April 25, 2014

London (The End).

I've been a bad little blogger, but life is just buzzing, buzzing along, good enough I haven't wanted to stop to reminisce.

But things are starting to get blurry, so it's probably time. The last few days in London were lovely, but a bit like a Sunday: an underlying uneasiness because you know you have to go back to real life very soon. 

I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.  

Trafalgar Square after a visit to the Monet room in The National Gallery

April 11, 2014

London (Again).

So many of you confirmed that this wan't a complete waste of your time that I've decided to give it another go. I hope it makes up for the fact that I didn't send you a post card (unless you're a new parent, in which case I apologize for the insulting one I sent your bébé).

You may remember my footballer friend, R, from the previous post. Did I mention that this is how I found him on Sunday?

The Urban Cowboy

April 9, 2014


London first. Always, London first.

My very first visit was seven years ago. I was barely 21, studying art and Italian in Florence, and spent a long Thanksgiving weekend in the Big Smoke. Most of my life up until then was in small-town Indiana, but I remember thinking, as I walked out of the tube station and caught my first glimpse of London - St. Paul's Cathedral under a full moon - that I would really love it here, and probably for a long time. So that’s when my [tumultuous] relationship with this city started. 

Mandi + Kyla, 2007

I couldn't get enough of rush hour rides on the tube, chicken burgers on Portobello Road, and the obscene amount of meat-flavored chips (crisps). I decided I would figure out how to come back, next time for longer, and hunted down an internship with a PR firm and a flat with seven others girls and tucked in for a summer of all things British. I learned to brew a proper cup of tea, memorized the tube map, and bought my first pair of skinny jeans.

Roommates & Co. on the tube, 2008

Following trips were strictly for fun - a few quick stops to see friends en route to other European cities and reunions with old roommates.

K + M, 2013

M + K, 2013

This, my most recent trip, was a lazy week to wander aimlessly, eat carbs without guilt, and not read work e-mails.

Coffee at Le Pain, 2014

I’m guilty of romanticizing things, but I suppose this has managed to keep London perfect in my mind. March's visit was my sixth in eight years, and each time has felt different because of the varied characters and settings: Kilburn to Kensington, Clapham to Chelsea; Old friends and new friends, boy I've kissed and cousins I haven't. 

So many memories packed up into six encounters.

Pepperoni pizza, of course

I left Atlanta on a Friday night with a suitcase full of sweaters and random American offerings for American friends finishing up uni in London – gummy vitamins, pizza Lunchables packed on ice, Reese’s eggs, Girl Scout cookies – and landed in Heathrow Saturday morning, only to find that my luggage had taken the flight after me. As did, it turns out, a rugby team. 

So far, the odds were not in my favo(u)r. 

An hour later, I collected my things and jumped on the Heathrow Express. The tides turned – I sat and chatted with a nice boy from Oz who had jumped on a last minute 25+ hour flight to surprise his brother in London. We arrived in Paddington Station 25 minutes later and said one of those awkward goodbyes where you would very much like to not have to.

But enough of my ramblings – research says you want fewer words and more pictures. (Full disclosure: I used only my phone for photos, so they're mostly bad. And filtered.)

The rest of the weekend was spent pub hopping, reminiscing, and laughing with girls from my summer in L.A.  I ate. Steak at L'Entrecote where you queue, eat until you're so full you could burst, and then repeat. 

Queue with L + M at L'Entrecote

I wandered. Hyde Park where the sun was shining and people were out in droves.

Trying my best to blend in with L + Starbucks at Hyde Park

Hyde Park

The Thames runs the length of London, and its bridges are home to fantastic views of the city.

View from Westminster Bridge

St. Paul's from Blackfriars Bridge

The City from South Bank

St. Paul's from Millennium Bridge

I praised. Church at Hillsong, where you can get out of the American pole barn-style churches I'm growing to despise. And I finished the day along the river, catching up with old friends. 

Right? Right.

R, the soon-to-be-famous English footballer

The LA crew 

More London (and Paris!) to come...