Thursday, May 18, 2006

I must admit that the busy-nature of life has kept me more occupied than I anticipated when I started this blog. I'm surprised, probably as you are that it has been 6 weeks since my last post. A lot has happened in those six weeks: many surprises, many changes, adventures and new circumstances: but another post (coming likely on Monday, May 22) will dwell on those.
Also, if you are one of those who have sent e-mails in the last week: my apologies, I have been overloaded (again) with a multitude of things (including sickness) in the last week: I'm about a week behind on 2 of my accounts.

Hopefully I'll be able to give an overview of what I've been up to in the last 3.5 weeks and what I'll be doing in the next 3 weeks. When I have more time, I'll elaborate (and post pictures).

April 13 - April 26 (Kingston, ON)
One of my most intense exam periods in Kingston yet. Six exams on the the 13, 15, 19, 20, 22, 26. The exam period was not crazy for its short nature, but becuase there was not a single 'easy' exam or course (o.k. maybe one - the derivatives course was pretty good), studying this term was a complete morning, afternoon, evening, night affair with 4 hours of sleep for 2.5 weeks everynight. Why elaborate on explains why I have been sick over the last 4 days.

April 27 : Move from Kingston - Toronto, ON
PM: I have 'dinner' with my good friend Xiao who has returned from an internship in NYC. Quite the fascinating conversation both on life (social, 'the girls', religion) and also on architecture firms who are remarkably similar to management consulting firms. I have a particular interest (and for a few years wanted to be involved) in architecture and the discussion on the industry was fascinating.

April 28 : Toronto, ON
PM: I have a mini-reunion dinner (over some nice steak :) with a few friends from the Toronto District Youth Orchestra. All (except me) students at the University of Toronto, two are in engineering science (an ridiculously insane version of engineering with super-smart people), one is doing statistical mathematics (in his third year he is replacing his undergrad courses with graduate mathematics courses) and the fourth in computer science about to enter a 16-month internship in Toronto. The evening was interesting for the wide contrast in perspectives: the entire political spectrum was represented from I who have (recently) turned conservative to an ex-communist.

April 29 : A friend also studying at the castle stays overnight. We depart next morning

April 30: London, UK - Herstmonceux, UK
A better flight than I anticipated on Air Canada. I sleep for half of the flight and then strike up a conversation with the lady next to me when my rather unique food requirements are revealed. I also manage a few good photos. Arrival at London Heathrow was inspiration. For a deep appreciator of commercial aviation, the multitude and diversity of airlines represented in this incredibly busy terminal is an incredibly thrilling experience.

April 30 - Present: Herstmonceux, UK
The castle here at Herstmoncuex is truly a sight to be held. Although the photos make the actual building look taller than it truly is, the castle (and surrounding grounds) are truly massive in scale.

May 1-4: Herstmonceux, UK

I am truly amazed by the size of the castle, the gardens behind (Queen's keeps peacoks here!) and the size of the estate. There are observatories (five of them) which nightly open their roofs to study the planets.

May 5: London, UK (Note, Herstmonceux UK is about 1.5-2 hour by bus from Central London)
My first day trip to London. On this visit is a guided tour of the Palace of Westminster - a.k.a. the Parliament Buildings (I was only able to take pictures of the 'Sovereign's Entrance': due to security reasons (the police officer with the machine gun and their fingers continually on the trigger was convincing enough) I was not able to take photos of the 'Sovereign's Room,' the House of Lords or the House of Commons. The building is truly magnificent and the aura of history is omnipresent.

Also a wonderful surprise was the tour of the Tower of London and of the Crown Jewels. The concentration of gold, diamonds, crowns was very breathtaking. Once again, photography was not permitted and once again, the wealth of security people crawling all over was convincing enough to prevent me from sneaking photos. Here are a few of some of the less 'sensitive' areas.

May 6: London, UK
My sescond day trip to London. On the itinerary today is a visit to Sheakespeare's Globe to see a performance of Coriolanus, Buckingham Palace, White Hall, Downing Streret, a 'Blue Ribbon?' guided bus and walking tour of London, and the famous London Mile.

Two things of note
Coriolanus: the performance here was incredible and authentic. The actors were superb (including 'Jeffrey' the butler from Fresh Prince of Belair who played one of the central roles). It was truly breath-taking as the actors performed their roles on the stage, in the pit (which is where about 400 audience members stood) and the back of the globe. Much smaller in size (and almost unnoticed from the River Thames that it ajoins), the theatre is nevertheless an architectural feat. (the photo is of one of the performers. Becuase it was raining, everyone was decked out in rain mats at a convenient price of 2 pounds each)

Second Item of Note:
Scott Cooper and I had the interesting opportunity to meet up with Ethan Pancer and his gf Alice. Ethan's travels has taken him to more countries than I can remember but very recent trips include ones to Egypt, Hungary and Sweden. A Queen's Commerce student on exchange to Denmark, Ethan was on the start of a two week trip with his gf starting in London and hitting a number of countries including France, Belgium and Spain. We had quite the nice conversation at a pub on 'The Mile' but our conversation was cut short for the performance at Shakespeare's Globe.

Alas, this is just about the amount of time I have to describe in detail my activities here in Europe. By Monday I'll present the second and third weeks of my journey here and hopefully provide some deeper insights. However, as you can see, things are actually considerably busier than I anticipated they would be, so Monday may turn into Tuesday and etc...