"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'" ~ C. S. Lewis

Friday, April 23, 2010

Time To Travel!

I was bitten by the travel bug my freshman year of college.

Actually, when I think about it, it probably dates back to my childhood. We were always a family that took trips together. We lived in the MD/VA/DC area for about 14 years. Most of our extended family lives in northern PA - hello road trip! Driving 8 hours at a time was normal for us. We laugh when people have to take a 4 hour trip and get a hotel half way there. It just seems ridiculous to us. Since moving to NY we've done daytrips to Philadelphia - a 2 1/2 hour drive. We didn't go many different places (never been west of TN since I've been able to remember) but we traveled a lot.

Almost every year since I was about 13 we've taken vacation at the Outer Banks in North Carolina. From NY it's about an 11 hour drive. Sometimes we stop at our friends' house in VA for the night to break it up. Sometimes we just drive it straight through. Travel. A part of my life :)

My freshman year I was a music major and in the chorale. For our spring tour we traveled to France. It was absolutely amazing. (even though I switched to English my second semester, I became an "honorary music major" invited to all the music events and staying in the chorale for all 4 years)

I love flying, I love travelling and I started making a VERY long list of places I want to visit someday.

Get ready for a BUNCH of pictures :)

France: 2003

We started in the Paris area - one of our first concerts was at Notre Dame de Versailles.
If you have never had a chance to sing in a place like this I can't even begin to describe the experience. The acoustics are beyond unbelievable. And this place was pretty much filled with people who came to hear us. Absolutely unreal!

We did something like 7 concerts in 9 days. (The exact details are fuzzy and I'm feeling too lazy to go find the info) Craziness. We traveled from Paris down to Marseille and Martigue and then did a big loop back up to Paris. 51(I think) of us in a bus. For over a week. Can you say punchy?

Anyways, besides the concert, Miss Carol Anne (the mom of the trip - also worked in the Music Dept) and our director made sure we did sightseeing and fun things. One of the stops we made was at the palace in Pau.
This place holds very vivid memories for me. I hadn't been feeling well since our first day (We stopped here on the 5th day). They had just polished the floors or something and there was this strong chemical smell. I got violently ill and Miss Carol Anne and the local pastor who was travelling with us took me to the hospital. Oh joy. Isn't it amazing that I didn't swear off travel all together? Anyhoo - after struggling through the language barrier (it's a good thing I had someone with me to translate) they diagnosed me with a larynx infection (on a concert tour. Isn't that just great). But they put me on antibiotics and within a day I was feeling TONS better. So I was able to enjoy the rest of the trip. Unfortunately I couldn't sing - just lip sync - but at least I could stand upright :)

Funny story - when Miss Carol Anne was out in the waiting room (a hallway between hospital wings) a nurse came walking through, very cheerfully greeting everyone. She nodded her head and said, "Bonjour" to each person - until she got to Carol Anne. Then she smiled and said, "Howdy!"


Here's one of the churches in Pibrac - I love the Spanish influences on the architecture.
And one day we took a little side trip and had the chance to go wading in the Mediterranean Sea.
Gorgeous! Our bus driver got all fussy about the sand, though :)

We also took a trip up to the Mariner's Chapel - here's me in my chorale dress:
With the sea in the background.

And our last day, we were back in Paris and they gave us a free day to do siteseeing - So I got to climb (okay, take the elevator up) the Tour de Eiffel:
We went to Notre Dame, Luxembourg Gardens, Saint Chapelle and climbed the billion stairs almost all the way to Sacre Couer -
Then we finished the day off with dinner at Chez Clement on the Champs-Élysées. So Fantastic!

My junior year we went to Ohio. That was fun, though much less exciting, but I had a crummy camera so I have no decent pics from that trip.

Then my senior year, the Chorale headed off to Florida, but I had the chance to take Literary London with my favorite professor - the class included a trip to London over spring break - the same time the Chorale was traveling. So sorry, but London trumps Florida any day.

We stayed in London - no outside trips - but saw SO much it was ridiculous. It was exhausting, but exhilarating. It was a nice balance of stuff, though. The morning was for whatever group thing we were going to do and almost every afternoon was for us to see things we wanted to see that weren't on the class agenda. There were twelve students - 11 girls and 1 guy - and the male professor. It was hilarious. The 1 guy was really the only male English major from my year and he was like a brother to all of us. But I think all the girliness tried his patience at times.

We climbed to the top of The Monument.
The quintessential view from the top of The Monument:
We took the double decker bus where we had the MOST hysterical tour guide. We were on the bus for almost an entire round and the guide started commenting on how we were all still there. I didn't want to get off the bus.
Of course we had to visit the Tower of London
as well as St. Stephen's Clock Tower (housing Big Ben), Westminster Abbey (where we had another fabulous guide), the Globe Theatre, a number of museums and the British Library, etc. etc.

We also saw some lesser known places. We stopped by Platform 9 3/4. But at that time I hadn't read Harry Potter, so I had no idea what it was. And one of the girls led us to the area where they filmed some of the parts of Diagon Alley
Though we couldn't find the exact place that she had in her notes.
I also made my way to 221b Baker Street, but the museum was too expensive, so I didn't go in.

Our last night there we went to the Hard Rock Cafe and got to go down in "the vault" with a bunch of memorabilia. Here I am sitting on Jimi Hendrix's couch and holding his "flying V". Impressive, I know.
And, of course, what trip to London is complete without the traditional picture in a phone box?

I loved the trip so much that I was dying to go back for another visit. And I wanted to take Naomi. So we started saving our money and in 2008 headed off for a British adventure of our own.
We went to a lot of the same places, but at our own pace and looking at what we wanted to look at.
Went back to Platform 9 3/4 now that I knew what it was, did the Tower Bridge, St. Paul's, Westminster Abbey, British Library, British Library - you know, all that jazz.
Here we are at Southwark Cathedral on a lovely drizzly Sunday afternoon.

We spent a lot of time walking along the Thames. At one point we walked out on a pier and a teenage couple came out to ask if we wanted them to take our picture. It was so nice!

We went to the Globe Theatre and they were actually rehearsing while we were there, so we got to see part of a sword fight scene. Unfortunately, the theatre wasn't open that early in the spring, so I have yet to make it to an actual performance at The Globe :(

I love the really, really long and steep escalators. They're crazy!
When we visited the tower of London our Yeoman Warder was absolutely hysterical. He claimed to be on Facebook and I so wish that I knew his name so I could look him up and tell him how enjoyable he made the tour.
We also happened to be there when they did this interactive retelling of the War of the Roses. As the crowd you had to follow along and then choose sides at each pause. If you chose wrongly, you were sent back to the beginning to await execution. If you made it all the way to the end you got a certificate. I wasn't too strong on my War of the Roses history, but between Naomi and I we remembered enough to make it to the end. Yeah! No beheadings for us!
And then for one of my work friends we took a trip out to Abbey Road to get some pictures for him. It's not something I would have done on my own, but it's really cool to have these pictures, so I'm glad we did it for him.
We went to two musicals - Les Mis (which didn't live up to all the hype I'd heard. I wasn't that impressed.) and The Lord of the Rings (which was total awesomesauce and I've talked about it before. It was the best. thing. ever. I want to see it again SO badly I cannot even TELL you!)
Then on our last day we took a trip out to Oxford. We climbed Carfax tower (which after our hike the day before to the top of St. Paul's was nothing) and went to the covered market for lunch and wandered around Christ Church College. On the outside it was like walking around Wonderland and the inside?
Harry Potter!
It was so much fun and we're dying to do another trip at some time. This year it's Toronto for the Polaris conference, but we both want to do Greece and Egypt. I'd really like to travel around the US more too - visit the Grand Canyon and the Alamo and Mount Rushmore and so many different things. Plus, visiting P.E. Island is on my "bucket list". I have to go see the places my favorite author wrote about.

How about you? Have you had any great trips? Anywhere you're dying to go?

(sorry for the extreme length of this post, but I just couldn't stop once I got started. And I'm a little picture happy, in case you couldn't tell :)


Palindrome said...

I have yet to visit all the places I want and the list keeps getting longer. One day.

Sounds like good times all around.

Alexandra Crocodile said...

So glad you enjoyed France and England - personally I find Paris a little overrated, but London is one of my favourite places:) Greece and Egypt are beautiful places, there's nothing like a cruise on the Nile:) And P.E.I? On of the best places in the world! Anything that's good enough for Anne Shirley is good enough for me;)

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

I totally share your love of travel and the Outer Banks are one of my very favorite places in the world! I grew up in NC so we were frequent visitors! Thanks for stopping by my blog today! I will definitely be back to visit yours!

Alyson said...

I love the virtual vacation! Traveling is the best and I'm glad you shared your pics.

Also, I left an award for you on my blog!

SonshineMusic i.e. Rebecca T. said...

@Palindrome: I know - those travel lists can just grow exponentially!

@Alexandra: I wouldn't want to go back to Paris again, but I'm glad I had a chance to go once. But I think I could go back to London every year. Except I'd rather go new places :)

@Amy: Welcome! OBX is so fantastic! We're going there on vacation in May and I cannot wait.

@Alyson: Glad you liked the pics. I'll pop over for the award... thanks!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I loved the photos -- you've been on some great trips. One of my most fun trips was when I went to Norway by myself (hubby didn't want to go, and I was exploring family roots by visiting an elderly relative who, luckily, speaks English). I was in my fifties, and I felt like a great explorer.