London

St._Pancras_station_in_London

St. Pancras station in London – in my head it’s “pancreas”

I’m going to squish this all in one post because we squished this all in one weekend!

I fell in LOVE with London. Maybe it was the sunshine that weekend, or the fact that I was with my best friend, or the fact that it’s been on my travel wish list for so long, but I was instantly smitten! Everywhere we went was charming, different, and interesting. The buses were crazy! The people were so nice! There was good coffee with or without ice cubes everywhere! Clotted cream in the train station! The SHOPPING!

Westminster_Abbey?

Tried to capture what I think is Westminster Abbey in the background?

OMG I just can’t even handle it. Paris has so many amazing things, but none of the above. And I don’t realize until I get out how much it sucks sometimes. 😉 I definitely have a love-hate relationship with Paris after three years here. The housing situation, things being randomly closed, shitty weather…I will now mention some things I love about Paris to make myself feel better, since I won’t be going back to California until Christmas. The fig tart I had recently…champagne for the smallest of occasions…tiny windy streets…my friends…French, the language…cigarette smoke…duck…the buildings…the museums I love…dogs…ok I feel better now.

Back to London!

Here are some of our discoveries:

Indian_Vegetarian_Buffet

GAH!

Diwana | Not only is every cuisine represented in London, but odd sub-categories like Indian Vegetarian buffet exist in the restaurant scene. YES. I didn’t love every dish but it being a buffet who cares. Plus it was only £6.95! It was packed with businesspeople on their lunch break – always a good sign.

Diwana Restaurant – 121 Drummond Street / London NW1 2HL / Euston

Pizza_Pilgrims

Yes.

Pizza Pilgrims | This would go number 4 on my list of best pizzas (1. Una Pizza Napolitana in SF 2. any homemade pizza 3. Zachary’s in Oakland) – it was just a solid, wood-fired oven pizza with great sauce and cheese. Mmm I’m drooling just remembering and I think it’s been almost two months. Long wait, but they’ll serve you cocktails while you wait outside – brilliant! We went to the Soho location but there is another one in Carnaby.

Pizza Pilgrims – 11 Dean Street / Soho W1D 3RP

Drink_Shop_&_Do-London

cake_at_Drink-Shop-&-Do

Drink Shop & Do | I love doing ridiculous things like going somewhere for cake and coffee for breakfast and then going somewhere for tea after. Ottilia does too. This is why we are friends. This was yet another amazing little treasure that Ot spotted from the bus – not only do they serve brunch and lunch and good coffee, they have a whole counter full of homemade, beautiful cakes (frosting is considered optional in Paris – not cool), all the furniture and decorations are vintage and for sale, and they have art classes. When we were there, a bride and her bridesmaids were having tea and making crafts. !!!

Drink Shop & Do – 9 Caledonian Road / King’s Cross, London / N1 9DX
020 7278 4335

Tea-time

Tea Rooms | I was obsessed with having a true English-style tea and though Ottilia’s mom is from London so she grew up having tea all the time she was down. We found this place online and it was lovely. We were served copious amounts of little sandwiches, scones, and cakes, and we got TWO full pots of tea! And I learned the hard way that a thin layer of clotted cream is best. (And my friend Amelia has since told me that she puts the jam on first, then puts the cream and lets it sort of melt down, which sounds amazing.) This neighborhood was also full of lovely stores full of high-quality things I didn’t even know I wanted, like really nice gold scissors, and cute cheeky greeting cards.

Tea Rooms – 155 Stoke Newington Church St / London N16 0UH

Cocktails-in-a-can _M&S

Marks & Spencer | We do have this in Paris, but they don't carry everything that they do in the London ones. We discovered CANNED VODKA AND GIN AND TONICS. Genius, practical, and delicious.

The Tate Modern | I only had time for one museum, but I quite enjoyed this one. I was interested in the paying exhibit but decided to spend my leftover pounds on a Topshop dress instead – priorities. 🙂 The free parts were great! I happened upon a photography series in California and I recognized a photo of an AC Transit bus. Funny to stumble across that in London. I also loved this sculpture – not just because of the glitter and bright color (but mostly). I especially like it because the glitter is composed of crystals that formed naturally from an application of copper sulfate powder. As the description reads, the artist “uses chemical or mineral processes to explore ideas of growth and change and the tensions between the industrial and the organic.” While I sometimes don’t appreciate when you need an explanation to understand art, this time it helped me understand the piece and enjoy it more!

Sculpture-by-Roger-Hiorns-at-Tate-Modern

by Roger Hiorns

General awesome-ness and happiness | Ok so I might have unrealistic tourist take on London, but there was so much cool stuff everywhere! Like Paris (and of course many other cities) there are beautiful parks integrated into the city that we kept stumbling upon. The flowers and plants were just as stunning as in the Jardin de Luxembourg or Versailles. There was free tight-rope walking in a grassy area with a very nice guy offering to help you mount and dismount. We also enjoyed Queen Mary’s Rose Garden as a way to walk off the Indian food on our first day. Walking through Soho, we happened upon a Birchbox event – I paid £3 for several samples and discovered a new favorite lip balm, and the money went to charity. All of the people we encountered were so nice, apologizing if we had to wait at restaurants. I just LOVED it and I’m so so so stoked to go back!

A bientôt

A bientôt

10 Things

I’m in the midst of setting things up for my future – both immediately and farther forward. Exciting things on the horizon include a WWOOF trip in the south of France, a sailing trip off the northern coast of France, travel to London, Barcelona, and eastern Europe, and visits from my parents, cousin, and possibly some friends from home! (That’s if I can save up enough cash, wow.)

I am also applying to graduate school in Paris for fall 2013 and looking into some options in California as well. I am agonizing over the decision of what direction to go in after this summer – it’s a tough choice! After living somewhere for 2 years, it’s hard to pick up and leave. Actually, I’ll be honest, deciding how long to stay has been a decision that has plagued me since I arrived. My anxiety of “where to live, what to do” comes and goes but sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be 100% happy where I am? Luckily I have some time until I have to make a final decision, so until then, I’m focusing on the fun stuff and enjoying myself!

Here’s what I’m loving lately…

1. Watching the snow melt (ok this was like a month ago but it’s still cool!)

IMG_2711

2. Radishes as a snack

crunchy goodness

crunchy goodness

3. A fun party where I learned, and then forgot, some Portuguese. I do remember how to say cheers (saúde!) – an important word to know in any language, I say.

My friend Kat and I

My friend Kat and I

4. I am a choir dork 4 lyfe

PCS for Paris Choral Society

PCS for Paris Choral Society

5. Making a cake, forgetting the flour, covering the mistake in ganache. My tip for this cake, other than DON’T FORGET THE FLOUR, is to whip the egg whites when they are truly at room temperature. Mine whipped up in like one minute, it was amazing.

Ganache fixes all mistakes, right?

Ganache fixes all mistakes, right?

6. Velib!!! I feel like SUCH a baller biking around Paris. I biked home from class the other day – from St. Michel, past Notre Dame, all the way down Rue de Rivoli past the Louvre, through Place de la Concorde (still trying to figure out how to get through there without dying or having to walk my bike through crosswalks) and up the Champs-Élysées to chez moi. I don’t think I’ll ever have a commute like this again.

7. Been listening to a new-to-me fun French artist, discovered through an American friend.

8. Instead of using bookmarks on my browser, I started using Feedly to organize all my online reads. I’m into it! You can organize the sources you read in many different ways and it keeps all my mindless internet reading in one place so I can choose when to zone out online.

9. My old furniture was replaced with shiny new Ikea stuff! In case you are curious about what my apartment looks like, here are some pics. Sorry it’s not neater. 🙂

Entry

Entry

Bed

Bed

Table and new chairs

Table and new chairs

Kitchen area

Kitchen area

Hi!

Hi!

10. I had the pleasure of going to a gathering at a friend’s apartment in Montrouge, a city right outside Paris. They just opened up a new metro stop on the line 4 and I was SO excited to check it out! It’s so cool to imagine people in 100 years feeling about the Montrouge stop the way I feel about the older metro stations in Paris proper. Here are some pictures I took (I’m such a dork):

Bright and shiny

Bright and shiny

It's so clean and bright!

It’s so clean and bright!

So excited to be in a new metro station!

So excited to be in a new metro station!

Clean white bench on a clean street

Clean white bench on a clean street

I become accustomed to the dirt, grime, and noise in Paris. Just beyond the Rue Périphérique, life is instantly calm and quiet. It’s nice to be in a big exciting city, but I’m happy to get out every once in awhile.