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Leaving London for greener pastures


June 16, 2010



EDITOR'S NOTE: Throughout the summer, ASU students studying abroad will be writing back to the states about their overseas adventures. Fostering international student experiences is just one part of ASU's commitment to making a global impact.

Kitt's blog:
I’ve done a lot in the last week. We finished up in London on Tuesday and woke up bright and early Wednesday morning to fly to Dublin. The last few days in London were a whirl. We went to Covent Garden, a famous open market, for a little shopping. We went antiquing on Portobello Road. We criss-crossed Abbey Road about 70 times in an attempt to get a great “Abbey Road” shot. (Unfortunately, a great shot was not forthcoming. We went to Platform 9¾ in King's Cross Station, like in "Harry Potter."

Antiquing in London is quite incredible. Where in the U.S., an old artifact is from the 1800s, in London, the 1800s are like brand new. We found maps and engravings from the 1600s! There were mounds and mounds of old costume jewelry from famous names like Tiffany. There were the typical antiques tins and hat boxes, only they held pictures of the Queen in her coronation attire.

Abbey Road is a zoo of humanity. On the far side of the road, there’s a long wall covered in graffiti. Every person, it seems, who’s come to get a photo snapped of them posing like the famous Beatles album cover of the same name, has signed the wall.

Some people write Beatles lyrics, some write " ------- was here," and some just sign their name and the date. According to the BBC, the local council has the wall repainted every three months to clear the graffiti up. There’s also a live webcam, for those who would like to watch people making their way across the zebra crossing.

Dublin is a very green place. Photos don’t lie – it really is incredibly green. It’s also rainy. Dublin’s third major feature is that it’s very far north. It’s so far north that the sun stays up much much later than it does back in Tempe. It’s still light well into the evening, and the sun rises before 5 a.m.

We spent the first day settling in and unpacking. The next day we did a bit of wandering through local museums. On Friday, we had a hop-on hop-off tour of the city. The idea behind a hop-on hop-off tour is interesting, for those of you who’ve never done one. Buses dedicated to the tours run about every 10 minutes. A ticket enables the holder to simply get on or off the bus as many times as desired over the course of 24 hours. They stop at museums, statues, monuments, tours and all manner of interesting sites.

We visited Kilmainham Gaol (it’s pronounced like “jail” and that’s what it means), where a huge number of political prisoners were held and executed. We visited the less-grim St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the burial site of satirist Jonathan Swift. We visited the General Post Office, the starting place of the 1916 Easter Rising, a rebellion that tried to secure Irish independence from the United Kingdom.

Saturday was a big day. We got up at 5 in the morning to catch a 6 a.m. taxi. Then, we took a 12-hour trip to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs are one of the famous sites of Ireland, and for good reason. They’re stunning, enormous 700-foot tall cliffs full of sea birds and crashing waves. Though famous also for the puffin population,we left without a single puffin sighting.

The bus trip stopped in Galway, as well as other points of interest along the way, such as ancient graves and castles. Our tour guide/bus driver regaled us with stories during the entire trip. By the time we got back to Dublin, it was almost 10 p.m. and yes, the sun was still up.

Kathrine (Kitt) Keller, a creative writing major, will be a senior this fall. She is studying abroad in London, Dublin and Edinburgh this summer.