Buda + Pest

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Parliament So, I’ve been SUPER slow on posting blogs about my recent adventures, but you know what that means…there will be a bunch of them in the next few days! Happy reading!

Monday, 15 April 2013: I am the “Trip Advisor” for the Museum Studies Society at my school, which meant that I had the pleasure of planning and heading an international trip for the society! We ventured from Leicester to Budapest, Hungary.

Parliament

I personally think that this city (well, technically cities) is one of the most under-rated places to go–it was AMAZING! I cannot recommend it as a destination enough! And, it was even better because I was able to see where my family originated!

We arrived in Budapest and instantly began to explore the city. We attempted to go on a walking tour of the city, but could not find the meeting point for the tour, which was okay because we ended up wandering and seeing most of the city anyway!

Matthias ChurchWe first visited Castle Hill, and somehow ended up walking through the tunnel that goes through the hill onto the other side where we proceeded to climb up the hill. The view from the top of the two cities was absolutely breath-taking!

Once at the top, we spotted a beautiful church, which turned out to be Matthias Church, and decided to go in to see it. The church was originally constructed at that location in 1015, and what is there today, is absolutely stunning. The intricate detail in the roof on the exterior and interior was amazing. The interior of the church was fantastic, and there were numerous plaques posted around the room to learn about the history of the building and some of the sculptures inside. Fun fact: When Budapest was taken over by the Turks in the 1500s, the church was transformed into a mosque.

Next, we climbed up the Fisherman’s Bastion, which has one of the best panoramic views of the Pest side. I would completely agree with their claim for best view. It was so cool to see so much of the city and river from one vantage point.

Museum Studies Society GroupAfter we explored Buda Hill to our hearts’ content, we walked down the hill and across the Chain Bridge to find a place to eat that would over-look the Danube River. Overall, it was a wonderful (although somewhat exhausting) first day in Budapest!

More adventures to come soon! Follow me on Twitter @amyestone12 or Instagram @amyestone12 for pictures and updates on my upcoming trip to Canterbury and the White Cliffs of Dover!

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Spring in the air in London

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Spring in LondonSunday, 14 April 2013: Sunday was the day before our group trip to Budapest, so to not only make traveling a bit simpler and also to have a day out, one of the girls from the trip and I went to London for the day!

Weirdly enough, within 10 minutes of being in the city and on our way to see our first sights of the day, we were approached by a man (whom we ended up chatting with for 35 minutes) who was actually from Budapest. He was a diplomat (we’re 99.9% positive) who was representing Hungary and was based in London. Talk about a man who has had an interesting life! He was absolutely fascinating! We learned so much from our chat with him, and it was totally worth standing for 35 minutes on the street with him.

Houses of ParliamentAfter our friendly chat, we walked toward Westminster and the Houses of Parliament, then around Parliament, across the river and back down the other side all the way to the Tower of London. We walked a lot! But at least there were great sites and pictures to be seen and taken!

Along our walk, we stopped to see the Globe Theatre, which was really cool to see in person! (Even though it is a recreation of the original and we didn’t end up touring it).
The Globe Tower of LondonWe then explored the Tower of London. I thought it was so much fun to see the crown jewels (they’re so shiny!) and it was really nice because there were no lines in the entire facility since it was not the summer tourist season (this is the time of the year to travel there…not in the middle of July or August).

After we fully explored the Tower, we headed to the Natural History Natural History MuseumMuseum, where we did a whirl-wind tour of the fantastic museum. And of course, we definitely explored the Dinosaur exhibit (which is awesome). After that we headed to the bus station to meet our friend and catch the bus to the hotel before our flight out to Budapest
in the morning!

Last Days Living Like the Irish

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Hill of Tara

Thursday, 4 April 2013: 
This day was honestly filled with a lot of driving, but at least we were driving through one of the most beautiful places God created.

We started our visits that day at the Hill of Tara (pictured above). Tara was supposedly where about 142 kings reigned. One of the mounds was constructed around 2500BC, which is pretty cool. After climbing a lot of the hills, we headed back to the van and ventured on through Ireland to our next stop, Clonmacnoise.Clonmacnoise

Clonmacnoise is monastic ruins from the mid-6th century. The beautiful ruins were located on the water, and honestly if I were to build a monastery, I would have built it there also if for no other reason than that it is gorgeous there.

Galway

GalwayFinally, we reached the city of Galway, where we spent the remainder of the day walking around and exploring. This beautiful city was located on the coast, so most of the rest of the day was spent wandering along the coastline. We even made friends with a Herring who was meandering on the sidewalk. That night we ate in Salthill at a cool pub and headed back to the hostel before our early start the next day.

Oh, and while I was sleeping that night, my alma mater made me proud. The Baylor University Men’s Basketball team WON, yes, they won at NIT.  Sic ’em bears.Sic 'em Bears! Aillwee Cave

Friday, 5 April 2013: Friday, we headed to Aillwee Cave for the morning. This beautiful cave has really cool calcite formations and underwater waterfall, but Aillwee Cave is most famous for being one of the oldest caves in Ireland and having the remains of a bear hibernation hole and bear skeleton.

Aillwee CaveOur next stop of the day was to the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs were amazing and absolutely breathtaking. I wish we had had more time at the cliffs to explore–the cliffs are easily a place that you could spend most of your day at. Cliffs of Moher

The next part of our day was spent driving to Killarney, where we spent our last night in Ireland. In Killarney, we explored the Killarney National Park and the city center. That night we went to an excellent pub for dinner and then headed to Danny Mann’s pub for live music, where of course we all ordered some sort of Irish drink to toast with to our wonderful time in Ireland.Killarney National Park

Saturday, 6 April 2013: Sadly, Saturday was our last day in Ireland. We started our day by visiting Blarney Castle, which is filled with amazing history. Naturally, we partook in the kissing of the Blarney Stone–the Stone of Eloquence and wished on the Wishing Steps in the Rock Close.

Blarney CastleAfter our visit to Blarney Castle, we ventured onward to Cork for a few hours. We ate lunch at a cute little pub in the city and then explored Cork for a bit. We even came across a Capoeira show in the center of town, which was really cool to see!

And that was the end of our travels to Ireland!

This week I will be in Budapest, follow me onInstagram at amyestone12 or on Twitter @amyestone12 for cool pics and facts about Budapest!

Climbing Giant’s Causeway

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Carrick-a-RedeWednesday, 3 April 2013: 
Wednesday morning, we took a bus tour with Paddywagon Tours to the Giant’s Causeway. I cannot recommend this tour group enough! Our bus driver was hysterical and just filled with really awesome facts along the way!

Here are some of the cool facts we learned as we passed each place:

  1. The Europa Hotel in Belfast has been bombed 32 times, the most of any hotel in the world, and they have found over 200 bombs–its in the world record book.
  2. The Game of Thrones is filled at Titanic Studios in Belfast–they are always looking for extras just FYI
  3. Carrick-a-Rede Rope BridgeBallymena is the home town of Liam Neeson
  4. According to our tour guide, the Kennedy family destroyed a Fairy Fort on their land in order to sell it and move to America (Irish folklore says if you destroy a Fairy Fort then you will have good luck but the next 7 generations of your family will have bad luck). Guess what, the Kennedy’s are on their 7th generation right now…
  5. Shebel Hill is where St. Patrick tended his flock of sheep before he was captured and sold

After our tour of Northern Irish countryside, we reached Carrick-a-Rede, which is where my adventure of the day really began! Carrick-a-Rede is an absolutely gorgeous area on the coast, and it has a rope bridge that connects the cliffs to the land over the sea–and yeah, I totally walked across it! It was absolutely terrifying and awesome!

Carrick-a-Rede

Our next stop was the Giant’s Causeway. Giant's CausewayMy new friend that I met on this trip (and I must say, she is the biggest blessing to have met over here) and I throughly explored the Giant’s Causeway, climbing as many of the really cool rocks as we could. We even (and I still cannot believe that we did this) climbed the cliff to see the Giant’s Causeway from high up. I have to brag on us–we climbed the cliff, yes CLIFF (that cliff in the picture to the right), in 10 minutes flat. I had originally said I could go up the incline but that my knees might give out on the Cliff we climbed at Giant's Causewaystairs so no to the last bit of the cliff, but as Brittany began to run up them for a “quick look,” I started to follow shouting “Just don’t stop moving and I’ll keep following!” I couldn’t feel my bad knee by the time we reached the top (and honestly, I couldn’t really breathe either…that’s what I get for running up stairs at high altitude) but I cannot tell you how worth the pain/numbness it was. The view was AMAZING! If you are ever at the Giant’s Causeway, climb the cliff (or at least take the path from behind the visitor center to the cliff and walk down it). It was absolutely breathtaking.
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Our last stop for the day on the tour was at Dunluce Castle. There is a cave system underneath the castle that was used by the owners of the castle throughout history for different things, but this cave system is actually causing the castle to fall into the ocean because of its instability. Dunluce Castle
To top off one of the best days in Ireland so far, Karoline, Brittany and I went to dinner at the Elms (a really good pub) where we proceeded to tell hysterical pranking stories. We were laughing so hard that the bar tender was laughing at us when he came by our table. After dinner we went to Robinsons Fibber Magees for live Irish music. The band was fantastic, and we even got to witness Brittany dance with the cutest 80 year old man at the pub! This day in Ireland was absolutely my favorite, and I wouldn’t trade the memories for anything.

More Irish adventures to come soon!

This next week I will be in Budapest, follow me on Instagram at amyestone12 or on Twitter @amyestone12 for cool pics and facts about Budapest!

Belfast Adventures

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Belfast docksTuesday, 2 April 2013: Tuesday marked the beginning of our adventures in Belfast in Northern Ireland. After a little mis-hap with the bus stop (apparently we were not at the right one and missed our original bus to Belfast) but at least we still got there!

Once we arrived, we were starving, so we wandered closer to the city center from our hostel, where we were recommended by a local to try Whites Tavern, which is supposedly the oldest tavern in Belfast, being built in 1630. I got a fantastic mint lamb roast–it was absolutely delicious and absolutely a wonderful recommendation!

After that, we walked toward Belfast City Hall, where my sweet friend and her brother came and gave us a quick tour of Belfast! They took us to the observation tower in the shopping center, where you could see all of Belfast! It was absolutely breath-taking to see all of the mountains surrounding that beautiful city.

Observation Deck ViewAfter our adventures with my friend and her brother, we set out to see some more of the city, including St. Anne’s Cathedral, St. Patrick’s Church, and make our way toward the Titanic Museum and docks. Well, lets just say we were trying to take the “most direct route” there, but ended up getting horribly lost and walking about 2 extra miles to get there. BUT we finally did get there after some help from some locals (who laughed at how not close we were when we asked for directions, at least they pointed us in the right direction).

Titanic MuseumOnce we reached the docks, we were all taken aback by the beauty of the mountains in the background of Belfast’s skyline. We also were able to be in the last group that was admitted to the Titanic Museum–which, I must say was a really cool museum to see!

Belfast City HallIt was a crazy day seeing as much of Belfast as we could, but we actually managed to see most of it in only a few hours!

More Irish adventures to come soon!

This next week I will be in Budapest, follow me on Instagram at amyestone12 or on Twitter @amyestone12 for cool pics and facts about Budapest!

Luck of the Irish

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Trinity CollegeSunday, 31 March 2013: At 4:00 a.m. on this Easter morning, I met with 13 other students to head to the airport for a week-long trip to Ireland. I have never been more thankful that I didn’t over-sleep through that meet time. It was an amazing trip, and completely worth not sleeping the night before. I loved Ireland and already miss it.

When we arrived, we were all starving, so our group set out to find a place for lunch. We found a good cafe, and while we were eating, a parade honoring the 1916 Irish rising in Dublin started to line up. They even had people playing the bagpipes! It was awesome.Trinity College LibraryThe first day in Ireland was spent in Dublin. My friend and I took a walk around the city. We wandered around Dublin and happened upon Trinity College, and we just happened to arrive just as the tour was about to start so we decided to join in. It was so cool. The tour guide was a very knowledgeable student at the university and after the 30 minute tour of the college, we got to see the Book of Kells and the Trinity College Library.
Trinity College Library

After we toured the library, we walked around a bit and wandered over to the National Gallery of Ireland. There we saw amazing paintings including those by painters of the Irish school, European masterpieces (including Rembrandt, Picasso, Van Gogh, Renoir and many more). It was a wonderful museum filled with stunning pieces.

Next, even though we were absolutely exhausted (we had to keep going, it was only like 4:00 p.m. so we obviously couldn’t go to bed even though we might have wanted to) we went to the National Library of Ireland. There, this beautiful building housed a William Butler Yeats exhibition, which was really cool and had many interactive aspects to it.

That night I joined three others from my group and we went out to hear music (and to keep ourselves awake until at least 10:00 p.m.) at Porterhouse Brewing Company by Trinity College. It was a wonderful first day in Ireland!

And Ireland just got better from there.

Dublin Castle

Monday, 1 April 2013: The second day in Ireland, and last day in Dublin, was amazing. My friend and I decided to join a free tour group and take a 3 hour walking tour of Dublin with SANDEMAN’s. It was such an amazing decision. We saw some many sites in Dublin that we would have never seen, and we learned some really cool history along the way.

My favorite facts that I learned about Dublin:

1. “Dracula” was written there

2. U2 started out in Dublin–and Bono still comes to play charity concerts or just impromptu concerts sometimes

3. The Vikings were not the first to settle there–the Druids were

After the tour, we grabbed lunch with some people from our tour at a local pub. After lunch, we walked over to Christ Church Cathedral and went to the Viking Museum there. Weirdly, somehow we got separated in the museum and each of us waited for each other for 45 minutes in different exit points (oh, and they were about 50 feet away from each other) but we never saw each other. We even got back to our hostel about 3 minutes apart. It was such a fail–and each of us was beginning to wonder if the other had been taken in the museum (thankfully that was not the case). 
Dublin Music Pub CrawlThat night, we met up with one other girl from our group, and the three of us went on a  Music Pub Crawl with the SANDEMAN’s, tour company from that afternoon. We went to some really cool pubs–including two owned by Bono! We heard some amazing live Irish music and even heard a contestant on “The Voice” perform at Porterhouse. The night was a perfect end to our time in Dublin.

More Irish adventures to come soon!

Toads Designing Exhibits

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Price of Beauty Close Up viewMonday, 18 March 2013: This past Monday was especially wonderful. On Monday night, the University of Leicester School of Museum Studies held the opening exhibition party for “Fragile Earth.” For this exhibition, the school divided all of the students into various groups, all with names of endangered species. I was in the Toad group.IMG_2904

The Toad Design Group was probably one of the most fun things I have ever been a part of–we all worked well together and had a blast making an amazing display for the exhibition. We dubbed our display, “The Price of Beauty”–and personally I think that with the really cool stands, the awesome black background and map, we really were able to create an exhibit that showed how beautiful the minerals are. Toad Design Group

Our group was given 15 minerals to choose from–we decided to use 9 of these 15 in the end. We were able to borrow clamps, bosses and stands from the University of Leicester Chemistry Department. And personally, I think they made our display case look absolutely amazing!

Our group designed a website (Click here if you want to see it!) and a Twitter to keep people updated and keep a dialogue going between us and our followers.

Price of Beauty Installation Team
After many meetings over the weeks and days leading up to installation, three of our team volunteered to install the exhibit. I must say, I am so very thankful for these two wonderful ladies and how much fun it was installing!

Price of Beauty

Monday night was a celebration of all of the Museum Studies students’ hard work. And, I must say, every single one of the displays looked fantastic! Thanks everyone for all of your help with the party and awesome job on all of the displays!

Bath, Museums & Charles Dickens

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Monday, March 11, 2013: Today was the day that I submitted my dissertation proposal. It’s official, the madness has begun. Hopefully it will not be the end of me. At least my week got better from there.

BathTuesday, March 12, 2013: Today, three colleagues and I ventured to Bath, the city where we will be for our summer placement!

We left early this morning for Bath (I must add, in the freezing cold–and with some snow), finally reaching the beautiful city around noon where we will be located for the last section of our Master’s degree.

Our placement will be at the Roman Baths. I will be working with the Learning and Programmes team for the Bath Heritage Services, primarily at the Roman Baths and also at the Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery! I will be working primarily with learning and outreach programs! I cannot tell you how excited I am! This placement is going to be absolutely fantastic and Bath is a wonderful city to be located!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013: Today, three of us from my exhibition design team, the Toad Design Group, installed our display case for the University of Leicester School of Museum Studies exhibition, “Fragile Earth.” Our exhibit is titled, “The Price of Beauty” and explores the ethical questions and implications of mining minerals.

You should check out our “toadily” (I apologize, I couldn’t resist) rad website!

Price of Beauty Price of Beauty

Price of Beauty Installation Team

I cannot begin to express how proud I am to have been a part of such a fantastic team for our design project, and I must say installing this exhibit with these girls was so much fun and it turned out wonderfully!

Thursday, March 14, 2013: Today, my friends and I ended the day a bit differently than usual. We went to see Charles Dickens’ great-great-grandson theatrically present “An Evening with Charles Dickens.”

It was so cool.

And we are some of the few people who can say they have seen a performance like this–which just makes it that much cooler. And, it was a wonderful end to a very relaxing day.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s big band performance by one of my friends here to sum up a very exhausting, but wonderful, week.

For funny things and stories that don’t make it onto my blog, follow me on Twitter @amyestone12

Happy TEXAS Independence Day y’all!

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Saturday, March 2, 2013: Today is the 177th anniversary of Texas’ declaration of independence from Mexico.

Today, on March 2, 1836, Texas’ delegates wrote the Texas Declaration of Independence, officially declaring Texas free from Mexico. Fun fact, it was written overnight. The convention convened on March 1, 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos, and presented the declaration for independence on March 2, 1836.

Independence was found with the capture of Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto in April 1836. Santa Anna signed the Treaties of Velasco on May 14, 1836, officially ending the war for independence between Texas and Mexico.

My favorite quote from Davy Crockett, my favorite honorary Texan: “You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas.” Yes, this amazing Tennessee man came to fight and gave his life, with many others, for the independence of Texas at the Battle of the Alamo.

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Remember the Alamo. If you’re ever in San Antonio, Texas, I highly recommend visiting the Alamo mission–it is a fantastic museum and story of amazing valor and courage of the men who gave their lives for Texas.

Just FYI, I am totally celebrating Texas in England today. I firmly believe that God blessed Texas. If you haven’t been able to tell yet, I am completely obsessed with Texas and could not be more proud to be Texas born and Texas bred.

May God bless you and keep you all the days of your life and may you know the infinite wisdom and love that He gives us all.

Happy Texas Independence Day, y’all!