pog ma thon!
Sarah's and my visit to Dublin, Ireland this past weekend brought back memories of having Irish George Vial as a counselor for camp a few years ago. He tought us to say the above phrase (pronounced 'pOgue ma hOne') while we played games, went hiking and were just sitting around the camp fire, telling us that it was a cheer the Irish use to cheer one another on. It was great to learn that it actually meant 'kiss my you-know-what'. Ahh....church camp. Dublin was great fun. I'm actually at work right now and don't have time to go into the details of what we did, so I'll save that for another time. In the mean time, check out the pictures on Sarah's photo website. You'll find them under the heading, 'Dublin, Ireland' (duh). Also, while you're there, check out the Beatles tour pictures of us as well.


I can't believe that I went to Oxford (and of course the Great Hall used for the filming of the Harry Potter movies) and never wrote to tell you all about it! Please forgive my ineptness.

just in time for the sorting ceremony
We got to Christ Church college and had five minutes to get to the great hall before it closed so the students could eat lunch. Racing past the guards, we rounded the corner and the steps came into view. Everything else vanished and I felt like a nervous first year, arriving at Hogwarts for the first time. As I climbed the steps, I half expected to see Maggie Smith in her emerald robes ready to instruct us to line up to be presented to the sorting hat. 'Trevor!' I shouted/whispered, re-living the role of Neville finding his toad by Professor McGonagall's feet at the top of the stairway. Megan rolled her eyes (we had to pay £3 for this?) and Elizabeth laughed, but at that moment, I had left all Muggles behind and I was a student at Hogwarts.

does this worry anyone?
Maybe this is why I don't have much luck with guys. I'm waiting for a 15 year-old Brit to sweep me off my feet and onto his broom, whisking me away into the Forbidden Forest.

through the looking glass, into narnia to visit the lord of the rings
Just so you all don't think I've gone completely off the deep end, I also drank in the shadows of literary greatness left in Oxford by Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. Carroll was very much inspired by Oxford where he lived and worked and incorporated characteristics of the Christ Church great hall into Alice in Wonderland. We tried to eat at the pub frequented by the Inklings, Lewis, Tolkein, and their friends. They would meet regularly to read and discuss their writings. Unfortunately, they shut the kitchen right when we went up to order, and being as famished as we were, we figured we had to feast on more than the ghosts of the greats.

up next
Well, first, I'm going to research the requirements of becoming a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Tomorrow we head to the Inns of Court where the justice of this land is carried out. Thursday, our journalism class is taking a tour of the Economist. That evening, Protz and I take an overnight coach/ferry and arrive in Dublin early Friday morning. So, I'll be in the land of Eire this weekend. Oh Blarney.
feelin' bri'ish
I ate tea and crumpets for breakfast this morning.

to Margaret for the Reeses and 3 Muskateers! You're a star! Hope you're having fun in Mexico!


visitors, vistors everywhere
The past two weeks has been full of friends and family. The Manhattanites returned home safely last Wednesday. As it is five days later and a school day, hopefully they have each gotten over their jet lag by now.
On Thursday, I met up with Tarin, her brother Casey and Lisa, friends from high school who were visiting London with the K-State finance department. It was great to catch up on the MHS gossip while eating dinner at a restaurant in China Town. Afterwards, we went to the Long Island Ice Tea Shop and watched the late-Twenties-somethings shake their groove thing on the dance floor.
Friday was simply brilliant. My aunt Sally's friend Vallarie lives in London and she invited me over for dinner and (free!) laundry at her place. I ate a fabulous three course meal with Vallarie and her husband Jim while my clothes tumbled around in the dryer. They live in a mews house (a mews is like an alley where people kept their horses and other such animals) that once housed the horses and falcons of the Duke of Wellington. I came back to the flat to find that an impromptu, non-alcoholic party was swinging in our living room. (They like us, they really like us!) It was fun to have a whole bunch of people just sitting around, chilling, looking at photos and swaping funny stories.
Saturday, I met Emily at Victoria Train Station where Sarah and Felicity were to arrive. As soon as they got there, Sarah's video camera came out and the filming of our own European Vacation began.

what you would see in the footage
The black fence outside Emily's dorm. Why? Felicity thought is was very British.
A Frenchman making our crepes on Portobello Road (We avoided the massive war protest which we figured might get a little wild by heading to Notting Hill)
Very thick paint on the road outlining parking spots. Why? Felicity thought it was very British.
The travel bookshop where Hugh Grant worked in the movie Notting Hill.
Emily's dorm kitchen and us eating dinner, devising our scedule for the week.
The toilets (read: bathroom) across the hall from Em's room. Why? Feliciy thought they were . . . yup . . . very British.
Us getting ready to go on a Beatles walking tour with the famed Richard, the Beatles Brain of Britain who gives two different Beatles tours about five times a week. 'The only thing on both tours is Abbey Road.' He was everything you said he'd be, Luke. ;)
The group of us holding up traffic as we tried (for 15 minutes) to recreate the album cover of Abbey Road. The battery died just as we started to cross. We'll have to wait for the still shots to be developed. The line up for the famed shot: Emily as George, me as Paul (complete without my shoes, incomplete without the cigarette), Felicity as Ringo and Sarah and Sarah (Hood, then Protzman in the various pictures we took) as John.

and more visitors
Ellen's Steve came over during Mizzou's spring break and Megan's friend Lynn got in yesterday as well. Tonight, I'm hopefully meeting up with Cassie who is visiting family outside of London. Next weekend, flatmate Sarah's friend Jennie (?) comes to visit, as well as Careth's friend Shauna.

Protz and I are off to Dublin on Thursday. We're taking an over night coach/ferry and plan on seeing much of the cotswold counrtyside before we (hopefully) fall asleep. We don't really know what there is to do in Dublin, but we think we'll figure something out.

favorite beatles story from the tour
In an interview, John commented about the trend of the number of young people going to church getting less and less whilst the number attending concerts of groups like the Beatles grew and grew. His quote was, 'We're more popular than Jesus now.' That got the right-wing fanatics in the U.S. angry and one Texas radio station, owned by the KKK, called for a Beatles album burning. That same night, their station was struck by lightning. Ha! Read about it here.


have no fear because I am here...
I got an email today from Sarah Hood. She and Felicity Pino headed over here Friday to visit Emily and me and she was wanting to know what to tell her parents about safety concerns. I've gotten a couple of emails from some of you and so I thought that I'd cut and paste the email I sent her so you guys can be assured of my safety over here. Read on.

Here are some of my thoughts. One, right now, I don't think Britian is under any bigger threat than America. Because America is the one who attacked Baghdad this morning, there would more likely be an attack on American soil than British soil. Two, the Iraqi army is sooooo much smaller than the American and British troops and will be so pre-ocqupied with their deffense that an offensive is
highly unlikely.

Three, it's true that there are people who feel that the American government is the spawn of Satan (Bush in particular), but these people, for the most part, recognise the difference between an average Joe America and the government. Some might ask you, hostily, 'Why does America do this?' 'Why are Americans so stupid about that?' but that is so rare that it's almost exciting when it
happens. The key is just to keep a low profile and not do anything to promote the American stereotypes. That means, on the Tube and in public places, keep quiet. Nobody talks on the Tube, so when a bunch of people get on who are loud, obnoxious and generally not aware that everyone is giving them death stares, it's almost always a group of Americans. This doesn't mean that you should be mum the whole week, just be aware of your volume. Don't talk politics in the open. Basically, as our programme and the British Home Office told us, be alert, but not alarmed. Spike, our programme Bobby (policeman) told us that they are not overly worried. They would tell us if there was need for concern.

Four, neither the MU study abroad office, the International Enrichment staff, nor the U.S. Embassy have emailed us with any concerns and we have been given no reason to think that our time here is going to be cut short. The war is supposed to be quick, just a couple of weeks, so I don't think there's much to worry about over here. Your biggest complication, I think, is going to be the fact that Americans are freaking out and cancelling flights. The worst will be your flight may be changed or delayed. Make sure you call the airline the day before just to make sure things are on schedule. That's logistics, not anything to get worked up about, though. You'll get here when you get here and we're going to have a blast!

I hope that helps assuage your fears!

-To note a difference between cultures: the Americans are freaking out about the war (which is understandable) and cancelling flights, etc while the British are thinking, 'Well, it's going on, so we'd better live with it, but I'm still heading to France for holiday!'


ahhh...the fam.....
My parents, sister and family friend arrived in London last Thursday, so the weekend was full of fun touristy things. Ally's loving the language and giggles everytime she hears something she finds amusing. She is also fascinated by the Tube...she hasn't ridden on it enough to be annoyed at the (reliable) delays and problems. :) Mom is in tourist mode; we practically ran from one sight to the next on Sunday. Dad is getting some kind of continuing education credit for this trip by observing the local architecture, city planning and landscaping so we keep losing him behind the digital camera. Mary Beth has been to London a few times, so she's done some exploring on her own. Here's what we've been up to:

A meeting beneath Big Ben, across the street from the semi-permanent war protests that line the park by Parliament. Dinner at a great Italian restaurant on the Strand. Then it was time for the visitors to crash. Jet Lag. Bugger. I actually hit the bed as well, as I was suffering from a sinus infection. (I was hoping I'd make it through this semester safe...no luck.)

The family visited the V&A Museum in the morning while I was at work. They came to the office and met the staff of W&h before we took a stroll down the Thames to visit the Salvador Dali Exhibit. I'd been saving doing that exhibit until they came because I thought it would be good to go through together, as we have two Dali prints in our dining room. He's a very odd, odd guy. Then we raced to Soho for dinner at Pizza Express (a must if you come to London) before going to see Les Miserables. Wow. Amazing. I bawled. Fortunately, my sinus infection forced me to carry around a pack of Kleenexes. Unfortunately, I used them up by the end of the show. Ally stayed the night at my flat. We slept on the couches, which, I have decided, are way more comfortable than my bed. I might never return to the bedroom.

We joined a walking tour excursion to Bath, the same place I had been with one of my programme excursions. I'd loved it so much that I thought it'd be fun to take them. We had a wonderful guide named Richard (no, Luke, not your Richard, although the family was planning on meeting him this morning for a Beatles tour. I warned them.). He took us all over the city and I got to see tons more than my previous visit. The weather was fabulous and the town gorgeous. Celebrity sighting: Trudy, our tour guide from the programme. Unfortunately, Richard was in the middle of his tour and Trudy was in the middle of hers, so I couldn't stop to chat.
We got back to London in time to race back to Soho and get last-minute seats for Agatha Christie's whodunnit, The Mousetrap. It was great...don't ask me whodunnit, though, because we (the audience) were sworn to secrecy by the cast not to reveal it. This was it's 50th year of running in London! Again, Ally stayed the night at the flat and again the couch was as comfortable as heaven.

We had been told the Buckingham Palace guards changed at 11:30 on Sunday. They didn't. So, we headed to the Cabinet War Rooms. Really neat. Beneath government buildings, Churchill had his war cabinet meet in complete secrecy and concrete-reinforced safety. When the last bomb was dropped on Japan, the cabinet members tidied up, locked the door and left everything as it was. Now, you can visit the rooms and see where Churchill lived, gave his weekly addresses to the nation/world on the BBC, and made his major decisions during WWII. It was very neat.
After that, we headed to the Tower Bridge and the London Tower. In the London Tower, we got to see the crown jewels which include the world's largest diamond. My jewelry is quite boring, I've decided. Time to find myself a small, diamond crown of my own. Maybe a jeweld orb and scepter as well. Outside the Tower, I had celebrity sighting number two: Trudy. Again. Crack me up! This time I decided I did have to interrupt her tour (it was really small and it looked like they were jsut conversing, she wasn't deep in explanation). She's great.
We headed to Camden Market next. I don't think I really warned my family how much of a drug culture is there. I thought we should have taken a picture of my mom (7th grade drug and alcohol prevention teacher) holding a bong just for kicks. It didn't happen.
Went to dinner in Leicester Square at the Aberdeen Steak House. Mom, Dad and Ally got tickets to see Mamma Mia for the next night. Bummer that I had class. Then we called it a night.

I had work and class and since I have a paper due in class tonight, I didn't get a chance to see them at all yesterday. St. Patrick's Day night was spent in class, finishing my paper, wishing Protz a happy birthday, chilling in a pub (where they don't have green beer...we guess that's just an American thing since none of the Brits had heard of that. Guiness is Guiness and that's all you need I suppose.), having a flat dance party with our favorite 80's artists Madonna and (Wacko) Jacko, and staying up to watch Bush's Iraq speach. Our guest speaker in class last night was Phillip Knightly, renowned war correspondant. Quite the appropriate and timely guest you might say.

Work. Class (we're learning about the British class system tonight). Then I head to the hotel to say good-bye to the fam (and try to convince them that I need some more money). They leave tomorrow at noon.

what you can look forward to hearing about...
My friends from high school arrived this weekend. Tarin, Casey and Lisa are doing a K-State finance department trip here during KSU's spring break. Tarin called last night and hopefully tomorrow or late tonight I'll actually get in contact with them.
Tomorrow, our excursion is to Oxford and Blenheim Palace! Why am I excited? Because Oxford's great hall was used in the filming of the Harry Potter movies as Hogwarts' great hall. Very excited.
My friends from MU arrive Saturday. Sarah Hood and Felicity Pino are going to be staying with Emily, but we're going to spend the weekend doing touristy things. Cassie Garnas is also visitng London. She's staying with some family outside the city, so she's going to come in one night and we're going to go out.

funny story
Last week's excursion was a tour of Parliament. Our guide showed us a clock that belonged to Queen Victoria. Before it was hers, it was made especially for Marie Antionette. There is none other like it in the world and no figure is placed on it. Our guide gave a tour to Michael Jackson a few years ago and MJ pointed at the clock and said he'd like to buy it (just like in the interview!). He also wanted to buy the throne. I tell you, he's wacko, that Jacko.

...to Dan for the beautiful postcard of Jesse Hall. You crack me up!

-Baby carriages are everywhere and the men take their children for walks just as much as women do. Also, the buggies have a plastic covering that can shield the baby from the rain. (maybe I 'observed' that in a previous posting...at least, I've been meaning to post it for a while.)
-My mom has always been loud. She's even louder in London where people are really quiet.
-I've said this on Dan's blog comments, but I thought I'd mention it here (especially with my birthday coming up, wink wink): There are no Reese Peanutbutter cups or 3 Muskateers bars here.
-There is a serious lack of public rubbish bins.


we need more people like mr. rogers
Take some time to read this article from an old issue of Esquire magazine. It made me think of you, Grammie. :) Thanks to Justin for the link.


take a look . . .
I keep forgetting to let you know that I've linked Russ and Dave's website (on the right, under the London heading, "R. Shank. & D. North."). They have pics from Russ's digital camera, some of which include me and my flatmates. (See the ones under the headings UK and France.) Maybe someday I'll get around to developing my own film, old fashion style, and scanning some choice photos onto my blog. Don't get your hopes up, though. Until then, enjoy the sights through the eyes of Russ and Dave.


again, the disclaimer
What did you expect after a week of world-wide (or Italy/Greece-wide) travelling. Pace yourself and take this entry in stride. :)

after this, i’m getting a cell phone
I will begin my recount of spring break with the top story. The basic outcome: all’s well that ends well, although it got a little testy there for a bit.

On Thursday, Megan, Ellen and I left Florence at 5:30 in the morning, heading to Venice. Our itinerary had a train switch in Bologna. As I wrestled with my baggage above the seat, people began to get on the train. Meg and Ell had bigger bags so theirs was in the larger baggage compartments. They had already gotten off the train. Our seat had been in the centre of the car and no one would let me by to get off the train, no matter how urgently I said, “scuzzie.” I got to the door, finally, pressed the button to open it . . . and no luck; the train started moving. It was just like a scene in the movies. I could see Ellen looking confused as she looked up and down the platform, trying to find me. Panicked, I pounded frantically on the glass, struggling to get her attention. When she saw me, she began to panic, too. She started running, trying vainly to chase down the train.

And so . . . I ended up in Milan, without a train ticket (we had one, three-person ticket for our little group), no way of getting a hold of Megan and Ellen, and not idea of what their actions were going to be. Not to mention the fact that my knowledge of Italian was limited to: “excuse me” (which obviously did me no good), “do you speak English?” “I don’t understand,” “thank you,” and “I would like a glass of red wine” (a phrase that Ellen has deemed necessary to learn in every language of every country we visit). While they had our train ticket, I had our hotel information. After a series of events trying to find out where El and Megs were, I got on a train to Venice, hoping to find the girls waiting for me at the station, knowing that they would have no place to go without knowing our hotel. It was 2:10 when I arrived.

No such luck. I waited and waited and waited for them to arrive on another train. Fortunately, 1) Venice has to be the safest place in Italy 2) I ran into five girls from our group who arrived in Venice. Elizabeth stayed with me for about an hour until, finally, Ellen and Megan showed up. They had been in Venice since our original train arrived at 11:53. It was now 6:30.

It turned out that the girls assumed that I would go to the hotel since I had the information. They called Ellen’s mom at about 3:00 a.m. Dallas time because Ell had given her all of our accommodations info. Leaving their stuff at the hotel, they left a note for me to find and wandered around the city. When they came back a couple hours later and found that I had not come to the hotel, they stopped by the station and found me and Elizabeth.

By the time we got my luggage to the hotel, search for three hours for Elizabeth’s hotel, it was 10:30 p.m. We got to take a boat metro thing, but no gondola. The city is gorgeous and I will definitely be returning there sometime . . . preferably with the love of my life, whomever that may be, as it is a very romantic city.

So, morals of the story:
have an emergency plan every time you travel
make everyone carry all essential info
determine a meeting point if you ever separate
make sure someone outside your travelling group knows your info as well
carry a cell phone for emergency contact

Overall, at the end of the day, we were all safe. And, I think I really would have loved Venice. It was just disappointing since we had only booked one day in the city. It makes for an exciting story, anyways.

now, for the rest of the week
I’ll take each city by section. These won’t be as long and detailed; I just thought you all might enjoy that little tale.

Roma (Rome)
Dirtier than Paris in places. A worse Metro system than London. Better monuments than any city. Ever. I’ll try to remember it all. We stayed in a hostel. Interesting experience. Cheap. Safe. Dirrrrty.

Sights we saw:
-The Spanish Steps: featured in Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn, the only A.H. movie I have seen from beginning to end . . . great movie.
-Coliseum: really neat, very Gladiator-esque
-Roman Forum: the best place to take pictures. It cleared up just in time for us to get a good contrast between the wonderfully green grass and gorgeous blue sky.
-Walked along the river: clean river
-Trevali Fountain: huge!!! Really cool.
-Pantheon: I thought the ceiling was leaking . . . apparently there’s a huge hole, that, contrary to my first impression, is not covered by glass. Ell and Megs found my lack of knowledge quite amusing. But I saw Donatello’s coffin and memorial in the church and they missed it. So take that!
-The Vatican: G-to-the-orgeous. Saw the Sistine Chapel (amazing, but too crowded to fully appreciate Michelangelo’s genius), the Pieta, the view from the top of St. Peter’s dome. Here are my thoughts (and I’m sorry if I offend my Catholic friends out there): It was a little too gorgeous. There’s something about such extravagance that makes it seem like Man is trying to outdo God’s beauty. I know that’s not what the designers of the Vatican had in mind, but when I saw such lavish gold in one small area that was dedicated to the glory of God, it made me wonder why that gold hadn’t been put to use helping God’s people. Just a thought. I really liked the Vatican. It was my favourite day of Rome. I especially liked sitting outside the steps of St. Peter’s and chilling in the sun, watching nuns go by chatting on their cell phones. (No joking!)

Thoughts about Rome:
-The guys there have never seen a blonde. Ellen and I were clucked at, called “bella” and “beautiful,” got tons of stares, and had a couple of un-mentionable phrases thrown in our direction. One night, our waiter asked to take a picture with me and told me he loved me. Fortunately, that night we had met up with Jon and Seth from our group, so it was more fun than creepy.
-I liked it, but three nights (especially three nights in our hostel) was enough for me.

Firenze (Florence)
My favourite city from our trip. It was weird to think that Lane was just here a couple of months ago! I absolutely loved Florence.

-Duomo: the church, baptista, campanili, and museum. We climbed the 463 steps all the way to the top of the dome. It was an even better view than St. Peter’s, I thought.
-Museo dell Academia: saw Michelangelo’s David as well as his unfinished slaves and The Rape of the Sabines. Amazing. The best part about the trip, I think. It’s just so cool to me to remember doing a report on Michelangelo in third or fourth grade and having photocopies of his works spread out on the kitchen table and now to have actually seen the real works. David is enormous! His foot is nearly larger than my entire arm!
-Spent the night of Mardi Gras walking the streets of Florence, eating gelatti (Italian ice cream . . . sooooo good!) and visiting the famous bridge with shops on it.
-Uffizi Museum – saw works by Bodacelli (Birth of Venus and Primavera), Michelangelo, Caravagio (Shield of the Medusa) and many others.
-Santa Croce Cathedral: saw Michelangelo’s, Galileo’s tombs and Dante’s empty tomb, as well as St. Francis of Asisis’s cloak.
-Browsed the booths at the market.

Thoughts on Florence:
My favourite city (but I’ve mentioned that)
A little expensive! It cost to go into everything at the Duomo as well as all the museums and churches. I paid 6.50 (Euros) to go to the Academia and I couldn’t even take a picture of the David!
The weather was beautimous!

Venezia (Venice)
Oh, but we covered that one already. :)

Athina (Athens)
“…When the dog bites / When the bee stings”
I’ll admit that Athens was a little scary. To begin with, not only do they speak another language, but they also have a completely different alphabet. Thanks to Alpha Chi, I was familiar with the alphabet and pronunciation. However, I didn’t think “Sespouda somenta ano ta ta” (Together let us seek the heights, our open motto) was going to be of much use . . . except maybe when Meg, Ell and I were scaling the heights to the Acropolis. Actually, there was American alphabet interpretations for all the street signs and maps, and most people in restaurants and shops could speak and understand a bit of English.

The Acropolis: very interesting. Unfortunately, there was a lot of restoration going on and the weather was cloudy, so I don’t think our pictures will turn out the best.
The Gyros: We ate a gyros from a restaurant window vendor. It was soooo good; actually, it wasn’t too different from the ones at Jimmy’s Steak House in CoMo.
Making it back to our hotel safe every night. (We would sing “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music under our breath and walk very quickly to avoid the creepy guys who would stare at us in the worst way.
Overall, I’m glad we experienced Greek culture. The people who weren’t on the streets were really nice and it was a good challenge to be out of our communication comfort zone with the Greek alphabet.

number of gelattis in 3 days: 9
number of steps climbed throughout the week: some insane amount that I think adds up to 5,000. No exaggeration.
number of times a guy offered to carry my luggage: 6
number of times a guy offered to carry Ellen's luggage: 3
number of times a guy offered to carry Meg's luggage: 0
Ellen and my hair colour:: blonde
Meg's hair colour:: brown

and now . . .
My parents and sister come Thursday morning for a week. I’m really excited to see them and show them around the city, as if I’m a true Londoner. I’m actually looking forward to going into work tomorrow and tweaking the page design I left on Friday.

Sorry for the massive post; I think this is my longest yet. Cheers, ciao, arrivaderci, andios!


when in Rome...
We got here safe yesterday afternoon and found that our hostel has free internet access! So, I thought I'd write a quick post to let you guys know I'm here.

it's a small world after all...
This morning we were sitting at breakfast and this guy came up and patted me on the shoulder. Here's what happened:
guy: So, you're from Mizzou.
only people who go to MU call it Mizzou, so we knew he was a student...but how did her know?
me: yeah. ?
guy: I went there for a year last year. I was a freshman. I recognized your Farmhouse t-shirt.
ahhhh....that explains it
me: really? That's cool. What are you doing here?
guy: I took a year off this year and worked at a pub in Dublin, now I'm travelling around Europe on the EuroRail for three months.
me: Wow. Fun!
guy: Actually, I think you were in one of my classes. I recognize you.
me: really?!
guy: A religion class or something?
me: probably....which one?
guy: Hebrew or Old Testament or something.
me: Yeah! Old Testament!

well, off to see the Vatican!