Castles, Cliffs, Canterbury, & FREAKING SHAILENE WOODLEY

Hi, everyone!

Just wanted to write up this post to tell about this past weekend, which was one of the best so far.

Kendal and I had bought a Groupon for a tour to Leeds Castle, the Cliffs of Dover, and Canterbury a few weeks ago, and finally used it this past Saturday (29/3/14). The weather was absolutely PERFECT – sunny, clear skies – and made for an absolutely wonderful day.

We started our day at Victoria Coach Station where we boarded a bus that took us to Leeds Castle, which is southeast of London in Kent. The castle is hundreds of years old, once owned by Edward I, and eventually belonged to Henry VIII, who gave it to (one of his many wives) Catharine of Aragon.

In addition to once belonging to historic British monarchs, the castle eventually belonged to a few wealthy families. The last person to privately own it was Lady Baillie, who lived there in the 1930s. The amount of money these people had is actually unfathomable, and actually being there and seeing that wealth around us was insane to say the least.

Like I said before, we had absolutely GORGEOUS weather that provided amazing photo opportunities:

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Next stop on the tour was the Cliffs of Dover. I was especially excited to go to this spot because of a scene in the most recent Pride & Prejudice adaptation, Elizabeth Bennet standing on the cliffs looking out to the sea. It is one of the most beautiful scenes in a movie I have ever seen, and I was highly anticipating seeing these cliffs in person! I wish we could have gotten a little closer to them, but regardless, it was amazing to finally get to see them in person!

Again, the weather held up and really good pictures were taken:

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The next stop on the tour was Canterbury, another historic English city. Canterbury is probably familiar to a lot of you because of The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer that is based on the popular pilgrimage that Christians take to Canterbury Cathedral, where Thomas Becket was murdered. Kendal and I visited the cathedral which was just as gorgeous on the inside as it is on the outside.

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Canterbury has a lot of literary history as well. A lot of famous playwrights and authors – one of which is Christopher Marlowe, who I am writing one of my final papers on! – were from there/wrote a lot of their famous works there. Charles Dickens, who was one of these authors, apparently walked to Canterbury from London several times. That’s 60 miles, by the way…

After our time in Canterbury, the bus took us back to London, specifically to Greenwich. I actually hadn’t been to that part of London yet since I have been here, so it was nice to walk around and get some good pictures of the Old Royal Naval College, which is not only an actual university, but was also used to film some epic scenes in a recent superhero movie. Any guesses which one?Image

..the answer is Thor 🙂 (that was for you, Gianna and Celene 😀 )

The next day, Kendal and I casually attended the European premiere of DIVERGENT in Leicester Square, and it was actually one of the best days of my life. Let me preface this story with a few things. First, I LOVE the Divergent books. Celene gave me the first one for my birthday a few years ago, and since then I have been hooked. Veronica Roth, the author of the trilogy, was at the National Book Festival in DC last semester, and I was one of the first people there to see her and have my book signed. Secondly, I LOVE movies, and am very interested in film publicity. I interned for a film promotion company last semester, and fell in love with it. The whole atmosphere in Leicester Square was actually insane, but so much fun, and something I would love to do as a career in the future!

SO, going to this was a huge deal for me. I am highly anticipating this movie, and Kendal (who also loves the books) and I jumped at the chance to possibly see it ahead of time, as well as meet the stars of the film.

We only got there about 2 hours early, but still (somehow, magically, miraculously) were able to get VERY close to the red carpet. There was an opportunity for us to get into the actually screening of the movie, but it required us to literally RUN to get a spot, and we had such good spots near the red carpet, we didn’t want to risk running for our lives and then lose our current spot near the red carpet. Although we didn’t see the actual movie, we got AMAZINGLY AMAZING pictures of the stars of the film.

Here are the pictures I took… I DIED:

Veronica Roth was there, which was pretty cool! She is the mastermind behind the whole story, after all.

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Next, we saw Shailene Woodley, who I am slightly obsessed with. She gets a bad reputation for being on the television show “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” but she is (in my opinion) SO much more than that show! Watch The Descendants or The Spectacular Now and you will see how amazing of an actress she is. Also, I did my final Entertainment Communication project on her last semester, so I know just about every facet of her life.

I got some amazing paparazzi-worthy pictures of her (the very close-up ones where she is literally INCHES from my face are blurry, BUT I DON’T EVEN CARE):

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Next, we saw Ben Lloyd-Hughs, who I honestly had never heard of.. After some research, Kendal and I discovered that he is a British actor, and was in the very popular British show “Skins.” He plays a kind of major character in the movie, which I am excited to see him in.

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Next, we saw Neil Burger, the director of the movie!

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Next, was the one and only Kate Winslet. She is actually one of my favorite actresses of all time, and is a true legend. To see her in the FLESH was incredible. Kendal and I had a few laughs because someone across the way from us had their Titanic DVD with them for her to sign, which was hilarious and brilliant at the same time. Before the premiere started, some book promoters were passing out little pamphlets of a chapter of some new random young adult book. Kendal had taken one, and since she nor I had any paper for Kate to sign, Kendal had her sign that. We thought it was pretty funny!

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Lastly, we saw Theo James, the lead actor in the movie. Downton Abbey fans should know that he plays none other than the Turkish Ambassador, Mr. Pamuk, in season 1, who had a pretty MAJOR part in the whole Mary saga on the show.. Anywho, he is starring in Divergent and is beautiful and I died.

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He is essentially waving to me in this picture.

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It was SUCH an incredible day that I will never ever forget!

That is all for now. More fun-filled weekends are in the future! 😀

Cheers,

Katie

 

Long Overdue Post: Dublin & Paris (with guests in between)

Hello, everyone!

Like the title of this post says, this is LONG overdue. These past 3/4 weeks have been crazy busy – but the best kind of crazy!

Immediately after Lena left, my friend Adam came to visit! He had never been to London, and we did a lot of the tourist-y things to do in London. We had a lot of fun, and it was nice to have a familiar face around for a few days!

Right after Adam left, Kendal, Ragini, and I headed to Dublin for the weekend. This was the weekend before St. Patrick’s day – a perfect time to go, if you ask me! We went to not only celebrate the holiday, but we also went to celebrate Kendal’s 21st birthday, which happens to fall on St. Patrick’s Day.

Dublin, of course, is such an amazing city. I had been before – almost 6 years ago now – but to be honest didn’t remember as much of it as I thought I had! Also, I was only 15 at the time, and couldn’t do some of the more fun things that people 18+ can do! 😉

I won’t give a day-by-day description of the weekend, I’ll just put some pictures below 🙂 But, before I do, a HUGE shout-out goes to Emily who let us stay with her! She was an amazing host to us, and we couldn’t be more thankful for her hospitality!! THANKS EMILY ❤

Approaching the Emerald Isle..

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Our first meal. SO GOOD!

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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Christ Church

 

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A colorful fair happening along the water

 

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At the Guinness Storehouse Tour. The bar at the top floor had amazing views of the city!

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Dublin Castle

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It was a great weekend with great friends & amazing weather! 🙂

The day after I got back from Dublin, Gianna came to visit! She is studying abroad in Rome this semester, and had a week spring break. She came to London for a few days and had never been before! Again, we did some tourist-y things, but I did do a few things I had never done before!

Gianna and I in South Bank 🙂

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One thing we did that I had never done before was tour Westminster Abbey! Most of you may know it as the church where William and Kate got married, but it is also notable for being the place where royal coronations happen and is also the burial site for basically every British Monarch. It was beyond cool to finally go inside and see the coronation chair and relics. Unfortunately, photography isn’t allow inside, so I don’t have any pictures to post here! I will say that although you have to pay to go inside, it is well worth the money to do so!

The next thing Gianna and I did that I hadn’t done yet was go to Abbey Road! This is the street where the famous picture of the Beatles was taken for the cover of their album “Abbey Road.”

Here is what it looks like (if you live under a rock and don’t know what I am talking about.. JK, but really.):

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(photo source)

Gianna and I made our way to Abbey Road, which, to be expected, was just a random street in London. We did, though, have a hard time discerning which exact zebra crossing the photo was taken at… but after some research, we realized it was the one closest to Abbey Road Studios, pictured below:

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Yes, that graffiti made me and Gianna LOL.

Also, I never got a picture of the true zebra crossing (mostly because I thought it was a different one.. You were right, Gianna! 😉 ) BUT, I did get an official picture of an Abbey Road street sign:

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The next day, Gianna and I made our way to Paris! Our friend Celene is studying abroad there, and this was the perfect time for the three of us to reunite!

It was truly the perfect weekend, again! Great weather, great friends, and SUCH a great time. Again, I won’t do a detailed description of the weekend, just some pictures below 🙂

Really cool picture of the Eiffel Tower’s shadow (taken from the Eiffel Tower!)

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Another beautiful shot taken from the Tower

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I am the biggest wimp ever, and was freaking out as we climbed up the Eiffel Tower. Here is me gripping onto it for life:

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Outside the Arc de Triumph, which unfortunately had ugly scaffolding on the outside

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A view of the Avenue des Champs-Elysees taken from the top of the Arc de Triumph

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The Tower at night

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Outside the The Palais Garnier – Phantom of the Opera, anyone?!?

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Outside the Louvre

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And finally, outside Notre Dame

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Although I had been to Paris before, this trip was still fun! Not only was I in one of the most amazing cities in the world with some of my best friends, but I also got to do A LOT of things I didn’t do last time like go up the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triumph. I also didn’t go inside the Paris Opera House or Notre Dame last time, and was able to this time around!

That is all for now. Classes finished up this week – which is CRAZY! Like I said (I think?) in a previous post, classes end here at the end of March. We have all of April off for “Spring break” and then exams begin in May. I have 3 papers due at the end of April, and then one exam in May – literally the very end of May. So, other than studying/writing papers, I will have a lot more free time in my final 2 months here! Expect (hopefully!) more frequent blog posts filled with lots of adventures!

Thanks for reading!

Cheers,

Katie

 

Lena Comes to Visit

Hello, everyone!

These past 2 weeks have been CRAZY! Although a lot has been going on, I have found the time to write up this post about when Lena came to visit! 🙂

I had really been missing my family lately, so I was SO excited for Lena to finally come. She wasn’t arriving until Monday (3/4/14), BUT another very special person, the one and only Ally Vitale, who is essentially a sister to me, was arriving in London on Friday.

A few weeks prior, I had known Ally wanted to make plans to visit London (she lives in Spain, nbd 😉 ), and when she told me of the possible dates she would come, I told her that they overlapped Lena’s visit, and BOOM, two people I love were coming to London at the same exact time!

So, since Ally came a few days earlier, I got to hang with her for a bit on Saturday evening! It was a last minute meet-up, and when I saw her I immediately started crying! I didn’t expect it (and neither did she!), but I think I was just super overwhelmed and really needed some company from someone who is essentially like family to me. We hung out by the bar at the BFI in Southbank. I met her friend Mike, who she was staying with, and is a true Londoner and gave lots of great London advice. We had a great time, although it was just a few hours!

Me & Ally ❤

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Just a few days later, Lena finally arrived!! She has been to London twice before, so we didn’t do ALL of the traditional sight-seeing, but we did fit in some!

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One thing Lena hadn’t done in any of the times she visited London was go to Harrod’s. We walked around for a few hours, and I discovered something I had never seen in my previous visits there… THE DISNEY STORE.

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Tuesday of the week Lena was visiting was “HARRY POTTER DAY.” Lena, Ally, and I (all Harry Potter super-fans) got tickets to go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. It was truly one of the most magical days EVER, and worth every single penny! The tour is in the actual studio where they filmed a lot of the Harry Potter films, and all of the props, costumes, etc. are original as well!

All of my favorite pictures from the day are below.

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BUT ACTUALLY THIS IS MY FAVORITE PICTURE:

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Since Lena had been to London previously, she asked if we could also plan a trip elsewhere while she was here for the week. We decided we wanted to go somewhere neither of us had been, but was close enough to make a 2 day trip. So, we decided LET’S GO TO AMSTERDAM!

We left Thursday morning and came back Friday night. It was a fast trip, but so much fun! It has been a dream of mine to visit Amsterdam, and am so glad I got to go with my sister ❤

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On Lena’s final day here, we went to Portobello Market in Notting Hill had afternoon tea at the Orangery. It was a beautiful day out, and was the perfect end to a wonderful visit!! 🙂

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That’s all for now! Thanks for reading 🙂

Cheers,

Katie