, and it was really cool to see a new side of the city. It was about a three or so hour ride to our first stop, Blenheim Palace, Winston Churchill's birthplace. Big house, with the family still living there, although we went to a different wing, one open to the public. Very well decorated, and boring. Our guide was interesting, but I really wasn't interested in china and chairs. There was a very cool display on Churchill's life, and of his paintings.
From there, we went on another couple hour ride to reach Stratford-Upon-Avon, the birthplace of the playwrite William Shakesphere, which was very cool to see. Nice, small town. All the book stores had huge sections on him, and there are some very old buildings. I didn't actually get to see his house, because of the expenses and time. So we all walked around for a while, went to a pub for dinner. Decent enough food and drinks there.
That evening we went to a play, Women Beware Women, which was long, slow and weird, but interesting, although I was falling asleep at times. I believe that it was put on by the Royal Shakesphere Company, and the actors were very good. We stayed in a bed and breakfast for the night.
The next morning, we got up, and drove over to Oxford, which I've already been to. There was a major protest while we were there, something about animal rights and anti-testing, as well as a pro-testing group that was huge. The police were out in force. I gathered that the anti-testing group had been violent in the past and they were completely surrounded by policemen and police women on foot, horse, motocycle and lorry. We did a tour around the city with a guide, a nice guy named Chris, who took us into one of the colleges and explained a lot of the history and interesting points of the city. We then scattered, and I got a cookie and lunch at a resturaunt. (It was about a 45 minute wait though) but worth it. From there, went around on my own, then stopped by the Eagle and Child again, got a drink, then got the bus and returned home.
Overall, a fun trip.
I've put the pictures that I took online, here:


Well, I'm back from my trip up to Eidinburgh, and had an extremely fun, if quick time up there. I left around noon on Tuesday via train for about a five and a half hour ride up. It was extremely nice, great scenery and the light was at the right angle to make everything look really good. Saw the ocean for the first time while over here, which was nice.
Upon arriving in the city, I set about trying to find the youth hostel that I planned to stay at. I ended up walking around for a half an hour, bought a map, walked up and down the road three times before finding the place, but after that, checked in a dormitory and got dinner. Discovered that I left my black hat on the train. The hostel, the Eidinburgh Backpacker's Hostel was nice. Very laid back feel to it, with several long term residents from all over. I talked to people from Australia, Canada, Greece, Japan and South Africa. My roommate was Japanese and didn't speek very much English, but we did manage some conversation. Watching the Olympics with the Canadians was fun. They had their flag out for their team and were very excited.

On Wedsnday, I got up around ten or so, and brought my pack with me to do some wandering. I had a couple of places in mind, but no itinerary, which was nice. I walked up to the Castle, took some pictures and went to the National and Royal Museums, took in some Scottish history and got a book on James Hutton, whom I'm doing a project on. (Considered the father of modern geology).

From there, I went around on some random streets, got lunch, and circled the city. I ended up going to Holyrood Park, which has the remains of a volcano, which has since been overridden by glaciers. For the first time in weeks, I finally was able to take a good look at some outcrops and to do some hiking. The volcanos erupted about 300 million years ago, and there's basalt, overlain by coarse sandstone and another layer of basalt. There were some nice features in there as well. There's a couple main sections, the Craigs and Arthur's Seat, as well as a third section which I didn't get around to hiking over to. I hiked around and up the Sainsbury Craigs, up to the edge, where there was a lot of intense wind, which nearly blew me over. I then went down and back up and came across the ruins of a chapel, then turned and went up Arthur's Seat, which was the highest peak in the area. Very strong winds up there as well. The entire hike took me around three hours, and I went back to the city, got something to eat after the hike and returned to the hostel. I then went out again and walked around another section of the city, bought something for dinner, brought it back to the hostel, read my book and watched the Olympics. Then went to sleep.

Unfortunently, we were right above a club of some sort, so around 1 a bunch of people came out singing really loudly. Same thing happened the night before.
Got up at around ten, checked out and got on the train and arrived back home five hours later. All in all, great trip. I also lucked out, my iPod batteries died right as I went through the door of my flat complex. Good timing or what?

I took about 70 pictures, and they can be seen in here and here. Now, for food and to pass out somewhere.