Posts Tagged With: London

Another Piece of My Heart Lost

If you’re a perceptive person and glanced at the little Instagram feed waaaaay down on the bottom of my blog, you may have noticed that the past few days saw me feeding my IG account with a bunch of sightseeing pictures from London. Only just over a month since my last visit to this beautiful, beautiful city, I went back, this time to conquer the place with Mel.

Uhm...anyone alive?

Uhm…anyone alive?

After catching an insane 7 AM flight from Weeze to Stansted, we found an almost empty arrivals area and a slightly busier shopping area where we had to kill some time and enjoy a quick breakfast of sandwiches before catching out airport shuttle into the city. At this point I was already pretty convinced that I must have the face of a terrorist or a drug smuggler because at every passport control, it took a lot of glancing back and forth between my passport, their screen and my face and I was already preparing myself for a chat with a grumpy official. In the end, though, they always waved me through anyway. “No, officer, I’m not on any drugs, I’m just running on three hours of sleep!”

The airport shuttle was…a surprise. We’d watched all the huge modern coaches from National Express and Terravision come and go and I was already looking forward to an hour of napping in a comfortable seat when our Easybus shuttle arrived. I have no idea where they took the name Easybus from because the thing was pretty much an empty coke can on wheels, driven by a grumpy guy who seemed to trust that everyone would enjoy a little fearing for their life first thing after arriving in London. With hindsight, it was hilarious.

Heh.

Heh.

The shuttle dropped us off at Old Street from where we could catch the Northern Line straight down to our hotel in Clapham. Clapham is an area I had never been to before but I found it quite agreeable. There’s nothing exciting to do or see there and it’s really just one of the many cute little parts of London that are mostly residential but have a High Street to serve people’s everyday needs. But it was cute, with a large green common area and rather well kept town houses, so our hotel’s location could have been way worse. The first day, we had to walk quite a distance because the hotel’s information had said that it was right between two tube stations and it didn’t matter which one we got off on. The next day we found out that ‘right between’ means one is a 10 minute walk away, the other just around the corner. But at least we got to see a little of Clapham that way (and found that it had a café with a clever Game of Thrones reference.  Heh.). And being able to catch the Northern Line also is a good thing because it’s so easy to get somewhere with it. The hotel also seemed quite okay when we arrived, even though they wanted £4 just for storing our luggage. But it was either that or drag the suitcases around all day.

Come on, it's mandatory!

Come on, it’s mandatory!

After dropping our luggage off, we were faced with the decision of what to do first and guess what? We ended up at Starbucks! But not without saying hello to Piccadilly Circus. What is it about that place? You always hear about people running into celebrities there and even ‘mortal’ locals often happen to go to that place. I can’t imagine Parisians just randomly visiting the Eiffel Tower or New Yorkers to hang out by Lady Liberty’s feet but Londoners really seem to like Piccadilly Circus. Not like I could blame them, of course. It really is a magical place, even though I miss all the really cool stores they used to have there. (Read: I miss being able to buy records just anywhere in London without relying on HMV on Oxford Street!)

Please notice the gorgeous blue sky!

Please notice the gorgeous blue sky!

Starbucks served us well, even though it’s safe to say we both felt tired and exhausted from the early flight all day. Since Mel had made plans with a friend to catch up, we told her we’d meet her at the British Museum, so we were headed there next. The thing with museums is that I have mixed feelings about them. Art is a wonky subject because I can’t get into everything but then there are pieces that capture me so much I can sit and stare at them for ages. With historical stuff, I can never get excited about huge displays of many tiny bits and pieces but I love large pieces and statue that make me imagine what they looked like originally, where they used to be before and what it must have been like there. So the British Museum is perfect for me. Their Egyptian, Roman and Greek exhibitions have so many remarkable things to offer and I feel like they’re doing such a great job at creating just the right atmosphere for every piece. For example in many of

Word!

Word!

the Egyptian rooms, the lights are dimmed a little, the walls are a little darker and they often created an atmosphere that made you feel like you were walking straight into a tomb. And the Roman and Greek parts were often really light and airy. I just love visiting this museum, even though its architecture is a little more modern and not quite as stunning as the Natural History museum. Mel’s friend joined us halfway into our visit and we explored the Asian exhibition and a few other parts together before finishing our visit in the library (cue me fangirling!). Sadly, the doors to the large reading room were closed but nonetheless, the library is stunning! What I wouldn’t give to spend a day there reading. The only thing I don’t like is that there aren’t any books on the shelves anymore. I get that it would just be too much work to take care of it all and people can’t go up on the galleries anyway, so it isn’t like anyone ever gets to appreciate what’s on the shelves anyway but I don’t know. An empty library feels a little like a dead body.

I don’t even remember if we had any more plans for that day but we ended up having what was supposed to be a quick dinner but got extended to a long dinner and drinks and chat session. Which was just as well, as far as I’m concerned. By that time my feet hurt and I was ready to curl up under the table and go to sleep. We talked about music a lot (well, for the most part I listened because, despite not being interested in some of the bands they talked about, I just love listening to people talk about their favorite music because it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside to know people still appreciate it) and when we made it back to Oxford Street for some shopping at HMV, I bought two albums on impulse. The Third Three Years by Frank Turner which has live recordings from one of his shows in Wembley (because nothing ever beats Frank Turner live shows!) and Get Hurt by The Gaslight Anthem. Admittedly, no new discoveries but I finally caught up with some of my favorites.

After saying goodbye to our company, we made it back to our hotel for a somewhat early night in. For me it is always strange sharing a room with people for the first time. No matter how well you know someone, your evening and morning rituals are always something they haven’t seen yet. But I believe Mel and I made the best of the tiny space we had in our room. And tiny it was. But somewhat clean and the bed was alright-ish, so it was okay.

London has a beautiful love affair with modern ceilings like this.

The next day started with the usual question: What do we do first? We decided to go to King’s Cross first to feed our little Potterhead needs. Upon arriving at Platform 9 3/4, we were a little disheartened to find they made people queue up and pose in front of a professional photographer and everyone else. The good thing is you don’t have to get a professional photo done but can also just let your friend take a picture. So that’s what we did. Or Mel did, anyway. I still get a little breathless imagining myself posing in front of a bunch of strangers. It’s stupid and I kinda regret not doing it but there’s always next time and now that I know what it’s like, I can begin giving myself pep talks two months in advance. We also visited the Platform 9 3/4 store and splurged a little. I bought a ticket for the Hogwarts Express, writing paper and a card holder which came in handy for my several credit and ID cards, so I didn’t have to carry my huge wallet around all the time. When we left, I figured I should have bought postcards but when I told my mom about the whole experience, she said she wants to see it, too, so I suppose I’ll be back in November anyway. King’s Cross itself was a surprise for me because I thought it wouldn’t be so modern. Other than that, it was just a typical train station, I suppose. It also brought us the scariest moment of the whole trip, though. When we were in the HP store, there was an announcement asking all passengers and visitors to leave the station immediately. Suddenly, there was police around everywhere and no one knew what was up. I have to say, though, Londoners are quite hardcore about these things, especially after the whole Charlie Hebdo panic. Everyone was just randomly standing around, some people just went to get a snack and others even refused to interrupt what they were doing. We walked around the station in search of a Starbucks or some other place where we could wait and then go back in later but by the time we had walked around to the other end, people were already walking into the station again. We followed carefully, halfway expecting to get kicked out again but nope. In general, I’d say my anxiety over the whole terrorism affair is pretty bad right now and I had been a little nervous about going to such a popular place as London, so I didn’t really need this kind of shock, but I’m glad it ended up being nothing.

In front of Sherlock's door with my Harry Potter bag - does that scream NERD or what?

In front of Sherlock’s door with my Harry Potter bag – does that scream NERD or what?

Our next step took is straight to Baker Street to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum. I don’t know how often Mel apologized for ‘Sherlockizing’ this trip and I don’t know how often I told her it’s okay but it was often. We did a lot of Sherlock-related things and I didn’t mind in the slightest. First of all, it did introduce me to ‘new’ things about London I hadn’t seen and hadn’t done or even known about before. And then – as with the music talk – I just like seeing people get excited about the things they like. And I’m sure she’ll hate me for saying this but Mel is quite adorable when it is about something she’s truly excited about.

We ended our visit with mandatory pictures of ourselves posing in front of Sherlock’s front door. I was surprised to find there was no long queue outside because posing for pictures is completely free and I figured even a lot of passersby would stop to do so.

I’m nowhere near a Sherlockian but even I found some of the things they sold in the shop enticing. We didn’t buy anything, though, safe for the ticket to enter the museum. ‘Museum’ is a strange word here because it felt more like visiting someone’s home. 221b Baker Street doesn’t only look like a random town house from the outside, it also looks and feels that way from the inside, complete with cute wallpapers and creaking floor boards. The first two floors were awesome in the way that they looked like Sherlock was about to return any minute now. The last two were still cozy but they’d set up scenes from the books, using mannequins with often creepy faces and I didn’t like that as much. But the rest of the house I wanted to make my own. Even though my own rooms are so high and airy, I love small and cozy rooms, which a lot of British homes offer, and 221b Baker Street isn’t an exception to that. And the fireplaces! Oh dear!

 

Hay's Galleria - Our not so little shelter from the cold

Hay’s Galleria – Our not so little shelter from the cold

I don’t remember if it was our original plan or whether we made spontaneous adjustments but next we found ourselves at London Bridge from where we had a stunning view towards Tower Bridge. We decided to take a stroll along the Thames down towards Tower Bridge and passed Hay’s Galleria on the way. That’s another thing about London I love so much: You can just start walking somewhere and on the way you’ll pass many gorgeous little things you didn’t even know where there. According to the description, the Galleria used to be a wharf in former times but nowadays it’s something like a huge courtyard in which you’ll find bars, cafe´s and restaurants and also a few stalls selling crafts. We had a coffee at Starbucks and marvelled at the fact that we were sitting outside but somewhat sheltered, so it was unbearably cold.

Be still my heart!

Be still my heart!

Feeling refreshed, we pushed on towards Tower Bridge, but not without stopping to take a bunch of selfies in front of it. We were in good company, though, as a Spanish (?) travel group posed for a bunch of action group photos. Who could blame them (or us), though, since the bridge was simply stunning with the lights on and surrounded by all the other lights along the river. I can also proudly announce that after nearly five years, Mel and I managed to take our first real picture (well, pictures) together. And with Tower Bridge as our background, too. It feels like we’ve been waiting for this perfect opportunity.

Spooky trees in front of the Tower

Spooky trees in front of the Tower

We crossed the bridge, again feeling stunned by how huge and gorgeous and impressive it is up close, and found ourselves in front of the Tower. By then, it was too dark for any proper sightseeing. Or least to take proper pictures, as the seeing certainly wasn’t a problem with all the many lights around, making the whole city seem even more magical than it usually does. But since we’re little tourists at heart, we decided to put an end to the sightseeing for the night and went back to Oxford Street for some shopping.

Once there, our first stop was House of Fraser where I finally bought Mel her Christmas present. I’d given her a voucher for a Naked Basics Palette from Urban Decay since I didn’t just want to buy one and find she didn’t like the colors as much. It turned out to be a good decision because she wasn’t so excited about either of the Basics but lost her heart to the Naked 2 instead. So we bought that. I’m glad to finally welcome her to the world of Naked Addicts. Heh.

Next we went to Waterstones and the usual thing happened: I drag someone to a bookstore intending to BUY ALL THE BOOKS! but then end up not really able to find anything or get excited about anything and making an alibi purchase but my company buying something despite not even planning to do so. I’m also sorry to report that Mel’s purchase of Tinder was infinitely cooler than my simply continuing the I Heart series by buying the next instalment, I Heart Vegas. We ended the night with a visit to the Waterstones café downstairs where I had a delicious White Hot Chocolate and she had the grossest bottle of cola either of us had ever tasted.

The next early morning found us starting to hate our hotel a little bit because the fire alarm went off at four in the morning, and again several times between seven and eight. When Mel asked about it later, they said it was because of the construction workers they had around to refurbish and renovate the hotel but that they’d leave at six that night and it would be fine. Tired and still somewhat disgruntled but soothed by this news, we went out on our next adventure.

This time, our way led us to our next Sherlockian point on our to-do list, the Sherlock Exhibition at the Museum of London. Compared to the Sherlock Museum it was quite the culture shock because the whole museum, including the exhibition, was so very modern. All white, shiny walls, flat screens and audio effects. For me personally, the exhibition was very interesting because it focused largely on London during Sherlock (or Doyle’s) time, showing all pictures from the time, explaining a lot about the infrastructure and means of transport. But I suppose for real fans of the books, author and screenplays, it must be quite disappointing because it touches so many aspects but never really reaches much depth with anything. The museum itself wasn’t all that fantastic, either. The only absolutely cool thing was the Victorian Way, an area where they reconstructed what an old shopping district might have looked like (in a clean indoors kind of way, at least). It wasn’t amazing but I guess in a city that has so many museums, one has to be the lame one.

After leaving the museum, we walked down to St. Paul’s. Up until then we’d been so lucky with the weather, all blue skies and a kind of sunny cold. But that day was grey and dull and even a bit rainy and I’m afraid it pressed down on my mood a little bit. Nevertheless, we walked around the church and took some pictures but refrained from going inside because the entrance fee they’re asking for these days is just rude. And either way, the outside is already stunning enough for me.

I'm gonna love you and squeeze you and call you George!

I’m gonna love you and squeeze you and call you George!

The next step took us to the National History Museum where both of us had a fangirlgasm. Mel because of the architecture and I because of the little guy you see on the left. It was my third time visiting this museum and believe it or not, I had always forgotten to go look for a raccoon! Eek!  He’s a little faded and old and doesn’t look too friendly but I still wanted to take him home. I fear a couple of Asian kids thought I’d lost it because I snapped about a dozen pictures from all angles, and only of this little fella. Well, excuuuuuse me, I’m having a moment here!

Since stuffed animals and hordes of French school kids weren’t exactly to our liking that evening, we made it our of the museum after dragging me away from the critter and then…I flew. Yup, I flew down the entrance stairs, luckily only the last step, twisted my toe and ended right on my knees. I just crouched there and mumbled something like “OMG, oh please, oh no!”, feeling like the biggest tool. Luckily there was hardly anyone around, only a woman and her kid who probably thought that the chubby woman on her knees wasn’t just clumsy but also possessed of some kind of demon. A stronger character than me would have found this hilarious because even while I was falling I thought that, hm, this is kind of a slo-mo action here. Kudos to Mel who either pretended not to notice or left me the dignity of pretending I wasn’t sniffling and hobbling around all teary-eyed while nursing my bruised ego which was the only thing that took away a serious injury. Given my weight and the angle of the fall, I already saw myself in hospital with knee caps resembling crushed crisps. I also felt phantom blood trickling down my leg all the time even though I knew it couldn’t be bleeding because not even my jeans were sticking to my knees. Back in the hotel later, I found the left one a bit swollen and bruised quite colorfully and the right showing almost no sign of the accident. By now, the left is almost black (the first time I get to know why they call it ‘black and blue’!) but walking barely hurts anymore, so I guess I’ll get around seeing a doctor this time.

Despite the fall, I bit my lip and went through the rest on our list. To be honest, since I was with someone so much fitter and more in shape than me, I had already been struggling with keeping up all the time. During most of our trip I felt a bit like Samwell Tarly on his way beyond the Wall. But hey, even he had his pride and so did I! And that’s a good thing because so much good came out of that. First of all we got to do and see a lot more than if I had listened to my body’s complaining and taken a million breaks all day. Then I could just file it under exercise. And finally, apart from losing another piece of my heart to London, I also left over two kilos there. So really, the sore muscles and aching joints were so worth it.

Hello Gorgeous!

Anyway, after my free fall performance, we finally visited Big Ben to say hello. But again, it was too dark for proper pictures, so we walked to Trafalgar Square and down Northumberland Avenue, where Mel had another Sherlockgasm over the Sherlock Holmes pub. We considered going in for a snack but found nothing tasty and vegetarian on the menu and were a little too cheap to go in just for a coke. So we pushed on and had dinner from Subway before retiring to our hotel for a super early night in because we had to get up again at two in the morning. Early flights will be the death of me.

Again, to our horror, the fire alarm went off thirty minutes after we got to our room. And again, we got a different excuse. After Mel gave them a piece of her mind, though, all was quiet and we could sleep for a while, an hour in my case.

The trip back to the airport was straight from a horror movie because we had to catch two night buses but the stop for one of them had been shown in the wrong place on the map and by the time we found the right now, we had missed the last bus. With only twenty minutes left until we had to get to our airport shuttle, we finally decided to take a cab. An excellent decision because the cabby was the nicest old-ish guy I’ve ever met. He was so calm and sweet and helped us find the right place so calmly even though we must have confused the crap out of him. Thanks to his efforts, we made it just in time. Well, we did but our shuttle didn’t. It just wouldn’t come and when the next one on the schedule arrived, I halfway expected them to tell us there was no space for us. But again, we were lucky and had a super nice driver who instantly apologized and knew there’d been a problem with the previous shuttle, so we were finally on our way to the airport where, again, we arrived only just in time for the gate to open. Apparently, luck was on our side! But can I just say: Stansted, WTF? Your departure area is more of a mall than any of our actual malls! A MAC Store? Really? I was so glad London had left me broke and out of time or I would have found death of shopping right there.

So yeah, after a surprisingly short flight (two pages read, a quick nap and ta-da, we’ve arrived!), we landed back in cold and nasty Germany where we were greeted with a round of ice-scratching and by a bunch of insane drivers on the highway. But alas, it was a very, very, very fun trip that had its little hiccups and accidents but for the most part was so good, showed me another side of London and also happened to be my very first trip with a very dear friend.

So this tale of our little adventure has to end but let me finish with our first picture together (well, one of them!) that I rambled about previously…

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Categories: Uncategorized, Wanderlust | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Magic Kingdom

I thought long and hard whether I was gonna blog about this year’s trip to London. Because, honestly, we didn’t do much. With my mom still being on the sick and slow side and me on the ‘OMG, OMG, OMG, she’s gonna pass out again!’ one, things were veeeerrrry slow. Also, the traffic was a lot worse than it has been in previous years and we got stuck a lot, so we weren’t actually in the West End before noon. Well, huh.

You guys know I love London. If a fairy appeared before me and said I could move to London but I would have to go now without goodbye, I would. But hands down, this year’s highlight wasn’t the city, it was the hotel. Normally, we stay in average business chain hotels, Holiday Inn Express, Ibis, that sort of thing. But this year, for some magical reason, we were booked into the amazing (!) Aloft London Excel. At first, we were doubtful. It’s way outside the city center and you actually have to switch from the tube to the DLR to get there. I have a love-hate relationship with the DLR, learning more towards hate. The last time I had to get on one of their trains, it only arrived once per hour and I almost missed the one I was supposed to take. Which was due to bad planning on my side, granted. But their stations are also pretty much deserted, you rarely find a staff member or a proper information desk or even just some stupid info board. This year, the line we needed had frequent service but due to some wrong information, we got off at the wrong station and, you got it, there was no one we could ask. I didn’t know London actually had areas where you wouldn’t pass a single soul for more than ten minutes but naturally, we found one. But anyway, the hotel was so worth it. It’s a hotel chain, too, sure but it didn’t have any of that average just-good-enough air. The outside was beautiful, with a shimmering front that looked a bit like a mermaid’s flipper, shimmering in different colors depending on light exposure. The lobby was so stylish, I felt underdressed. It had a lot of lounge areas, a huge bar and even cute little details like a sleep and water spot for dogs. And the rooms, oh my god, the rooms! If you’ve ever been inside a hotel room in London, you’ll know how tiny and cramped they can be, even with quite expensive hotels. Great Britain is a small country, London is a comparably small city and space is luxury, so you don’t really expect a ballroom when booking a hotel room. But the Aloft rooms are just that huge. We had a twin room and there was so much space, it actually had two (!) desks and then there was still so much space around the beds that we could have waltzed in there. Also, our room was on the seventh floor and the beds were facing the windows, so you can enjoy a wonderful view over the city right from your bed. It was amazing and I wanted to move in there.

Other than enjoying the hotel, we didn’t do all that much. Not much more than shop. I also finally got to see what’s supposed to be the oldest Starbucks in…England? Europe? I don’t know. But it’s also set in a nice old building off Regent Street and you feel as if you were in a 19th century café rather than an international coffeehouse. They had the most gorgeous bathrooms with their own wallpaper pattern design that looked vintage but upon closer inspection, you’d see that it said Starbucks and Seattle on it.

I went a little wild inside House of Fraser where I only meant to buy Urban Decay’s Primer Potion but ended up buying that, another eye shadow for my palette and a make up setting spray that I technically don’t really need but always wanted to try and hey, who cares if I just blew twenty pound on it? I also didn’t get my favorite perfume, Agent Provocateur’s Maitresse that I fangirled about in great detail in my post about last year’s trip to London. It’s a shame because it seems impossible to get here, too. So I’m ashamed to say I got a bit reckless with my shopping and bought several nail polishes and a new bag. Can I just say that it is unfair that England has such great drugstore brands? I mean, we have Catrice and P2 which are also quite decent. But they’re nothing compared to Rimmel or Barry M! They had so many matte nail polishes and I could have bought them all. Instead, I settled for a dark blue and a blood read one, thinking I was such a smart shopper…and then I hit the basement of the huge Boots on Oxford Street and went wild buying shampoo and Carmex and I don’t even know what else. I also really need to complain about Germany’s aversion to Carmex. It’s become really hard to get here. I heard some places took it off their shelves because there were rumors about some fishy ingredients but I don’t know. I’m a buyer and I don’t care. So there’s only one place that I know that still carries it. And then you walk into any old Boots or Superdrug or even just Sainsbury’s and there it is. And not just the pots or the tubes, either, but both and a bunch of different scents. I picked up the mint one, just because it was there.

When we returned to our hotel, we witnessed a little crazy scene. When we tried to exit the DLR station, several police officers were gathered around a girl who had curled up on the ground. At first they wouldn’t let us through but then realised they couldn’t just tell a bunch of people to take the train to another station. Still, they made us wait for a while. I have no idea what happened but suddenly a bunch of people spoke up who were apparently involved with the whole thing and it looked like some real drama. My personal guess is that it had something to do with the Britain’s Got Talent casting that was going on in the convention center right next to our hotel. Maybe the lady didn’t accept that nope, she wasn’t gonna be the next Lady Gaga.

So yeah, that’s it. As I said, not much to tell this year. What I absolutely loved, though, was the Selfridges Christmas decoration, so I went a little crazy trying – and failing – to get the perfect picture. Normally, I find their decoration a bit tacky but this year, it looked amazing.

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Holiday Spirits

Over a month has passed. Things have happened.

First of all, there was my birthday which brought forth a week of celebrations and events. Most of which I was just tagging along for. They brought fun, new people, new things, some drama and the chance to leave my own four walls for a change. And also a new age next to my name, of course. Being 30+ wasn’t well received by me and I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fact that I’m an adult. On my actual birthday, I went to a concert. It wasn’t “my” band but it was a concert. In a tiny club. The kind of gig I went to in my 20’s. And it was fun but my back reminded me of not only my age but also my weight. By the end of the night, I’m pretty sure some people were slightly disconcerted by the positions I took on to make it stop feeling uncomfortable. Sorry!

Moving on before I feel like a granny…

After the birthday shenanigans (this word makes me feel even more like a granny!), it was back to work and for some reason, I found it really hard to get back into the routine of it. I spent two weeks sleep-walking and used every single free minute to nap, even falling asleep at my desk a few times. I was starting to worry that something was seriously wrong but then I got the results from some of my blood tests. Apparently, my former doctor was a bit of an idiot because she said that my thyroid was totally fine and nothing needed to be done. That wasn’t so long ago. Well, now I’m glad my new doc insisted we test it all again when I switched because she said the values were still much, much too low. So we upped my dosage and hope that’s enough. She also asked me straight away if I hadn’t noticed anything, wasn’t feeling tired. I told her I was, very much so. She said it’s common with a low thyroid function like that. Go figure! I’d asked my former doc about it and she said fatigue never had anything to do with the thyroid. I’m so glad I finally got my act together and switched. I feel so safe and comfortable with the new doc! Not only is she really sweet and actually listens to what I say, I also feel like she actually remembers my case and knows what she’s doing. I may talk to her about the waves of depression I still encounter somewhat regularly. But I don’t know yet…

Anyway, so after two weeks of work, it was finally back to London again!

Still feeling tired, I hadn’t made many plans. I spent almost the entire ride asleep and felt like I’d been hit by a truck when we arrived, so Saturday turned out to be Shopping Day as I had no energy to come up with any interest in sightseeing.

I’m not gonna recap every single shop we went to any everything I stuffed my face with but there are two culinary things I absolutely have to mention:

Decadent Godiva White Chocolate Strawberries

Decadent Godiva White Chocolate Strawberries

One would be the most delicious and most decadent strawberries I’ve ever had. We saw them on display at Godiva on Regent Street. They had them dipped in white or dark chocolate and their sight was enough to make my mouth water. I figured they’d be a bit pricey, Godiva and all, but we didn’t even ask for a price before we bought them. Well, turns out they were 10 GBP for about six or seven strawberries. Oops! My mom also bought some delicious dark chocolates for herself and paid 6 GBP for five. But shockingly, I’ll have to stay they were so worth it! Maybe because it’s Winter and it’s rare you get delicious strawberries. Or maybe my taste buds just wanted to love them because they were so expensive. I don’t care, because…yum!

The other thing was another really good Italian restaurant that we found in a little street just off Regent Street. What I love about London is you can be right in the center, surrounded by people and chain stores, but then you turn a corner and you’re almost by yourself and you find the cutest little stores and restaurants. Just like this one. I think it was called Bella Italia or something equally cheesy. It was tiny, a bit shabby, had rude staff but it won me over immediately because it had the most delicious veggie risotto with green asparagus. So, so delicious, possibly the best Italian food I’ve ever had. Sadly, I couldn’t even finish it because the amount of food they serve you is huge. I’d meant to try their homemade desserts, too, but nope!

For the rest, I’m gonna be one of those bloggers and present you my shopping loot. But beware, most of it is very girly…

London Loot!

London Loot!

1. – 4. Books! The annual Waterstones loot is pretty small this year. I ‘parked’ my mom in the café in the basement and meant to spend hours browsing shelves. But then I kind of lost myself and needed to pee and also wanted a drink really badly, so I figured four books would do. I got The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro, Black Roses by Jane Thynne, The Mammoth Book of True Hauntings by Peter Haining and Shit My Dad Says by Justin Halpern. Only when I took this picture did I notice that all my purchases were very ‘red’, judging by the cover, the first two even looking very much alike. I don’t know what that says about me. Ha! The one by Justin Halpern was the only one I really had on a mental checklist because I’ve been hunting for it for a while and only found a German hardcover version. I’ve heard so many good things about it and can’t wait to start it.

5. Duets by Frank Sinatra. Actually, my mom bought this but she gave it to me to import to my iTunes library, too. I’d heard about this album before we left and when I saw it in HMV, I pointed it out to my mom and she instantly bought it. True fact: I love swing music a lot and this one’s so good!

6. AFI – The Lowdown. I have no idea why I bought this other than…frustration?! I’d meant to buy Knife Fight, the movie Davey Havok has an appearance in, but couldn’t find it in any HMV or elsewhere. Apparently, the UK didn’t get it, either. Then I thought I’d browse the shelves for some good old AFI, hoping I may find a single, EP, vinyl or something else I don’t have, yet because it is UK only or something. But there was nothing. And then I saw this thing. I don’t know if these kind of CD’s are a UK thing but I’ve never seen them elsewhere. Usually they consist of two or more discs that have some random person telling the band’s story and then some interviews that you’ve heard a million times before. They also come with all kinds of cheap, low quality bonus stuff like posters, stickers or whatever. I knew it wouldn’t be something I’d ever listen to. But now I have another item that says AFI sitting on my shelf. And it was only 7 GBP or something, so it’s alright.

Urban Decay DIY Palette w/ Maui Wowie and Loaded

Urban Decay DIY Palette w/ Maui Wowie and Loaded

7. Ah, one of my highlights of every London trip! A visit to House of Fraser, particularly their Urban Decay counter. UD is one of the brands that are really effing hard to get in Germany, even online. So every year, I look forward to treating myself to one or two of their goodies. This year I’d meant to check out the Naked 3 palette but they didn’t have it, yet. Then I looked around and found about a million things I wanted to buy. And finally, I ended up in front of their DIY palettes. The empty cases alone are so pretty already! And UD eye shadows are just amazing, really highly pigmented and good quality. So I like that I can buy them without having singles rolling around my makeup shelf now. I bought a case and two shadows for now (at 14 GBP each, I figured I shouldn’t buy one for all four slots yet…), Maui Wowie and Loaded. There were so many shades I loved but I went with two that I could actually use together for some looks. They were a little hard to get out of their cases and move into the palette but once they’re in, it’s easy to remove and replace them if you have to. Seeing as I didn’t really do much since London, I didn’t get to use them yet. But I still stare at them and secretly fall in love a bit more each time.

8. Ciaté Caviar Manicure. Our hotel was in Wimbledon. When we got out of the tube station and wanted to change for a train, we learned the train platform was closed, so we had to go outside and look for a bus. On our way to the bus stop, we found that Wimbledon High Street actually offers a loooot of nice shops, too, including a TK Maxx. I can never resist a TK Maxx. For a Shopaholic like me, it’s like a wonder bag. You never know what you find inside. I fell in love with about ten different bags and other things but stayed strong and didn’t pick anything up. Until I got to the cosmetics section. As usual, it was full of a lot of skin care products, soap, etc. In short: Things I don’t get excited about. But then I came across a display that had a lot of nail polishes. Including this one. I’d heard about Ciaté and especially this Caviar Manicure before but it’s just way too expensive for me to buy and experiment with. But they sold it for 7 GBP so I picked one of them up. They had three different ones and I got the Tutti Frutti one which came with a baby pink polish and sort of rainbow colored pearls. I didn’t have the patience to experiment with it, yet, but it looks easy enough.

9. Deco wet bubble balls-whateverness. What looks like a little bag of weed in the picture actually is something that I hope to be really fun. On our way to Waterstones, we came across a small Christmas fair that was organized by a church. It was so much cuter, better and more seasonal than any of the big Christmas fairs we have in Germany or the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Basically just a dozen stalls selling handmade crafts and seasonal goods. One of those stalls didn’t really fit in because it was guy who only had a display with these bags and a bowl with little bubble balls in them. The bowl had a sign that said ‘Touch Me’ and when I did, I squeaked because the little bubble balls were wet and felt a little creepy under the touch. Sort of like the bubbles in Bubble Tea. The guy explained that you just add water to the tiny crumbles in the bag and they grow into those bigger bubbles and then you can use them as decoration, for example in a vase. I haven’t used them yet because the space where I usually have some flowers is occupied by the Christmas tree right now but if I remember, I’ll take a picture once they’re set up. I got them in black and I hope it’s gonna look pretty cool with white or pink flowers.

Hooty!

Hooty!

10. HOOTY! The other thing I couldn’t resist buying in TK Maxx. It’s just one of those plush animals that you can heat up in the microwave. I get terrible period cramps, especially in Winter and I also like to take a warm water bottle or something similar to bed with me when it’s cold, so Hooty had to come home with me. Plus, he smells of lavender! He was only 7 GBP, too, so who could resist that price and those eyes?

Not pictured: Maitresse Eau de Perfume by Agent Provocateur. I bought Flash by Jimmy Choo a few months ago and I love its scent but I get allergic reactions wherever I spray it. So I needed a replacement, and fast. I was looking around the duty free shop on the ferry and couldn’t really find anything. I tried all the different scents by Agent Provocateur but wasn’t impressed, then moved on and looked at other stuff. Somehow, I ended up sniffing the little paper strip with Maitresse on it again and again and fell in love with its scent. It seemed like one of those perfumes to me that doesn’t overwhelm people, isn’t too sweet or too heavy and I thought it’d be really subtle. Well, since then two people have asked me about it and kept sniffing me, so I guess subtle doesn’t quite cut it. Ha! But the reactions were completely positive, so no complaints from me. I think it may just be one of my favorite perfumes I’ve bought over the years.

So…that’s it! Sorry, no cool London photos or anything. Just visual proof of my shopping addiction!

Categories: Me Myself and I, Wanderlust | 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.

Rawr!

Rawr!

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.

Mmmmhh...om 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…
TBC…

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

London 2012, Pt. I

Ah, what a weekend! So exhausting and so fun! My mom and I seriously thought about it over the weekend and came to the conclusion that we’ve been going to London every year for the past 15 years with the exception of one year when I had been struck down with a flu or some other kind of poor health. But rarely has a weekend been as nice and relaxing as it was this year. Maybe it was the awesome weather, maybe we just play well together by now, who knows.

Many people who I tell about this little family tradition of ours thinks we’re crazy. Because we don’t fly over to England, we go by bus. It’s just part of the deal. We started it in ’97 when flying wasn’t as cheap and convenient as it is today and since then, it’s just become part of the plan, I guess. We always go with the same couple who organize the trips. Every weekend in late November / December, they organize a Christmas Shopping trip to London for anyone who would like to go with them. They don’t advertise it, it’s just word of mouth. If you enjoy it, you’ll tell friends, family and co-workers about it and eventually, some of them will choose to give it a go, too. The difference between these bus trips and the ones you can book elsewhere is that it’s always so relaxed and there are none of the, sorry, terrible people who’ll make good use of the long drive to get wasted. And every year on the first advent weekend, we’re part of a travel group.

Of course, these weekends are always bloody exhausting. As was this one. As usual, the trip started at a couple minutes before midnight on Friday night when the bus picked us up. And as usual, I hadn’t managed to nap in the afternoon. So it didn’t take long for me to fall asleep. There’s something soothing and reassuring about being cuddled into a bus seat with your blanket. It really does sound more uncomfortable than it is. You don’t really notice how awkward it is to sleep in a sitting position till you wake up.

A little shabby but charming nonetheless

A little shabby but charming nonetheless

We reached the port of Calais sometime around five or six in the morning, I think. This year, there was a longer wait because there were a lot of coaches to be checked one one member of our travel group had issues with his ID card. The passport controls before check-in are always the first harsh moment of the trip. You’re barely awake and already, you have to get off the bus, out into the freezing cold, then stand in line inside a pretty unfriendly little container till you get called up to a counter where an equally unfriendly and grumpy British guy stares at you as if you were a criminal. This year, I was lucky enough to get called up by the least intimidating one. And, of course, compared to the guy whose ID card was causing trouble, I had drawn the lucky card.

Luckily, we didn’t have to wait for long before we could board the ferry. There are several ferries sailing for P&O and I think by now, I’ve seen them all. They’re all pretty much the same, only the layout changes. The interior is quite similar, as are the facilities. They all offer one or two shops, some kind of bar / coffee shop and a place to get food which ranges from a proper a la carte restaurant up to fast food joints. As usual, we just hurried to find a place to settle down. Depending on how crowded the ships get, you can get unlucky and not find a proper place, so you’ll have to settle in some uncomfortable chairs somewhere in an aisle or sit on the stairs or something, so it’s always a good idea to find a quiet place and then split up so someone can go and get drinks / food while the other(s) stay(s) seated with the bags. This time, we settled in a shabby but comfy enough bar area. All you really need to make it through the trip is a good book, if you ask me. It was a bit unfortunate that it seemed to be right above the engine so it got quite noisy but the rattling also managed to lull me to sleep. The only annoyance were two groups of noisy and clearly drunk French guys (hence the annoyed look on my face). Now, I don’t live near the ports in France or England,

I'm so, so tired

I’m so, so tired

so I can’t judge how common it would be to take the ferry back and forth. But it seems that every single year we have such groups on the ferry. They never really seem to be on any particular trip, for leisure or business. I don’t know if they just go over to do some shopping in the town by the port and then go back or whatever they’re doing. They just seem to be really at ease, like they’re using the ferry’s facilities quite often. When they’re not noisy like the group this year, I quite like the diversity of the passengers. You see a lot of elder people, as well as groups of kids. They seem to be from all parts of the world as well as all ‘levels’ of the society. My mom and I often try to guess where people are from. By now we’re really good at it, too, though neither of us can point out what exactly it is that makes it so obvious.

Once we arrived in Dover, we were delighted to find that the white cliffs were alight with bright sunshine. I always love the moment when the bus leaves the ferry and we all get a first look at the cliffs. Those who’d been there before always smile in recognition. Those whose first time it is always gasp and stare in wonder. And the effect is even better when the sun is shining because they seem so much brighter and bigger then.

It was another two hour drive till London which I used to catch up on some more sleep. I love waking up to the sight of the suburbs of London passing by. Even though we’ve been to the city with this group fourteen times already, we always join the organizers for a little sightseeing trip with the bus. They pretty much just drive around the West End, passing by all the sights, give a few facts and anecdotes. I’ve heard it all before and by now, I could probably do the little tour myself but it’s just my way of saying hello to this wonderful city. On these weekends, we only have

All you need to survive on the ferry

All you need to survive on the ferry

one day there and there’s no way to see everything and notice all the little changes when you’re only exploring everything by foot. This way, I got to take a look at the Shard, see several other building sights where no things are being pulled up and got to say hi to the Clock Tower, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park without losing any time that was planned for the Natural History Museum, food and shopping this year. It’s also convenient to be able to say you saw ridiculous things like the Winter Wonder Land without having to shove and pull your way across the huge fair.

By the time we’d finished the tour and were out on our feet near Piccadilly Circus, it was around 11am and I was feeling the by now familiar excitement of wanting to do and see and touch everything at once.

TBC…

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Procrastinating

I’ve spent most of today’s time at work alternately changing my blog theme and rolling my eyes in annoyance. It’s been a really slow day at work but the less calls I get, the easier it is to annoy me. Both, for customers and co-workers. With customers, it’s not so bad, just the odd few that will be either rude or particularly thoughtless.

Co-workers, however, are a different story. I’m on the late shift with one particularly difficult one this week. He’s quite a handful at the best of times, because he is unable to keep himself busy and entertained for more than five minutes. On slow days like today, he will pace the office like a caged tiger, come over to my desk to talk even when I’m busy, ask a million questions about things he really doesn’t care about like the book I am reading, my next vacation, my cats, whatever comes to his mind, really. When you tell him you appreciate his curiosity but are really quite busy, he complains that he is not. When you tell him to start bringing a book to work, too, he’ll tell you he can’t sit down and read. It’s hopeless, really.

Today definitely wasn’t one of his good days, though. I almost feel bad writing this because the poor guy is sick as a dog. But still, it’s just a flu. Watching him, though, you’ll think his life is nearing the end. A cough isn’t just a cough with him, it’s an eart-shattering event. I told him to stay home tomorrow and he came up with a million reasons why he can’t do that. So I think I’ll have the pleasure of watching him wither again tomorrow. Oh joy! Halfway into his suffering, he decided the only way to survive today was to keep himself distracted. So he started watching something on his phone. With the volume turned all the way up. Needless to say reading was out of the question then.

The worst of all was that eventually, he came over to ask about my progress at the gym. Ouch! Painful subject. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really, really need to get into working out again. Monday, I swear!

But I really can’t complain about this week. So far, I got an Amazon gift voucher, a nice fat bonus on this month’s paycheck and some other work-related good news. And it’s only two more days till I’m off to London where the aforementioned bonus will most likely be spent on cosmetics, books and nice food. So really, anything I can complain about are #firstworldproblems, as Twitter & Co. would call it.

After much back and forth, my mom and I also agreed on our “cultural” programme for this year’s trip. We’ve been going to London on every first advent weekend for…I don’t know…12 years? 15? Maybe even more? It’s sort of a family tradition and to our shame, we had to realize that we’ve never really seen much, apart from the things you see while shopping. The realization came after we got home from London two years ago. So, last year we decided that we couldn’t possibly keep from shopping but we could be less obsessed with it and spend at least half the day we actually get to spend in London (the Sunday is always reserved for Canterbury) doing some sightseeing to be able to say we did not just walk drive by all the famous places, museums and sights but actually went inside, took a picture and / or got a closer look at them. Last year, we started it in an abvious way by visiting the British Museum. While I enjoyed most of the exhibits (and passed by the others with a bored yawn), I have to say what got to me the most was the huge library. I didn’t like that we had to pass the souvenir shop in order to get inside, because it almost made me spend a small fortune on things like ink and feather, scarves or beautifully adorned boxes. But once my mom had pried me away from those, she found herself facing the new task of dragging me away from the huge shelves filled with beautiful old books. I’m not lying when I say that I would happily give all the rooms in my flat for one room like that.

This year, we’ve decided on more obvious choices: The Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. We toyed with the idea of seeing a musical and I’d really love to visit the London Aquarium and go up on the London Eye, but my mom wasn’t such a fan of those and said we should keep those for another year when she can motivate herself for some of those more tourist-y overpriced things. Except for the musical which she would have loved to do but nothing we were interested in had any decent tickets left and / or a show on that day. Maybe another year… My inner geek is wetting herself in anticipation anyway. Giant dinosaurs! Rawr and all!!!!

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