March 1, 2014

March Madness!

I am so excited because I have some really fun things coming up! I was actually shocked to look at my phone this morning and realize that it was already March 1st. I feel like Valentine's Day was just a second ago. My family's visit and our trip to Paris came and went all too quickly, but here we are in March and time is sure to be flying even faster with all of my upcoming adventures.

Four things to be excited for in March...
  • Mackenzie is coming to London!!! I cannot wait to see my best friend abroad and here about all of her amazing adventures in Italy. I seriously cannot picture Mack a world traveler but now she is and I want to hear all about it!! We made her trip even more exciting by booking a tour at the Harry Potter WB Tour with her little Gabby as well. The Harry Potter tour has been on my bucket list since before I even got to England and I was bummed when it filled up over Love London weekend before I even had a chance to make the wait list. But the day is finally upon us! April 4th, 2014 we will be there, woohoo!
  • Now that it's March my trip to Berlin is coming up! I booked it with the school so I am pretty much guaranteed to seeing as much as absolutely possible in my little 72 hour journey. I don't know a soul on the trip so that should be a bit of an adventure in and off itself. I know I would probably never have traveled to Germany any other time in my life so I am eager to seize this opportunity and make the most of it.
  • Lewis and I booked our trip to Dublin about a month ago and since then I've been brainstorming all the fun things we can do there. We specifically chose a hotel with a pool so that we could have as much fun splashing around as we did at the Hyannis Travel Inn this summer, but more excitingly we just booked a day tour to the Cliffs of Moher. They look STUNNING and a couple of movies have even used it as a location (Harry Potter!). I cannot wait for the photo oppritunities that will definitely ensue. 
  • Already Spring Break is less than a week away! On Thursday I am taking a six hour train to Dundee, Scotland to visit one of my best friends from camp, Nicole. We spent ten weeks this summer living in a yurt and working on the waterfront together and I can't believe how much time has already passed since. It will be so good to catch up.

February 17, 2014

Top Ten Coolest Things I've Done in England Since 1/28...

My goodness, its been a long time since I last wrote! For a quick refresher here are the top ten coolest things I've done since January 28th...

1. The London Eye: Oh my god. Amazing. Lewis, Marisa and I went as part of the Love London weekend that SU London puts on. We got reduced price tickets at only ten pounds and a VIP capsule so we didn't have to wait in the long line. The views were INCREDIBLE. We went right at sunset so we were lucky enough to see the sights both in the day light and all lit up once the sun set. The eye was definitely one of my favorite things I have done so far in England and I would definitely suggest it to anyone that is visiting for the weekend.
The beautiful views from the top of the eye
2. Bike Ride Tour: This was also part of Love London weekend and my roommates, Lewis and I all woke up early Saturday morning and took the tube to Westminster to do it. We biked all around the city and saw so many sights that I hadn't even seen before. Our tour guide stopped us every so often and told us a lot of interesting facts. We didn't quite realize how much of the city we had covered until later that day when we were up on the Eye and could look down and see where we had gone.
3. Cambridge Trip: Cambridge WAS SO COOL. The school puts on such fantastic day trips and the fact that they're virtually free is amazing. We met at Faraday at 9am and a bus drove us the 2 hours North to Cambridge. The University was stunning and the whole town felt like the olden times. Everywhere was so historical and castle-y. Kings College Cathedral was stunning. I could not get enough pictures of the stained glass everywhere.
The most delicious homemade pizza
Stunning stained glass windows in the Kings College Cathedral
4. Portobello Market: Reminded me so much of a market version of Brimfield. Hannah, Tycho, and my mom would've LOVED it. So many cool antiques and crafts and a lot of good food. Lewis and I shared a crepe with strawberries and creme... YUM.
Have you ever seen more photogenic pastries?!?

Lewis and I shared a strawberries and creme crepe
 5. Windsor Castle: Last weekend Lewis, James, and I drove to Windsor for a little day trip and explored. Also a beautiful town and would love to get a chance to go back and explore the castle.

6. The BBC Tour: Went with my BBC class this Monday. So cool to see all the studios and where England's news gets made!
7. Westminster Abbey Tour: I think Kings College Cathedral is still my favorite but Westminster was like nothing I had ever seen before.

8. Selfridges: The magazine room, I was in heaven. And there was a Pinkberry, enough said.
9. Rabot 1745: Also part of Love London weekend, we headed to Borough Market and afterwards our lovely tour guides treated us to some VERY posh hot coco at Rabot 1745. The flavors included mint, salted caramel, and chili.
I sampled the mint, yum!
10. Zebrano: Last weekend we ended up accidentally having almost twenty people over before a night out. Lewis invited his roommate from college over and we all ended up at a bar called Zebrano in Soho. Really cool place, REALLY expensive drinks.

And because these past few weeks have been so jam-packed with amazing activities, here are two more... I couldn't resist...

11. Harrod's Lunch: Every piece of food looked better than the rest but I settled on a ham and cheese croissant (getting ready for the real thing in Paris) and a raspberry drink... I'm drooling just remembering it. 
In case the first pic didn't give you a good enough idea of the tastiness of it
12. Greenwich Trip: Lewis and I spent Valentine's Day exploring Greenwich. Despite the rainy weather we had a great day visiting all the free museums and seeing all the sights. My favorite was walking around the Queen's House and seeing the London skyline from the Royal Observatory.
Prime meridian line
Naturally we couldn't resist a hammock pic...

February 9, 2014

Catfish and The Bottlemen - Pacifier

I have so much to write about! The past two weekends have been so full of adventure. Hopefully my favorite new song will keep you at bay...

January 28, 2014

Tuesday Adventures

Being here still feels a little bit like a vacation. The newness of my morning commute is still enjoyable. I find it slightly more exciting than dreadful when the central line breaks down and I'm "forced" to take the scenic bus route through Paddington. I hope that sticks. Today I ended class around two and after my Monday of travel and lectures yesterday I felt the need for an adventure. I'd read about the lesser known branch of the Victoria and Albert Museum--the Museum of Childhood-- in my tourist book and it seemed interesting.
Museum of Childhood
The museum was in East London at a tube stop called Bethnal Green. Not the nicest of places from what I saw but the museum was very easy to spot. At first, besides the gift shop full of vintage inspired toys I didn't really think the museum was worth my time. But as I wandered upstairs I found the display on antique doll houses. OK, I know that sounds really lame but ever since I was little I've always had a serious obsession with miniature houses (does anyone remember Tiny Treasures?!). Tell me these things aren't cool.
Such bad quality picture, but I want this house!
Toy soldiers
Next I decided to be spontaneous and travel to Camden. Besides Borough I hadn't really been to a market yet until today. It was... Something. I was trying so hard not to look as shell-shocked as I was while walking around. It felt like the type of place where a independently touring Kate could get lost and never get found again. I read in the tourist book that it had a big goth/punk section but for some reason I didn't really think that one through. Safe to say I definitely looked a little ridic in my fluffy white Patagonia and leggings. All in all I'm glad I explored today. Although my next trip to Camden I will definitely going to be bringing a boy with me to ease my nerves (hi Lewis).

Camden Market
Next up I want to visit Da Mario's Pizza in Kensington (apparently Princess Di's pizza of choice), Spitalfield's, and the Kew Gardens. So much to see, so little time!

All you need is LΦVΣΣ!

This video is so good it actually makes me miss Syracuse a little. I am really excited to meet all the new sisters!

And we're on Bro Bible! 

January 27, 2014

1 Month Mark

One month ago to this moment I was crammed in my little (teeny, tiny, microscopic) all-red Virgin Atlantic seat about to embark on my five and a half month long journey to England. Trying so hard to sleep, knowing I would definitely need my energy for the adventures to come but being way too jittery and anxious to close my eyes for more than five minutes. It's one of those things where it feels like I've been here forever, but it also feels like it's been no time at all. My awful Fall semester feels like nothing but a bad dream that I've semi-blocked from my memory and it feels like time stopped when I left Boston Logan in August and started again the moment I got to Heathrow.

I literally cannot believe how it has flown.

My weekend in Beccles was exactly what I needed and I think going back allowed me to compare how much I have grown since when I first landed there one month ago to where I am right now.

I've figured out pounds and pence (although not quite figured out how to be a wise spender). How to use the funny plugs. How to stand on the right on the Underground escalators. How to get into the car on the wrong side without automatically going to the driver's side door. How to maneuver the Tube (and kind of the buses). How to use the self-checkouts in all the grocery stores. How to text a little more coherently on my little HTC phone. How to pay rent and how to order coffee ("white Americano"). How to plan and book a vacation in a foreign country (Dublin!). How to determine which Starbucks, McDonalds, Costa's, Pret's, and Eat's will give you free WiFi. To avoid the Covent Garden Tube station (no more elevators for me). How to walk to the Quay, order fish and chips, and which Cadbury's are the best.

And that's only been a month. 

The Language of Flowers

I love reading but I usually only remember how much I love reading in the summer, when I spend more of my time un-wired and actually have time to read. 

My mom bought me this book for Christmas and I didn't have the chance to read it until this past week in London because we (still!) don't have WiFi in our flat and luckily the work load while studying abroad is just as much of a joke as you probably thought it was.

This book was so different than anything I've read in a long while and it definitely got me back on a serious reading kick, now I just need my free London library membership to come through!

January 24, 2014

Ran Away for the Weekend

Yesterday after class I took the tube to Liverpool Street and boarded my train up to Suffolk. I'd only been in London two weeks but was already missing the comfort of the country and I think my 11:30am sleep in proves that the hustle of living in the city takes a lot more out of you than you realize. Can't wait to relax, have a Sepping's sausage roll, and hopefully carry on with my search to see a peacock.

January 22, 2014

England Week Four

I am absolutely in love with Kensington Gardens. I have to say I really hated the look of Bayswater when I first saw it. Our flat was ugly and gray and the area seemed loud and overcrowded compared to the other prettier areas of London I had seen before. It's safe to say I was pretty nervous to leave Bloomsbury, which had become so familiar, for our new neighborhood.

When we arrived on Friday though I think it's safe to say I wasn't the only one who was pleasantly shocked by how much our landlord had cleaned up. It looked miles better. Since Friday my roommates and I have spent all our free time exploring the area and to say I judged it waaaaay too harshly is an understatement. Our street is one delicious looking restaurant after another.

A Waitrose grocery store is directly under our building. We have a little mall with my personal favorite food shop--Mark's and Spencer's--right next door. But the absolute best part is how close we are to my new favorite spot, Kensington Gardens. I love all of Hyde Park... I think Southwold and Beccles are still my favorite places in all of England so far but this park definitely takes the title as far as London spots go.

It's like my own little Waban walk all the way in the UK...everything that I didn't have in Syracuse. This morning I even had time to have a leisurely jog around the Serpentine lake before my BBC class. So beautiful. Can't wait to walk around here with Lewis when he comes in a few weeks and with my family in February.

The Italian Gardens, so beautiful.
The absolute best morning run around the Serpentine.
The roommates

January 14, 2014

England, Week Two and Three!

WOW it is actually scary how time has flown since I have been here. I am absolutely in love with England. Tons has happened since I last wrote, but it honestly feels like a blink since my first week here. Insane.

After me and Lewis's day trip to London last Saturday things did quiet down a little. On Monday he had to return to Uni and I was left to fend for myself. Not really though because me and Sonia had adventures (aka walking all over beautiful Beccles). Tuesday he had the day off and we could finally celebrate our six month anniversary (seven months minus four days). We went for a long walk and headed into Norwich for dinner and a movie. We saw Anchorman 2 and had dinner at a little Italian place. It was so nice to finally be able to do normal couple things like that together.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I spent mostly working on my abroad journal and doing a lot of walking around town. Thursday Sonia and I drove to Lowestoft (sp?) to walk along the beach and see the primary school that Lewis would be teaching at for the rest of the year.

Saturday Lewis and I ventured back into London with alllllll of my billion pounds worth of luggage... rough. To make it even more challenging the "lift" at the Travelodge was broken and our room was on the fifth floor. Our arms were incredibly sore to say the least. Other than that minor detail Saturday was awesome. Unlike our last London trip the weather Saturday was perfect. Sunny and mild temperatures-- a perfect day to see and do everything.

We started the day by heading to Borough Market to see if it was worth the hype. It definitely was. It was a Saturday so it was a little too crowded to fully enjoy, but the food looked, smelled, and tasted AMAZING. We had already had lunch so we just stuck to samples and dessert. I'll definitely back with an empty stomach more than once in the next couple of months.
Lewis got a gigantic fudge brownie and I sampled the carrot cake, yummmm.
Afterwards we tried to venture over to an ice sculpture festival that was happening at Carnaby (I think...) Wharf but it was also way too crowded. However, we did get to see one ice sculpture being made and we even got to try to do some sculpting ourselves.

After that we literally went EVERYWHERE. Trafalgar Square, Oxford Circus, Coven Garden, literally everything. We saw all the scenes at Embankment in the sunny day time but we also were able to see it again at the end of our night when Big Ben struck nine and everything was lit up and beautiful. Definitely one of the best moments of the day.
Such a beautiful scene.
We spent at least two hours walking in circles trying to find Chipotle which was a total fail. Instead we ended up going to a restaurant that was exactly like Chipotle called Bennito's Hat. It was so delicious and just what we needed at the moment because after the completely failed search for Chipotle we were both getting pretty hangry. The only downside was we decided to splurge on the two for one happy hour deal that ended at 7pm. We ordered our drinks at 6:45 and literally did not get them until 7:45. Not exaggerating. But, we didn't have anywhere to be and we made some new friends in the waiting process so it was all fine in the end.

Bennito's hat burrito bowl.
I don't know if I had mentioned it before but I REALLY wanted to see a pheasant while I was in Beccles. On the drive back to Lewis's on the very first day one darted out in front of the car but that was the only one I had seen all vacation even though we literally searched and searched. But on Saturday as we were waiting for the train to London (my actual last moments in Beccles) we saw a dog chasing one down the sidewalk. After dinner on Saturday we wound up at the Jack Wills sale and I made my first purchase of my trip; a beautiful pheasant t-shirt. I love it. Its gonna crack me up every time I put it on.
I couldn't find the girls version of this top but it looks like this and I love it haha
After a really long, but really fun day, we walked along the River Thames enjoying my first ever McFlurry. It was such a perfect end to a really great day.

Sunday Lewis and I dragged my luggage all the way from Liverpool Station to Tottenham Court Station, down the five flights of stairs, through the streets, through the tube, and all the way to St. Giles Bloomsbury. Holy shit, it was the work out of a lifetime. After that we were pretty much dead so we lounged around and finished watching The Wolf of Wall Street. Great movie, but reallyyyyyy long. Still worth watching though. He was such a Dad walking me around pointing out all the places I could eat lunch and buy groceries and take out money and I was so sad when he had to leave. I didn't realize how weird it would be to be alone for the first time after such an jam packed and AMAZING two weeks.

Luckily Monday I was able to meet up with another friend from camp who is studying abroad here. But not until after I had a A Very Traumatizing Experience on the St. Giles elevator...or 'lift.'

I finally got over my lonliness of being in London without Lewis, or anyone else I knew for that matter, and decided to start my day with a walk down Oxford Street to shop. I got all dressed up and was finally ready to go. So I got on the elevator. There was my first mistake.

A big family gets on and also a couple. We go down the first floor alright and then, nothing.

Really nothing, it just stopped moving. We all kind of waiting about fifteen seconds and then we kind of realized what was happening. Long story short we were probably in there for about ten minutes...the last two of which we lost electricity and the air conditioning turned off and we were standing crammed in the pitch blackness of the elevator. Honestly it was horrific.

Anyways, back to more cheerful things... I met my friend from camp, Janelle, at Covent Garden for coffee and again walked MILES and miles all the way down Oxford Street. Which brings me to my absolute ADDICTION which I cannot believe it has taken me this long to get around to writing about...

The Oxford Circus Top Shop.


If I had to choose one store to go on a shopping spree at that would 100% be the one. WOW.
The ground floor sold not only the coolest accessories, jewlery, make-up and bags I had ever seen but also had a frozen yogurt booth, a cupcake booth, AND SUSHI. I was dead. It was four stories of absolute paradise. I spent two hours in there no joke.

I had to buy something to show for my experience at that wonderful place, so I picked up some socks that I seriously love. I know, you're thinking, socks...not that cool. But they go really well with my new short boots that I was talking about coveting a while ago and I think its the little things like that that really make an outfit.
A little Kylie Jenner outfit inspiration for the new socks.

Finally, today was the first day of orientation. Some Syracuse people were around last night after I got back from my outing with Janelle but most people arrived looking as jet-lagged and confused as the new counselors did their first night at camp. All in all it was a pretty productive day. It's weird to think that I will actually be doing school here. I met a lot of cool people and managed to find roommates. Now just to find a flat tomorrow, yikes! One day at a time...


January 13, 2014

An Open Letter To Fisherman Rain Slickers

Dear Fisherman Rain Slickers,

There are certain clothing items that I really can't resist. Some women can't walk away from the perfect heels or handbag but I have a SERIOUS problem when it comes to two things: summer shorts and COATS.

And I have a SERIOUS middle-school-slow-dance kinda crush on you.

It was love at first sight and I can remember it flawlessly. It was raining cats and dogs one day while I was working at the WHB and I had to run down to Wellesley Bakery to pick up the California wraps for everyone. I was wearing my North Face parka that day (warm but NOT waterproof) so one of the other women offered me her coat. Lo and behold... the fisherman rain jacket. That bright smiley yellow is enough to brighten the grayest of gray days.

I think drizzly London and my two weeks by the English sea probably swayed me in the direction of only needing you more and more in my life.

Someday we will be together.

Jack Wills 
Urban Outfitters

January 8, 2014

Easily the Biggest Disapointment Since Being Abroad...


...Luckily I did find the latest episode on a charming little website called Video Weed