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Saturday, August 25, 2012

First leg of the trip

Blog Entry 1: 8/25/12

Good Morning. I figured that it was time for the long overdue update on what has happened so far on this trip of mine. But before that, background information.

I'm going to be studying at University College Dublin, specifically Arts. This means that I'll be largely focusing on Philosophy, but also on other fun topics. I'll give an updated course list when I have it all figured out. My excursion began on Wednesday, August 15th. The plan was to visit Jon in Washington D.C. (did that, I'll go over that in a bit) and then to meet up with Maggie in London. I'll then be traveling to Dublin on September 3rd and be there until January 3rd. There you have it, a fairly concise summary of my plans.

After hanging out at the lake with the entire family for a few days, which was phenomenal and I can't wait to do it again, my parents drove me to the airport in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, there was more traffic than expected and a 3.5 hour drive took approximately an hour longer. Long story short, I missed my flight by 4 minutes. The nice people at the terminal took care of figuring out how to work around that, so I was only delayed 4 hours. I made it to DC alive, which I was happy about.

I don't want to have to summarize DC into a few paragraphs, but because I'm leaving to meet up with Maggie somewhere in London, I'll cut it short and possibly extrapolate further down the road.

DC with Jon was... interesting and awesome. I'm going to go with a whole giant high five to the entire experience, but next time I'm going to get some vegetables. Jon is a carnivore. Not that this is a bad thing at all, I just began to actually miss the taste of vegetables and milk by the end of the week. Jon was perhaps the best host I've had so far and I am incredibly grateful that he took the time from work and all that to hang out with me for as long as he did.

It took me awhile to get used to the idea that I was in DC and that all I had to do was look outside and I had at least three monuments in my immediate view. That experience is quite surreal. Honestly, I'm still not used to the idea that I'm in the UK. More on that later. The first full day that I was there, we had quite a bit planned. Actually, most of the days were full of interesting tours and places to go. Jon had set up a tour of the capital building with Rick Berg's office, the representative from ND. Katie from Bismarck led us around for an hour or so and gave us history lessons and an extended tour of the building. I hadn't realized that history could have a sense of humor, but... it does. Rather, people in history have senses of humor and this gets transposed into writing and portraits and all of that. I've got some cool pictures of the inside. I do have a picture of Jon and me looking out from a balcony over the city. Although it doesn't look like it, I'd just looked out over the ledge and realized that it was quite a ways down, so we are further from the railing than necessary. I don't like depths. I can look up at tall things just fine, that doesn't make my stomach drop. Looking down from them is another matter.

You'll see pictures of the places that I was on facebook, but I want to include a few from my favorite or most interesting places. First of all, I wanted to show off the Air and Space Museum. This picture is actually my phone background at the moment. The hangar is huge. Like, spread your arms out as far as they can go, and then TRIPLE that. a few times. Suffice it to say, it holds a space ship and about  one hundred planes. That's quite large.

Secondly, The Arlington National Cemetery.  While I really did not like this place, it is because it is an  incredibly sad and solemn place. There are graves as far as the eye can see. Each headstone has a number. The highest number I saw was just under 40,000 and I know that is not the end. It brought up interesting thoughts, such as "why is making noise in a cemetery frowned upon?" Also, "how many of the people in this cemetery have people who remember them and their lives and contributions?" What would have happened if every one of those people had instead devoted their lives to a different cause, such as technological innovation or scientific exploration. Or teaching or sports or any number of other choices. Would the world have been a better place?"

We also got to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was quite intriguing to see. The formality of the procedure was blazingly apparent, as their full dress uniforms and shoes and manner exuded discipline. I'm glad I got to see it.

Lastly, Jon and I went to a bar/ restaurant for brunch after walking around and got this delicious french toast wrapped around ham, wrapped in bacon, and soaked in maple syrup. That and an Irish Coffee. It was a great way to start the midday. We talked to Alex (bartender) about soccer and changes that could be made to improve it in the US. We ate in the back bar, a place that is unknown to most people, so they don't go. I don't think that I've been to a more elegant and ornate place that served alcohol.

Jon drove me to the airport at 4:30 AM for my flight at 9:00. I owe him some serious Guinness/ Jameson for that. I ended up being at my gate for 3 hours. Long story short, the flight to the UK took a very, very long time (7 hour layover in Charlotte and then the ~7 hour flight to London). I ended up in London on Thursday, August 23rd, found a train to meet Maggie, and we've been hanging out since then.

Speaking of, I got to go to a traditional Shakespearean play (King Richard III) at Globe Theatre yesterday (Friday, 8/24). It was an entire male cast and the event lasted a few hours. At this point in my trip, I still haven't really come to the realization that I am in the UK. The accent is different enough from what I am used to that my brain automatically registers it as a different language, and I just tune it out. So, I've got to pay attention when anyone is talking, otherwise I just kind of go glassy-eyed and start staring at moving objects. Therefore, the play was a bit difficult to follow, as it was both Shakespearean and British English, so I may have accidentally fallen asleep for a minute. Luckily Maggie noticed and poked me. While I couldn't follow the dialogue, the motions and emotions of the characters were evident through tone and direction towards other characters, so I could get the gist of what was happening. In conclusion, I liked it, but I'm going to get more caffeine and not be jet lagged next time. I'd definitely go again.

Well, I've got to start preparing to meet Maggie in London for dinner. Now that I'm mostly caught up with things, my following posts will possibly be shorter. However, I like to talk, so you never know.

By the way, Boddington's Pub Ale is more delicious here.


1 comment:

  1. awesome pictures Chris- love that you included dread pirate marge ;)
    yay for making a blog! excited to see what you write/the adventures you have