London – Day 117 and 118

Wednesday, when we arrived back to London we checked back into the Savoy Hotel (another piece of Heaven), and were escorted to another amazing riverside room with possibly an even better view of London – because it was on the corner so even the bathroom had a view of Parliament! We walked down to lunch at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese – back to one of the first places I went to in London! We hung out in the hotel until it was time for dinner. Our final dinner in London was at Little Social. A cozy, and delicious french restaurant. We shared oysters, and I had….guess….the steak frites! For desserts I had house made truffles and Anthony had the cheese plate. All with a bottle of wine, it was the perfect meal for the last night in London.

Thursday. The final day. Our flight was not until 5 so we had the morning to enjoy. We decided on the London Eye and it was the most gorgeous day to overlook my city one last time. We had lunch at the Sommerset House, where the Courtauld Gallery is, and walked along the river. Our cab driver on the way to the airport was amazing, full of knowledge about the city and talked lots of shop about football with Anthony and I. He took us a great scenic route by way of Trafalgar Square, the Mall, Buckingham Palace, by Knightsbridge and Harrods, and a great sight as we exited central London right by our Victoria and Albert Museum.

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London – Day 114, 115, 116, 117 – Ireland!

Anthony and I had to depart our amazing hotel, but luckily we were headed off to Ireland! We departed early and arrived in Dublin at lunchtime. Anthony’s cousins Anna and Trevor were waiting for us as we exited. Which was really exciting for me because it is the first time someone has been waiting for me in my entire European vacation! Words cannot express how amazing they are, and how perfect they made our trip. They drove us out to their dairy farm in Navan. We spend Sunday through Wednesday being driven around to all the sites, fed amazing meals every day, and had amazing conversation on top of it all. Side note – several calves were born while we were there at the farm so even through their busy time they still managed to be the best hosts ever.

Day one, Sunday, we saw Slane Castle, drove up to Carlingford which is a beautiful town on the East coast. I had clam chowder and my first Guinness of the trip! -Which the men were all impressed by. Afterwards we drove up into Northern Ireland (new country down, yay!). We headed back to the farm, hung out with Rhys – Anthony’s cousin who is near our age.

Day two, Monday we went to Newgrange – which is older than Stonehenge! They had a full visitor center, museum, and tour that led you up and inside the mound. It was pretty incredible. Then we went to another mound like Newgrange called Dowth – but is currently untouched. Maybe in the years to come they will be as famous (and tourist heavy) as Newgrange! We also went to Battle of the Boyne visitor center and learned all about the battle and saw the fields it was fought on. Which, as Trevor explained, was not only important historically for Ireland but for all of the UK. It must be so cool to have so much history in your own backyard. We ate lunch at the Old Post Office in town. Also we were spoiled with the weather. It barely rained, and if it did it was a very light drizzle for a short period of time, and we saw so many rainbows! After that we drove around the area and saw several amazing houses, a cool old cemetery and back home to another super delicious meal!

Day three, Tuesday, we woke up to a traditional Irish breakfast! Much like an English one but better because the eggs came from down the road, the milk from the backyard and the sausage from the neighbor. Ah.mazing. We went to Trim Castle. This is where they shot Braveheart! It was gorgeous, and so well perserved. Then we went up to the Hill of Tara, where we could see everything. We ate lunch at the restaurant right below. After that we went up to the Hill of Slane, where St Patrick lit the paschal fire. Another place with breathtaking views – and we could see across to the Hill of Tara that we had just left. After that we went back to the farm and down to the hanger and air strip! Trevor is an instructor and owner of planes, so of course we had to go up! Anthony wasn’t sure he would like it so much, so instead of flying to Galway for lunch we went up to see how he would do…and he was just fine! I sat in the pilots seat, and actually got to FLY THE PLANE! It was so so so so cool. We flew West over all sorts of beautiful land and water. Trevor would say, head for that lake, or that hill and I would take us there. He has me hooked. He showed us the Kellaher land and all the sites we had been seeing from above. He made me fly through a cloud, and at one point it was like we were flying through a rainbow! Not to toot my own horn but Trevor said I was a natural. We landed in time for a drink a the local pub to watch the Arsenal match and back to the farm for dinner.

Day four, Wednesday, we woke up to another Irish breakfast, and sadly off to the airport. Ireland was Heaven. There is no better way to put it and I’m so grateful for our amazing hosts!

London – Day 113

Saturday. The best day of my life (so far!)

Saturday morning we had to be out of Byng by 10am. I finished my final packing, threw out the contents of the fridge, took out the trash, said goodbye to my roommate and was off! Anthony had picked out a hotel for us to stay at, and kept it a surprise for me. I took the Tube over to the Victoria and Albert Museum because Anthony really wanted to see the David Bowie exhibit, and I knew how quickly they sold out. I waited in line for an hour until Anthony joined me and we waited another thirty minutes. We got our timed tickets, and had time to have lunch in the cafe. We ate sandwiches and sat in their beautiful main section of the cafe. Then we went to the Bowie exhibition which was really extensive, and pretty neat. From there we decided to look around the rest of the museum, including the Medieval sections for Anthony and his new obsession with Game of Thrones. We talked about plans for the rest of the day, including going to St Pauls. Before we left we decided to walk through the 17th and 18th century sections so I could show off my knowledge. We came to a fork in the road and I said, oh we have to go over here I want to show you something really neat. We walked into the Music Room. It is the panels from the Music Room in the Norfolk House and is beautiful with white paneling and gold gilding, lit by ‘candlelight’. When we walked in there were two people just leaving so we had the space to ourselves. This is when Anthony took my hand, and proposed! He got down on one knee and put the most beautiful ring on my finger and I was stunned! I had no idea that was about to happen and he took me completely by surprise. I knew he would probably propose soon, maybe during the trip, maybe in Ireland or the last day, or even when we got home but I did not think it was going to be that moment. It was absolutely perfect.

After that I was floating on Cloud Nine. We hung around in the room for a bit, took some pictures, and then I thought we were on the way to St Pauls since Anthony really wanted to go there. But it turned out, that was just a ruse and instead we headed to the hotel. We got off the Tube at Embankment and on the way to the hotel there was a restaurant handing out free pizza slices! Then we went up a back road to the main street just as a bride was getting out of her car for her wedding. It was all fate! We walked up the Strand and stopped in front of The Savoy! The most amazing and beautiful hotel in London with tons of history, and this was my surprise! Famous occupants include Sir Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Maria Callas, Claude Monet and Katharine Hepburn! We were treated like royalty and were shown around the hotel, the restaurants, gym, business center and most importantly to a special elevator up to the top floor where we were staying. We went up and were greeted by our butler. Yes, our butler. We stayed in a river side suite, which includes its own butler of course. He showed us around the suite which included an entry room with a guest bathroom, a full sitting area with couches, desk, side bar, master bedroom and master bathroom with a claw foot tub and a rain shower, a walk in closet and most importantly the rooms had the most amazing views of London I have ever seen. It was a clear shot of the London Eye, Big Ben and all the bridges. They also had personalized stationary that said Anthony Kellaher, In Residence and the dates! They also had a bottle of champagne ready and rose petals. The suite we stayed in was called the Katharine Hepburn suite and had her pictures and paintings of her on the way, her movies and books and even a framed receipt for the suite we were in that she wrote on and signed! We scheduled high tea with the butler downstairs, and The Savoy High Tea is one of the best in London. It was really a beautiful setting. I sat on a couch and there was a woman playing the grand piano right behind me. They even brought out an extra plate of sandwiches (how do they know me so well?). Between those, the desserts, champagne and tea we were stuffed. We decided to spend the rest of the evening enjoying our amazing hotel and to Skype with family members and friends to tell them the good news! After high tea at 5, we were hungry again around 11 and ordered room service! I could not ask for a more perfect day.

London – Day 112

Friday – The final day!

Friday was the last day of school…which was a luncheon with all the different schools. So I was able to see all the Georgetown Girls, even the ones in the other programs. It was only a few short hours but a great way to wrap up and say goodbye.

Friday was also the day Anthony arrived!! He got in around 8am, and slept during my lunch. Afterwards we headed out first to see the BBC’s Sherlock’s house which is not far from where I live. From there we walked through Regents Park all the way to Abbey Road. We saw the studios and the famous crosswalk. With that I checked everything off my London to do list! We had a few hours to kill before dinner so we walked south through St John’s Wood and down through Hyde Park. We walked around the Serpentine and sat on a bench for awhile. Then we went to Harrods, found the Princess Diana Memorial in the basement, then walked over to our restaurant. We went to Roti Chai, which was a really delicious Indian restaurant. It reminded me of Rasika in Washington, DC. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, then walked it off home. I found all the Byng Place girls hanging out in one apartment so we stopped by to say our real last goodbyes. I will miss having such great friends, so close, in such an amazing city. I had finished packing and was ready to sleep, wake up early and bid my home for the last four months so long!

London – Day 111

Thursday – Today felt like a weekend because school is over! Very crazy to say that, but it is.

I woke up early this morning and took advantage of the sunshine and ran to Regents Park to play some footy! The park is gorgeous and all the flowers have bloomed. I took to the big field to dribble and practice my goal kicks. It was lovely. I had lunch with Kate, Mia, Brittany, Kristin, and Anna. We had an indoor picnic with food from the farmers market across the street. The weather has decided to be incredibly London – windy and spurts of rain – so we though indoors was safest. I had to say goodbye to two of the girls who left tonight for trips in Europe before heading home. I spent the afternoon with Kate wandering around the city, including stops into Leicester Square (to see the Banana Stand that is on tour for the promotion of Arrested Development!), The National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery of Art and St Martins-in-the-Field (a favorite spot of Gwyneth Paltrow). We then went to dinner at Meat Liquor – which is one of the most popular places in the city currently. You wait in line outside and they bring you in closer strategically until you wait at the bar for your table. The concept is its all drinks, and then burgers! (and wings, and chicken sandwiches, and fries – plain, cheese or chili cheese – and hot fudge sundae desserts…). I got the “Dirty Hippie” burger, which consisted of two patties, “dirty hippy sauce” and chopped up onions. It tasted like a super fancy Big Mac! We split cheese fries and opted for cans of Coke instead of the liquor. The inside was pretty crazy, with street art all over the walls and funky lighting. I felt cooler by just being in the room, and all the food was delicious too! It was a really great night, and a perfect way to end my alone time here since Anthony arrives tomorrow morning!!!!

One week from today I’ll be flying home!

London – Days 108, 109, 110

Monday – Tuesday – Wednesday

Monday was a bank holiday. Which means everything opens late and closes early. I went shopping down Oxford Street and into Selfridges. I was expecting a lot more out of Selfridges, but it seems to be your average department store. I popped into all the London shops I won’t have when I get home. Dorothy Perkins, Top Shop, River Island etc. Then I walked through Hyde Park. It was a glorious sunny day and people were out in full force playing soccer, tossing frisbees, having picnics. People here really do take advantage of the good weather, and it’s perfect it came on a holiday! I went to the Natural History museum, which is one of the final places on my big list of things to do. It was pretty cool. There were some areas which were clearly updated more recently than others. It is a massive building. The dinosaur area made me want to tear my hair out because they put you into a line, walk you up some steps, then walk on a platform the length of the exhibit to see it from above, you finally come down at the end into a little room with a life size animatronic T-Rex growling, then wind you back through the exhibit like a snake curve until you can finally reach the exit. It was crowded, there were strollers, people were taking pictures of everything. I think if I wasn’t claustrophobic before, I am now! The best part of the exhibition of course was the gems and stones! All the diamonds and sapphires and rubies. It is a shame they are in a case and not with me. And this entire time, my building lost the Internet. It went away Sunday around 6pm and finally came back on Wednesday – while I was already at school giving my presentation. So I spent a lot of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday popping into various cafes for wifi. Monday I met up with Kate at Yumchaa for a few hours to work on our paper for the presentation. I also got a lot of packing done, without the internet…there isn’t much else to do at night!

Tuesday, I got my hair cut in the morning. The whole experience was great. Afterwards I walked down through to Middle Temple, which is one of the big Inns of Court. It is only open on the weekdays. I walked through the small alley through the buildings, like I belonged and ended up at the most beautiful and huge courtyard where all the lawyers were taking lunch. So many posh accents and so many cufflinks in such a small area. I spent the afternoon working with my group for our project, and felt very solid by 7pm! Then it was time for dinner, and I was attempting to go completely off book and memorize my notes. I went to Starbucks for a few hours to get internet and then back home.

Wednesday – Presentation Day! We, of course, were last on the list of presenters. Which is bad because by that time I just wanted to get it over with, but good to see how the panel of judges reacted to the other presentations. They were pretty critical and very tough when it came to the financials and if the numbers did not match up that was trouble. My group had lunch together, and we went over everything one more time and finally gave our presentation at 3pm. It was great! We wore all black, and looked like we were going into a real pitch. The judges really liked us, and did not give us a hard time only some suggestions on how to take it to the next level. We celebrated afterwards by going to get drinks at Wahacca, which turned into drinks at the London Cocktail Society, which turned into dinner at Salt Yard! I love the time I’ve spent with these girls here in London, and it was great to cap it off with a fun night.

Now to turn in my Georgetown semester paper….then I’ll really be done!

London – Day 107

Sunday

I took a bus tour to Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds. My last jaunt into the English countryside on my trip. Blenheim was fabulous. It is the largest privately owned palace in England. This is where Winston Churchill was born. The grounds are extensive and incredible. The bus arrived around 10:30 and we had almost two hours to explore. The interior of the house is impressive. I loved the library and the furnishings. The grounds from the Italian gardens, to the Secret Garden and the huge lawn were so beautiful. It was just enough time for me to see everything! The bus then travelled through the Cotswolds, first to the town of Burford where we had lunch. I ate fish and chips, and wandered the towns high street into various shops, and wandered off the high street to look at the local architecture. It is so quaint and pretty there. On the way we went through a town called Witney! Which, I guess I’ll forgive all English people that spell my name wrong now, but not enough for them to act like its a strange name to have. I found a street in Burford called Witney, and of course took many pictures of it. From there we stopped in Burton on the Water. Which is a tiny town with a tiny little stream running through it that was packed with people. I got an ice cream and strolled up and down the streets. It was such a gorgeous day outside I understand why everyone wanted to be on the grass by the water. I stopped into an arts and crafts fair and other shops. They call the town “The Venice of the Cotswolds” Big name for a such a small place. We then stopped into a really really small village called Bibury. Their big draw is they have a trout farm with beautiful gardens, and the stone cottages. When William Morris visited it, he called it the most beautiful village in England. Arlington Row is the most photographed place in the Cotswolds (and a big place for filming including Bridge Jones Diary!). It was gorgeous and the best way to end the day in the country.

I got home in time to go to the grocery store for the last time, cook dinner and work on my final project with Kate for a couple of hours. I also started packing. It is mental to think that I’ll be moving out of my flat on Saturday. Its been a good run!

London – Day 106

Saturday!

I woke up ridiculously early this morning, though sitting here at the end of the night I know it was all worth it. Kate and I decided to try our luck at same day, 10 pound tickets to see Helen Mirren in The Audience. It is a play about the private conversations between the Queen and her 12 different Prime Ministers. We were in line by 7am and still almost twenty people back in line for the box office that opened at 10am. We got the last two tickets to the evening performance, but standing room only. Each person can pick up two tickets, and there are just I believe 12 seated and 12 standing. We were quite happy with snagging the last two tickets of the night, and practically skipped home. I spent the afternoon doing laundry, editing our business proposal (from 20,000 words to 12,555 words….no joke. It will eventually become around 4,000), and starting to sort through my things – recycling what I don’t need from the semester! I am holding onto my notebooks for now, but I may end up giving them up in the end. Kate and I walked back to the theater together for our show, and it did not disappoint! Though I think the English audience got much more out of it than me, I am happy to have seen it. They must update the script constantly for they talked about Margaret Thatchers funeral and Queen Beatrix abdicating. Very towards the end the lights went out on stage, and they had to stop the performance! But Dame Helen Mirren spoke to the audience, and told us how sorry she was and was so funny and nice! She also told us, the drumming we heard right before intermission – which I thought must have been from a show at the theater next door being too loud, was actually a few guys outside the stage door. Apparently the staff couldn’t get them to leave, so she went out there as the Queen and ordered them to! How thrilling! I loved everything about the play and now I want to go read a book about the last 60 years in British history. Bonus – they had two real corgis in the play as well! Even though I spent the play standing at the back wall, it was one of the coolest things I have done in London so far….saw a real West End play!

London – Day 102, 103, 104, 105

The last week of class!

What a week. Tuesday, my art business had its final classes. We talked about the Impressionist and Modern markets, and ended the day with a mock auction. Our professor laid out four items for us to look at, gather as much information as we could, and then do some research on our computers and come up with what we thought the piece was worth. We were in small groups. My group won two out of the four paintings! I was the bidder both times, it was kind of thrilling. We were able to discover hidden signatures, markings on the back and figure out the artists and what we thought they were worth. Not a bad way to end my schooling in business.

Wednesday, my group had our final meeting for our business. It went smoothly and our advisors said we were ‘sorted’. I hope it translates next Wednesday when we pitch our idea to a panel of potential investors! Afterwards, I went with Kate, Mia and Brittany to Chinatown for dinner. It as so delicious. Time Out said they had the best dim sum in the city..so it must be true! Afterwards we walked through Covent Garden to Ben’s Cookies for a treat. I’m getting in every last bit that I can.

Thursday, my art history course was on Post Impressionism and Symbolism to end the 19th century. In the afternoon we visited the National Galler of Art’s Impressionist wing. Our teacher divided the day to first have her lecture, and then second, give us two pieces to compare in small groups. We then presented these pieces to the class. The professor told us that those galleries were always packed and you tend to draw a crowd, and this was no different. I talked about a Seurat piece, to not only my class but a crowd of strangers. Can I put on my resume that I have led a tour in the NGA in London? That night I spent four hours studying with two classmates for our final exam.

Friday – 9am – my last exam ever! (Though I said that before, now I mean it, I think..) It was our visual analysis test, and it covered absolutely everything. My analysis is the first slide was a Turner Romantic shipwreck scene, the second was Regency Architecture (like we saw in Brighton, so anyone who missed that day was out of luck!), the third was a piece of Empire Silver from France, the fourth was a Roger Fenton war photograph, and the fifth was an Orientalist painting. We then had two mini comparison essays, the first was a comparison between a Constable landscape and a Van Gogh Landscape. Romanticism early 19th century versus Post-Impressionist late 19th Century. The final comparison was a Pre-Raphaelite painting 1850 versus an early Monet. I wrote as fast as I could so hopefully I got enough down to show I knew what I was talking about! We had two classes post test. One on Art Nouveau and the other was a handling session of 18th century prints! Walking home from that class I was touched with a bit of sadness that it is the end to my formal education on art. Which means, I will need plenty of book recommendations and trips to the galleries in my near future! At night I went out to sushi with Kate, Mia, Brittany, Elizabeth and Mia’s friend who is visiting. It was very delicious. We walked through and stopped at a bar in Soho, which is a very packed and crazy nightlife neighborhood. A fun way to celebrate the final exam!

London – Day 101

Also known as – One day in Paris!

Last week I decided to buy a train ticket to spend one day in Paris. I kept hearing about how you can go to Paris for lunch, and how it takes longer to get to most places in England than it does to get to Paris. And with my time winding down I knew it was a now or never situation. I just really wanted to go to Paris, only to walk around, eat a crepe so I did it. I took a 5:40am train from Kings Cross, which happens to be about a 10 minute walk from the apartment. I arrived in Paris at breakfast.

I walked from Gare du Nord, down through the Marais and on to Notre Dame. Then I walked by Sainte-Chapelle and across the river to the Latin Quarter. From there I walked down the Saint Germain and decided to go to lunch at Les Deux Magots. Alex and I went here the last time we were in Paris and I loved it. I tried to find something new, but decided to go with a sure bet. I sat at one of the tiny outside tables, and my waiter spoke to me in French the whole time. I ordered a hot chocolate and a croque madame. It was super delicious and so nice to be outside and just enjoy sitting and watching people. I had no wifi and nothing to read, so it was just me sitting and observing. A few things I noticed. All young couples are beautiful, and all babies are fussy in Paris. The couple next to me with a baby ordered a bottle of water, a tomato juice and a bowl of pretzels! I was surprised at how they could order so little and spend so much time there.

From there I walked to the Jardin du Luxembourg by way of the beautiful shops, including Pierre Herme – a famous macaroon shop. I bought a big chocolate macaroon and took it to the park with me. I sat on a bench and enjoyed the sunlight with loads of other people. Another observation about Paris – tons of outdoor seating! It was so gorgeous outside, it was hard to move along. But I did, and I walked back towards the water by way of Rue Jacob (for my dad, to see – again -where they signed the Treaty of Paris), across a bridge, around the Louvre pyramid and up the Jardin des Tulleries. I sat some more and people watched, and then went into the Orangery museum. This museum is known for the 8 huge water lilies that Monet left. There are two rooms that contain them, and are on each of the walls. So it is like you get a 360 degree view of his lilies. The museum has other impressionists works, so that was good to see – both as a study tool for Friday and for life!

After that I walked down the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, and then onto the Eiffel Tower! And on the way I picked up a crepe with nutella and banans to eat as I strolled. So the visit was a success! I spent time at the Eiffel Tower, watching all the vistiors, and people taking pictures. It was very nice and sunny all day then this is when the clouds started coming in. It was never cold, but it stopped being a beautiful spring day. I took this as my time to move along. I walked all the way up back towards the Sacre Coeur, all the way up the steps to the very top. I stopped here and sat on the grass overlooking the city! It was a beautiful sight. I decided to spend my last hour and a half eating steak frites, and so I walked towards the train station and found a restaurant, even though I was already pretty full I had to take advantage of every meal!

The train ride back was easy, and I slept most of the way. I was home by 11, wiping the Paris dust off my boots and call my mom to say Happy Birthday (Happy birthday mom!!!!!).

It was definitely a trip well worth it, just to say I hopped over to Paris for some lunch and a stroll.