Tuesday, September 1, 2009

More London To Come

Its true. There is a very good possibility that sometime in the very near future many more blogs about adventures in London might pop up here. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 12, 2009

edinburgh...the athens of the north. (or so our professors say)

Our professors told us before we left that Edinburgh was "The Athens of the north." I will just tell you what we did and you will have decide for yourself if that is a true statement or not.

We rode the train from England to Scotland and we stayed in a resort hostel. Seems like an oxymoron but that is what it was called. We all looked like the biggest tourists.

Brandt got a hairwrap on the royal mile.We went to the ruins of a priory. It was the most beautiful day ever and we got to ride on a boat over.

We took some family photos at the priory.

We looked at this for a few hours.

We soaked our feet on the dock waiting for the boat.

We climbed 246 stairs to the get to the top of The Wallace Monument to enjoy a spectacular view. We went to Stirling Castle and I finally found where I belong.

We walked up and down the royal mile and loved every second of it. It is amazing. We also did a ghost tour on the royal mile and visited the most haunted place in the UK. Pretty spooky.

We looked at vast amounts of family tartans.

We saw Dolly the cloned sheep.

We ate some chocolate soup...and let me tell you it was as amazing as it sounds.We climbed to King Arthurs Seat.

We went to the Edinburgh castle and enjoyed this amazing view.

We met some Scottish guards. Don't worry, he is wearing a kilt.

That is a brief summary of our trip. What do you think, is it the Athens of the north?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

encounters with fame

Since being in London I have had more than my fair share of encounters with famousish people. I don't know if it's that celebrities flock to me or if I just have a knack for spotting them. I think the real reason that I see so many is I can stalk like you wouldn't believe. The celebrity spottings started early on while we were filming the T-mobile commericial in Trafalgar Square. We were just singing along when who should show up not more than 40 feet away from us but PINK. Celebrity siting number 1.Then just a few days later we went and saw Wicked. Who should we see after the show but Glinda. Below is picture evidence. Celebrity siting number 2. Then we conveniently also saw Elphaba. Ok, maybe these weren't so accidental and I may have waited outside the stage door but still I met them and even though they might not be that famous now they might be someday. Celebrity siting number 3.

A few days later we went and saw Hairspray! and we decided to wait at the stage door once more to meet the stars of the show. This time I wanted to wait because I wanted to see Link, and just look at the picture below....you will understand why. Celebrity siting number 4.

And since we were already waiting we thought we might get a picture with Tracy as well. Yeah, she's a little weird looking. But still, you never know if she might become really famous someday. Celebrity siting number 5.

Then, just last week we went and saw Hamlet starring Jude Law. Brandt and I got sweet tickets in a private box right next to the stage, thanks to our friend Sydney who waited in line from 6 until 10 in the morning to get us tickets, and who do I see coming in but Kate Beckinsale. Turns out I could be a paparazzi because I spotted her the second she walked in the room. Brandt wasn't convinced it was here but after we brushed shoulders with her, and I do literally mean we brushed shoulders, I did actually touch her, we were convinced. Yes she is as gorgeous in real life, yes she is tiny, and yes she is just a normal person. Celebrity siting number 6.

We wanted to get a picture but everyone was leaving her alone so we just got this picture of her back from a distance. She is the one with the phone out in front of the lady with the yellow bag. She was there with her mom and she was even eating candy...proof that even famous people eat normal food.

After the show we went around back and who should we meet but JUDE LAW. Yep, that's right I met THE Jude Law. And he's short. Here is some photographic evidence. Celebrity siting number 7.

Here he is signing something for someone.

Here he is focusing intently on something.

And here he is with me. Yeah, it's not the best picture of me but it's also not the best picture of him and oddly, that is the face he made in EVERY picture. I am actually touching him in this picture. We talked. Our conversation went something like this.
Me: Can I get a picture?
Him: Absolutely.
He signs an autograph for someone.
Him: Where am I looking?
This is where, if I had been smart, I would have said, "Into my eyes. Do you see your future wife?" But unfortunately I just pointed to the camera and said, "Right there."
I smiled he stared.
Me: Thank you so much.
Him: You're welcome.
I think he'll be looking me up soon. We hit it off

And for those who still don't believe. Here is his autograph.

So, if you ever want to meet anyone famous, stick close to me. I'm practically famous myself by now.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

abbey road

Do you recognize this picture?

Those four guys were part of a little band called The Beatles. They were once quite popular in the UK and found a following in the US as well.

As true tourists we had to make our pilgrimage to Abbey road to recreate the famous photgraph--and yes it did feel like a religious experience signing our names and favorite Beatles' lyrics on the wall in front of the Abbey Road Studios. Notice in the photo above the cabby headed right towards Mari. They don't seem to slow at all for pedestrians, so crossing the street here can be quite a treacherous experience.

Remember folks, in a world of turmoil, The Beatles said it best ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE.

and I am the walrus

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


We know what you are thinking..."two days in Paris and you spent one of them at Disneyland Paris?" The answer is yes. And we don't regret it at all. We know that you are secretly a little jealous. It was just as fun as it looks, and in some ways even better than the original. The highlights:
-Getting to the station and realizing we bought the wrong ticket. We couldn't get out of the station and no one, no employees, no passengers, NO ONE was there to help us. Finally another train arrived and we snuck out behind someone as they went through the turnstile. We are probably on wanted posters in France by now.

-Not "Haunted Mansion" but "Phantom Manner" all westernized and much creepier than the california original.

-Space Mountain. We went expecting the same thing as our american versions, and got our american versions on steroids. Flips and corkscrews and a 0-1000 MPH blast off begining.

-The castle. The only thing better than real European castles are imitations of real European castles.

We had a great day. Could have stayed longer, but enjoyed every minute. To anyone interested in going to Paris...don't let anyone try to convince you to skip over this one.

Monday, June 1, 2009

commentary with brandt and mari: Paris day one!

Brandt: We started our weekend away bright and early...not quite early enough because the underground train we needed was going to be twenty minutes later than expected. Luckily we found an alternate route and made it to the station just in time to get a stamp in our passport and on to the Paris bound chunnel.

Mari: The whole time we waited at the tube station Brandt and I just kept thinking that it was probably good that our mom wasn't with us because she would be having massive travel anxiety and would be freaking out that we were going to miss the chunnel. It worked out nicely however, because we made it in time but we were late enough that they rushed us to the front of security. No lines for us.

Mari: This is Sydney our perfect travel companion. She is obviously beautiful, she's fun, she hates museums as much as us, and she LOVES Disney as much as us. We formed a club. The DLPP. You're going to have to figure out for yourselves what that stands for.

Brandt: Hey syd.

Brandt: Arriving in Paris we found perfect weather, perfect Parisian streets with pastry shops and women shaking their rugs out the windows, and got to our hotel right in the middle of a perfect little neighborhood. We found our way here to the Arc D'Triumph (I speak spanish not french so be patient if thats wrong) and enjoyed the view down the Champs Elysee. It was bigger and more beautiful than I expected it would be.

Mari: Listening to Brandt attempt to speak French was a highlight....it was terrible. We walked down the Champs Elysee and enjoyed looking at all the high end shops that we could never afford and stopped in the Disney store to prep us for what was coming. We went up a side street looking for a cafe to eat lunch at and upon turning up it what should we find but an attractive guy leaning against his Vespa staring into the distance, just like every movie you've ever seen that takes place in France. Me and Syd both wanted to hop on the back and ride off into the sunset with him but restrained ourselves. We ate lunch at the most perfect French cafe with amazing authentic ham and cheese sandwiches on baguettes. Delicious. We then finished walking down the Champs Elysee and ended up by the Louvre.
Brandt: Mari and Sydney seemed to think this was an embarassing look. I was fine with it. My mom bought me the wallett to hang around my neck. A girl we met at the train station told me it was worse than a fanny pack. As for the Louvre...unfortunately we are not as cultured as we should be. After about an hour we didn't know what else to see...sorry to all those that think that is blaspheme.

Mari: Brandt was the world's best tourist. The outfit was amazing but the real kicker was when he pulled out his homemade, plastic wrapped peanut butter and jelly to eat on the train.

Mari: This is Mona. We saw her.

Brandt: She's still smiling.

Mari: After the Louvre we walked along the Siene and took in the gorgeous scenery. It was an absolutely beautiful day and lets just say that the Parisians were taking advantage of the sun. We walked down onto a cobble stone side walk beside the river only to find many sunbathers just laying on the sidewalk next to the river. "Odd," you might think, since they can't swim in the river, but it got weirder when we passed a man sitting next to the river in nothing but his underwear and weirder still when we passed a saggy old lady in a bikini...minus the top. It was truly a European experience.
Brandt: We found Notre Dame. All of Paris, but especially Notre Dame, was amazing to see. It falls in the category of incredible things you always see in pictures but is even more incredible to see in person. The stained glass was incredible, and the carvings and gargoyles on the exterior were equally impressive. It was a really neat experience.
Mari: We ate at this great French Bistro right near the Eiffle tower. Ordering was a little difficult since we spoke no French and the waiter didn't really want to own up to the fact that he knew quite a bit of English. The food was so yummy and for the record French food is much better than English food. After dinner we debated for about 15 minutes about whether or not the tip was included in the bill, needless to say we didn't leave a tip. It's no wonder Parisians hate Americans.
Brandt: We finally made it to the Eiffle Tower. It was beautiful. The sun was setting and we decided to go to the top. We waited in a pretty long line, and by the time we got to the elevator it was pretty dark out. We took the lift to the first stop about half way up. The view was amazing from there, but we got in the next line to go all the way to the top. Whilst waiting in line I noticed a clean cut kid about my age with his two sisters and parents. After observing for a minute I leaned over to Mari and Syd and said "that family is mormon." We talked about it for a minute, and they agreed. We just needed confirmation, that even half way around the world, waiting in line for the Eiffle tower, a mormon family is recognizable.

Mari: So, we decided that we would ask them where they were from and then maybe we would be able to decide if they were truly Mormon or not. When they snaked around by us in line we chickened out. We got to the top and we had a new plan that we would ask them to take our picture and then we could ask them if they were mormon. The first 5 minutes on the top of the tower were not spent admiring the view but rather searching for the "mormon" family. We finally found them and the picture plan failed so Sydney, the only brave one among us, just ran up to the kid and straight up asked him if he was mormon. Brandt and I were so mortified that we both ran in the other direction and hid behind a tiny gray box that was about four and a half feet tall. When we realized how ridiculous we were we went and found Sydney and discovered that sure enough, they were mormon. Not only that but they were from Sydney's stake back home in Washington and lived about 35 minutes from her. They were such a sweet family and we talked to them for a while and discovered that the boy was going to BYU. The mormon community sure is a small one. After that we were able to really look out and take in the spectacular view. It was absolutely breathtaking and it was honestly one of the neatest things that I have ever done. We finished up top and made it back down to the base where we went and got DELICIOUS crepes. Until you have had crepes in France you don't know what they are meant to be like. We got back to the hotel and slept quickly knowing that the next day was only going to bring more adventures.
Paris day one: a success.

Why I have the best brother in the world.

1. He has at least this many girls and usually many more on any outing.
2. He is patient while we stop in stores like this and never complains while the girls spend hours trying on clothes.
3. He swims in freezing cold ponds in the middle of parks with his professor.
4. He always looks good and he knows how to work it...obviously. I am pretty sure every girl here has a bit of a crush on him....also, obviously.
5. He makes me laugh daily.
6. He is always up for an adventure......
even if it means ending up with a hair wrap down to his shoulder that will eventually result in a bald spot on his head when he takes the hair wrap out.

So, here's to you Brandt, the most patient, loving, fun, easy going brother I could ever wish for. I am so grateful that you came with me because I simply could not imagine this adventure without you. I love you!!!!