February 27, 2012

London

 "The Best Weekend of My Life"


Well, a lot of things happened this weekend in London but most importantly.... I FELL IN LOVE. I fell head over heels in love with the city of London and I seriously love everything about it. I cannot wait to go back... and I will go back. I learned to ride the tube everywhere, drank some incredible tea, saw the sights & had the time of my life!

I must say that I am so glad that Nicole & I decided to use bus2alps for our trip to London because I seriously cannot imagine how we would have planned the trip & figured everything out on our own! For anyone studying abroad, I definitely recommend Bus2Alps because it lets you enjoy your vacation & not have to spend time trying to find things or figure things out in a random city & they have pretty cool hook-ups too! We got tickets for a cheap pub crawl (10 pounds) and 2 tours included in our trip! (check them out: http://bus2alps.com) Lauren (our bus2alps leader) was such a great help throughout the whole weekend and she even taught Nicole & me how to ride the tube.

The tube was kind of confusing at first but we finally got it & now I kind of wish we had a metro system back home!




I don't even know where to start. I guess at the beginning... (I'm sorry in advance for what I know will be a LONG blog!)

I was blessed with some great travel buddies - Nicole & Devan. It took 2 buses, a plane & lots of walking to get to our hostel but everything went smoothly and it couldn't have gone better. We got checked in at the hostel & with our bus2alps leader & headed up to our room. None of us had ever stayed in a hostel before so at first we were slightly in shock when we walked into a room with 4 bunk beds, cages under the beds for belongings, and 2 adult men sleeping in bunks. We laughed it off and went out exploring & in the morning we met all of our roommates - they were really cool! The 2 adult guys were from Chili but live in Spain and are spending a few weeks traveling Europe. 3 guys were our age and from the states & are studying in Spain & Ireland (jealous!).

The view as we got on the plane in Pisa.


We got stamped!

The hostel front desk! - I made friends with the guy that works at the front desk.


Cool walls in the hostel bar.



Friday started with a tour of the main tourist attractions in London including Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Hyde Park Corner, & The Houses of Parliament. The tour ended and our group headed to a traditional English pub called "The Old Monk" where we got fish & chips, burgers & some English beer!



Buckingham Palace!


We had a nice chat.


Such a tourist.


The women's volleyball Olympic tournament will be held right in front of this building!

Big Ben!






After the tour a couple of us went to Covent Garden, a market in London. We listened to some awesome music outside, got cookies & cupcakes, & went into an incredible tea store! (Get excited, mom!)

Peanut butter cookie!



My baby cupcake!


Friday night, our group all bought tickets for a pub crawl for 10 pounds! The pub crawl included entry to 4 bars, drink specials, a free white shirt & marker (everyone wrote all over each other all night!) & entry into a really cool club in London, Zoo Bar! Halfway through some of us took a break & went to a Vietnamese restaurant for dinner in Chinatown! At the club, Nicole & requested Levels to the DJ and at first he tried to tell us no but he gave in & played it & the entire club went so crazy that they played 3 different versions of the song in a row!



Saturday began with a trip to Portobello Market in West London. Its on of the most famous street markets in the world & goes straight through Notting Hill (made famous by the movie). The market included everything: antiques, fashion, food & souvenirs.

Antique cameras!

After the market, Nicole & I headed off to St. John's Wood where the famous Abbey Road is. We took some pictures in the crosswalk, explored the town, & ate lunch outside at Duke of York.

Abbey Road!


Enjoyed the weather outside with a burger & a beer :)

Getting this close to my friend probably wasn't the best idea but I LOVE THIS PICTURE.


My new neighborhood.

After lunch, we met up with our tour guide for a Harry Potter London walking tour where we got to see a lot of the inspiration for the movie as well as some filming locations!

Inspiration to Diagon Alley.

Had to stop for baklava.



Our tour guide.


By this point in the day, my feet hurt and I was exhausted but we had 1 more tour to go - the Grim Reaper Tour! So I got a coffee (at Starbucks!!!) and rallied. We learned all about the 1400s, Jack the Ripper, executions, poverty, disease, & crime.

Starbucks! There are none in Florence!
London Tower!

Names of some of the people who were beheaded in the square we were standing in!

The long day ended with an incredible dinner at El Cantara - a Spanish/Moroccan restaurant in Soho!







The trip ended with a 5 AM train ride to the Gatwick Airport - my favorite airport in the WORLD! We got back to Florence around 1 this afternoon and recovered from the weekend with a 7 hour nap :)


I love London.

February 26, 2012

The Eggs









Walking around London, I started to notice these egg statues everywhere and so naturally I just took pictures of them. I finally got curious and asked someone about them and was told that its an "Easter Egg Hunt" in London that lasts until Easter and includes 209 faberge eggs. The ones I saw were incredible and the link below shows all 209 of them. Seriously... go look at them because they are incredible.




My favorite egg! :)


 













The inside was a kaleidoscope. So cool.