I’ve been really busy lately, and there are plenty of fun things I’ve done that I want to share. So here goes…
Last Tuesday I went on a field trip with my ‘Constancy and Creativity: Jewish Interpretations of tradition’ class. Quite a mouthful that one. Anyhow, the trip was to London’s East End – an area of London which was heavily populated by Jews in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. We had an enthusiastic tour guide who walked us through the streets, stopping regularly to explain pieces of history and to point out various landmarks. These included a community hall, a Synagogue and a Jewish soup kitchen. It was a really interesting and enjoyable tour. Not only from an educational perspective, but it also allowed me to see an area of London that I hadn’t seen a lot of before.
That afternoon, I met up with Bev for one of our outings. The chosen destination was the Sir John Soanes Museum. It’s a fantastic little museum, set up in the house of Sir John Soane, one of England’s most famous architects. He set it up during his life, and it has been maintained since then. There are all sorts of artefacts, paintings, books, sculptures and more. The collection is so big that there is little room to move. But it was really impressive. The museum is in a nice area, and the weather was pleasant, so we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around.
We had another birthday in our Study Abroad family last week. Aditi turned 22, so we made a dinner in her honour. Sure, we didn’t go to a restaurant; but with Isabel cooking, the food was just as good – if not better – than any restaurant we might have chosen.
A significant portion of the last week has been spent organising trips. With classes finished as of today, there is much travelling to look forward to. On Saturday I’m headed to Amesterdam, followed by Belgium: a day in Brussels and a day in Bruges. The week after is Ireland. And Sabrina and I have spent many hours booking accommodation, trains and so forth for our two weeks in Italy after exams. Exciting stuff.
Perhaps something trivial, but I’ll give it a mention. After handing in essays last Friday, (yes, I do do some work) I went with a couple of friends for lunch. We went to a place in Covent Garden called ‘Food For Thought.’ It’s a vegetarian restaurant buried in a nook in the wall. The food is delicious, wholesome and has a home-cooked feel. I will definitely be going back there.
On Friday night I joined London’s AUJS equivalent – JSoc – for a big Shabat meal. It was bedouin themed, and the committee had set up the room beautifully – tents and all. After Kabbalat Shabbat we sat down to dinner bedouin-style; on the floor with cushions. Although it got farly uncomfortable after a couple of hours, it was good to socialise with some other Jewish university students, and I very much enjoyed the night.
The past weekend was one of the best weekends I’ve had since having been in London, I think. Saturday I was up bright and early for a day trip to Bath, Stonehenge and Salisbury. My usual gang of international friends went along, among a group of about 50 mostly young people.
The first stop was Bath – an absolute delight. We had the option of visiting the Roman Baths, or wandering around the city. We chose the latter. My trusty Europe guide book says the first thing to do in Bath is to get lost in the streets. So we took that advice and walked rather aimlessly, soaking up the beautiful surroundings. We came across a cool little market, and had lunch in the gardens. My only complaint is that we didn’t have enough time there.
Next stop was Salisbury – an English town famous primarily for its impressive Cathedral. Our tour guide gave us a tour of the Salisbury Cathedral, and we had a little bit of time before getting back on the bus to look around the town. By this point there were ominous looking grey clouds in the sky.
I have often been told that visiting Stonehenge is an underwhelming experience. Having that in mind meant that I wasn’t disappointed when we got there. It is impressive – but once you’ve seen it and taken a few photos, that’s about it. We had audio guides which gave us the possible explanations for its formation, but we were too distracted by the pouring rain to really listen.
It was a long day. In fact, we spent more time on the bus getting from place to place than actually at the places. But it was an extremely enjoyable day with friends. Bath was certainly my highlight.
Sunday was once again a sunny day. In the afternoon I went with a group of people from my residence to have a picnic at Hampstead Heath, which was nice. Later I met up with some other friends for what they termed the ‘Monopoly Pilgrimage Pub Crawl.’ The objective was to go to a pub at each place on the monopoly board, having a drink at every stop (unless you want to go to jail). I only attended part of the pilgrimage, which ran over two days. Destinations included Angel Islington, Pentonville Road, and Marylebone. It involved a good deal of planning, albeit not on my part. A really cool thing to do I thought – lots and lots of fun.
Otherwise, I’ve been going out a lot and spending time with friends on my floor. It’s going to be so strange in a few months when I’m home and there aren’t people around all the time. One of the many things I’ll miss.
OK, that’s probably enough for now. Thanks for reading the whole thing! Catch you soon.