Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2010

London – Day 6 and 7

I love London!  We saw sun for the first time I think today, we also saw the moon for the first time last night.  We took the tube to brick lane and picked an Indian place out of the 8 restaurants on that street.  We didn’t pick very well, the food was a little too sweet and not very spicy (and the guy was a little creepy, I think he watched us eat the whole time).  We stopped at the Spital field market and looked for some masks for Friday night. 

I took off my brown knitted head band that Max gave me for Christmas to try on masks and somewhere between there and the underground I realized Iost it.  I was a little bit upset about it and had a minor breakdown and cried when I wrote her a postcard about it.  I’ve since got over it because this is London and someone is probably wearing my headband somewhere and I am okay with it.  Max will just have to knit me a new one.  (I probably sound really depressed in the postcard I wrote you Maxxie, but really I’m having LOTS of fun, I just had an off minute.)

That night Liseanne and I went picked up last minute tickets to Pricilla Queen of the Desert.  It was fabulous!  It’s about three drag queens riding a pink bus dubbed Pricilla through the Australian outback wearing their sequins and singing well known diva songs.  I absolutely loved it, and would say it was a very successful first live show in London.

The next day we had booked bus tickets to take us out to Stonehenge.  We headed down to the area of town we had to catch our bus, but we made a few big small mistakes.

  1. We did not mark the hotel we had to find on our London map
  2. As we left the tube, a guy with a map kiosk asked us if we needed help finding anything, and because we did not need a map, I said no.

So we came out of the underground and made an educated and correct guess which way the hotel “Victoria Thistle” was.  We walked all the way down Buckingham Palace Street almost to the very end and did not see the hotel anywhere.  The only hotel we did pass by was the Grovesnor.  We headed back down the road and went into a shopping mall/train station because we saw a sign that said ‘Tourist Information” after walking about ten minutes through the mall and down two levels we found the tourist booth, where the lady tried, but pretty much gave us an I don’t know shrug and another map, which we didn’t need.  Initially we had gotten out of the tub with about 40 minutes to spare, but we were just about down to 15 minutes before our bus was going to leave, so we started running.  We asked another lady in a souvenir shop and she pointed us back down the street and said it was a few minutes’ walk.  We ran.  When we reached the Westminster Thistle, we thought we found it and went inside to ask.  The lady at the front informed us that it was not the Victoria, and pointed us the other way down the street, and told us it was right above the tube.

So we asked the map guy, and he was the ONLY person who told us it was not called the Victoria anymore, but the Grovesner.  So we found our bus, which we had run past 4 or 5 times and got on with a couple minutes to spare.  Our tour guide was funny, and kept the two hour ride out there interesting.  Oh yeah, that and I slept (and probably snored).  Stonehenge was very cool, and very worth the two hour bus ride out there.  It would have been nice if it was raining, because apparently some of the inner rocks turn red when they get wet, but we were also thankful for some very nice weather.  It wasn’t too windy or cold, but maybe that was just because we had actually come very prepared and layered.  (I used my long johns from sea kayaking again, awesome, I’ll never not own a pair again).  We stayed there for a little over an hour and listened to some audio about the history of what they think might have happened.  The ride home seemed short as well, and the rolling England country side reminded me of home, but lots more trees and quite a bit greener…I’m not really sure why it reminded me of home.

When we got back to the Victoria station we hopped on the tube and rode down to the Soho area and poked our way around a few shops.  I didn’t end up buying anything, but I found some fabulous boots in three different colours, all just a tiny bit too small.  It was really hard to leave the shoe store without them.

We picked up the flat keys from Erika at Amuse Bouche and went for dinner at the restaurant right below Erika’s place.  It’s called LMNT, it has Egyptian style outside that does not do the inside justice.  When you get inside it is absolutely eccentric.  There are two huge sphinx fire places; the walls are covered with hieroglyphics and Egyptian style carvings.  The booths are stacked on top of each other, and you either walk a few steps down off the main floor to your booth, or climb a ladder up to your booth.  We sat at a table on the main floor because the place was pretty busy.  The food was great but seemed to be more French influenced than Egyptian.  After dinner we grabbed a couple bottles of wine from a nearby convenience store and went walked around the building to Erika’s.

Love,

Ashley

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

London – Day 4 and 5

I woke up later than I planned to (again).  I almost can’t use jet lag as an excuse anymore, it’s beginning to look more like lazy.  Or maybe we just need to get to bed earlier.  Liseanne is amazed at my ability to completely ignore my alarm, but I bet it doesn’t surprise most of you.  We hopped on the tube (in the tube?) and met Malaika at Big Ben.  It was beautiful, took some pictures with it and went to hunt up some lunch.  Ate at a cute little pub not too far from Buckingham palace and went there after.  The palace was gated off and wasn’t all that exciting, but the fountain in front was so beautiful!!  We couldn’t get very close to the guard’s, and they were wearing black coats which made them look different than the little nut cracker guards, which bummed us out a little.  We walked to the natural history museum which was very interesting; I took a picture with great Uncle Charlie Darwins Statue.   We got a little bored after awhile. It wasn’t quite as interesting as the British museum, so we went shopping!

After taking the tube to Kensington and we found urban outfitters where I bought a beautiful black and gold dress to wear to the Masquerade renaissance party on Friday (Yay!).  By the way, H&M has exactly the same stuff, we found a 3 story store, but I recognized almost everything!  We went down a side street because we couldn’t find anywhere to eat and ended up at this sketchy little place but the guy made a mean Panini!  I also bought a really cute umbrella that night, its peach with tiny little dots and a black fringe.  Liseanne and I bought a bottle of wine before heading home and drank it with Erika while we relaxed, to ensure a good night sleep. 

The next day after a sound sleep we headed to the London Towers.  The name is deceiving.  When we got there we couldn’t figure out where we were really supposed to be going.  I saw this pretty castle and we took a few pictures outside it and had a coffee and breakfast while we waited to meet up with Malaika.  After we bought our tickets we learned that the pretty castle was London towers, and it does have not just one, but many towers. (I’m not sure why we didn’t clue in earlier)  The tour was really cool, we saw where King Henry the VIII beheaded a couple of his wives, and where they tortured all these different people.  We also got to see the crown jewels and the biggest diamond in the world.  It has increased my expectations any future jewellery.  It was FREEZING out today (But also sunny), so we found refuge in a Starbucks just outside the tower and warmed up.  We decided to head to Malaikas house to watch a movie and make dinner so we headed to the grocery store and picked up stuff we needed.  Couldn’t find our bus stop and we walked around aimlessly for awhile before getting back on track.  We made a delicious tomato and garlic pesto pasta dish with chicken and spring salad and watched Marley and Me.  It made me miss my puppy.

Love,

Ashley

P.S.– There is a street on our bus route to Erikas that has 10 Vietnamese restaurants in a two block span.  It is so crazy/hilarious, and must be so bad for business.  Haven’t tried any of them yet, but we’re going to.  We only have five more days here, and will probably only hit one, any suggestions on how to pick?

Read Full Post »

London – Day 2 and 3

On our second day in London we woke up around one in the afternoon.  It became apparent that neither of us had ever lived in an apartment when Liseanne tried to buzz Erika up to her flat by pushing the light switch.  It was quite funny.  We went to the British Museum for the afternoon, it was huge and had lots of amazing things, but we only got through about half of it. 

Btw, I think people here J-Walk more than people in New York.  I’ve been close to walking in front of a double decker more than once because I was looking the wrong way for traffic.  I’ve got the whole driving on the wrong side thing now.

Later we walked around the Soho area shopping, but managed to get ourselves very lost without our London local friends.  We finally pulled out our map, even though we did not want to look like tourists, and found the Champagne bar where Erika works and had a couple yummy Bellinis (Actually made with champagne!).  We went home early to plan out our week, and finally booked our way to Vlissingen.  We’re still hoping the website we booked it off will pull through and actually send us our tickets.  We were obviously still a little jet lagged that night as we found ourselves staring at each other at 4:00 in the morning.  (Actually I think Liseanne woke me up by staring at me.) 

We didn’t get a whole lot of sleep that night, and our plan to get an early start was spoiled when we got going around noon.   We went shopping at the Bricklane markets where there were tons of awesome street vendors and I bought a beautiful necklace medallion that looks like a pocket watch when you open it up.  We also went vintage shopping for a couple hours, which is amazing here, and then we strolled down and peeked in a few street shops.  I bought some beautiful blue gloves and a vintage brown long strapped purse.  So cute.

We ended up at a little coffee shop, it reminded me of Caffe Artigiano, because the coffee was amazing and they made pretty pictures in the late foam.  From there we met Meleika and headed to dinner. 

Biff was nice enough to invite us all over to his and Andy’s flat for a real English Sunday roast.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I certainly didn’t expect to walk into his flat and see him cooking up a storm in his pink and white polka dotted apron.   It was delicious; we had roast, English sausage, crispy potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, Yorkshire pudding and red wine gravy.   It didn’t quite have the family feel of dinner with the Clarks, but it was nice to be surrounded by friends eating Sunday dinner.  It was the first home cooked meal we’ve had since we’ve been here, and will probably be our last for awhile. 

We met a guy named Tom Riddle.  (So cool, right?)

A couple hours and a few bottles of wine later we headed home on London transit and crashed for the night.  I woke up again around two thirty and stared at the ceiling until about 5:30.  Jet lag sucks.

Love,

Ashley

Read Full Post »

Just a Note

For those of you, Grandma, who can’t help but find all of my spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors I am not taking the time to edit this, sorry.  Also, I know this is not as entertaining as it could be, but let’s be real, I am going to be an accountant not a writer.   🙂

Love,

Ashley

Read Full Post »

  I got on the plane at 1:30pm Calgary time, and landed around 11:00pm Calgary time in London, which was actually about six in the morning here.  Need a summary of our plane ride?  Screaming Children.  I debated buying $13 ear plugs in the Calgary airport but didn’t. They would have been worth every penny.   I watched two movies on the plane 500 days of Summer was great, and Bandslam was really terrible.  We had Erika’s mobile number and attempted to call her from a pay phone when we arrived at Heathero.  We had to ask someone how to use the pay phone, and which little coin to put in it.  She told us to put a ‘note’ before the number, (According to my new friend Ed we met later that night she actually said naught, but we miss heard her, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway).  About 4 pounds later we had learned a note (Naught) was not a * or a #, but was in fact a 0.  We got a hold of Erika and met her after an hour train ride to her end of London. 

Next time I go anywhere, I vow to pack light.  By the time we got to Erika’s flat, my shoulders were in absolute knots from carrying my 50 pound backpack and I had blisters on my fingers from rolling my 50 pound gigantic suitcase.    

Erika’s flat is very cute.   For one person.  It’s about the size of my bedroom, but square, and has a double bunk bed without the bottom bunk.  She has a little bathroom and a small kitchenette in the corner.  When we got there, Malaika was already crashing there, as she was waiting to move into her flat the next day.  So here we were with the four of us trying to share this tiny little room.  Liseanne and I immediately crashed in the top bunk for a couple hours.  We woke up around 9ish and showered and got ready to go out. 

Erika took the three of us to a small pub called the Macbeth.  It was awesome, it had renaissance style art all over the bar, but a grungy sort of rock feel to it.  It had a couple different levels with a covered outdoor patio.  They had a couple great live bands play, and in between sets they played oldies swing music.  We met lots of new people who are friends with Erika, and danced at the bar until about 1:30, when we headed to a house party on Commercial Street in Spital Field.  It was about a twenty five minute walk, but drinking on the street in London is tolerated (Legal?) so we stayed quite warm.   

They dress similar here, maybe a little more extremand e 60’s/70’s maybe a little grungier than Calgary wear, but almost every female our age here has a huge lavish fur coat.  It’s kind of awesome.  Okay and we met one guy wearing a leopard fur coat.  That was less awesome and more hilarious.

The flat we went to was very different, it was student housing so the party was in the hallways and common rooms mainly.  It was very linear.  Narrow hallways and small rooms made for great conversation starters.  We even got offered some accommodations for our 10 days by some local’s guys, but we decided to stick with Erika. 

We ended up walking most of the way home, and catching a bus for the last couple miles.  Most main buses run all night! And the streets were packed, even at three in the morning.  This was my first double decker ride, where I didn’t have 100 pounds of luggage.  We went up top, it was exciting…I took a video.   The birds were singing morning tunes as we walked our last couple of blocks to Erika’s flat, it was a fun night.

Love,

Ashley

Read Full Post »