Seven weeks in and loving it! After Barcelona came our planned and completely paid-for Adventure Weekend (part of our Butler study abroad program) amidst the rural beauty of of Northern England... but not without some London fun in between. During the week, I saw (for my theatre class) the Broadway play "No Man's Land". It was by far the strangest, most awkward play about nothing! Thank goodness I snuck some Carlsberg brew inside... The only good part was the star, Michael Gambon - more famously known as DUMBLEDORE!! - was outside the theatre afterwards and I happened to run into him. I got a signature on my ticket stub, a polite conversation, and a fabulous picture with him! (Big Harry Potter fan - so this was cool). That night a bunch of us partied at 'Walkabout', an Australian bar which boasts good drink deals and dancing. Another night out followed where my friend Megan and I partied American-style at Roadhouse, and then a club sipping my new favorite drink, Pims. On my day off Thursday, I did laundry and explored the Royal Kensington Gardens at sunset. I took pictures of the lovely scenery made up of swans, lakes, and luscious trees. I even (finally) found the famous Peter Pan statue - it was beautiful and peaceful. After skyping Tom that night for 3 hours and getting NO sleep, I hopped on a bus to Adventure Weekend at 8am --- another trip to a place unknown!
The study abroad coordinators introduced Adventure Weekend in one of the first orientation meetings, and I had been looking forward to it ever since. We would be taken out to the rural United Kingdom and stay in a massive cabin amongst the hills - being fed gourmet meals three times a day, two nights of open bar, and the best part -- dozens of "adventures" to choose from! From rock climbing and mountain biking to dragon boating and gorge scrambling.. it was tough to choose just two! So Friday morning Xanthy and I scored the back seat bench where I basically slept and ate candy the entire 7 hour ride. Upon arrival, we met other study abroad students and were introduced to Glaramara - our gorgeous cabin tucked into the woods, where we would stay with roomates. We sipped cold cider beers, enjoyed a massive gourmet dinner, and played trivia games by the fire. Our tight-knit group, "the Pembridge Playaz" got the best hookup by staying in the cabin itself and getting first dibbs on everything. We stayed up late telling ghost stories like childred...
Saturday came the ADVENTURE. I was happy to get my first pick, Gorge Scrambling. What is that!? Well, I wasn't sure - but as we traded our PJ's for rubber jumpsuits, helmets, and "wellies" (huge water-boots), we knew we were in for something crazy. That we were -- we climbed up a mountain in the deep gorge and trenches of waterfalls, slippery rocks, and intense rushing water. We were exhausted from the trecherous climb complete with swimming under logs, jumping off rocks and a bridge, and army-crawling through a coffin-sized tunnel. It was amazing and GORGEous! No pun intended...
I barely had time to dry off and digest my lunch as the next adventure was calling my name -- this time Abseiling down a slippery, completely vertical cliff held only by a rope. I was surprised at my nerves before my first descent, but quickly got the hang of it and was trying out spiderman moves and huge jumps as I repelled down the cliff time after time.
The hearty dinner and shower was much appreciated, and then it was time for disco night. The open bar was amazing - I sipped wine and cold draft beers, and we danced with fellow study-abroaders. The end of the night found me flipping around for my friends drunkenly on the hardwood floor - I guess I felt safer doing that after repelling down a cliff...
On Sunday, (after chasing some lambs outside our cabin - they won), we packed up and got back on the bus - this time stopping at Keswick, an adorable little town for a few hours. A few of us explored the charming town and shopped, had an afternoon tea at a lovely English shop, and tried delicious homemade fudge. Then it was back on the bus for the long trip home_ and a few movies later we were back in London.
I must mention, (if I can even capture in words), the beauty that encompassed our cabin this weekend. The mountains and hills were greener than anything I've seen_ dotted with white and black sheep grazing the rolling hills. Four Hundred year-old stone walls standing a few feet tall engulfed the landscape winding up and down the hills, in between waterfalls and fall-colored trees. Tiny old English-style homes were dispersed amongst the landscape every once and a while, with white walls and stone roofs - their chimneys releasing smoke into the air. It was peaceful, natural, and completely opposite of the city -- a perfect weekend getaway.