Posts Tagged With: John Green

Books & Food & Rock ‘N’ Roll

Last weekend I took a little timeout from the pile of crap that 2014 has presented me with so far and drove to Frankfurt to meet a friend of mine and spend the weekend doing what we do. Which is so to say shop, listen to music, eat, visit the book fair and get tattooed.

I left work early on Friday and had to take an unplanned quick stop at home because – what a coincidence! – my mom had been admitted to hospital again on Thursday. This time it’s another hospital and it’s more of a ‘better safe than sorry’ thing and she’s feeling fine. But it was still bad timing because she was meant to take care of my cats. I had to get home and clean my place a little bit before I left, so my neighbor, who had kindly agreed to be the cat sitter, wouldn’t die of a shock.

The drive to Frankfurt went surprisingly well. I gotta say I love taking roadtrips by myself. I also like taking them with (the right) people but driving by myself has its own perks. No quarreling over who gets to choose the next song. No multiple stops at every other rest stop because someone always has to pee, needs a snack and plainly wants to stretch their legs. And you get lots of thinking and planning to do in your mind. One of these days I’m probably trying to set up Siri so I can make notes while driving. I had so many good ideas for this project I’m working on but it’s hard to remember them all. I also got a lot of really, really bad singing done. I never sing along to music with people around – don’t ask me why! – but when I’m alone in the car, I give it my all, no kidding. Anyway, surprisingly, I only got stuck in traffic once, for about thirty minutes, the rest went so smoothly, I arrived early enough to freshen up at the hotel. The hotel wasn’t anything special, but nice and clean and I loved the design of everything. A lot of blue and beige and a modern design. The only thing that left us puzzled was the sink that was right in the room instead of in the bathroom. Admittedly, there was already little space in there anyway but still!

The first thing we did on Friday night was head to a tattoo appointment we’d scheduled to get our shared tattoo. It’s half friendship tattoo, half John Green appreciation and I love it. “Okay?” – “Okay.” is something that Hazel Grace and Augustus say on the phone continuously. It’s their thing, a way to reassure and comfort each other. It’s one of the things that screamed ‘friendship’ to me about this book, so it was only right that my oldest friend and I got those, especially since we’re both so in love with John Green’s writing. I got it on my lower arm, just below the elbow. In the picture, mine’s below, the one with the question mark. So far it’s the most painful tattoo I got, even my foot and the spine area were easier to handle. Maybe I’m getting more sensitive with age, I don’t know. I also bled a lot more than my friend. Body, WTF u doin’? Anyway, we got it done at a very cute studio by a very nice and lovely little lady. She had pictures of her work all over the place, as tattoo artists do, and she does a lot of Tim Burton stuff, too. I wanted her to ink me all over!

After we got our ink done, it was time for food. I know it isn’t smart but I never like to eat before a tattoo appointment. I mean, I drink sugary stuff, so low blood sugar won’t be an issue but I don’t like a full stomach while I’m supposed to sit still. So I was ravenous. We ended up at the cutest burger joint I’ve ever seen. It’s called Bully’s Burgers or something like that and their mascot is a little French bulldog. They have pictures of it in different poses and memes all over the place. So adorable! It’s also tiny and we were lucky to get the last table. They pretty much offer only burgers in different variations. I had a Spanish burger with chorizo and ordered sweet potato fries and guacamole dip on the side. The burger was alright, though I wasn’t crazy about the chorizo but the fries were amazing. I kept eating even when I was full.

The next day was dedicated to shopping, shopping and shopping with a side of excessive eating. We drove into town where we’d been told we’d find a place that sells Urban Decay (which, shockingly, we weren’t able to buy in Germany yet). When we got there, though, we were told that we were one week too early. Noooo! So, we had to compensate this shock by spending our cash elsewhere. We raided Primark and then moved on to H&M. It sounds stupid because you can find H&M anywhere but the one in Frankfurt is the only one that also has a Home department. I spent way too much money there but who can pass up a shower curtain with little skulls on them? Or a pillow case with a circus monkey on it? Right?

Otherwise, the city center didn’t really have a lot to offer, so we moved on to the Skyline Plaza, a mall that apparently had a great view of the skyline. This proved to be only half true because it was way too central to over a full view but the roof garden was still great. They had little patches of green up there and also a restaurant with a terrace. Overall, I can’t say that I was disappointed with it. The weather sucked a bit but the sky scrapers still looked pretty cool against the background of the huge clouds.

The mall itself was less spectacular. You got the usual chain stores, some fast food places, nothing surprising. Except that Zara also had a Home store there. I bought two glasses with skulls on them but otherwise found the stuff there too expensive for what it had to offer. Most of the things I bought in that mall, I could have found here as well. Shopping was still fun because I got to do it with a good friend and because it’s always more fun when you do it on a day off and with nothing else on your schedule but I had hoped to find more interesting shops in a big city like that.

Originally, we had planned to go see a movie but then the waiter in the rooftop restaurant messed up our order, so dinner took ages and we couldn’t really agree on anything we wanted to see or hadn’t seen yet, so we went back to the hotel after dinner. My friend showed me the road movie she and her friend took of their last vacation and we just caught up with each other’s lives over a good old round of crappy television. Not exactly a ‘party hard’ kind of night but we had a long day ahead of us on Sunday, so getting some sleep wasn’t such a bad idea.

The next day, we went to the book fair. What a disappointment! I’d been there two years ago and it was pretty cool. This year, we bored ourselves through the fair with nothing to do and nothing to see. None of our favorite authors were there and even though we’d planned to just let it surprise us, we ended up never even finding our way to anything that was going on. The map of the place wasn’t clear on anything and it was so crowded that we were just pushed around all the time. Last time I went, it was a Saturday and less crowded, probably because you can only buy books on the Sunday. This time around, it was like the whole country had decided to come to the fair. And they all brought their tiny kids or came in elaborate cosplay costumes that were great to look at but let’s face it, a huge ball gown or some kind of warrior costume with huge spikes all over the place aren’t really ideal to move smoothly through the masses. Not to mention that every few steps, someone showed up in a really cool costumes and people would stop in the middle of everywhere to take a picture. It’s shocking, I know, but I ended up not buying a single book. I simply couldn’t concentrate for long enough to really read a single sentence, let alone decide if it sounded interesting enough for me to buy the book. So I just took a lot of notes about books I may want to read eventually. The only thing I took away from the fair was a postcard that I felt summed up the weekend quite nicely.

When we left the fair – and paid half a lung for parking – it was time for my friend to get to the train station. We arrived with enough time to have a quick snack together. Again, the waiter forgot my order – boo! – but eventually, it arrived anyway. I had lovely apple strudel with cream. Gotta treat yourself, right? I really haven’t made smart food choices this weekend but considering that I didn’t eat much but walked a lot, it was still okay. And the strudel was so worth it. So, so worth it. I mean, come on, it had marzipan in it. Marzipan! Plus, I went to get a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks for the way home and they didn’t have any. It was the first Starbucks I’ve seen that had pumpkins all over the place and pretty much forced you to order a damn PSL…and they didn’t have any left. What the…?! I’d say food-wise, I wasn’t really lucky in Frankfurt.

Overall, it was a good weekend. Not ideal and some things went wrong or were a little disappointing. But I got to see my friend again, we got to catch up, there was new ink involved, we did some satisfying shopping…and the food was great, once it actually got to me. And since I didn’t get to go to Vienna, at least I got to see Frankfurt this year. That’s a little something at least.


Categories: Bookworm, Foody, Wanderlust | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Okay? Okay!

If you’re a friend of mine, or a reader of this blog, or even if you just spent two minutes talking to me, you’ll know how much of a bookworm I am. I love to read, to discover new books and new stories. But even with the quantity of books I get to read in a year, some stick with me more than others. And some grip me in a way that only very few do.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green was one of those books. It isn’t a unique story about a unique subject and unique people. In fact, just by reading the summary, you’d guess that there are a lot of similar stories out there. Teenagers, young love, and cancer. I’d guess that a good half of all current books within the YA fiction genre is a story like that. And yet, TFIOS is special. Which is why it quickly became one of my favorite books and why I was so afraid of seeing the movie.

This fear was completely remedied when I went to see it yesterday. I went by myself which may have been a bad idea because I ended up in tears, as I’d predicted. Halfway through the movie I decided it wasn’t gonna get any better and started digging around in my bag in search of my tissues. Unable to fine them in the dark, I just ended up crying all over myself. I’d recently discussed the pro’s and con’s of waterproof mascara with a friend and yup, this movie provided me with an excellent case.

The movie was everything I wanted it to be and more. The cast was on point. They looked like ordinary kids while still making you fall in love with their characters all over again. That had been one of my biggest fears, that these people would be too much, too smooth, too Hollywood. The other thing I worried about was that the story had been edited to the point of no recognition. All of John Green’s stories are special, but they’re also about ordinary people and they lack every bit of unnecessary glamour. I was afraid that the script writers would add that to TFIOS to make it more cinema-friendly. And that they’d add more drama. The real drama of the book isn’t the cancer itself, it isn’t death and it isn’t loss but it is the unfairness of life. You find something good in your life and it gets snatched away. Bad things happen to good people.  And it’s never nice when something bad happens to you but imagine knowing that it will happen. Imagine being fatally ill and knowing what lies ahead and that you can’t plan too far ahead. And the movie brought that out perfectly. But it also showed the good moments, the joy of having found happiness and, what I especially liked about the story, that when you find that certain someone, it doesn’t matter if you have a day, a year or a whole life together. You just enjoy every second of it, no matter what will happen tomorrow.

In the movie, the story was just as raw and unexcited as it was in the book. It showed the ugly sides of the cancer without being unnecessarily over the top (it is for young adults, of course), it depicted young love without being cheesy and it had that certain little spark that makes every Green story unique.

Now, I only have to see the original version. Because if I had one complaint it would be the terrible, terrible German dubbing.

Categories: Movies | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Goodbye 2013! My Year in Review

We talked about 2013 on a forum I frequent the other day and when I wrote my short recap, I came to the conclusion that 2013 pretty much just was for me. It had its ups, it had its downs. I’m not sure I’ll look back on it as a year that was all that special on a personal level.

But even though, or maybe because, it was so unspecial, I’d like to focus on it in a bit of a detailed view. It’s good to look back on things and learn from them, appreciate them and just remember them. This also led to the first time ever that I jotted down notes before writing a blog post. I’m pretty sure what I’ve written in this blog in over a year now is a dead giveaway for how unfocused my blogging usually is. I sit down and write and to be honest, most of the time I have no idea where I’m going until I’m done. But when I decided I was gonna write a recap of my 2013, I quickly came to the realization that reviewing a whole year just isn’t gonna work without notes. Without thinking long and hard, I couldn’t tell you what I had for lunch today, so remembering the past not-quite-365 days without a reminder here and there would be close to impossible.

In the process of taking my notes, I quickly started putting them into categories. Originally, this was just meant to help me organize my thoughts but then I figured it was a good way to do this. So here’s my year…

Personal Highlights

  • AFI: I wrote about this long and hard already, but my favorite band released a new record this year, after four long years of absence. It is hard for me to write about this on a platform like this blog because I’m aware how this comes off with other people. The majority of people have fond memories of being a fan of a band – when they were 14. They can’t fathom what it’s like when that kind of love for (an) artist(s) remains. With most people that gets replaced by other things that become important to them over the years and just like with other values that we are taught are ‘publicly acceptable’, we come to feel like ‘the odd one out’ when we feel differently. I’m not ashamed of how I feel about AFI, I’m just afraid of not doing how important they are to me and on what level justice by not finding the right words. I don’t want people to think this is a silly thing, just because I fail to explain it properly. For now, though, let it suffice to say that I’ve missed being an active fan of this band. And by active I mean actually having something new to deal with, having a word to spreads, having a tour to hope and plan for. The latter still hasn’t happened but I’m confident that it’ll happen in ’14. As an album, ‘Burials’ hit me on a very emotional level. The hurt and anger and emotional stress of this album is so raw and familiar to me that I think it would have caught me off guard either way, whether it is by AFI or another artist. For weeks, I built myself a home inside those songs and lived there quite comfortably. Which is exactly what I’ve always known and needed from this band. Which explains quite perfectly why they’re such an important part of my life.
  • Friendships: 2013 Has been quite the nice little rollercoaster ride for me when it came to friendships. I got a lot closer with one friend who is especially important to me because we have so much in common and are so very alike in aspects that matter. So far, there was this invisible wall between us that drove us apart whenever we started opening up, as if we were afraid to do just that. At some point, after a lot of fights and drama, this wall disappeared and we grew so much closer which is a nice, if even a little scary, feeling. With all of my anxiety and trust issues, I still feel the urge to run every now and again but I can even tell her about that without feeling like she thinks I’m crazy. Then another friend came back into my life at a time when I least expected it, catching me off guard and leaving me to contemplate things all over again. Now, after several months have passed, I’m confident that letting her in again was a good decision. It’s still a bit tender, like a new tattoo and I think it’s still a matter of trial and error with finding the right dosage of each other but at the moment, it feels right, like we’re doing the right thing. What I didn’t like was how it threw me into yet more drama with people who I feel have no say in what I do with my life and who don’t even know me. On the kindergarten frame of mind level, they still think in social groups and all you can do is choose not to play their games. But that doesn’t mean they won’t try to still drag you down. I know that it’s partly my own fault for allowing them to do that and for letting it get to me but sometimes I can’t help it. Especially when some people are so obsessed with getting at me that they cannot even let it go, even when I choose not to comment on or reply to anything they say or do. The third friendship that is giving me a bit of a headache is also my oldest friendship. A girl who’s been nothing but kind to me in over ten years. Almost 15, I think? We used to be so close but over the past couple years, I feel we’ve drifted apart. And I’m not completely innocent, I know that. It’s just really hard to face this huge and important talk I know we’re supposed to have about it all eventually. It’s actually one of my goals for the next year to try and save this friendship or maybe move it to a new level, if need be. The last one that deserves to be mentioned here is a girl I met through my weight loss journey. We’re not so close, yet, that I’d see her as a part of my inner circle but we’re in such a similar position with where we are with our weight loss and what we’re struggling with that our conversations get increasingly personal and it’s nice to share that with someone who truly understands.
  • Mallorca: After I don’t know how many years, I finally had a proper holiday again! I’ve blogged about this more than is healthy already and I’n still missing the last part which I may add later just for closure, so I’m not gonna go on and on about it. Let me just say how good it was to get out, change the scenery for a bit, enjoy the sun and think of nothing but which sights I wanna see tomorrow for a while.

Things I Learned / Achieved

  • I’ve finally accepted and come clean about my own anxiety. It shows in many ways but mostly, my social anxiety is really, really bad. I go through good phases when it doesn’t bother me at all and life seems easy to me but the bad times are never far away. I’ve told my closest friends about it, so they know I’m not being unnecessarily difficult. Which doesn’t mean I get to hide behind it and be reckless, but I hope it’ll help them understand how my mind works sometimes. It’s also something that I know fessing up to was just the first step of. I’ll have to work on it and constantly push myself to my own limits so hopefully, I’ll get better at dealing with it, even though I don’t dare hope this will ever leave me.
  • One of the best things I’ve done today was changing my doctor. In Germany, everyone has a regular practitioner that you go to for check-ups and temporary illnesses like a flu and who you will also go to for a recommendation of professionals regarding more difficult or permanent things. My old one was just really not very helpful and supportive and I’m so glad I switched because even though I’ve only seen my new doc twice, she’s already helped me a lot and made me feel much better about myself and my health issues.
  • The other good thing, though I’ve not been doing so well in the past few weeks, was changing my gym. It’s a much more professional place and gives me the opportunity to follow a much more personal and custom plan. Unlike my old gym, it makes me feel like I’m not alone, like there is someone who will listen to what I want to achieve and help me get there. When you’re a born lazybutt like me and someone puts you into a gym, you just feel overwhelmed. Where do I start? What do I do? How do I use all those machines? What courses are right? At my old gym, though people there were nice, I just felt alone with my quest and like everything they had to offer was made to suit everyone. Which just doesn’t help. I have to lose a significant amount of weight, the next person may be skinny and wanting to gain a lot of muscle. So we have different needs but the gym wasn’t really prepared to offer help with that. So I already feel better knowing that what I do when I go there is the right thing for me.
  • I took up writing again. Nothing major but when Secret Santa time came around, not only did I finish the actual story for that but also one for a friend and it reignited the spark I’d been missing for so long. Since then, I’ve had a million different ideas and hope to go through with at least some of them, rather than adding another few dozen unfinished pieces to the long list on my hard drive.


  • The Land of Stories 1 & 2 by Chris Colfer: I’ve been a fan of the TV Series Glee for a while but never knew that Chris Colfer had written a book, or two by now. So I stumbled upon the first book by accident when I found a thread on a book community in which someone offered her copy as a wandering book. I signed up and had to wait for quite a long time. So long, actually, that I had considered buying it instead. But then it arrived and I read it and loved it so much that I immediately pre-ordered part two which I also got to read this year. I recently learned that Chris is working on part three and this got me so inexplicably excited! Fairytale adaptions are one of my weaknesses and he does it so well!
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: For some reason, TFIOS was almost the last book by John Green I got to read after falling in love with this author. Even though it is his most well known and popular publication so far. I think I was a little afraid of my own expectations. It is, after all, a YA book about a girl who has cancer. You find way too many books about The Big C on YA literature shelves and one day I hope to explore why that is so. Most of them are amazing but you know what they say, ‘too much of a good thing…’. So I was a little hesitant. But TFIOS really is as amazing as they all say. And more. I am 31 and I have a teeny weeny crush on Augustus Waters. There, I said it!
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: This was probably my big surprise this year when it came to books. I bought this as part of an Amazon special in which you could buy three English paperback titles for 10 €. Most of the titles on offer didn’t seem very appealing to me as they were a lot of romance or sequels to books I hadn’t read. But I already had The Time Traveler’s Wife and The Map of Time in my basket and needed a third book and then I saw Ready Player One and remembered having read a good review about it somewhere. The plot seemed vaguely interesting, so I put it in my basket. It ended up being the first I read of the three and even though I was so suspicious about it, it turned out being one of my favorite reads this year. It was nerdy, clever, sweet at some point and set in a really, really detailed future world that you could imagine to exist a couple hundred years from now. Even though I’m nowhere near as obsessed with virtual worlds as the characters in this book, I can understand where the author is coming from. It’s so easy to lose yourself in online games and identify with your avatar in one way or another and Ernest Cline simply took it a step further, creating a wonderful ‘What If…’ scenario.
  • Authors: I discovered two new authors this year whose work really impressed me. One is Linda Castillo whose Kate Burkholder series I started with early this year. Right now, the fourth book is waiting to be read by me. It is set on the edges of an Amish community and besides the tension and suspense her stories offer, I like learning about these people and their traditions without it being boring in any way. With Neil Gaiman, I’m a little late to the party. Whenever I mention how much I enjoyed reading Neverwhere, everyone just rolls their eyes at me. Apparently, the whole world has been a fan for years. I’ve enjoyed this book so much that I made it a plan for ’14 to read more of his work.


  • Despicable Me 2: If you know me, you know I’m slightly obsessed with the Minions. I have posters, figurines, apps…whatever I can get my hands on and can actually use in some way. The first movie was probably one of my all-time favorites and I was looking forward to the sequel like other people are looking forward to their wedding days. For months, we had posters outside the cinema near the mall and every single time I saw them, I’d squeal. When the time finally came, sadly, I only made it to the cinema twice, not a million times like I’d planned. But it was glorious. Amazing. My God, how I enjoyed this movie! And I didn’t even particularly care for the plot, though it was enjoyable. I can’t wait for the Minions movie!
  • The Hunger Games – Catching Fire: I’ve read the books, I’ve cried, I’ve been tempted to throw my Kindle at the wall. So I have to watch the movies, too. And how brilliant they are! Catching Fire was so close to what I imagined things to look like while reading the book, I spent most of the time in the cinema convinced that I had already seen the movie. Which was impossible, I’d hardly even seen trailers. But it really came so close. I loved every second of it and can’t wait for the next part.
  • Now You See Me: This was my big surprise this year. I love Amy Adams, so one night when my friend and I found ourselves on the steps of a local theater, spontaneously in the mood to see a movie, I instantly voted for this one. But at the time I didn’t expect more than a bit of mild entertainment. But this movie was so, so good, really smart and had more strengths than just the magic tricks / special effects.

Goals 2014

  • Lose weight: I don’t remember a time in my life when this wasn’t part of the plan. Instead of making it a goal to be a skinny supermodel by the end of the year, though, I’m just not gonna set a specific goal but just promise myself that I’ll do my best to achieve as much as I can.
  • Be more organized: Again, this is a rather vague thing that involves more than just tidying up more or keeping the paperwork at home in line. It also includes small things like taking notes at work, using post-its for actual reminders rather than just doodling, remembering distant friends’ birthdays and sending cards out in time, taking two minutes to remove my makeup at night, not constantly forgetting to brush my hair, clear the dishes right after meals, and so on. If I get better at this, it’ll be easier for me to deal with everyday life in the long run because I know things are just running automatically and I don’t have to stress myself out so much over the smallest things.
  • Stay calm / Relax more:  I tend to freak out at the smallest cause because I’m just so annoyed with things in my life right now. It doesn’t make things easier and it doesn’t help and the only thing I achieve with it is make myself feel worse, so I need to find a way to stay calm and not act like a crazy ghetto bitch.
  • Rekindle friendships: There’s one particular close friend I already mentioned earlier who I’d like to become closer with again because I really miss her friendship. We’ve drifted apart a lot and I know we’ll never fully be on the same emotional level and share so many interests again but that doesn’t mean we can’t make this work. And then there are a few other people who I’ve never really been close with before but we were on casual terms, checking in with each other every other day and that’s gone down the drain over the years, as well. I’d like to get back to having that extended circle of friends again and let them know I’m here if they need me.
  • Save Money: I’ve really lost my way here. I went from having almost 1.000 € in my savings account + another 150 € in my piggy bank to have almost nothing left. And with the prospect of a possible AFI tour soon, I really need to get my act together. I’ve done well this month already by putting aside almost 100 € again and I hope to stay on this track. Also I want to stop abusing my credit card for spontaneous purchases whenever I don’t have the cash, so I can use it for the tour as well.
  • Go veggie: I want to give the vegetarian diet another go. I thought I may start by challenging myself to stick to a veggie diet for a week, if that goes well, extend it to two weeks, and so on. If I fail, I’ll start again. In the past few weeks, I’ve already explored several veggie lunch alternatives I could rely on at work. There’s a bakery / lunch restaurant that has freshly cooked pasta dishes every day and most of them are vegetarian. And there are a bunch of different supermarkets nearby that offer different kinds of salads or other vegetarian dishes. So even if I forget to pack lunch, I’d have good alternatives.
  • Cook more: This goes along with the goal above because it’s certainly easier to stick to a certain diet when you’re prepared. But it’s also easier to lose weight and be healthy when you eat homemade food that you know the actual ingredients of and that you can alter according to your own likes or dislikes.
  • Laugh more, cry less: Sort of explains itself, really.

Challenges 2014

  • Lose weight: This is not one big challenge as such but rather one I plan to take baby steps with as before. Right now, I’m still on the first step that’s listed on my Challenges page which is to lose 2.2kg by mid-January. Since I’m still lacking a working scale, I have no reliable result but hope to be on the right track.
  • Goodreads Challenge: As every year, I’m gonna take part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge again and since I’ve struggled to reach my goal of 50 this year, I won’t up it and set it to 50 again. This time, I’ll put the widget on my Challenges page as well as soon as Goodreads lets you do that.

So, that’s all, folks!

I hope everyone has a great NYE, a lot of fun, whether you’re partying or staying home. I know I’m ready for 2014 to arrive.

Ready for 2014!

Ready for 2014!

Be safe and see you on the other side!

Categories: Bookworm, Foody, Me Myself and I, Movies, Weight Loss, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

London 2012, Part II

The National History Museum on a winter's day

The National History Museum on a winter’s day

One of the most annoying parts about arriving in London is finding an ATM. I don’t like carrying around too much of a foreign currency in cash but I also feel silly buying small things with a credit card. So the first step is to get money as soon as I get there. And some kind of unwritten law seems to be that the first couple ATM’s I pass are out of order. Always, always, always. By now I should know better than to try the HSBC ones near Piccadilly Circus. Those have never worked when I was there. I’ve come to believe they’re just for deco reasons.

In the end, we gave in, bought tube tickets with a credit card and got on the Piccadilly Line towards Gloucester station from where we walked the short way to the Natural History Museum. On the way, we did manage to find a working ATM and my mom had her first encounter with one of the public toilets. They look like giant ads but somewhere there’s a door which opens automatically when you put in 20p. According to my mom, she’ll rather walk with her legs crossed next time. Reason enough for me not to give it a try myself.

Once we got to the museum, we were surprised to see a long line in front of the entrance. When visiting the British Museum last year, we could walk right through. So I guess we assumed that museums weren’t on top of everyone’s list. It’s a stupid assumption, really, because the NHM has DINOSAURS!!!! Oh well…

Scary Bones

Scary Bones

It turned out the queue was moving along quite quickly and it only took some five or ten minutes for us to be allowed  inside. The huge stairwell in the massive entrance hall was quite impressive, as was “Dippy”, the dinosaur skeleton replica they put up there. But despite all that, the place was a mess. It was crowded and seemed to be in complete chaos. We bought a guide and the layout of the museum seemed fairly simple but with people standing in line all over the place, several pathways, the rooms split into two levels and a bunch of kids running around, it was hard to make sense of anything. We managed to find the entrance to the blue area which contained the dinosaur exhibition (surprise!) and again, there was a queue. We spent the next hour or so waddling, shuffling, pushing and pulling our way around the place. It was hard to focus on anything but the guilty feeling when the whole queue had to stop because you were reading one of the signs. Eventually, I found myself focusing more on my fellow museum goers. There were kids who were too young to care about any of that, moms who kept talking to them in excited high voices anyway and dads who clearly thought of themselves as professional photographers as they were taking blurry snapshots of everything with their ridiculously expensive cameras.



Yes, I admit I got a liiiittle excited when we got to the highlight of the exhibition, a huge animated T-Rex. I admit it’s a little ridiculous because it could have belonged into a theme park and felt weirdly out of place amidst the actual fossils and skeletons. But there’s something strangely exhilarating about standing in front of a huge “creature” like that, even if it is fake. Ever since I was a child I found the idea of facing dinosaurs exciting and while everyone else was scared when watching Jurassic Park, I could only think “I wanna be there!” So sue me!

Originally, we had planned to make it through the entire museum but after we had spent nearly three hours checking out just the dinosaurs and the souvenir store and being severely disappointed when we found the café too crowded to sit down for a drink, we decided to leave the rest for another time. I was a little disappointed because I had planned to find a raccoon in one of the exhibitions. So I bought a raccoon stuffed toy souvenir instead. Crazy fact about me: I collect raccoons. Stuffed toys, mugs, figurines…I’m not above anything.But as many times as I had made it to London, I had never bought a raccoon there. What better place to buy one than the Natural History Museum?!

Interesting souvenir

Interesting souvenir

After we had made it out of the museum, we wandered around the streets for a bit. There’s a French neighborhood right by the museum with a lot of patisseries, cheese specialty stores and restaurants. I bought some macarons from one place which I looked forward to all day. When we were in our hotel room later that day and I finally indulged in them, I figured I shouldn’t have bought them from the first place we came across (a cheese shop) because the filling was some kind of sweet cheese. I’m sure it would have been any cheese lover’s ultimate dream but I just found it disgusting. Not disgusting enough not to eat the entire – ridiculously expensive – package, of course!

After wandering around for a while, we decided it was time for lunch. Despite still being in the French quarter, we didn’t feel adventurous enough to try any of the rather unusual dishes on the menus of the French restaurants and found a cute little Italian place instead. Not very creatively named Bella Italia, it really did feel like it was situated right in the streets of Venice. The place was tiny and crammed and would have seemed shabby had it not been so charming. With both our rather large builds, we knocked the cutlery off the tiny table within the first two minutes but after that, we adapted to the small space and were able to enjoy scanning the menu over and over again. Most were typical Italian pasta dishes but I’m a huge fan of pasta so it was all good. I had some fantastic cheese cream pasta and though I felt thoroughly stuffed, rounded my lunch up with a delicious piece of lemon cake. nom nom!

Mmmmhh…om nom nom!

Feeling stuffed and lazy, we stumbled back to the tube station and decided it was time for some shopping now so we got back onto the tube and let it take us to Oxford Circus. It does seem a little suicidal to even get near Oxford Street before Christmas but when you only have a day there, you have no choice. At least not if you’re a shopaholic like me. Back as a rebellious teenager, I scoffed at the “mainstream” shops there and could have happily spent my entire stay in Camden Town. Nowadays, I’m not nearly as excited about it anymore. Camden Market is still awesome but I hate how much interesting and charming furniture and decoration I see there without being able to buy any of it. And I don’t wear enough band shirts and rock ‘n’ roll clothes anymore to do much shopping there. In short: I grew up and never thought it would happen. But even without my lack of love for most things to be purchased in Camden these days, the place has lost its charm by inviting too many chains and souvenir shops. When shopping on Oxford Street, at least you’ll know what to expect. I think I lost my love for Camden when they closed the awesome shop that doubled as a second hand clothing store and a piercing / tattoo parlor.

Without much purpose and an actual list of things I wanted to get, we just stumbled along with the steady stream of shoppers, visiting our regular choice of stores (HMV, House of Frasier, Boots) and then I made it a point to visit Victoria’s Secrets. I got depressed over the size of my butt which prevented me from buying any of their overpriced but gorgeous underwear but still wanted a bag so I looked for the vanilla perfume which I had wanted to sniff for ages but apparently, they don’t sell it anymore or maybe it is

Christmas on Oxford Street

Christmas on Oxford Street

a US-only product. So then I also got depressed over not getting one of their pretty bags which caused other people to stare at you, clearly wishing they had bought something nice from VS, too. Pah! With my usual promise of “I’ll lose so much weight that I’ll buy five sets of underwear next year!” I left and told myself I’d buy an additional book from Waterstone’s instead.

This may or may not have happened next. It’s hard to tell because I hadn’t thought of a specific number of books that I wanted to buy. What has happened was that we went back to Oxford Street to catch a bus to Piccadilly Circus. We could have walked but walking is quite difficult for my mom sometimes so we try to get public transport whenever possible.

Once we got there, we made our way straight into another HMV where I may have gone a little carried away with all the insanely cheap DVD’s. Finding that all the box sets I wanted were way too expensive even for me, I ended up buying several movies that had been on my Amazon wishlist for several years. The kind of movies that in the “I’ll buy them if I ever see them on offer”-category. That time was now as none of the DVD’s cost more than five pound. My Johnny Depp collection grew and I finally got my hands on the Muppets Christmas Carol.

Without shame, I can say that my belly was ready for more culinary treats, so when we came across a peculiar-looking little place right on Piccadilly Circus, we had to see what the long queue was all about. Turned out it was a Cinnabon store. Don’t worry, I had no idea what a Cinnabon was before, either. And I’ve only recently discovered that it is indeed a chain. They sell the bestestestest cinnamon swirls in the world!!! I’m not exaggerating. Feeling not all that adventurous, we both went for what everyone else chose: a Classic Cinnabon.

The bestest thing in the world!!!

The bestest thing in the world!!!

A little annoyed, we discovered that we’d have to wait for them but boy, was it worth it! They were huge, about the size of a big (European) burger from McDonald’s and they came in a similar books. In addition to the sugary cinnamon filling and the sugar icing, they’re soaked in what I think was some kind of vanilla sauce. And they’re served hot so basically you get a wonderful soggy, sugar-sweet hot cinnamon mess! Gaaah, my mouth is both, orgasming and getting depressed over not getting another one any time soon right now. I’m sure they’re about 1,000 calories per bite but they were the best thing I’d ever had!. They also sell them with some kind of chocolate sauce and with nuts (I think). I’m not a big fan of nuts (*crickets*) but I may have to give the Chocolate Cinnabons a ride next time.

Feeling stuffed but completely satisfied and smitten, we stumbled across the street to Waterstone’s. Try as I might, I would not have made it through any more shopping. So I parked my mom in one of the many comfy shares spread all over the five floors of the giant book store and rolled from shelf to shelf, rubbing my belly, safe in the knowledge that it was home to s wonderful cinnamon-flavored baby right then. (Does this sound crazy to you?)

To my surprise, I didn’t buy that many books. In the end, I got away with four. I blame it on the Cinnabon because, apart from John Green, I suddenly couldn’t think of any specific books or authors I had wanted to look for. And they only had one book by Green, so… This time, they only had a “Buy one, get a second for half the price” offer, so even though I fell for that as well, I only came away with two. The fourth was mostly picked up because I would have felt guilty walking away with only three books. I ended up buying one YA book, one from the erotica genre, one general fiction and one about London. It was almost a surprise that I wasn’t asked if I wanted anything giftwrapped. For some reason, buyers with a diverse taste don’t seem to be very common in book stores.I had planned for there to be two parts but now this is getting longer and longer, so…

Categories: Bookworm, Wanderlust | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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