London Calling

Hi all!

I’m writing from Amsterdam, which is the first city/night I’ve been able to sit down and gather my thoughts. I’ve been to London, Paris and Brussels in the last 10 days, and I’ve never felt so contentedly exhausted.

London was fabulous. I was able to see two of my favorite musicians, Porter Robinson and Madeon, as well as get my new tattoo. I found the Underground to be incredibly efficient and I so wish we had such reliable/widely used public transportation in Los Angeles and San Diego.

I stayed in Wombats City Hostel with my sister from Feb. 6-9. We were in a 6-bed female room, so our roommates changed each day. I met travelers from Spain, Poland, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Each woman was traveling alone and most of them were on their third or fourth month of world travel. Hostels in Europe are really common and they have everything down to a science. We were able to place our luggage in storage lockers inside our room that were only accessible with our personal room keys. Another cool feature of the hostel was its basement “Wombar,” which served alcohol from 6 p.m. – 1 a.m. Aside from the great happy hour prices, the bar was a great place to mingle with other travelers, play games and kick back after a long day.


Day One
We arrived on separate flights and met up at London Heathrow. Getting to our hostel was so easy with the Underground. We got off at our stop and trudged up the stairs to find the TOWER OF LONDON just across the street. There is so much history and culture everywhere in Europe, which is something I wish I could say about home. We had dinner at Leman Street Tavern. I had the traditional fish and chips with mushy peas, which was SO GOOD. I don’t typically like seafood, but when in London? We went to a nearby pub and then went in search of a bar for a nightcap. We stumbled upon a speakeasy located underneath a dry cleaner, and it was packed even on a Monday night. We ended the night pretty early and went back to Wombats to get a good night’s rest.

Day Two
We were still adjusting to the jet lag and didn’t wake up until 2 p.m. We were determined to make the most of the afternoon, so we took a stroll around the city and had lunch before getting ready for the concert. We spent some time with one of our roommates, Maria, who is a retired teacher from Poland with so many wonderful tales to tell. The Shelter Live Tour with Porter Robinson and Madeon started at 7. My sister had not bought a ticket, so we planned on having her wait for me at a lounge near the venue. As we made our way to the o2 Forum, a man said he had a ticket to sell and offered to let her take the ticket while I waited with him to see if it worked – and it did! THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN IN LA. EVER. The show was fantastic. Louis the Child opened and Porter and Madeon’s set was unreal!

Day Three
I woke up bright and early to get to the borough of Lewisham for my tattoo appointment with artist Yaana Gyach. I found her page on Instagram in December, emailed her my ideas and found myself in her studio less than two months later. The power of social media, you know? The sketch she came up with was more than I could have ever dreamed of. I discussed the symbolism in an earlier post, so seeing it come to life was breathtaking. However, it was absolutely AGONIZING. Completely worth it, but SO PAINFUL. I can’t remember the entire session and I think it’s my mind protecting itself from the trauma lol. It turned out absolutely gorgeous, though!! After my appointment, it was already nightfall (yeah it took like 4 hours I wanted to die) and my sister and I had a quick dinner, then headed to AquaShard, located 32 stories above the city. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer a view of every major landmark you can think of. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The cocktails were a little pricey, starting at about £17, but with a view like that, you’re probably sipping slowly anyways.

Day Four
We were walking distance from the Tower of London, so we had an English breakfast near the site and did a little sightseeing afterward. Breakfast was AMAZING. It was bacon, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms, hashbrowns, baked beans and toast. AMAZING. AMAZING. AMAZING.We stumbled upon the oldest church in the city of London, which had a crypt museum that houses mosaic tile flooring from 2nd century Roman occupied London. (Yes, my history boner was raging.) After, we walked around until it was time to head to the airport for our flight to Dublin. (More on that wonderful place later)


London is a city filled with so much to do, and one that I don’t feel I had nearly enough time to explore. But there are a million reasons to come back eventually! Have you ever been to London? What did you like the most?

Dublin, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Munich posts coming soon! Thanks for reading!

xoxo,
Julia

February Book List

So, I’m two days out from boarding my flight to London…I cannot believe it! I expect that it’ll feel surreal until I’ve touched down at London Heathrow and can meet my sister at the airport bar and order myself a pint.

The flight itself may not pass so easily, however. I’m flying Virgin Atlantic, which I’ve heard is one of the best airlines for transatlantic flights, but I do tend to get pretty anxious in small spaces. Oh, and the flight is 10 hours and 15 minutes!

Needless to say, I’ll have to keep myself pretty occupied, and that doesn’t just mean indulging in the complimentary spirits (though I wouldn’t refuse if offered.) I have my playlist ready to go, but the only thing I love more than music and corn dogs is a good book. Here’s what I’m (re)reading this month.

  1. The Circle – Dave Eggers
    So, I am about halfway through this one and I CANNOT PUT IT DOWN. A lot of people say that about a lot of books, but it’s been a while since I’ve come across a piece of work that keeps me guessing and wanting more. Every time I think I know what’s going to happen next, I’m sent in a totally different direction. This novel is the future, quite literally. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the technologies described in the book have already been brought to life by the minds at Apple and Google.

    The novel’s protagonist, Mae Holland, lands a job at The Circle, a corporation that has replaced and improved all of today’s existing social media outlets and internet apps. She has the job that billions of people around the world want, and feels lucky to enjoy the seemingly endless perks of working on the campus, but begins to question whether such ease in life is all it’s cracked up to be – and whether the ever-increasing transparency of the digital age has any end.

    If you love dystopian fiction (and I do), this novel provides great relief from the overplayed end-of-the-world scenarios, battle royale rip-offs and instead offers what seems to be a look into the future – I’m willing to bet less than 10 years from now. (Fun fact: the novel is being turned into a movie starring Emma Watson, John Boyega and Tom Hanks. The Circle hits theaters on Apr. 28!)

  2. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
    This novel was originally published in the 1980s, and I first read it during my freshman year of high school. It tells the story of a future America in which women are property of the state. Offred, the novel’s protagonist is a handmaid, and her sole job is to produce offspring for her masters.

    I’ve chosen to reread this book not only because I love the genre, but because of its relevance to today’s politics. After all, if a group of upper-class white guys can sign away women’s rights to reproductive health and defund Planned Parenthood, who’s to say that the land of Gilead is so far away in the future?

    (Fun fact: “The Handmaid’s Tale” will premiere as a series on Hulu Apr. 26!)

  3. Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty
    Before I realized that this novel, too, is getting a screen adaptation on HBO, I picked up a copy at Target and read through the first few pages before realizing I had to have it, then proceeded to go home and order a cheaper copy on Amazon. The novel opens with a typical (boring) day in the life of a mother and housewife. I’ve been told that this mystery unravels bit by bit, has something to do with an elementary school, catty moms and an actual cat as a narrator. Sign me up!

Let me know if you’ve read any of these books! What do you think? I’m always open to new book suggestions, so please send them my way!

xoxo,
Julia

February Playlist

For my 10 hour and 15 minute flight, I’ve prepared a playlist to keep my mind off of the fact that I’ll be in a metal container full of other people at 40,000 feet in the air.

Follow my Soundcloud and Spotify for the best selection of my favorite sounds!

  1. Chasing the Wild – Hippie Sabotage feat. Daisy Guttridge
  2. Take It or Leave It – Tame Impala (Nebbra Remix)
  3. Can’t Hide – Whethan feat. Ashe
  4. Gemini Feed – Banks
  5. My Boo (Triple j Like A Version) – Flume
  6. Hearts – Dan Black & Kelis (Louis the Child Remix)
  7. Gold – Cabu & Akacia
  8. Love$ick – Mura Masa & A$AP Rocky
  9. On Hold – The xx
  10. Still Cold/Pathway Private – Night Lovell

xoxo,
Julia