Saturday, July 31, 1999

Bath 1999: excerpts from my study abroad journal

Saturday, July 31

Today was a good day, just long and tiring...Kim, Kerry, and I went to town today to do some shopping...We also went inside of the Abbey. It was so incredible inside. We spent quite a bit of time looking at everything. They had a prayer at 2:00, so we stayed for that. It was really awesome.


Sunday, August 1

At 7:30 we went to The Bell and I tried cider with blackcurrant. It was very good. I had a pint of that, stopped at Schwartz's for a milkshake, and now I'm having dinner.

Before I forget, a pretty amusing incident happened at The Bell. I was walking out to the patio and a woman stopped me to ask if I was wearing pants (underwear), and I said yes. She was explaining to me that she was arguing with the 2 men at her table. She said that women don't wear pants in the summer beacuse it's too hot. Then she laughed and said, "You're supposed to be on my side." Anyway, it was pretty funny.

Tuesday, July 27, 1999

Bath 1999: excerpts from my study abroad journal

(written on July 28 about the day before)

London Again!

Theatre at Shakespeare's Globe: Antony and Cleopatra

(Shakespeare had to be rolling in his grave. This production was more comedic than tragic.) I sat on the top level...great seats! Not that it mattered...the play was horrible.

Yesterday was a very long day. The bus left at about 6:30 am for London.

We got into London around 9:30 and the bus dropped us off in front of the Tate Gallery (note: it's now known as Tate Britain, not to be confused with Tate Modern). Some other people went to the Tower of London, but it's expensive to get in and too touristy for me. The Tate Gallery is free and has some famous artworks. I loved the Pre-Raphaelite section because those are some of my favorite paintings, particularly the ones that were inspired by Victorian literature, like "Ophelia" (okay, so that was inspired by Hamlet, but I love it) and "The Lady of Shalott" (a poem by Tennyson).

(note: on the next page, I pasted a postcard of The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse, which I bought at the Tate gift shop.)

It was so exciting to me to see these paintings up close and personal. They beat the crown jewels in the Tower of London anyday.

After the visit to Tate, we walked over to the Parliament Building and right across the street to Westminster Abbey. There was a long line to get in, and a 3 pound admission fee. So Amy, Susan, and I pretended to go in to pray, and we were allowed in for free through the pilgrim door. We did go in a little side chapel and sat quietly for a few minutes. I couldn't really pray because I was trying to take in the whole feeling of just being in that incredible place. I was awe-struck. We each lit a candle (I lit mine in memory of Grandpa), and we all stood quietly outside the chapel and took in the surroundings. We did not have access to a lot of the abbey because we didn't pay to get in (we couldn't see where Princess Diana's funeral was held). What we did see though was gorgeous. We looked at some of the tombs small obscure one with the inscription: "O Rare Ben Jonson." There were other writers buried there too: Tennyson, George Eliot, etc. But we didn't go far enough into the abbey to see those.

After that, we walked to this cheap Italian restaurant in Soho, where the service was really bad. Then Kerry, Kim, and I went to Knightsbridge and visited Harrod's. I didn't buy anything because everything there was so overpriced. We stopped at McD's for sundaes and cokes before catching the tube to Monument to walk across the bridge to the Globe Theatre. We had to attend a lecture prior to the play, and I kept dozing off. I was so tired by that point. At 7:30 the play started, and it was ghastly. The audience laughed during the death scenes, and there were some ludicrous parts, such as when Cleopatra hoisted a dying Antony up onto the 2nd level of the stage. He was laid onto a sling. It just looked ridiculous, and all the drama of Antony's death was lost. In the last scene, Cleopatra appeared onstage with no hair, obviously making her more masculine (as she was played by a man) but also not making clear whether Cleopatra just went mad and cut off all her hair or what. It just made no sense.

Thursday, July 15, 1999

Bath 1999: excerpts from my study abroad journal


Right now I am sitting in a park between the River Avon and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It is so pretty here. But it is a little chilly and windy. This is a charming town, but obviously very touristy. When we arrived here, we went to lunch at this pizza place called Ask. They had really good food and I ordered a pizza with an egg on it. It was very different and very excellent food.

After lunch, we decided to go to Holy Trinity Church to see Shakespeare's tomb. I paid 40p to get in, which was worth it. The inside of the church was so beautiful, probably the most beautiful church I had ever seen. I was so much in awe of seeing his grave. After we left the church, we strolled along the streets and explored the shops. I bought a really large amount of postcards and stamps, and a Buckingham Palace Guard teddy bear for mom.

Stratford is best when you just sit by the river. We sat for hours, watching the little boats on the river and the swans and the people coming and going. It's peaceful and has pretty gardens and a huge statue of Shakespeare with Hamlet, Lady MacBeth, Falstaff and Prince Hal. I took a lot of pictures.

It's crazy, but we ate at McDonald's for dinner. It was cheap and we all spent a lot of money today. We wanted to go to Shakespeare's birthplace, but it cost 5 quid to get in. So we just took pictures instead.

(Note: This is one of my great regrets from this trip. Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore Shakespeare, so to not see his birthplace was incredibly foolish.)


We just boarded the bus after seeing Othello. All I can say is, wow. It was so amazing, emotional, powerful, gripping, etc. etc. We had excellent seats in the third row. There were times when tears came to my eyes. There are very few times when I have seen better theatre. Actually, I think it was the best play I have ever seen...

After the play, the actors came out to answer questions. It was really interesting to see how each actor approaches their character and the play in general. This has definitely been one of the best days I've had since I've been in England.

(note: And that continued to be the case. The very next day, my grandfather died, and I had to go home for his funeral. I came back a week later to finish my program, but my entire attitude about it had changed.)

Tuesday, July 13, 1999

Bath 1999: excerpts from my study abroad journal

After class we walked into town to go take a tour of the baths. It cost 5.20 pounds to get in - way too expensive. It was interesting, but not worth the price of admission. After that, we had dinner at All Bar One, which had really good food. Kerry and I shared a veggie plate with tomato and gryere [sic] pancakes, potato wedges, and garlic bread. It was so yummy.

Saturday, July 10, 1999

Bath 1999: excerpts from my study abroad journal

Glastonbury and Stonehenge

I really enjoyed our excursion today, as much, if not more, than yesterday. We drove for nearly 90 minutes to Glastonbury, and passed some pretty towns along the way, including Wells, which has an incredible cathedral (which I didn't get to see). But Glastonbury itself is beautiful, with two huge and beautiful churches looming over the town. We had a choice of walking among the ruins of the centuries-old Glastonbury Abbey, or walking up an extremely steep hill to the Tor. I could see the Tor from the bus as we arrived, so I opted for the ruins. They were magnificent and beautiful and it is really hard for me to imagine what the abbey must have looked like. We saw the burial site of King Arthur and the abbott's kitchen. There were a lot of ruins on that site, and foundations that still remained where the buildings did not. I was so in awe of the place and it was so peaceful and calm there despite the crowds...

...We left for Stonehenge at about 1:30 and it took nearly 90 minutes to get there. It wasn't nearly as impressive as I expected it to be. In fact, it's much smaller. There were hundreds upon hundreds of people there, and I heard several different languages being spoken among them. We hurriedly walked around and took some pictures and then went to the gift shop.

Friday, July 9, 1999

Bath 1999: excerpts from my study abroad journal


Today was an absolute blast! London is fantastic. I was not terribly impressed with it until we reached the Thames. Then we saw Big Ben and the Parliament building and I got really excited. We got there at about 11:30, so we had two and a half hours before Julius Caesar started...

...Kim and I finally decided to go off on our own and we took the Riverwalk along the Thames, which is absolutely bursting with people. We made it back for the play, stopping for ice cream on the way back (I'm getting addicted to Magnum bars and I can't get them in the U.S.). The play was interesting, particularly the costumes. There was a mix of Roman, Elizabethan, and contemporary clothing, since there were actors in the audience. I was really tired and had a headache and fell asleep during the first and second acts. But the third act had all the excitement in it anyway.

After the play, some of us split up and the group I was in took the tube to Piccadilly Circus. We hit the tube at rush hour, so it was crowded, hot, and miserable. But it was very fast and very cheap, so we got there fairly quickly. We stopped in China Town for dinner, where I had the best Chinese dinner in my life and tried (in vain) to learn to use chopsticks. It was fun and our waiter was entertaining, making Jackie Chan and Mr. Miyagi impersonations.

We left the restaurant and walked around Piccadilly Circus for a bit, which was really neat but a bit too crowded for me. I saw most of the theatres.

We walked through beautiful St. James Park so we could see Buckingham Palace, which sits at the end of it. I got a ton of pictures. Then we walked through Green Park and over to Hyde Park. We stopped by a pub before meeting up with the bus to come back to Bath.

Thursday, July 8, 1999

Bath 1999: excerpts from my study abroad journal

This evening we took the "Bizarre Bath" tour, which was a lot of fun. It is more or less street theatre and a comedy show. I thought I saw most of Bath already, but we walked on the other side of Pulteney Bridge, which is quite breathtaking. Despite all the walking, it was a fun evening. And we got Baskin-Robins afterwards. :)

Tuesday, July 6, 1999

Bath 1999: excerpts from my study abroad journal

...we met Helen outside to walk to the center of town for a bus tour. The tour was wonderful and gave me the opportunity to take some really good pictures (hopefully). After the tour, part of our group went out for fish and chips and we sat by the Royal Crescent to eat it. Susan, Leslie, Kim and I walked back together, stopping at a little shop to buy postcards and ice cream. All in all, a gorgeous day...warm and sunny (but not hot as the Brits keep complaining). But I am so anxious to see more of England. We are going to Stonehenge on Saturday, and of course, the London trip on Friday.

Monday, July 5, 1999

Bath 1999: excerpts from my study abroad journal

We are getting ready to leave the hotel. I thought I should take this opportunity to write some more. We finally arrived in England yesterday and flying overhead, we saw openings in the clouds that revealed England's hilly and green landscape. We had a smooth landing at Gatwick, and Susan and I went through customs and met up with Sam and Leslie. Sam took us to a pub in the airport to buy us lunch. Then he walked us to the train station in the airport, where we caught the train to Bath with a connection in Reading. The train ride here was nearly 3 hours. We watched the English countryside speed by, and I was just in awe of the beauty of it. Everything is just so green. We talked to some interesting people on the train. Finally, the train pulled up at Bath Spa and I nearly burst into tears at the beauty of the town. It is so hilly and has so many gorgeous little shops and buildings...

...The hotel sits on the River Avon, with pastures (and sheep) and a castle in the distance outside our window. We explored a little around the river last night and went to bed early, as jetlag was setting in. Then we all found ourselves awake in the middle of the night, but fell asleep again. This morning we had a traditional English breakfast, which was quite good, but very greasy.


We are now settled in at
Somerset Place, which is absolutely beautiful. I was a bit surprised by how sparse my room was, but I will make it nice...


All settled in and had orientation about Bath itself - where the important places were (post office, banks, etc.) and we walked a lot. I saw many tourist sites, including the Royal Crescent and Pulteney Bridge. We stopped at the Bell for a drink (I had cider) and heard a band play before we walked back.

Sunday, July 4, 1999

Remembering Bath 1999 - excerpts from my study abroad journal

Sunday, July 4 10:13 GMT (TWA flight 722)

Less than 2 hours to go until we land in London. This plane ride is taking forever. My first flight to St. Louis was lovely, although the plane was really small. The views were breathtaking: a patchwork quilt of farmland with the occasional speck of civilization thrown in. We flew by downtown St. Louis, which looked tiny from above, but the arch gleamed brightly in the late afternoon sun. And I saw the mighty Mississippi for the first time in my life, which is the only thing that didn't look small from the plane.

The layover went surprisingly fast, and before we knew it, we were boarding our flight. Susan and I lucked out and got bulkhead seats, so we had a lot more legroom. Nighttime flying is incredible. The lights are really beautiful and at one point, we watched a lightning storm. As we rose higher and higher (41,000 feet), everything became pitch black outside the window. But as we headed further eastward, the sunrise soon came and beautiful streaks of red began to appear in front of us. Right now, it is so cloudy that I cannot see if we are over land or water. It looks like snow, it's so thick. But anyway, we have just been served brunch, so I will write more later.