Sunday, July 18, 2010

17. Well those are big rocks...

Yesterday we traveled to Stonehenge. We took the train from Oxford to Salisbury then caught a bus to Stonehenge. It was really amazing and we got the audioguides so we could listen to all the information regarding the world wonder. The funny thing is, most of the information included "we don't know why they did this..." or "we don't know how they got them here" or "we don't know what any of it means" so we didn't really learn much, but it was still super cool. There were tons of tourists and it was a pretty chilly day so we walked around once and headed back to Salisbury. the bus was cool and gave a really great tour of the city and we still had a little bit of time before our next train. We stopped at a little pub and enjoyed a pint of Stella and fish and chips, cuz hey! it's england after all. So then we headed to Bath and went to the site of ancient Roman baths. It was really impressive, but there were horrible, awful, no-good, tourists (i know i'm one, but i am very well-behaved) everywhere doing stupid things.
1. there was a middle-eastern man who kept going up to stone statues or rocks and trying to push them down! it was ridiculous and i was just shocked when i saw this! what is wrong with people?
2. There were about one million small children under the age of 2. So what did the parents do? give them audioguides and let them scream and run around! It was awful and the parents just acted like it was no big deal. Reallllllly got on our nerves.
3. there was a group of 6-8 high school girls from either Spain or Italy and in the middle of the museum-y, artifact-y section, they just start screaming and laughing and falling down and laying all over the artifacts! their teacher just looked at them and laughed! we shhhhed them several times and would have told on them if someone would have been around. It was just ridiculous, i don't even know how to explain it.
But, it was still a fun day-trip, albeit very exhausting!

Friday, July 16, 2010

16. Oxfordian Weekend

So, originally we were planning on going to Brussels this weekend; i'm not sure what's wrong with us, but we are just totally unable to make plans! So we decided to save Belgium for our last weekend and we're staying in Oxford this weekend. today we headed to Christ Church where several scenes for Harry Potter were filmed. Then we went to Oxford Castle, which used to be a prison and has a ton of great stories and things to do!

We went up into the tower and down into the crypts and all kinds of fun stuff! Then we went to "The Eagle and Child" which is a pub in Oxford where CS Lewis and JR Tolkien met every week for 30 years during which they wrote most of their masterpieces. Then we headed to a Thai restaurant where we sat very close to a Dutchman and his Asian girlfriend. We had been talking for several minutes so I'm sure he was able to recognize we were American... but he started talking about how in most countries, there are tons of tourists that get taken advantage of. He referenced his daughter got on a camel, either in Thailand or Turkey, we can't remember, but when she got on, they told her she owed them money. He said "we have too much pride, we don't just pay for that and get taken advantage of... we're not American." and he said it in just the rudest tone! I was so offended and really wanted to say something but i just ate my sweet and sour duck and pad thai and got over it. Today we also went to the train station and purchased our tickets for Salisbury, which will bus us to Stonehenge! then we are headed to Bath to see the ancient Roman baths and a ton of other great sights! I'm so excited and really glad we chose to stay around here this weekend - we have already discovered so many places we hadn't found yet.

We have really been enjoying the delicious foods around us - last week we had Ben's COokies!! So delicious.

Monday, July 12, 2010

15. London Fun-don

Phew - what a long weekend! We left for London early Friday morning and got back Sunday evening so I haven't had my computer with me much! But, don't worry - i will totally tell you everything that happened! So we boarded the bus from our college on Friday morning at 7:00 am - or 1:00 am you people's time. It took about 2 hours to get into London and I read a bunch of my new Emily Giffin book - which i loved, of course. We got to London and went on our "Legal London Tour" with about 20 people from our program and a delightful tour guide named Judy. We learned all about how you become a lawyer in England (which is soooo much easier than the US) and we went to the Royal Courts of Justice and saw some protestors and learned cool stories about all the buildings and sculptures and stuff around us. After the tour, Jay, Hailey and I went and ate sushi. We were really excited by the fact that the rolls only cost us 3 pounds, until they came out and there was only two pieces of each sushi! Ridiculous. Anyway, then we got back on the bus and got our super-huge tote bags and headed to meet Robin. hailey went to undergrad with Robin and she now lives and works in London with her German boyfriend (fairytale!) and they so graciously let us stay in their flat all weekend! We navigated the tube and the trains to her flat, where the three of us had their loft to stay in - it was so great! Then we headed to the Thames River and bought our tickets to the London Eye and went to the Tate Modern until we headed back to actually go up in the Eye. It was soooooo cool, but of course we got stuck in the pod with like 14 annoying children... ugh. Anyway, after that, we went and ate dinner along the river and then went to an outdoor pub called The Ship in South London. Poor sweet Robin's purse got stolen there and we encountered some Brits who liked to be mean to us about our stance on the death penalty. Things got pretty heated at one point so we headed back to the flat at Lavender Hill and warned Robin her friends might think we're awful...

Saturday we got up and got ready and went to South Kensington and went through the V&A Museum and ate delicious crepes and saw the Pepperdine House and then went shopping!! We hung out at the toy department in Harrod's for like an hour - there were some amazing toys! We found a nice pub at Piccadilly Circus and enjoyed some Pimm's - which is a gin-based lovely summer drink! That night we ate at another pub in Piccadilly, then went to another part of town and had drinks at a Beligan pub - one nice thing about London; there is a pub on every corner!

Sunday we got up and went to Windsor Castle, where the Queen summers! The Queen was actually there and, although we didnt see her, it was still soooooo coool! I have great pictures in my facebook album. It was probably my favorite thing we did there because it was soooo ornate and beautiful but actually still in use! We headed back to London and gave Robin some flowers to thank her for letting us stay then went and traveled to catch the Oxford tube. Let me just tell you something about British people - (mostly) they are mean! Not everyone, but we've encountered some awfully rude people! We got on the bus and I asked the man so nicely if he was going to stop at Queen's Lane. He just looked at me and said it stops at Brookes University. So we took that to mean that it was the closest stop to our college and decided we'd take it. So i got out my pounds and said ok so it's 11 pounds? He said are you students? I said yes. he said well you didnt tell me that. So it was like ok... well here's a 20. Of course, he didnt have any change and it was just the hugest hassle... Of course, Brookes University is about 1 million miles from where we're staying in Oxford so we had to hike, probably 2 miles, back to Brasenose all the while carrying our 30-lb. tote bags... ugh it was just awful! But, when we got back, we discovered the school was serving us dinner! and it was lamb and potatoes and so delicious, but so hard to enjoy since we were sweating profusely and disgusting! After dinner we headed to the college pub and watched the World Cup and had a great time! Okay so that's my weekend... there was plenty more along the way, but I'm too tired to write it all down!

Love! Love!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

14. Quadrangle

In the background of this beautiful photo, besides the beautiful boy, is what is called "the quad." Now, I know where most of you went to school, but where I went, we didnt have a "quad." Sure, I'd heard about it on Clueless where Elton said "Mr. Hall, i left my Cranberry CD in the quad; i gotta go get it before someone snags it." And i assumed it was some sort of grassy knoll area where people hung out. But here? The quad is a beautifully-manicured rectangle (I guess quadrangle) of grass in the courtyard of our amazing college. However, you are not allowed to walk on it.... Ok, that was the quad's bio... now let me tell you a story.

So last night, we ate our delightful meal of lasagna and french fries (soooo good) and headed down to the college pub called Gertie's. There's a lovely woman who serves the alcohol and I love how she calls me "My Love" in her British accent. So we were down there watching the World Cup and just hanging out. After that we went to another pub called Turf Tavern, where there is a sign on the wall that says "Bill Clinton may not have inhaled here, but he sure did imbibe in other illegal activity here." Well, for some reason the British don't like having fun like we Americans do and the bar closed at 11! Ridiculous if you ask me. So we headed to King's Arms, which is your standard British pub, which closed at 12! Again, ridiculous. I need a good old-fashioned Buffalo Wild Wings or even a JC Cowboy's for crying out loud! So we headed to the Purple Turtle where we quickly learned it was Rocker/Goth night so we stuck extra close to the boys we brought and all made it out alive.

Now, during this whole evening, my friend John was just giving Jay the hardest time ever. Anything out of Jay's mouth was returned with a total smart-ass comment. I'm not going to lie, they were hilarious and the exchange between the two made me fall out of my chair I laughed so hard. But, Jay was getting pretty upset. and somewhere in the middle, they challenged each other to an arm-wrestling duel at 1230. So after we all ate at the kebab truck (which has lovely kebabs, hot dogs, hummus, fries, oh it's amazing), the two grown-ass, law-school-going, men get on the ground in Oxford and arm-wrestle! Jay lost and decided it was because John weighs "at least 40 more pounds and was cheating." It was a hoot. I didnt get any pictures, but if i can get my hands on one, you're sure to get a looksie at the madness!

So we head back to the college and by this time it's down to me, Hailey, David, Chris, Phil, Shira, and Sarra. NOw, i forgot to tell you that the quadrangle is currently under construction and has a wooden wall built all the way around the sides, with openings on the ends. So, obviously it isnt a big deal if we walk on it because they're the ones actually tearing it up! So for some reason, David (who is wearing sunglasses, a velvet blazer, jeans, and boots) and I decide we need to have a good old-fashioned footrace. I take off my purse, my cardigan, my scarf, and my flippie floppies and get down in the three-point stance. David (who by the way is about 6'0 and has a good 100 lbs on me) and I take off sprinting and pretty much tie both times. Then Hailey and Shira have a cartwheel race down the whole quad. Then Phil and I raced. Then Chris walked backwards while Hailey and Shira power-walked. Of course this whole time we're all shhhhh-ing each other because we know we'll get in trouble if we're loud. Lo and behold, here come 2 security guards who said "to use an English phrase, bugger off." So we left. Well, this morning, Chris made a comment in his class and his professor made a comment about everyone disrobing (ie- taking our sweaters and scarves off) and racing on the quad. He said that he almost yelled at us, but then thought it would be much funnier to just watch. So i can only imagine what our shenanigans looked like to our professor, but we had a stellar evening!

Love! Love!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

11. Back to School

Yesterday was the first day of classes and I got to sit in one classroom for 4 hours! There were a couple breaks, but it was still very hard to stay awake and keep myself from daydreaming. MY first class is called International Criminal Courts and while it's pretty interesting, it's the first international law class any of us have had so we are kind of starting out very basic, which is totally fine! But, of course, I was the first person to get called on! After I was thinking, oh no big deal, school is easy over here! Our professor is the most darling man; he really encourages questions and comments and is genuinely grateful when you offer one. He thanked us over and over for asking questions; it's precious! My second class is English Legal System and our final is next Wednesday! Yes, we have 6 2-hour classes before the final! Isn't that silly? It's only a 1 hour class so you dont have to spend much time, but still it's kind of an interesting experience! This class is taught by the English Professor who also serves as a magistrate judge. It was ok, but a little easier to doze off in! After class we had dinner, then all went down to the college pub that's literally 10 steps from our classroom. A couple of us went to another pub and then i came home and went to bed! It was fairly uneventful, except now I have to go read for class! Ew.

Love! Love!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

10. Formally Yours

We took it pretty easy today due to the jet lag we're still experiencing. I woke up at 11 local time this morning to Hailey banging on my door telling me it was time to go for a run. At the locals' suggestion, we went to a lovely meadow at Christ Church Park and we saw people riding in what we would call gondolas, but were actually punts. We're looking into it. Anyway, then we ate lunch at a small cafe inside a church and I had a yummy Sicilian Salad and lemonade. Then we showered and just kind of hung around the dorms until our formal.

We all met in the courtyard and then had a small orientation. After that, we had drinks in the "Deer Quad" and then dinner in some sort of tent, which was tomato basil soup, steak and potatoes, and a delicious dessert! We all may have had too much too drink because we felt it very appropriate to discuss any and all negative feelings toward a certain law professor to our other law professor! But, it was stll super fun. After that, we went to the pub below our college and our Oxford tour guides led us in resounding renditions of the Star-Spangled Banner and the Boomer Sooner Chant. We had a really fun time and I had the Czech version of the Budweiser. Then we headed down the lane to the Purple Turtle bar where they played such classics as "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers and "Yeah" by Ursher. It was pretty amazing. Now I am back in my room and headed to bed so I can go grab my "free" breakfast that "I" already paid for(thanks Mom and Dad)!

Love! Love!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

9. Trapped in Oxford

This is the beautiful courtyard at Brasenose College in Oxford. We are staying in this maze of a place and after we concluded our naps and showers, we headed out to scope our new land. As we went downstairs, we tried to retrace our steps from earlier, but I don't know if it was the jet lag or just the lack of common sense, but we were trapped! There are so many passageways and openings and we roamed around for awhile until someone finally helped us out. It's another one of those "ok, we managed to get around NYC subway system by ourselves, but we can't figure out how to get out of a courtyard?" It was ridiculous, but at least the sights are gorgeous!!

When you walk up the stairs, Hailey and I have our own little cubby hole; you open one door and find our two doors. So we're neighbors (this shocks you all I know) and we keep our Gchat open so we can talk to each other 10 feet away. So anyway, after we escaped the Courtyard of Doom (btw - apparently a lot of Harry Potter scenes were filmed here), we roamed around Oxford. There are some gorgeous churches and lovely shop-lined streets. We ate dinner at a nice little place and I had bangers and mash! i am taking full advantage of all culinary opportunities on this trip (which shocks you all i'm sure).

So, in short, this trip has been amazing, everything i get to see is amazing, but i do dearly miss my friends and family!

Love! Love!

8. Airplane! part 2

Last night we left JFK about 9:15 pm. The flight was wonderfully quiet with very few annoyances, if you don't count the man pounding on his tv screen on the back of my chair. We settled in to watch Dear John, which neither of us had ever seen. We had dinner at about 10 pm (our second dinner, since we'd already eaten Chili's) and had surprisingly delicious pasta, salad, bread, and cheese and crackers! KLM is really the way to go when it comes to meals - keep that in mind. After the movie, we decided to go to sleep sitting up with our mouths wide open bc, hey, you're on an airplane after all. So the flight was largely uneventful; we got into Heathrow about 9:20 am and it took us 3 hours to get to Oxford. It's absolutely gorgeous around here - i'll have pics up on facebook. My dorm room is very big and spacious and the internet works so there's really nothing else I need! I'm very sleepy though so I'm going to wash the plane off me, then take a nap! But, I would love to hear from all of you my friends, so email me!

Love! Love!

7. Greegle took Manhattan.

Thursday night we met up with some friends from home and went to a lovely French restaurant in the West Village called Tartine. It was a “Bring your own wine” place and they didn’t charge corking fees so we took full advantage. I had escargots, which were delicious! The last time I had some was in high school French class and they were really chewy and I almost choked. But, these were amazing. I also had a house salad, which was soooo delicious for what seems to be an ordinary dish. We hung out there for awhile, watched one of our friends get “iced,” then headed back to Union Square and went to a bar called Forum. One of our friends, Bryan, is studying at NYU this summer so we went back to check their dorm rooms out. We met the meanest total cliche' of a "New Yorker." He was an old bitter man working the front desk and yelled at us several times for 1) handing too many forms of ID and 2) signing on the wrong line. It was a hot mess, but luckily the hot dog vendor was right outside so I quickly forgot about it!

Friday morning we got up and around and headed to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It provided amazing views and was really really cool. Under the Bridge was a fantastic pizza shop that had a line that stretched a block. It was totally worth the wait as Hailey and I shared a pepperoni and garlic pizza and yummy Brooklyn root beer. We then went back to the apartment and packed a third bag. See, on KLM, if you have a bag over 50 lbs (mine was 18 over), you have to pay $150!!! But, if you bring a second bag, it’s only $55! So we gathered our heavy items and put them in a third suitcase, which was a real bitch to tote around JFK International, but so worth the cost. The airport is busy of course, and the only restaurant in our terminal is a Chili’s – ugh. But, we grabbed a beer to make us sleepy and a salad to make us skinny.

I had the BEST time in New York! I absolutely loved it there and would loooooove to move there! We will be back for a night and a day when we get back to the states in August, so hopefully we can do the 2 things we didnt get to do this week: 1) see the Empire State building; 2) eat a gyro from the street vendor. It doesnt take much to make us happy.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


First of all, my computer won't connect to Hailey's sister's internet, so I can't put any of my pictures up just yet. But, if you don't already, you should follow me on Twitter at @jessicaspeegle because i've been able to post photos from my phone on there.

YESTERDAY, we got up and around and went to SoHo, where we had lunch at the Mercer Hotel. I had a lamb sandwich and a lemon-thyme homemade soda and it was a delicious lunch! Then we walked around and did some shopping at Anthropologie, but since my bag is already +18.8 lbs, I didn't make a purchase :( Next, we traveled to Times Square which was pretty amazing, but very tourist-filled (i like to pretend I'm not a tourist because I'm with someone who lives here). Hailey and I waited on-line for about 45 min and got tickets to the off-Broadway production of Avenue Q. Then we rode the subway to 5th Avenue and walked about 30 blocks up Central Park until we got to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There, we saw the "American Woman" exhibit, which had lots of dresses/outfits that women wore throughout several decades of American history - there were Flappers and Gibson Girls and the Bohemian look. We also saw several Van Goghs, Monets and Degas, etc. Because our feet were about to fall off, we took a cab around the Upper East side to a hamburger place called JG Melons. It was pretty delicious and we enjoyed cheeseburgers and beers before we headed back to the Theater District. We then had some margaritas at Bann Next Door (pretty interesting) and then headed to our show! Avenue Q is like an adult version of Sesame Street. There were people and puppets, all of whom said very inappropriate and hilarious things! They had some great songs, such as "Everyone is a little racist" and "THe Internet is for Porn." After the show, we met up with Hailey's sister at a nice Italian restaurant, where we enjoyed drinks at the bar. We made it back to Brooklyn about 1 am and crashed.
TODAY, we headed back to Manhattan and took the Staten Island Ferry. It's free and pretty amazing - we went right by Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty and it was a gorgeous day, albeit slightly windy. I swear, being in NY is like what I imagine being on the Titanic would be like, so many people of all different backgrounds speaking crazy languages. It's really cool to be around actually. After that, we went to the Financial District and had lunch at Dubliner, which had gorgeous outside seating and amazing food. We met some lovely people from Chicago who told us they would never have guessed we were from Oklahoma - I guess we're doing a good job fitting in. We then walked to Ground Zero, which really doesnt have much to see since the Memorial is under construction, but it was still really cool to be there. Then, we took the subway to Chelsea and walked about a million miles till we found the High Line Park. It's a park that is up in the air on the old high line and it is really amazing! There were beautiful flowers and great sitting areas and you get a view of all of the city and even Lady Liberty again! We enjoyed some gelato cones and took it all in. We then got back on the subway and witnessed a crazy altercation between a ticket lady and a scary, scary man. I'm not sure what happened, but there were lots of curse words and screaming. I'm pretty impressed we've made it around to everything we wanted to see and we've become real subway pros. Okay, maybe we have to ask for help/directions about every couple of blocks, but stilL! we made it. and it turns out, not every New Yorker is mean... there are a couple, but for the most part, everyone has been pretty helpful and explains to us where we should go... so that's good. We're meeting some friends back in Manhattan tonight for dinner and drinks!
TOMORROW we leave for England in the evening. We are flying KLM Royal Airlines, which is supposedly a really great airline. BUT, we are having a bit of baggage issues. there is nothing on the website that tells us anything, but we found another website that states that KLM only allows 1 bag per person and if it exceeds 50 lbs, you have to pay $100. And if you bring a second bag, you have to pay $200. So we're trying to figure out what would be the best idea... we may leave a bunch of stuff at her sister's or we may bring a third bag and put stuff in it... but we don't know what to do.... SO, if any of you are bored, we'd really appreciate some research (Kate, Chelsea, i know you;re good at that!) to find out what we are allowed to bring!
Sorry there are no interesting stories to report at this time; everything has gone really well!
Love! Love!