Defying Gravity

Breaking news: I am officially a London local.

"What makes you say that?" you ask? Blackfriars station is open. When we arrived, it was closed, and there were signs saying it would reopen in "early 2012." I have now been here long enough to witness change.

More breaking news: Amanda, Liz, and I have fled the country.

We weren't actually "fleeing" anything, and it was only for a day, but that just doesn't sound as dramatic! On Friday, we hopped on a bus and, three and a half hours of beautiful countryside later, we were in Cardiff, Wales.

Wales wasn't super high on my list of places to visit. Actually, I really only went because it wasn't too expensive, it's close, and... well, why not? Amanda and Liz were super excited and planning on doing some serious fangirling at Doctor Who things; I was just along for the ride. Thankfully, Wales surpassed all of my non-existent expectations and gave me quite a fabulous day!

We walked around a little bit after we got off the bus and got some great views of Millennium Stadium before heading to Cardiff Castle. It was really great! We got to go up and walk along the battlements, before Amanda found a secret-looking door that led us down into the walls of the castle into what was a WWII air raid shelter.

I find WWII absolutely fascinating, and being in these tunnels was one of the coolest things I've ever experienced, ever. There were speakers playing air raid sirens and some speech and a song, so it was like the ghosts of the hundreds of people that had crammed in there during the war were down there with us. There were no other (living) people, though, so it was just us. It was dark and eerie and so unbelievably awesome. There were benches and bunk beds and wartime propaganda posters, and even a bar where they served food. Seriously, so cool. I'm such a nerd. But it was unbelievable.

We eventually resurfaced, and got to climb up to the actual castle, in the middle of the moat. It's pretty small, and is kind of just a fortress. But we got to overlook the city from the top, and all of us conquered a fear on the treacherously steep and slippery steps up and down. I wish I was kidding. My camera died when got safely back to the ground, so I guess there was one casualty :(. Our tour next took us to the castle apartments, which is where the royalty actually lived. They were absolutely gorgeous! I was DYING without my camera! Before we left, we climbed back up to the top of the wall and reenacted some Harry Potter things on what looked like the wooden bridge (because why not?).

Liz wanted to get some food after that, so we walked down towards the center of the city and found a little shop selling pies and pasties and such. Whoever tells you that the UK doesn't have any good food is lying through their teeth, because the cheese and onion pasty I had was one of the most perfect foods I've ever eaten. Deeeeeeeeelish. We meandered a bit after that before catching a bus to Millennium Park, near Cardiff Bay. Apparently it's very significant in the Doctor Who-verse, but it was a really nice area even to those of us oblivious to the Tardis. (Wait, I think that's supposed to be in all caps. But typing TARDIS makes me feel like I'm screaming it. TARDIS. See?)

(Photo courtesy of Liz -- my camera died at the castle.)

But anyway. I looked on in amusement as they took their nerdy pictures, and then we spent some time in the Millennium Center before attempting to take a bus to BBC Studios. We ended up not doing so because of bad timing, and instead tried to find what we thought was a restaurant that we found in Liz's guidebook, called Gdwidh (because Welsh is the greatest language ever). It took AGES to find, and we got there only to realize it's a bar, not a restaurant. At that point it was getting close to when our bus was going to leave, so we got takeout from Wok to Walk (so punny) to bring with us. Somehow we all forgot where we were supposed to catch the bus, which led to an interesting 15 or so minutes of race walking around the station on the brink of panic. But we found it in time, and the driver told us we couldn't bring hot food on board.

Needless to say, our food tasted that much better because it was eaten illegitimately after being snuck on in our bags. We're just ninjas like that.

On Saturday, I was planning on going to The British Museum to see an exhibit for my Text, Art, and Performance class, but I got the worst night of sleep, so it was all I could do to shut off my alarms and go back to sleep. Good decision making on my part! I got some work done, and at night we got to see a play that Amanda had written! Queen Mary has a new writer's workshop, which is a few nights of student-written shows. The price of admission included another show, and they were both really good! I already knew Amanda's was, since I'd read it weeks ago, but the other one was set during a war and it was really intense. There were two characters, a dying soldier and the guy who finds him, and it was set in a hole that the audience stood around. I happened to be facing the dying soldier, and I swear we made eye contact during the show several times. Which was weird, since he was dying really convincingly. Amanda's show was called Writer's Block, and was the perfect counterbalance to death. It was hilarious, and I even called the musical number the director added! Hah.

Later that night, after the shows, Amanda, Jen and I started booking things for our EuroTrip in April! So far we have train tickets to Paris, and our hostel there. So exciting! :) I can't wait!

On Sunday, I actually did drag myself out of bed to go to the museum. It was the last day of the exhibit, and tickets went on sale at 9 am, so I didn't really have a choice but to get there early. I actually got there closer to 10 ('cause the Central Line was closed. Freaking tube!), but I got a ticket for 11:30. My professor had said when she'd gone to get a ticket, they were already sold out for the day, which begs the question -- what time was she getting there? I know I have mild anxiety about getting to things first, but still.

I wandered around the museum until I could go into the exhibit. Let me tell you, this guy is WEIRD. The concept was cool; he displayed some of his own stuff along with things made in the past -- it was called "The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman." But the artist, Grayson Perry, is a transvestite who makes shrines to his 50-year-old teddy bear. I mean, to each his own, and kudos to him for embracing his true self so fully, but after seeing Alan Measles (the teddy bear) drawn and painted into nearly every piece of his artwork, I had to wonder a little bit. It wasn't exactly my cup of tea. That's not to take away from his talent, though. People in the exhibit were talking about how he's a genius, and I can definitely see how one might think so.

Reading week is, alas, over, so yesterday I had to go to class and got to experience the stress of handing in my first assignments. Class was at 1, but I actually got up in a timely fashion to do laundry and get everything printed. I'm truly, truly confused as to why assignments have to be handed in to the department offices rather than the professors that assign them. The British school system is bizarre.

My reward was going to see Wicked, though. :) We'd bought tickets ages ago, and I'd almost forgotten it was yesterday. It was really good! Our seats were in the last row, but they still weren't bad. I'd seen Wicked when I was younger, and the only thing I remembered about it was that my expectations for it were so high that it disappointed me. This time around, I was really impressed by the performance, but got the same feeling of, "Okay, this did not change my life." I think it's because I love The Wizard of Oz so much as it is that anything else feels lesser. I mean, it all happened in Dorothy's mind, so the entire premise of Wicked is an alternate universe. It just feels like fanfiction. Really well written fanfiction, but I just can't make myself believe it. Doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it, though! And we stage doored after it, because Celeste is a Wicked fangirl.

Now it's Tuesday, and the first one in a while in which I have nowhere to be... but I do have a paper to finish. Le sigh. It's due tomorrow, so I really need to stop procrastinating and edit it already. I'd much rather watch the new episode of Castle again, but hey. Wish me luck remembering to stick "U"s where they don't really belong!

...My last Olympics shift is on Thursday. I'm depressed in advance.

OH! I almost forgot! I applied for a volunteer job with the International Quidditch Association, and I got it! I'm the new assistant to the PR coordinator for the London Olympics Quidditch match! More info as it comes. :)

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