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 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

33 days until peanut and sis take europe!

hi, everyone!

i hope you all had a fun-filled holiday and new year. i have very exciting news today! my sister, jessica, and i have just booked our flights and trains for the two and a half weeks we are spending together in europe next month!

we found some great hacker fares on Kayak for the flights, and booked through RailEurope for the Thalys trains. i’m so excited to have concrete plans (finally!), but it still feels so surreal! here’s our itinerary:screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-5-50-36-pm

in case you’re not a visual spreadsheet-loving psychopath like me, here’s our itinerary again, but with less going on:

  • London, U.K. – Feb. 6-9
  • Dublin, Ireland – Feb. 9-11
  • Paris, France – Feb. 11-14
  • Brussels, Belgium – Feb. 14-15
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands – Feb. 15-17
  • Munich, Germany – Feb. 17-20

we also got matching patagonia backpacks (because we are extra, don’t ask) and i bought a 35mm film slr camera to document my trip. a lot of people seem genuinely worried that my sister (aka sis) and i (aka peanut) are backpacking through europe together, but i assure you, she will make it home…i cannot guarantee that i won’t fall in love with deutschland and stay forever.

just kidding, mom! i’ll be back to finish my degree, but who knows after graduation??? lol

there are 33 DAYS LEFT UNTIL WE LEAVE FOR LONDON, and i cannot wrap my head around it. i promise much more scintillating content in the coming weeks, such as how to pack everything you would need for five months in europe into a 28L backpack and carry on-sized luggage (spoiler alert: it probably cannot be done, but i digress), or how to encourage your sister that she doesn’t really need to bring those extra 16 pairs of shoes “just in case.”

don’t forget that i will also be publishing content for the SDSU Be International Blog starting in February! i’ll announce it all here, of course.

until next time & thanks for reading!

xoxo,
julia

first leg booked – london, u.k.

hi all!

i’ve just booked my first hostel, which means the first leg of my european tour is finalized! i’m staying in london from feb. 6 to 9, at the wombats city hostel london.

as a first time solo traveler, i’m a little nervous about navigating the tube with my luggage and no wifi/gps, but it’s something i’ll have to get used to. i arrive at london heathrow airport at 12 p.m. and will take the tube to tower hill, which is about one hour of travel time. when i was beginning to plan, my mom and i thought about booking hotel rooms while i traveled before classes since we were wary of hostels. after tons of research and talking to people who have traveled, we decided hostels were the most cost-effective way. since i’m going to be by myself, i think it’ll be much easier to make friends in hostels as opposed to walking around cities  and returning to a hotel room alone every night.

wombats has wonderful reviews and is a well-known chain of hostels in europe. i was drawn to its price and amenities, despite it being east of the main city. i’ll be staying in a 6-bed female dorm with an en suite bathroom and locker. i think the biggest challenge will be getting any amount of sleep in a hostel, because i am an incredibly light sleeper (and a bit of a neat freak.)

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Wombat’s Reception Area

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Wombat’s Basement Bar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

while in london, i want to do some touristy things, but i also want to see some lesser-known sights. i’ve heard wonderful things about the sky garden, which provides spectacular views of the city, and is FREE.

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London’s Sky Garden by day

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London’s Sky Garden by night

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Paul’s Cathedral is also on my London bucket list. I’m not very religious, but I appreciate beautiful architecture. Also, my parents would kill me if I skipped this one.

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St. Paul’s Cathedral, London

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ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the next step is to purchase my eurail pass, and from there, book the next hostels. until next time!

xoxo,
julia

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