Category Archives: Photos

Portugal

Portugal was great. It was cool to go back to Lisbon and be able to show people around. I knew the city really well — much better than I had thought — and was able to drag Mom, Dad, and Lauren all over town for the best and biggest sites.

We weren’t in Lisbon the whole time, we took a few day trips south to the Algarve, north to Coimbra, and nearby to Sintra. I’d been to all those places before, but in the short time we were there, we were able to do somethings that were new even for me.

We also had delicious pastry and octopus and caldo verde soup, among other things.

And here’s some pictures of it:

Pictures, as promised

What have I been up to? Lots of fun things. I went to Norway for a weekend, though I guess I already said that. That was pretty cool (literally…things were frozen and there was snow everywhere). It was so cold and thus so off season that since lots of things were closed, I spent lots of time in the train station or in random shopping malls to escape the mall. Lots of aimless wandering, but fun.

I’ve been doing lots of errands which is actually more fun than it sounds. Yesterday I walked 6 miles or so while running errands. I was looking for a new messenger bag and wallet to replace the ones that had been stole and it took me hours to find anything acceptable. I got a bunch of other stuff done and in the process I was able to explore some new areas of town, like Soho which is filled with adorable local boutiques.

Then today I went on more errands, kind of a continuation of yesterday and I explored a new area of Covent Garden (another shopping district…it’s kind of a theme in London) and the Seven Dials which 200 years ago was a terrible part of town but now is really nice with more cute boutiques. There was a store called American Classics, ironically filled with British people and absurdly priced cowboy-esque clothing.

And today I also went on a tour of the Olympic site in London. While we didn’t actually get to see that much/go inside anything, it was pretty cool because I got to see some new parts of London and learn more about the 2012 Olympics. These games are going to be pretty green…a lot of things are made out of recyclable material and after the games most of the stadiums are going to come down and be reused in other parts of the country. It’s also regenerating one of the poorest areas of London and making excessive use of public transport. Pretty cool. Those pictures will come later though.

And finally, the promised pictures:

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Slacking

I realize it’s been a while since I last updated, and you probably want some news about my awesome life in London. I’m back and I’m as much in love with London as ever. It’s beautiful, wonderful, awesome. I think I may even like it better than New York, and for me, that’s big.

This week has been “Reading Week” for my uni, which more or less translates into “Spring Break.” I’ve been in London for the whole week because I had two friends from Smith visiting. We did everything from Big Ben and Westminster Abbey (only the outside) to speed tours of the V&A and the British Museum, along with pit stops at the Eye, long layovers at 3 different book stores, a viewing of one of the worst movies I’ve seen, and some shopping on Oxford St.

New things from Emily’s visit: the British Library and its exhibit on Evolving English and the Temple Church.

I showed them King’s Cross and Platform 9 ¾. Emily got to see Gringot’s bank (aka: Australia House) and the rather impressive Royal Courts of Justice. We went to the Palace (and the Queen was actually there that time), took pictures in telephone booths, etc. It was all very touristy. It’s hard to show someone a city when they have a week any only 10 things that they want or are willing to see. It was a good week, it was a crazy week and it’s weird that it’s over. Especially since I have to study now.

For me, London is London not because of any of those major over-crowded tourist attractions. They’re quintessential “London,” but they’re not London at all.

So, after I dropped Emily off at Paddington today, I decided to do some real exploring. Armed with my map and Oyster card, I hoped on the tube and I explored Little Venice and Mayfair. Little Venice was cute with canals, house boats, floating cafes, blue bridges and I loved it. Mayfair was so … posh. It’s almost entirely owned by one man, and expensive. New York’s equivalent is probably the Upper East Side.

Basically, London’s not loveable and amazing because of the touristy bits. No, it’s everything; the semi-dysfunctional tube, the incomprehensible buses, all of the boroughs, and the really old bits along with the really new ones.

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A full month

As of today, I’ve officially been in London a full month and I love it.

This week has been very sports heavy (for me anyway) since I went to two sporting events in one week. Wednesday I went to a football game with a bunch of other QM study abroad students. Fulham vs Newcastle, Fulham won.

And today I went to QM’s Super Bowl Party. It was fun, but it helped me to realize how little I care about football. The most disappointing thing: BBC One/Sports did not play any of the commercials.

Yesterday I left the city for the first time and went on a field trip up to Oxford. We saw a lot of the Harry Potter sites, ate delicious cookies, and walked around the city at least 12 times. I was able to visit one of my friends from Lisbon while I was there too.

Then today I went to the Chinese New Year celebrations with a few friends. There were so many people in Trafalgar Square that you couldn’t actually see anything. The area was probably as packed as Times Square on New Years Eve.

On the way to the Tate Modern for the Seven Sisters tea, I bought a Red Nose Day pen and a Doctor Who calendar. This month’s picture is of Winston Churchhill making a peace sign with Daleks in the background.

The tea was in a room with an amazing view of the Thames and we ended downstairs in the café where we had mini sandwiches, tea, and scones.

All in all, a good week.

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Apparently, I love Camden

Today I went to Camden for the third time since I’ve been in London, and as they say, third time’s the charm. That weird little street of markets mixed with overpriced international stores has so many random treasures. Such as fish-eating-your-feet-spa-treatments. No, I’m not kidding. Check this article if you don’t believe me.

There are people with multicolour dreads, tattoo/piercing parlors every 100 feet, hippies, hipsters, tourists, etc. with every kind of greasy/fried food imaginable… Basically, it’s a wonderful mess with a slight case of identity crisis.

Yesterday I handed in my first assignment of the term, making me, officially, a British student. Or rather, at student at a British school. I have to say, I think I like the British system. My classes are great, the profs are (mostly) funny and mention some of my favorite things (“Empire State of Mind” in Sociolinguistics and Daleks in syntax). The Daleks-in-Syntax-with-prof-with-Scottish-accent incident was one of the more exciting geeky moments of my life. But the classes are really interesting and I love that I’m able to take so many linguistics classes here and be in classes with other linguistics majors. It’s so different from Smith, so far, only in good ways.

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Loving Wednesdays

I have Wednesdays off (and Mondays too) and the day has become Museum Day for a few friends and I. Last week we went to the British Museum, this week, it was the Victoria and Albert. We’re making sure we get our British culture in.

I liked the V&A; it had art from all over the world and many periods. Statues, tiles (my favorite), religious art, large things transported from far away churches, you know.

Highlights (of what I saw): chandelier in the grand entrance, Becket’s casket, oh and a few more things. I can’t remember the names of all of them, but I have photos.

We also went out to dinner on Brick Lane, which is famous for its Indian food, only a 30-minute walk from campus . We had a good meal and there was a TV in the restaurant playing Bollywood music videos. They’re addicting, confusing, great, weird, etc. Therefore it has been decided that we must find a Bollywood movie marathon. We’re hoping that by the end of it we’ll finally understand what’s going on in those movies/music videos, etc.

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Lots of pictures

Proof I’m in London!

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A Crazy Week in Review

So I’ve officially been here a week. Crazy. It feels both like forever and no time at all. Minus finals, it’s been one of the busier weeks in my life, in a great way. I’ve met lots of people, done lots of ridiculously touristy things, and gone to classes. Even though classes started Monday, it still feels like I’m on vacation. This is possibly bad.

So…what have I done? I arrived and orientation. On Saturday, my friends Marya and Aviva arrived in London from the US. We met up and I showed them around my area. Sunday, I went on a bus tour around central London with the other Queen Mary study abroad students. We got to see the important tourist attractions and the parts of London that were used in Harry Potter. Marya & Aviva and I later met up that day and we met up again on Sunday. Maggie arrived from Germany (she’d been studying in Rome and travelling after) on Tuesday.

The days kind of blur together because we’ve done so much, but we’ve done a lot of shopping, saw Platform 9 ¾ (not impressive), met up with friends and friends of friends…so many things.

I’ve…

  • Been shopping in Camden. It’s a hipstery/artsy-ish area with lots of shops selling the same things and street vendors and hilarious food vendors who really want you to buy their salt and pepper chicken. The area also has a cute canal, weird motorcycle-ish seats, and at least one vegan restaurant.
  • Bought a cell phone and got lost about 10 times in the process. PLUS: now I know my way around Aldgate East, and have a cell phone. No, a mobile.
  • Seen a show at a West End Theatre. We saw Billy Elliot. That kid could dance and the whole show was amazing.
  • Had High Tea. We went to Fortnum and Mason, which, coincidentally, is exactly the place the queen gets her groceries. It was, without a doubt, the fanciest meal I’ve ever had. It was adorable and we tried to be classy until we started breaking into fits of giggles because of the amount of sugar we had just consumed.
  • Shopped at Harrods. Marya and Aviva got shoes, Maggie and I just got cupcakes, but we all got Harrods bags, and my cupcake had sparkles.
  • Been on a boat cruise. It was kind of like a middle school dance on water, even with some of the same music. But it was fun and really cool to see things like the Tower Bridge at night.
  • Seen the changing of the guard. This is perhaps the most hilarious thing I’ve done, also the most touristy. You can’t actually see any of the ceremony unless you’re right up front. They have funny hats though and there were tons of tourists pressed against the gates. Also, the best/most ridiculous part: the band played Sweet Caroline and an ABBA mix that included Mamma Mia, Fernando, and one more song. People (or really, just Maggie, Marya, Aviva, and I) started singing along.

Buckingham palace is officially the most ridiculous place I’ve heard ABBA songs.

And there has been lots and lots of shopping. So much shopping. Aviva likes to find ridiculous outfits for me to try on.

That’s pretty much been my week.

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Overpriced alcohol

Today while wandering around Lisbon with a friend (who I may never see again because she’s leaving Thursday and lives in Germany), we stopped in a store so she could buy a present for one of her flatmates. Also in that store was a bottle of whisky that costs 3480€. I have pictures if you don’t believe me.

Really expensive whiskey

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Pictures from Sintra

My theory: The Pena Palace is what happens when you don’t give kids legos.

Basically castles and palaces are pretty cool, especially when they’re colorful.

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