The Day I Met Ed Sheeran

Yes. I’m devoting an entire blog post to this day. Would you expect anything less from me?

On Tuesday, I did something I’ve been trying to do for over seven years: meet Ed Sheeran.

I woke up at 6 a.m. and was to the BBC Broadcasting House by 7:30 a.m. And NO MOM, I was not the first person there! I swear. I sat on the ground at the corner of the barrier that stood outside of the BBC Radio 1 studios.

After sitting on the cold, hard ground for just over two hours, it was time to stand up. Ed’s manager Stuart Camp, his guitar technician Trevor Dawkins, and the rest of his small team had arrived. Ed was not far behind.

stuart-and-mark

The forever sassy Stuart Camp and Mark 

At 9:52, a van pulled up and he got out. At first I was unsure if he would even stop to say hi to all the fans as the radio show he was going to be on started at 10 a.m., but in true Ed fashion, he did. Not only did he stop to say hello to us, but he literally stopped to take a photo with every single fan along the barrier.

I stood in the corner (the best spot), as I was able to take photos on my camera as he approached, and then, once he was in the corner, he spent the most time there as there were more fans in the area.

As Ed came closer, I noticed something very odd. When Ed got to an area of fans, everyone went silent and instead only stuck there phones out in his face. Barely anyone actually said hello or talked with him. It was weird.

Once Ed was in the corner, I worked up the courage to say hello. While it wasn’t the longest of conversations or filled with the most content, it is one that I will never forget. It went a little something like this:

Me: “Hi Ed!”

(Ed turns and looks at me, I freeze inside, what the heck did I just do???)

Me: “Happy belated birthday!”

Ed: (A small smile spreading on his face) “Aw, thank you!”

(Ed continues to smile, then turns back to take photos. I die inside.)

Then he approached and I handed him my phone to take a photo. It was amazing.

ed-and-i

Ed then went inside and was interviewed then performed five songs in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge.

I waited outside with a few friends in the off chance that he came back outside to say hello again after. Good thing I did because the BBC Radio 1 doors are a hot-spot for celebrities I guess.

I ended up talking to Jedward, twin brothers from Dublin that are pop-singers (Ed is also obsessed with them). And then Nick Grimshaw, the host of the Radio 1 Breakfast Show, and then Katy Perry also spontaneously came out and talked to the crowd. You could say it was a casual morning. I now know where I will be hanging out on days when I don’t have class…

I still can’t believe this happened and it is most definitely a day I will never forget. 7 years in the making.

P.S.

I will be traveling on spring break for the next week and a half and will not have my laptop so this will be my last update for a while. You can expect a long blog post about my travels in Europe when I get back!

Paris on a Budget

So last Thursday was one of the longest days of my life.

After class, I went to Victoria Station and boarded an overnight bus to Paris, France. Why an overnight bus you ask? Well, they are extremely cheap. Not only do they provide transportation, but they also alleviate the need to book a hostel. Normally for a weekend trip, I would fly out Thursday night, have to pay for a hostel Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, and then fly back to London on Sunday morning.

So, we decided to try something different this time. It worked out well as Paris is not only close, but the buses are so much cheaper than taking the Chunnel or flying. When using the bus, you also don’t have to pay for the extra expense of getting to and from the airport which also GREAT.

So anyways, enough about expenses. We left Victoria Station in London at 10:20 p.m. and headed off on our overnight journey. We took the ferry across the Strait of Dover, so that was pretty cool. What wasn’t cool was arriving in Paris at 6:30 in the morning. Yep. 6:30 a.m. It was still dark out and we were extremely tired, as you can imagine, its slightly difficult to get good night’s sleep on a bus. But we powered through-the motto of the day.

After getting off the bus, we walked to the closest Metro station and made our best purchase of the weekend: a two-day pass for unlimited Metro rides in zones one and two. If you ever go to Paris, I highly suggest investing in a Metro pass like this as it allows you to get to all the monuments and touristy places quickly when you only have a few short days to see everything you want to. It was only about 16 Euro, and we definitely used more trips with it than 16 Euro  would have paid for within the first four hours of being in Paris so…yeah. Buy the Metro pass and save yourself the time and money it takes to get around via walking or taking taxis.

One of our first destinations was the Eiffel Tower. Despite it being a relatively overcast day, we had to go to the Eiffel Tower. When in Paris, right?

I definitely suggest going to the Eiffel right after it opens at either 9 or 10 a.m., that way you can avoid the two hour long lines that TripAdvisor says you can usually expect. TripAdvisor also suggests buying your tickets in advance so you can skip the lines, but luckily we were able to walk right up and buy our tickets with our student discounts (YAY) and then we headed right up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. If you’re going to the Eiffel Tower, buy the ticket to go all the way to the top floor. Its worth it. The views were incredible despite the slight fog.

After the Eiffel Tower, we used our wonderful Metro passes to visit a bunch of the other famous (and free) monuments of Paris. These included the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile, the Luxembourg Gardens, the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur (AMAZING VIEWS, but go early before all the panhandlers come out), Notre-Dame Cathedral, and of course, the Lourve Museum.

At the Notre-Dame Cathedral, they offer admission inside the Cathedral for free as well as free tours on certain days at certain times. If you’re interested in a tour, be sure to look that up ahead of time. We didn’t do a tour, and instead decided to walk through the Cathedral on our own. There were still many signs to read that talked about the history of the Cathedral and its architecture and we also got to spend as much time as we liked admiring how pretty it was inside.

We waited until later at night to go to the Lourve. After 6 o’clock to be precise. Every Friday after 6 p.m., admission to the museum is free for anyone under the age of 26 who can present a valid ID. We are currently under 26 and of course had our IDs so hellooooo free trip to the Lourve. While I’m not really one for museums, I was able to see the Mona Lisa (its pretty small tbh, but ts the Mona Lisa so).

On our second day in Paris, we planned to take the train out to Versailles. We thought it would be easy to get there, being that we had our Metro passes and only would have to pay a whopping seven Euros for a round-trip ticket. But, we ended up taking the right train, only going to the wrong end place. Needless to say, we ended up switching back and forth trying to get to the correct train station for almost four hours. Not great. But we eventually made it to Versailles.

In Versailles, we walked to the Palace of Versailles. The line to go into the Palace was extremely long, like two hours long, and we didn’t have that much time to spend there so we decided to simply walk the grounds. We braved the cold and explored the grounds for about an hour and a half and then took the train back to Paris.

Night bus round two happened Saturday night. I turned 20 on the bus ride back to London and celebrated with M&Ms and opening a few letters from home. It was a long but good  (and inexpensive) weekend, and ending with my birthday was the ‘icing on the cake!’

Fui a Barcelona!

Over the past weekend I went to Barcelona, Spain, and it was absolutely beautiful!

In high school, I took a semester long course on Spain, the culture, geography, food and history, and since then it had always been a dream of mine to go see and experience the unique country.

Our flight got in very late on Thursday night, and we took a taxi to our hostel. When I say very late, I mean that we got to the hostel by two in the morning. But it didn’t feel like it was that late at the hostel. Literally everyone was awake and the hostel was incredibly busy with people in the lobby, bar and lounge area.

When we got to our room, we were surprised to see a couple from Mexico also just getting to the room and unpacking. There was one girl asleep in a bunk bed and then two empty beds. We went to sleep rather quickly, only to be woken up at five in the morning to two Italian guys coming back rather loudly after having been out all night.

Bienvenido a España!

We were up and out the door by 8:30 a.m. the next morning and it was like a ghost town. In high school, I learned how unique the daily schedule was in Spain (waking up late, lunch at two, siesta around four, dinner at nine, sleep by two a.m.), but being in a big city like Barcelona, I thought things would be somewhat regular. They weren’t.

As we made our way to La Boqueria Mercat, one of Barcelona’s largest markets, barely any of the coffee shops or stores were open. Once we arrived at the market (a good hour and a half after it had already opened) almost half the shops were still closed. Spain takes their sleep and later schedule very seriously-clearly.

La Boqueria was (for the most part) very colorful and pretty. There were stalls everywhere filled with the most colorful fruit and juices I had ever seen. Many of the juice colors looked like they had to be artificial, but I highly doubt that they were. There were also shops selling baked goods, traditional Spanish croquetas and empanadas, and finally the ever disgusting meat stalls. The meat stalls showcased animal legs with the hooves still on as well as chickens with their heads or feathers still in tact. It was not very pleasant to look at, so we would quickly move away from those stalls and on to the prettier, more colorful fruit stalls.

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After La Boqueria, we made our way onto one of Barcelona’s most famous streets, Las Ramblas. Las Ramblas is a street in the heart of Barcelona that is quite busy each days as it fills with both tourists and locals. It has many little shops on it that feature tourist gifts as well as gelato and other food. It connects Plaça de Catalunya in the center with the Christopher Columbus Monument all the way near the water at Port Vell.

We walked along Las Ramblas until we reached the Christopher Columbus Monument and then we began to walk through the bay area. While doing so, we looked up and saw a sky gondola that stretched from the water near us, up into a small mountain in the distance. After looking up the sky gondola, we decided to do it.

The Teleferico del Puerto Cable Car offered amazing views of the city of Barcelona. We could see all the way up into the mountains and across the city to La Sagrada Familia Cathedral. There were also great views of the ocean! I am so happy that we did because the view of the city was stunning. The ride is only seven minutes long from the port to Miramar which sits on Montjuic Mountain, but is well worth it for the view and price.

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We walked around on Montjuic Mountain for a while and talked with two locals. It was so interesting to hear about how badly Catalan wants its independence from Spain and how long they have been fighting for it. I began speaking Spanish with them, only for the woman to correct me and say “We speak Catalan here, not Spanish.” She continued on to tell us how Catalan is the first language they learn, then Spanish. She also told us that she then learned English and then French and Italian. Incredible. The woman was an older woman who had retired from her job as a teacher and has now published one book and is about to publish another. Both were very pleasant and offered us ideas on what else we should see while in Barcelona.

After talking with the locals, we took the cable car back to the port and then walked around the beach for a while (yes, I know, I can’t believe it either. I went on a beach and touched sand. It was awful.) And then we found lunch. After lunch we made our way back into town and explored the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona.

The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona is known for it architecture, narrow winding alleyways and numerous little shops. We walked through the area for a while and stopped in a few shops. We then headed out of the area and toward the Arc de Triomf. Along the way, I made a pit-stop at the famous El Corte Ingles. In my Spanish class in high school, my teacher raved about El Corte Ingles, the largest department/supermarket chain of stores in Spain. She wasn’t wrong in doing so. The store was monstrous, super busy and had basically everything. It was crazy.

We then continued on to the Arc de Triomf, took some photos and explored the square area. Then FINALLY we started the walk back to the hostel. By the time we got there, I checked my Fitbit and we had walked just over 13 miles. CRAZY. But well worth it as we had seen a ton in only one day!

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On our second day in Barcelona (Saturday), we once again woke up “early” in local time and left the hostel by 8:3o a.m. to start our walk up to Park Guell. It was a primarily uphill walk to Park Guell, but luckily when it began to get incredibly steep, something amazing happened. We spotted OUTDOOR ESCALATORS ahead of us. And not just one, not two, but three escalators that took us up even higher. It was insane but really, thank goodness!

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At the top of the third escalator we turned around to look at the view and it was beautiful! Only thing was, we still had some climbing up to do still to get to the Park. We entered the park and wandered around a bit before going to the ticketed area.

For 7€ you can buy a ticket to enter the Monumental Zone of Park Guell that has the great views of Barcelona, the tiled mosaic seating area, the Casa Del Guarda, the gift shop and restaurant. The park was designed by Gaudí  between 1900 and 1914 and was officially opened as a public park in 1926. It was packed when we were there with countless tourists looking to see the park and the views of Barcelona.

We then left the park and made our way back down towards the heart of Barcelona to another Gaudí piece, La  Basilica de la Sagrada Familia. The basilica has been under construction since 1882, which sounds crazy but makes perfect sense once you actually see the basilica. One side is the original part while the rest of the basilica looks as though it was all made out of different stone colors, different designs, color schemes and pieces of history. Personally, I didn’t like how it looked (not the most visually appealing as it doesn’t match), but it is one of the most well-known tourists spots in Spain and the Spaniards are quite proud of it. I guess you can make your own opinions about it, but it was still cool to see and look at!

We walked to the beach again after and just sat around watching the waves crash for a while as it was a beautiful day in the mid 60’s. After a couple hours, we headed back to the hostel and I was able to watch the FC Barcelona game in the bar which was cool!

I had to pack as we had to be out the door to the airport by four in the morning the next day, so I headed back up to my room. The two Italian guys were also in the room packing. I didn’t say anything to them at first, but then I noticed while they were talking that they were speaking Spanish so I decided to attempt to speak to them in Spanish. They looked really surprised when I asked them a question, but understood me and responded. I understood them to and so we talked for a while. It was so cool to actually be able to carry on a conversation with people from a different country (Italy) in a different language (Spanish) and understand the other people and be understood as well. Thankful for all the Spanish classes I’ve had up until this point!

Overall, Barcelona was amazing and everything I had hoped it would be! Being immersed in the daily culture, seeing the sights and learning more about the history was amazing! My only regret is that I didn’t buy some of the delicious looking strawberries while at La Boqueria. Next time!

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