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15 January 2008

Recent Explorations of London

I really enjoying the university class schedule here in London. 3-4 day weekends every week and only 2 hours of lecture during each of the other days has provided me with so much free time, which in theory should be spent studying and for self-betterment; however, I choose to engage in a more exciting form of self-betterment: Exploring London with every chance I get!

And for the sake of thoroughness, I hereby present a summary of what I've been doing recently, organized day-by-day:

Last Tuesday, January 8
  • The second day of classes, but I don't have any classes on Tuesday.
  • I was still recovering from being sick (British - "ill") over the weekend. I stayed inside.
Wednesday, January 9
  • Economics class early, 9 to 11 am. Doesn't seem too hard. But it's econ, and the professor has a noticeable accent (Italian I think). What is it with economics professors coming from foreign countries? I guess filtering the lectures through a foreign accent is one way for the university to make economics somewhat challenging ;)
  • Finished class at 11 am. And that was it! What a good feeling to be done early. However, I again stayed inside for the rest of the day, occupying my time with games and online distractions.
Thursday, January 10
  • I had my German Business class from 12-2pm. Even though it was totally in German, and many students in the class are native German-speakers, I could understand most of what was going on (for now).
  • It was Thuy An's birthday! And it was about time to get all the EAP people together for a mini-reunion of sorts. We ended up having dinner at Brick Lane then heading to the Hayfield afterwards for drinks. A good evening was had.
Friday, January 11.
  • No class today! So I just sat around lazily.
  • But I then decided to get up and do some exploring before it got dark (i.e. before 4 pm--though the days are beginning to get longer now). I ended up walking to Roman Road, which is about half a mile from my university. There wasn't that much to see, just a street lined with small stores. It's East London, though, so the stores weren't exactly charming. But it was nice to see the area at least. There were some new housing developments nearby though, so it wasn't all old and rusty, either.
Saturday, January 12
  • I explored Hyde Park, Mayfair, and Marlyebone. It was a sunny and crisp January day, and there was a protest against the U.S. taking place at Marble Arch. Hyde Park had a good number of people enjoying what was left of the sun, and I walked around and took some pictures.
  • Mayfair, just next to Hyde Park, is a very posh neighborhood. There are exclusive boutiques, expensive car dealerships, clean but nondescript flats, and several embassies (including the U.S.'s). It did feel very stuck-up, though.
  • Then I walked north of Oxford Street to explore the neighborhood of Marylebone (I'm really not sure how to pronounce it but I think that's how it's spelled). It was just a neighborhood--some shops, some pubs, a church here and there. It was pretty nice, and it's definitely in a good location. I was getting tired, and it was nearing the 4:00 sunset, so I headed back and didn't do anything in the evening.
Sunday, January 13
  • Another adventure on foot! I left my flat around 2 in the afternoon and started walking down the Regents Canal, following the path that hugs the canal. I walked all the way down to Limehouse basin, where the canal meets the Thames. I then walked along the Thames all the way to the Tower of London. That's over a mile, I think. It was nice, though, seeing all the new buildings being put up along the waterfront, as well as the older, shipping-related buildings too. And I just kept going, to see what was beyond that next bend in the river. The thing is, there's no continuous path along the Thames at that point, so I had to keep zig-zagging from the street to the river to keep my track. It was rewarding, though, to reach Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, before it even got dark.
  • Getting back from the Tower of London involved dealing with the closure of the tube station at Tower Hill (yet again, "planned engineering works"). So I hopped on the DLR and took that back to Bow Church and walked back from there, picking up a chicken sandwich and fries from Fast Food Corner for dinner.
  • Back in my room, I continued planning out my travels for this semester. I ended buying my tickets to Munich and Nice, because there was a sale!
Monday, January 14
  • German seminar in the morning. We just learned about the history of Austria in a nutshell from 1800 to today. No Arnold Schwarzennegger mentioned, though, so I feel jipped.
  • Lunch, baked some frozen fried-chicken breast and ate it with store-bought coleslaw.
  • Then I was off to my first field trip for my architecture class. We visited the Houses of Parliament and analyzed the exterior elements of the building. It was pretty interesting, and another excuse to see more of London!
  • After my class finished, I met up with Uncle "Boy" Sam and his wife Lillian for some dinner at Pizza Hut (which, here, is more upscale: it's actually a restaurant!) in Westminster. It was good, and nice to go out to eat!
Today, Tuesday, January 15
  • Woke up around 12. Oh, boy, I like to sleep!
  • I went to Sainsbury's. Bought some squash (I like the high juice, what can I say), meat, milk, snacks, and ingredients for mexican food! Maybe tomorrow I'll make a mexican meal.
  • Did some more "planning" of trips (mainly looking at destinations and prices) -- I might end up spending every weekend away from London! Almost.
  • Played some Roller Coaster Tycoon. Yeah, it's sort of an old game, but I brought it back with me from home and I've sort of become addicted to it in the past few days.
  • Had some leftover pizza from yesterday for dinner.

Okay, I have to be up and about in less than 9 hours, so cheers out for now.

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