Tag Archives: weekend

Smells like.. Amsterdam

13 Apr

Cracked out on cold medicine and espresso, I threw a bunch of clothes into my duffel, combed out the dreads that had formed from laying in bed for the past 2 days, and was headed to Amsterdam. I’m pretty sure baldy (the quirky security guard at the front desk) gave me a confused eye twitch for swiping out a 3:30 AM with a fur vest on, hair and makeup all done, and a massive duffel over my shoulder. Still don’t understand why I packed the same amount for 2 days in Amsterdam as I did for a week in Spain. Some things I’ll never know..

On my walk to the cab I passed a couple of drunk men peeing against the International House of Women (an ex-convent). At that point my leisurely pace picked up to a speed walk. I’ve been pretty on edge after I witnessed my friend get socked in the face last weekend for absolutely no apparent reason.

When I got into the cab, I realized my driver was George Costanza. I thought my eyes were playing late-night tricks on me, until he started talking my ear off in rapid Italian. When in doubt, head nod and say, “Si.” One thing I love about Europe is their driving etiquette on the highway. When the car in front of you sees you quickly closing up on them they swiftly shift to their right lane. If that happened in the States it would take me half as long to get up to school, too bad I have to deal with the Cheese wedges of Wisconsin.

So, I may have overshot it this time. Okay, I overshot it by 45 minutes. But what was I doing in my lonesome apartment? ..besides obnoxiously laughing (and then coughing up a lung) at New Girl. So now I sit and wait for my plane. It’s 4:45. Nothing’s open and there’s no one here. Hopefully this is my flight. Me, myself, and I.

CAN’T WAIT TO SEE MY BIGGIE SMALLZ, ELISE, WAITING AT MY GATE WHEN I ARRIVE!

I hope. Or I’ll get a good story out of it.

Found her!! It only took us a few dropped phone calls and some sacrificial blisters from pacing through terminals. But thanks to my janky burner phone – we found each other! The two of us were the Walking Dead. With less than 2 hours of sleep in the past 24 hours, no makeup, and airplane hair, I’m surprised our hostel even let us in. We stayed at StayOkay, a chain in Amsterdam, but ours was right on the canal a couple blocks from the Red Light District and Dam Square.

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The minute we walked in, more like stumbled, a free city tour was leaving from the hostel. Now I normally don’t do the free tours when I travel because I never know what to expect, but our guide was a hilarious Alaskan native living in Amsterdam for the past 10 years and she covered everything I needed to know in 2 hours.

Tour Guide

Tour Guide

We started in the center of Amsterdam: Dam Square, named after the dam that was built on the river Amstel. Those Dutch are wickedly clever. AmsterDAM, OLD church, NEW church, doesn’t get more original than that..

Dam Square and Royal Palace

Dam Square and Royal Palace

Elise at the Royal Palace

Elise at the Royal Palace

Only one word describes the Red Light District: Bizarre. As a woman, I felt a little uncomfortable walking through alleys of prostitutes practically wearing a piece of string and rubbing their bodies against the glass doors. But come on, they’re respectable women.. they pay taxes like the rest of us and get health insurance. It seems like a pretty clutch career path to me. I asked Big Rich if I should sign a contract with the Madam and his response was, “Have fun, and no STDs.” New career path, here I come! It was crazy how many men we saw pacing up and down the alleys until they found a room that fit their desires. As we strolled through at night, with the canal glistening in the flashing red lights, men were trying to buy us! Come on perves, stick to the window shopping!

How about the selection of condoms right up the street!

How about the selection of condoms right up the street!

Up the street there’s the Old Church that completed a beautiful renovation thanks to the fisherman who paid the priests to forgive their sins after they fooled around with the Red Light ladies while away from their wives and families. Across the river, girls standing in the window front wearing just enough to cover what’s necessary flipped off people trying to sneak pictures. DO NOT try to photograph these whores. They’re feisty and I don’t think you want to end up in the canal.

Across the canal in Nieuwmarkt square stands the Waag, the old city gate. Rembrandt got his start here from painting a scene of a doctor examining one of the many bodies that came into the tower after they were publicly executed out front in the square.

The Waag

The Waag

Coffee shops

Coffee shops

There’s lots of night life around Nieuwmarkt Square from Bohemian bars to gay bars to coffee shops. We discovered this after walking in (and quickly out) of a bar the first night where we came face to face with the eccentric Queen Lashaunta and her crew of Jamaicans drooping with dreads. We did however find an unreal mexican restaurant, Los Pilones, for some of the best tacos and nachos I think I’ve ever had.

Amsterdam is an incredibly rich city. Most people just know it for its freedom, coffee shops, and prostitutes, but at one point Amsterdam was one of the wealthiest cities in the world, and the leading financial center. Although you inhale whiffs of second hand smoke from every store you pass, you can tell by the way the Dutch people dress, eat, and carry themselves that this city is far from the trashy reputation it gets from tourists. Here is Amsterdam’s Dutch East India Trading Company (VOC) headquarters, now a university..

West India Trading Company

West India Trading Company

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Another thing I didn’t realize was so well-known in Amsterdam is the formaggio (err.. cheese). Our guide took us to the Reypenaer Tasting Room on the canal where they do wine and cheese tastings, but we just sampled aged goat cheese (my fave!) outside one of the smallest houses on the canals. I don’t even think one of my thighs would fit in this house, let alone an entire family!

Teeny tiny house on the canal

Teeny tiny house on the canal

We also found a little shop, Old Amsterdam, right in Dam Square where the little old man in the store front was cutting up samples from a huge block of their aged gouda cheese. Their cheese is out of this world. We scurried around like little pack rats sampling all different kinds (multiple samples of the incredibly tempting pesto infused gouda), but we checked out with a packet of their original precut gouda.

Turns out that the day we got there was the unveiling of the Rijksmuseum, the Netherlands’s most famous museum, after it’s 10 year $480 million renovation. Queen Beatrix, which call me stupid but I had no idea the Netherlands had a royal family, rolled out the orange carpet and reopened the museum with fireworks and class. We felt like VIP, but along with close to 30,000 visitors, we took advantage of the 1 day only free admission to see the famous work of Rembrandt and Van Gogh.

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Rembrandt's famous "Night Watch"

Rembrandt’s famous “Night Watch”

Van Gogh's self portrait

Van Gogh’s self portrait

Directly behind the Rijksmuseum is one of two of the city’s I Amsterdam signs. You can’t be a tourist in Amsterdam without a photo shoot in the letters! It’s practically a jungle gym, except I couldn’t even get my fatass onto the “a”!

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Biggie Smallz and Little!

Biggie Smallz and Little!

Right across the canal in front of the Rijksmuseum is an adorable square called Leidseplein which is entirely packed with outdoor patio seating, where we chugged a couple cappuccinos to keep us running on no sleep. Elise bought a beautiful canal painting from one of the many cool art vendors in the square.

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Earlier in the day when we passed by the Anne Frank House the line was hours long, winding down the street. By the time we came back, close to 6:30 at night, the wait was 20 minutes, very rare!

The insane Anne Frank House line

The insane Anne Frank House line

The Anne Frank House was never something I really planned on seeing when I came to Amsterdam just because I didn’t see the point in paying to walk through an empty house, but I’m so happy I did!! Just walking through the rooms, reading her diary quotes, and imagining her family’s life during that scary period was incredibly emotional and sent chills through my body.

“The sun is shining, the sky is deep blue, there’s a magnificent breeze, and I’m longing – really longing – for everything: conversation, freedom, friends, being alone.” – Anne

Quietly creeping through every room of her house, reading and watching clips of her story along the way, you feel like your in Anne’s shoes – playing this 2 year long game of Hide-n-Seek. You can easily imagine the Nazis searching the streets and housing nearby as young Anne and her family hid in silence, without moving, day in and day out.

“Not being able to go outside upsets me more than I can say, and I’m terrified our hiding place will be discovered and that we’ll be shot.” – Anne

Behind the secret bookcase passageway and into their attic hideout, the temperature clearly dropped and Anne’s reality became more apparent. Thinking about all of the fun I had at her age, freedom and fresh air I was surrounded with that she never had the chance to experience was really depressing. Her room was covered with pictures of movie stars and models, like any young girl at her age would have. She wanted a normal life. She had a normal life before the war. She had such a talent for writing at such a young age that her father’s idea to publish her diary was the most honorable gesture that could have been made on her behalf.

Definitely a must do experience! One of my favorites in Amsterdam!

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I always feel guilty for smiling after an experience like this

I always feel guilty for smiling after an experience like this

You know how they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans”? The same applies everywhere else you go. So in Amsterdam, you ride bikes! EVERYWHERE. We rented from Discount Bikes in an alley (across from a coffee shop) next to Dam Square. Bike riding genes run in my family as my dad is practically Lance Armstrong (or he thinks he is). Somehow I always end up traveling with problematic bike riders. In Italy a few years ago, I watched my cousin Elise slide backwards on her bike down a busy highway as angered drivers zoomed by screaming “Vaffanculo!” out their windows. In Barcelona, Allison peddled at snail speed because of a traumatic fall she once had. This time I was dealing with my Big, Elise, who hadn’t been on a bike in 7 years. Between cars, bikers, walkers, trams, and canals, lets just say this wasn’t a walk in the park. Fortunately 10 minutes into the ride we came across a Tulip Market on the canal. Due to the unusual chilly spring Europe has had this year, the tulip fields weren’t worth trekking out to because not much blooming had been done. But this long stretch of tulip vendors definitely got the job done.

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I can’t tell you if we broke a bigger sweat actually riding the bikes, or locking them up. Every time we tried, it was at least a 10 minute process because there was no way we were paying the 300 euro fine for a lost/stolen dinky bike. We decided to play Dutch for the day, so after buying our Amsterdam cheese and renting bikes, we headed to the park!

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On our way we made a stop at the supermarket down by Museumplein (where Rijksmuseum and I Amsterdam are) to fix up our picnic. We grabbed wine and orange soda to make our Tinto Verano (learned about in Spain), ciabatta bread and turkey to mix with our cheese, crackers and olive tapenade (cause we’re classy betches), and cherry turnovers (cause no meal is complete without dessert).

Picnic in Vondelpark

Picnic in Vondelpark

Vondelpark was everything you imagine when you think of Amsterdam. People everywhere scattered on blankets, drinking wine and champagne, and the smell of weed passed through with every gust of wind. A huge group of guys were barbecuing nearby which could not have made me more excited for summer and people walked around advertising summer music fests in the park. As far as the eye could see were bikes.
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As we left the park, we almost experienced a casualty. Turning off the bridge and onto a side street on the canal, Elise didn’t realize that we didn’t have the right of way to cross yet and before I had enough time to yell “Elise! STOP!” a small sedan collided with her. I saw HER life flash before my eyes. I pictured her flying straight up into the air and crashing down hard. Luckily for both of them, the driver stopped just in time – before yelling a combination of completely foul phrases at the poor shaken up girl.
That day, I almost lost my Big.
To this day, I’m still not sure which is the safer mode of transportation in Amsterdam: Walking or Biking. Try at your own risk.
Our final experience in Amsterdam was the Heineken Experience.
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We got discounted tickets through our hostel and took the last possible tour of the night. It’s a self guided tour, but you walk through every process of the production. First you’re introduced to the ingredients: water, barley, yeast, and the nastiest smelling Hops.
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Second, in the fermentation room you try Wort, the sweet (not so delish) pre-alcoholic mixture.
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Third, check out the bottling process and get your name printed on a bottle!
Fourth, have a mini beer and chill out in the ultimate man cave to watch some Superbowl commercials.
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Fifth, go lay down and check out Heineken commercials from throughout the years, test out your bartending skills, and head down to the main bar for 2 ice cold beers.
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To satisfy our buzz, we walked across the street to the famous Carousel Pancake House – restaurant actually built inside an old carousel. Pancakes are huge in Amsterdam, but they’re made more like crepes, and you’ll also see a lot of Belgian waffles. Like in every restaurant with an overwhelmingly long menu, I asked the waitress for her recommendations and she couldn’t have been more spot on! She brought me one with half canadian bacon (boy do I miss that) half cinnamon apples and powdered sugar.
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I always said, I need to go to Amsterdam this semester because it’s a city that I probably can’t justify going back to after college. But after experiencing what it has to offer, besides the coffee shops and whore houses, and noticing the number of families and elders that live there or just visit, I know I’ll be back one day. This beautiful city, as well as every other I’ve visited this semester, stole my heart. (Now I just need it back before my final 2 trips!)
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Until next time,
Ciao
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Where beer is cheaper than water – Prague, Czech Republic

26 Feb

Sorry that I’ve been MIA for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been too busy CZECHIN out the world! (& the cheesy puns begin).

PRAGUE HERE I COME!

PRAGUE HERE I COME!

Two weekends ago I went to Prague with a group of 7 and let me tell you.. we had the most amazing time ever. I fell in love with the city, the life, and the beer! It’s literally Disney World ON CRACK!

Old Town Square

Old Town Square

DSCN0762I was named group navigator from the minute we left campus. Over the weekend I had good and bad moments as navigator.. And they started when we landed in Prague. We took Czech Airlines and it rocked!! We got free unlimited drank, my first alcoholic drink on a plane.. yeah I felt pretty cool. Anyway, we landed and I led the crew to the bus stop where we got on and took it to the end of the line. Convo on the bus consisted entirely of drunken ass tatt plans (Which we never went through with). At this point I was feeling really confident with my nav guide skills.. spoke too soon. From the bus we got on the metro. Everyone in the station was just walking straight on and I saw no one getting tickets so I just assumed we could do the same thing.. Whoops.. 30 seconds after getting on, 2 big burly ticket checkers bust us. Well there goes 500/1500 Czech Crown I took out ($30). Getting off the metro we walk straight out to this..

Wenceslas Square

Wenceslas Square

Our hostel was located right off Wenceslas Square which meant we had to play “Old King Wenceslas” every morning when we woke up.. The location couldn’t have been more ideal!!! It was cheap, clean, perfectly located, and we got unlimited oranges.. which by the way are 100x better in Europe than America! By the time we got settled it was 10PM, so duh we went out! First we got dinner at Bageterie Boulevard, a little sub place but OMG GO HERE! We ate here twice because it’s just so so delish! I can taste the roasted chicken, onion, and blue cheese right now.. ughhhh.

Next stop: CZECH BEER! We went to two awesome places. CZECH IT: Beer everywhere in Prague is $1 for .5L! The first was Tlusta Koala where we were entertained by a table of sloshed older European men singing all night. The second was the Prague Beer Museum which was packed with Europeans our age in a giant mass of smoke. I tried cherry and blueberry beer, phenom!

Could we get more lesbo?

Could we get more lesbo?

Staropramen

Staropramen

First night with the fam!

First night with the fam!

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That night was the start of a few very amusing nights in Hostel Orange. Not only did the boys have major gas issues and were not ashamed at all, but we were kept up all night by Luke’s incredibly loud and unpleasant teeth grinding! Every couple minutes we’d hear “click click click click click”.. it was always the same amount and came in intervals of about 5 minutes.. all night.. Made for some pretty entertaining conversations in the morning though. Every morning started with Allison laying in bed “Reed.. would you hand me a cookie?” and then we were off! (Our 8 other roommates weren’t too fond of us)

Day 1: We walked to Old Town Square which was alive with street musicians, patio restaurants, food cart vendors, and massive bubble blowers (Bubbles the size of small children). Huge groups surrounded the Astronomical Clock at any time of the day, especially when the clock strikes each hour and little puppets pop out of the windows!

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Our first breakfast stop was for these awesome Czech desserts called Trdelnik, “Turtleneck”, which are fried dough with crushed almonds and sugar!

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Next stop: Bohemian Bagel. GOD do I miss my Marquette Brew bagels (As if I need more carbs in my Italian diet). Go if you miss American breakfast!! Standing in line I randomly found my best friend Emma’s cousin, Anna!!!! We immediately adopted her into the Fam and she spent the rest of the weekend with us!!!

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Probably one of the coolest places we went was the Lennon Wall. John Lennon that is, not to be mistaken for Vladimir Lenin. It started when Lennon was murdered in 1980 and he became a pacifist hero to the Czech youth who started writing down his lyrics of freedom which was something they lacked. We looked like monkeys, everyone was crawling over each other trying to read the wall and make their mark.

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From left to right: Anna, Me, Reed, Madison, Luke, Allison, Brad, Victoria

From left to right: Anna, Me, Reed, Madison, Luke, Allison, Brad, Victoria

The next adventure was the most hilarious thing I’ve ever witnessed!! We walked up Petrin Hill to get a real cool view of the city. We really didn’t think it through because the entire path and stairs were snowed over and icy.. prime conditions for the ultimate WIPEOUT! It took us forever to skate up the hill, holding onto the railing for dear life. At one point I needed to go down on all fours and grip the ground in front of me to pull myself up. Everyone was sliding backwards and SOMEHOW I didn’t pee my pants from laughter.

View from the top

View from halfway up

The way down was EVEN WORSE! Everyone except Anna and I somehow frolicked down the icy road with ease.. we were a mess. We pretty much sled down the hill on our butts because there was zero traction. The more we laughed the more we fell and the longer it took us to get down 😀

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We had lunch up at the Monastery on the hill. It looked like an old mead hall inside and it was here that I got my first taste of goulash.. I was not disappointed!

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That night we wanted to try out this well known bar, Beer Factory, but the wait for a table was so long that people were actually camping outside with pillows and blankets. Alcoholics much? Instead we found this awesome little bar called Apetit with the same self-serve beer tap at every table! We guzzled down 20 Liters of beer.. and for proof that beer is cheaper than water I took a pic of the menu. .25 L of water was 30 crowns while .25 L of beer was 18 crowns. Lets just say by the end of the trip I couldn’t remember the last time I drank water.. whoops.

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Bonaqua=Water

Bonaqua=Water

The night was still young. Anna and I hit up Lucerna right next door which is a huge 80s and 90s night club! As we walked in Michael Jackson was playing, we grabbed a shot of absinthe (when in Prague?), and took it to the dance floor for some Lionel and Madonna.

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The night ended with the best late night food Czech has to offer: Fried Cheese. NOM NOM NOM!

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After another entertaining night of teeth grinding, we were craving American breakfast. Right past Old Town Square is a James Dean Diner where the waitresses are all dressed up in little diner outfits and the milkshakes are heavenly (the boys were kept quite entertained with our waitress). Coolest bathrooms evaaaaaa, didn’t help that I’m IN LOVE with James Dean.

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Our huge Saturday plan was to take a 2-3 hour long FREE walking tour to hit every sight we could, but after waiting around for the tour guide we got impatient (typical) and decided to guide ourselves! “In Marlo we trust!” It wasn’t a bad hike up to the Prague Castle – Thank God for iPhone maps. We explored the inside of the castle walls, shot bow and arrows (Luke failed epically and completely missed the target all 3 times), and rubbed the golden penis for good luck.. a very awkward task.

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View of Prague from the top

View of Prague from the top

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After walking for so long, all one needs is some $1 beer. Am I right? Up the hill towards the Monastery there’s a Beer Cellar with probably the cheapest beer in town. We stayed for a while because it took so long to defrost.. and the beer was ughhh so good. There was a fireplace and we sat at a picnic table with fur seat cushions, I could have stayed all night until I got hungry.

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beercellar

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Now we were all craving goulash in a bread bowl, wadddddup Panera! We searched high and low (literally up and down the hill) until we found a place that had it! We got our own private room along with the coolest waiter ever. One of the guys thought it’d be a great idea to sneak in a bottle of vodka and pour himself glasses under the table after we all warned him not to. Bobby, the waiter, finally saw, picked up the glass, and downed it! As if it was water! From then on he was our best friend. He brought us brandy chocolates and tried to remember all of our names. I was “Marlon” for a while, but anything beats “Mario.”

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BOBBY!

BOBBY!

As for our last night in Prague.. we had to go out with a bang! A Prague native took us out to a local bar deep into an alley where we hung out for a while, but as people started getting sleepy Anna and I were not having it! “This is our last night in Prague, we’re not going to bed we need to do something crazy!” So we did (well 4 out of the 10). We went to a strip club right off Wenceslas Square called Carocia. $5 for entrance, a beer and quite the experience. I paid for a lapdance. Just kidding. But I DID get up on stage so everyone could CZECH me out.. “PRAHAhaha”

Okay I’m done. Phew. Overall it was a trip I will never forget!

Also, if you ever make it out there, don’t forget to try mulled wine, hit up a cabaret, and go for a thai pedicure – wish I went, but they’re all over the place and hundreds of little minnows eat the dead skin off your feet. Great keepsake idea: Collect a coaster from every bar you go to in Europe, I picked up a ton of cool ones from Prague!

I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard and I owe it all to the group. If you get the chance, CZECH out Prague and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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Budapest post coming once I make it through midterms!

Ciao!

Woke up in London yesterday..

30 Jan

“Oh this has gotta be the good life.”

Speaking of this song, I obviously had it stuck in my head ALL weekend and when I brought it up to my travel buddies Kurt and Kyle I was 100% sure it was sung by Coldplay. Kyle on the other hand thought it was Natasha Bedingfield or Colbie Cailiat, the F? We ended up betting 3.5 Pounds (5 USD, like 1 drink in London).. turns out neither of us were right and it’s One Republic, but Natasha..? Come on man up, Kyle! (99.9% chance he’ll never see this)

I fell in love with London this weekend. I felt like I was living out Love Actually and Spice World (aka reliving my childhood).

“Britain. We may be a small country, but we’re a great one, too. The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter. David Beckham’s right foot. David Beckham’s left foot, come to that” (Love Actually).

Never thought I was going to enjoy myself as much as I did. Besides the fact that everything is so damn expensive there (thanks to our crappy economy) I loved every moment! Well.. give or take a few 🙂 Here are some of the best and worst highlights of the trip!

BEST:

  • The first thing we see when we step foot in london!
Tower Bridge at night

Tower Bridge at night

  • THE ACCENTS! Ugh, amazeballs. Even men describe things as “lovely” or say “Do you fancy a…?” Girls everywhere swoon over this stuff.
  • Our stay – I STAYED AT MY FIRST HOSTEL! It was called St. Christopher’s Inn which is just a couple blocks over the London Bridge. Free breakfast, 2 pubs with food/drink discounts, and the location was ideal! The first 2 nights myself, Kurt, and Kyle stayed in a 4 bed room with a Brazilian guy. We talked and lived with him for 2 days and never asked his name.. but we switched it up every couple hours (Rafael, Ronaldinho, Felipe, etc.)

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Wake up, sunshine!

Wake up, sunshine!

  • Sightseeing! The first day was typical gray, crappy, cold, London weather. We decided to knock out some (free!) museums and walk along the Thames. On our way we walked through this awesome outdoor market, Borough Market, and let me tell you.. the smell was alarming at first, but the food looked incredible.

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Tons of paella!

Tons of paella!

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We then walked past Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and I don’t know why I was excited because I truly dislike the man and all the terrible confusion he has caused me in life.

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First we went to the Tate Modern Art museum, it was so nice to take a break from the frigid wind for a little while and just walk around. I must not have a very artistic/imaginative mind because everything looked like something I could make with my eyes closed.

Mirror pics at Tate Modern!

Mirror pics at Tate Modern!

Then we crossed the Millennium bridge – doin our thang; takin selfies – to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

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Look! Tower Bridge in the back!

Look! Tower Bridge in the back!

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As our hands started to numb, we walked along the river up towards Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. There were TONS of bikers and runners, I mean if I lived in a city that beautiful I’d probably pick up running too! Well… lets not get too ahead of ourselves, “Yeah, no, don’t sign me up for cardio” – Fat Amy. Even on a ugly day this city was breathtaking!

London Eye

London Eye

AUSTIN POWERS?! IS THAT YOU?!?!

AUSTIN POWERS?! IS THAT YOU?!?!

My boyfriend, Big Ben, and I

My boyfriend, Big Ben, and I

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And the walking continues.. we passed miles and miles of London telephone booths and I swear, one day (in the fantasy world I live in) I will be kissed in a telephone booth.

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Just a short walk up the street was Buckingham Palace. It’s surrounded by peaceful parks and a little lake with swans and fountains.. aka pretty frikkin magical. The guards outside kept pacing back and forth doing some pivots and high knees. A couple women walked out wearing the huge, fluffy iconic hats – should have got me one of those to make me look like a classy betch.

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Move over Queen Lizzy, there's a new head biatch in town!

Move over Queen Lizzy, there’s a new head biatch in town!

Selfies with whatever the hell this thing is

Selfies with whatever the hell this thing is.

I’m really curious as to how someone gets a job as a guard. Like what’s the application process? Do they have requirements like, you can’t have any sense of humor, you need to be chronically miserable, you can’t like to smile and be friendly? Well I didn’t get him to budge, maybe flashing him my chest would have worked (Nani Jude, can you test that theory out for me?!)

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Now it was time to meet Kyle’s friend Andrew in Soho! Soho was unreal. The shopping, the theatre districts (really wish I had more time to see Les Mis or Jersey Boys.. sad reality), the dining, casinos, the craziness!! Andrew led us in the direction of Oxford and Regents Streets which is shopping central, and THANK GOD I was on this trip with the boys or else I’d be too tempted to splurge. BEWARE LADIES.

It’s very touristy (TGI Fridays, M&M World, cheapy steak joints on every corner), but definitely a must see!

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Picadilly Circus : Mini Times Square

Picadilly Circus : Mini Times Square

The second day was perfectly sunny, cool, and clear weather which means LONDON EYE AND TOWER BRIDGE BABAY! We walked along the Thames the opposite way from the day before, until we hit the gigantic Tower Bridge! We walked up to the top for an awesome view of the city, not as great as the London Eye, but definitely worth it! Did you know that some guy bought the London Bridge and rebuilt it in Arizona? When we went through Immigration and the officer asked us what we were excited to see Kyle answered, “London Bridge!” Multiple officers looked at each other and just laughed in our face.. stupid Americans.

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The guys and their selfies..

The guys and their selfies..

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Up next : LONDON EYE! We raced a couple miles back to the London Eye to make our 12pm reservation. Buy a day and night pass (online)! It’s just a couple pounds more than the day pass and gives you the full London effect. Make sure you don’t get stuck in the capsule with a group of asians, too many peace sign pics & the way they quickly shuffle and scurry around made me really nervous to be in a glass bubble so high off the ground..

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The Shard. Built this year, tallest skyscraper in the world.

The Shard. Built this year, tallest skyscraper in the world.

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So happy I came with these guys!

So happy I came with these guys!

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and at night…

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  • CAMDEN TOWN! Probably my favorite place we saw in London! Andrew took us, we got to ride in the sweet taxis they have in London that make you feel like you’re in Harry Potter! Camden was so eye opening and probably the biggest culture shock I’ve witnessed thus far. It’s a small alternative, hippie, punk town built over a canal. People walking around in full leather and chain punk outfits. Dragons and Monsters hanging off buildings. And the coolest market area called Camden Lock! Tons of food stands from fish n chips, to “Cupcakes and SHHHT”, to pancake stands, and more paella. We got a steaming slice of crispy apple pie and walked along the canal. It’s lined with houseboats and if you peak in you’ll see people just livin the Good Life. It’s so bizarre, but I fell in love with the town’s vibe. A MUST SEE!

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  • FOOD! The first day when we met Andrew in Soho, he took us to get Thai food and ZOOOMGGG IT WAS AMAZING (And he paid for it all!)! My mouth is watering just thinking about the pad thai. That night we ate at the pub right below us and had classic fish n’ chips! Felt like I was back in Australia.. but wait, I’M IN LONDRA! Drinking Mexican beer in London? Yeah, that’s the cheap college student thing to do. Ran across the street to finish the night with a 1 Pound 8 pack of ice cream bars, demolished them like champs.

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The next day we caved. Yes. We had Chipotle. AND I LOVED EVERY BITE OF IT! I’m really missing fountain drinks, well actually just my raspberry iced tea! But the chips and guac, how could we not!

Whoops.. Sorry not sorry.

Whoops.. Sorry not sorry.

  • GOT TO SEE MY BESTEST FRAND, CIARA “GOODIES” COLLINS! Ciara’s studying at City University in London and it was her 20th birthday this past week which was half the reason I went this weekend. She took a cab out by us (cause she rocks and is the greatest friend), but I waited outside in the rain for her for 45 min because she had some (4) ATM technical difficulties and we couldn’t communicate (so we’re even). Classic Mario-Kierzy dilemma. Ah I cannot explain how amazing it was to catch up, listen to her highly animated stories, and naturally end the night with some irish car bombs.

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WORST:

  • Each way the travel time was 9 hours.. we took a bus, then another bus, then a plane, then another bus, then a walk there. And back we took the tube, then bus, then plane, then bus, another bus, then a walk home. Nauseating stop-n-go bus rides next to stinky people.. my worst enemy.
  • Remember when I told you the first 2 nights we each had our own beds and a Brazilian roommate? Well that room was unavailable the 3rd night and we had to get a 2 bed room, and guess where I slept? If you guessed the cold hardwood floor then you’re cold hearted, but certainly right! Thanks boys, so sweet of you to make me sleep on the ground, on my towel, in my puffy North Face jacket. Chivalry is definitely DEAD. (Unless you want to take in account the nice Indian man I sat with on the plane home who gave me a giant Chunky Kit Kat Bar because he woke me up – probably took him forever for those of you who know my sleeping habits – so he could go to the bathroom).
  • Rome Immigration – there honestly must have been huge shipments of Asian people coming into Rome and we got stuck smack dab in the middle of their group. We stood in immigration for 45 minutes, as each one with their Hello Kitty backpacks got thoroughly interrogated. They would have been laughable if I wasn’t so tired and pissed off. The little Asian man behind me even had a Gangnam Style ringtone.. can’t get more stereotypical than that!

SORRY FOR SUCH A LONG POST! IT WAS JUST A “BRILLIANT” WEEKEND AND IF YOU GET THE CHANCE: GO!

I’m in Rome this weekend, so until next time. Ciao!!!