Sunday, June 26, 2011

WOW! VLOG! THIS IS CRAZY! 4!

Two words is all Stephen Pelletier needs in his last contracted perfomance in the VLOG series.  Pelletier returns to the screen one last time in this award winning post, with a special guest star.  Some really famous movie critic guy stated, "Its just so moving, so emotional, never before have I ever felt so inspired." 


video

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Places I've Been and the Little Laughs I have ahead.

I guess its pretty natural when you come to the end of something you start to think back to the very beginning.  For me, I've had that day that I arrived at JFK stuck in my head.  Its hard to believe that was nearly six months ago, but at the same time it feels like six years.  Well, now, I'm at Heathrow Airport, about to board my flight to New York City. 

The last couple days I had in London were perfect.  I spent time walking along the river, eating ice cream, and just seeing all the sights.  The best part was the last night when I was invited back to Crawford House for a party with the Summer program students.  It was really great to spend my last night of my amazing time in London in the place where I lived.  Leaving was hard, but I was ready. 

So, this is the last blog from Europe.  Its crazy to think of all the things I've done here and all the places I've been.  Honsetly, I'm going to miss traveling, I've never felt so free.  I was talking to Josephine Page (Rosalind's Mum) about her travels and she said something that really struck me as I came to the end of this amazing couple of months.  She said, that although she couldn't travel as much anymore, the best feeling is being able to look back and "have a little laugh at all of the times you had in all of the different places you have been."  I doubt I will ever do anything like this again in my life, but the fact that I have done it is such a great feeling and I can travel to any of the places I've been in my mind anytime I want and have one of those little laughs. 

Not to say of course that my traveling days are anywhere near to over!  Its only just the beginning. I'll be back to London, and I'm really excited for that day!

But now I can say, I'm coming  home. 

I'll blog when I'm back in the USA. 

Thanks for reading, and thanks for doing what you all do
-SP

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I got my bags back!!!!!! (Dorset Part II)

The past week, I left London, after staying with Jill and Nick for two days and headed to Dorset.  I first arrived at Ringwood where I met up with Sarah Osborn and eventually went back to their house and saw the whole family!  They are such amazing people!  Although all the kids where in the midst of exams, we had a great time!

The next day I headed to Brian and June's house, where all of my bags I had left behind in late April were.  It was such a great feeling to have all of my clothes and stuff back, although I was getting really used to living out of a backpack.  It sort of hit me for the first time at that point that...whoa...I'm coming home really soon.

The week with Brian and June was great.  Brian and I went golfing twice, and we also went on a five mile walk on the Coastal Path near Swanage.  Of course Auntie June cooked enough food to have fed me for the two months I was backpacking.  I also had a great afternoon with Josephine and Norman Page, where they had plenty of chocolate cake waiting for me!  As the weekend progressed I was amazed at how quickly I had suddenly acquired the lifestyle of an eighty year old, after having lived in a house with two of them.  I woke up early every morning, went down stairs had breakfast, walked into the living room and read the paper, then went and played golf, then came back ate lunch, went back to the living room and read, did some gardening, have tea, go back to the living room and read/watch cricket (I'm not going to lie but I think I actually understand it now), five o'clock (on the dot) have gin and tonic (maybe 2), have dinner, go into the living room, watch tennis or posh murder mysteries on BBC, go to bed by 9:30, 10:00.  It was a great way to slow down after two months of going all out. 
Brian and I walked to "Old Harry" it was really beautiful!

Well, I'm back in London, I'll make sure to blog at least once more before I head home.  I just wanted to check in with you all.

-SP

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"We Got Him."

Well, it is 1:15 AM in London, but I've been trying to fill out some job applications, and now I can't sleep, so I thought that I would blog!
So, I went to Canterbury for a couple of days.  I didn't really know what I wanted to do there, but why now.  I've read the Canterbury Tales, or at least part of it, so that is a good enough reason.
When I arrived in Canterbury, I met two locals, Reese and Cathy (although when she said her name I thought she said Cafe, which I thought was unique and I was a little disappointed that she corrected me.)  With in a few seconds of our meeting, which was initiated by me saying, "excuse me" because they were blocking the sidewalk to my hostel, and then them saying, "Are you headed to Kipps?" I stopped and said yes!  Then Reese said, "You are an American! We love America!"  I said that is great.  Then Cathy, who by this point I realized was swaying uncontrollably back and forth and would fall into the hedge about every five seconds, said, "can we ask you some questions." So I said, "shoot." Then they asked me about what it was like in America, so I tried to describe it.  Although what they were really interested in was CSI, which I don't watch so I wasn't much of a help.  Then when they asked me what I thought about someone named "Cheyrl Cole" or something like that from the X Factor and I said, "I have no idea who that is." Then they both did that thing that british people do when they are amazed at something, where they puff out their cheeks and go "pppwew. You haven't heard of Cheyrl Cole."  She is all over the news.  This effectively ended our conversation. I learned two things from Reese and Cathy, 1) that Canterburians like drinking early in the morning and 2) love the X Factor.

Canterbury was nice.  The Cathedral was big.  Here are some pictures!





sunset from the hostel window

My second day I decided to go on a walk from Canterbury to Shepardswell, about an 11 mile hike.  So, I went and had a huge English breakfest and set off with a lunch.  It was exactly what I needed, it was so relaxing and great to get out of the city and into the beautiful countryside.  Here are some pictures:
Which way?  By the way, guess how many times I got lost!  Only twice, once at the beginning and once I missed a turn and ended up in some crop, once I realized I was just wading through the tallest grass I'd ever seen and some weird prickly things I turned around.


















three wheeled car!

made it to the train station!

For those of you who know me, a walk like this really wouldn't be surprising to you, because basically what I do is walk.  This was nice though, because I didn't feel like I was trying to clear my head or anything, I was just walking and really enjoying it.

When I got back to town, I was a little tired as you can imagine.  So, I decided, "I WANT ICE CREAM!"  So, I sped walk down the city center to a McDonalds where I planned on getting some ice cream.  When I walked in I went up to a cashier and started to order, at this point a guy came up right next to me at about the point I started ordering, and I thought I had taken his spot in line so I sort of stepped aside, but when I stepped aside I stepped into another guy who was dressed very similarly to him.  So I stepped back again to let these guys order, but then they stepped back as well, and all of a sudden one of them grabbed my arm and said, "You need to come with us."  At this point the other one pulled out a walkie talkie and said, "We got him."

Ok, freeze for a second.

I just wanted Ice Cream...I went on a long walk and all I wanted was Ice Cream, and now two guys had grabbed me out of line and said, "We got him."

I wouldn't say I was angry though, I was just sort of confused.  They took me outside and said, "Where you just in the Marks and Spencers?" and so I said, "No, I was just out walking on the trails, I never went to Marks and Spencers."  So then they talked into their walkie talkies and I could hear them say something like, "I guess we got the wrong guy with the black bag."  Then two things went into my head, "Did they stop me because I had a black bag, because almost every European has a black bag?
 The second thing was, "well since every european has a black bag, they must have been looking for the craziest, most bad ass person in Canterbury...I think I fit the profile, especially after meeting Reese and Cathy.  So after allowing them to check my black bag, they let me go with a small apology and I strolled back into McDonalds and ordered a McFlurry, as planned.

After this long day of walking and being a fugitive if only for a short while I was very tired.  I met two Aussies (everyone over here is Australian by the way) and I hung out with them for a while, then I headed to sleep.  I woke up after a crazy dream of me moving into my room at UConn and couldn't remember where I was, and then thought, OH! Canterbury.  So, I got up and left...for Dover.

Dover was nice, although I didn't stay long because they wouldn't let me leave my bag locked anywhere because of "High Security Alerts."  Based on my past successes with the M and S security and my close call with UK Boarder patrol after I forgot my return info, I decided that anything that had to do with security was worth avoiding any confrontation with.  So, I walked to the shore, because I wanted to see the White Cliffs of Dover, which I did.  I'll post pictures later.


Then, I hoped a train back to London, arrived, and walked out of the train.  I went for a walk along the Thames and watched as two women cops tackled some huge drunk guy! It was awesome!

Jill and Nick Fenton invited me to stay with them Tuesday and Wednesday night.  Thursday Night I'm headed to Dorset to stay with the Osborn family and then Friday through Wednesday I'll be with Brian and June!  Then Thursday morning I'll head to London for the last two nights, and then Saturday night I'll be in Mansfield, CT staying with...WAIT....I'm coming home really soon.  

My life is pretty awesome right now, you all only make it better...trust me. 
Thanks for reading guys!
-SP

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Woke up in London yesterday...

When the plane landed in London yesterday I was so excited to be back.  I knew that everything would start slowing down finally and I would be able to really enjoy the end of my backpacking adventure in my favorite European country.


Things just kept getting better and better.  I found an oyster card on the ground with some money on it.  I found a great hostel right near where I used to live, I walked to Rosebery to top up my phone and the Rosebery guys still remembered me (they even had Kit Kat Caramels again!).  I knew for sure I was back in London when I still saw of the Kate and William merchandise in windows (this time the same flags, plates, underwear (pants), shirts or whatever with there faces on it, but with pictures from the wedding.  Also I loved the fact that the headline in the papers was how Pippa Middleton lost "Rear of the Year" after her appearance at the wedding to Carol Vorderman.  Oh man, I missed London.   I went to FSU and met up with Konstantin who took me back to the flat and made me dinner!  The next morning I met up with Jill and Konstantin and then left FSU and adventured around London.

I even went on a walk along the Thames yesterday night and walking back I thought about how great it was to be back, and how although I was afraid it would be too nostalgic, it really wasn't.  I would walk by places and laugh or think about things, but overall, I am just really happy to be back!  It is a good feeling!




As I walked back I walked over Millennium Bridge and down Farrington.  At some point I realized I was heading back to Crawford Passage, laughed at myself and then changed direction back to the hostel. 


Today I spent the day in Richmond.

These deer were not afraid of humans at all, it was crazy how close you could get to them.

This cow was protecting this gate or something, I made it past, barely.


In the meantime, you should listen to this song, I heard it for the first time after I left London, but I like it even more now that I'm back and it makes me happy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZhQOvvV45w


Talk to you all soon!  I'm not going to start a countdown for my arrival home, but, I think we all know that that is coming up very soon.


AH!  It feels so good to be back here.
I miss you all!  Thanks for reading!
-SP



Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hot Zones

For some reason I've been thinking a lot about this book I read back in 8th grade called, "The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston where scientists are dealing with an Ebola outbreak amongst some quarantined monkeys near D.C. (great book by the way).  My guess, as I sit here chewing on a nice fresh cucumber and some great sprouts, is that it has to do with the fact that I visited the Warsaw Zoo the other day, or maybe because there is a massive Ecoli virus going on all over Europe.
Could this monkey that I took this picture of really be a deadly Ebola carrier?  He does look a little sinister.
Anyways, for those of you that know me, especially after that Oprah special I watched in 9th grade on food safety (R.I.P. The Oprah Winfrey Show), that I have been staying as far away from vegetables in Europe as possible.  Honestly, this is getting really annoying because I don't mind vegetables, and they are healthy and a lot of food include vegetables.
My friend Emily and her dad who I visited in Poland couldn't even get me to eat my greens.  
Initially when I first started hearing about the Ecoli thing going around in Europe, I was in the process of recovering from being the sickest I had ever been in my life before.  I didn't start really thinking about it until they started saying that the epicenter of the outbreak was in Hamburg, which is where they think I contracted whatever I had.  Then I started seeing that many of the symptoms I had were similar.  So, I can't be 100% sure, but I may be, as my friend Emily puts it, "A cucumber survivor."  Anyways, enough about that.

Last time I wrote I was in Helsinki with my dad amazed at how light outside it was.  The next day in Helsinki we went around and saw more of the older parts of the city, went to the outdoor market, traveled around the parks and just relaxed and had some great Italian food (Italian food cooked in Helsinki, Finland, by an Asian chef that is).  The next day we got up, took the ferry back to Tallinn, then we got on a bus, which strangely enough actually had a "bus attendant" that walked around and gave us refreshments and stuff while we sat there.  It was really weird.  But also really nice.
Here are some exciting pictures!







The next day I flew from Riga to Berlin.  There I met up with Garrett, which was really exciting!  We walked around a bit, went to the Brandenburger Tor, the huge radio tower, and went and met up with some of his other friends and went and had some great kebabs, ice cream and then some beer.  It was a great night.  We went back to our hostel which was great.   The funny thing is that we stayed in this room with one of those crazy religious fanatics who holds up the signs and yells stuff at people while you walk by.  He was reading a book on Hitler and had another book on "Jew Hate in the new Age."  He was also missing a finger.  I was a little afraid.

The next day I had my first currywurst which was exciting.  Garrett and I also went and walked around, went to some parks and saw Checkpoint Charlie and the East Side Gallery, a famous part of the wall that is left standing that many people have painted murals on.  The day after that we walked around some more and went to a new hostel, with a swimming pool!  There were also bunnies in the courtyard.  Of course this was really exciting.  We decided to catch the bunnies and pet them.   I thought this was a great idea, but the staff at the hostel didn't.




Hotel where Michael Jackson dangled his son out of a window, definitely what I wanted to see in Europe!




That night Garrett and I had some beers and then went to sleep.  The next morning we woke up and went to the airport where Garrett met up with the Willowbrook gang.  After another day wandering Berlin, I went to bed early because I had an early train to Warsaw the next morning.

The train ride to Warsaw was fun.  I made some new friends from the UK and met a Canadian couple who had moved from Warsaw to Vancouver.  They were really helpful in giving us information and talking to us about stuff.  It was fun.  When I got off the train I met up with my friend Emily, who is staying in Warsaw for the summer with her grandma and taking polish classes.  Her dad was also there visiting for a bit.   After dropping my bags off we went straight to Old Town and had some Polish beer.  Then we walked to an awesome ice cream place...and they piled that ice cream on!  It was amazing!  It was great to have the two of them there because they were able to point a lot out and make great suggestions.  They even pointed out the plaques that were randomly throughout the city that indicated where "16 people had been killed" during WWII.  Some plaques showed where hundreds were shot dead.  Unsettling, huh.   We found a really great beer garden and sat and relaxed while I told them my tales from Europe.

The next day included a lot of eating, mainly because Emily's grandma likes feeding people apparently.  She didn't really speak any English though so she would just say something in Polish, everyone would laugh, I would feel left out, and then food would appear.  Weird, but rewarding.  Then we went to Emily's dad's friend's house.  He gave us lots of beer and he was a really animated guy, so it was fun.

The next day, i met Emily's dad and he took me to a museum while Emily went to her Polish language class.  The museum was on the Polish Uprising during WWII.  It was really intense, but good.  After that we went to the Warsaw Zoo.  Emily's dad knows people who work there, so we were given a private tour, it was really great!





After that we went back to a beer garden and then parted ways.  I decided to leave for Krakow the next day and booked a train.

Krakow was really great, I spent most of my time there relaxing and having ice cream and beer.  Here are some pictures.  (My hands are getting tired from typing, sorry for the lacking descriptions, but I guess you will all just have to talk to me when I get back, if you want to know more....)


I took a night train to Prague, which was really weird, especially because of the guy who kept trying to speak to me in Czech, or maybe Polish.  Anyways, Prague was really beautiful!  I ended up hanging out with an American girl Katie while I was there, she is from South Carolina, but is working in South Korea now.  We had an awesome time!






This morning I went back to London...but that is its own blog post in its self.  I'm headed to the shore tomorrow to spend some much needed time laying on the sand and resting.

Love you all and miss you!
-SP