Whewww I am absolutely exhausted after this weekend! Not that I'm complaining or anything because it was so worth it. Before leaving for London on thursday we went to a ballet at a theatre near the ponte vecchio to see Swan Lake. It was so interesting to see the Italian interpretation of the ballet, they definitely added their own little flair to it. It kept making me think back to the movie The Black Swan and how intensive the training is for these things, its really insane! Overall it was a great cultural experience and also something I've never done before so that was really great.
Friday morning at the crack of dawn (literally 3:15am) Julia, Kelsey, and I trekked to the train station to take a train from Florence to the Pisa airport to make our 6:30 am flight to Stansted, England. Everything went smoothly expect for the takeoff that scared the bejeezes out of me with how violently the plane shook as we took off! Nonetheless we made it their with out crashing and got on our bus to Liverpool station. Once we got off we headed to our hostel, called Hostel Generator to check-in. It was a really young and lively place with a bar and a cafeteria inside that served a pretty cheap breakfast buffet that we definitely took advantage of that for the weekend. Next we went to hunt down some chow because we hadn't eaten anything and it was 12pm=famished. We came across a cute little cafe were I got some eggs benedict and a mocha chocolate cafe that really hit the spot. I splurged and got a little chocolate cupcake too because they just looked so decadent (if you can't tell already I have an obsession with anything chocolate?) Then we bought our tube passes and took the train to the tower of london. It was well worth the pounds because we had a fabulous tour guide who cracked me up and tried to keep our minds off the cold. It was just as cold in London as it was in Florence but I was determined not to allow the weather to ruin my london experience. My favorite part of the tour was the seeing chapel that is over 900 years old where all of King Henry VII's wives were buried, including Anne Boleyn. I was looking really looking to this part because I've read so many books about the Tudors and also watched the entire Tudors series on HBO, I'm pretty much obsessed with their era.
After getting my palace fix we stopped at the starbucks across the street to refuel and then bused to oxford street where all the amazing shopping is located. Let me tell you, I have never been so excited about clothes in my entire life....TOPSHOP IS AMAZING. It is a fashionista's dream place. There was an entire floor dedicated to accessories, amazingly cute accessories. To my despair everything was about twenty pounds too expensive and the conversion rate for us is terrible at the moment (1.56 pounds=1 dollar) so I kept my wallet in my bag. It was a mental struggle not to buy something but I was proud of myself after leaving for staying strong. We popped into a few other big stores and then met up with Kelsey's friend Ben who took us to Covent Gardens. This is a very posh area where celebrities are often known to wander around, and I could see why. There were lots of boutiques and cute little stores, very exclusive. Ben took us to a hidden mexican restaurant where I got my first mexican meal in a month...I was deprived! We ordered fajitas and nachos and some cocktail pitchers between the four of us. Overall it was decent, but then again where I come from mexican food is a tradition so I couldn't expect that level of excellence. Afterall, London isn't known for their food right? After dinner we headed back to the hostel to get ready for the night and picked up some wine from the grocery store. Definitely no 3 euro wine here...
Then we headed to oxford circus street where a lot of the bars and clubs are located. Sadly, Ben's roommate dragged us to a terrible club that had a low-class crowd and just didn't give me a good feeling. Definitely not what I had in mind, so Julia and I broke off and tried out another place across the street called Avenue. This bar was not much better than the previous so we called it a night and took a double decker back to the hostel.
In the morning we dragged ourselves out of bed and got the day started with a trip to Camden Street Market. This was my favorite part of our entire trip! There were endless amounts of street vendors selling a range of things from clothes to jewelry to handbags. I bought a cream-colored little jacket with really delicate pearls and stitching on it that I am so in love with I can't wait to wear it. It was a splurge but it's one-of-a-kind and will always remind me of my great day in London. Then we went to the area where there were tons of kiosks selling different types of food which was so much fun to walk through and get samples. I almost got the mac-and-cheese but pasta is starting to get a little old now so I chose a plate of lo mein noodles and dumplings that were just what I needed to satisfy my asian food craving. At this point my feet and hands were starting to go numb because of the cold so we decided to get to the train and try to get to Kensington palace. After asking numerous people the directions to get to the palace we arrived only to find out that it is closed for reconstruction until March. Thanks everybody for letting us know? Thankfully there was some good shopping nearby so we went to Zara and H & M for a while before heading over to Harrod's.
Harrod's was spectacular, everything there was top of the line. Seeing a person carrying a Harrod's bag was so mind-blowing because everything in there is SO EXPENSIVE. We attempted to take some pictures in the hat section but for some reason that's the only place it's prohibited? So disappointing...We also went to a store called Primark because we saw so many people carrying the bags, but that wasn't as great as we thought and was more like a walmart of semi-cute clothes than a fashionable store.
After Harrod's our feet were really starting to hurt after having walked non-stop since 10am so we met up with Kelsey and Ben for dinner at a traditional english pub near oxford street. I almost got the fish and chips but I went with the safer choice, a burger with chips and a big ole beer to top off our amazing day in the city. Then we headed back to the hostel and prepared for our second night out in London that we were determined to make a good one. Ben took us to a place called O'Neills which was a huge pub that had an upstairs and two bars. This place was more like it!! There were so many english people to meet, but I also met people from Australia, Spain, Poland, Italy, and Brazil. It is so interesting to talk to people from so many different countries, but I will say the language barrier is tough sometimes. Broken english has become an often used tool to communicate, but I am slowly learning more Italian and already know some french which helps from time to time! Overall O'Neills was a great success and we had a grand time with all the accents and dancing.
On Sunday morning we got up and decided to check out the portobello market. It was a cute area with the same idea as camden market, but it definitely wasn't as good as camden. We found a place called gourmet burger kitchen that was really good for lunch, especially the rosemary skinny fries with garlic mayo dipping sauce...mmmm. Then we headed over to see the Buckingham Palace, which I really enjoyed seeing because I watched will and kate's wedding and this is where they had their first public kiss. We also got to walk through St. James Park which was extremely charming and I'm sure it gets green and beautiful in the summer. Next we went back to the shopping area near harrod's and bought some knee-high socks at H&M which are so hard to find, so we had to pounce on the opportunity at warm socks. Sadly, it was now time to head home after our amazing weekend in London and go back to Firenze. At this point I was actually looking forward to going back to our apartment and having a nice, clean shower with all my necessities easily accessible. It is interesting to compare the two cities, Florence vs. London, because of how vastly different they are from each other. At first I thought Florence was a fairly big city, but now I realize it is acutally quite small in comparison to London where you have to take the tube or a bus pretty much anywhere. We did spend a good amount of time taking trains and buses, but it was only a small sacrifice to gelato the amazing sites and shopping areas. What I really missed about Firenze was the food and the prices! I don't think I could last an entire semester in London without making my dad go broke because even the food was always expensive. Here I can get my paninis and gelato for a great deal and be perfectly content.
It's great to be back in Firenze for another two weeks before we head to Rome with API. I've really got to get going on my schoolwork because it has already piled up too much for comfort! Off to bed now! Ciao bellas! xoxo