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Gianna Baroni’s Travel Journal

LONDON | Saturday, March 9th

The beauty of the rolling hills really struck me once we finally got onto the bus with our lovely tour guide, Anne-Marie Walker. The winding, narrow roads gave me anxiety on the way, but the picturesque landscapes soothed me (as well as Anne-Marie’s calming voice). Being in the countryside made me really miss my home in the rural part of a suburb, but I was so excited to be on the trip to be truly homesick—I guess I was just sick of seeing city 24/7 in Columbus. I even enjoyed looking at the houses we passed by in Downe.

It was such a relief to finally arrive at the George and Dragon Pub after passing by all those cars that nearly scraped the side of the tour bus. The fish and chips were so filling, and I felt so satisfied even though the still water cost us all around four pounds each (I kept the bottle since apparently, we had all bought magical water); Caroline warned us about it before the trip, so I guess I have nobody to blame but myself. Not having to tip as much as we do in America was a perk though. I wonder if they price the still water that high because they know Americans are ignorant in most cultural aspects (me being one of them).

Seeing Emma Darwin’s grave was neat, and I appreciated visiting it, but I think everyone was more enthralled with the church adjacent to her grave and more importantly, the old tree that seemed to split into several separate ones and the fact that you could literally walk through it.

Personally, I thought we spent more time at Down House than necessary, but nonetheless, I enjoyed being the in same space that Darwin and his family lived in. The gardens and greenery may have been different back in Darwin’s day, but I can understand how Darwin was inspired to write his work in such a serene place.

Admittedly, the majority of us fell asleep to Anne-Marie’s soothing voice on the bus ride to the hotel, but from the few glimpses I got of the city of London, I fell in love with the architecture. Once we got settled in the hotel, a group of us went to the Rising Sun for dinner and a few other pubs to wrap up the night.

LONDON | Sunday, March 10th

The British Museum was so fascinating to me and it made me realize how ignorant I am in the history and culture of other countries. I hope to go back one day with more historical knowledge in order to truly appreciate the exhibits. Seeing the Rosetta Stone in person was unbelievable, but I personally favored the exhibit on the main floor that showcased the number of pills two individuals had taken in their lifetime. This exhibit made me more aware of the number of medications I normally use anytime I have an ache or pain.

I went back to the hotel for a little bit to study for my midterms, but once I had enough, I decided to venture around the city and I ended up spending way too much money shopping. A large group of us went to the Gordon Ramsey restaurant where I chowed down on some Sunday roast and went out to the ball pit afterward. On our way to the Gordon Ramsey restaurant, we got to see St. Paul’s Cathedral lit up and I found it even more beautiful in the dark. Afterward, we went to a ball pit/bar before we headed back to the hotel.

OXFORD & LONDON | Monday, March 11th

Madison and I went to Oxford in the morning and it took a while since we got lost in the tube stations, but we got there eventually. This short trip was my favorite part of England. The entire city was so picturesque even though we didn’t have the opportunity to go in most places since there was usually an admission fee for tourists. We did have brunch at the oldest coffeehouse in Europe and the food was to die for. Also, I thought the coffee in both London and Paris tasted so much better than in the U.S. and especially in this coffeehouse. There was a bookshop nearby that we went into afterward that just had books upon books and we just spent some time browsing in it. We ended finding a museum towards the end of our journey and we spent some time there before making it back to London.

We took a break in the hotel when we got back before heading out to dinner in Chinatown (and got lost both on our way there and back). This Thai Restaurant we went to was inexpensive much to our surprise, but the food was delicious. When we got back to the hotel, I ended up staying in and studying more for my midterms before heading to bed.

LONDON | Tuesday, March 12th

The weather on Tuesday was drab, but that didn’t stop my enjoyment for the Westminster Abbey. Even though our tour guide was very helpful, I thought it would’ve been nice to explore the place on our own for a little while. Maybe half and half would’ve been nice. Either way, it was amazing to see the burial sites for so many influential people like Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, and Steven Hawking. Are the death masks really necessary though?

The London Eye was only partially disappointing because of the weather, but I can imagine how beautiful it would be to see the city on a sunny day (and Big Ben not under construction). Nonetheless, it was nice to see such a great view of London.

Olivia and I went to a nearby restaurant to eat lunch before arriving late to the Royal Society. I thoroughly enjoyed the guided tour of the Royal Society and I thought it interesting that the current president of the Royal Society earned his Ph.D. at Ohio University.

Buckingham Palace was one of those places that you see once and then you never have to see it again, but it was far from what I expected—I was definitely underwhelmed.

The Italian restaurant that we went to as a group was outstanding. The few of us that didn’t see a play or musical went around to a few pubs and did some last-minute souvenir shopping to end the night.

PARIS | Wednesday March 13th

I took a nap for most of the trip to Paris on the Eurostar, but from the glimpses I did get to see, I couldn’t help but admire the countryside of France right outside of the city. Once we finally got into the city I was amazed by the stunning architecture that nearly every building exhibited. The Notre Dame certainly did not disappoint in this aspect. I thought it was interesting that, like Westminster Abbey, it was built like a horizontal cross. I honestly could’ve spent days just admiring the architecture and the art inside each chapel.

I don’t think it really hit me that we were abroad until I started having brief conversations in French with the workers in the shops and cafes—it was so refreshing to be immersed in French culture (even though we were primarily visiting prime tourist spots).

After venturing the city and taking in the beautiful sights of the river, I went to the group dinner at Le Petit Prince and had my favorite meal abroad despite the sacrifice of a baby cow that made my meal possible. I think we spent at least a good two hours just sitting and waiting due to the large size of our group, but it was well worth the wait.

PARIS | Thursday, March 14th

Madison’s phone was still set back an hour, so we woke up an hour later than we intended to and had to rush to get to the paleontology museum. I particularly enjoyed the display of the fetus skeletons standing upright—I honestly don’t know why… I thought they were cute at first, but then I realized what they were and then I was a little creeped out at how it looked like they were all crowded around each other and looking down at me. It reminded me of something you would see in a horror movie. I also enjoyed seeing the enormous whale skeleton. Just seeing something so large in comparison to humans really humbled me for some reason.

I wasn’t a big fan of the fact that some of the birds in the zoo had such limited space, but I felt like I could’ve spent hours just going from exhibit to exhibit while observing the animals’ behaviors. I loved seeing the pigeons try to peck the crumbs right from a porcupine’s mouth as it was trying to eat its pellets.

Anu and I went to the mineralogy museum, tried and failed to get into the greenhouses within le Jardin des Plantes, and wandered around the city until we got lost and stumbled upon a graffiti work by Banksy (thankfully it was near our hotel). I spent the rest of the day buying souvenirs, trying out pastries, cafes, and studying for midterms again.

PARIS | Friday, March 15th

Finally got the opportunity to see the Eiffel Tower and experience the breathtaking yet windy views from it. I always thought that the Eiffel Tower was black or grey, but I guess expectations don’t always meet reality (kind of like the Moroccan restaurant the day before when I ordered a Moroccan salad expecting an actual salad, but instead received mushy carrots and beans… at least it still tasted good?).

Wound up visiting the architecture museum instead of the museum of man by accident, but once I realized I was in the wrong place I was already inside and mesmerized by the sculptures with an extraordinary amount of detail. This is where I finally began to appreciate architecture for the art it truly is. I think my fond memory of the museum is also swayed by the amazing crepe and coffee I had right outside, but either way, I wish I had spent more time there. Saw a swan in the river on the way over to the metro station. The scenery alone made this part of the trip so surreal to me.

Tried my first macaron while waiting for the Pasteur museum to let us in and found a cat café around the corner that I wish I had time to visit regardless of my allergy to cats. By the time we got to the museum of arts and measures, all of us were clearly exhausted, but our tour guide’s enthusiasm made the exhaustion bearable. I wish we had more time here to look at all the objects. Needless to say, I slept like a baby.

PARIS | Saturday, March 16th

I had the intent to visit Versailles, but my desire for sleep surpassed any other thought. Once I finally woke from my coma, I headed out to explore the city more. I met up with Alicia and we decided to walk around for a while and drank coffee There was a market near the hotel that Alicia and I went to before we met up with Amanda and Erin for lunch.

Amanda and I split off from the group and visited the Pantheon and the history of medicine museum. I spent a lot more time than I should have trying to read the descriptions of each exhibit for such a small museum, but the tools that were first used for surgery, prosthetics, and so on just captivated me. I took a ton of pictures here that I sadly don’t have anymore, but I look forward to revisiting this museum when I go back to Paris when I have a little more French under my belt in addition to more knowledge of the history of medicine.

I went back to the hotel to study a little more and then Anu, Darria, and I explored more of the city (and bought more souvenirs). We visited several cafes, a pastry shop, a grocery store, a gelato shop, a creperie, we ate authentic Chinese food,

PARIS | Sunday, March 17th

and ended the night at a speakeasy. Anu found the place online so we weren’t sure if this little Italian shop in the front was the entrance to it, but the guy at the counter quickly caught on that we were trying to figure it out and let us into the “freezer.”

The city at night was so enthralling and I couldn’t help but feel blessed to be in such a beautiful place. We slowly made our way back to the hotel, taking in the sights and the Parisian charm.

Staying up until 3 am was not the best decision on all our parts, but we didn’t want the night to end and we certainly did not want to head back to the states. We were surprised to find that the metro ran that late, and we were so relieved after all the walking we did to get there and while we were wandering around. Luckily, we caught the last one.

Waking up at 6 was rough, but leaving Europe was even harder.

I’m already looking forward to my next trip abroad.

Khadejah’s Travel Journal

  Day 1: Went to Charles Darwin’s house in London, had shepard’s pie at a local pub. Got yelled at by a british lady in her car on the bus. Enjoyed seeing Darwin’s garden. Went to more pubs at night and wondered around London. Went to a bookstore and got some interesting books.

 

 Day 2: Went to Kennsington Park and saw alot of great monuments. This one in particular was really great. Didn’t even know who Albert was. Had great food at the park. Love the freedom the british like to give their dogs. A lot of cute dogs and birds were great to see at the park aswell. Saw a fat pigeon.

 

Day 3: On the third day had alot of fun at Borough Market. A nice lady gave sold me a wheat grass smoothie while I was there. It tasted really bad but I was happy that she looked happy making it. I drunk a good amount of it. Also walked around London Bridge. The tower bridge was the best bridge we saw. Got to go up to the top of the tower and take a lot of selfies on it. They had a clear floor so you can take pictures of yourself laying down and you can see everything on the ground. Looked scary at first but it looked really cool. Also got a lot of souvenirs in the gift shop for my family. Also went to a cool retro looking ice cream place.

 

Day 4: Touch down in Paris! Got to see Notre Dame and try an actual Crepe made in Paris. I really loved the crepe with nutella, butter, and ice cream in it. Tried alot of other crepes afterwards too. Loved the architecture in Notre Dame. Had a very chill vibe, which is to be expected since it’s one of the more holier sights. Loved the glass windows on the inside and the beautiful statues as well. Also walked around with Caroline along the Rue De Monge which had amazing restaurants.

 

 Day 5: Went to the fossil museum and had a great time seeing the fossils. Looked very interesting considering the fact that I’m typically not a fossil person. Had very interesting structures. Almost fell a couple times in the secret garden because of the rain. Loved the mineral museum as well. Also went to the Louvre for the first time but had a hard time finding the Mona Lisa. A little disappointing when I found her but I thought everything else in the museum was amazing. Also went to an awesome fondue place with other people and LOVED the cheese.

 

 Day 6: Last day in Paris. Very sad but had a great time spending the day venturing out on my own. Wanted to go to a popular macaron place and buy some macarons. Didn’t know the Louvre and other important sights were right next to it! They blocked off a lot of important sights because of the protests and took me a while to get around a gate. Loved seeing my first lock bridge, very beautiful to see how much they value love in Paris. Then went to a mall district 30 minutes before the malls close. Went to this one place that I didn’t think was name brand but had a 300 euro jacket. I’ll come back when I make the money in a couple hundred years. Went to a McDonald’s to end the night, not the same as in America but still okay.

 

 

Saturday March 16th

AKA the day that everything goes wrong. We started off by going to the Pantheon, then realized we had to pay to get in and didn’t think the museum pass covered it. Ya…I messed that one up because apparently we did but, we never made it back. From there, we went to Luxemburg Park which was pretty, but there wasn’t much to do there aside from watching sail boats. After that, we decided to go to the catacombs, but got there and realized there was a HUGE line and decided it wasn’t worth our time. We grabbed food, met a couple from Florida, then headed to the Arc to get a music box for Theresa’s mom. After a 30 minute metro ride, we walked out from the station and people with yellow vest were everywhere. Yes, that’s right we walked into a protest. There were cops completely surrounding the arc, along with them blocking the streets off. Cautiously, we still wanted to try to see if we could get to the arc, so we walked around until we found the doors and saw the underground tunnel was blocked off. Trying to find the metro to get the heck out of there, we turned left and saw a march of people coming down the street toward the Arc and decided to just walk to the next metro stop to get out of there as fast as possible. At this point, I think the universe was trying to tell me to just stay in the hotel and study for my biochem exam, but I didn’t listen and we ended up meeting some of the group at a mall, then found the I love you wall, and went to the Place du Tetre and getting some last minute paintings. That actually ended up turning around the day, and ended by grabbing dinner and crapes with John and Alicia. After we headed back to the hotel and got ready for our flight the next morning.

Friday March 13th

How many museums can you fit in one day?? Well Friday was the day we tested to see. We started off by going to the Eiffel Tower. I gave a presentation on some cool facts I found online, so hit me up if you have any questions. As we were waiting in line, we got the most heartbreaking news of the entire trip. Yes, that’s right, it was too windy too go all the way up to the top of the tower. I was heartbroken, but still felt like I was able to see everything and get pretty much the same experience from the second floor (even though it was only 378 feet high versus 906 feet). I was even able to see the 2ndstatue of liberty that was by a bridge (didn’t get to see up close). After, we headed across the street to the Musse de L’Homme where we were able to get some nice pics with the Eiffel Tower in the back. The museum was cool because it was more modern science related. I really like the display with the heads up the wall, and they also had other exhibits like prosthetics and glasses. I also got tricked into wasting my money on tiny Eiffel Tower key chains because the guy wouldn’t leave us alone. Anywho, we grabbed lunch then met up and headed to the Pasteur Museum. This museum was probably the worst because I started getting sick and my nose would not stop running! She also spoke crap English and I was just ready for my afternoon nap. This museum wasn’t pointless though because it was cool being able to see the different glassware he had to make for the experiments he did and seeing the crypt in the basement with his and his wife’s casket. I definitely think it helped that we actually knew who he was before going there. Afterwards, we headed to ANOTHER museum (yes this is 3… 4 is you count the Eiffel Tower). This museum was the Musée des Arts et Metiers. Walking in, we saw the 3rdstatue of liberty, and the 4thwas there too but it was in the chapel and we ran out of time to see it. This museum had so much stuff and I wish I would have been able to look around more, but at least the tour guide for this place was funny and understood how dead we were. After getting kicked out of this museum, we headed back to the hotel, grabbed dinner at a restaurant nearby, then crashed for the night.

Thursday March 14th

Well, I was still dead from the day before, but up for another day of adventures. We went to the garden of plants with the class. I started off in the Paleontology building which I found super interesting seeing all of the bones set up on display. One thing that caught my eye was the whale with very thin looking teeth. I’d never seen teeth like that before and thought it was super interesting (pre-dental major showing)! While we were there, I also saw the minerology building and the zoo. The minerology building was cool but small, and the zoo was decent, but the animals seemed to be hiding from me or hard to see through the tall grass around the exhibits. I really enjoyed this place however, all the captions on the exhibits were in French so it was hard to know what certain things were. After this, we had the rest of the day on our own and I ended up going to the Louvre and the Musse de Orssay, but was in a group of 7 people so it was kind of crazy. I was able to see the Mona Lisa, which was cool to say I saw, but really didn’t understand why this chick was famous until Alicia explained that her eyes follow you no matter where you’re at in the room! Also, at the Musse de Orssay we saw 1 of the 4 statues of liberty in Paris. To end the night, we had a group dinner that was really good! I got to try snail for the first time! That was a little nerve wracking but actually ended up being very good.

Wednesday March 13th

Sadly, the London portion was over, and we traveled to Paris on the Eurostar. Carrying heavy luggage up and down multiple staircases was definitely a workout! We got to Paris, got checking into our hotel, then headed to Notre Dame. After walking around Notre Dame, John, Quent, Theresa and I headed to sacre’ couer then Place du Tetre. Place du Tetre was an art district and was very fun to walk around seeing shops selling different types of acrylic paintings and other little things. We grabbed dinner at a restaurant, then headed to the Arc de Triomphe. Side note: Paris food is already better than London’s. After climbing 285 steps, we were finally at the top of the Arc and just in time to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle on the hour. It was beautiful to see at night, and we decided to take the metro and see it up close. After seeing the Eiffel Tower, we ventured to the Princess Diana “memorial” which was a statue of liberty flame. This was kind of disappointing because it looked like it was at one point a memorial, but the plaque was taken down and is not an unofficial memorial (need to look into that still). Finally, we made our way back to the hotel, the long way of course since John was leading. According to my phone, we walked 10.3 miles and climbed 72 flights so I was dead!

Tuesday was a group day and our last day in London. It started off by getting a tour of Westminster Abbey, where Darwin was buried and lots of other famous people that I can’t remember. Afterwards, we rode the London Eye, grabbed lunch on our own, then met back up for a short tour of the royal society. On the way back, we stopped and saw Buckingham Palace, then changed real quick and went to group dinner. I ate at an Indian restaurant and got buttered chicken. It wasn’t terrible but I probably would not eat it again. From there, I left early and saw a play with Alicia called “The Play that Goes Wrong”. This play was a remake of another play turned into a comedy where people didn’t know their script, got injured and needed replaces, or props broke. 

Monday, March 11th

Monday was our free day. The first stop of the day was St.Paul’s Cathedral. This building was absolutely beautiful, and we even had blue skies to make it even better! After taking a thousand pics (including a cliché phone booth pic), we next headed to Borough Market. Borough Market was just ok. It had a bunch of food vendors, but like I said earlier, I wasn’t a big fan of London’s food. Next, we saw the London Bridge, which ended up being pretty plain, then went to the Tower Bridge. The Tower Bridge was very cool, and we stumbled upon a gift shop at the bottom. Once in the gift shop, we realized you could take a tour of the Bridge and the engine room that lifts the bridge for boats. During the tour we were able to walk across the top walkway above the bridge, which had an amazing view! After Tower Bridge we walked past the Tower of London. In the process of finding food, we fell upon a church bunker/cellar/tunnel thing that had different artifacts on display under a (functioning) church. We finally got food, then took the metro to King’s Cross Station and found the Harry Potter Platform we tried to find the day before! After a long and exhausting day, we headed back to the hotel then eventually got dinner in China town. We ran into a couple that gave us tips on places to go in Paris, then finished the day by grabbing a drink at the John Snow pub.

Sunday March 10th

Sunday we started off going to the British Museum and was able to see many cool things, including the Rosetta Stone. After the British Museum, we traveled on the metro to Camden Street market and explored little shops set up along the street. I loved Camden market and got some cool souvenirs while I was there too. After, Theresa, Quent, Khadejah, and I went to Kensington park where we saw a “Dalmatian”, got to feed some awesome green birds, and saw Kensington Palace. On the way back we attempted to find the Harry Potter Platform but failed and just grabbed dinner at the Jack Horner pub. I had fish and chips, which was probably my best meal in London!

Saturday March 9th

After a 6 hour plane ride, we arrived in Heathrow, London around 10am and took a coach bus to the Down house. I was dead tired from not sleeping much on the plane, but thankfully was able to catch a quick nap on the bus. Towards the end, the bus ride was definitely interesting trying to fit a tiny bus down small backroads, another driver tried to fight our bus driver! Once we got to the town, we stopped at the George and Dragon pub, checked out Emma’s grave (Darwin’s wife), then walked to the Down house. After the Down house we headed back to the hotel, then explored around the hotel to find dinner. We ate at rising sun, where I got a nasty philly cheesesteak “sandwich” …but also had the best cider ever! Side note: The food in London was not my favorite.