Postcards From // Manchester

Let’s talk about crossing streets in the UK. How do you do it? Which direction do you look? Cars seemingly jump from any direction and I just do not understand. Looking and seeing a passing car not having a driver in the correct front seat is terrifying. My brain doesn’t register that I’m in England and drivers sit on the left side of the car and instead jumps immediately to robot driving cars. I’m not sure why robot powered cars are so scary to me because it’s 2018 and those exist. Anyway, send me good thoughts so I don’t accidentally bump into a car while crossing the street––or rather a car doesn’t accidentally bump into me.

I feel like I didn’t do a ton of touristy things while I was in Manchester. I just did a lot of walking and ‘window tourism.’ I’m not sure if window tourism is a thing, but I basically I walked around the city and looked at things without going inside––sort of the same thing as window shopping but with architecture. Maybe this is just regular tourism, but I like the ever flashy window tourism term better.

I saw the Manchester Cathedral, the canals, the shopping districts, Town Hall, some of the train stations, as well as Chinatown. The canals were my favorite part of the city. Pedestrian foot bridges criss cross the waterways and larger train bridges sit further above the water. Lots of geese live on the canals, and several houseboats were scattered throughout the waterways as well. Trust me, it was as picturesque as it sounds. Independent galleries, restaurants, and bars are intermixed in the canals as well. I’d consider living in one of the houseboats if I knew how to swim.

One of the few places that I went to in Manchester was the Manchester Art Gallery. Most of the art that they had on display was from the eighteenth and nineteenth century, which are the periods of which my main interests lie. I think most, if not all, of the collection was by British artists. I feel like in art history courses we mostly brush over British artists––except Turner, Hockney, and Hirst––and I’m really loving getting introduced to new British artists! For example, I fell in love with Henry Moore’s Mount’s Bay. The Art Gallery placed two mustard yellow chairs in front of the painting, which is allows the viewers (aka, me) to sit and look at the choppy waves. The chairs make the museum seem much more home–y and sort of make it seem like you’re watching the ocean out the window of your beach house. Another cool artist that I saw was Kate Haywood, but they only had a few of her works on display so I gotta do some more research before I declare her a new fav artist.

Postcards From // Liverpool

It took four connecting trains to get to Liverpool from Bristol. Somehow I managed to not miss any of my connecting trains and arrived in Liverpool on a cloudy afternoon. My hostel was only a short walk up a big ol’ hill, and after I checked in I was led to my room. The room was at the bottom of a few set of steep stairs, and down a long winding hallway. If the walls weren’t painted, and the floors carpeted I would have thought that I was being led into a dungeon. I didn’t have WiFi or cell service, so maybe it was a long gone dungeon… who knows.

Beyond the things listed below, I sort of just explored the city. The architecture of the city is stunning. There’s tons of gorgeous bricks, and cute lil parks. Apparently there’s a band that’s from Liverpool, too. They’re called the Beatles, you’ve probably never heard of them.

What I Did:

Pho: After checking into the dungeon I realized that I was starving. Knowing that one of the coolest streets (Bold Street) in Liverpool was only a few minutes walk away, I decided to just walk there and find something that struck my fancy as the British would say. The coolest thing about Europe (maybe they do this in America and I just haven’t noticed?) is that they put their menus outside of the restaurant so you can decide before you walk inside. I chose Pho because I was seriously craving spring rolls, and theirs sounded hella great. I got the said spring rolls and a peanut sauce as well as the spicy green pho. The pho wasn’t spicy, but it was tasty so that’s what really matters.

Albert Docks: I think the Albert Docks are the traditionally touristy part of Liverpool. There were lots of shops, mostly ones selling Beatles memorabilia. Including a giant jelly bean sculpture––fascinating. Most importantly, in the water surrounding the docks tourists can look at jelly fish! I don’t know what they’re doing there, but I hope that they, too, enjoy listening to the Beatles tunes.

Tate Liverpool: One of many Tate galleries, Tate Liverpool is located at Albert Docks, It’s sort of a small museum on four floors that overlook the Mersey River. I was able to see some Rothko’s, Mondrian’s, an Arp sculpture, and even an entire exhibit dedicated to Roy Lichtenstein. The more pop art I see, the more I really dig it. However, the most exciting work that I saw was Glenn Ligon’s Untitled (2006). Basically, it’s a big neon sign that reads “AMERICA.” Except the sign itself is mostly painted over with black paint, and therefore, the viewer mostly only sees the black paint rather than the neon illumination. Commenting on Americans who are overly obsessed with themselves + neon signs = happy Danie

Walker Art Gallery: The best part about the Walker Art Gallery? How every room is literally filled to the brim with paintings. It reminds me of paintings I’ve seen of eighteenth century salons. It was wild to just be in a room and there were paintings covering every single space on the walls. I don’t think that I’ve ever been to a museum that was arranged in this manner.

Love Thy Neighbour: Let’s talk brunch. As a Millennial, I know for a fact that brunch is the most important (and best) meal of the day. In order to not skimp on brunch, I went to Love Thy Neighbour twice while I was in Liverpool and regretted neither of my choices. I got the avocado and tomato toast, fluffy pancakes, hot chocolate, and chai latte. The interior was decorated with plants, and unique lighting. It’s probably the most Instagram worthy places I’ve ever been.

Situations I Found Myself In:

I slept in a hotel room that didn’t have windows or air conditioning, and was at least 2 stories underground. A man knocked on my door in the middle of the night (this has oddly enough happened to me before).

I pretended to not be a native English speaker because I couldn’t understand a waitress when she asked me a question and I felt bad asking her to repeat herself multiple times.

I went into a grocery store.

Postcards From // Bristol

I’ve finally made it to Bristol! I’ve been planning this trip/study abroad for months now, and I was so dang happy that I arrived in England after many months of anticipation.

I touched down in London bright and early Tuesday morning, and promptly caught the coach to Bristol (I quickly learned that in the UK the word ‘bus’ is used for busses that run within a metro area, and ‘coaches’ run from city to city covering long distances––this was the first of many miscommunications between the British and myself… don’t even ask me about the bag vs. pound dispute). I was so tired from not sleeping on the flight that I slept the entire two hours on the coach, and unfortunately, did not wake up refreshed upon arrival.

Thankfully, my hostel (The Bristol Wing) let me check in two whole hours early, so I was able to take (another) nap before heading out to discover the city. Back to the hostel though because it’s real neat. The Bristol Wing is inside an old firehouse that has recently been transformed into a hostel. There is a huge open courtyard enclosed by the old red doors where the firetrucks were housed. As a bonus, the courtyard has so so many plants, including succulents (although, I don’t know how they get enough sunlight, but that’s none of my business). The interior of the hostel is carefully painted in graffiti-esque style, which was quite hip and cool.

Now, onto the things I actually did in Bristol.

Castle Park: Situated fairly close to my hostel is an actual castle! Well, the remains of one at least. It’s basically just the walls and the vaults, but it’s still pretty cool! This one was the first castle that I’ve seen in real life so that was real neat. The garden was my favorite part, however (but is that even a surprise). It had lots of plants, AND BEES! The park is situated upon the River Avon, and it was quite nice sitting along the river and trying to get my brand new phone to work (except when it overheated immediately and I had to take it back to the store). The phone is an Android. I don’t think it has a camera and I’m not sure that it can download apps––both of which the person who sold it to me said it could do.

The Bristolian Cafe:Several months ago I read this stellar review of The Bristolian Cafe, and knew that I just had to give it a try. I got the vegan breakfast and an almond chai. The breakfast came with beans, mushrooms, potatoes, scrambled tofu, and eggplant (excuse me, aubergine) fries. The food was great, good, and fine. I’m not a food writer, so I’ll skip describing it to you and instead tell you about a weird thing that happened to me. As I was waiting, this woman sat down at my table with me and began smoking a cigarette and telling me about her life. We covered her kids, the untimely death of her parents, and what she did with the money that was left to her after their death. Ultra strange because there were multiple empty tables surrounding me. As she finished her cigarette, she stood up and sort of vanished into the misty morning. I don’t think that she bought anything.

The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery: Did you know that Banksy is from (or at least the style used by Banksy) is from Bristol? As an art history major, I did (I Googled it a few weeks ago). The Bristol Museum’s website says that they have art by their ‘local boy Banksy,’ which intrigued me. However, I couldn’t find any work by their local boy and when I asked the gallery assistants where to find the work by Banksy they sort of looked at me confused. Maybe that’s the point? Regardless, the museum was interesting––and humid. There wasn’t any air conditioning, which made me kinda sad for the paintings inside. I hope they’re okay. The room with the Modern paintings had a dehumidifier and a fan, so that’s something! Plus I was able to see Grayson Perry’s ticketed exhibition The Vanity of Small Differences. Update: I Googled it, and apparently the Banksy is right at the front and I just missed it.

Clifton Suspension Bridge: Once upon a time we had a speaker at Truman that was doing research on comparing the Clifton Suspension Bridge and ancient Egyptian artifacts. I don’t remember the details, but they’re not important for this really. I was planning to walk across the bridge, but then I looked down and then further down to the river flowing below. Nope, nope. The gorge that the bridge crosses is quite deep. I guess you could say that I’m afraid of heights or whatever, so I decided to just look at the cool bridge rather than walk across it. It looked nice, so I came out winning by not falling into the river.

Things I’ve Learned:

St. Mungo’s (the hospital from Harry Potter) is real. Except it’s not a hospital, but instead a charity.

The British hate Trump as much as we do.

Whenever you ask a cafe to give you an iced vanilla coffee they’ll blame your weird order on being an American (probably true).

The birds are bigger here.

I think that I need to learn the difference between backyard and public garden because the differences aren’t that obvious here. Yikes.

Postcards From // Wyoming

Finally, the Spring 2018 semester is over!

I can’t believe how busy this past semester was with starting my thesis track in my major and serving on the executive board of our chapter at TSU of Alpha Phi Omega. To celebrate the successful culmination of the academic year, several of my friends decided to take a road trip Yellowstone and Teton National Park before going our separate ways for the summer.

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Since Yellowstone is over one thousand miles from our college town, we had to break up our trip into smaller adventures. Our first day involved driving to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and exploring the historic pioneer town. Visiting the Big Boy Steam Engine was our first stop in Cheyenne. The steam engine was built to pull trains from Cheyenne to Utah through steep mountain grades. Big Boy was, unfortunately, undergoing reconstruction and was covered in a tarp, so we were unable to adequately see the locomotive. However, the site of Big Boy included little blurbs that gave us some cool facts about steam locomotives. One of my friends was particularly interested in trains, so she loved this portion of our trip.

Our next stop in Cheyenne was to the Cheyenne Depot Museum, and to the downtown region itself. For some reason, the four of us thought that Cheyenne was a bustling metropolis with lively shops. Much to our surprise, we found only one shop, The Wrangler, to actually be open––possibly because it was a Sunday? The Wrangler sells western apparel and decor. We were fascinated by the sheer amount of cowboy boots and hats sold in one place!

The next day, we woke up wildly early to catch a train that would take us into Colorado to see (and feed!) bison at Terry’s Bison Ranch. This was absolutely my favorite part of the trip! We met two bison, Dave (top) and Gene (middle). Dave and Gene love when tourists come on the train to visit them because the visitors feed them cake (the pellets in the bottom photo). Our train conductor and tour guide gave us a ton of bison facts, including how to identify the two male bison on the ranch. Identification of the two bison is easiest when they’re eating. For example, Gene primarily uses his tongue to grab the cake (and sort of looks like Gene Simmons from KISS in the process), while Dave just opens his mouth and hopes that the visitors will shovel the cake into his open mouth. Rivetting, I know. Beyond going on the bison tour at Terry’s, we continued our drive to Jackson, Wyoming, where we stayed for the next two nights.

To say that I loved Jackson would be an understatement. The small town was filled to the brim with adorable boutiques, cafes, and shops, which were all surrounded by the picturesque Teton mountains. We went to Persephone’s Bakery for breakfast, and I had a chocolate croissant and an iced coffee. Eating the croissant was a surreal experience because it was just so tasty. Eventually, we had to leave Persephone’s and head toward the Tetons and Yellowstone.

My favorite spot in Teton National Park was Jenny Lake. The lake itself was backdropped by gorgeous mountain views that could be seen from the many hiking trails that surround the lake. We didn’t have time to fully hike a trail, but we did walk around a bit so we could fully take the scenery in before we continued driving to Yellowstone.

The closer we got to Yellowstone National Park the more snow that we started to see on the sides of the road. Even though it was May, I guess it hadn’t been warm enough for the snow to melt in its entirety yet. In Missouri, we don’t get anywhere near that much snow so my brain was constantly like dang, that’s so much snow over and over again. As we got closer to Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Pool the snow disappeared and was replaced by steam emerging from the ground. We waited around for Old Faithful to erupt, and it was cool, but I thought that the Prismatic Pool and the Paint Pots were far more interesting.

Postcards From // Mini Road Trip

School breaks in college are weird.

In high school, all of your friends lived in the same town as you, so it was super easy to meet up and get lunch with them over break. However, in college it’s totally different. Sometimes your college friends live halfway across the country, while others are fortunate enough to live only a few hours away. I’m lucky enough that one of my friends lives only a few hours away. So we decided to meet halfway to spend an afternoon catching up!

We met up at another one of my favorite places to grab a bite in Columbia, Uprise Bakery. Uprise serves a wide array of sandwiches, soups, specialty drinks, and the usual bakery pastries. I settled on a half broccoli cheddar soup, and PB&J sandwich, with a cappuccino and a chocolate chip cookie for dessert. The food was great (of course), but it was even greater to catch up with my friend who I hadn’t seen in weeks. College is weird like that. You get so used to seeing your friends daily, so when you don’t see them for a few days over break everything just seems sort of off.

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It’s been super cold in Missouri right now. I’m talking 2-5 degrees with negative degree windchills. So obviously my friend and I didn’t want to spend any more time outside than absolutely necessary. Logically, we headed to one of my favorite local wineries, Les Bourgeois (I’ve been here a few times, including back in October). My friend and I had (another) wine tasting. This time around I sampled the Moscato, Winter White, and Traminette. My favorite was definitely the Winter White! I guess you could say that I am coming around to white wine after all! It was so fun drinking wine in front of a cozy fire!

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