Monthly Archives: March 2013

Ciao, Roma!

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There’s no end of things to do in London – Samuel Johnson wasn’t far off in saying, “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” – but sometimes, it’s nice to get a break. Which is yet another wonderful thing about London: you’re close to 4 large airports. So when an old friend invited me to Italy for a long weekend, I had no trouble saying yes. After all, one of the nice things about postgraduate studies is that they’re focused on independent learning, so you don’t have many classes during the week. As long as I read on the plane, and worked ahead, I was free to enjoy a mini-break.

My friend had never been to Rome before, so we did all the touristy things, like visiting the Vatican (but not until after the new Pope had given his first speech, because the crowds were insane):

From this spot, the pillars behind the camera create an optical illusion.

and the Spanish Steps:

There seem to be a lot more steps when you’re in search of a toilet. They are beautiful, though!

To me, though, possibly the most exciting part was the food:

They called these “antipasta,” or “appetizers.” I called them “happiness on a platter.”

As much fun as it can be to play the tourist, though, there’s nothing like being shown around by a local. My friend’s friend drove us all around the city, taking us to her favorite views and pubs, and inviting us to a family dinner. You haven’t lived until you’ve had homemade pizza made by a loving Italian. No matter where you’re going, I recommend meeting up with locals if you can. It just gives you a whole new perspective on the place.

Having said that, there’s a reason tourist destinations are so popular. Which is why we spent our last day on a train to Pisa, to visit the Leaning Tower. I’ve probably seen hundreds of pictures of it over my lifetime, but nothing prepared me for just how extreme the tilt of the Tower was. I enjoyed every second of it – including, of course, the gelato, which was the best I’ve ever had.

I spent the short (and cheap) flight back thinking about how grateful I was that London is so conveniently located for travel. Just one of the many advantages of the place I’m now lucky enough to call home.

 

 

 

Can you spot the landmarks? I had to leave out the London Eye so you wouldn't be staring at a photo of a stranger's head, but you can just make out St. Paul's. If you really, really try. Sorry, y'all, my iPod has to double as my camera. But the view's famous, so if you're really, really desperate, Google it.

Spring Fever

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Sorry it’s been so long since my last post. One of the consequences of choosing to do your Master’s degree at a world-class institution like King’s is that the majority of Reading Week is spent, well, reading. Specifically, trying to work through this stack of books:

I wasn’t successful.

Which is basically how I’ve spent my last few weeks. But today, it “warmed up,” and the sun came out, and it was way too beautiful outside for me to focus on my reading. So I did something I’ve been wanting to do since I first came to London: I went out to Primrose Hill to enjoy the view.

Well, actually, first I stopped by North Gower Street to see whether they were filming the new series of Sherlock there today, because what’s life without the occasional unhealthy obsession? (For those of you equally obsessed: Yes! It’s March, and they’ve started filming series 3!) But no such luck; the only sign I was even in the right neighborhood was Speedy’s. So I moved on to Primrose Hill.

The hill is famous for its view of London, and with good reason. Blake even waxed poetic about it (which he did about just about everything, but still), and his words are engraved on the ledge around the viewing circle: “I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill.” And I could see his point, with the sun gleaming off the London skyline. For those of you who haven’t made the trek out there yet, or haven’t been to London, this is what you’re missing:

Can you spot the landmarks? I had to leave out the London Eye so you wouldn’t be staring at a photo of a stranger’s head, but you can just make out St. Paul’s. If you really, really try. Sorry, y’all, my iPod has to double as my camera. But the view’s famous, so if you’re desperate, Google it.

It was gorgeous, which I had been told to expect. What no one warned me about was the beauty of the views in other directions, like these:

If it weren’t for the 2 buildings peeking out, you’d never know this was in London!

All the picnic-ing couples made me jealous that I hadn’t brought food. Or a boyfriend.

Or the beauty of the walk there. I couldn’t believe this stately home

Gorgeous, right?

      was right next to this

Yeah, that’s a HOUSEBOAT in the very back. How cool is that?

But that’s what I love about London. It’s full of all different kinds of beauty, coexisting. The Electric Ballroom just a few minutes from the Gap. An Indian food restaurant next door to a pan-African restaurant, complete with outdoor giraffe (I am so sorry I didn’t get y’all a picture of this. Next time). And just a few streets away, the English Folk Dance and Song Society. You never know what you’ll find if you just take a couple more steps.

 

 

ps – Since this post was so late, the next one will be fairly soon! As always, feel free to request a topic, and ask about/comment on anything in this one.