Showing posts from April, 2012

Alnwick: A Magical Weekend

This weekend (April 14-15) we had an optional house trip to Alnwick. Alnwick is a small town in Northern England and home to Alnwick Castle aka "The Harry Potter Castle." Parts of the first two Harry Potter movies were filmed there. Considering how many people in the house love Harry Potter, I was surprised only 10 girls signed up to spend the night in the castle.

We took a train on Saturday morning and arrived at Hogwarts (Alnwick Castle) before 10am. After settling into our rooms, we had the rest of the weekend to explore the castle and town.

First we walked through the small town and visited the market before heading to Barter Books, one of the largest used bookstores in the UK, housed in an old train station.

Back at Hogwarts we took advantage of the "From Battle-Axes to Broomsticks" tour which pointed out all the places and scenes that were filmed at the castle. We also took our first flight on our broomsticks where Harry took his!

St. Cloud State has a study …

Easter Weekend

On Friday 6 April our British History class had a field trip to the National Museum of Scotland. After our tour and group work, Gabby, Courtney, and I headed across the street to Greyfriars cemetery. J.K. Rowling got some of her character names from tombstones in the cemetery. Also, on the other side of the cemetery is a private school that was the inspiration for Hogwarts.

Saturday saw a group of us WIS students at Murrayfield again for rugby! Edinburgh, Scotland took on Toulouse, France in the Heineken Cup Quarter Final. It was a very exciting game and this time the team from Scotland won! Edinburgh beat Toulouse 19-14 and will be going on to the Semi-finals!

Easter Sunday Gabby and I went to a service at Rosslyn Chapel. We arrived well before the service so we had time to tour the chapel for free. In size it is nearly opposite of all the other cathedrals and abbeys we have visited, but not in impressiveness. It is quite small, but the interior is stone and every surface is elaborat…

Highlights of Paris: Part 2

Day Four: March 30, we took a tour of the Grand Masterpieces in the Louvre Museum. Our tour guide pointed out the Three Ladies of the Louvre: The Venus de Milo, Nike, and the Mona Lisa. We were glad we took a tour that highlighted the most famous works because if you were to look at each piece in the Louvre for 7 seconds, it would take you 80 years to see everything.

That night we took another New Europe Tour, this one of Montmarte, "the art capital of Paris." The tour started across from the famous Moulin Rouge. We saw where Van Gogh lived and Picasso worked. The highlight of the tour was Sacre Coeur, a Basilique overlooking all of Paris. When it was first built it was very controversial for several reasons, one being it's Romano-byzantine architecture, an usual mix-match of architectural styles. It combines, Gothic gargoyles, mosque-like domes,
Greek and Venician styles, among many others.

At the end of the tour we each received a free glass of wine.

Day Five: We strol…

Highlights of Paris: Part 1

After Ireland, Gabby and I flew to Paris to continue our spring break adventures. Six days in one of the biggest cities in the world makes for a multitude of memories and stories. To save time (and your eyes from staring at a screen) I will relate the highlights.

We arrived at our hostel at about midnight on Monday, March 26/Tuesday, March 27. We were then told they booked us wrong and we had no room. They called another hostel for us and around 12:30am we were lugging our luggage through the streets of Paris to this second hostel. We finally got to sleep around 2am.

Day One: Tuesday, March 27 started with a trip to the market to buy cheese, fresh fruit, and a baguette for our picnic lunch in the Jardin du Luxembourg park. We then headed to the Eiffel Tower. We reached the second level of the Tower when it was still bright and sunny out and stayed until the lights of the city became illuminated.

 Day Two: We took another New Europe Free Walking Tour and learned a lot about the history…

Paddywagon of Southern Ireland

Our second morning of spring break was much less chaotic than the first and we set off at 8am for our 3-Day Tour of Southern Ireland. (The tour company, Paddywagon, is the same company that owns the Paddy Palace, our hostel in Dublin). We got on a big green coach bus with an Irish bus driver and tour guide who took us all around Southern Ireland. We saw a lot of the countryside, as well as some cities and "tourist traps," and I fell in love.

We saw more than I could relate in 10 blog posts, but I'll share some of the highlights:

Day One: Kylemore Castle & Abbey. It was built by a young couple who fell in love with Ireland. The man built the Castle and gave it to his wife as a present. It was absolutely stunning and the lake at its base added to the picturesque scene. The Abbey is set further back in the woods and is still used by nuns today.

 That night we stayed in Galway. We had supper in a pub as a tour group and Gabby and I tried our first half-pint of Guin…

The Spring Break that Almost Wasn't

The morning of March 22 didn't go as planned. It was the first day of our 10 day spring break. Gabby and I had been planning our trip to Ireland and Paris for weeks. A taxi was going to pick us up for the airport (along with a group of other girls who were also flying to Dublin) at 5:30am. I set my alarm for 4:45am. At 4:00am our roommate's alarm went off and I laid in bed trying to get 45 more minutes of sleep in. Apparently I managed to fall asleep because I woke up to the sound of Gabby's ringtone. I checked my phone: 5:22am. The time didn't register until Gabby whispered, "Hannah! It's 5:22!" I ran to the door, turned on the light, and we scrambled. One of the other girls knocked on our door and told us the taxi was waiting. I threw on my clothes, put on a hat (no time to brush my hair) and ran down to the front door. We pulled out of the driveway at exactly 5:30am. If we hadn't been traveling with a large group, and if one of the other girls hadn…