Sunday, June 12, 2011

One Last Journey

A week from today I'll be back at home, in my own room, hopefully with my cat and dog. I'm so looking forward to coming home, but it'll be sad to leave this place. Starting to pack today was bittersweet. I can't really say that I'll miss any certain thing. But I will miss the people. Most definitely.

I took my final trip before the trip home this past week. After completing my exam on Monday, I headed to Barcelona for a couple nights. I met up with my mom and a few other people who I've been able to travel with. It was just for a couple nights, literally two days, but it meant the world seeing her and all.

The oddest thing was being able to show them around Barcelona. Since I had spent a week there less than a month ago, I still knew my way around a bit and could tell them the different things to see. That was lovely since they were only there a couple days really. The only bummer was the fact that it rained. And when I say rained, I mean poured. The whole week I was there, there wasn't any rain. It definitely made up for it this time around haha.

These 5 months have gone by so fast. I've been so incredibly lucky to have the housemates I've had, to have had friends visit, and to have my family visit. Not to mention to travel as much as I have. It's been an amazing semester, an opportunity of a lifetime. I look forward to remembering it and sharing it <3

Mom and I outside the place we had dinner at

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's been way too long!

And for that I apologize. Here's what's happened: my friend Priscilla came in to visit for a few weeks, the flatmates and I finally had our "family dinner", Priscilla and I got to spend a week in Barcelona, a tornado hit my hometown taking the life of a unique friend, I went to London, saw my friend Emily there and then just celebrated a birthday with a friend here in Swansea. So so much! Now.... let me break it down

Family dinner- yummy, lots of fun, entertaining with the smoke alarm going off (not me!).

Barcelona- Apart from a rough start (story of my life) which included ditching the original hotel we booked cause it was too far away and getting dropped off at the police station due to a language barrier, the trip was marvelous. Here are a few things we saw:

La Sagrada Familia which is an exquisite chapel renowned architect Gaudi started construction on

Gaudi's house which resides in Parc Guell a beautiful park

 the Olympic stadium

and the coast of course

It seems fitting that I be updating today. A friend of mine, Laron, was killed in the tornado that touched down in my hometown. Though we weren't best friends, Laron was a friend- one whom I toured my first haunted house with, went to newspaper conventions with, spent late nights working on the newspaper with, my advice line and helping hand with so many things. Writing is one of the things we shared. She will be dearly missed. A memorial is being held for her today back home.

I went to London only for a night with my friend Jess. While we were there, we saw the Lion King show, the Titanic exhibit and my good friend Emily. It was a lovely weekend.

It was good fun to celebrate my friend Nicole's birthday over here. I do so love celebrating!

Two weeks from Saturday I'll be making my trip home. The time has gone by so quickly! I'll be sad to leave this place behind. Mostly the people. I'm looking forward to seeing my cat and dog and car though- oh yea and of course the people haha. I haven't decided yet whether I'll continue this blog or not... hmm, we shall see. Take care!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Home" Again

What a month! I'm glad to be in one place for a bit though. I figured instead of telling you about all the places I went to, I'd show you pictures. Though I will give you a brief itinerary: Paris = 4 nights, Athens = 4 nights, Olympia = 1 night, Deplhi = 1 night, Rome = 4 nights, Palermo = 1 night, Naples = 1 night, Venice = 3 nights, Dublin = 2 nights, Killarney = 2 nights, Doolin = 3 nights and overnight train = 2 nights. I also visited Verona and Pompeii while in Italy but they were day trips.

Basically what it comes down to is about a week in Paris, almost a week in Greece, a week and a half in Italy and a week in Ireland. So here are some of the high lights from my trip- in picture form with a superb caption. Hey, I'm aspiring for them to be anyway haha.

I had never seen the Moulin Rouge before. It was worth seeing for me if for no other reason than the fact that I really love the movie haha.

The other thing I really wanted to do in Paris was see the catacombs- a bit out of character for me I suppose looking at the picture lol. But I'm glad we went nonetheless. 6-7 million people were buried here. Absolutely astounding. What was more unbelievable was the fact that before exiting you had to show someone the contents of your bag. I guess some people like to take souvenirs... Gross.

Disneyland!! There are two places I feel I could be forever happy: Disneyland and North Pole City. It was an absolutely beautiful day and we didn't wait in line for a ride for more than 20 minutes at most. I just spent a day there but it was sublime.

The Parthenon was truly impressive. What I also found admirable was the fact that there are steps and renovations going on in order to preserve and excavate other parts of Athens and the Acropolis.

Seeing the site of the very first Olympic games which started in 776 BC was something that left me speechless. The US is still such a baby compared to this stuff!

Here is the Temple of Apollo which resides in Delphi and is famous for the oracle. 


I've been to the Colosseum before, but I love it. I could stay for quite awhile. It has a certain mood to it, not one I can quite explain.

The Trevi fountain is one of the most beautiful things. It's probably my favorite point in all of Italy. And of course I threw coins in. Euro cents, pence, and pennies- had to have all the bases covered.

Pompeii and Venice were my favorite when I first traveled to Italy at the age of 15. I'm pleased to report that they are still my favorite. Pompeii is just so beautiful. The history makes it a bit of somber experience, but it doesn't diminish its beauty in the least bit.

The wonderful thing about Venice is that there's no other place like it in the world. You could say the same for almost any city I suppose, but usually that's due to a landmark or edifice. Here, it's the actual city that's unique. 

Juliet's balcony in Verona. I have to say that it's amazing, simply amazing that so many people of all different ethnicities and regions flock to this one city to see the balcony and town that was merely the setting of a story that was written by a man over five centuries ago. Incredible.

This was a ruin my family and I came across while driving to Killarney. Pretty deserted, but the cemetery surrounding it was still recent. It was beautiful.

I'm not sure that you can make out all the little birds on this cliff but I promise you- there are hundreds. Puffins! This is the largest colony in all Ireland I believe. This is near the cliffs of Moher which we saw from a ferry. It was absolutely lovely seeing my family. I'm so grateful they were able to come.

Well that's it! My trip in a few photos. Of course there's many many more haha. But they will make it to Facebook in due time. Hope you enjoyed!

Friday, April 29, 2011

A couple of dos and don'ts- from the road

I'm in Ireland with my family. Yea- it's epic. I've missed them so. I swear my mom and dad hugged me for five minutes each. And I loved giving them their gifts. I love that the one main holiday I would have missed with my family I didn't miss- Easter. And of course Grandma sent brownies and Easter goodies. I'm so lucky to be so loved. Ok so here are some tips for traveling! I'm headed back to Swansea Saturday so I'll update seriously after that sharing my favorite bits and pieces of my month of traveling- get excited!

Dos and Don'ts of traveling

Don't engage the peddlers
     At all. Eye contact, smile, nothing. Doing so is hazardous to your demeanor and pocketbook. If you're that desperate for directions find a McDonalds- to my dismay at times, they are everywhere you turn.

Do indulge in your impulses
    If you don't see something or do something that you're seriously considering, you'll regret it. You only live once and you don't know how long you've got so do it! I went to Disneyland in Paris which I know may seem silly, but I had so so so so much fun- and it was the perfect day for it. So go for it!

Don't expect everything to go according to plan
    Cause it won't. You can only hope for the best and do what you can to adequately prepare. And have a good attitude when it does go wrong. Because the rest is out of your hands. Whether you end up flying into Exeter or you pay for a cruise only to find out it's a coach tour... It's all an adventure! Haha

Do take lots of pictures
    You will be so grateful you did. And really they're the best souvenir you can get yourself. Not to mention the cheapest. Make sure you get pictures of you and your family or friends though. Those are the ones you'll love the most.

Don't let yourself get too absorbed from behind the lens though
    I find that if you're too busy snapping photos, then you miss enjoying the moment, being in the moment. Make sure you balance the two.

Do allow yourself time to mellow
    As fun as traveling is and as much as I'm sure you want to see, take time to just relax at a park over lunch or have gelato in a quaint cafe. And sometimes that could be just watching an absurdly cheesy film at the hotel one night.

Don't sprain your ankle
    I promise it's not fun. And once you do, they're a lot more liable to twist again. Stupid weak ankles.

Do pace yourself
    If you do everything in one day, chances are you'll be exhausted and you might not even remember all of it by the end of the day. Space out things you want to hit and enjoy the journey to places.

Don't be too proud to ask
   About anything really. From directions to attractions, don't be afraid to ask. Some of the best places I've seen or eaten at were recommended after asking. And if locals are offering help and suggestions without you're asking, all the better. They tend to be awesome characters.

Do try new things
   Especially where food is concerned. You know what you like back home and you know what different things are. So try moussaka and baklava and gyros and cannoli in Greece. Try croissants and creme broulee and escargot and eclairs in France. And in Italy eat as much pasta and pizza and tiramisu as you can- and seafood is good there too.

Don't stress
   About money or traveling or hitting everything on your to do list. I know it's hard sometimes but really it's not worth it. Just allow things to work out. And don't be afraid to pay for a cab- though um do try and make sure the cab driver at least knows how to get there or has a gps. You'd be surprised how often this is the case.

Do try and stay in one place for more than one night 
    I know that you want to see and do as much as possible, but trust me- you'll appreciate this tip. It's nice after that first night to know where you're going at the end of a long day of sightseeing. It's also comforting to have that grasp of familiarity. Plus usually you can take little excursions from main points.

Don't trust people
    You can be friendly without trusting people. Make sure you watch your wallet and purse. Of the 4 girls I travel with, 3 have had unfortunate events where money or cards are concerned. I've seen a couple bags lifted- luckily I wasn't the only one so nothing bad came of it but still...

Do travel
    Really. It opens your eyes more than you could even begin to imagine. It's life changing. And hey- I'll go with you! Lol

Hope you found these somewhat helpful. I'll update sometime soon. Ciao ciao!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A bit of an update

As I'm traveling through the beautiful Greek countryside, I thought I'd update! Last week was spent for the most part in Paris. Visited the Louvre and Notre Dome, the Eiffel tower and the Arc de Triomphe.

My favorite part was seeing the operahouse where Phantom of the Opera originated. When I went to Paris my senior year of high school, though we were just outside the operahouse, I didn't go in. I had regretted it ever since. There's no other feeling quite like rectifying a regret. That wouldn't have been possible though had I gone to Versailles with the girls but as it was I woke with a terrible headache. Just goes to show everything happens for a reason...

My second choice that I really wanted to do in Paris was Disney! That's right... Disneyland Paris. And for the record- if there's anywhere I belong it's Disneyland. That and North Pole City haha. I did my first loop on a rollercoaster that day- and no one even saw that coming. Before heading to Disney we saw the catacombs which was the other thing I had wanted to do in Paris. Really creepy, but I'm glad we went. Basically a whole bunch of skeletons in winding underground tunnels. And when I saw a whole bunch that really means between 6 and 7 million bodies. Yea- intense.

From Paris we split up, one back to Swansea for a day or so, one to Morocco, and the remaining three of us to Athens.

Athens is a lot bigger than it looks. After seeing the acropolis, Hadrian's Arch the Parthenon and the Temple of Zeus, it makes you scoff at what the US calls history cause this stuff is just so old! Literally ancient. After staying in Athens two days, we embarked on a coach tour of Greece seeing the original Olympic stadium, museum of Delphi, etc.  Out hotels were amazing, with balconies where the view got better each night. 

Now let me tell you about the food- if you ever come you must try a Greek salad, gyros and baklava. Moussaka, slouvaki, and lamb are also all very good.

The Greek countryside is beautiful, positively stunning. But the country is poor and one cannot miss that fact. So many peddlers and homeless roam the streets. And they're very aggressive in seeking money. That goes for shopkeepers and even hosts of restaurants too. But this makes it not so much dangerous but much more liable for theft. At a park we saw a man lift a woman's bag. Luckily she saw and called out chasing after him. He dropped it and walked off but after that we were all much more aware of our surroundings.

Tonight is our last night in Greece. Tomorrow we fly to Rome where we will spend a couple days before heading to Sicily.Wish me luck!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Continued- Take Two

I leave for Paris in a couple hours so this will be the last time I post for a bit. I'll be doing my best to upload a photo a day to my Facebook but I can't upload a photo via my iphone to here- I did try haha. Enjoy my last 15 and wish me luck!

16. A picture of someone who inspires you
I'm lucky to have my grandma so close to me. And she truly is one of the people who inspire me the most. She's never said a bad word about anyone. That's really hard to do! And a bit frustrating at times. But never a bad word about anyone- oh well, anyone except Bush.

17. A picture of something that has made a huge impact on your life recently
My housemates. For sure. I really got lucky that they ended up being my housemates. They made Swansea a home. I'll be very sad to leave them when the time comes.

18. A picture of your biggest insecurity
I'm scared of not measuring up. To other people's hopes, expectations, ideas of me. My own included. That's my biggest insecurity I think- though I'm getting better.

19. A picture and a letter
These are all my letters. All the ones I brought with me and all the ones I've received since I've been here. This picture makes me feel so loved. I'm such a lucky girl.

20. A picture of somewhere you'd love to travel
I don't want to go getting greedy or anything... but I so want to go to Bora Bora. So so badly. It will happen before I die. Simply because I'm that determined. But really- do you see that picture? Who wouldn't want to escape there for a bit....

21. A picture of something you wish you could forget
This is a drawing of mine. Yea... I wish I could forget I don't have umm pretty much any skill when it comes to drawing. I think that is an amazing talent. Also to sing. Not that I sound like a dying bird or anything that drastic, but still, a nicer voice couldn't hurt.

22. A picture of something you wish you were better at
Somethings are worth getting angry about. And somethings are worth staying angry about. I however have never been too good at either. Which I'm told is a good thing. Probably, but it doesn't make it any less frustrating when I realize I should be angry, want to still be angry...and yet am not. Oh well, we all struggle.

23. A picture of your favorite book
Because it is my favorite book, of course I brought it with me. I've read it 3 or 4 times. It never gets old and it is definitely my favorite, though I love the author.

24. A picture of something you wish you could change
The melting ice caps. The fact that these darling polar bears, a vanishing species now, are struggling for life due to our inconsideration of our earth's atmosphere. Yea- I have my deep moments. And this is something that truly upsets me and that I wish I could change.

25. A picture of your day
So I'm blatantly lying because truthfully I'll be on a coach for the better part of today. But the last day I took pictures this was one of them. This is a housemate Caroline and I at Varsity- it was a good day =)

26. A picture of something that means a lot to you
When I get things in the mail. This is my second card bouquet pictured here- from home of course. If you can't tell it says "Thank you for being you! <3 Mommy Brown" It's the small things like this that truly mean the world to me. 

27. A picture of you and a family member
This is me and my little sister Zoe. I'm not sure if I didn't realize it before, or it was something that came to light after reading her letter.... but she thinks so much of me. Really. She's one of my best friends. And I'm hers. We get each other through. We define what sisters ought to be- in my opinion.

28. A picture of something you're afraid of
Mimes scare me to death! It's really sad. I first discovered this in Italy with my mom and my friend Emily. I would walk on the other side of the street, and the other side of my mom and Emily in order to avoid them. I've never been a fan of clowns- the circus was not a good time for me as a child- so maybe it has to do with the face paint or something. Whatever the reason may be, I still freak out seeing them. Makes Covent Garden in London an experience for whoever I'm with anyway lol.

29. A picture that can always make you smile
Believe it or not- that is me. Getting squished by a camel. Blame my brother for that one. Every year my siblings and I and Grandma go on a vacation. Last year we went to Branson, Missouri and near there was a drive through animal safari that Zoe wanted to go to. This was the result. My brother was in the back with the camera taking the picture- and holding the food which the camel was after. Thus the smooshing of my face haha.

30. A picture of someone you miss
I know I've already mentioned this.... but I really really miss my puppy. I miss people from home- friends and family. But I feel the worst about leaving my dog and cat behind. Because they are probably wondering where I went, why I left. I miss my dog Sammy the most. But I miss my cat Squirt sleeping on me, fitting into the curve of my back. 

And that's it! Now you know a little bit more about me. And I'm sure I'll have tons to share when I get back. Paris, Greece, Italy and Ireland- here I come!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

30 pictures- and fun facts! Part 1

So as I'm off to explore new places (!!!) I won't be updating nearly as much as I should be. But, to leave you with, here are photos and facts. And since 15 is my favorite number (and I'm trying to compensate), I'm splitting it into two different posts. So here goes!!

1. A picture of yourself with 10 facts

1. I love my imagination and hope I never lose it.
2. I can't use an electric can opener.
3. I miss my puppy.
4. I find peeps yummy.
5. Whenever I get mail or a parcel, it makes my day. So so much.
6. My favorite color is cerulean. Hands down. It's in the 96 crayon box- go find it. You'll love it too.
7. Otters are my favorite.
8. Michael Buble's voice never ceases to calm me- at least somewhat.
9. I graduate in December. O.M.G.
10. I hope I'm always allowed to be a little kid at heart.

2. A picture of you and the person you have been closest with the longest
Sasha- Since before I could even talk, we knew each other. And despite the years and the trials... we've made it.

3. A picture of the cast from your favorite show
Gilmore Girls- no contest. It always makes me smile, makes a day better, I have my own favorite episode. Anyone who knows me, knows it's a love.

4. A picture of your night
This was my last night out that I took a picture- the night of the Taylor Swift concert. A lovely pic of me and my friend Lisa. It was a great day.

5. A picture of your favorite memory
The summer I was able to stay at the lakehouse. It was an amazing summer and I was so lucky that I had two internships, friends, and family to share it with. I'll always always remember that summer.

6. A picture of a person you'd love to trade places with for a day
Squirt- my cat. Because let's face it, who hasn't thought "gee it must be so nice to be that spoiled and take so many naps".

7. A picture of your most treasured item
My rings are probably my most treasured item- here is my friendship ring from my mom, another antique one my dad bought me, one from my grandma, and my class ring.

8. A picture that makes you laugh

I'm not sure an explanation is warranted here lol. But I was trying to cut the string off her wrist to keep it from cutting off her circulation. And what she saw was me coming at her with a knife. Still makes me giggle.

9. A picture of the person who has gotten you through the most
My mom. My parents have been there for me no matter what, but my mom especially. I've been so lucky. She once said that me going to USAO was a gift to her- being able to watch me grow, here how much people have come to respect and like me. But really... I think it was a mutual gift that I am as close to her as I am.

10. A picture of the person you do the most ****** up things with
Ashley Jones and Nicole McMonagle. I have crazy moments a lot in my life haha, but they're almost always present for the craziest of them.

11. A picture of something you hate
Traffic. Enough said. Though... it is always a good opportunity to dance and sing loud =)

12. A picture of something you love
"I was hiding under your porch because I love you." This is Doug- he's from the movie Up. And if you shake his paw, he says quotes from the movie. I love him. I love being able to cuddle and hold something as I fall asleep. That is all.

13. A picture of your favorite band or artist
Taylor Swift. As mentioned above, I went to her concert. That was the second concert of hers I've been to. And I'm headed to another one later on this year. I love her because her songs apply to my life so much, plus I think she's just a very genuine person. Judge me if you like but there it is.

14. A picture of someone you could never imagine your life without
Daddy Brown!! I love him so much. He makes me laugh and gives the best hugs. And he was the one who gave me the nickname Smiley Brown. He's a major support system in my life and I would be a little less bright, a little less me without him.

15. A picture of something you want to do before you die
I want to see a manatee. I think they're so majestical and absolutely adorable. And I know they're getting more and more rare. I really really want to see one before I kick the bucket.

Ok stay tuned!! Part two coming soon.......