Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yet another year of being away for my favorite day in America.
My friends and I decided to have a British Thanksgiving, so we went to the London Eye and a pub on Fleet Street. Although by far the most non-traditional way I've ever spent the holiday, it turned out to be a fun night. There was no wait for the Eye (unheard of!), and we walked through the Southbank Christmas market to get to a cozy pub. They didn't have turkey, so I went for the typical British pie- delicious, but definitely miss home-cooking!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Belgium (yummmm)

This weekend my friend Katy and I decided to make a short visit to Belgium. We took the Chunnel at 7am Saturday morning to Brussels and went in search of waffles and chocolate as we made our way to where we were staying. 
Our hotel featured a grand city and chocolate discovery tour, which we were lucky enough to reserve last minute. They walked us through the Grand Place then took us on a coach bus around Brussels. This was a great way to see many parts of the city that we otherwise would've missed. I wasn't able to get many photos since it was a bus tour, but some of the highlights were: the Atomium, the Chinese Pavillion, the Japanese Tower, one of the Thinker statues, the Royal Residence, the Royal Palace, European Parliament, and the Triumphal Arch. Along the way we got to learn about Brussels, the capital of the EU, as well as learn a bit about the chocolate making process and sample a lot of chocolate.

City Hall

Grand Place

Chocolate statue

Afterwards we went to a bar called Delrium, which has over 2,000 different brands of beer that Belgium is famous for. 
Today we spent the day walking around the Grand Place, eating waffles and chocolate. We also went back to the Atomium and went inside it. It was a cloudy day, but we were still kind of able to see a view of the city.

Waffle Factory (best waffles around)

Brussels Waffle with syrup

Waffine with dark chocolate

Liege waffle with nutella and strawberries

Godiva chocolate covered strawberries

Famous peeing boy statue (in holiday attire)

The Atomium

Cloudy city

We successfully ate our way through the city...don't think I can eat another waffle anytime soon :)

England Travels

With the semester nearing its end, I'm trying to make the most of what England has to offer.

One of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday afternoon is going to the awesome markets that London has. So far my favorites are Portobello and Borough markets.

(can you tell why??)

I went to Windsor castle with some friends, which is about an hour and a half train ride away. My main reason for going was for a presentation I had to do on it, but I'm really glad I went. It was a beautiful drive through the countryside, making it a nice break from city life. The main attraction of the castle is the state apartments, which rival the grandeur of Versailles. 

Last weekend I spent my Sunday at Brighton, which is my favorite city in England that I've been to so far. It's a beach town, so there was a pier with rides and games, markets, and a ton of seafood. We were extremely lucky with weather, which probably added to my love of the city.

The holiday season has hit london. Last week there were a ton of festivities on the major streets. I went to the lighting ceremony on Regent street, where there were fashion shows and performances by several artists including the Spice Girls and Passenger. Afterwards they had the traditional countdown, turning on the twinkle lights that decorate the street. 

The rest of the city is decked out in decorations, making it the prettiest I've ever seen it!

Fall Break

I had 11 days off for fall break, so I took the opportunity to travel to Prague, Berlin, Paris, and Amsterdam with some friends through a program called Bus2alps. They planned out the entire trip, so it was a relatively stress free way to travel. We started out in Prague, which was probably my favorite city of the trip. We were there for 2 full days, during which we did a guided walking tour of the city and explored on our own. I also got the chance to meet up with my Czech friend who I met in New Zealand, so it was really great to spend some time with him. 

Astronomical Clock in Old Town

The Crew

Climbed Petrin Hill to get a view of the city

Prague Castle

John Lennon Wall

Next we took a bus to Berlin. We were only there for a day, so we decided to make the most of the short time by doing a 3 hour guided walking tour with our group then another 4 hour alternative walking tour of the city. This was a great way to learn about the history of Berlin as well as see some unique parts of the city that showcased their famous street art/graffiti.

Bradenburg Gate

Berlin Wall trail

Berlin Wall

Holocaust Memorial

Checkpoint Charlie

Part of the graffiti tour

That night we took an overnight bus to Amsterdam. In the morning we again did a walking tour of the city. We were there for 2 full days, so we took our time exploring the city and went to the Anne Frank house, the Van Gogh museum, and did a guided tour of the Red Light District.

Street of our hostel (on the border of the Red Light District)

Van Gogh museum

Danish Pancakes!

Dam square carnival

Skinniest house

The last stretch of the trip we took a bus to Paris. Having already been here before I was least excited for this part of the trip, but it was still fun to walk around the beautiful city.

Best hot chocolate in the world

Notre Dame

Lock Bridge

Le Louvre


Macaroons at the famous Laduree