Saturday, May 24, 2014

Slow It Down

Has anyone else noticed how quickly the month of May has been flying by? I still feel like I just got back from Greece, even though it's been a solid month since my return (and I promise I'll post about my trip eventually!). At this point it's worth it to mention that, for a myriad of reasons, I will no longer be staying in London for a full year, but plan to return to the States at the end of July. I have mixed feelings about it since I'm looking forward to being close to family and friends again, but I know I'll miss London a lot. All this to say, I'm trying really hard to enjoy this once in a lifetime opportunity!

That sounds simple enough because, duh, I'm living in London, but I actually find it kind of hard to live in the present. I tend to live my life either reminiscing about the past or dreaming of the future. Ask any of my friends, I'm usually either recounting something that happened in college, or even two weeks ago, or carrying on about some plan for the future (usually a potential vacation). History is sure to repeat itself and before I know it I'll be back in Texas, dreaming of a way to get out and clinging desperately to the memories I made here, counting down the days until my next big adventure.

Before all that happens though, I have a crazy/exciting/exhausting month ahead of me. But seriously, it's just going to make my last ten weeks here go by THAT much quicker! In two weeks Sammy and her boyfriend Ryan are coming for a week, during which time we'll be going to Brussels and Amsterdam. The weekend after I get back from Amsterdam, I'll be jetting off to the south of France for a few days of sun with Brittany and her sister. Last, but certainly not least, will be a week with my other blonde bestie, Sarah, including a couple of days each in Paris and Rome.

I'm hoping that writing all this down will force me to remember to just appreciate where I'm at right now and not focus so much on the future. My return to the States will mean figuring out where to settle down (that's a whole other issue...to stay in Texas, or not to stay in Texas?), readjusting to "normal" life and finding a job. It's not like I can do anything to help that from London so there's no need to waste my time here wondering what is going to happen. It's time for me to learn to focus on the here and now.

Sorry for the text heavy post, I promise I'll make up for it with lots of pictures next time! Here's to slowing down and enjoying the present :)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Let's Take A Walk Vol. 2

I'm back with another adventure to share! Today I decided to brave the city crowds and ventured out to Covent Garden then walked to South Bank Center. It was absolutely gorgeous outside and for the first time since I got here I didn't need to wear a jacket. I kept feeling like I was forgetting something then realized it was sweet relief over needing one less layer! Anyway, here we go:


If you follow me on Instagram then you already know I started my morning out with some delicious homemade pop tarts. The recipe I used is via an old friend's baking blog. As soon as I saw the homemade version of one of my breakfast faves, I knew it was necessary that I make some for myself!

After being properly satiated, I got ready to head out with a plan of going to a pizza place in Covent Garden. As I was about to walk out the door, I ran into Melissa's mom and she suggested going to a market by the Royal Festival Hall that was full of more ethnic food vendors. The food markets here have yet to disappoint so I ditched the pizza idea.


I still went to Covent Garden and I'm glad I did! There were lots of shops, some street entertainment and a Laduree that you can bet I patronized.



I almooost passed on the food market when I spotted the Shake Shack in Covent Garden but I'm so glad I didn't because the atmosphere was way more laid back at South Bank Center (also the line for Shake Shack was a little outrageous, so maybe I'll go back another day).

When I got to the Royal Festival Hall I immediately spotted the Wahaca that is constructed out of shipping containers and was really tempted to just eat there. Instead, I continued on and was rewarded with food stalls containing just about every variation of Indian food you could imagine and decided a curry would do just fine for lunch.




My curry from The Peckish Peacock was super tasty, as were the macarons I had for pudding! I took one last lap around the place, tried something inhumanely spicy, contemplated a fresh coconut, then carried on along the South Bank.






This particular area of South Bank offers lovely views of Big Ben and lots of random street performers. Not gonna lie, my favorite was the bubble guy because bubbles are cool no matter how old you are.



I found out that the little park across from Big Ben has free wifi so I hung out there for a bit. The people watching was top notch, think old people attempting selfies with Big Ben in the background. I'm sure I'll be back there on sunny days in the future!

Before I leave you on this lovely Friday, I have to share this awesome video Kassie posted on my Facebook wall. You're welcome ;)


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Let's Take A Walk

Okay, I have clearly failed miserably at blogging while I've been in London so far, but I'm hoping to change that. I figure that when even my mom is calling me out for slacking, I need to get back to it. I've kind of slipped into what feels like a mundane routine, which is okay for me, but has made it hard to blog. And also, I've just been enjoying soaking up this experience without fretting about how I'm going to write about it. All that being said, I know I've got family and friends back home that would enjoy hearing more about what I've been up to so I'm going to try to be better about blogging!

Instead of doing a massive photo dump/catch up, I decided to just jump back into things with a sort of "day in the life" post. I have Fridays off (only for a couple more weeks now) so I typically try to get out and explore. Yesterday I brought my camera along to Primrose Hill and snapped a few things as I went so that I could bring you with me! Disclaimer: I haven't been taking near as many pictures as I should for the past couple of months so I was a little camera shy. Hopefully I'll get better about this as I go!

Never thought I'd be so dependent on public transportation! I had never ridden a city bus before coming here and now I take either a bus or the tube almost anywhere I need to go. Got my Oyster card so it's off to Primrose Hill!
First things first, to the top of the hill! I've been told that Primrose Hill is the highest point in London. It's hard to tell from the photo, but I broke a sweat climbing to the top. 
After lunch at a local cafe I set off exploring and came across this fun pedestrian bridge.
This coffee shop was located at the end of the bridge and I certainly couldn't resist its charm!
Went in for a cuppa and enjoyed a peek round the tiny, yet adorable place.
I'm in love with the flowers that are everywhere right now! From the blooms that are now decorating every park to the millions of flower shops, I just can't get enough.
After some wandering I ended up in Regent's Park and strolled along the canal.
Eventually I made my way Queen Mary's Garden, which was just beautiful! I always think of my gramma as I roam through the gorgeous gardens here because I know how much she would enjoy them and probably be able to identify every last flower.
I spy some sun bathing chairs :)
Merpeople. And a kid just being a kid!
Oh, just a panther stalking his prey.
Make that a half panther/half lady? There were some more of these neat sculptures in Regent's Park but this one was my favorite.

After Regent's Park I walked back up to a Starbucks (not very adventurous, I realize, but they're always guaranteed to have free wifi) and relaxed with a cold drink for a bit before heading home. I opted to return on foot and discovered that it was only about a thirty minute walk home. Not bad for a nice quiet stroll with my headphones in. Admittedly, I didn't take quite as many pictures as I should have/wanted to and my skills are definitely a little rusty. I promise to post more and keep everyone more informed on my time here! Soon I'll do some posts lightly recapping my trips to Greece and Spain.

I'll repeat this process next Friday so keep an eye out for more!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

London So Far

After two days of travel my dad and I arrived in London ready for a good night's sleep. Peter picked us up from the airport and when we got home Melissa had a shepherd's pie ready for dinner. The kids stayed up to meet us and were so excited when we arrived! We felt right at home and after dinner settled down to go to sleep.

Monday morning Melissa showed us around the neighborhood a bit and then my dad and I took the bus down to visit the Queen. We didn't have much of a plan but started at Buckingham Palace then walked down the mall and through St. James's Park to see Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. After taking shelter from a random torrential downpour, we slowly wandered back to the bus and made our way home.






Tuesday my dad went up to Stoke visit a company that he sometimes works with. The visit was good for his company and I got some time at home to get settled in and unpacked. I was still recovering from jet lag and was thankful for an easy day at home. We ended the day with my first take away curry and I quickly decided I'm now a fan of Indian food!

Wednesday we went to nearby Hampstead to see some of the shops and have a coffee with Melissa's parents. Afterwards, my dad and I went back into the city. We wandered through the West End down to Picadilly Circus and, of course, had to visit a few stores on Regent Street. From there we went to the National Gallery to take in some art and get our culture on. We made it home in time for dinner and an early bed time.




Thursday was my dad's last full day in London. We started the day on Parliament Hill then went into town to St. Paul's Cathedral. The cathedral was beautiful and we spent a good couple of hours wandering around inside and even climbed over 500 steps all the way to the top. The view from the top of St. Paul's was stunning! After St. Paul's we walked to China Town for dinner, then caught a showing of Jersey Boys, which was phenomenal and well worth all the hype.




We squeezed quite a bit into the few days my dad was here with me and I enjoyed having someone to help me get around the city. Friday morning I said goodbye to my dad and spent the rest of the day catching up on work and otherwise trying to keep myself preoccupied. Despite the weather getting horrible by Wednesday, my first week in London was really nice!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Updates

A few updates are in order since my last post. As you can see, I gave my blog a much needed facelift and I'm very happy with it! I bought a new template and made some edits with a LOT of help from Sarah to give it a more personalized look. It was definitely time for something new. It's been a few days since my Meemaw passed away and I still feel a bit up and down each day. I still find the whole thing incredibly hard to believe. I've received many kind, uplifting words and appreciate every single one.

For my last update: it's time to share my quick stay in Istanbul! My dad and I chose to fly Turkish Airlines to London since it was the cheapest option. We could have chosen a three hour layover and been in and out of Turkey but that just wasn't adventurous enough for us. Instead, we opted for the 30 hour layover that gave us enough time to stay in Istanbul overnight and see a bit of the city.



Our flight to Istanbul was amazing. We flew "comfort class" instead of economy and it was well worth the upgrade. Extra leg room, our seats reclined more and had foot rests and the food was delicious. My first transatlantic flight went swimmingly.


There was quite a line at customs but we trucked through pretty quickly. After about 40 minutes we were finally on our way to the hotel in the old city. We stayed right across the street from the Hagia Sophia in the Hagia Sophia Hotel, which was really nice and had an excellent shower (really, it must be mentioned).


The hotel was in the perfect location, right by all the action. We easily walked to the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and around a lot of the old city, which is where all the history is. We saw some obelisks that had been in place since around 300 AD, as well as the start of the Roman Road.




Istanbul was incredible and I could have happily spent a few more days in Turkey exploring even more of the country. My one request before we left was to see the Blue Mosque by daylight. The mosque was stunning and well worth our early wakeup call on Sunday. It was also worth getting up to see some more of the city by daylight.




We arrived to the airport on Sunday a little sad to be leaving, but excited for the next adventure ahead. I hope to make it back to Istanbul eventually for a more extended stay, but I'm incredibly glad for the short time I had there!

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year, New Residence


Things have been pretty quiet around this blog for the past few months, but lucky for my loyal readers (the few that have stuck with me!) that is about to change. In less than three weeks I'll be hopping on a flight bound for London where I will live for a year as an au pair!

When I really sit and think about what I'm doing, there is a moment where I realize how crazy and unlike me the whole thing is. Mostly, though, I'm insanely excited for an amazing year ahead of me. I love to travel but I've never left North America so I'm looking forward to not only living in another country, but also visiting as many new places as possible while I'm in Europe.

Every time I try to make a list of places to go or things to see it ends up being way too long so for now I don't have much of a plan. Maybe I'll come up with a loose "Euro bucket list" sort of thing. It's really hard to narrow down places I want to visit (I have to be realistic about what I can afford) but it couldn't hurt to get something down on paper. There's also plenty of things I want to experience (i.e. the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace), so that can be included as well. I'm open to suggestions of things to see so definitely leave a comment if you've got ideas for me!

Now I've got 18 days to figure out how to pack for a year abroad...this should be interesting.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Photo Friday

Today I'm linking up with Sarah for my first Photo Friday! She told me on Tuesday that she would be co-hosting this link up so I used it as an opportunity to get out and have a little lunch time adventure with my camera in tow. I visited a nearby state park and soaked in the chilly, gloomy day while enjoying some beautiful reflections on a little pond and a stroll through the woods.