St James Park + Fish & Chips Mate!

I’m coming up on my month in London. How crazy is that? How have I been here for nearly a month?

It really doesn’t feel like it but it is really has been a month. I’ve done so much and not enough (according to my personality type). A trip to Amsterdam, a short filmmaking course, weekend excursions and trips exploring the city – that just makes up a bit of what I’ve been doing.

Has all this activity caught up with me? Yes and no. The newness of everything has me pumped with a natural adrenaline that allows me to get a natural high, propelling me through every activity I’d normally be too tired for. There are moments when I just need to lay my head down and barricade myself from everyone and everything. Not because I’m antisocial, but me personally, I need a break to decompress. Gather my thoughts, you know!

Some activity I wanted to share with you includes my trip to the city yesterday. I was headed to a Meet Up that kind of fizzled (due to me not finding the group) so instead of wasting the day, I ran about the city. Hitting up the monuments I’m very familiar with but haven’t seen since nearly a month of being in the city.

Since I was already in St James Park I started there, taking photos of nature and the beauty within in the park. I tried to be artsy and capture some original shots as seen below.

As you can see from my superb skills, nature was out in full force. Loads of beautiful greens, manicured lawns, ornate flowers, etc. It really is a picturesque park good for any date or day to hang with friends, catch some rays and play some games.

Next I went to check out Buckingham Palace because, why not?

After running around the park and doing a bit of walking, I decided I needed to have my first classic British meal, Fish & Chips. I was scared to get something in the area I was because that location is notoriously touristy which means, dumb tourists will pay. I didn’t want subpar fish and chips or pay a million quid (I’m speaking the lingo not to be annoying but because it’s more beneficial) so I pulled out Google (that can be hit or miss itself).

Five minutes later, I found a spot that was noted as being 20 minutes away via walking. I figured, if I’m about to eat some battered fried fish and chips followed by dessert, I could walk for it. I set out for Golden Union. It wasn’t cheap (especially since they charge you a fee to sit down and eat but every place does that) but boy was it filling. The portions were huge! I know there are probably better spots that aren’t so pricey but I still recommend.

Barely having finished digesting my meal, I went to get some dessert in the form of gelato. On my way to find gelato though, I ran into Chipotle! I don’t know why but that made me so happy. A small taste of home. haha But yeah, I got my signature Stracciatella gelato cone. Yum at SnowFlake!

Last up on my todo list for the day, I wandered around near Oxford Circus and Trafalgar Square. There, I saw a floating Yoda and the outside of the National Portrait Gallery. I’ll go to the museum again at some point.

That’s what I was up to but stay tuned, I’ll tell you more about my life here and some fun upcoming trips.

Adventure in Amsterdam: Only 1 Day?!

I’m planning to take quite a few European excursions while staying in the UK. The first excursion on that list was a trip to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam – home of the legal weed and endless canals!haha

Both statements are true. Canals are EVERYWHERE and so are Coffee Shops where you can purchase and smoke weed. I went inside one out of curiosity and let me just say, I’ve never seen so many flavors/knew there were so many flavors of weed. It reminded me of the back of a Jelly Belly box.

That wasn’t my first stop though. My first trip was to my hostel after a hellish flight just to get into the country (see previous blog). I was staying at the Generator – right behind Oosterpark.

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Classic closed eyes while smiling pic.

After a pleasant stroll through the park (there were ducks, little bridges, greenery, etc), I came upon my hostel building. It was large and the outside gave me the feel that it might have an old vibe to it.

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As I got closer however, I realized I was wrong. It was really modern on the inside. So modern, I couldn’t even figure out how to press the button for the elevator and instead walked the extra four flights to my room.

I originally wanted to cut down on my stay and get a bed in a shared room but due to the nature of my booking, went with what was free – a private twin room. It was great. My own space, my own bathroom, my own air! It was nice change of space after going from living on my own to staying with relatives while abroad (privacy is a beloved thing).

With literally one full day to tear through Amsterdam before my 7 AM flight, I started off by taking a two hour power nap in my room (partay animal). haha

10:30 AM – Get in my belly!

I’m starving. The last thing I ate was a bag of crisps and a bottle of fanta at around 1 AM during my awful airport experience. I needed a real meal. I pulled out my Google Maps (dude, I’d be LITERALLY lost without it) and looked for some places to sit and eat. I had croissant on the brain so was ideally looking for something in that alley but after a long and arduous eight minute search I said, forget this, let me just walk to the streets with all the shops and try my luck.

I wasn’t staying in city center, so I was clear of the tourist traps. I figured I could find something. I did, it was Maxwell Cafe.

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The space was beyond cute and they had a nice little selection on the menu at a reasonable price. The only draw back? The menu was completely in Dutch. However I did have enough brain power to figure out what some of the dishes were like Tosti’s (basically panini) or used Google to translate for me. In the end, I went with something I thought was traditional which was Garnalenkroketten – shrimp croquettes. The aioli drew me in but the whole dish was quite tasty!

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Highly recommend coming here if you’re near Oosterpark. The staff was very nice and the food was great. The only thing was after awhile, I wanted the check but it never came. I soon realized you had to go confront someone at the counter if you wanted to leave. Wish I had figured that out 15 minutes earlier.

1 PM – Weed Muffin Anyone?

Ran out to explore the neighborhood and look for a coffee shop that sold weed in edible form. Was curious on the offering as well as price. I also stopped in this cute chocolate shop called Van Veleze and got two chocolate lollipops. Tasty! Again, the staff was really nice and they had a slew of other desserts I wish my stomach could have handled. haha

3 PM- Time to get into city center and ride a bike!

It’s clear upon arrival into the city that biking is key. It’s no joke. There are actual biking paths just for bikes and tiny slivers of sidewalk for people. Biking is key and pedestrians must jump out of the way for them. With that in mind, I too had to explore Amsterdam by bike and ring my bells to make tourist hearts quiver with fear.

I rented a bike from this guy who told me that they take non EU visitor’s passports as collateral just because we look like easy targets for bike thieves. He also said we tend to get in more accidents. Nice boost in confidence guy. Any way, he shows me how to use the bike and I set off to check out the city.

During this ride I encounter the Heineken Factory, Endless Canals, A Mock Fifth Avenue, and more!

Later, I continue to stroll and find the Banksy exhibition, Ruk Museum, Van Gough Museum, etc. Everything was so perfectly manicured and maintained – the picture of perfection.

Eventually I ended my day with the items that were on my mind at the top of it – croissants – and chilled out at the hostel to check out some of the late night events happening there.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip filled with unexpected adventures and people watching. I definitely recommend you visit Amsterdam!

Pip Pip Cheerio, I’m London Bound

So I can now officially let you in on my secret – I’m London bound for the summer!!

It’s exciting, nerve wracking, mysterious, and everything else in between. At moments, I honestly don’t know what to think. My anxious self gets all in a spin and I start thinking about my future, my present, what’s right, what’s wrong. When my mind starts going in that direction though, I tell it to shut up!

Trust me, it’s needed. I can literally drive myself crazy thinking about what if’s. But you know what, life is a giant what if (at least that’s what I’ve come to accept). I can never really know what’s to come and all I can do is move forward with what I think is right. London feels right.

How am I able to go to London for three months you may ask (yes, it’s a little over three months)? Do I have a trust fund (pfft!)? Are my parents financing me (NOT A CHANCE IN HELL)? Did I get a job offer (not yet, haha)?

A lot of saving, the fortune of having family in the city of London and a desire to pursue a dream are the answers.

Living in London and studying/working in film is something I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do. Those feelings have never gone away for as long as I can remember. Instead, they’ve only lingered in the back of my mind, somehow finding its way to the surface every so often.

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My third time in London circa 2014

After hitting 2016 and maybe having a crisis or two, I realized I couldn’t deny my travel itch anymore. I needed to be in Europe and I had to find a way to do it productively. I started researching programs, pulling together a budget spreadsheet and looking into other places to travel. At the end of all this and many sessions with my journal (so therapeutic for the racing mind), my mind was firm.

Bringing it back to the top, I can’t be scared of the unknown. Everything is technically unknown, even the things you feel are most secure. That’s what great and terrifying about life. I couldn’t let my fear of failure or the uncertainty stop me from trying, so I committed and I’ll be in London beginning this June. Ready to share travel tales, insights, and awesome recommendations (even though I’m on a budget, I’m exploring), you need to follow my blog to see what I run into!

What am I doing? I’m going to be studying film making and production, traveling in Europe, and meeting awesome people (eating pastries is also part of the plan). I’m really excited at the prospect of so much to be discovered and to do. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself for this trip to be super freaking awesome but I hope it will be. I know whatever happens, it’ll be amazing and good for me as a person.

Well, I have plenty more items to share with you as well as chronicles so stay tuned! London baby!! Stories are waiting for me.