...for there is in London all that life can afford

“Well, I don’t want any of them then!” 07.16.12 BLC 22

I must say, today has been the hardest day thus far. I woke up pretty early and got a jump start on packing… and then proceeded to have a heart attack. I have no clue how I am going to get anything that I own home. I have so much stuff that it’s not even funny. I guess it’s because I have no clue how to pack… I really don’t know. But I felt so overwhelmed. But I got two suitcases packed and then I had to get ready to go on the hunt for suitcase number three along with the 28140298374201987342134 souvenirs that my mom is making me get for various people. I just have no clue how I am going to get… Whatever.

Okay. Hissy fit over.

Haley and I  decided to brave Oxford Street to get a few essential items that we both needed… for me, it was a suitcase. I swear, that street has NEVER been so crowded. I expected everything to be more crowded with the olympics coming in but DEAR GOD. I just did NOT expect for the sidewalks to be so unnavigable.  We finally made our way into Selfridges, where I bought the cutest Passport cover (in my signature turquoise, of course) and Haley got her perfume. Once we escaped, we went into the jungle that was Oxford Street to go to John Lewis to pick up a few Olympic items. 

Then the hunt for the suitcase began. We decided to go into a souvenir store, thinking that they might have cheap suitcases of decent quality. We had to go into the basement of the store, where this very scary man in a snapback with “swag” was throwing suitcases around me, trying to sell me on their “innovative features”…aka a lock. All of the suitcases had bad zippers, or scratched locks, so I asked the upstanding gentleman if they had any suitcases that didn’t have scratches and he said: “All of our suitcases have a few scratches or something on them” and I said that I did want any of them. I’m not going to spend 69 pounds on a suitcase with a bad zipper, questionable stains and a lock that may or may not work. So Haley and I ran out of there, much to the Upstanding Gentleman’s dismay. I was quite proud of standing up for myself, because normally I would let someone sucker me in to buying something even if it is sub par quality. Yay for having a spine, not a wet noodle!

So then I had to make the dreaded journey to Primark, where I found a lovely suitcase for 32 pounds that was actually not gross and fully functional. Don’t get me wrong, I love Primark but God bless do I hate the crowds. I got punched three times just trying to exit the store. Me and my huge suitcase ventured back on the Tube to the flat to meet up with Haley and Lauren to go to Hamley’s. 

I swear, If I were a 10 year old, I would die and go to Hamley’s. They have every toy imaginable… including some of the most amazing Barbies ever. You can even get Kate and William’s wedding dolls…. for 100 pounds. Hey, Barbies ain’t cheap ya know. My favorite part was the life size Royal Family sculptures made from Legos… as you can see, I took some fun selfies with the Queen. We’re obviously bff. 

I really just never want to leave London… ever. Please don’t make me. 

Cheers! xo

"Take me to Chelsea, please" 07.15.12 (BLC 21)

Today was the surprise tea for Emily and Lindsay at the Chelsea Teapot to celebrate their birthdays! And it seriously could not have been more perfect. They go here on Made in Chelsea (yes, I have a slight obsession. I am aware) and the atmosphere was so precious! All of the little teapots are antique and mismatched, and the sandwiches and pastries were phenomenal. I had my weight in English breakfast tea and cucumber sandwiches. And the cupcakes that they brought out were amazing. I’m pretty sure I have a love affair with chocolate. Ultimately, I’m sure all of you reading this blog think I have an obsession with food…probably because I do. Maybe I should change my major? No I love clothes too much. 

Anywho, after our amazing tea we figured we’d have a go at the Bus system to get to Westfield mall to visit Olympic Park. We had heard from other girls in our program that the best way to see Olympic Park was to look out the windows at the top floor of John Lewis, so we couldn’t miss the opportunity to go. We were kind of on a time crunch because the mall closed at six, so we figured it would be best to just take the bus from the tea room and go straight to the mall. I thought I was going to throw up every last bit of the cucumber sandwiches that I ate at tea all over the guy in front of me. The stop and go of the bus was making my head spin. After a 40 minute ride on the bus, we finally arrived at the mall, but we couldn’t find the John Lewis on the map. Naturally, we went to as the concierge where the John Lewis department store was. The nice gentleman informed us that we were at the WRONG Westfield, and the one we were seeking was on the OTHER SIDE of the city. It was already half past four so I was in severe panic mode. I mean, who has two malls with the exact same name in one city??? Makes ZERO sense and is highly confusing. We opted to take the tube to Stratford, because I’m pretty sure that if I had to ride the bus it would be the end of my no throw up trip. 

After 30 minutes on the Central line, we finally arrived just inside of Zone 3 at the OTHER Westfield Mall in Stratford. We power walked our way through the huge crowd to the top of John Lewis to see Olympic Park. It was one of those situations where you go up to the window, take a panoramic look, about 5 pictures then leave. It will definitely be cool to say that I have seen it, but sadly there wasn’t much to see. BUT we made it with about 30 minutes to spare. So what do three girls do in a mall with free time? SHOP. We beelined straight to Primark, of course where I bought enough clothes to wear for the rest of the week for the mere price of 49 pounds even. Thanks Mom, you’re the best. At least you know that you raised a daughter that knows how to find a bargain. :)

"Well we’re all in the mood for a melody"  07.13.12 BLC 20

Thursday: 

After a lovely time in Greenwich, and absolutely no queso, (-___-) we headed back home to get ready to go to IceBar. My roommates and I were all quite perplexed as to what to wear… and our dwindling closets weren’t helping. I decided to go with tights and shorts, because how cold can it actually get in a bar made of ice? HA. Idioooottt move. 

My sorority sister, Jessica, met Lauren, Leah, Emily, Kaley, Abby, Nicole, Austin, and myself at Icebar for a “chill” 45 minutes of drinks (I’m cheesy, bare with me kiddos). At first, we were sorely vexed that we would only be able to spend 45 minutes in the place, but once we got in we realized why. It was FREEZING. I mean, that makes sense because everything is made of ice, but I guess I didn’t really think that through well. And when I say everything was made of ice… EVERYTHING was made of ice. Our cups, the seats, everything. It was seriously a cool (ha punny) experience. We enjoyed it, but by the time we left, we were ready to go somewhere that we didn’t feel like we were going to get frostbite. 

Next stop was a pub called O’Niels near Chinatown. The vibe was really cool because they had a live band, and they were playing lots of Kings of Leon songs, which I wasn’t mad about. Emily and I didn’t stay very long though because we were quite worn out 

Friday: 

In class, we went over the quiz questions that we had researched the answers to about London and I was reminded of what all I haven’t done in this city… although I feel like I’ve done so much. I swear, you could live in London your entire life and never be bored. There is always something new and fun to get into… which is why I never want to leave. I’m feeling the pressure to pack in as many sights and whatnot as possible over the next week. ONE WEEK. I think I’m going to cry. 

After class, because we all were sufficiently depressed, we took a taxi (because we’re lazy) to Prince Regent for lunch. I had some amazing fish and fries. And yes, they were actually fries. The waitress actually told us that they order their French fries from the same company that Mackey D’s (haha) orders theirs from. Obviously not sketchy and delicious, right? They were devine, actually. 

After we had sufficiently stuffed our bellies, Lauren and I headed back to the flat to gather our lives together and get ready for our next meal… Chinese in Chinatown. One of our classmates had given a rather discouraging presentation about Chinatown the day before which included stories of food poisoning… but that didn’t deter us. Nothing can come between me and my Chinese food. We decided on Gerrard’s Corner (catchy name right?) and I had a bowl of Hot and Sour Soup, with some sweet and sour chicken. Definitely hit the spot. 

With full bellies and a happy demeanor, we headed to a piano bar in Charing Cross… because we have CLASS. Or something like it. Anywho, we were expecting this classy bar with dueling pianos and some fierce high rollers. There was one piano, and some drunken middle aged people singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” at the top of their lungs… Can’t say that I won’t be in their shoes at age 40… because I probably will. 

Hopefully singing at the top of my lungs in London. 

Greenwich LSDVM 16 07.12.12

Greenwich was a nice little getaway from the city, even though it is still technically in the city. There were lots of little shops and whatnot, and the entire area had a very “maritime” feel….obviously. I mean, Greenwich ( Or Gren Itch, as phonetics would have it) is the site of the Royal Naval Academy and the National Maritime Museum. We got to see the equestrian arena for the Olympics, where the scooter scene in Winning London was filmed, and small scenes from many other films. 

Obviously, you can see that my priorities lie with Mary-Kate and Ashley. Typical. 

Anywho, so the stores of this area really did appeal to a wide range of people. My favorite shopping part of Greenwich was the market. It was a smaller market than the others that I’ve been to, but I felt like the products were really varied. Most of them were antique/vintage, which I was absolutely obsessed with. There were some early edition books that I fell in love with… and didn’t purchase. I’m trying to practice some sort of self control so my luggage doesn’t explode in the airplane. And there were various little jewelry booths that had rings I adored.

I was absolutely parched so we stopped in a health food shop within the market so I could find something to drink. The store was jam packed with kosher meats, tofu hotdogs, and all that jazzy stuff that has little caloric value, thus I stay away from it. We found an organic ginger ale that seemed to be suitable for drinking… so I purchased it for a pound (they think A LOT of their ginger ale). So I popped the top and tried it… IT WAS SPICY. It was the most bizarre and horrible thing I had ever tasted. So Lauren and I wrestled with the idea of snacking at one of the food stalls in the market so I could get the horrendous taste out of my mouth, but settled on a Mexican restaurant instead. 

On the way out, we stopped in a little tourist store called Historic London to pick up a few items… one of which was my Union Jack boxers aka my new favorite pajamas. This was probably my favorite tourist store, because it was clean, easily navigable, and decently priced. 

Gran Itch was a nice and varied shopping area that I would definitely like to visit again in the future. 

Notting Hill and Portobello Market LSDVM 15 07.11.12

Notting Hill is infamous for the movie, Notting Hill… which I have never seen all of the way through. So unlike most people, I really didn’t have much of a clue as to what to expect. I had heard that there would be lots of antiques, and first-edition books which I was super excited about. 

Lauren and I decided to venture to Portobello market on a lovely rainy morning… Terrible decision. We got off at the tube station and followed the crowds of people assuming that they were all going to Portobello market… which they were. The open-air market was set up along Portobello Road and literally had so many different things: furs, watches, jewelry, books….and most importantly crepes. You guys know how much this girl loves some crepes. 

I found another lovely Union Jack sweater to wear on the flight home, but it was ridiculously overpriced. So, as my mother would have me do, I haggled with the salesman until we found a price we could both agree on. So I am now in the possession of two Union Jack sweaters…. I mean, you can never have enough, right? But this one does have sparkles. And I love anything sparkly. 

Getting through Portobello on this rainy Saturday was pure torture, and poor planning on our part. Not only were we fighting the huge Saturday crowd, but we were fighting the rain and various umbrellas as well. This was one battle I wasn’t willing to endure for long, so our visit to Portobello was cut short so I could go to Camden, again. But not before I could find my greatest treasure of the trip… a first edition hardback copy of Gone With the Wind…. in BLUE. It will be the perfect addition to my blue book collection in my room and something I will cherish forever. 

"That’s mighty fine for Pizza Hut wine!" 07.10.12 (BLC 19)

You people probably think I drink a lot of wine… Notttt as much as one would think. Promise, Mom. 

So class today wasn’t until late so I took my precious time and took a nice long shower…because I never felt fully clean in Paris. I had a lovely time, but I feel NO desire to go back anytime soon. Because once you’ve been in London for a while, you kind of get used to not stepping on cigarette butts and beer bottle caps…and not getting hit on by greasy old men. Hence, why I constantly felt dirty. But that’s just a personal preference.  Anywho, while being a complete and total idiot, I gashed my leg wiiiiiiideeee open and blood was just everywhere. I know you probably don’t want to hear about it, but it took a good hour out of my day, so I feel like it merits at least a sentence in my blog. It was quite traumatic. 

Once I recovered from the incident, I got ready with a quickness and headed to class which was in Camden…aka my new favorite place. I’m pretty sure I could spend my entire life’s savings there on some fake Beats, sweaters, and printed jeans. I’m definitely going back at my earliest convenience. 

Haley and I hurried back home to meet Lauren, because we had serious plans to go to TK Maxx (yes, I spelled it right. It’s TK here, not TJ… weird, and completely arbitrary, in my opinion) so I could buy a new bag because my poor blue Steve Madden one had gone through hell and back. Ink stains, ripped seams, and scratched leather were literally all that the poor thing could bare.  Haley didn’t feel well, so Lauren and I jumped on the tube and made our merry way toward High Street Kensington. We had originally planned to head to Brick Lane for Indian after our shopping adventure for dinner… but then we saw it. PIZZA HUT. Now I know everyone wants to hate because we have Pizza Hut in America… blah blah blah. But after a month with no queso, chicken wings, or RANCH DRESSING I had to give in to something. Besides, the prospect of possibly having ranch dressing was far too tempting to pass up. So we went inside, ordered our pizza (half pepperoni, half peppers, stuffed crust… happy for both the carnivore and veggie) and made our way to the salad bar. Of course, there was no ranch dressing… but they did have some nice bacon bits and croutons. Lauren and I were sooooo happy when we got our pizza… I guess when you don’t have something for so long, it just tastes THAT much better. 

Then we visited the TK where I found a lovely green bag, (which Haley had almost bought a couple of weeks before) and Lauren got a nice blue carry on for the plane. This made me think about packing, and in turn, made me quite nauseous. That will not be something to look forward to in the slightest. 

Cheers! xo

Southwark LSDVM 14 07.10.12

Even though Southwark didn’t have many stores, it did have the wonderful Burough Market. Even though we didn’t go on a busy day, the stalls that we passed still made my mouth water… extensively. The decor of the market was very agrarian. The meats and rice dishes all smelled and looked delish, and I instantly regretted eating lunch before attending class. It was a terrible shame. I really wish I would have had the opportunity to go on a busier day though, solely so I could eat lunch for free… aka walk around and sample every food at every single store. But hey, maybe my waistline will thank me! 

One of the fun parts about this class was that I got to play one of the random pianos that have been set up throughout London in the Borough Market. I didn’t do well, but hey, it wasn’t too shabby for not having a lesson since 7th grade!

We got the opportunity to see the Millennium Bridge from Harry Potter up close… I couldn’t muster up the courage to actually walk across though, because all I could envision was it ripping in half.

The shoppes at the Wharf were some of the neatest shops I have seen in London. There were cute clothes, shoes and jewelry… all of which I wanted to buy. All of the shops were pretty girly, and the area was somewhat deserted, which made me think it was one of the best kept secrets in London. But all of the items in the stores were unique and unlike items I had seen in London before. 

Even though there weren’t many stores on this walk, I got to experience a completely different feel for London. The stores that we saw felt very touristy and local at the same time… which makes little to no sense, I know, but that’s the best way to describe it. “Local” may even be better… they were small, but still appealed to the masses. 

Camden LSDVM 13 07.09.12

ONLY MY FAVORITE PLACE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. 

So now that you know my overarching feelings about Camden, let me tell you the details. It’s kind of the artsy/hipster/hungry/broke girl’s heaven. There’s cheap food, great clothes, wonderful music and great views. I absolutely fell in love. 

The exteriors of the stores leading to the main market are nothing short of artwork. There are tattoo parlors, and punk/goth stores as far as the eyes can see. One of the store fronts have HUGE Dr. Martins on the front, and some of the tattoo parlors actually had sculptures on the outsides. If you want to buy a fake/”real” (I use the term loosely) pair of Beats by Dr. Dre, this is the place to go. 

One of my favorite parts about Camden Town is the random girly shops that pop up. You could walk past 20 punk stores and then all of the sudden, the girliest boutique will pop up out of nowhere with long flowing skirts, pastels, and SO MUCH LACE. I love that Camden literally has something for everyone. 

Once I got to the actual market, I was having a hay day. I was so excited. On my second trip to Camden, I bought wayyy too much. I bought a Union Jack sweater that I had been wanting ever since our first week here, and a Union Jack scarf. Apparently, I love Great Britain, in case you were wondering. I also bought some clock necklaces for my friends, and some Chinese food which was only five pounds and amazing. Once again, obsessed with food. 

The best thing that happened to Lauren and I in Camden was Cyber Dog. We walked in, just thinking it was a rave store, with all of the flashing lights and techno music. But then something occurred to me… all of the clothing looked familiar. MARY-KATE AND ASHLEY went there in Winning London to try on all of the funky outfits that they wore! We immediately ran and found dresses to try on in the dressing room, but we were informed that you have to put down a monetary deposit to even try on anything in the store. My hopes of wearing a neon blue bubble dress were shattered, but I still felt pretty awesome. So we settled for checking out the collection of electro/dance albums and Hamburger phones instead. I really want a Hamburger phone, but that isn’t a feasible item to squeeze into my carry-on. 

"Paris, you never cease to amaze me." 07.08.12 (BLC 18)

So all you need to know about our second day is that we love to eat. I’m pretty sure that we ate at about 4 different restaurants throughout the day. Paris is the type of city where you see what you want to see, and then you eat. Then you drink some wine, and then you eat some more.

Now that I’ve prefaced with that statement, our first eating of the day was at this small bakery outside of the metro station. I had juice and a croissant that was more delicious than anything I have ever consumed in my life at that point… until lunch. We took the metro to Notre Dame, where we stopped at a pet shop and I almost cried my eyes out because the chihuahuas made me miss my Jack Jack so much.

Notre Dame was absolutely gorgeous… and of course we took more ridiculous photos. I swear, I’m the queen of cheesy pictures. And I’m not mad about it in the least bit.

Then we had the BEST MEAL I have ever had in my life. I had a Nutella beignet and this delicious ham pizza. If you are a serious Nutella lover, like myself, then you would love France. They put Nutella on EVERYTHING. Hence, why I look like a beached whale in all of my photos. Sorry Mom, sorry God.

Speaking of God…

Once I got done stuffing my face like a barbarian, it was time to go to Notre Dame to see the relics of the Passion aka Jesus’s Crown of Thorns and a piece of the Cross. The entire experience was not what I expected. I was expecting that the relics would just be put on display and you would be able to go walk past them a time or two. Ohhh no. There was an entire service. I had never been to mass/a Catholic ceremony before, so I was a little confused as to what to expect. Especially since the entire thing would be in French. But we got there early and sat in the very first row. The service was very formal, but at the end we got to KISS THE CROWN OF THORNS. I got to kiss the crown of thorns that were on Jesus Christ’s head. I mean, seriously, what can you do to top that? Absolutely nothing.

So what did we do after the service? Sat and drank wine and discussed what had just happened. We’re all varying in religious denomination and devoutness, per se, but we all could bond over the fact that we had just been in contact with something so amazing. And holy.

Once we left that restaurant, we took the metro to the Eiffel Tower (we’re there a lot) to go get tickets for our boat ride on the Seine. Of course, while we were waiting. More wine was served. The champagne boat ride was absolutely gorgeous. It was definitely geared toward couples but hey, we definitely made the most of it with precarious practices on the bow of the ship. Is it the bow? I’m terrible with sailing terms. Ohhhh well.

Paris holds the key to your heart… and I must say, some of the most amazing memories I have ever had in my life.