When I said I was going to do a blog from abroad, I’m sure my online editor Kelsey and all of my friends back at Vassar expected me to, you know, do a blog about being in London. Where I am studying abroad. And I promise I’ll get to those things before my time in London ends, but I’m having such a great time traveling abroad in Europe while I have the chance that I keep blogging about that! Since my last blog, I have had the chance to visit Cardiff, Wales and Paris, France! As a compromise, I will blog about all of my great outings right now, and before I finish with my last blog I will tell you about all of the amazing sights and museums and I have seen while I have been in London.
I was excited to go to Wales because I could get to a whole other country without actually going through an airport. I took the National Express coach service from London to Cardiff, and it only took about three hours. I slept through most of it. I found the people in Cardiff to be the friendliest people I’ve met so far, but maybe that’s just because Cardiff is much less of a tourist city. When I was in Cardiff I got a chance to explore Cardiff Castle, which has a great giant Anglo-Saxon keep in the middle, crumbling into ruins. My inner child-nerd was so excited to see it!
I even indulged in buying a little red beanie baby dragon from the Welsh flag. Also in Cardiff, I saw a church that was more than 800 years old and visited the glass roofed Cardiff market. However, my favourite thing about Cardiff was the friendly atmosphere, especially in restaurants. The first thing I did in Cardiff, after a 3 hour long bus ride, was get tea in a cute little shop by the park. At the shop, I tried for the first time “Welsh cakes,” which are a delicious little treat halfway between pancakes and cookies.
Then, for lunch, I had the chance to sit down in a cafe across the street from a castle and people-watch the Cardiff locals while I had a lamb stew called “Welsh cawl”: it was rich and delicious with a thick gravy, better than any British food I’ve had in London so far. Cardiff was beautiful, and I was surprised by the amount of green space in the city and especially that it was blooming with daffodils so early in February. Before I knew it, and way before I was ready, I had to get back on the bus for London. If there’s one place that I definitely want to revisit before I leave, it’s Cardiff.
Because I had the entire week off for something called “reading week” at Goldsmiths, I then jetted off to Paris not long after I got back from Cardiff.
I had the great fortune to stay in the apartment of a very generous Vassar professor who showed me a great time in Paris. I got a chance to go to the Louvre Museum, which was beautiful and huge and had great architecture. I’m in love with the glass pyramids.
I did get to see the Mona Lisa, which was a bit more small and brown than I expected, but I also had a great time seeing stunning Greek marble statues like the Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo. I got to see, of course, the Eiffel tower, which is much bigger than I expected in person and actually beautifully wrought, not just some big building but an intricate work of what looks like iron lace. The next day, I was able to go to a cheese shop, a chocolate shop, and a patisserie, in which I destroyed all principles of a balanced diet and had the best time experiencing French cuisine.
I’m sure anyone reading my blog (mostly my mom) can tell what a giant medievalist nerd I am, so of course I had to go to the Musee de Cluny while I was in Paris. The Cluny Museum houses mediaeval arts and artifacts, including gilt reliquaries and the famous “Lady and the Unicorn” tapestries. I was so excited to see it all that it turns out that the only photo I managed to take during the whole trip to Musee de Cluny was of a gravestone that belonged to someone apparently called Nicholas Flamel. The nerd life is a serious commitment.
The trip to Paris also concludes all the international travel I have planned for now, so perhaps in my next blog I’ll finally actually get to tell you what it’s like to live in London, featuring such modern marvels as the Thames Barrier, The Shard, and the almighty Oyster card. But for now, thanks for reading!