Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oh My God. Oh My God, You Guys...

Spring break has officially begun and it has been and is going to be quite a journey.

On the 17, instead of drinking green beer and playing around all day, I got up early for a 6 am flight home back to St. Louis. It was a rough day, waking up at 3 to make it to the airport by 4, but in the end, it was definitely worth it. My dad, sister and brother picked me up from the airport, missing tooth and all. Then we went home where my grandparents and stepmom were waiting for me with an absolutely delicious italian meal. I've never had better lasagna in my life! After feeding myself for over two months and eating mainly garlic bread, eggs, and subway, this meal was a big treat. It was also really nice to see my family after not seeing them for such a long time. It's always a great feeling coming home to my family. When dinner was over, I went to my mom's house for a while and got to see her and play with my dogs, which is definitely one of my favorite things about being back in St. Louis.

The rest of my time home I spent either running errands, at the dentist (getting my tooth repaired!) or in a job interview. It was stressful and nerve wracking to say the least, but I always enjoy being home and being around family. On Monday, I was supposed to go back to Glasgow but, since there were delays on my flight to Chicago, I ended up completely missing my flight from Chicago to Amsterdam and had to reschedule all of my flights for the next day. It was very hectic, but I finally made it back to Glasgow on Tuesday morning just in time to meet my mom and sister.

On Tuesday, my mom, sister and I went shopping on Buchanan street after going to Morton's for a bagel. (So typical.) I got a lot of cute new things from my favorite stores, Top Shop and H&M. Then we walked around Merchant City some until it was time for dinner with the entire BC family at The Red Onion. I had never been to The Red Onion before, but found some excellent reviews on it on numerous Web sites, so I thought it would be a nice place to take everyone. It ended up being the absolute best meal I have had in my entire time in Glasgow. I had a fabulous piece of halibut that practically melted in my mouth with each bite. Then to top it all off, we each had an excellent dessert. Mine was a chocolate brownie that I couldn't help but devour. After dinner, my mom, sister and I were all just exhausted from traveling for the entire day, so we headed home for a good night's sleep.

I had to go to my last entrepreneurship class on Wednesday because it was revision for the final in May. It ended up being totally pointless because they had already told us the questions that we were going to need to consider for the exam but it was nice to go and see the engineering boys because I hadn't seen them in almost a week! While I was in class, mom and Claire went to explore the Kelvingrove Museum on their own. When class was over, the engineering boys and I met mom and Claire at Curlers, the oldest pub in Glasgow. None of us were very hungry, so we just enjoyed a pint and chatted for a while. Once we had finished our drinks, we went downtown again and enjoyed some more shopping. It was a disgusting day outside but we made the best of it. While dodging the rain and running under awning after awning, I ended up peeking into a little store I'd never seen before and noticed some gorgeous dresses that would be perfect for Claire for prom. After a little hesitancy, (there were some dresses with crazy feathers and far too much sequins...) Claire agreed to go in and it was here that we found her the most beautiful prom dress. The dress is a lavender color with intricate beading and multicolored stones on the neckline. It looked absolutely gorgeous on her and I cannot wait to see pictures of her in it!

That night, Jess invited the entire Glasgow family out for dinner to celebrate her 21st birthday at The Big Blue. It was a great meal and so fun to have everyone together one last time before spring break began. After dinner, we went back to Laura C's flat for some funfetti birthday cake, made possible by the 5 boxes of funfetti cake batter my mom sent me from the states. It tasted wonderful, especially after not enjoying the deliciousness of funfetti for many months now. Unfortunately I couldn't go out after to celebrate because I had to finish my final paper for my Scottish Culture class.

The next day, after turning in my paper and getting all packed, I met my mom and sister at S'mug for lunch and then we headed to the airport for our flights to London. The flight was short and completely uneventful. We took the underground to our beautiful hotel, the Mayfair, and got ready to go out to dinner at a French bistro, Cote. It was nice to have a really delicious dinner and just sit there with my mom and sister. The meal was definitely a successful start to a fabulous girls' weekend in London.

On Friday, we woke up early for our Mini Cooper tour around the city. Our tour guide picked us up in a classic red Mini and drove us around all of London providing us with the history of all of the big sites as well as some entertaining stories that you wouldn't normally find in the history books. It was also a really interesting ride because our tour guide and a few of his friends started the company (smallcarBIGCITY) by themselves and now it is in the top 5 things to do on my favorite travel Web site, TripAdvisor.com. After my entrepreneurship class, it was great to see how those concepts could be put into place in real life.

When we had finished with our smallcarBIGCITY tour, we walked around Oxford Street and looked around Selfridges, a huge department store with everything you could ever want. We had lunch at a cute mozzarella bar in Selfridges and then caught the underground to meet up with our next tour guide, who took us on a walking tour of London. We began with the Tower of London and spent a while there, listening to stories about people being beheaded and also getting to see the crown jewels, which were breathtaking. After the Tower of London, we saw Westminster Abbey and other sites around the city. At 5, our tour guide dropped us off at high tea at a gorgeous hotel. We enjoyed some fabulous sandwiches, sweets and cakes as well as some great pomegranate tea.

Mom, Claire and me outside the Tower of London

Monument to remember all of those who were beheaded in the past

Claire and me with a Beefeater at the Tower of London

Although we were almost dead after all the tea and biscuits we had been eating, we eventually left the tea room and made our way to the Savoy Theatre to see Legally Blonde the musical. The musical was great! Claire, mom and I laughed the majority of the time and truly enjoyed ourselves. It was a great night and by the end of the play we were all exhausted, so we headed home and passed out as soon as our heads hit the pillows.

On Saturday, we didn't really have anything planned, which was really nice. We woke up and had a wonderful breakfast at the restaurant in our hotel and then made our way to the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. After we watched that, we headed to Harrod's. Harrod's, although beautiful and extremely large, turned out to be quite stressful. Since it was a Saturday, the store was incredibly crowded and it was hard to move around everywhere. We ended up finding Claire an adorable shirt to wear to her after prom party, but after that, mom and I were both hungry and crabby, so things weren't as fun as they should have been. In the end, we all just wanted to leave Harrod's as soon as possible and get some food into our stomachs. We ate at an Italian restaurant right across the street from Harrod's and then we started walking around the area. We were getting ready to go back toward Oxford street when a torrential downpour began and we got stuck under an overhang. The rain wasn't subsiding, so we flagged down a cab and took it to the underground station where we needed to go. We got to visit London's Top Shop, but, just like Harrod's, that was overcrowded as well and became more stressful than it was enjoyable.

Claire and me at the changing of the guards

After our stressful shopping, we took a relaxing ride on the London Eye. It was incredible to see all of London from a little pod on the ferris wheel. It was just beautiful and something I would do a million times again.

The London Eye

Claire and me on The London Eye

On Saturday night, our last night in London, we ended the day with a dinner at Bumbles, a cute little restaurant on Buckingham Palace Road. It was an intimate restaurant with a few small rooms and excellent food. I had some potato dumplings with apples and poppy flowers (which are actually edible!) and it was fabulous. I also had an amazing dessert that was a banana flambé that had hot carmel poured over it to melt the chocolate. It was a definitely a big indulgence. We got back to the hotel and were completely drained from such a great weekend. I had to pack everything up because I had a super early flight in the morning to go visit Laura's flatmate, Alan, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, for my second trip of spring break. I'll post about Belfast soon!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

If I Ever Leave this World Alive

This past week in a nutshell: saw a football match, took a test, finished a project, jetted off to Ireland, knocked out my front tooth. Eventful, to say the least.

On Wednesday, the BC in Glasgow crew went to the Scotland vs. Czech Republic football game with our coordinator, Kirstin. We had incredible eighth row seats and saw an amazing game. Scotland wasn't expected to win, but surprised us with a victory. The night was frigid and freezing, so after the game we all took a trip to ASDA (like Walmart) to warm up and wait for our cabs. While exploring the supermarket, we came across a few interesting dishes, such as Spotted Dick. Don't ask me what it was, but having the sense of humor of a 15-year-old boy, I found it outrageously funny.

Spotted Dick and Custard. Looks appetizing.

Scotland vs. Czech Republic

Academically, last week was probably the hardest week I've had here yet. I had my second Managerial and Organizational Contexts test, which was the exact same format as the first one: 59 multiple choice, 40 matching, and 32 True/False all in under 45 minutes. It was definitely a race for the clock, but I think it went well. After taking that test, I went straight to an Entrepreneurship group meeting, where we finished the majority of our project. Since the day was stressful and productive, I was more than ready for a fun night on the town. We headed to Bamboo, our regular Thursday night haunt, and spent the entire night there dancing and having a fabulous time.

The next morning was not one of my most beautiful mornings here. I was tired, had a massive headache, and didn't want to move one bit. On a normal Friday, I could have slept and lazed the day away. This Friday, however, was not my average Friday and I had to use every last bit of strength I had to get up, pack my bags, and head to the airport with Sarah to go visit Hannah in Galway, Ireland. It was a rough day, but we made it to Ireland in one piece and extremely excited to see our friends. We were welcomed to Galway with a family dinner made by Hannah and her friends before getting cleaned up and making the trip to The Front Door, Hannah's favorite pub in Galway. It was interesting to see the difference between the nightlife in Galway and in Glasgow. In Galway, most people frequent bars and pubs, and everything is close together. In Glasgow, clubs and cabs are a way of life. It was definitely a nice change of pace and it was great to be able to see what Hannah experiences during her time abroad. The night ended with a stop at Subway, which is somehow more delicious in the UK than it is in the US.

Sarah and my first night in Galway

Hannah's favorite pub in Galway

On Saturday, we slept in and took a leisurely lunch at Riordans before tackling shopping and Salthill in the afternoon. Salthill is an absolutely beautiful area of Galway that overlooks Galway Bay. The walk was gorgeous and reminded me of the romantic Ireland that you always see in movies *cough* PS I Love You *cough.* It was a fairly warm day for Ireland, so we spent a while just walking around Salthill and taking in the scenery. After being tourists, we went back to Hannah's apartment for another family dinner.


Galway Bay

Streets of Galway

Once we had devoured our divine pizza bagels, we got ready for our mini pub crawl around Galway. The first stop on the list was Taaffes, a traditional Irish pub full of cute Irishmen. Next up was The Kings Head, where we had a nice relaxing cider and listened to some fabulous music. After The Kings Head, we headed to The Quays (pronounced keys), where we ran into a Hen Party full of crazy drunk twenty-something women who were all dressed in black and pink, playing games with cards called "ladies night." One of them pulled up a chair at our table and wouldn't leave until she had successfully chatted our ears off. When we finally shook the crazy single lady, we moved on to the next pub, Busker Brownes, which I think was my favorite pub of the night. It was insanely crowded and getting through the swarms of people was difficult. I ended up getting stuck between a pillar and this Irish boy, Carl, who started chatting me up. When I asked him how old he was, he confidently answered "23," until I told him I was 21 and he admitted that he was 21 as well. Before going out, Hannah had warned me about the men in Galway and their tendencies to lie about age, name, and relationship status, so I wasn't sure if he was lying again or telling the truth. In order to get the facts straight, I IDed him. He did tell the truth the second time, but after that I just wasn't interested anymore and we headed on to the next pub. Our last pub on the crawl was The Front Door again. It didn't disappoint and was the perfect pub to end on, but by this point in the night my feet were hurting in my heels and I was getting pretty tired, so we decided to call it a night. Kind of. We actually made one more stop on our pub crawl: Subway, for the second time.

Me and Hannah at The Kings Head

When Sunday came, I wasn't ready to leave Hannah or Galway. The city of Galway was so cute, with its cobblestone streets and dozens of pubs and cafes. Hopefully I'll be able to find a weekend in May to return (and maybe see Dublin, too!) It was a wonderful weekend in Galway and I left feeling sad and missing Hannah.

Monday was a big day for me. We finally got to turn in our Entrepreneurship business plan after working on it for the entire semester. It was a huge relief to have finished the plan and to feel confident in it. After turning the plan in, the group and I decided to grab a quick bite to eat, which turned into a few celebratory pints and an extended lunch. As happy as I am to be done with the business plan, I will definitely miss my weekly group meetings with these boys. In the end, I know they will be one of the top things I miss about Glasgow.

Tuesday was also an eventful day: all the BCers found out where we are living senior year! Boston College does a housing lottery, so the group leaders have to wake up at 8am, enter their group members' names and ID numbers, and wait to see if they get a lottery number. If you get a lottery number, then you get a pick time and have to wait to choose which housing you will live in. So, for this big day in our BC careers, Laura and I started off the afternoon with a baking and paper writing party. We made three chocolate cakes and got absolutely nowhere on our papers. Around 6:30, the rest of "the family" came over for family dinner as we all fidgeted anxiously in our seats waiting to see who would get what housing. In the end, we all fared well. No one had to split up their groups of friends and five out of the seven of us got Mods! Unfortunately I wasn't one of the lucky five, but I am just so happy to be living with all of my friends next year that it wasn't too big of a deal. To celebrate our senior year housing, we decided to have a few drinks. With all the excitement of the night, I took a wine glass to the face and ended up losing my front tooth! YIKES. Needless to say, I won't be forgetting the senior year housing lottery for quite some time. Luckily, Alan, Laura's flatmate, was on top of things and looked up a million dentists in the area for me to contact in the morning. Thank God for Alan because otherwise I might still look like a glorified hillbilly.

Adios, front tooth

I woke up incredibly early this morning to call all of the dentists before finding one to give me a new "tooth," which is actually just a bunch of weird looking stuff attached to my tooth. It looks pretty funny, but it does the job for now. When I showed my mom the final result, all she said was "don't worry, we'll get it fixed when you come home!" Yes. It's that bad. If my Mary Kate & Ashley closed-mouth smile returns to pictures, you'll just have to accept it.

The rest of the week should be pretty nice. I have no more projects due and no more tests until finals -- WOOHOO! Tomorrow Sarah's boyfriend, Devon, is visiting from Venice, so the weekend should be fun and exciting. On Friday, we were thinking of doing a mini sub crawl, where you take the underground around and each stop you have to get out and visit a pub in the area. Then on Saturday, we're making our way to the Highlands with a bunch of BC kids who are studying abroad in and around Scotland. Hopefully the weather will be nice and I will come back with lots of pictures! As always, I'll keep you posted...