Le Avventure Di Sophia Graf

My thrilling adventures in Europe!

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Queue

This is the length of the queue at Waterstone's bookstore in Edinburgh when we arrived.

Getting THE BOOK

My Great Aunt Ellen
The main point of our trip to Edinburgh was to get the last (sniff, sniff) Harry Potter book by way of an authentic stay-up-till-midnight-release thing. Well, we stayed up till 11, then drove to the bookstore (which happened to be right next to the hotel that JKR wrote the last words in and wrote the secret message (something about "here I, JKR, finished the last Harry Potter book on .....") on a bust of Hadrian. Some people tried to make it connect to the book by saying that there was a guy in history whoose last name was Severus and who defeated Hadrian and therefore it was a clue to who was going to die (they thought it was Severus Snape)) We started walking to the end of the queue (line) and walked for about a minute, then turned the corner, walked for another minute, then thankfully found the end of the line. We shivered as draughts (drafts) came from the alleyway we stood next to, our 45 minute vigil only broken by the shout of "car!" occasionally, to which replied by squishing ourselves together to let the car through the alleyway. We were supposedly only going to have to stand in that alley for a half hour, since the store would open at 11.30, but it actually didn't open until 11.45, at which time we made it a couple yards forward out of the alleyway, but not to the corner.
The famous hotel on the right
At midnight the line started moving, but we didn't make it into the store until about 1.30. There was a pile of books just sitting there, and it all seemed far too easy. . . so I just picked up a book and could have started reading it then and there, but I felt that after the two and a half hours of waiting it deserved a proper ceremony. Even so, it wouldn't hurt . . . just the first few pages . . . . . .

Anyways, I was going to call someone while in line, and boast that I was getting to book 8 hours before you guys!!!!!! but my dad was out of minutes. oh well. Now I'm on Page 331 (halfway through the book) and plan to finish it today if my mom doesn't ban it and make us wait until the whole family can read it together (they're on page 100 or something, it's not going to happen). The book makes to reader like a werewolf, completely inconsiderate of even there friends, some who would bite their "best mate." Thomas and I are mostly civil about it, we switch turns after each chapter, but my mom is being unreasonable!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

New Harry Potter Book!

Monday, July 16, 2007


On the way to our hotel room in Milan, we took 8 kinds of transportation. They were:

  1. Car (an 1 1/2 drive from Hungerford to the long term car park)

  2. Shuttle (from the car park to the airport)

  3. Escalator (in the airport)

  4. Peoplemover (a moving sidewalk in the airport)

  5. Airplane

  6. Bus (from the airplane to the airport)

  7. Train (from the airport to the subway)

  8. Milan Subway (to the hotel)

  9. Elevator (to the hotel room)

I had Italian pizza for the first time that night. the cheese is really good and the crust is cracker thin and crunchy, but it still has a crust. My favorite part about Italian pizza is that about half of their pizzas have prosciutto.

Milan is basically just a big city. It's not quite as tall as New York, but it's almost as big. Anthony's favorite thing was the streetcars, which follow basically the same lines as the subway but is more limited. It's nicer than a subway, though, since it's above ground.

Things we saw in Milan:

  • the Duomo- (Italian for dome, i.e. Cathedral) is extremely Gothic and looks like a drip castle you might make on the beach. I almost wasn't let in because my shorts were shorter than halfway down my thighs. The guard said that if I tied a sweatshirt around my waist then I could get in. It was really big inside, but there were huge columns everywhere that made it like a forest. I saw my first dead saint under the altar, but i forgot his name, San Carlos or something . . .

  • Sant'Ambrogio- was the church that my mom went to when she lived in Milan. We couldn't go inside since it was closed for restoration.

  • Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore- was my mom's old school. we came during the 2 hour lunch break from 11 to 1, so there were students milling around all over the place.
  • Meucci Pizzeria- my mom's favorite pizzeria, located just off Corsa Magenta, with student prices!
  • The Galleria- a long shopping area connecting the Duomo with La Scala, the opera house. the center houses a Louis Vuitton, a Prada, and, you'll never believe this, a Mcdonalds McCafe. We hd gelato at a nice resturaunt (my first time to have real gelato), then looked around Prada, took a picture, and were told, "no peekture" by an employee, and left.



Our trip to Italy from the 3 through the 11 of July was a humongous. We went to Milan, Venice, and finally Rome in the nine days we spent there. Since there is so much to write about, I will split up the posts into the different locations.
The reason we went to Italy is because my mom stayed in Milan for one year of college and she wanted to go visit again while we were so close (not to mention for the pizza!). Our days in Milan were spent finding her old favorite resturaunts and such, while in Venice and Rome we did more touristy things. I was rather surprised to find that the Italians hadn't really figured out how milk the tourists for money. There were several places that could have made far more money if they had just stayed open for three more hours!

Harry Potter

On the 18th we are taking the train to Edinborough to visit my dad's aunt and uncle and for the release of the LAST HARRY POTTER BOOK! We're going to go to the release party (one of those things where you go to a book store all dressed up and do Harry Potter things until midnight when you get your books) for the first time. We're also going to go to both of the coffee shops that claim to be the spots where Rowling wrote the books. We'll see the new movie there too, since Hungerford doesn't have a "cinema."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sophie's Room

The long-awaited tour of my room.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

London Day Trip

On Saturday we went to London for a day trip. We left on the 9.43 train from Hungerford and arrived in London an hour later. Since we were planning on having tea in the afternoon, we ate lunch at Paddington Station (yes, where Paddington Bear was found) in a pub that was rather nice for being in a train station. Paddington Station has an entire three story food court, rather like a mall. It includes a Krispy Kream, three cafés (including a Starbucks) a nut and dried fruit store, a pharmacist (or chemist as they say here), a clothes store, one pub, a tie and scarf store, one pub, an ATM machine row, and a Hilton Hotel that extends from the second floor of Paddington to about seven more floors above grounds level. Anyways, after that we went to the Tower of London on the Tube (underground/subway) and rose out of the earth to pouring rain and many steps (we had brought our stroller which was apparently not a good move). We bought admission to the Tower waited to go inside the gate, only to find that it wasn’t like a big building but more like a mini city, so we were still stuck in the rain. We went into the keep (Who of my friends paid attention in social studies? My mom has at least five books on British history and we’ve only been here for a month!), or the central building of a castle, where at least half of the people were sheltering. Guess what the keep, where royalty lived in regular castles, was full of. You’ll never guess, so I’ll just tell you that it was full of weapons, armor, and wooden horses. It had been converted into an armory in about five hundred years ago and housed swords, people armor and horse armor as well as a real chopping block and axe that had been used together. I could see the axe marks on the wood of the chopping block, but there was no dried blood. The wooden horses were part of the Line of Kings, a thing that some king started, possibly Henry VIII, where each king’s horse was carved and stood next to a mannequin with that king’s armor and carved head. The horses were in pretty good condition, but the heads weren’t doing so well. Then we looked at two more floors of weapons and saw a display about Guy Fawkes Day. Guy Fawkes was part of a group of people who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605 (I know this because they’re circulating commemorative two pound coins for the 400th anniversary) but was discovered the day before it happened. With all of its leaders gone, England would have been a mess and would be nothing like it is today. It’s called Guy Fawkes Day because he was the one who was going to light the gunpowder that had been put under the Houses of Parliament. He was a freako Catholic terrorist just like some modern Muslim ones (think 9/11) and was mainly trying to get rid of the Anglican bishops.

After we finished in the White Tower (keep), we went to the Jewel House where the Crown Jewels are kept. We had to wait in line while watching videos of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation through like three rooms. Then we went through vault doors (were they real or just for the tourists?) and saw about ten scepters and some solid gold plates. There was also a coronation dress (I guess that’s what it’s called; it was a cross between a dress and big robes). We got on a people mover (flat escalator) thingie and passed the crowns. There were about ten of them, but the ones that stick out are Queen Victoria’s and Queen Elizabeth’s, as well as the crown used for all of the modern coronations. After we got off that, there were more gold dishes and a giant gold punch bowl about the size of a four-seater restaurant table. The ladle for the punch bowl was as tall as a cane and had a scoop as big as a soup bowl.

We went on the Tube to the London Eye and once again found rain to greet us. Thomas, my dad, and Cindy went on the Eye while the rest of us stayed on firm ground and had hot dogs and gelato. Notice that these are the same groups we divided into for the Empire State Building- the land dwellers and the observers. While the observers were on the London Eye, the land dwellers found my dad’s cousin who grew up in Scotland and last came to the US in ’93 at age seven. My mom was the only land dweller who had ever met him, but since he was a kid then she just started asking random guys. She found him after the fifth guess and we met him and waited for the observers to come off the Eye. Dinner followed at a nice Steak House next to Paddington Station, and then we had coffee and hot chocolate at the Paddington food court. Since the last train to Hungerford had been at 6.00pm, we had to take the 10.20 train to Reading and transfer to the last train to Hungerford. Except it turned out that we missed the transfer by ten minutes.

(dun dun dun duuuhhhh, dun dun dun duuuuhhhhhhh)

Stranded at the Reading train station at 11.00, both my mom and I thought deliriously that we would have to stay overnight at the station. Luckily my dad got us a taxi, except it was 65 pounds ($130) to get to Hungerford and he had already paid the full train fare to Hungerford. I also ended up in the worst seat in the taxi, a little flipdown seat kind of like at a baseball stadium. The only upside was that we didn’t have to walk the 10 minute walk on our sore, exploding feet from the train station to our house. We arrived at about 11.30 and were in bed at midnight. That morning I slept until 9.30, even with the sun shining through my almost nonexistent window shade for five hours.


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