The Little things

Just a quick summary of the final weekend, and then I will talk about the little things.  Thursday, we ended up as a group heading to Roxy, the place we started in London, and had a great time as a group.  Friday, we started the day off at 2PM for a little pub golf.  This was the most fun day I had in London by far.  We had almost everyone in the entire group join, and it was nine pubs, nine pints.  I am so thrilled that everyone came and had a little competition.  I don’t have any pictures of the day, but a video is being edited from a friend right now. Okay, so I wanted to start making a list of all of the little things I will miss and maybe not miss so much about London that I might forget in a year.  Here it goes:

1) The Tube.

2) Slang such as hiya, lift, bin, mate, proper, wicked, queue, and cheers

3) Pint of Pride

4) The efficiency of transportation

5) OYSTER CARD

6) My Nokia cell phone from 2000

7) The speed walking everywhere

8) Lining up in queues everywhere

9) Hippodrome Casino Sunday nights for American Football

10) All museums and art galleries are free

11) Stand on the right side of the elevator, walk on the left

12) My host family

13) Class three days a week

14) My primary school students

15) My LBS family

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Wrapping Up

The last week has rushed by, and now even my finals are rushing by as well.  It is has been quite emotional the last few days as I realize it is the last time I will be doing many of these things for a long time.

Last weekend, after pub golf, we headed off to Lead’s Castle and the Rochester Christmas market.  Both were highly talked about as the most beautiful castle in Europe and the best Christmas market in Europe, respectively.  I was not impressed.  The castle was tiny and the only really cool thing about it was that it was surrounded by water.  And the Christmas market… I could find better stuff at a couple of garage sales.  Either way, it was one more day to spend with my LBS group.  That night, we headed off to Leicester Square to O’neils one more time to listen to some live music.  On Sunday, our host sister Jess took JJ and I to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.  The closest thing I can compare it to is the Minnesota State Fair, but Christmas themed.  IT WAS SO COOL!  There was an amusement park, so many restaurants, pubs, food stands and definitely the best Christmas market in Europe.  I could have spent a few extra hours there (our LBS group is going Ice Skating there on Thursday).  Jess, JJ and I went ice skating as well as ventured into the Magical Ice Kingdom where there were multiple ice sculptures and an ice slide.  It was super chilly in the Ice Kingdom and it began to remind me of returning home.

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Jess and JJ

Jess and JJ

Skyline as we were leaving

Skyline as we were leaving

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Monday we went to PwC for our Ethics class.  It was cool to visit the other office and we discussed sustainability with a few managers.  After that, we had our final COJO class where we presented on different areas of London.  My group discussed Canary Wharf, which is a major business district in London and the world.

Yesterday, we finished up Art History.  We had to memorize twenty paintings from the last 200 years, the artist, date it was painted and a fact about it.  It was pretty easy and I feel that I did really well on it.  After that, Amelia and I did some shopping and I finally visited Harrods.  The place was absolutely stunning and I saw the most ridiculous items such as diamond crested phone cases for $100,000 and a watch for roughly 1.2 million.  Obviously I went crazy, and purchased a few things… not.  We then finished up our souvenir shopping and called it a day.

Today was my last day of volunteering with Year 1B.  I did my standard work, but at the end the class had a surprise for me!  They all wrote me the cutest thank you cards and I received a box of Cadbury chocolates.  It was the greatest feeling to know I made an impact on all of these kids in just a few short weeks.  A few started crying and I about joined them.  They asked what day I would be returning and specifically what time.  It was hard to say goodbye.

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And now, I just finished a little touch American Football in the park.  About fifteen members of the LBS group joined and it was an absolute blast.  Although most of my clothes were ruined from the mud, it was worth it.  The fog was horrendous and to the point where we couldn’t see the end of the field.  I probably will be too sore to walk tomorrow but my team came out with a victory, which is what mattered.  That football game was just another memory I do not want to lose.

 

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Pictures from Switzerland

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Zurich

Zurich

Zurich

Zurich

Zurich

Zurich

Zurich

Zurich

Zurich

Zurich

Grindelwald

Grindelwald

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Les Mis and Switzerland

Finally having a chance to sit down is nice.  It has been hectic, and the semester is winding down.  This will probably be the second to last post while I am here.  Last week, we had the opportunity to go see Les Miserables in Leicester Square.  The performance was truly amazing.  I was unaware that the actors sang the entire play, but it was still great!  That was the first play I have been to since I have been here and I am going to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tomorrow.

This weekend, we had the opportunity to visit Interlaken, Switzerland.  Better than Scotland for me.  It was the most beautiful place I have ever been to in my life and I already do plan on returning at some point.  Most people were quite adventurous on this trip and went sky diving, cliff jumping, skiing, or paragliding.  I actually decided not to do any of these things and just relax.  It was the first time I have seen snow this year as well.  I cannot believe myself, but I actually missed it…

On Saturday, I visited Zurich.  It is the most expensive city in the entire world and one of the highest standards of living as well.  I had to pay the equivalent of $6 for a bottle of water!  Talk about ridiculous.  The city was absolutely beautiful as well and much different from Interlaken.  I had the best hot chocolate in the world, from arguably the best chocolate shop in the world.  The Christmas market was very hyped up there, but was disappointing.  I checked out the banks, their largest church, and of course spit in the river (I have spit in every single body of water I have seen abroad, just so I have some DNA everywhere I have traveled.  Weird, but just my little thing to do).  

The final day, I almost decided to go skiing in the Swiss Alps.  Since, I have never skied before in my entire life, I thought it would be best not to go.  A girl on our trip actually tore her ACL and MCL that day, which was very unfortunate.  Leaving was tough, because it was definitely the best weekend trip from the semester.  

I had our ethics presentation today about business’ and how they are affected by catastrophe’s.  We had quite an interesting discussion and I feel that my group presented very well.  Before I return home, I am still going to the play tomorrow, ice skating in Hyde Park, and going to Lead’s Christmas market.  12 more days.  Pictures will be up later tonight.     

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The Countdown

Last week, was the red carpet premiere for Catching Fire.  We had class at the same time, and a paper due, but I thought we might be able to squeeze in a few minutes.  Clare, Amelia and I went down to Leicester Square for a chance to see any of the stars.  We were surrounded by a bunch of crazy fans, and got pretty close to the red carpet itself, but you had to have tickets to be that close.  Right as we were leaving for class they started announcing all of the stars that were showing up!  I missed Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland by a matter of minutes!  I was so frustrated.  Amelia and a few other girls went after our class and actually managed to get a few pictures of the stars as they were leaving the film.  Tonight, is the world premiere for the public, and yes, I will be attending.

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Last Friday, we also had the opportunity to take a day trip to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Tower of London.  We first went to the globe and it was a great experience!  We learned that the model we were standing by is actually the second replica.  The original was burned down during a play, with a fire mishap, and the other one was destroyed due to political reasons.  The globe looks quite small, but it can hold as many as three thousand people.

Our guide let us walk behind the stage to show us around and tell us what it is like performing there.  He was an actor, and so he had quite a bit of knowledge about what the crowd feels like since they are so close to the stage.  He had a booming voice, which I was not surprised by.  What I was surprised by, was that he told us we were going to perform on the stage.  He said we were going to quote the first line from Romeo & Juliet to the other people that were touring the theatre.  He told us a few confidence tips and we strode out to the middle of the stage.  I know it wasn’t exactly performing like he usually does, but there was a few people out there watching us, probably between 75-100.  I built up a bit of courage, puffed my chest out, and on three, we all shouted, “Two households, both alike in dignity!”  We were directed to point at a stranger as we said it, and let me tell you, this woman felt very uncomfortable.  She must have thought she was doing something wrong the way she was shifting in her seat and avoiding my eye contact.

Next, he brought us to a practice room and we learned some techniques and practices that actors use to prepare for plays.  We listened to directions, played a card game based on social status, tried to convince someone to steal something using only the word “yes,” shouted lines at each other from Romeo & Juliet, and performed the Haka.  It was a great, interactive way to learn how actors built confidence, and it was a blast.

Right after, a few of us decided to go eat at the Burrough Market.  It is one of the most famous in London, and I chose a German bratwurst with sauerkraut.  Couldn’t go wrong there and it was delicious.  Amelia and I split a cookie as we headed off to Tower of London.

Tower of London wasn’t as great as I imagined it, but it was still a great site to see.  The tower must have been indestructible before airplanes.  Inside was a torture chamber, a bunch of ravens that weren’t afraid to bite, crown jewels valued at 12 billion pounds, lots of armor of past Kings such as Henry VIII, and weaponry.  I know it was used as a palace as well as a prison before it became a tourist attraction.

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I am finally caught up!  I realized I have 24 days in London, which gives me a bittersweet feeling.  I have to admit, last week I finally got a bit homesick.  I miss everyone in my family! Can’t wait to see all of you!

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Football

Still trying to catch up day by day, but the day after Harry Potter we traveled to Crystal Palace for a football match.  JJ and I arrived about an hour early, just to find our seats, watch warm-ups, and watch the fans.  Crystal Palace is 1-10 and Everton, their opponent, was at the top of the league.  I thought Crystal Palace was going to get whooped, but it ended up being a 0-0 tie.  The fans, however, were ridiculous.  They chanted, screamed, and sang the entire ninety minutes.  One student stood up to use the toilet, and I heard multiple people scream at her, “sit the f*** down!”  These people were absolutely crazy and couldn’t miss one second of the game.  Although there were no scores, it was still one of the most fun sporting events I have ever been too.  We had great seats, but the atmosphere is what made it such a great time.  I wish I could have gone to a few more of these games!

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HARRY POTTER STUDIOS!!!!!

This day deserves an entire blog post to itself.  Most of you know my passion for Harry Potter, so I will not go into detail about that.  JJ, Bailey, Megan, Clare and I all met up for this magical adventure.  We had the full audio guide package, which was supposed to be a three hour tour.  We stayed there a little over six and a half hours….  We rode brooms in front of a green screen, learned how to duel, saw the Hogwarts building that was used for the first six movies, and much more!  I won’t go into much more detail but I will post all of these amazing photos!

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Now remember! All of these were the real props from the movie!  It was such a great day and I finally got to see the studios!

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Catching Up

I haven’t blogged since my Italy trip and I am sorry for that.  I have been trying to catch up on homework and have finally gotten back into somewhat of a routine.  A few weeks ago, Amelia and I traveled to Sigmund Freud’s house for Art History class.  We had an audio tour, which told us about his life, work, and family.  I found his house quite creepy and I cannot imagine how people were comfortable sitting in his lounge and speaking while all these mysterious religious figures were scattered all over the room.  Also, I leaned on a chair while I was there to read a sign lower on the ground.  The sign read that that exact chair was where Sigmund Freud had died.  I think this was quite disturbing as well since I touched it and quickly left after.  Here is a photo of the house:

I do not own the rights to this photo

I do not own the rights to this photo

Next we went to Lloyd’s of London.  This insurance company is the most respected in the world.  What I found to be crazy, is that they don’t even sell insurance!  They rent out their building to other companies who sell insurance, and want the prestige of doing business in Lloyd’s.  This was one of my favorite tours this semester.  An interesting note about Lloyd’s is the architecture.  The building is designed with all of the pipes on the outside of the building, so it is easier to fix when problems arise.  This is what it looks like inside and out: 

i do not own the rights to this photo

i do not own the rights to this photo

I do not own the rights to this photo

I do not own the rights to this photo

That same day we visited Inns of Court.  These are the associations that lawyers have to be involved in.  There are only four and we were able to see a few of the dining halls, and historical desks and learned about the queen of hearts and the legend of who she is.

 

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Rome, Pizza, Gelato!

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?  Well we tried.  Here is how it played out.

The first night when we got there it was quite late.  We knew time could possibly run short, so we went to the Trevi fountain that night.  And it was absolutely spectacular.

Making a wish

Making a wish

Gelato!

Gelato!

Amelia & I at the Trevi

Amelia & I at the Trevi

The four of us

The four of us

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

Apparently, if you throw one coin in, it is a wish to return to Rome and two coins is to fall in love.  We stayed there for about an hour then decided to head to our hostel.  The next morning we planned to adventure to all of the other sites besides the coliseum or the vatican.  I went downstairs to grab everyone towels and I ran into one of my friends from St. Johns!  Out of the blue!  He is also studying in London, and was on his break, which happened to be in Rome in the same hostel as me!  He has an internship with PwC as well but for the summer.  Here is a picture of Bobby and I a few nights later.

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After I talked to him about his plans, we all got ready and headed off towards the spanish steps.  I’m not sure as to why they are so significant, but one street vendor said it had to do with how it connects the church to the common people.  I was surprised as to how small the steps actually were.  I was expecting another flight of 500 steps like other churches we have been to.  After we walked up, we went to the Pantheon.  This was one of the cooler places we went.  It was actually a pagan church built in 608 and later converted to Christianity.  Here are photos of the stairs and the Pantheon.

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We walked by the Coliseum that night, and got really excited for our tour, which was the next day!  We went to bed early that night preparing for our early morning.  And it sure was an early morning…. Our hostel room had six beds and the two other occupants were some of the loudest snorer’s I have ever met (even louder than you used to be dad!).  The fact that they both snored didn’t help and all four of us woke up in the middle of the night very irritated.  We all had a pair of ear plugs but those didn’t even help much!  It was so frustrating! 

We woke up early and I wasn’t quiet at all, just hoping that the other two roommates might have to wake up and suffer like I did.  We arrived at the coliseum early enough to avoid the line and I picked up an audio guide for an extra 2 euro.  The audio guide had an overwhelming amount of information.  Here is some information:

The coliseum was used for celebrations and holidays.  At one point the Romans had 180 celebrations and holidays a year.  There were fights between humans and animals and then in the afternoon they would have human vs. human.  The ground floor of the fighting area was filled with trap doors, which allowed for the element of surprise.  Underneath the coliseum, fighters would train and then walk underground to where all the gladiators slept.  There were many artifacts which included human and animal bones, equipment which helped build the coliseum, statues of governors and a few gladiators, and name carvings of important people.

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With this pass, we also were able to visit Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum.  There were a few items and stones there that have been dated before the year 1 B.C.

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Romans take baths too

Romans take baths too

 

That afternoon, we also walked by the Piazza Venezia, which I thought she be something named in Venice, but it was still cool.  Looked a lot like the white house, huh?

Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia

She's so strong!

She’s so strong!

 

Saturday was our walk around day, and also JJ’s 21st birthday.  Instead of getting wasted, JJ tried an even harder challenge.  He was going to attempt to have 21 scoops of 21 different flavors of gelato.  Gelato is very similar to ice cream, but I think it might have more sugar.  Either way, he completed it by midnight!  He was definitely sick of it by that point, and I don’t think he will have ice cream for at least a year.  That night we went to the Hard Rock Rome, and I would have to say it was one of the best nights of our vacation.  We all had a little wine, but then it was so fun just to reflect about our trip!  We talked about what we liked best, worst, and then continued about our St. Thomas program and what we liked about our semester abroad.  While the conversation was great, I would have to say the nachos were almost just as good.  We started with those and then I tried a local burger, which was topped with fried onions and avocado.

As I said that night, I did not have a favorite part of the trip.  I thought I liked Venice because of the relaxed atmosphere of the people, and how great the weather was.  I really enjoyed the beauty and artwork of Florence, and how the city has preserved their history.  In Rome, I loved the Coliseum and the dinner at the Hard Rock!  It was all great!  I  could not have asked for a better vacation with some great friends.  We thought there could have been a few changes to our itinerary, but we were still very satisfied with our trip.  On the negative side, we all said how much poverty there was in Italy.  It was very sad, but at the same time frustrating because the beggars would bother us while we were eating and I would see them walking away talking on their cell phones.  Later that night we headed off to the Trevi fountain for the fourth time in Rome.  Still spectacular.

The final day, we woke up early to go to the Vatican.  JJ’s mother let us stay in a hotel that night, for his birthday, which was very nice of her.  On the last Sunday of every month, the Vatican museum, and St. Peter’s Basilica are FREE.  Arriving, I realized we might not even have a chance to get in either part.  I would guess I easily saw 100,000 people as I got off the metro and got aboveground.  We almost bought a fake tour, until we realized the guy was just trying to steal our money, and hopped in line.  After about 45 minute wait, we got into the Vatican museum!  The real highlight, and only thing I wanted to see in here was the Sistine Chapel.  No pictures were allowed, and it was supposed to be absolutely silent, but hey I was at the Sistine Chapel!  I had to snag a picture.  Here was the best I got.

The creation of Adam

The creation of Adam

SILENCIO! SILENCE! SHHHHHHH!  This was being shouted the entire time we were in there by the security guards.  Once we left, we met some Canadians and realized we missed a once in a lifetime opportunity.  The Pope only gives Mass about once every four-five months and he did it that morning!!  I could not believe it.  Then the lady emailed me a picture and my heart sank.  I would have loved to witness that, even if it was spoken in Italian.  We waited in line to visit St. Peter’s basilica for about an hour and fifteen minutes.  This church was the most and will always be the most marvelous chapel I have ever seen.  

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Yup, me being weird again.

Yup, me being weird again.

Lastly, we finished our vacation by arriving to the airport four hours early… Our flight was delayed because of the horrible storm in London, but we landed at about 2AM.  Because most night buses were closed we were in bed by 415AM but safe!  I didn’t notice any damage in any area around us, but I believe this was one of the worst storms London has had in awhile.  Here are other random photos from Rome.  

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Selfie abilities

Selfie abilities

It was a tiring break

It was a tiring break

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Hehehe

Hehehe

Trevi and Gelato.  I don't even like ice cream!

Trevi and Gelato. I don’t even like ice cream!

Coliseum by night

Coliseum by night

Trevi - Night

Trevi – Night

Trevi - Day

Trevi – Day

Hard Rock Rome

Hard Rock Rome

Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum

Done with midterm!  I will post about my most recent week as soon as possible.  We visited Inns of Court, Lloyds of London, Sigmund Freud House, O’neils pub in Leicester Square, and Kensington Gardens.  And then I realized I should probably focus on some school work!  Love you all,

Tyler

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Florence

To get to Florence we took TrenItalia and it was only about an hour and a half.  I played Minesweeper the entire way on my phone.  Once we got there, we walked to our hostel which looked more like a hotel.  We had a huge room that we were sharing with four other people, but there was a huge bar, pool table, all you can eat breakfast buffet, swimming pool and gym.  It seemed like that was the place to be.  Anyways, we ended up buying a few bottles of wine that night and sat on “the bench.”  Although we didn’t do anything else, I still thought it was really fun just because we were all together drinking wine in Italy.

The next day we explored Florence.  We first went to the Duomo which is a massive church.  Kayla wasn’t allowed in because she was wearing shorts, so JJ, Amelia, and I walked through quickly so she didn’t have to wait outside alone.  It was absolutely beautiful though.

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Next we headed to Piazzale Michelangelo which overlooks the city of Florence and has the David replica.  If I could say only one word about our Italy trip it would be Stairs.  The amount of stairs we walked is astronomical.  We went to the top of almost every building which all had to be climbed, and going to the Piazzale Michelangelo was no different.  I have actually heard some people call it a hike.  The comedy from this was that Amelia really made it known how much she hated stairs.  Here was the view once we sweated our way to the top.

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I really was enjoying it up there, but the sun was in my face in that last picture.  Anyways, that day we covered almost everything with the exception of the real David, which was on our list for one of the following days.  That night we were drinking wine on top of the hostel when we met two interesting people, Caren and Carmen.  One was from Canada and the other from Australia.  Caren had been traveling for 6 months already, and had no future plans of returning home.  She basically would go to a city, stay as long as she needed, and then would pick the next place to go, with no plans whatsoever.  I thought this was insane.  And she was 20! Her plan was to graduate college hopefully by the time she is thirty, but didn’t know when she would start.  She did recommend though that we try MedSailors, which is a type of island hopping program that I would love to do one day.

Next day we did the Duomo tour and Kayla was wearing pants this time.  There is actually a church beneath the Duomo which they discovered recently.  The original church was built in the 600’s I believe.  We also got to climb the Duomo, which seemed to be built for a five year old.  The walls were so narrow that only one person could walk up or down at a time and the ceiling was a few inches higher than my head.  This is the first time I had a sense of claustrophobia.

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The old church

The old church

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View from the top

View from the top

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That night we had our nice meal and it was recommended that we try Florentine steak.  Everyone knows I like rare meat, but wow, they definitely have a different interpretation of rare.  JJ’s steak was completely raw on the inside and he ordered medium! The waitress came over and when JJ questioned how well it was cooked she yelled, “This is medium!” She happily brought the steak back to get cooked more which helped a little bit.

That day I noticed three little bumps on my hand.  I thought it was nothing, but they itched quite a bit.  We ran into Caren and Carmen that night, and one of them told me she got bitten up really badly by bed bugs.  Her shouldered had so many little bites, it was quite disgusting.  I thought since I only had three little bumps it must have been something else, and I didn’t want to freak the girls out.  The next morning though I did noticed three more bites right above my butt.  Definitely a bed bug, and thankfully not more of them.  As much as they itched, we checked out before I told Kayla and Amelia who were very happy we were leaving that day.  That was the day we went and saw the real David.  It was eleven euro to get in the tiny museum, but well worth it.  There were a lot of plaster molding replicas of statues in the museum, but then we finally saw what we were there for.  The first thing you notice is how big the statue is.  It towers over everything else, and we weren’t supposed to take pictures, but I managed to take a quick one.  If you are up close to the statue and had a ladder, you would notice that his hands and other features of the statue are disproportionate.  Michelangelo knew this, but wanted to have the statue placed somewhere high and so from the ground, it looks correct.  I cannot believe the detail that was put into that statue, but it was remarkable.

David

David

 

That was my version of Florence summed up.  I also did find my favorite statue.  Once I saw it, I was stunned.  If anyone can somehow find this as a poster it would be a great Christmas gift and I would be so happy.  I believe the title of the statue is called Perseus and Medusa.  Here are a few photos.

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I do not own the rights to this photo.

I do not own the rights to this photo.

Pretty graphic, but I still think it is the coolest statue I have ever seen.  Okay! One more city to go! Hopefully, I will catch up blogging today but we will see.

 

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