Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Last Two Weeks

Well I'm three days away from my flight home, but its been a while since my Rome update so let's backtrack. These last two weeks in the UK have flown by. The Christmas season is upon us over here which means my annual post-Thanksgiving rule goes into effect: nothing but Christmas music playing on my iPod. Some might find it nauseating, but I've never been happier!

Last weekend: On Saturday, I woke up in the best mood. After my last full week of interning, I needed last weekend and it turned out to be so relaxing and enjoyable. I started my day (with iPod in hand) heading over to the Piccadilly/Bond St. area to do some last minute Xmas/souvenir shopping for everyone. I walked into Fortnum and Mason and was taken aback by the sheer number of people once in the door. If you've been following this blog since the beginning, you'll remember that F&M is where I learned that the Queen gets her tea from and it's one of the most revered shops in all of London. A must-see if you are here. I made my way upstairs to the second floor where Mel and I had sampled Oysters a few months ago. It was now transformed into a Christmas land and I was just so excited. I got some goodies to bring back to the States and then exited and did some wandering. I ended up walking through Piccadilly Arcade (which is a narrow outdoor "tunnel" of old school English shops, apothecaries, perfumeries, wooleries, and tea supplies. Inside, they were playing more Christmas music and there was garland everywhere I looked. I actually remember thinking that day that I will miss this part of London so so much. The cute, Christmas-y English part of London where men in top hats and tails open doors for you and literally everyone is in good spirits. At the end of the tunnel, I saw a storefront that looked familiar. I know I hadn't been on this backstreet before, but I had seen the storefront somewhere. I realized that this shop was featured in an issue of GQ that I read a while back and they had rated it one of the best men's stores in the entire world for grooming, shaving products, barber supplies, etc. Its called the Taylor of Old Bond Street and it was exactly what I thought of in terms of a quintessential English shop. I had to go in. I took this picture of the front of the store for you to guys to see!

After I left Bond Street, I met Mel who was in the area after coming from the Notting Hill market. We went for sushi at Itsu and I got this great salmon sashimi and ginger juice that was infused with lime. twas delish.

After my festive morning in the city, I headed back to get some work done before going to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park! Imagine if a good chunk of Central Park was sectioned off for a giant festival of carnival rides, food vendors, a huge market, and live music. It was a crisp night outside and a perfect time to go!! We got there and I just went insane. I got a german bratwurst, mulled wine, a hot donut, and rum balls. It was not the healthiest of nights, but most definitely satisfying. Here are some photos from Winter Wonderland!!

That was two weekends ago. The following week goes by. This past weekend arrives. Now I can continue...

THIS Past Weekend: We went to Oxford! We got up early and took the train from Paddington straight to the town of Oxford, about an hour northwest of London. I'm actually so glad that we saved this day trip for the end of my time in the UK because it was just unbelievable to see at Christmastime. It was everything you would think of and more thanks to Harry Potter movies and the school and town were like nothing I've ever seen. The whole place was very collegiate-looking covered in ivy and since the school was hundreds of years old, you could feel the history around you. We walked past a cemetery outside of one of the churches that was entirely green with beautiful moss that covered the withered stones. I got some really nice pictures that day. We also made it to one of the campus stores and I got myself a souvenir Oxford University rugby shirt! Here are some pictures from our day!

Now that you are caught up on my past two weeks following the trip to Rome, I can fill you in on this past week. On Monday and Tuesday, I finished the last days of the three classes I took here. In British Life and Cultures, we got our final exams back (A!) and then the professor took us out to his favorite pub and treated us to a drink. In media, we watched a film and learned that our professor was planning a visit to DC in February or March and said he would contact me because he wanted us to take him out to a diner. I also finished up my internship with Elemental Design on Wednesday. I never thought that I would be sad to say goodbye, but it was very strange. Seeing as I don't know if or when I will be back to London anytime soon, the goodbye at my office was just weird because it was more than just "thank you for an amazing experience, see you around". It was like "thank you and have a great rest of your life". I wish them all the best and hope to stay in contact! Today is Thursday and I slept late, watched Christmas movies, and oh yeah it snowed here. Apparently it never snows here and the one weekend I have a cross-continental flight, they are predicting inches of snow. Crossing my fingers everything goes according to plan!! Tomorrow I am doing one last lunch at my favorite Whole Foods on High Street and then going to the Oxford Street area. On Saturday, I have to pack up the last four months of my life and mentally prepare myself for the 10+ hour flight back to Miami!!!!!!

Expect one more post before I leave the UK.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

When in Rome: Eat Gelatto, Cannollis, Pasta, Street Pizza, Espresso Granitas, Fresh Bread, Suplis, and Mussels

and I am still in the food coma. The food in Italy was just UNBELIEVABLE!! I still can't believe that I conquered Roma. In 48 hours no less! Here we go...

We got there on Saturday morning around 11am Rome time. We instantly got off the plane, onto the train, dropped out stuff at the hotel and then booked it to the Vatican. We were told that the Sistine Chapel closed at 4pm that day so we thankfully got to the Vatican and were able to see Saint Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Museum, and finally the Sistine Chapel. I couldn't believe that I was actually standing underneath the ceiling that Michelangelo slaved away over for years and years. I was speechless!
That night, we went to Trestevere and wandered the narrow streets with Wendi as our tour guide. (She's studying at John Cabot in Rome). We sat down to eat at a restaurant off the beaten path, where they spoke no english. I liked it better that way, there was barely any tourists in this neighborhood which made for a more authentic experience. I got basic pasta with marinara and clams! Very basic, but very, very excellent ;)

The following day, we woke up and went to the Trastevere street market and from there walked across the river to the Colosseum, and all the other ruins in that part of the city. It was a really nice day out and the pictures came out really great so I was happy! We did a lot of walking and so my feet hurt at the end of each day, but we did manage to accomplish a lot.

On Monday morning, we flew back to London and I made it to my 3:30 class on time. I now am freaking out with all the work that I have this week, but I'll be fine. By next Monday, I will be 100% completely done with work and just relax and enjoy my last few days in Christmas-y London!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

So I'm going to Rome tomorrow and HOME IN 16 DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

my home away from home during the holidays...

I'm sitting here on Sunday the 29th of November, just 21 days away from my departing flight from Heathrow airport back home to Miami. I have Pandora internet radio playing in the background my favorite holiday station. Reflecting back on this past week, the holiday season is really starting to set in here in London.

Last weekend, Brian, Rebs, and myself went to the Oxford Street Christmas market to see what it was about. Our program recommended that we go to see it so we did! It was smaller than I thought, but very festive nonetheless. We got german brats and walked around to see all the crafters and holidays things. There was one booth that had ties and bow-ties made of wood. I know its really hard to picture it, but they were actually wearable. I never saw anything like it before so I got a bow-tie. On Wednesday, I wore it to work and I got no less than 4 compliments on it so I'd say it was a pretty cool souvenir.
On Thursday evening, most of the Americans in my program went out to a small Italian restaurant at the end of our block, got ourselves a table for 20 and had a "Thanksgiving meal" consisting of garlic bread and pasta. It obviously wasn't the same, but it was something. It was really nice to be alone together with everyone else. Mel's boyfriend Will had just arrived from the States to visit so he was able to join us for our meal. It was really nice to see a familiar face from home and I think Mel really appreciated it.

The two following pictures are from Thanksgiving. As you can see, I wore my festive sweater and plum-colored blazer to represent the lack of actual pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce at the table that night.

Yesterday I went to Mailboxes, Etc. and got two huge boxes to mail home. I've accumulated a lot of souvenirs, holiday gifts, and clothes while abroad so there is no way I would have been allowed on the plane with my threepossiblyfour suitcases so my dad suggested I just ship boxes home. One box went to the Savona Winds house in Florida and the other went to Wisconsin Place back in DC. After both boxes were packed, it felt amazing!! I looked in my closet and a lot is now gone and I can manage for the last three weeks with less than usual. It will be nice to not even be able to fill both suitcases now coming home: a huge burden that I have literally been losing sleep over.

Last night I watched the DVD version of 'Up' that Kelly sent me in the mail. What an amazing film with so many powerful messages to boot. I went to bed last night in a great mood.

We go to Roma in SIX days! I can't wait to see Italy!! I think it will be so unbelievable, possibly the most amazing city that I'll get to visit while here in Europe. Even though we are only there for a few days, I think we will manage to fit in a lot.

Also, a bunch of us are going to see one last West End show before we leave London: we got tickets to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof starring Felicia Rashad and James Earl Jones. I'm looking forward to seeing those two amazing actors on the stage in front of me. It should be a nice treat following work that day! Getting back to reality on this rainy Sunday, most likely going to start some of my work today. Or not. We shall see.

Can't wait until the 20th!!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Familiar Faces in Familiar Places

Last night was epic! After a long stressful week ending with three days of work, it was finally time for Jeff to unwind. I met Lauren's best friend Molly from back in Chicago (who was also here studying in London) so needless to say, we had aLOT to talk about!! She said that she had not had good mexican food yet so I took her to Chiquito, our fav tex mex place right here in London. It was about my 5th time there, but they make really really good margaritas so not going was not an option. Molly and I got there, waited a bit for a table at the bar and then finally sat down in the window on the second floor overlooking Leicester Sq. It was really interesting to see at night with impromptu street performances and things of that nature going on all over the square. We split a pitcher, ordered our food, and laughed our way through a HIGHlarious dinner. I love that girl haha! After Chiquito, we met up with my friends at O'neills and thankfully didn't have to pay the cover charge. It pays to be a regular. We walked up to the bar, met my friends and Molly orders a pint of Guinness. (If you read my post about my trip to Dublin, you know how I feel about Guinness). So this girl gets her pint, turns the glass upside down, the drink disappears down her throat and she turns to me and goes "What? I'm Irish". I think I died a little at that point. At one point, Molly left to go change and get her flat-mates to bring them back to the bar, but they eventually came back. Rebs and Woods were there at that point so it was a party. We all migrated up to the top floor where the live band was playing and so we enjoyed their music for a while. Around 1am I decided to head back to Kensington, so while exiting the bar, I run into Jill Horn standing outside. She hadn't even gone in yet and she was ready to leave so the two of us rode the bus back to Queen's Gate. Awesome night, let's do it again.

I woke up this morning to a video message from my Little saying that AKPsi's Honor Court was happening last night so by the time I got it, they were all being initiated. I can't believe how fast this semester went by not being there. I remember when I was pledging, it felt like forever and here they were last night becoming Brothers. Weird!

Today I am going to the Oxford Street Christmas Market which the city set up for the holiday season in the center of Oxford Street with just rows and rows of vendors and food, and crafts. A Laura Mindell dream.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Last-Minute Trip to Dublin!

In an attempt to squeeze one more trip into my abroad repertoire, we booked a weekend trip to Dublin, Ireland for this past week. There was a fear of "one of the biggest storms to hit the UK this year" but that theory fizzled into sun and a cool breeze so I'm happy that we didn't have to fly though that. Since Rebs went to Tel Aviv for the weekend, Mel, myself, and a few other AU kids descended upon the capital of Ireland this past Saturday morning. It worked out perfectly, our flight was at 8am out of Heathrow, we landed by 9am and were checked into our hostel and on our free walking tour by 11am!! Perfect timing. This walking tour was with NewEurope, the same company that we used in Paris, and it was aalllright, but it was free so whatever! On the tour, we saw the Dublin castle, a site of Viking remains, and Trinity College. The school was very beautiful and very old. They said it was ranked #4 in the entire world in terms of academics. On the tour, I stopped in a local Costa coffee and got a creme brulee latte which was genius!! That night we did a pub crawl with that same company again and ended up watching a "football" match between Ireland and France on the big screen in the first pub. Standing amongst actual hooligans was an experience. I felt very Irish at that moment. We walked around the section of the city called Temple Bar for a few hours that night and just had a great time laughing and wandering and I woke up the next morning having lost my voice.

The second day in Ireland, it was another beautiful forecast. I didn't bring my sunglasses because I was told it was gloomy all the time. Boy was I wrong. Anyway on that second day, we all met in the morning after grabbing breakfast and took a bus to the Guinness factory at the famous St. James Gate in Dublin. The whole factory (the part they let us see) was 7 stories high and you started at the bottom and worked your way up to the top. At the top was a glass ceiling and a bar/restaurant that provided 360 degree views of Dublin all the way around. It reminded me of Top of the Rock, only not as high obviously. The cool thing about the structure of the factory was that the whole thing was shaped like a giant pint glass. The glass walls at the bottom were narrower as in the center atrium as you worked your way up the 7 stories, the walls belled out and then back in to form the glass's shape. Very very cool looking. Included in the entry ticket price was a free pint of Guinness so naturally, I traded my ticket in for a nice 7Up because let's be real, Guinness tastes like tar with a splash of soy sauce.

After the factory, it was time to get back to the hostel, pick up our stuff, and head to the airport. Again, the flight was insanely short. I literally listened to 14 songs and we were back in London on the ground. A whirlwind of a trip, but I can now say that I have been to Ireland. Next trip: ROME in 3 weeks! Soooo excited for the sights and the amazing food in Italia.

I didn't take many pictures in Dublin so here are a few that I stole from friends.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

J'ai aimé Paris y Adoré Barcelona

PARIS: The city lived up to everything that I had heard about it and more. It was quaint, romantic, manageable, extremely picturesque, and best of all--sunny. The food was superb (I had duck, rabbit, and escargot no less than 3 times). The patisseries were straight out of a book with amazing baked breads and sweets to wake us up each morning that we were there. There is a company based in many of the major European cities that does free tours to all the major sights around the city. You basically meet in an agreed upon location and tourists just show up and are taken around the city by an extremely enthusiastic tour guide who does it solely for the satisfaction of talking about the sights (and the tips). Our tour in Paris lasted for 4.5 hours and was well worth it. We walked by the Louvre, the Musee D'Orsay, the Arch, Champs Elysees, Notre Dame, saw the Eiffel Tower, and learned about the history of the city along the way. Our tour guide's name was Chris and she opened her "about me" chat with the fact that she was 100% Armenian so naturally, we had something to talk about while walking to the next site. That same company also does organized pub crawls and night tours of Montemarte (the neighborhood that houses the Moulin Rouge and where my grandmother lived in her childhood). We had such a great experience with the day tour that we also did the other two over the next two days. At the end of the Montemarte tour, they take you to one of the highest points in Paris and you look down to see all of the city and the Eiffel Tower lit up in the skyline. Below are a few of my favorite pictures that I took while in France. Go past the pics to read (a very abbreviated version) about my time in Barcelona, Spain!

BARCELONA: By far my favorite of the two cities. From Paris, we flew to España and landed at night. Getting off the plane, it honestly felt like flying Newark to West Palm because the first thing you notice is the drastic change in temperature. It was actually WARM outside, and this was at 8pm so I was looking forward to the following day. Spain did not let me down. We were there for 2.5 days of sun, sand, and the most unbelievable food I could have asked for. I had paella at 4 different restaurants, that's twice a day. I couldn't get enough of it. The seafood was so fresh and the food itself was so cheap!! We stayed at the Hotel Roma Reial in Plaça Reial right off of Las Ramblas. It was a beautiful little plaza with a fountain in the middle with our hotel, a bunch of other ones and restaurants as well. In Barcelona, there was no free walking tour, but there was an open-air bus tour with a total of 44 different stops at various sights around the city that you could hop on and off all day for one low price. We did that bus tour for 7 full hours on the second day there and basically saw the entire city. While on the bus, you put in headphones and hear about all the history of the places you are passing. It was so much fun! For lunch that day, we got off at La Sagrada Familia and dined at a cervesaria that was literally in the shadow of the large Gaudí church. Speaking of Gaudí, his architecture was brilliant in real life. We saw the buildings he did in and around the city and went to Parc Güell one night! The second day there was about 75 degrees and we spent it on the water. In the morning, we had breakfast at the mall that the city build literally on the dock jutting out into the Mediterranean. After that, we took a rickshaw to the beach and played in the sand and surf for a bit before heading back to the docks by Colum. We then went on a cigarette boat ride up and down the coast of the city for a while where we met a nice couple from Oceanside, NY (Mel's hometown) so that was really fun for her. From the water, we had amazing views of the city and at that point, I decided that I didn't want to go back to London. Spain was just too tropical and beautiful to want to fly back to Kensington. On the final night before we left, I took some time to seek out my mom's family in the northern part of the city. Getting there was super easy, but they were unfortunately not home when I arrived. I went to a store and bought a postcard that I left for them in their mailbox basically saying that I had stopped by and my mom sends her love. I hope it made their day. Included below is a few more pictures to give you a taste of our amazing time in Spain!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

coming SOON!!

still settling in after getting back from Paris and Barcelona. Update soon!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"I can't believe you're actually here" -------- Kelly's Visit to London

FRIDAY: All of Friday I was itching with excitement!!!! I didn’t have class that day so I just tried to fill up my day by keeping myself busy. I went to the gym, did some work, got lunch, etc. FINALLY it was time to get on the tube and make my way to Heathrow to meet Kelly. (This is actually pretty hard to write now because she just left yesterday, but I’m doing it anyway). I picked up a nice bouquet of flowers and found her at the arrivals gate. She started sobbing and I realized that it was less about seeing me and more about the terrible flight she had on the way over to the UK. Whatever she was on the ground, it was in the past. We collected her stuff and made our way back to the tube and went all the way back to Kensington. We got a nice big burger at Byron because she was starving and then called it a night.

SATURDAY: Woke up and went to breakfast at a small French bakery and then off for a day of the sights. We began at Harrods so Kelly could see the store and the pet section. That was really fun to see these tiny tiny dogs and made me miss the Berra. After that, we went to Oxford Circus and then Piccadilly and then High Street. After a long day of running around, we went back to the hotel and rested a bit before getting some dinner at our local Italian restaurant and then getting all dressed to meet our friends and go out. I was able to get a bunch of us on the guest list at FunkyBuddha so it was really great that I was able to show Kel a good time while in London. We all got ready and went to the club, and got in right away. The place was waaay overpriced, but the music was good so we stayed a while. Kel and I ducked out early and went back around 1am. We were both exhausted after running around all day. That was Saturday.

SUNDAY: We ventured over to Covent Garden, a new area of the city that I had never been to yet. Narrow cobble stone streets with restaurants and shops with outdoor seating areas and street performers. It was a really eclectic area and we both enjoyed it. We sat down for lunch at a pub next door to the Lion King’s West End theatre. That day happened to the be the 10th anniversary of the opening of the show so there was a red carpet out front and a there was a celebratory afternoon performance happening. I actually saw Felicia Rashad (mom from The Cosby Show) walking in with her mother. After lunch, we met with Jeanie who was in town from Oxford, so we met her for a cupcake. Afterwards, we had tickets to go on the London Eye so we made our way over to the river with Jeanie and she wandered around while Kel and I went soaring hundreds of feet over the city in the biggest observation wheel in the world. I was honestly terrified, but how often do you go on the Eye so I sucked it up and took my pictures. After we were done, we had a bit of a photo shoot on the bridge overlooking Parliament and Big Ben. The sun was setting and it was just amazing. After it got dark, we met up with Jeanie again. Rebs and Mike Richardson (who is also studying in London) also met us for dinner in Leicester Square. We had really good pizza and then walking back to the tube, we past the red carpet for the new George Clooney movie that was having it’s London premiere. We missed him by a few minutes, but it was really cool to see it nonetheless!

MONDAY: Kelly and I went in the morning to get tickets to see Dirty Dancing at a same-day student discount price. In London, the show has been playing here for three years and has proved to be very popular. I have never seen the movie and didn’t know the story so she was really, really excited to see it and I didn’t know what to expect. (It was actually really great and I loved the special effects and scenery!) After we got our tickets for the show that night, we headed over to Sloane Square, another area of the city that I hadn’t been to yet so at least I wasn’t retracing my own steps with Kel… We walked around there for a while, up and down the street (a little like a trashier version of Georgetown) and took a bunch of pictures. From there, we hopped on the bus and nabbed the front row on the top level of the bus so we got a nice bird’s eye view of Knightsbridge on our trek to Piccadilly. We got off at Fortnum and Mason so Kel could get some souvenir teas for her roommates and we got a bunch of different kinds. That night we went with Mel to see Dirty Dancing back in Sloane Square and for the cheap ticket price, we actually had really great seats. They were both singing the whole time so it was fun for them. Everyone seated around us noticed that one of the judges from Dancing with the Stars was sitting in the audience, but I had no idea who this man was so I didn’t care. That was Monday night.

TUESDAY: My only day of classes. Except that I didn’t have class this week (really worked out nicely). Instead of my two classes, I had two field trips! For media, we went to take a tour of BBC studios and for BLC we took a tour of the Globe Theater and the Tate Modern art museum. Kelly was able to come to the first one because my professor had extra tickets so that was awesome to have her join my class on our trip. BBC is a really fascinating place and I don’t want to say too much because I’m afraid this blog post will never end but we say two shows being filmed and a lot of behind the scenes news-y things. Really really cool! After the tour, we grabbed lunch at the Westfield mall across the street that just happened to be the largest in Europe. It actually reminded me of Towne Center in Boca so I got a little homesick. I need to go back there, it was too American to pass up a walk around on a rainy day. At this point, Kel went back to the hotel to work on a midterm for one of her classes and I continued to the second half of my day. The second tour was actually pretty disappointing as it was just a lecture about Shakespeare IN the Globe. I felt terrible that she was alone for a half the day and so I rushed back as soon as the tour was over. We rested a bit and since it was her last night, I asked what she wanted to do for dinner. One word: Mexican. Good thing Chiquito was amazing Mexican right in Leicester Square! Going back to that part of the city, the film festival was still going on and a new red carpet was on this night. It was the premiere of “An Education”, an indie film. I ended up running into Emma Thompson and not even knowing who she was. Oh well! At dinner, we split chicken fajitas and pitcher of strawberry margaritas and discussed the future. It was a truly great last night!

WEDNESDAY: Woke up, breakfast at a cute restaurant called Med Kitcken by my building and then went back to Heathrow. It was a tearful goodbye, but what’s another 10 weeks right?

Thank you for keeping up, that took a lot out of me. I apologize for not going into my detail, but this post would have been pages upon pages. Basically, we had a great time and I was surprised with our March spring break trip to the Atlantis Resort!!! Cannot wait for that one, was my favorite vacation ever back in the day.

Cheers all!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Kelly's come and gone in the past week so I haven't been near my computer at all. I'll do a big update in the next day or so after the craziness of end of term work dies down.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

intimidation takes the form of industrial-eclectic office spaces, stilettos, and Macbook Pros

Yesterday. 2pm. My interview with Elemental.

I wasn't too too nervous because I had been hearing that these interviews were more like meetings than an interview, but nonetheless, I was still a tad nervioso. I took my route that I had practiced last week from my tube station to Temple. From there, I walked along the Thames for a few blocks to the overland train station at Blackfriars that takes me three stops to the company. Only thing was that there was some sort of malfunction on my train so it was delayed by 50 minutes. Long story short, I ended up waiting about 15 minutes, hopped on another train and basically found my way there with 25 minutes to spare. I took my notes on the company, did a last minute review of what I wanted to talk about, made sure I got my site supervisor's name right, got a cup of coffee and walked in.

To give you a sense of where I am interning, I'll try my best to describe the building. From the street you walk underneath a second story bridge that were offices above my head. It was a large courtyard with doors on all three sides, huge windows all up on the second level and brick walls. It looks like what the company did was take over the space of an old train station or something. It was really cool. From the bottom floor, I could hear hammering, drilling, sawing, men talking, etc. (I later learned that the store visuals that the company produces are actually all produced on site and this entire ground floor was their workshop.) There was a room that housed all the woods and metals, a spray-painting room, a fabric room, and a room for completed campaigns where I noticed logos for Adidas, Virgin, Louis Vuitton, and Topshop. The security guard at the entrance to the courtyard told me to take the stairs to get up to the second level where all the offices where. The stairs were all metal, very industrial looking. The only thing I was worried about was the suit I wore to the interview. So far I had basically only seen the workshop where paint splatters were the norm. Once I got to the door of the office, it was a whole different vibe. A very current, sexy office space with exposed brick and unfinished floors juxtaposed against perfectly groomed people and beautiful computer equipment and high-end technology. I was greeted by a secretary asking if I was interested in a drink. I declined and sat on probably the most expensive sofa I've ever sat on in the waiting area. In front of me, there was a huge ornate frame hanging on the wall, but no picture or mirror in the middle, just a frame. Taking a better look at this huge gold piece of art, I realized that the entire thing was made of high heels that were placed accordingly, paper mached, and then painted this brilliant shade of gold. I wish I could have taken a picture, it was so interesting. Before I got too comfortable on this Aston Martin of a couch, I was approached by a man named Richard Elmer, my interviewer and new boss. Very nice man and had an Australian accent, not a British one. We sat down in a conference room and talked over my experiences with the retail industry, marketing, and visual communication and design. After he realized that I was the perfect fit for the company (i kid, i kid), he let me know that I would be getting £50 a week plus lunch money. I had no clue that this was happening to begin with so I was stunned that I was even getting paid! Nice surprise to end the interview. I have to say, I was a bit intimidated. It sounds like I am going to have a lot of responsibility. He talked about me making coffee to doing a bunch of travel around the city to oversee client visits. I know I'm only there for a month and a half, but it's still crazy nerve-wracking!

After the interview was over, I went back to the train station and took it back into the city. I got back to Metrogate with an hour and a half before my class at 5pm so I just changed out of my suit and relaxed a bit and that was that.

Tonight we are going to see a show at the National Theater called Mother Courage for class. We found out it is 3.5 hours long so I will probably end up leaving at intermission because I cannot sit through a play for that long. We shall see!

Cheers for now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Here Comes The Sun...

I can see it. Just beyond the horizon line... but standing in between me and my metaphorical happiness is the next two days of stress. Well actually its just tomorrow, but for a dramatic flair I threw in Thursday as well.

Tomorrow is FINALLY my interview at Elemental Design!!! I am beyond excited about it and I can't wait to have a kick ass interview and eventual internship after I get back from Paris and Barcelona next weekend. I have sifted through all their archived case studies of window and store installations that they have done, the parties and events they have thrown, and I basically know what they expect of me at this point. I'm looking forward to having some responsibility within the company and going on a lot of site visits to the luxury stores that they work with. It is only about a month and a half, but I am so so excited. Who interns in London? so cool. After my 2pm interview, I have my class at 5pm where I have to give a presentation on the history of the Royal National Theater (which I visited last week and referenced in my last post). Since I was able to see the place first hand, it made the preparation for tomorrow's speech a lot easier.

This past weekend was basically parents visit weekend here in Kensington. I can count six friends of mine who's parents came to visit this weekend. Needless to say, those of us who did not have visitors saw a lot of each other. I'm not complaining though, Emily and Brian are good cooks. I mean I literally thought I would be dumpster diving without Mel for five nights, if we are being honest. I really need to learn how to cook for myself. I just am way too lazy and don't care enough.

The big event this past weekend that I can share with you all is that Emily Beyer turned 21! It was actually the first time that a friend of mine has turned 21 and I was there to celebrate. I have to say, it was odd that she was the one turning 21 and I was buying her the "first drink" age 20. That's Europe for you. She can celebrate for real when we get back to DC. Anyway, about 10 of us went out for a fancy dinner and then to a few bars afterward to celebrate. Here are two pictures from the dinner table that night. Emily is in the pink sparkly hat (compliments of Paige).

Great food, great company, overall a great night. Emily got nice and drunk (as she should have!) and we took the bus home around 2am. Unfortunately for her, she had the interview for her internship placement the following afternoon, but was spot on and I hear did a great job! I am basically the last of my friends to still have an interview, but I was also the last to find out about my company as well sooo...

After tomorrow night, I will be a little less stressed and then only have one more day until Kelly arrives on Friday night!!!


Friday, October 9, 2009

Ladurée, Fortnum & Mason, and a Tour of the National Theater

Wednesday marked one of the only rainy days we've had so far in the weeks I've been here. Instead of letting the bad weather get to me, I decided to go out anyway. Mel and I both didn't have our class until 5pm so we had a few hours to play with. This Wednesday happened to also be the final day of the Friends exhibit in London. The people at Warner Brothers set up a recreation of Central Perk on Carnaby Street where fans could go get a cup of coffee and walk around the set looking at memorabilia from the show. Unfortunately when we got there, the line was nearly 3 hours long AND it was raining. So we didn't want to wait and instead took pictures in front of it and our best to get photos of the inside when the doors swung open. Every once in a while, people who worked there would come around the line and throw "Friends" t shirts to the waiting crowd. Whoever caught it got to keep it, like a baseball game. We weren't in line or anything, but when we were walking away a shirt passed in front of my face so i grabbed it and I'm sure people were upset, but I now have a new gym shirt =)

Since Central Perk didn't work out, we still had a bunch of time to kill. Mel remember our bus tour guide from week one telling us about this French bakery called Ladurée between Piccadilly and Bond Street that apparently sold the best macaroons in western Europe. I googled the location on my Blackberry and we were a lot closer than we thought so we walked over to it and it was so cool looking!! The entire place was no bigger than a big walk-in closet, but the whole thing was just dripping in gold. It looked like a gold cave, with big curved walls of shiny gold putty or something. It was very cool. The mirrors even had a gold tint. I guess they were going for a very lux feel. Anyway, we got a table under the awning outside and ordered tea and a few of these macaroons that did not fail to deliver. The raspberry was my favorite! So so good. I can't wait to take Kel back there next week!! After we savored, finished, and paid, we walked across the street to Fortnum & Mason, a huge store that specializes in exotic teas, English tea culture, and great organic foods, as well as high end gifts and kitchen cookery. Basically, Mel's form of heaven. F&M is where the Queen actually gets all her tea from so you know its a well-respected establishment. The outside reminded me of one of the department stores on 5th in the city during the Christmas season with beautifully decorated and well-thought-out windows. Walking inside, I can honestly say this place put Harrods to shame. You wouldn't know it from the street, but it was 5 huge floors centered around a grand spiraling staircase that when standing at the ground level, you could look all the way up to the top where a painted mural of a scene out of Peter Pan was illuminated in the dome at the top of the building... It was just amazing! We walked around there for a while, me just stopping every five seconds to take a photo. At one point, an older gentleman walked up to me in a full blown tux with tails and everything and asked me if I liked oysters. I told him I did and he informed me of the oyster instruction/sampling happening on the top floor. Thanking him, I ascended the stairs and got myself one of the freshest oysters I've ever had. I knew Mel would be upset if she missed out on this since she was still wandering around the bottom floor in a state of shock. Before I got off the phone with her, I turn to see her huffing and puffing the stairs running toward the oyster bar. Needless to say, we were both pretty content with how the day turned out!!

Yesterday, the rain cleared and the sun was back! Our 1pm class was cancelled to be replaced with a backstage tour of the National Theater at 5pm. I got some work done during the day and then walked over to High Street to get a smoothie at Crussh (London's Robeks or Jamba). I was back in time to grab my camera and tour ticket and we were off to the National Theater! The theater itself is a really modern looking building that actually houses 3 separate theaters with 3 separate layouts so that a variety of shows can be put on there at once. It is right on the River Thames so from the inside, I was able to look out onto the water and see the London Eye looming over the building. We took a really fascinating 2 hour tour of the entire building and were backstage to see how everything worked and all that good stuff. I'm giving a presentation on the National Theater next week in class so I made sure to pay attention to our tour guide. (The last picture included in this post is of the outside of the theater that I took when we exited the building around dusk. How beautiful is that?!) Last night, we all went to a karaoke bar and then I came home and crashed.

After a really great night's sleep, I just woke up a few minutes ago to an email from my mom saying "I miss your blog". So now I'm updating. Happy? I was getting to it, I swear! I have my interview at Elemental Design next Wednesday so I'm doing a dry run today just in case I get lost and have a nervous breakdown trying to get there next week. Hopefully it goes well! It's another beauty out there today so I'm signing off on this Friday morning. oh and KELLY COMES ONE WEEK FROM TODAY!!!!!! Cheers.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

From Queen's Gate Terrace to Avenue Q

Yesterday afternoon, we ventured over to Leicester Square to hit up the TKTS booth to find tickets to last night's production of some show. I was really sick of the mandatory bad shows that I was seeing with our theater class so this was going to be a nice treat. We ended up seeing AveQ because Mel and Rebs both hadn't seen it and I had no problem seeing it for a third time. After seeing it twice in NYC over the past three years, I still found it hysterical and didn't mind sitting through it again. Luckily for me, they changed it up a bit for the London version so there was some new material. At intermission, I put my coat back on that was balled up in my lap during the show, forgetting that i had stuffed my scarf in my sleeve and it fell out at some point between me leaving my seat and me realizing I lost the thing at the end of the intermission. After the show was over, I went to the lobby and some kind soul had returned it. We didn't know it at the time, but during the bows the cast took time out to acknowledge that after a six year stint as the female lead in the show, Julie Atherton was saying goodnight for the final time and it just happened to be our show! That was pretty cool and she received flowers and got a standing o and all that good stuff. After the show was over, we were walking to our favorite bar O'neills which was around the corner from the theater and we past the stage door just when Julie was exiting to a swarm of fans and paps. I got a quick photo with her (even though I still have no clue who she is besides her name). For all I know, she's huge in the UK...

So we end up at O'neills and the bouncer at the door told us it was an £8 cover charge to which I responded "We are here every Tuesday night, fuck this" and proceeded to walk away when he realized we were loyal customers to the bar and said "You know what? Just go on in. Have fun" AND WE DID! I had a pounding migraine by the end of the night from before and there was no excedrin in sight. Fried rice from the chinese restaurant next door would have to suffice. We got back to the dorms around 2:30am after trying to find a taxi for no less than an hour along Regent Street. I ate my rice and went to bed (still with that migraine). Three hours later, I woke up and I thought my brain was going to explode out the left side of my skull it was pounding that hard. I made my way to the bathroom and ended up getting sick for a while because of it. Pleasant end to my night, I know. I popped an advil I found in our medicine cabinet over the sink and crawled back into bed and woke up around 11am this morning perfectly fine. I need to get professional help about my migraines. Its getting to that point.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Parliament & British Museum Trips

Ok before I delve into my city visits, I am very excited to announce that in addition to Barcelona and Paris, we have added ROME and DUBLIN to our itinerary as well for sometime in November and the first weekend in December!!!!!!! To say that I am excited is an understatement. I haven't been anywhere ever so anywhere I go, I'm excited to say "wow, I'm here". AHHH! So that was last night's excitement after we officially booked the trip.

Moving on!

Once again, our British Life and Cultures class took another field trip! This time to the epicenter of British government: Parliament. The building was beautiful. The first "room" if you want to call it that was the size of a football field, literally. Made entirely of stone with a wooden roof that miraculously has not eroded or burned down in the oh 1,000 years or so that this one room was. The rest of the original complex was rebuilt after a fire, but for the most part, it was old. I wasn't allowed to take photos inside Parliament, but take my word for it, it was huge cavernous rooms filled with gold leafing and history. We sat in the seats where the Lords of the House sit across from the opposing parties and argue about laws and British society. It was really really cool to see the interiors of this building that was always just on a postcard for me. ANNND I got to see Big Ben again which was just awesome!

The next day, Mel and I didn't have class until 5pm so around noon, we went with Rebs and her friend Dan from back home who is studying at UCL to visit the British Museum. On the way, we stopped for lunch at a Thai restaurant that smelled like a wet dog. It was really grossing me out. Exiting the restaurant, there was a very fine mist in the air, the first bit of precipitation that I had seen here in a long time. It stopped after a few minutes and we made our way into the great hall of the museum that boasted a huge rotunda with a soaring glass ceiling. Straight ahead of us was the ancient Egyptian and Greek artifacts rooms that opened with the Rosetta Stone. Such a cool museum piece! From the Egyptian wing, there was a lot of things that were excavated from various tombs and a recreation of on of the temples way back in the day. In the Greek wing, they had a huge Parthenon exhibit where pieces of stone from the site where taken to this museum and recreated to give a feel of what they looked like up in formation on the wall. The picture of the stone statues that slant in height that I included in this post were the original carvings from the top of the parthenon under the stone awning. Amazing to see in real life! After the museum, we headed back to class, but I want to go back seeing as though we only had about 2 hours...

For the weekend, seeing a show tomorrow night at Shakespeare's Globe theater for class and then Sunday we are going to visit Oxford. Bringing my camera for that little excursion because they filmed a lot of Harry Potter there!! Cheers!