Monday, November 24, 2008

Josh's Ghetto Gangster Birthday Party


One of my best friends Jessica is getting married on New Years Eve and I am so excited for her. Jessica and her fiance, Steve, are perfect for each other, and I feel so blessed to be a part of their special day.

Here are the girls @ one of Jessica's wedding showers.

And here we are @ Jessica's lingerie shower.

Thanks Meg and Allison for hosting such an awesome shower!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Limerick, Ireland

After my wonderful stay in Capernwray I flew from Manchester, England to Shannon, Ireland to visit my good friend, old roomate, and sorority sister Laura Gutto over in Limerick, Ireland. Laura and I lived in the same apartment senior year with one of my best friends Malia Prietto, and we seriously had the greatest time. Between hanging out with "our boys", late night Harry Potter movies, our favorite game "web", sorority date nights, senior activities and LMU, we just couldn't get enough of each other and its been really hard not to see her since graduation. I was so happy to see Laura and her boyfriend Steve. It was a good time to catch up with good friends, and make new memories. I am so proud of Laura and her ability to move so far away from home, excel in graduate school in another country, and remain happy about life all the while. Unfortunately my trip was cut short due to circumstances at home, but I was so thrilled to be able to see Laura nonetheless. It just means I get to go back again sometime soon.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Capernwray, England

As I mentioned in my previous blog, when my escapades in London came to an end, I ended up in northern U.K. at a place called Capernwray. I guess I shouldn't say I ended up there as much as I had planned to go their in the first place, but my intentions were to visit a good friend who is working at Capernwray Hall as an R.A. to students going to Bible School there. It was good to see Alex amidst his busy schedule (probably the most hectic time for me to visit him), encourage him in any way, take a break from travelling, and make new friends along the way.

The first full day I was at Capernwray Hall, the students were participating in an all day prayer day. It was the first prayer day they had all year, so it wasn't just new to me. I, of course, took advantage of the quiet and slept in (and boy did I enjoy it). As I went running that morning I could see students all over the castle and surrounding acres sitting in solitude praying and reading their Bibles. It was such an encouragement for me to see God moving and to actually be able to feel his presence. Since my travels have begun I have not been able to go to church or even take a second to reflect on what God is doing in my life at the moment. In a month's time I have slowly fallen away from a daily ritual that I thrive on, and I didnt realize how much it kept me from even thinking about the Lord and what he is working on in me. I took a break from my run and began to think about where I was and how God revealed himself so much over my trip when I didn't even think about it. He provided the opportunity for me to travel to Europe, He provided trains when I needed them, He provided places to stay when I needed them, He provided beautiful weather, He provided money when I lacked it, He provided safety from people and transportation, and He provided the friendships of others when I felt alone. I hadn't given God the credit for any of these things, and yet he deserves it. It's sad to think it took me so long to realize it.

Later that night there was a chapel where students encouraged each other, took communion together, and reflected on what the Lord was doing in their lives. If there were words to describe what happened in that room that night I would say intense, broken, and moving. It really made me think of my small group of girls at home and just how much I miss them. It also made me miss being home. But it was awesome to experience the work God was doing on the students at Capernwray. On a lighter note, after chapel there was a big group of students who got together and we all played volleyball. It was so much fun. There were so many ranges of players, and it was just funny to see all the students interact with one another on a competitive (for some) and noncompetitive (for others) level. After volleyball I was able to hang out with some of the girls and I seriously laughed my butt off. They were so funny and I really enjoyed their senses of humor, and how kind they were to include me in their after-hours fun.

The next day was cleaning day or something, where all the students had to do their "duties". I tried to help but none of the girls in my hall would let me, therefore I took a walk. It was so beautiful and so nice to finally have alone time to myself, soooo I took advantage of it. After lunch, Alex and I took another walk around the loop with two other students and then it started to rain, but atleast it wasnt as bad as when Jess and I were in the Kensington Gardens. Seriously, thank God for that. For dinner we ordered pizza (I wish I enjoyed the food as much as I did the people there) and hung out in the Common Room. After dinner a bunch of us took a late night walk around the loop and just enjoyed each other's company. It was definitely a good end to my stay there.

So as I'm in Ireland, I really miss Alex and all the friends I made at Capernwray. As much as I wish I could stay there and just finish the year there with them, I know God has a different plan for my life, and wants me in Orange least for now.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

London, England

I have to admit that London is somewhere I've wanted to go for a really long time. Ever since my sister studied there I've been dying to go, and now I finally had the chance. Thankfully we were staying with two girls Jessica met while in Costa Rica, and they were such a blessing to us. It was great to stay with old friends and meet new ones. Ruje and Menai were lovely hosts, and we are truly indebted to them.

Jessica and I got to London on Halloween night and it was quite a sight. Having forgotten about my least favorite holiday (if you can even call it that), I was quickly reminded about it by all the people getting on the tube dressed in different costumes. My favorite was the guy who was dressed in all white bandages with fake blood all over himself, who ended up sitting next to Jessica. She looked at him and was like "Are you alright there?" which he quickly and confidently replied "Yeah. I'm fine", almost sincerely forgetting what he was dressed in. Being a nurse I'm sure her instincts kicked in-that's definitely something I love about her.

On Saturday we were able to sleep in until 9am then decided to slowly introduce ourselves to the city. Since we had about 5 days in London we wanted to have time to relax and really enjoy our stay there. It was raining (why didn't anyone tell me how much it rained in London?) so we decided to go to the Kensington Gardens and Palace. The funny thing about the Kensington Gardens is that THEY ARE OUTSIDE! I think you know where I'm going with this. We were definitely outside in the rain, enjoying the gardens of course, but very wet. We then decided to take the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk from the gardens to her Memorial Fountain, walked a really long way, ended up getting lost, and proceeded to get even more wet. We decided we had enough with the rain so we went to Harrod's and got lost there instead. AND it is very important to note that Harrod's is not like a department store in the states; oh no, it's like ten times bigger and ten times better and ten times more expensive. I'm glad we went but I could live without it. At least until my next trip to London. That night we went to dinner at this nice restaurant called Langley's close to Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square and it was definitely one of the best meals we had on the trip. Interestingly enough, it was a restaurant/club/bar, so very noisy but very delicious.

On Sunday we woke up and Ruje took Jess and I to this cute pub/restaurant where we were able to get a traditional Sunday English roast. When Jessica and I ordered our beef and chicken roasts, respectively, we had no idea how much scrumptious food they would cram onto our plates. I was definitely not prepared for this Thanksgiving size meal. Jessica finished her meal, but I just couldn't. I kept telling myself to "just eat it", but then I was thinking and I only allow myself to eat that much food on two days a year: Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. It was neither, so I didnt feel so bad. After that it was dark so Jessica and I went to the London Eye, and walked around the Parliament building and Big Ben. All the lights made London so gorgeous at night! We then walked along the Jubilee Walk and towards Shakespeare's Globe and the Tate Modern, something I had been looking forward to seeing since Malia told me about it. After that, we called it a night.

On Monday we got an early start to get our tickets to the Tower of London, and the play "Rain Man" starring Josh Hartnett and Adam Godley. Our morning and early afternoon were dedicated to the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and London Bridge. The Tower of London was huge and included some very fun sights, such as the royal crown jewels, diamonds, and armor from back in the day. We also got to play with these fighting simulators, which was really fun but too hard for Jessica and I. It was definitely a good laugh though. My favorite part in the afternoon though was when we were walking away from the London Bridge and I made Jessica stop so we could listen to the song "London Bridge" by Fergie. It was fun to stop and sing/dance in the middle of London; when else could we do that together!? Although I'm sure the other people at the bus stop weren't too impressed. Oh well. After that Jess and I did the Rick Steve's Westminster Abbey walk. We started in Trafalgar Square and ended up at the Abbey. It was a nice walk and we got to go to the National Portrait Museum, see a man rescue a bird trapped in the metal spicks at the National Museum (don't worry, the bird was okay), and see the House of Parliament and Big Ben during the day. Our fun filled day ended with seeing the play "Rain Man" and boy were we excited! It's not everyday you get to see Josh Hartnett in a play in London (with his shirt off). We were debating between "Wicked" and this play, but we are so glad we chose "Rain Man", considering we both have seen "Wicked" multiple times. Josh Hartnett was an excellent Charlie Babbitt, but Adam Godley stood out as Raymond Babbitt. They brought out the best in each other and I honestly recommend you seeing the play if you're ever in London. Just do it.

Tuesday was our "last day to do everything" day, as well as Election Day in the U.S. On the bus an older gentleman turned around and asked us if we were Americans. When we told him we were indeed Americans, he replied "Well I hope he wins". We were like "Yeah we do too". We, of course, were referring to McCain, where as I'm 100% sure he was referring to Obama. (I Just don't know why they love him so much over there.) Oh well, Obama won anyways. In the morning we hurried to Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guards to only learn that they weren't changing the guards that day. Unfortunately we didnt get to see such a fun event but we did see this other parade including horses and guards and such. I'm sure it was just as important. After that we continued onto Harrod's to do a little last minute shopping. I'm still completely amazed by that place. Then we headed to Notting Hill to find this cupcake place Ruje recommended to us called The Hummingbird Place. It was raining (go figure) and the cupcake place ended up being closed (it just wasn't our day) but the good news was that Jessica found some boots. We then went back to Menai's to eat a meal she cooked for us and watch the election updates on BBC. That night we went out for drinks where we toasted to our amazing trip, good friends, and to Jessica's wedding. It was a great end to Jessica's trip.

On Wednesday Jessica left early to catch her plane. I went back to the Tate Modern to spend more time and ended up losing track of time and almost missing my train to Manchester. Honestly it was totally a God thing that I made it. I finally made it to Capernwray just around "Tea" time or what I like to call dinnertime. It was so good to see Alex Kenney and catch up, and then meet all of his students and friends there. Everyone is so nice, and Capernwray is such a blessing. After dinner, I went to Alex's futbol game and it was quite interesting, considering I was the only spectator (can you say awkward?). The most random thing happened that night too: when I was meeting all the students I ran into this kid Matt Joanou, who grew up at Voyagers and went to Woodbridge. How random is that? It was good to see him and talk about home, but it was just so random; God just continues to amaze me.

Downside of my U.K. trip: didn't make it to Bath or the Stourhead Gardens (where Pride and Prejudice was filmed), and I didnt see/meet Kiera Knightley. Oh well, another time I suppose.

On Saturday I leave for Limerick, Ireland to see my good friend and college roomate, Laura. I can't wait to see her and finally visit Ireland. Yet again, I'll be flying RyanAir so be praying for my safety and the rest of my trip. I appreciate all of you who have been reading my blog and keeping up with my journey across Europe. Know I'm thinking about all of you and praying for you as well!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Salzburg, Austria

Okay, okay. I have to confess. The main reason we decided to go to Salzburg wasn't for the Mozart balls or to see Mozart's birthplace, it was to................go on the SOUND OF MUSIC TOUR!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YES. The moment we got to Salzburg we dropped off our things at Yoho International Hostel and headed over to the Sound of Music Tour Bus. The tour was 4 hours long and consisted of seeing key sites where the Sound of Music was filmed. We first visited the house and lake where the children and Maria fall into the lake. The next site we got to see was the gazebo where they shot the song ''I am sixteen going on seventeen...''. We also visited the church where Maria and the Barron got married and the front of the house where Maria sings the confidence song. We also got to see the Abbey where Maria Von Trapp actually lived. There was definitely a lot of singing, and there was even apple strudel!

The next day we went to the salt mines. It was magnificent and so much fun. We got to go underground and go down HUGE slides. Just wait until you see the pictures. Salzburg was just so much fun!

Tonight we leave for London. Pray for our safety as we fly on RyanAir!

Vienna, Austria

Luckily on the train from Prague to Vienna we met some American girls who were studying in Florence but on fall break and actually staying at the same hostel as us in Vienna. It made it so much easier/safer finding our way to Wombat's with 5 girls late at night. Thankfully we made it with the crappy directions we had.

I didn't know what to expect from Vienna, or Austria for that matter. I had heard about the Opera houses, and Mozart, and the great chocolates, but did you know that Arnold Schwarzenegger is from Austria?! Who woulda thunk it! That was definitely one thing that I learned while in Vienna. Crazy, considering he is OUR Governor!

Vienna had a lot of great sites to see. There was obviously the great Opera house, then there was the Hofsburg Palace, the Mozart statue, the Momument of War and Fascism, St. Stephen's Cathedral, and of course the English movie theatre!!!!!! Yes, I'm disappointed to report that on our first night in Vienna we saw a late viewing of Eagle Eye in English. We were just in need of some normalcy when we found the English Theatre and we couldn't resist. But dont worry the next day we more than made up for our American-ness.

We saw all the sights I mentioned above, and even made time to see a ballet in the Opera House? Yes, it sounds strange. Unfortunately there was not an opera playing the night we were there so we went to the ballet instead. Since I had heard so many good things about the Opera houses in Vienna, half the fun was just seeing the beautiful inside, and BOY, was it gorgeous! We got cheap balcony seats and only stayed for 2/3rds of the show but we were tired and were leaving early the next morning for Salzburg. Overall the trip to the ballet in the opera house was well worth it.

Fun fact: we tried Mozart balls (a famous chocolate delicacy in Austria) sitting in front of the Mozart statue.