Today’s edition: violinists Madeleine Nerio and Darian Thomas tell us about Warwick Castle (pronounced “Warrick”), Stratford-Upon-Avon (Shakespeare’s birthplace), and a proper British pub lunch. First we’ll hear from Madeleine Nerio:
Oh ‘ello! It’s been an amazing tour so far here in England. Everything has gone very smoothly. The weather here is beautiful and I think I have overcome the jetlag. Yesterday, we had breakfast and went to Coventry Cathedral. Then, we went to Warwick castle, and this time had plenty of time to explore. They had a peacock garden, where the peacocks were calling each other, and it took me a while to actually notice the castle. The castle really catered to tourists: they had many shows and simulations. They had arrows you could shoot, that I believe a few students tried. They had many food stands but only a few were open. They had several gift shops and many rooms with wax statues demonstrating castle life. In the towers, there were beautiful views of the castle grounds and a few neighborhoods. Then we departed to eat at the Saxon Pub, when I suddenly became very nauseous in the bus. Consequently, I ate very little. But what food I did have was very delicious. Then we left for Stratford and I was still extremely nauseous. As soon as we got off the bus, and I breathed fresh air, I instantly felt better.
We went with our tour guides, who were very nice and gave us an amazing tour of Stratford. There were many other tourists there and quite a few were French. The weather was very nice and the air was very clean and fresh. Nearly all the buildings were the original wooden homes that were there in Shakespeare’s time. Then we had free time to explore the city, and all was beautiful. Everything went smoothly, and when it was time to leave, everyone was on time. Then, we went back to the hotel to freshen up and get ready for dinner. We split into several groups to different restaurants. I myself went to Ikea, where they had a cafeteria, and the food was delicious. Going back to the hotel, we realized that nearly all stores close at 7 or 7:30.
Just a few things are different here: most places do not have toilet paper rolls, but individual tissues, and buttons to flush instead of levers. I have to get used to the “no ice” thing they have here in beverages. The hotel itself was very clean and the beds were comfortable, but they had very little in the rooms. No facial tissue, complimentary toiletries, irons, dressers or alarm clocks. This morning we checked out and now we are on our way to Liverpool. Please excuse my layout and grammar for this blog. It is my first and I am quite sleepy!
And now, some words from Darian Thomas:
If only the land was as serene in Texas (or America for that matter) as it is here. In fact, I feel now that I’ve seen these wonderful English countryside scenes I can actually understand the aesthetic used in all Pastorale symphonies. There’s this pervasive sense of peace and tranquility that comes from being around this much greenery – at times it feels as though the government here scouted the land and reserved certain parcels of land for their aesthetic value.
Beyond the scenery, there’s an amazing sense of diversity here. Especially in places like Oxford and Stratford Upon Avon. In fact, there was a German and French tour group right next to us when we were entering Shakespeare’s birthplace! It was fun for those of us who had taken either of the languages to listen in and see how well our classes could serve us. It was also fun sharing dinner with Mr. Peters, Gabby, Sophia, Serena “Shark Doo-Doo-Do” Davis, Jon, Zach, Emily, Ben, Conrad, and Leah, at a wonderful Indian restaurant. I loved being able to share my second Indian experience with such great conversation and amidst such great people!
In addition to the scenery and the landscape and the awesomeness in general, there’s such AMAZING architecture! I don’t really have to dictate how incredible the castles have been, but just the street scenes and the university campuses! So much Germanic, Gothic, Victorian, and overall impressively OLD architecture. Having just recently gotten into architecture in general, I’m having such a great time being perpetually astounded by the architecture. ESPECIALLY (yes, ESPECIALLY, for a mere “especially” wouldn’t fully capture the sincere potency of excitement that I’m trying to portray) the churches and cathedrals! I get extremely excited whenever I see a church spire or cathedral roof in the near distance.
Beautiful scenery, amazing culture, incredible architecture… It has been the best couple of days I’ve had in a while. The only part I’m a bit sad about is that we haven’t played any concerts yet (save for the flash-mob in the Houston Airport), but fortunately that will end today with our performance at St. George’s Hall in Liverpool! I may be a bit overly excited about it, and may be the most excited person (save for Chris G.) in the group at the prospect of playing a concert today. But that’s satisfactory, because I know that we’re all going to give a spectacular concert this evening!