Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Flashback to Uncle Ricky's

Here's an old post from Vienna. Sorry for my lack of organization or competency to blog daily.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007 6:45pm, Ricky’s Apartment

I’ve been in Vienna since Friday evening staying at Lauren’s uncle’s apartment and roaming around in the city. The rest of the journey by plane was alright. The food on the plane was far more extravagant then on the first flight. I really enjoyed the dulce de leche ice cream with turtle brownie pieces. I couldn’t manage to stay awake for any of the movies by the time I figured out that the movies had already started. Woops. None of them were really worth watching anyway. American Airlines has crappy movie choices. The real problem with that the flight was that instead of taking off at 11:35pm, it took off after 2:00am!! I met a hilarious couple from Brighton, England in JFK though and we laughed through the wait. They were surprised to encounter so many “tip me” looks during their stay, and had a rather strange incident in an outdoor bathroom in central park. Some vagrant fellow tried to grab the husband from under the door of the stall. I reminded him that at least he didn’t have to pay 20p to go pee.
Anyway that whole flight delay caused a disaster. They tried to rebook me for a flight from London to Vienna four hours later, but there was no way in heck I was going to miss that flight with Karina and get to Vienna at 10pm to find my own way to that apartment. So with twenty minutes till boarding as I reach the terminal, I had to run the fastest I’ve ever ran (faster than all last semester of waking up at 8 for my eight-o-clock’s) before through lines to get to the bus that takes you to another terminal, cry and beg my way through several security lines, somehow stuff my 2 carry-ons into one to meet the very lame UK rule of one handbag only, and run past several gates to get to my own. And like a light at the end of a tunnel, I see Karina’s long pony tail in the line for boarding, and I knew I had made it somehow in time. Soon enough Karina, her suitcases, and I had made it to Vienna. With no German and a mind full of frustration, I arranged for my bags to be delivered to the house later that night. (Sadly, my suitcase didn’t arrive until Sunday morning).

Saturday, July 21, 2007

London happenings and corn-topped pizzas

Saturday July 21, 2007, 7:47 p.m.,
Taya Ji's(my Dad's older brother) home in Ashford, U.K.

Golly gosh oh gee am I having the most wonderful time in England! Thursday after class I trekked over to the Edinburgh Airport to catch my flight to Heathrow. I've just been enjoying every last bit of it. I've been here so many times that I didn't have to run around doing all the touristy stuff and actually got a chance to relax and see some different parts of London.

Shopping of course is wonderful in London, but how much can one person buy in three days? Okay, I take that back. I must have a hole in my wallet 'cause the money is just slipping through with eating, transportation, must-haves from H&M, etc. My sister Pooja says I've spent so many pounds I'll be thin when I come back. Guess we'll see about that one.

So I definitely was informed today about being on the front page of the statesman by Charlene! I was thinking more like tiny column in the life and arts section...crazy! Meeting J.K. Rowling was absolutely amazing. If you can't wait to hear about it till I come home, go here:

Saturday, July 14, 2007

fotos ahora!!

I put up lots of pictures on facebook so take a look:

North Berwick - beach town

North Berick Law - mountain

Scottish Parliament

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The horns, that's like the Devil, right?

We left early morning Friday on a bus tour through the Highlands of Scotland. I can't find the words to describe all the wonderful places we visited. Absolutely breathtaking, really.

After saying goodbye to my dead basil plant, which didn't quite make it past 24 hours, we ran to make it on the giant yellow bus. (Yes, I am the only person trying to grow herbs in the building). We were greeted by our friendly tour guides, Tom(who had a hearty chuckle) and Ewan(saying his name brings a smile to Lauren's face....) who entertained us throughout the 3 days with tales of Scottish heros, legends, and somewhat shockingly grotesque humor. One of our first stops was the William Walllace Monument (aka Braveheart). We walked quite a bit up this winding path to the top where we had a beautiful view all the towns the lay before us. At this point, however, we knew we were in for a rather wet, cold weekend. Managing an umbrella and an SLR proved to be a difficult(yet amusing for everyone else) task, but I luckily made it through without a scratch.

We made a pit stop (always as long as it takes for 30 kids to go to the bathroom and remember to use the ATM because they've run out of GBP again [Yeah, that's what the cool kids call pounds. G-B-P]) to see Hamish, the hairy coo who was absolutely adorable. I wasn't really a fan of him sticking his large tongue up his nostril, but he still won me over. Hamish is really quite the celebrity, and we all scrambled to get his autograph (or at least get him to eat a carrot out of our hands).

Then the most amazing thing happened: I witnessed the dazzling black and crimson Hogwarts Express pass over through the mountains with all its steam and mighty glory.

We visited this placed called Glencoe, a valley that still makes the hearts of highlanders sting in memory of the McDonalds clan that was brutally murdered in their sleep by the Campbells, an order by the throne of England to remind the Scottish the king will show no mercy. To this day, many pub owners in the area have signs saying, "No shoes, No Campbells."

Our last stop of the evening was near our hostel in the fishing community of Fort Augustus. With about twenty or so other tourists, we stuffed ourselves inside a tiny hut to watch a highlander weaponry show. We learned about various weapons used in battle, the worst of which was an axe thrusted between the legs of your enemy who was then bounced up and down before a series of other tortuous acts.

Most of us spent our first night ever in a hostel that weekend. Morag's Lodge was surprisingly very clean and had a kind of log-cabin-feel to it. We stayed in 6 bed suites with private bathrooms. It surpassed my expectations of a hostel, and it was much more like staying at a bug-free summer camp. While everyone else got ripped off buying a meal of haggis(the unused parts of a sheep cooked inside a sheep's stomach), Lauren and I headed to the nearest Spar( picture a large gas station market with souvenirs) to pick up frozen pizza and mac & cheese. Not exactly gourmet, but the exchange rate's a nasty bugger.

The hostel was about a two minute walk from the famed Loch Ness featuring not one but a staggering eighteen Loch Ness Monsters, fondly known as Nessie(s). Most of us took a boat ride on the loch, a vast waxy black body of water supposedly cold enough to preserve dead bodies. The man who owned the boat was a marine biologist who was dead convinced that these mysterious creatures(larger than a bus) lived deep inside the loch because of his extensive sonar research and a few sightings. We were lucky enough to spot something lurking far off in the distance...

A bit of karaoke summed up the evening. One of the Haggis Tour guides belted out La Bamba (more than once) among other tunes some of which were foreign to me. His lyrics to La Bamba were promising, and he may soon end up with a record career of his own. Needless to say I should never be allowed in a karaoke bar. I chickened out on singing alone, and when a group of a girls tried to sing It's My Party, I'm not really sure if the mic ever got turned on. Chad's attempt at Super Freak was surely the highlight of the evening. I can't decide whether it was the dancing or the attempted rhythm that was more entertaining.

Check back for the rest of this to be updated...

faerie falls
5 sisters
isle of sky
cliff where lauren almost died
kilt rock

Sunday -
burial mounds
first day of shine. truffle

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Grey skies and no sleep

12:53pm, yet another computer lab

Just got out of class- Law of the European Union. It was pretty interesting. My professor is pretty funny, but I must admit my eyes started glossing over during the last 20 minutes. Class goes from 9 to 1, which is definitely going to stretch my attention span after five weeks of class. I feel pretty comfortable in the class because Norman, my macroecon professor last semester, tested over the European Union so I've got the basics down already.

Yesterday after class, we hit up a few shops to get the last bit of groceries to make it through the week. Tesco Metro doesn't have a large selection, but I won't complain about my lovely little jar of Nutella, which will soon become a staple food in our kitchen. My stomach's had enough of gnocchi and tomato mascarpone sauce that I ate one too many times. There are a lot of little vintage shops, and actually cancer research donation shops that we perused through as well looking for warmer clothing which didn't quite make it into my suitcase. In the Oxfam shop, we found really beautiful jewelry that I was rather tempted to purchase, but I opted for a scrapbook to keep all the little knicknacks I've picked up along the way.

We're slowly realizing the weather here is quite terrible. It's never sunny, and it rains and stops raining over and over again. Rain boots would've been a good idea. We all go home with 6 inches of wet pants that never seem to quite dry with the humidity. I am making weekend trips to London and Amsterdam, and I hope weather there is a least somewhat reminiscent of summer.

Our flats don't have wi-fi so it looks like we'll all be spending our afternoons in the pub across the street where they have free internet. I think it's called Draughty Neebors or something of that sort. Naturally everyone feels obligated to buy drinks. As long as everyone around me is getting drinks, I feel no pressure, heh. We stayed there for quite a while (a little past closing, much to the owner's dismay), and then continued to bum around outside the door to use the internet so Chad could finish booking his flight to Amsterdam. I had no intention really to go Amsterdam, but I'm getting excited as time passes, because as it turns out, there is quite a bit to see there!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Many apologies

2:10pm, Univ. of Edinburgh Computer Lab

So sorry I haven't had internet whatsoever. Vienna was fabulous. No worries, though. I've sort of been keeping up the blogging on my laptop and a tiny notepad. I'll add those entries as I have time this week. Sorry they'll be slightly out of order.. been very busy. Just got to Scotland Saturday and started class today!

P.S. Yes, I'm alive. Thank God all of us made it safely to Edinburgh even with the terrorist attacks this past weekend. A bit of a scare..

June 30, 2007, 1:00pm, British Airways flight to London.

I'm sitting next to a rather round man on my flight to London where I'll transfer to Edinburgh. I woke up after meals were served, but luckily was able to get one of my own. I was too scared to try much on my vegetarian plate when a lovely little box on my neighbor's tray caught my attention. I looked down at mine in hopes that I would have one as well, but was sadly disappointed. Everyone seemed to have a tiny cream colored box but me, and as the meal went on, I grew anxious to discover the contents of the little box. I generally avoid talking to others in public places unless they initiate conversation but I especially wanted to avoid asking Augustus Gloop here what was inside his box. I sat quietly intimidated, and waited for what seemed like an eternity for the man to lift his piece of bread off the cover so I could read the writing printed on the box, and perhaps have a clue as to what lay inside. Unfortunately, even with my glasses I lack Clark Kent's magnifying vision, and the label was all a blur. Leaning awkwardly did little to help the situation except reveal a name written in cursive and three smaller words printed below. Three words, three words. English tea biscuit? I could never be sure unless the man would magically offer me the box since he showed little care for it. After a good long while of watching the man drink his wine and imagining all sorts of delights that could possibly sit inside the box, the man made one grand gesture and picked up the box. My eyes, peeled with anticipation, locked themselves in his direction. With two grubby fingers, he lifted a small chocolate from the box. What kind? Is there a lovely cream filling? Coconut? I watched him bite into the chocolate with care, and my mouth watered at the site of such perfectly blended caramel swirling outward from the remaining half. Before I knew it, he popped both chocolates inside his cave of a mouth- no chance at perhaps having the other since I clearly had no box of my own. I was overjoyed when the flight attendant brought me a box, (She said they were afraid of vegetarians having food allergies and tend to leave chocolates off their trays). Lily O'Briens. Created with passion. Inside sat two fine truffles: honeycomb crunch and mandarin caramel duet. The latter of which was pure delight. The mandarin encased in the caramel gave a feeling of the first glimpse of sun in the morning. I turned the box over hoping the chocolates were from London or Edinburgh where I am headed, but learned they came from a place called Kildares, Ireland. I'll have to go there someday- Ireland, I mean, if only to see the Lake Isle of Innisfree.

June 31, 2007, 10:40 A.M - My flat in Edinburgh

Suitcase didn't come yet again. Big surprise. Little love for British Airways. The flat is slightly infested so Karina and I slept cuddled in her room. I'm eager for the other girls to arrive. Lauren and Monica should be here in a few hours. I better run to Boots and Tesco to pick up a few essentials.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Nueva York

5:00p.m. JFK Airport in New York, New York

Here I am in N.Y.C., and I feel like breaking into that song from Annie. "N-Y-C! Just got here this morning. Three bucks. Two bags. One me." I wish I could leave the airport and go to Time Square. That place is just exhilirating especially at night. Grace has the city at her feet right now. I'd love to see her, but I'm trapped in Terminal 9.

The flight here was mostly enjoyable- slept most of the way. Unfortunately, when traveling trouble always ensues.

First, I was told by three different American Airlines represenatives that my vegetarian meal was confirmed my flight. Meal time comes around, and Saloni does not get fed. Well, I got some brie and some plasticky cookie, but apparently you don’t really count unless you keep Kosher. Where was the ice cream that everyone(cough, cough Miachel and my mother) always talks about? Boy, was I crushed. I had been watching Top Chef last week, and the food they served in first class looked like a masterpiece. I guess that doesn’t quite happen in real life.

I get to JFK with spirits still high until I find out that the terminal is still being built and the food court is not open yet. After missing lunch, I didn’t want to wait until I reached London tomorrow morning to eat! After a heck of a lot of walking and somehow having to go through security again, I found this small grocery stand with sandwiches. Praise the Lord! I’ve been saved. Oh, except, yes, that’s right my new debit card was DENIED. The bank froze my account, and I’m still waiting for it to be unfrozen. I have some money to last a bit, but if that thing doesn’t start working I am going to have a big problem. I just keep telling myself when I reach Vienna things will turn around, and I sure hope I’m right! On the bright side, I kept getting offered drinks on my flight and also received complimentary wine cards from two different people in the Admirals Club. Maybe for once I look older than fifteen...or maybe I just look like I really need a drink.

Oh, I realized I never quite mentioned the reasons for my travel. Let's see, I'm going to spend a week in Vienna with some friends: Karina, Lauren, Monica and Chad. Lauren's Uncle lives there with his wife and was kind enough to offer us a place to stay. After that I'll be spending the rest of the summer studying at the University of Edinburgh where I will be taking a class in the Legal Environment of Business and Law of the European Union. Somewhere in between I'll be heading to Ashford to visit my cousins and London to meet J.K. Rowling!!!!!!!!

Alright well, I better go pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. Bye!

Bye bye birdie

10:02 a.m., DFW Airport

I still can't believe I'm saying this.... but Europe, here I come! I'm off this morning from Dallas with two layovers in NYC and London. London shouldn't be so bad, but I am definitely not looking forward to 8 hours in the JFK Airport. Yuck! Although I do get to stay in this fancy-shmancy Admiral's Club, because my dad surprised me with a first class ticket to Vienna!! I know it's ridiculous, and I was definitely shocked. Better not miss my flight. Au revoir. I promise I'll figure out how to say that in German.... eventually