Sunday, November 13, 2016

London Day Trip

I visited London back on October 22 with some of my flatmates. We left Colchester around 7 in the morning. Because part of the rail was shut down we had to take a bus part of the way there, then the underground to London Liverpool Street. We didn’t officially reach London until around 9:30.

No one had any plans, besides me going to a Little Mix book signing at 11. So, after stopping at a coffee shop we headed to the Waterstones where the event was being held. The group then split off and left me in line.

Jesy Nelson from Little Mix
I was not anticipating standing outside in the cold for about 2 hours. By the time I got inside I felt like I was frozen. But I was just excited to see Little Mix in person because I never thought it would happen since they aren’t big in the US. When I did finally see them it was a surreal moment because I’ve only ever seen them through a screen, plus all four of them complimented my lipstick- which is ultimate goals. Sadly, we weren't allowed to take pictures with them since they were on a schedule.

Some storefronts in Camden Town
After the signing, I took the underground to Camden Town. I could spend a whole day in Camden Town at the Market. It is like a huge flea market with a mix of tourist shops, food, jewelry, etc. The storefronts on the main street had pop-out sculptures on them to go with the store. At one part of the Market there is a statue of Amy Winehouse that we had to go to because one my flatmates loves her. I definitely want to go back and look around more because there are a lot of interesting places.
My flatmates and me by the Amy Winehouse statue
View of the Big Ben from the station

From Camden Town we took the underground to Westminster to see Big Ben. As soon as we walked out of the station, it was staring us in the face. I didn’t know that it was right there so I was looking up directions how to get there when my one flatmate says, “Alyssa, it’s right there.” By Big Ben there was Westminster Abbey and the Embankment. Across the river we were able to see the London Eye.

Walking by St. James's Park
Instead of taking the Underground again, we walked to Buckingham Palace. It took about 15 minutes, but by that point we were all so cold and our legs were tired. But the scenery was a beautiful sight to take in. Trees lined the street and the leaves were changing colors. It was a picture perfect scene. It was the same at Buckingham Palace, with the sun setting in the background.
Heading down to the London Underground

Afterwards we headed to the Primark on Oxford Street, got some dinner, and started our journey back to Colchester. By the time we got on our last subway we were all tired and ready to go to bed.

I had fun exploring London with my flatmates. I want to go back and explore even more the London, and see a few more tourist sites. Having no plan and just winging it the entire time was stressful, but it also allowed us to take detours and not be on a schedule. I would love to relive that Saturday again.
Finally got a picture with a red telephone booth

Friday, October 21, 2016

My Week in Italy

The balcony from Romeo & Juliet
I spent a week in Italy in a small town that’s close to Venice with my parents. It was an interesting trip. Before I didn’t have any expectations for Italy because I didn’t really know what we would be doing. The only place I had to see was Verona. Ever since seeing the movie Letters to Juliet, I have wanted to see the city of Verona.

A window from the Arena
When we landed, I could instantly tell that I was in a different country. Italy’s architecture has a more spaced out feel compared to the UK. There’s more room to move around and the inside makes the space feel bigger than it actually is. Whereas in the UK, the spaces are tighter and the houses are small and compact.
Street french fries

The day after we landed, we drove to Verona. The first place we saw was the Arena. It is like the Colosseum, but not as large. We didn’t go inside unfortunately, but it was interesting to see the outside. Even at a distance people can see the detail of the rocks in the windows.
Leather belts for sale
We then walked down the street, heading to Casa de Giulietta. The streets are small and can get busy really quickly. The street we walked down had stores with different gelato places and small food shops. The stores lining the streets are high-end stores like the ones I find in the King of Prussia Mall back home. While walking the streets I would try and pick out the tourists from the locals. Most tourists were ones that had their cameras around their necks and constantly stopping. The street opened up to a street market. Many of the stalls had typical tourist trinkets. There were also stalls that sold staple Italian food, like pasta and olive oil.
Courtyard of Casa de Giulietta

Casa de Giulietta was pretty small. The entrance walls had a bunch of love letters, which then opened up into a courtyard. In the courtyard was the statue of Giulietta. People touch her right boob because it is said to give you good luck in romance. To the right of the statue is the balcony where the famous “Romeo, O’ Romeo” scene is played out.

Fresh pasta-to-go
The next big city we visited was Venice. The best advice I can give about visiting Venice is to leave the large square and walk down the small streets within the city. While walking through the small streets, we found a pasta-to-go place. It was called Dal Moro’s and the pasta is handmade and the sauce is made fresh. I got rotini pasta with Alfredo sauce and mushrooms. It really was one of the best pastas I have ever had.

The city itself is very picturesque. The way paintings and pictures portray it is exactly how it looks. It is a nice city to visit, and once you get a hang of the boat buses, it is easy to get around. I thought of the boat buses as a subway system, like London Underground, and went from there.

I had a fun time in Italy. I do wish I was able to see Florence, but it was too far to go to. I definitely need to go back to Italy at some point in my life and visit the other cities.

A canal in Venice

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Games of Thrones Tour

Coffee and Tea set up in hotel
My first stop on my semester abroad was in Dublin, Ireland. The first day there I went a hop-on-hop-off tour of the city. One of the stops was the Guinness Storehouse. My parents and I took a tour of the factory. It is a self-guided tour with a tasting room and a class on how to pour the perfect pint. While there, I also learned that beer is not my drink of choice.

The Wildling Pit
The next day we went on the Game of Thrones tour. Everyone in my family are huge Game of Thrones nerds. It all started with my dad because he read the books and ended with my sister and I binge-watching five seasons last summer.

Screencap from show and location side-by-side
The tour bus took us to a few of the different sites where the show filmed, mostly during the first season. The first stop was in Tollymore Forest where the Wildling Pit scene, the scene where the Starks found the direwolves, and the scene where Jon, Tyrion, and Benjin make camp before heading to the Wall.

After the Tollymore Forest, we went to Old Castle Ward. That is where Winterfell was first filmed, Robb Stark’s camp captured Jamie Lannister, and Brienne and Jamie saw the Hanging Tree with three Stark girls. Because it was too expensive to actually film at Old Castle Ward, the Game of Thrones crew actually built their own Winterfell to save money.
Tree where Robb Stark and Talisa Maegyr say their vows

The Hanging Tree

Me with my parents at Inch Abbey
The last stop was Inch Abbey. It is where Robb Stark was crowned King of the North and Catelyn finds out about Nedd’s beheading. It was hard to image the scene at the location because I saw during the daytime, and the location itself was manipulated to look different. At Inch Abbey the group was given replicas of the Hound’s helmet and the different swords used in the show to take pictures.

Overall I really enjoyed the tour. I love seeing the behind-the-scenes stuff for TV shows and movies. What made it really enjoyable was the tour guide. He is actually an extra on Game of Thrones and plays a Wildling. He gave behind-the-scenes info, that he was allowed to tell us, and different insights into the making of the show. The tour is really worth it if you’re a fan of the show and love seeing how TV shows and movies are made.

I also vlogged the day and put the video on YouTube. Just click here!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Hello World!

Hello reader!

My name is Alyssa and this is my blog. This is a place for me to chronicle my time abroad. For the next three months I will be in England participating in an exchange program for a semester.

Here are some things that you should know about me. I am currently a junior in college majoring in Secondary Mathematics Education and a minor in dance. My interests include reading, listening to music, and watching movies and TV shows. I have multiple shows that I watch regularly, but I love binge-watching old TV series. Right now my favorite show is between Game of Thrones and Teen Wolf.

This will be my longest time outside of America, but not my first time. My parents are from Trinidad and Tobago and I have visited multiple times in my lifetime. I also spent three weeks in Germany as part of an exchange program in high school. So, I am not nervous about flying over there, yet anyway. Right now I am just excited about studying abroad, so excited that it doesn’t feel like it is really happening. My nervousness will probably show when my parents leave and I stay behind.

I believe that is it for now! Have an amazing day!