Saturday, Josh had to leave to go back to Germany because of Half - term. I really had only expected him to be able to stay until Tuesday morning, so the extra half of a week ( doubling his time in London!) was such a great time. I was really so, so pleased he got to stay so long. He didn't leave thankfully til Saturday afternoon, so in the morning we took the train over to Hyde Park. It had been such a sunny week in the UK - Josh actually lucked out a lot with the weather. So off we went to the Park,
which was full of people jogging, skating, and just out and about with their families. I was really excited because I hadn't taken any photos all week, and so we took some while we were in the park. We found a really beautiful tree which was somewhere between a plum blossom and a cherry blossom.
There was only one in the park, and it was all white and fluffy and lovely! After, we went to the Serpentine, and sat on a bench for a while and took some photos. But, it was pretty cold, and we headed home and had lunch at Nando's before I had to send him home via Heathrow!
I have actually never been to London Zoo. I've been a lot of touristy places in this city, but I've never been there. Josh and I both love Zoos, so we decided it was probably a good idea for our date day. Josh and I had mainly just hung out at my apartment during the week ( terribly similar to
Paris!) so we needed to get out and about! I loved the giraffes and the meerkats especially, because we were able to see them up close. Plus, we got to see a sloth, which made Josh super happy! It was a morning where I had class in the afternoon, so we weren't there for hours, but it was a lovely day to just spend together.
On Thursday, we left the European Astronaut Centre, and headed north very, very early in the morning for ESTEC, which is another part of ESA, but more to do with science and technology rather than the astronauts itself. It was a great, but short visit and really a great chance to hang out with my friends!
While we were at ESA, we did a couple of payload training sessions, as well as a gruelling physiotherapy session which is akin to something that astronauts have to go through upon arriving back on earth from their time in space. It certainily was tough on me! Close to the end of our time, we had a demonstration
of the Aouda X space suit analog which is being designed by the Austrian Space Forum. It was a really cool demonstration, and we learnt a lot about what they do at their volunteer-driven organization, along with some practical fun - driving little rovers and even trying to tie our shoes with space suit gloves! At the end, we all were able to pose for a photo with one of the astronauts - which makes for a super cool photo!
Our trip to Cologne was all about visiting the European Space Agency's European Astronaut Centre, which is located on the base of the DLR, the German Space Agency. We got bussed in every day, and sat through tons and tons of lectures and tours around the facilities. On one of the first few days, we got to visit
the Neutral Buoyancy facility, which is one of the cooler places in the building. It allows astronauts to train inside a space suit and practice making sorties outside of the International Space Station. Because the European Space Agency has a dedicated lab
up on the space station, the Columbus module, they are also in charge of training all the astronauts a) how to use the module, which they do in their training hall and b) how to do maintenence on it. They also are in charge of a kind of "pre" training for extra vehicular activities - EVAs, before all the astronauts head to Houston. We got to visit and hear lots about it while we were there!
As part of my course, we got to take a week long business trip to the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne. We stayed at a great youth hostel in the middle of town, so every night we were able to go out and explore the city! This view was just across the road and along a little bridge leading right into the centre of the town.
While Shelby was visiting, we ended up taking a super long bus, and did lots of walking to get around the tubes being closed. We spent some time looking in the second hand book stores - and then we walked a REALLY REALLY long way to get to Leicester Square and go to China Town. Since China Town strings up lanterns
for the Lunar New Year, I desperately wanted to go and take some photos. I had taken some great photos years and years ago - but it was great to spend time there, and we bought some good yummy things from the Japan Centre and all the stores selling my favourite Japanese things!
Shelby has just started at Exeter, and I haven't been able to see her much, but she did get some time off to visit London recently. She did happen to come right when the tube strike was on - and it was horrible getting around London that day - and raining - but we did get to do a little bit of shopping and also get Wagamama's for lunch! I took this cute photo of Shelby when we finally got to a train station WITH a train coming!
In my entire time at University in Bristol, I never visited Cheddar Gorge. I'm not really sure why. I even had a car in the last two years and I never went. Which seems a bit ridiculous now I think about it! So Alex, Sarah and I headed out to Cheddar. We went to lots of little cheese shops - and I especially loved all the chilli cheese varieties they had! We stopped in a few old fashioned sweet shops for Sarah, and drove through the Gorge, stopping at a few spots for photos along the way!
After seeing Alex, and learning that he might be off to Montreal soon, I decided to visit him and Sarah in Bristol. It was the first time I had been back in 3 years! It rained most of my visit, but we did have a good trek around the downs and down through Clifton Village.