London: My Top 10 Experiences

by tatiana on March 10, 2011

My week in London was a trip I will never forget. There is nothing like experiencing another culture, especially in a city that is so incredibly rich with history.

I went with my pal Bri with the goals of taking in as much of the sights and experiences London had to offer – and to spend some time with Miss Kendra, my old roomie who is going to grad school in London and is quite the amazing lady. I heart Bri and Kendra mucho and I’m happy that the trip happened. Here’s a countdown of sorts of my favorite things that I experienced while visiting this great city.

10. Trifles from Sainsbury’s

Ingredients: fruit + gelatin mixture, custard, shortbread, whipped cream. It came in a little single-cup portion, like pudding. I was in heaven… several times throughout the trip.

9. Ginger Beer

Crabbie’s. Alcoholic. Amazing. You can put ice in it! One of the things I loved about London was that the drinking culture is so different than the United States. Big, burly men drinking fruit ciders and ginger beer with ice in it… my kinda place.

8. Clotted Creme

Another food experience! Yes. This luscious creme came with our scones at high tea in St. James Park. It wasn’t too sweet, but it was sweet enough. Like buttah, but creamier. I die.

7. In-Your-Face Daytime Lip Color

On the tube, at museums, basically everywhere I went I saw gaggles of super cute gals rocking the bright florescent red or pink lips. Absolutely stunning and a nice contrast from the gloomy weather. After a trip to the MAC store, I too was a part of the bright lips party.

6. The Tube

I live in San Francisco and am one of the few who rarely complain about our public transportation system… but that’s probably because I’d never experienced the Tube… holy moly is that thing efficient. A train comes every 2 minutes or so. Absolutely wonderful. The train cars are clean, and although they can get quite crowded, everyone is usually really polite.

5. Not having internet or GPS on my phone
I’m kind of happy I decided to not pay the $30 extra (or however much it was) to have internet access on my phone while abroad. It forced me to check email and social media accounts at the apartment only (or when I stumbled upon free wi-fi, which was rare). I was able to really focus on and absorb my surroundings. On the other hand, I didn’t have instant access to my interactive map with GPS. But I luckily downloaded a London Tube map app (which I’ll also blog about later) for my iPhone before the trip. That was pretty damn helpful.

4. Paul’s Patisserie

I really think that my friends are sick of me talking about this place but really… there are no words to describe how incredibly mindblowing their macarons were. And the strawberry tart… and the prosciutto sandwich! Delicious, amazing, oh my god.

3. British Television

I really need to write a separate post about my favorite British television shows, but they were just so informative and fun and slighty different than American television. That’s fo sho. When I was tired from a day of walking and navigating the city, I was excited to come back to our gorgeous apartment and take in an episode of Take Me Out, or My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding (photo above).

2. Hampton Court Palace

I really like “touching” history. You can’t touch old things at museums, so when I’m in an old building, I like to touch the walls. I don’t know why, I just like to know that I’ve touched something that’s been around, in the case of Hampton Court Palace… since the 1500s. This beautiful palace was built by Cardinal Wolsey, given to King Henry VIII and was used as a hotel/place of entertainment for foreign royals. Good times. You can see glimpses of it in the Showtime series The Tudors.

1. The Tower of London

Once again, I totally touched these walls (once I got inside, of course). This place was built in 1066 and is really fucking old. I spent a good 5 hours here.

The first hour was spent on a beefeater tour which I highly recommend because they are a.) knowledgeable, and it’s a good introduction to what you’ll be seeing, b.) funny, and c.) slightly intimidating.

I saw the crown jewels, the ravens, and lots of old armor. The photo above is of the Queen’s houses – where Anne Boleyn spent her last days before being executed.

Bonus: The Jack the Ripper Walking Tour

I can’t believe I almost forgot about this! It was a lot of fun, and silly, and really crowded but I recommend it for those who are fascinated by this unsolved mystery. (Photo above: Mary Kelly’s pub of choice).


Greetings from London!

by tatiana on February 2, 2011

Good morning, and greetings from the fuuuture. It’s Thursday morning, around 6:58am right now. I woke up at 4:50 this morning with an intense craving for a sausage and cheese breakfast sandwich, but tried to make myself go back to sleep. That obviously didn’t work out so well. So here I am, catching up on Google Reader and eating this £3 lasagna that I picked up at the store yesterday (thank god!). I had a feeling I might want a snack at some point.

I’m pretty sure Brianna, my travel companion, is asleep right now. And I salute her. I wish I were too. We were planning on heading to Borough Market around 10am… but hopefully we can head out earlier.

We arrived yesterday afternoon and did a lot of walking our first day. Initially the idea was we’ve been on a plane for 10 hours, our legs need to move! But then around 6pm, which was when sleep deprivation hit the both of us, we couldn’t get back to the apartment fast enough.

Anyway, I’ll try to update while I’m here. It’s hard to upload photos since it seems this laptop won’t let me save image files, so my award-winning iPhone photography will have to wait to be shared with the public until I return.

Just for fun, here are some items on our To Do list: Tower of London, Fashion & Textiles Museum, Design Museum, V&A, tea in the park with Kendra, Jack the Ripper Walking Tour, visit Brighton, visit Oxford, go shopping. There’s a bit more, but these are the things I feel pretty confident about conquering in the 5 more days I have here. Yesterday we saw Trafalgar Square, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben, Parliament, National Theater, the Old Vic, and FLEET STREET (yes, I was singing the Sweeney Todd anthem in my head).

Anyway, I’m off! Hope all is dandy in the states!


… ok, maybe not EVER, but it was pretty sweet. Why? Well, let me tell you.

1.) I bought my plane ticket to London today! (THE CROWD GOES WILD)

2.) My awesome cousin Ryan Martin had his solo exhibit opening this evening and it was even MORE amazing than I was expecting. So fun to see the neat space at Mark Wolfe Contemporary and see family. I’ll write much more about the show soon, but for now you can click here for more info.

3.) Lastly, I just became a pro bono consultant for the Taproot Foundation. They do amazing things for amazing organizations and I’m really excited to be a consultant and do my part! It’s been a while since I’ve done any volunteer work, so it’s about time I did something about it. Yay!

Video from Taproot Founder Aaron Hurst from Aaron Hurst on Vimeo.

I hope you all had a dandy Thursday, and caught the live 30 Rock episode! Whaddup, Pacific Time!


It's Happening…

by tatiana on July 29, 2010

I just got my Lonely Planet London 2010 guidebook in the mail. I can’t wait for February! I plan to visit my good friend Kendra who is going to King’s College for grad school and studying film (you can check out her amazing labor of love HERE). Next item on my to-do list is to get a copy of my birth certificate and my passport. Baby steps to London…