Superb Sunday Shenanigans

Superb Sunday Shenanigans

What a day! In short: woke up, gym, home, breakfast, Bricklane Market, Monument, St. Paul's, fancy Afternoon Tea, home! In more detail…

 

After a nice, long workout at the gym and a hearty breakfast of eggs on beans and rice, I joined Chrissy, Lauren, and Caitlin for a jaunt to Bricklane Market, my absolute favorite London market. It's a magical place filled with amazing food, creative clothing, and some other astounding goods. I started out the market with a steamed bun, and it was delicious! Next, I made my way to a stand selling leather briefcases, satchels, and purses. I have been waiting for months to purchase a briefcase from this stand. I have searched everywhere that I have traveled for something else, but nothing compared in price, quality, or beauty. I finally decided to get it, and I could not be happier. It's perfect, and definitely something I'll treasure for life. Check it out:

Well Worth The Wait…

Next, we browsed around the various clothing sellers, whose wares varied from vintage to designer to somewhere in between. I swung by the vendor who I had bought my leather jacket from, as he always has nice, but inexpensive items, and found an absolute steal. In a effort to reduce inventory, he was selling some items for only five pounds. Including… a perfect pinstriped navy suit. I tried it on and it fit me like it was tailored for me. Another market win!

Happy with that success, we made our way back to the food area, where I got some Thai food. (A mixed plate that included green curry and panang curry on rice!) It was delicious!

Next, we made our way via tube to the Monument! I had been before, but Chrissy was visiting, so I figured it was definitely something worth seeing. 311 steps later, we emerged onto the platform. It was stunning. We watched the sun go down (by 4:30) and then made our way down the stairs yet again.

We then walked to St. Paul's, which was gorgeous and illuminated at night. We walked around it, got some pictures, then made our way via tube to meet up with a larger group for afternoon tea!

Afternoon tea was a delight! We each received our own teapots and a range of finger sandwiches, scones, and little desserts. It was a wonderful way to top off the day! We shared plenty of tea and conversation.

Finally, we made it home. All in all, a good day.

 

Steam Buns at the Market

 

Thai Curries!

On Top of the Monument!

 

View from the Monument

 

Tower Bridge View from the Monument

 

The Shard and the Sunset

 

Illuminated St. Paul's

Tea Time!

 

Adriyel Enjoying Tea!

 

Nibbles

 

Tea Done Right

 

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Portabello Road Market and More!

Portabello Road Market and More!

Today I explored the famous Portabello Road market, met up with my cousin, and cooked a group supper.

I started my morning with a big workout at the YMCA, which made sure I was hungry for the market. Ther was plenty of good food available, and from all corners of the world. I ended up getting an arepa (a Venezuelan dish similar to pita sandwich) stuffed with black beans, beef, and chicken! It as amazing and totally what I was craving.

I then walked along Portabello Road, looking at the various cool items available to buy, including every type of vintage and outstanding silver pieces. There were also various street performers, food vendors, and more!

After enjoying their market, I walked over to my cousin Alyssa's apartment to hang out and try some of her amazing pastries. (She is studying pastry at the Cordon Bleu.) We also watched some tv, video-chatted our Nana, and just chatted about life in London.

Finally, I made my way home, made some of my homemade Mac and cheese (a practice run for our Thanksgiving potluck offering) and enjoyed having my flat, plus neighbors in Teddy and Joe, plus guests in Chrissy and Lauren. It was a fun meal and we had some great conversation and some apple turnovers from Portabello Road Market.

All in all, a good day!

Market Stand

 

Street Performer

Bubble floating over the market

Market Donuts

 

Arepas Being Cooked

 

Alyssa's Creations- WOW!!!

 

Chinatown Adventures

Chinatown Adventures

Today, I spent a little while exploring the Chinatown area around my lunchtime.

It's a delightful area, nestled in a small selection of side streets near SoHo. As soon as one turns off the main road, the signs switch to Chinese and English, paper lanterns crisscross the street, and an array of colors, sounds, and delicious smells explodes into the streets. After a brief time meandering around the streets, I decided to snag myself a steam bun from a small, busy shop with delectable scents wafting from within. I chose the house special of chicken and Chinese vegetables, and it was absolutely glorious. I bit off a corner to let the steam within billow out. Inside was some amazing, deeply flavorful chicken and vegetables, which contrasted brilliantly with the starchy sweetness of the steamed bun surrounding it.

Next, I was craving some dumplings, so I walked around until I saw a small restaurant making them in the window. They looked incredible, and with a London Times article posted near the front door proclaiming its greatness, I decided it was a solid choice. I went with Beijing Chicken dumplings. They were scrumptious! It was such fun to nibble off a corner of one, let out some steam, dip it in soy sauce, and then chow down on it.

Finally, I explored a few grocery stores to pick up some ingredients that I had trouble finding elsewhere. At the top of my list? Sriracha, the classic red hot sauce with a green lid, and one of my favorite foods in the world! Luckily, I found some at a decent price. I also snagged some rice noodles, which formed the base of the massive, vegetable-filled stir fry I made for my flat tonight.

After my Chinatown adventures, I made my way to the teaching site, did some reading, then headed off to the gym for a nice, long workout. (Bonus! Today, I got to swim counterclockwise – American-style – for a little bit of my warmdown. It felt awesome.) Post-gym, I grabbed some vegetables from the grocery, and made some stirfry when I got home.

All in all, a good day.

Chinatown

 

Steam Bun

 

Dumpling Creation

 

Lanterns

 

Terrific Tuesday: London Style

Terrific Tuesday: London Style

Today was an action-packed day! To show Georgia and Natisha the full London experience, we went to the London Eye, looked at Westminster and Westminster Abbey from the outside, took pictures at a classic phone booth, and even ate some awesome fish and chips!

 

We began the morning with a tube ride to Westminster. I chose our exit from the station carefully, so we would emerge directly below Big Ben, an awe-inspiring sight especially after emerging from the Underground. We then made our way over to the London Eye, bought tickets, and headed on up to our car in the massive Ferris wheel. It was amazing to see London stretched out below us for as far as the eye could see. The city looked absolutely beautiful in the morning light. Though it was a bit pricy, the Eye was absolutely worth it!

Next, we walked over to around Westminster and Westminster Abbey to see the exteriors. Both were beautiful as usual, but Westminster Abbey was also surrounded by rows of crosses and paper poppies to commemorate the veteran's sacrifices. It was moving to see the thousands upon thousands of miniature memorials.

On a lighter note, we then swung into a phone booth near the tube station to take another quintessential London tourist photo. After all of our Westminster adventuring, we were extra-hungry, so we ventured to The Golden Hind (currently holding the crown for best fish and chips in London in my book) for lunch of fish and chips with mushy peas, tartar sauce, and vinegar. It was as good as ever, and the massive portions of white, flaky fish and perfectly made sides reminded me why this was a great place for fish and chips.

Finally, I headed to class and the gym, per usual. I then made Mac and cheese for dinner, which we all enjoyed as usual. It was so fun to have an extra-packed house!

 

All in all, another great London day! Pictures below!

 

Walking to the Eye

 

In the Eye

 

Westminster from the Eye

 

Pods over London

On Top of the City

 

Hanging Out above the City

 

Another View of Westminster

 

Westminster, Again…

Hello Ben!

 

Westminster Abbey

 

Remembrance

 

The Classic London Shot

 

Calling Everyone

 

Fish and Chips

 

 

Fish and Chips : detail

 

Georgia and Natisha Come to Visit!

Georgia and Natisha Come to Visit!

It was fun arriving home from Spain late last night to come home to two of my friends visiting London and staying with us! Georgia and Natisha joined us from their study abroad experience in Denmark. It is always such fun to get to spend time with Grinnellians outside of our natural (Grinnell) habitat and to share London with visitors.

I spent the early part of the day doing homework, going to class, and working out, but we got to spend the evening together. I made the whole group (our flat plus our two visitors) some chicken fajitas for dinner and then we all relaxed in the apartment. Of course, no visit to London is complete without a nice visit to a pub, so we popped over to my favorite pub, The Exmouth Arms, and enjoyed a round of drinks and some great conversation. It was a wonderfully relaxing way to finish off the evening. Tomorrow, Natisha, Georgia, and myself are going to enjoy the London Eye, Chinatown, and whatever else we can find to do!

 

Georgia and I

 

Pub Time! (L->R: Georgia, me, Natisha, Claire, Caitlin)

 

Libraries, Indian Food, and Skyfall!

Libraries, Indian Food, and Skyfall!

It was another busy day in London for yours truly!

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My day began with a trip to The Women's Library, a massive collection of books and archives focused on women's history. We spent the morning exploring our research options, touring the facility, and examining some example pieces from the archives. I am really excited to have access to such a first-rate resource, especially as I begin to do some independent research for my class on British Feminism.

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After the museum, I meandered down to Bricklane for lunch. I ate at Sweet & Spicy again, and enjoyed a lunch special with lamb curry, chana, some pilau rice, a puri, a naan, and some pickled mango. It was very delicious and an amazing treat.

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Finally, I went to go see Skyfall, the latest James Bond film. It was AMAZING. I will definitely be seeing it again when I get home. I particularly enjoyed seeing how many of the locations I recognized, as a good portion of the movie takes place in London. It was pretty fun to see the places I pass every day on the big screen!

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Pictures below…

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The Women's Library

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My lunch

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Pilau Rice

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The Travel Day!

The Travel Day!

Today was a day of planes, trains, and automobiles! (Ironically, in reverse order. Also, with some buses for added flavor!)

Our morning began at 6:45, when we left Gocce Di Capri in a van driven by our host, Marco. A short time later, we were departing the Sorrento train station for Naples. From Naples we caught another train to Casserta, where we had a quick coffee and sandwich break at the railway cafe. Then, another train took us to Bari.

We spent some time in Bari walking around, looking at the sea, and enjoying our final bites of Italian pizza and gelato. I also met an Italian pug. (Pugs always have great names, and this one, Carolina, was no exception.)

We finally boarded the shuttle to the Bari airport and made it with plenty of time to spare. We chatted with some of the flight attendants as we were being seated, and got moved to extremely spacious exit row seats! (A little extra politeness and smiles always pay off somehow!)

Finally, a few buses later brought us home to our flat.

We did it! Italy accomplished!

 

Also, Happy birthday, Mom! You are the best!

Bari Boats

 

 

The Last Gelato

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Carolina the Pug

 

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Comfy in my exit row!!!

 

Sorrento Explorations: Day 1

Sorrento Explorations: Day 1

Our adventure into our Sorrento Hotel last night was a bit… crazy.

After a long train ride from Naples to Sorrento, we had to make it from the Sorrento train station up to our hotel. Unfortunately for us, the bus was not running after 6 PM. And it was POURING. Fortunately though, a can driver took us up and even gave us a bit of a discount off of the labeled fare because we were students and he understood “what a student budget is like!” We were then met by our amazing host, Marco, who explained the area and even directed us to the only open local grocery and restaurant.

We made it into our apartment, set our stuff down, and walked ten minutes on a pitch black road to the small town of Termini. We picked up a few essentials from the small grocer and made our way to the restaurant.

 

The restaurant was a small, family-run place. How small? They didn't have a menu. Instead, the owner came to our table, gave us a basket of bread, and asked us a few questions about what we felt like eating and how much we felt like spending. (In, of course, a mixture of Italian and English, with a small touch of pantomiming involved.) We ended up getting some amazing spaghetti with a simple tomato sauce. It was incredible. The pasta was so fresh and perfectly al dente. The sauce was simple, but immeasurably perfect. It was homemade Italian food, and definitely one of our best meals here. The restaurant was a local hangout, with some regulars sharing drinks on the patio and some young men in the back room watching a soccer football match.

 

After our meal, we trudged home in the pouring rain and fell asleep after some chatting.

 

We woke up this morning to an amazing view.

The island off in the distance is Capri. We are literally on the top of a cliff, overlooking the coast. It's beautiful.

 

After spending some time admiring the extraordinary view from our balcony, we made a light breakfast of eggs and croissants. We needed to get some groceries and hit an ATM, so Marco directed us to the nearest town with an ATM… five kilometers away. Also, there were no buses, as it was All Saints Day. Luckily, it was a beautiful day, so we began hiking down the trail.

 

It was amazing to see the cliffs and all of the extraordinary views. Olive trees lined the road and we could see the waves crashing down on the shore. It was an amazing way to spend the day, and we loved the Italian air and sea.

 

After our long walk, we enjoyed watching the sunset and the coast of Capri light up.

 

For dinner, we returned to the same small Italian restaurant. I had ravioli, homemade and delicious!

 

Pictures below!

 

The View

 

Cliffside Explorations

 

Beautiful Rural Church

 

Another Amazing View

 

Along the Road

Looking Down

Coffee & Pastry (Sfogliatella) Break

 

Balcony View

 

As the Sun Set

 

Sunset over Capri

 

Capri Coast at Night

 

“Rome-ing” Around Rome

“Rome-ing” Around Rome

Today was an sightseeing-packed day!

After a small breakfast at the hotel, we ventured into central Rome. Our first visit was the Severan Complex of Roman ruins. (These are a massive complex of ruins, gardens, paths, and more.) After a few hours of hiking around, taking pictures of the various ruins and the nearby Coliseum, and listening in on tours, we were pretty famished.

 

We had a nice, relaxed dinner at a small restaurant a few blocks away from the ruins. After the ravioli-recharge, I felt great and ready to see some more of Rome. We continued our adventure around the city. We saw tons of amazing sites, from the Pantheon, to the Piazza Navona, to the Piazza del Popolo.

 

Finally exhausted, we returned home to rest and rise again tomorrow. We plan to see the Vatican and then venture onward to our final city of the trip, Sorrento.

 

Stay tuned, and enjoy the pictures!

 

Waiting in line, ready to go.

 

The Coliseum

Ruined Roman Arch

Part of the Severan Complex

Caitlin and I enjoying the Severan Complex

Totally Obeying the Rules

View From the Severan Complex

Ruins

Column I

Column II

Coliseum

View within the Ruins

 

Climbing the Coliseum

 

Group Shot!

Church Bells!

Ruins

Statue

Piazza di San Marcello

Monumento a Vittorio Emmanuel II

Pantheon

 

Oculus Within Pantheon

 

Pantheon Interior

 

Gelato Break! (Mango, Dark Chocolate, & Strawberry)

 

Fountain from Piazza Navona

 

Statue from Piazza del Popolo

 

Florentine Days!

Florentine Days!

Today was another day of fun, slightly rainy still, but so much fun!

 

We adventured all around Florence, eating good food and seeing amazing art, including Michelangelo's David in the Academia and Donatello's David in the city squares. Another great find was the Medici palace. It was a fantastic lens into the past, and we recognized many of the artworks inside from our art history course on 14th Century Art From Florence to Flanders. Professor Nuttall, if you are reading this, be proud; we felt so knowledgable thanks to your course! We also saw the Duomo and tons of other fantastic buildings!

 

Tomorrow is another awesome day, with a visit to the Plaza Michelangelo (per the recommendation of the best dad ever, Bomi Mistry) and some leather markets in Florence. Also, as always, good food and plenty of photography.

 

In the evening, we will head to Rome! Stay tuned!

 

As usual, some pictures below…

 

 

 

Medici Palace Courtyard

 

I blend in…

Fantastic artwork in the Medici Palace

Amazing Room in the Medici Palace

Yet another amazing room in the Medici Palace

 

Madonna Di Filippo Lippi (Master to Botticelli)

 

Another courtyardin the Medici Palace

Duomo

Another View

Lunch stop- takeaway pasta or pizza for €5!

 

Lunch: Tortellini con Prosciutto

Square

Square

Donatello's David

Michelangelo's David (the original in the Academia, not the copy in the square.)

 

 

 

Guardian Lion

River near sunset

 

Coffee break… (Note the subtle touch with the artistic leaf in the cream. Very nice.)

 

Dinner: Pizza and salad.