Sunday, 20 February 2011


oh loyal readers-
im so sorry for the delay in posts- i've just been too busy writing essays and studying for exams (ha.) to think about this poor blog. but lots to tell...

last weekend i went to italy! it was wonderful. i left at 4:15 AM friday morning and navigated my way by myself to florence from the pisa airport. i also had my first experience on a discount european airline, lets just say i'll never take my free cran apple cocktail for granted again. but i arrived in florence and made my way to my hostel where i met willa (my friend from skidmore who is studying in florence) because she is living in a homestay i couldn't stay with her, so i had my first hostel experience alone. it actually was really good- it was a small place with a big room with 3 bunk beds, the other people staying the weekend were all young and very nice, however, no one spoke english but we communicated fairly well between my broken spanish and their little english and we ended up having some good conversations (and apologies when i almost accidently stepped down from my top bunk onto a girls head- i swear looking down it looked like no one was in the bed!) i also was woken up on the first morning by a cleaning lady in italian, i wasen't aware of the everyone out of the room at 9 rule, so i was quite confused as she shooed me out onto the street (coincidentally, i had been yelled at a different italian jaintor the day before at the airport)  but anyways, the first day willa and i walked around quite a bit and i got to see a ton of the sights- duomo, ponte vecchio, uffizdi, plaza di pitti etc. willa also took me for a cappuccino at a cafe which is said to be where fascism started!   we also made the climb up to a great view of the whole city. we had a great dinner, and well im on the i subject i should just say everything i ate in italy was incredible, i ate it all- gelato, pizza, pasta, wine, panini, more pasta and all of it was pretty much the best ive ever tasted. i also went a little hog wild because everything was so cheap compared to london- the wine! cheaper than water i tell you! willa also introduced me to some new foods- ribbolita, a tradition delicious soup and i tried veal. she couldnt quite convince me to try the trype though (pig intestines). after dinner we went to a place called "art bar" and soon learned why, the drinks were pieces of art. mine had like every single fruit around the rim, like seriously every fruit featured on the chiquitta banana woman was there.

the next morning (after my rude awakening) i went and explored the neighborhood where my hostel was and stumbled upon a great outdoor market, i made a meal out of sampling all the olives and breads the vendors were selling. willa than met me and she took me to another market and to santa croche where the chocolate festival was happening! chocolate is something i am quite passionate about i just got lucky that the weekend i chose to come to florence there was a huge chocolate festival happening. it was incredible- so so much chocolate, and again, i just sampled it all and ended up not even having to buy that much. we must have walked around to each of the stalls at least three times. we did some more sight seeing and later met up with one of willas friends for another great meal and witnessing some awful italian karaoke- (new goal karaoke in every country i visit!) the rendition of "barbie girl" was particularly bad.

on sunday we decided once i had seen most of the major sites in florence to take a day trip to lucca, a smaller town located about an hour and half away from florence. despite the rain, it was an adorable little city and we had a fancy 3 course lunch (amazing) and found ourselves in a anti- berlusconi (italian prime minster rumored to have slept with a 17 year old girl) march, actually i shouldn't say march, this was no egypt, it was more of a anti-berlusconi stroll. just a huge group of people causally walking throughout the city. no big protest signs- just pink balloons.  it was pretty hilarious because we didnt have much idea what was going on but we stuck with them for awhile and they ended up leading us on a great path to see the sites of lucca. we ran into a little incident on the train home- we had not stamed our tickets before we got the train- and the conductor told us we were going to have to pay a 40 euro fine a piece. but after some sweet talking (and begging) we got it reduced to 5 euro- although i may or may not now be on "blacklist" for italian trains.

monday i had the day to explore while willa was in class before my night flight. i walked the whole city- bought some of the famous leather, filled up on gelato and mozzarella, and managed to get some pretty nasty blisters- but it was all worth it, by the time i arrived at the airport i really felt as if i had seen most of florence. willa was an excellent host, and it was a beautiful city-- and im getting emotional just thinking of how delicious the food was! the one thing i will say though, is the visit did make me very appreciative that im studying in an english speaking country. for those of you who don't know, my foreign language tracke record is not so hot- e.g. when i gave the spark note version of my torah portion at my bat mitzvah because i couldn't learn the whole thing, or that my spanish name in high school was "avalancha" yep, it means avalanche. this record was not improved by my time in italy, which involved a lot of pointing and hand motions. perhaps ASL would be more up my alley... 

arrived back in london to write my first essay for school. ergh. and kahla came in wednesday night ! we had a great weekend of site seeing in london and getting kahla the ethnic food she craved (apparently seville does not have much to offer in that boat) so we had some great meals in chinatown, brick lane and of course, pad thai at the market today. we jammed a lot in over the course of the weekend- changing of the guards, st. pauls, victoria and albert museum, tate modern, portobello road, parliament, trafalger square, borough market. two of the highlights for me was a ride on the london eye on thursday night (the giant ferris-wheel like thing on the thames that gives incredible views of the city) and going to "pet kingdom" at harrods. for those of you who don't know, one of my favorite youtube videos of all time is christian the lion (whitney houston i will always love you version) , and christian was originally purchased at harrods, so it was great to see to his hometown, and to see the puppies that they now sell there. i was glued to the glass for a significant portion of time and seriously considering dropping a couple thousand dollars to bring one back with me to my flat.

mmmmm... gelato! 

view from piazza michelangelo

truffles at chocolate festival

ponte vecchio


Thursday, 3 February 2011

mimes, futbol, urination

Its been quite awhile since i've posted, I apologize and will try to give you the readers digest version of my past week.
Some highlights:

The International Mime Festival is currently taking place in london and last tuesday some friends and I decided it would be fun to get tickets to go see one of the performances. I was expecting some white face guy pretending to be trapped in a box action-- but what I got was much different. It started out relatively normal, two mimes in a corporate setting and it was kind of like watching an episode of "the office" on mute, but things took a strange turn fast-- the mimes ended up having sex in a trashcan, puppets of various forest animals emerged, it ended with the pair getting attacked by a bear covered in blood and the office set collapsing over revealing a full forest scene. Oh, and at one point one the characters stuffed an entire tv dinner in their mouth and I stepped on it leaving the "theater" where this all took place. Yep, it really as weird as it sounds-- i guess it was some sort of avant garde mime critique of capitalism-- but coming from the girl who thought that george orwell's "animal farm" was just a sad novel about some animals... it was way over my head.

Taylor arrived on Thursday morning! She is the first of many visitors to come my way this semester and we really had a good time and I'm looking forward to everyone to come-- have you bought your ticket yet? On Friday, we had a little Foley reunion in Camden and met Jack, Christina and Sarah and Peter, a former counselor and camper for thirfting and dinner. The thift stores were SO good, so much stuff i desired! I swear that at one of them, someone had just picked thru midwest goodwills for the best finds and brought them to london and jacked up the prices, I found a great Minnestoa "the north star state" sweatshirt, Taylor got a Cardinals world series one and there was even an Eden Prairie Band sweatshirt- we passed on that one hoping that some londoner would pick it up thinking they had stumbled upon some really edgy find. At one point we wanted to get a picture all together ( and apparently Christina decided that the man peeing all over the sidewalk was the best man for the job (keep in mind this was a very busy street with plenty of non urinating people) so needless to say we had a few good laughs about Christinas "artistic eye." Public urination seems to be more acceptable here, and even encouraged- when I first moved into my flat I noticed a cool modern "sculpture" in the courtyard, only later to learn it was actually an outside urination troft. yum.

Saturday we went to Notting Hill (sadly, no Hugh Grant sightings) to the Portobello Road Antique Market. Notting Hill is splendid and we enjoyed browsing the goods (animals in suits!) despite the cold wind. We warmed up with a nice cup of tea and people watching before we headed to Harrow and I finally got to go to a real sized supermarket (all the ones by me are tiny tiny)!

Sunday, we woke up early and met Jack at Emrites stadium for an Aresenal soccer  futbol game- it was a really awesome experience- 60,000 fans chanting hilarious songs and cheers and a great game, Aresenal won 2-1! Plus we sat next to the most adorable british kids and even got to witness a fight (green street hooligan style). After the game we met Jack's uncle and his friends at a pub to discuss the match, although we weren't able to contribute much to the conversation, we felt like a real locals sipping on our pints celebrating the win!

Taylor left on Monday- and it was back to class for me. My classes are shaping up nicely, although I still struggle a bit with the whole 3 hour long lecture thing. In my American history class focusing on race its pretty fascinating to hear the british students perspectives of the U.S. I held my tongue the other day when one student kept calling "mississippi" "massachusetts" by accident, because its not like i'm a pro at the geography over here either. Tuesday was my free day and I went had delicious indian food on brick lane, saw the movie the King's Speech (really enjoyed it), and found a fro-yo place (wahooo). Yesterday I had creative writing and did some more exploring/ thrifting around my neighborhood and today I had my Art History class and we took a trip to the National Gallery which was great.

and now off to sleep before my final class tomorrow morning, and then the weekend! cheeeeeerio mates! here are some pics:
me, jack, tay at thai food in camden

the urine foley shot

outside the stadium!