Saturday, March 06, 2004


Home sweet home... Not quite yet, but I'm sitting in the Bodleian once again, at 10am on a cloudy Saturday. And so much to say! Where to start.... Hmm....let's see.... let's start at the very beginning, it's a very good place to start. When you read, you begin with ABC, when you count you begin with 123, when you sing, you begin with Do Re Mi.... Ah, but we're not singing right now, are we. I don't think that the studious Oxford students would like it very much if I suddenly burst out in a melody, even if it is from The Sound of Music (great movie, by the by).

Well, let's take a little trip back in time, to the evening of February 25. Location: Palace Theatre, Shaftsbury Ave, London. Event: Les Miserables.
The first day I was in England, just after I went through immigrations, I saw a stand that was full of pamphlets for different musicals and shows currently playing in London. One in particular caught my eye, and that one was Les Mis. I picked it up, excitedly showed it to Tina and Heidi and told them that I was definitely going to go while in England. They didn't seem too impressed, but that didn't bother me. I was going to see Les Mis! This event, however, was one that I really desperately wanted to attend but in the back of my mind there was this voice saying, 'nope, not gonna happen.' (I didn't talk back to it though, don't worry, I'm not that crazy.) So. Standing outside the theatre with Sam, Joel, Cara, Whitney, Susan, Julie, Erica and Lisa, with the ticket in my hand, I was so extremely excited (as was the rest of the group) that we went to take our seats 45 min before the show actually started. The seats weren't bad, for £12 tickets. We were on the second or third balcony, I can't remember, but it was high, and had seats in the first row. Whitney was telling me about the set before the show began, but I was not prepared for what they did with it, it was incredible. The stage floor was painted to look like a cobblestone street, and there were two circles on it -one very large one, and then a smaller one in the centre of it. With these circles, the stage revolves, so they managed to get sets on and off without us noticing them moving anything! These magnificent structures were hauled from each side and put together in the middle in less than five seconds, it seemed, and they would then have bridges, alleyways, iron and stone gates, and barricades. Javert jumped off the bridge at one point, committing suicide- which is pretty tricky, considering the bridge was completely flat on the floor. We were all kinda wondering how they'd pull it off, but as soon as he stepped off, the lights went funny, kind of swirly, the bridge was raised quickly so it looked like he was going down, and he rolled off the stage. I know, sounds cheesy, but it actually looked almost real! Mm. Sooo good. I would encourage anyone to see it, the music is fantastic, the acting is terrific, and there's actually substance to it! (for those of you that don't know, the story deals with the issue of grace and sin) And, having read the book a couple years ago, I wasn't sure about the changes they'd have to make with the story, but it worked magnificently!

On Thursday, the 26th, we went to the parliament buildings, met some politicians, and the only thing that I remember about their speeches is that one gentleman said, 'Whatever you do, don't look to this country as any sort of shining example [for politics and the legislative system].' We sat in the House of Commons for half an hour and they were debating ....something, I'm sure. I almost fell asleep. Even some of the MPs who were sitting down there were nodding off. Next, to the House of Lords for a half hour. Pretty much the same thing, except there wasn't even any debating, someone was doing a second reading of a proposed bill, so that was really fun and exciting.

Friday morning, Feb 27 -- We sat down to another scrumptious breakfast at the Foreign Missions Club in London, all packed and ready to head to the airport, and what did we see when we looked out the window? Yep. Snow. We all decided that if there ever was a good time to go to Spain, this was it. Monarch is now my favourite airline. The staff at Gatwick Airport were so incredibly nice and friendly and quick, the flight was great- we flew at 2pm, and they gave us drinks, a snack, and a whole meal for a two hour flight! It was rather strange walking into the airport in Spain, all we had to do was collect our luggage and walk out the doors.... No immigration or customs! Tina's friend Karen was waiting for us there, and we walked outside into sunny weather, got on the bus and headed to the centre of Alicante. Karen's apartment is actually right around the corner from the Plaza del Toro --the arena in which the Bull fighting is located! There wasn't actually a fight while we were there, which I didn't mind, because I'm told it's pretty graphic to watch.

The whole week was really quite something. I felt as if I was somewhat in a dream, or at the very least not in Spain. Who goes to Spain for reading break? I can't believe that I got to do that. karen's apartment is the fourth and top floor of their building, which means that we walked up and down a *lot* of stairs during the week, but it also meant that we got to climb out the window onto the roof in the mornings and watch the city wake up. All of the buildings are apartments- there are no houses in the area that we were in, and all of the buildings have rooftop balconies and balconies all the way up. Everyone has laundry hanging up on the roof, and everyone uses their balconies. It's quite a different atmosphere than anywhere else I've been! We could see the mountain with the Castillo de Santa Barbara ruins from our roof, and one of the first things I thought of as I was looking over at it at night, was 'This reminds me of being in Canada's Wonderland, being able to see the mountain from everywhere!' (Oh. Just while I'm thinking of it. Just north-east of Alicante, there's a theme part somewhat similar to Canada's Wonderland, I think, and it's owned by none other than Paramount. Have they taken over all of the amusement parks in the world??)
We went to the market on Sat morning, which ended up being somewhat intimidating because of the fact that everyone is shouting at eachother in Spanish, and none of us were quite able to converse with anyone else.... It was such a neat experience, though, to be part of something that is so culturally different than what I'm used to in Canada, or even in England for that matter! Besides the folks at the mercado, there were also booths set up along the explanada, selling various jewelry and sunglasses, and on the walkway by the beach, people would spread out a blanket and set down bracelets, sunglasses, cds, hats, all sorts of things. Those people, however, didn't actually end up showing up until the last two days, when the weather warmed up considerably. Right. The weather. When we arrived, it was warm compared to the snowy weather that we had left, but they were experiencing one of the coldest weeks in the whole year-- temperature hovering between 8 and 15 degrees and windy. But. There was sun! By Wednesday, the temp had warmed up to 15-20, and on Thursday and Friday, it was an amazing 25 degrees. I got a wee bit of a sunburn, which I don't mind. I've missed the sun. And we kept thinking of those poor people in our group who went north up to Scotland.... we heard a Scotsman last night at the airport tell someone that it was currently -10 there. Ouch.
So, I've made this blog plenty long for now, you poor people who are reading it, so I'll log off and nip off to the trainstation to catch a train back to Charlbury. More to come later, I promise, funny story about the Scotsman at the airport, observations about differences in cultures, and hopefully pictures.
Hasta luego!

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