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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

UK Trip Part 1: Mumford and Sons & Tower of London

WOW do I have some catching up to do! I wanted to blog while I was travelling and do a semi-real-time trip account, but our internet connection was never strong enough to upload photos so I decided to just wait until we got back.

So without further ado, trip blog!

We left MN at 9:45pm on July 5th and arrived in London at about noon on the 6th. Unfortunately, it turned out that our hotel was about one billion miles from the airport and there were a ton of road closures so we ended up with an almost two hour cab ride right out of the gate. It was really expensive....welcome to London!

We stayed at the Holday Inn Stratford which is right next to Olympic Park. This ended up being a great location - Stratford isn't very central in and of itself, but Olympic Park is right next to Stratford Station which is on both the Central and Jubilee lines, so you can get to most places quickly and without having to transfer.

Anywho, the cab let us out a couple of blocks from the hotel, and we proceeded to haul our bags up a lift (escalator) and through the massive crowds of people who had suddenly descended into the vicinity of our hotel.

"Wow," I thought. "This seems really crowded, even for a Saturday night." Then I noticed people in uniforms directing traffic and deduced that there was obviously some sort of event taking place that night. And THEN I heard a loudspeaker announcement instruct people to "Keep to the right for Mumford and Sons."


Obviously I wasted no time in figuring out what exactly was going on. As it turned out there was a music festival that night, in Olympic Park, featuring Mumford and Sons. Opening bands included Ben Howard, Vampire Weekend and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Umm, yes please.

After I had finished freaking out and convincing Ben that we HAD to go to this concert (he readily agreed, although was admittedly a bit skeptical of our ability to stay up that late) we checked in at the hotel, dumped our bags in the room, and ran down to the street to see if we could find tickets. Do not shower or wash face, do not change clothes, do not collect $200. Gross, admittedly...but less gross considering we were about to spend the next several hours outside, in the grass, jumping around with bare feet (or maybe more gross? Also the jumping was mostly just me....). We may or may not have taken turns napping on the ground between sets.

The concert was AMAZING. All of the bands were fantastic, and I was super excited to see Mumford and Sons since I probably won't be able to make it to their show in St Paul.

On the way to the concert - tickets in hand!



The next morning, we got up early and had breakfast before heading over to the Tower of London. Since it was the weekend, we knew it would be crowded so we wanted to get there right when they opened to avoid as much of the crowd as possible.

The tower still houses the crown jewels, but has also been used as a fortress, the royal palace, a prison, and armory among other things. There are tons of creepy and weird stories about the tower - two young princes were (likely) murdered there in the late 1400's, and apparently Anne Boleyn's ghost is still running amok.

Outside the Tower of London

Demonstrating how to use a Trebuchet (this is a small-scale version...about 1/3 size)

Duly noted!
Dragon made of armor and weponry! So cool.

After a couple of hours at the Tower, we walked down to St Katherine's pier for lunch at the Dickens Inn, which was recommended to me by a coworker who used to live in London. The Dickens inn is a great spot - they have a pub on the ground floor, pizza on the middle floor and a fancy-ish restaurant on the top. My colleague highly recommended the pizza, so Ben and I shared a small pie with prosciutto, olives and arugala with a salad on the side. It was delicious! Definitely recommended, plus St Katherine's is a cute area and fun to walk around in.

The Dickens Inn

Mmmm pizza
After lunch we wandered around for a bit before heading back to the hotel. We both went for a quick afternoon run and showered, then caught a train to Soho for some dinner and bookshop browsing. Unfortunately everything closes early on Sundays so we didn't get to do much shopping, but we did find a nice dinner spot: Maison Touareg, a Lebanese and Moroccan restaurant on Greek Street. I ordered the Veg Tagine, and Ben had a Chicken drink I had wine and Ben had a mocktail. The man loves his mocktails...and I love to make fun of his mocktails.
Maison Touareg

Mocktails - the real man's drink!

So that covers the first couple days of our trip - I'll be back with more hopefully tomorrow! We've been back since Saturday but have pretty much hit the ground running with work, vet appointments for the pets and other various nonsense but I will get caught up soon :)

Hope you're all having a great week!!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Book of the Week: Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Maybe all I wanted was for Toby to hear the wolves that lived in the dark forest of my heart. And maybe that’s what it meant. Tell the Wolves I’m Home. Maybe Finn understood everything, as usual. You may as well tell them where you live, because they’ll find you anyway. They always do.

I'm having a tough time giving Tell the Wolves I'm Home a straight assessment. There's no denying that Carol Rifka Brunt's prose is gorgeous and full of little gems of profound wisdom, but ultimately the beauty of her writing wasn't quite enough to make me overlook the flaws in character and story. Still definitely worth a read though.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Things I am Loving Lately

We leave for Europe in TWO DAYS!!! By this time next week, we'll be on a train heading from London to York and we will have seen the Harry Potter movie studio tour, the Tower of London, and we'll have celebrated our 2 year anniversary. You guys have no idea how excited I am, partly to see England and Scotland, partly just for the experience of traveling, and partly because this is the first time I have really taken off from work since last August. Let the games begin!

Anyway, here's some shtuff I have been enjoying lately.

Granted, I always enjoy yoga but since diving into Christina Sell's Asana Junkies webinar series I've been getting together with yoga buddies to geek out on a more regular basis. Sometimes we practice for a couple of hours and work our way through the Asana Junkies sequences, sometimes we just at a coffee shop table with Light on Yoga and talk about yoga nerdery, things we've been noticing in the yoga community, and our pets. Plus I've been exploring new classes, styles and studios, stretching a little outside my comfort zone more than just physically :)

LoY and Lattes - an unbeatable combination

Snapping a photo for posterity at one of our weekend practice sessions
 In a related story, Lululemon needs to stop making so many stripey tops in such awesome colors. Stripey tops are my downfall, my clothing budget does not appreciate you right now lululemon.


Vegetarian sushi from Whole Foods
It's kind of pricey ($7 for a roll? blah) so I only buy it once a week or so but damn are those purple yam rolls tasty. Maybe my new favorite lunch splurge...ok it might not sound like a splurge but I usually pack my lunch, and even if I forget to do so the caf at work is subsidized and my lunch usually costs less than $4. So $7 feels like a lot but it is sooo worth it every once in a while.

Minneapolis Summers!
I really love summer in the Twin Cities - nothing beats an evening walk around Lake Calhoun on a perfect night. Every year around late February/early March I start to question why I still live here...and then in June and July I remember. Don't get me wrong, each of our seasons has its own beauty but winter starts to get old after a few months. The other day when I was running through our neighborhood a got a huge hit of Lilac, reminding me to enjoy this weather while it lasts.

will never move
Hmm I think that about does it for today! I have not even started packing, and we're going to two Twins games over the next two days, plus a BBQ with friends tomorrow so it will be an action-packed couple of days. I'm also working on Friday (from home) but since literally my entire team is on vacation it should be pretty low-key.

Happy 4th, enjoy the holiday!
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