Friday, June 12, 2009

EdinBurgh

A forty minute train ride east from Glasgow brought me to Edinburgh. A city that holds the Edinburgh Castle, and underground city, and the Scottish Parliament. We didn't get to see the Scottish Parliament, and there were tourists everywhere. We did spend a few hours looking at the castle and were there when they fired the gun at 1pm. You'll have to go to facebook for the pictures.

My parent's left after that and my brothers and I went to the tourists shops and took a tour of the under ground city. (covered up in the 1700s) It was fun. Sorry that this post isn't too interesting, but as cool as the city looks, it feels like it's just for tourists, and doesn't seem like anyone lives there that doesn't man the tourist attractions and shops. Again, I didn't have time to explore other parts of town. I wouldn't mind going back, but I don't think I'll have time this trip.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Scotland!!!

It's been a few days... I've been tired. We came up to Scotland on a train (with free wifi) on Tuesday. It took about 4.5 hours. The taxi from the station to our apartment (called a flat) was crazy. He drove fast and stopped fast. He was a Scot, but a little gruff. I tell people that he's a New York Scot. Our rented apartment is nice. Two bedrooms on the ground floor and a kitchen and living room upstairs. The tv (called the tele) is a two remote contraption that my parent's can't turn on. They have to have one of us do it. The problem with the flat is that there are three beds, and six of us. My parent's share one, I get one, my brother Andrew gets one, but Matthew and David have to figure out something else. There is a fold away bed in the sofa, so Matthew took the mattress from that and sleeps on the floor, and David just sleeps on the couch. halfway, through our stay, those of us with beds are supposed to switch.

Stores in town close at 6, so we didn't get much shopping done since it took a while to adjust to the flat, but we got some groceries and ordered a pizza for dinner. It took over an hour to arrive, and when it did, it came in a Mercedes Station Wagon. Apparently, the driver couldn't be found, so the owner drove it over. He gave us a couple free orders of fries (called chips).

The next day, I left my family and went to hang out with a couple of girls from Calvary Chapel Motherwell. They took me around Glasgow for a while before taking me to their leader (Pastor Dave Simpson) to talk about a possible mission trip in the future for my church, Calvary Chapel Chico. It was a good talk, and I got to pray for him. Then we went to New Lanark, which was a woolen mill on the bank of the River Clyde. I suppose they still mill the wool, but it's more of an attraction. After a private viewing of National Treasure 2, (Yes, you read that right... we had two hours and Nicola got it in the mail that day.) We went to a home study on the book of Ezra. It was an overview, but it was cool. Douglas led the discussion, and likened the experience to a pondering of what it would be like if soccer (called football) died and a bunch of them were disgusted and went to the US. 70 years later, they went back and tried to reintroduce it to the nation. We reasoned what would have to happen and what we would need to do, and related that to what Zerubbebel and Ezra were doing. It was an interesting way to look at it.

Today, my family and I went to Dumbarton Castle. It was cool, and I did take pictures, but I'm not going to post them tonight. You'll have to trust me that it's cool. There was a lot of climbing because the castle was built on a large rock (not unlike Morro Rock, but bigger) and we climbed to the top (stairs) and walked all around.

Then we went to Alexandria. This is where my dad spent his teenage years. We saw his high school and apartment building (which will be torn down soon). We also climbed the hill and wandered in the cemetary for over an hour looking for my grandparent's grave. The last time I was here, I was 6 (22 years for you non math people). I remembered that it was up on the left and I remember which way it was facing, but it still took a while to find it. I didn't remember having to cross a bridge and I don't remember the tree right behind the tombstone. It was strange being in a place where I had family history. I'm just so used to not having attachements to any place, but to know that I was walking the same streets that my grandfather (whom I never met) walked was kind of eerie. He used to bowl in that club. He walked my father through that door when he turned 18. This street was lined with men from the bowling club when his casket drove to the cemetary. I think I found the grave the first time I was there too. I don't really know what kind of man he was. I don't know if I'm like him. I don't know if it's important.

But now, I'm back in my room, ready to go to bed. Tomorrow, we go to Edinburough.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Day 5 - The Eye of London, the Jesus Center, and the £3 Football

Today, I went up on the Eye of London and overlooked the city. I would show you pictures, but they don't seem to load through blogger for some reason. I can't figure out why. Anyway, that was fun, but I probably don't ever want to do it again. Then, I took a little walk by myself for about 30 minutes while my parents waited for my uncle Sam. My brothers went to an arcade. We found a pub to eat lunch in and I got a steak sandwich... which was okay, but a little tough. After lunch, I wanted to get away again. I love my family, but I like having some alone time too. So my brothers went searching for the Abby Road Beatles crossing and I started wandering around the city. My original plan was to visit Trafalgar Square and then go to Parliament to see them argue and they and impeach the Prime Minister, (They couldn't) but I didn't make it. I found the Church of All Souls and looked around there for a little, then I walked around and found a soccer shop... well... they call if football here, but I haven't fully converted yet. I bought an English hacky sack, which is larger by just a little bit and called a "kick n' trick" It sports the Chelsea Football Club, which according to a ten-year old, is the best team ever.

After that, I found a Jesus Centre, thought to myself, "I love Jesus" and went inside. I found the receptionist desk and said that I loved Jesus so I just came in to say hi. She gave me some information about the church (evangelical and charasmatic), told me about the program (physical needs for homeless and immigrents and other poor people) and showed me the cafe. There I met Gabrielle, with whom I had a nice long chat about what God is doing in London. She gave up studying law to follow God and they live in common there, giving up personal space and money for a tight knit community. If the group gets too large, they split in two and find another house to live in. It sounds wonderful. There is always something going on at that place; outreach or Bible Study, or Meetings or classes, or anything else. They are full committing themselves to following the Lord's instruction, which is great. Just talking to another Christian is like a breath of fresh air in this polluted city. Speaking of the city, it's starting to grow on me. I think I could spend some more time here, just without my family. I have been getting into the habit of exploring... walking down a street, turning when I feel like it, and when I get tired, I hop on the subway and ride it back. The subway stations are everywhere.

I also found a sports store going out of business that sold soccerballs for 3 pounds. That's not bad at all. I bought one. Still trying to fit it in my bag, but I'm sure I'll get it. Oh, yeah, and I went to Buckingham Palace, but the queen wasn't there.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Side Trip to Kent

Today, we went by train to the English Countryside to see my father's cousin's daughter Ann and her family. I'm not sure if that makes her my second cousin, or third cousin and if she's removed or not. Her husband Steve picked us up from the train station and we met their three kids, Andy, Sam, and Meagan. My uncle Sam was supposed to come with us, but missed the train due to some wrong information. He had to come on the next train. The English Countryside was beautiful. It was so green and we saw horses, cows, and deer from the train tracks. We had sandwiches for lunch, but then we went to go look at an old church that was visited by King Henry the 8th when he was destroying Abbys and English Gardens. The kids had some pets. They had three Guinea Pigs and a cat. I'm sorry, but picture upload isn't working tonight.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Day 2 - A day in Londontown

Hello everyone. I'm writing this 8 hours ahead of you. It's almost Midnight here. Just two more minutes. Vacations are supposed to be restful, but for some reason, they rarely are. Today, I go up a little after 7. My dad was up before 7 and could hardly wait for breakfast. I would have slept in, but it's too noisy when my dad is around. He turns the tv on loud and then talks to you whether you are still asleep or not. We had breakfast in our hotel... which is weirdly across the street from our rooms, and headed back downtown to take a free river cruise... well it wasn't free, but included in the price of the bus tour we purchased yesterday. I'm not sure the bus tour was worth it. If it were me, I would have skipped it, but my parent's wanted to go so we went. The river tour was nice... I think I have a picture of it... let me see... Here's one...

I also have a picture of my parent's in front of Big Ben

In case you didn't know it, London has a beach on the River Thames (possible the dirtiest river I've ever seen. (Floating trash included (they even have a floating trash collector. It has it's work cut out for it)) But the beach exists, even though the ones in Morro Bay are much nicer.

The beach is not sideways, but I can't figure out how to turn the picture in Blogger.

There is also an Obelisk from Egypt given to a king a long time ago by some Egyptian guy... maybe a Pharoh. I don't remember. The base was under reconstruction, but it had a couple of statues around it:


I also went to the Globe today. It is a reconstruction of the Globe that Shakespeare wrote his plays for. I'm going to try and see a show this week, but am not sure if the schedule will work out:


I also saw the Parliment building up close, but couldn't go in. This girl with a uniform and English accent told me so. She said that I could come back Monday between 2:30 and 10:30 to see the MP's debating. MP's are Ministers of Parliment... I think. It could also be the Mouse Patrol or the Money People.

Some general thoughts about London (in order of which I think them):
1. Drivers are crazy here, passing each other by just a couple of inches (no metric system here, except for the selling of beverages and gasoline (petrol for the natives))
2. Bicyclists are even more crazy, passing cars by fewer inches, not seeming to care that they are smaller and would die if hit by a car.
3. Locals cross the street whenever they feel like it, whether cars are coming or not. I've witnessed numerous close calls, where the pedestrian had to jump back before being hit.
4. The river seems to still be the town's sewer system.
5. There seem to be more Tourists than Locals
6. Of the locals I have seen... or thought to have seen, more than half are Arab, Indian, or African, still with English accents, but I have yet to see a white person working in the Airport, gift shops, or hotels... okay, maybe I saw a few in a gift shop. Not that I think this is bad, just unexpected.
7. The Subway (called the Underground) is crowded, but everywhere and super convenient... I just wish it was super cheap.

I hope to do some more solo-exploring tomorrow. I like my family, but I also like just walking and seeing what's around the bend. My family likes to plan things out and I usually just go along. I spend about three hours tonight online catching up with some friends and emails and downloading pictures and stuff. I hope everyone is well and I'm praying for you... most of you. I hope you all have a good night... I mean day.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Greetings from Mother England

We flew in... umm... yesterday... er... out yesterday and arrived at 7am local time on Thursday Morning. (It was a 10 hour flight) Then we waited for half an hour or so for our ride to show up and took an hour long drive to the hotel in Paddington (It's like a district in London north of Hyde Park. Our hotel room is... well... second class, but it has beds!!! We all decided to stay up and see London via Bus Tour so we can use the day and sleep at night. Speaking of, it's 8:46 pm here now and still light out. We also got to hang out with my Uncle Sam, whom I haven't seen in 22 years, and saw the Tower of London. Here are some pictures.