Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The next big thing

I interrupt the European recaps to bring you this:

Instagram: @hungc

46 days until my next great adventure!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 2: Cambridge/London

OK, so this post was going to be much longer and chock full of photos, but it seems that I have lost ~100 photos from the second half of the day. I've tried everything to try to recover them, but to no avail. BOOO!!!!

Not sure how it happened, but we both woke up pretty darn early on day 2. Since it was a nice day out, we decided to spend the day roaming about Cambridge. Neither one of us really knew what to expect; we just went with the flow of things.

Breakfast was a quick stop in Costa Coffee. I equate this place to a local Starbucks, only with better coffee. After breakfast while waiting for our train, we stumbled upon the famous Platform 9 3/4, by accident. J knew it was in the area, but wasn't exactly sure where. 

Banana breakfast loaf and a soy latte. Or as the British call it, a soya latte.
Subway sign.
Clock steeple at St. Pancras Station.
Off to Hogwarts. I know zilch about Harry Potter, no lie. (Photo by J.Spies)

Funny story. While in Cambridge, we were taking photos of the crazy large catholic church. A young woman stopped and asked us if we were from Oregon and if we were students. She was from Eugene, Oregon and was a student at Cambridge University. It took us awhile to figure out how she knew we were Oregonians. Were we dressed that obviously? Turns out, J had his Oregon State beanie on. Oh, duh!

We covered much of Cambridge on foot, soaking in the sunshine, blue skies, and victorian architecture. We were bombarded by people who kept asking if we wanted a punting tour.  Neither one of us knew what it was initially, but we knew we didn't want to partake. I'd show you pictures of the punting boats and the pretty river surrounded by lush vegetation  but those are all the pictures I am missing *sad face*.

Cambridge, like much of London, sports a very industrial-Victorian architecture.
Reminds me of something out of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Lunch at Fitzbillies. Menu of the day. I am in love with the color of the subway tile.
I'm assuming that is the chef's table.
Lamb and apricot cutting pie with apple & chili jelly. Delicious!
Famous Fitzbillies Chelsea Bun. It was far too sweet for my taste buds. Oh, I dislike raisins, so I picked them out.

Any guesses to how many miles we covered?
4 miles

We finished with Cambridge relatively early (~2:30pm), and it would be tea time by the time we got back to London. The plan was to walk from the train station to a tea place J's guidebook recommended. Yeah, well, we headed North, in the wrong direction. By the time we turned around and found the place, we were both hungry and wanted more than just a cup of tea and a pastry. 

A couple of miles later, we found ourselves surrounded by lights and restaurants galore in the Soho neighborhood. A Moroccan/ Spanish place caught our eye and hushed our grumbling bellies. We stuffed ourselves silly at El Cantara Soho. We split the Barcelona feast which included chef's choice of 5 tapas appetizers, our choice (each) of a main dish, and a plate of mini baklawas (baklava). 
  • Starters: zaalouk (eggplant), hummous, calamares, albondigas (meatballs in tomato sauce), pollo al ajillo (chicken thighs)
  • Main: I had the fish of the day (sea bass)
  • Dessert: assorted baklawa and date filled short bread, minty tea
  • Drink: vina sol rose, Cataluna, Spain

3.44 miles

Including our walk in Cambridge, we covered ~7.5 miles on foot!!

Day 1: London
Day 1: London - prefunc

*All photos taken by me with Nikon D7000 unless noted.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 1: London

Sorry for the delay, ya'll. I will try to keep the words to a minimum (mostly so that it is easier for me to manage these updates).

We checked into our 2 bedroom/2 bath penthouse flat (found via Homeaway). We were greeted with a tray of treats and a fantastic view.

Cookies, chocolates, teas, and coffee.
The Tower of London and Tower Bridge from our flat. (Taken with Samsung TL225.)

After settling in, we ventured out to explore our new playground. We wandered across Tower Bridge, through the Borough Market, grabbed a bite to eat a Elliot's Cafe, and spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the Tower of London.

Tower Bridge (I need to find a better way to edit this photo.)
Borough Market Entrance
Pieminister. Looked tasty, but I did not get one.
The US would never allow food to just sit out in open air like this.
Where You Are
J trying to decide what to eat for his first British meal.
Fentimans cola. The waitress called it a "hippie" soda.
Pulled pork terrine with corn bread and pickled apple salad.
Inside the main walls of the Tower of London.
J got speared.
Raven perched on a wall at the Tower of London.
Henry VIII thought very highly of himself...

I took a nap before dinner; all the excitement wore me out.

(Photo credit J. Spies)

For dinner, we headed out into the cold, but just down the street to a place called The Assembly.
Clockwise from top left: Rustic bread appetizer, J's fish and chips,
Japanese Fizz (my girly-foo-foo drink), Duck salad.
(Taken with Samsung TL225)

J and I walk A LOT when we hang out. We do not do it separately, it only happens when we are together. Just to see how much we walk, we mapped out our daily walking routes. According to Google Maps, we covered roughly 4 miles on day 1.

Day 1: London - prefunc

*All photos taken by me with Nikon D7000 unless noted.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 1: London - prefunc

Remember my crazy adventure to the airport almost two weeks ago? (Sorry, another pipe dream of mine was to blog while I traveled. I have been barely able to keep up with journaling notes to blog about later.) Well, you would think that it would be smooth sailing. You would think so. Turns out, I was in the WRONG terminal. As my flight started to board, I began to run. I ran like my life depended on it. OK, not really, but it felt like it at the time. I ran from one end of the airport (terminal E), through central parking, to the other end (terminal A). I made my flight with about 10 minutes to spare. Whew!

Layout of Boston Logan....note that there is no scale. (Source)

I landed with no issues, well, other than being sleep deprived. My internal clock was all messed up at this point. London is 5 hours ahead of Boston. But I'd been 3 hours behind for the previous two weeks. Excitement keeps you moving, right?

I made it! Instagram @hungc

My flight landed ~30 minutes before J's. I had told him that I'd meet him at his gate. But Heathrow doesn't function like airports in the USA (neither does Paris, Tokyo, or Hong Kong...pretty much none do.) But you can't meet someone at their gate when you fly international. You can meet them at their terminal after they have collected their baggage. It took me awhile to figure this out. I wandered through empty hallways toward the signs for 'connecting flights', almost got on a bus that would take me to the departure gates for J's terminal. Luckily, the security guard and I talked through the logistics and realized that it would be best for me to go through Immigration/Customs myself and then catch the train to the arrivals section of J's terminal. And luckily, J figured out that he should keep moving forward and go through Immigration/Customs and wait at the end. Had none of the above happened, we had no clue how we would get in touch with one another since neither of our cell phones work overseas.

Catching the train from Terminal 4 to Terminal 3 to find J.
Crisis diverted! We found one another and off we went into the heart of London.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A train and a tranny

Holy. Wow. Where does time go? I have already been on vacation for 2 weeks, but it feels like I haven't stopped running around. Perhaps, that has something to do with my mom handing me a laundry list of things to do when I got home?

Well, I'm finally getting around to all those updates I am behind on. So funny story. Jake had to work today, as do all of our friends. We only live 20-30 minutes from the airport, but that equates to a $45+ cab ride. I was not keen on having to shell out monies, so I decided to go the cheap (but long ~1 hour) route and take public transportation. We live smack dab in the middle of two commuter rail stops. But wouldn't you know it, the commuter rail only stops at 2pm or and 4pm on the weekdays to pick up passengers headed into the city. Since my flight leaves at 6:30pm, I didn't want to risk it and was going to take the 2pm train. 

I missed it by 2 minutes. I had ran out of my apartment, dragging my bags the 1.1 miles to the train station, not stopping to take in the crisp and colorful leaves that had fallen, not stopping to take a photo of beautiful New England Fall. (Ugh, so mad that I didn't, so many gorgeous scenes.) On the way there, I heard the train go by and started to whimper. But I tried to think positively and tell myself that perhaps, that was the outbound train. No such luck. So I sat there, hot, sweaty, sticky, and stinky. I sulked. And then I sulked some more while eating my cold McChicken sandwhich (don't judge, it's what happens when you are only home for 48 hours and barely had time to unpack and repack).

I didn't want to risk being late for my flight (I'm sure the 4pm train would have been fine since I only have carry-ons), so plan B was to cab it to the airport. Miraculously, a tranny (at least I think she was) appeared looking all confused. We struck up conversation and as it turns out, she was also headed to the airport. Maybe the 2 large suitcases gave it away. Anyways, I asked if she was willing to split a cab to the airport. She agreed and off we went. Unfortunately, she picked a bad cabby that charged us a ton of extras (who still charges a fee for credit cards, isn't that all built in? and who still uses carbon paper to imprint images of credit card numbers? Lord, I hope my card number doesn't get stolen while I'm out of the country).

So here in the International terminal of Logan, I sit, waiting for my flight. I'm thankful that I'm here with plenty of time to spare and sweating balls somewhere else. I'll just have to shower as soon as we check into our flat. 

Oh, wish me luck. I have tried to pack light - 2 weeks living out of a carry-on AND without my hair straightener. See that bag on top? It's all of my electronics! Damn me and my photography hobby. That's not even all of it! I left my external flash behind. Let's hope that I don't need it during my trip.

Traveling light. Instagram @hungc

Cheerio Boston, I'll see you in two weeks. 
Boston skyline from the skybridge between terminals A and E at Logan International.
Instagram @hungc