Around Londontown

My thoughts on my semester in london, travel, and other ramblings

What is currently making me a basket case

The weather forecast for Saturday (aka the day I have a VERY important flight out of this country). Nervous doesn’t even begin to describe it. 

If anything goes wrong at the airport this will be me:

A Comprehensive Glossary Of Gifs

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Drummond Street

Before I leave London I knew I had to write about something that’s been near and dear to my heart during my time here: Indian Food. A blog about my semester in London could not be complete without a post documenting my Indian obsession.

I’ve mentioned this a couple times but my street is like the Indian food capital of London. I drew a map showing the Indian restaurants on my street so you could better understand the situation.

Here is a peek at a meal I eat about once a week (I have to restrain myself the other 6 days of the week).

Papadum

Brinjal Bhajee

Some dish involving Dal

Aloo Gabi

Chana Masala

Mushroom Rice

Naan (the most important part)

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My tube obsession just multiplied

I am obsessed with all things old and historical so I do things like google “vintage london tube pictures”…don’t judge. Well good thing I did because I came across a news story from this summer about vintage posters that had been discovered during the renovation of the Notting Hill tube station.

The posters were in a passageway that was abandoned after the installation of an escalator in the 1950s and remained hidden there ever since. The coolest thing is, the posters are virtually in perfect condition. So cool how the tube acted as a little time capsule of the era.

On a related note, someone has the title of ‘Design and Heritage Manager’ for London Underground…how do I get that job?

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Sights from the City of Lights

Le Tour Eiffel at night

Paris at night

Christmas Markets

Arc de Triomph

Notre Dame + tree + crazy Asian wedding

Le Louvre

Les Tuileries

Montmartre

Le Tour Eiffel during the day

failed attempt at picture touching

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Thanksgiving?

The week leading up to Thanksgiving was a little rough since my facebook newsfeed was full of people’s statuses of heading home. I was happy when Brie arrived Wednesday morning so she could distract me from not being home for Thanksgiving.

After a long day of exploring London on Thursday we met up with everyone for Thanksgiving dinner. After much research I had picked a diner in Camdentown that claimed to be very “American” and had a Thanksgiving menu that involved food remotely resembled Thanksgiving food (a surprise after many of the menus I looked at had corn chowder and chicken wings). However, our dreams of a proper Thanksgiving dinner were crushed immediately upon being seated when our waitress casually mentioned that they had run out of turkey. WHAT???!!! Clearly not grasping the gravity of what she was saying, she assured us we could get chicken instead.

After we had accepted defeat we started to place our orders, asking for the chicken substitute. She interrupted us randomly and said that WAIT! they might have just gotten more turkey let her go check! She returned and informed us they did indeed have more turkey so we could order it.

We were very excited for our freshly delivered turkey, but it took us about 30 seconds after our food had been delivered to conclude that the meat on our plates was in fact just chicken. We didn’t have the heart to tell her so we ate it, knowing it would make a good story. The rest of the food was also pretty questionable, but it wouldn’t have been a British Thanksgiving otherwise!!

Dinner


Valiant attempts at American decorations

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Brie’s Visit

My sister Brie visited me last week over her Thanksgiving Break. It was sad to say bye to her because she is my last visitor which really makes this feel like the home stretch of this whole studying abroad thing. Now I’m just on a mission to do all the things remaining on my to do list because there’s less than 3 weeks left!

Once she got over how cold it is here (coming from 70 degree weather the week before in NYC) I think Brie really liked London. We tried to cram in as much as possible during her visit so we saw a lot.

We went for a ride on the Eye, which I’d done a few years ago but not since I’ve been here this semester. It gave us some gorgeous views of the Thames on a uncharacteristically clear day in London.

We also visited the Somerset House which is a huge building that houses a variety of arts and cultural centers. The building is absolutely gorgeous and we got to see the ice skating rink (sponsored by Tiffanys!!).

In the Somerset House we went to the Courtauld Gallery which has one of the best collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Art in the world. The Courtauld is a small but dense collection which I’ve been dying to explore. While there we saw signs for a Matthew Williamson exhibit and also an exhibit on the work of the illustrator for Dior perfume from the 1940s -80s. Both of these exhibits were right up Brie’s and mine alley so I was happy we stumbled across them. At the Dior exhibit we each got a poster which I am excited to have in my room next semester (Brie’s is the first one and mine is the bottom one, minus the perfume in the corner).

We also did the obligatory trip to Abbey Road, which even on a Sunday morning was full of people crossing the fabled crosswalk.

After visiting Abbey Road we wandered around the neighborhood it’s in: St. John’s Wood. I love London’s outskirt neighborhoods possibly more than downtown London so I never pass up a chance to walk down a neighborhood’s “high street” (British name for the neighborhood’s main street where all the shops are). The street was closed for a carnival, which had some rather dangerous looking rides for small children.

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Sparkles

I have been to Paris twice before, but both times in the summer. During this past weekend’s visit the city was  lit up and sparkly for Christmas, so it was exciting to see Paris like I’d never seen it before.

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Science + Icecream = Yummy in my Tummy

I have lots of pretty pictures from Paris to post but in the mean time enjoy this post on something slightly less exotic: Camden!

The other week Danielle and I ventured to Camden since we felt bad we hadn’t been yet, even though it’s literally right up the road from us. The main street in Camden is kind of like South Street in Philly or Carson Street in Pittsburgh but x 87489324923. The sidewalks were full of of some very….interesting clothing and hairstyle choices. Camden Market was full of delicious food so we got lunch and then I was obviously craving dessert. So when we passed an icecream place, I knew I needed to get some. (Sidenote: icecream is NOT common to find here, it’s mostly gelato which is just not the same and if you do find icecream it’s always  “italian” icecream or about 9 pounds per scoop. I want a big scoop in a waffle cone, thank you very much. Apparently they didn’t have any icecream here until the 90s. Oh England).

So anyways this was no ordinary ice cream place. It was Europe’s first and only “nitro-ice cream parlour.” They make their ice cream in front of you using liquid nitrogen so it freezes on the spot. They said that since it froze much faster that regular ice cream ice crystals to form which gives it a much smoother and creamier texture.I was a little scared at first because this place looked more like a lab than an ice cream parlor. The guy making the ice cream even wore a lab coat, goggles, and heavy duty gloves!

First I picked out my flavor (eggnog, obviously) and he added the pre-mixed base (it was like a creamy mix involving raisins and coconut) for this flavor to the mixture.

Next he got the liquid nitrogen from a giant metal tank and held it up to this device which made the liquid bubble. At that point the liquid was -321 degrees Fahrenheit. Crazy!

Then came the fun part. He added the bubbly mixture to the creamy base in the mixer, which would cause it to freeze. As he did this the smoke started billowing out of the mixer, so I really felt like I was part of a mad science experiment. It was also at this point that I started to wonder whether this ice cream would be hazardous to my health.

After a couple minutes of mixing it had turned into icecream! Magic! And it was actually a much smoother texture, it melted in my mouth!

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Snow!
as seen from the Eurostar in northern France

Snow!

as seen from the Eurostar in northern France

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Wonderful Things about England: A List

This list is not exhaustive but here are a few of my very favorite things about London:

-“Cheers”- this phrase is used in so many situations, as “thanks” or “goodbye” or “you’re welcome.” No matter what we just talked about, a conversation with a Brit will inevitably end with cheers. I have been dying to say it myself but cannot determine what context it’s appropriate in. I am starting to think though that there is no time when cheers isn’t ok.

-“Duvet Days”- while perusing an English phrase website I found this phrase and instantly became obsessed with it. A duvet day is one spent snuggled in your bed under your down comforter aka heaven. I aspire to regular duvet days.

-Sainsburys: maybe because its the only place in all of London where I can feel like I’m paying reasonable prices and not getting robbed or maybe because I love when the Indian employess say “yes please” every 2 seconds but Sainsburys makes my heart go pitter patter.

-Parks: The Brits do parks differently than we do, and perhaps a bit better. British parks are ultra-manicured and hyper-planned out. I’ve posted pictures of Regent’s Park (the park closest to me) on the blog before so you could see how perfectly laid out and color coordinated their flower beds are. Parks here are also much more tranquil then at home. No homeless people, hot dog vendors, or any other commotion. Only cute old people feedings the ducks and mummies pushing strollers. 

-Indian food: My love of indian food requires an entirely separate post, but let’s just say my street (Drummond Street) is like little India and I’ve eaten at each restaurant at least twice.

-early Christmas decorations: In the US I think there is a hesitation to fully embrace Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving since no one wants to be accused of jumping the gun. But here, since they don’t have the intervening holiday of Thanksgiving, they started EARLY with their Christmas decorations. Some places didn’t even wait for halloween to be over!

-the color of the brick: many of the buildings are made of a brown and fawn/camel colored brick that is so different from the red brick we have in the US. This brick is one of those things that can make any street feel oh-so-British as I walk down it and I love that feeling.

-Pret a manger- Pret is my go to lunch place because their food is delish, local, prepared fresh daily, and cheap. Luckily there is a pret on literally every single corner so I never have to go without!

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