Before I leap into it, however, I feel obligated to post an updated version of my Spotify playlist. Check it out below - there's definitely some new songs here and there, and I might have rearranged a few things. It's definitely an eclectic mix - but sticking to one genre is always super boring, anyway. ;)
Spotify playlist for the win!
So, to begin... notice how I said country this time around... that's right, Katie actually got to experience some more of England, as opposed to staying in London all the time. Of course, London is incredible and bustling and fantastic and all of that cool stuff, and I love getting "lost" so to speak, and finding cool nooks and crannies and getting to full immerse myself into the brick buildings and cobbled roads - but leaving the city every once in a while is also welcomed. I'm a Colorado girl, remember? I like myself some "wife open spaces" and mountains. And while England is definitely lacking in the mountain department (thus my being directionally challenged), it has quite the excess of wide open spaces - and plenty of other places to explore, as well!
New Friends and Oxford, England
After work this past Friday, I headed over to the Waterloo Station to meet up with the one and only Kibbles and Bits (known to most people as "Sarah," but that's boring). As usual for our traditional "oh my God I missed you I get to see you again" greeting... I snuck up behind her and practically tackled her to the ground, which was so funny and caused a lot of people to stare. But I don't care - I love it. I got another wonderful surprise when Kib's friend from college, Kelly, came over to hang out. I was actually kind of nervous to meet her finally (we had known each other through Facebook through Kib, so it was kind of weird, even though I talked to her two New Year's Ago in NYC when Kib and I went there to see the ball drop... I feel like this travel / adventure thing is an emerging pattern with me...). But, at any rate, she's awesome! I'm glad that we finally got to meet and that she doesn't judge me for my strangeness. Or, I mean, she totally might have. In fact, she probably did. But I still felt like we got on pretty well. :)
We all decided that it was high time that go and explore the city some more (and get some food - train food = disappointing), so we headed back to my flat to drop my things off before wandering around aimlessly for a while to attempt to find some food (and almost being directed towards this shady curry place by this bloke in the Underground. Awkward). We ended up going down to Leicester Square and exploring the theater district before we found ourselves at Trafalgar Square. We headed over to Garfunkel's, then, and got ourselves some cider and proper American food (club sandwiches and burgers for the win) before we meandered over to where Kelly works! She's working for the British government as part of her placement - I don't know too much about it, only that she's involved in working with nuclear energy to save the environment, or something like that. At any rate... her work is on the street where many movies have been filmed, including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Atonement. Most recently, however, her building was used for the last shot of Skyfall. That's right. Daniel Craig put his feet on top of Kelly's work. Absolute madness. I definitely walk around this city and see filming locations everywhere that I go, and every time that I do, I kind of have a minor heart attack - just like...
...wait. Not yet. I'll save the best for last. :)
At any rate, hanging out with Kelly was good craic, but we had to part ways that evening so that she could move into her new flat and so that Kib and I could go back and get ready for our epic morning, as we were headed to Oxford!
|Just your typical street in Oxford, England.|
|REALLY OLD PUB.|
|Kim and Danielle! :) What cuties!|
|Myself and Kibbles. Normal pictures don't|
seem to be our thing.
Dead deer aside, Oxford itself is actually an awesome city. It actually reminded me of home a little bit! The second that we left the train station, I could tell that it was different than London, and it was only until we wandered around the city for a good four hours that it finally struck me why - Oxford is a college town. I was being reminded of Boulder, Colorado - how strange!
One thing that Boulder doesn't have, however, are the beautiful cobbled roads and old architecture of Oxford - complete with all of England's British charm, from the Cornish pasties on the roadside, to the cricket being played by the river, to the quick and easy English Breakfast tea and pubs on every corner. The fact that we were walking through the campus of one of the world's most accredited universities didn't hurt, either, haha! I definitely felt pretty awesome walking through the different Oxford colleges, such as Trinity and Magdalen... until I realized that I'm definitely American, and probably not intelligent or clever enough to even be considered for admittance, even if I struck up the nerve to even apply... though, with my Irish passport, I could definitely get European Union tuition rates... hmm...
... nah. I'm already so over this "school" thing, I just want to start working. Sorry, Oxford! I must decline!
|It's like I'm at Hogwarts. Only without the magic. And|
more smart people.
I finally go to taste a Cornish pasty, too... and dear God, it might be one of the most delicious things that I've ever eaten. I'm in love. Not only that, but I grabbed myself an Oxford University hoodie (only £12 - SALE!), and a tea mug with the Union Jack on the side. Don't judge - Julie and I only have one mug, and I definitely like my tea in the morning (...and afternoon... and evening, but who really keeps count of how much tea they drink here, anyway?).
Long story short, Oxford was simply "smashing," and was a good craic. With heavy hearts, we headed back to London on the 17:30 train...
... and might have awkwardly talked to a bunch of drunk guys having a "Bachelor Party." And one of them might have been Polish (I'm not the only one anymore, Kelsey...). And one of them might have definitely done crack right then and there in front of us, when the security guard wasn't looking, and he might have definitely been hallucinating that a giant penis was coming out of the wall trying to attack him. That might have definitely happened. But, you know, this could all just be hypothetical.
We got back to London and all parted ways, and Kib and I spent the rest of the evening attempting to make a video to our friend back in Maine, Morgan. It was definitely a three or four minute video that took about two and a half hours to make, seeing as we were either laughing or drinking the entire time. It was fantastic, and I don't think that I've laughed that hard in ages! :) Ah, the joys of friends and evenings indoors!
Check out these pictures from our day trip to Oxford, England! It was an incredible time with incredibly friends, both old and new. :)
221B Baker Street... Again.The next morning ended up going a little bit slower than we had originally anticipated. Danielle, Kim, Kib and I were all planning on going to Westminster for church, but we were all a bit tired from Oxford, Kib and I were definitely tired from staying up until four o'clock in the morning, pissing ourselves laughing, and I had definitely forgotten my laundry downstairs the night before, and had forgotten to dry it all. So, we didn't get out of my flat until around 12:00pm, which was disappointing, but all very okay. Kelly met up with us and we grabbed a bite to eat before meeting up with Danielle and Kim back at Nido. Then, we headed over to Baker Street! And guess what we ended up seeing...
... the inside of the Sherlock Holmes Museum!
Quick Disclaimer: ... though I am an avid advocate of the BBC One series back home, I'm was nowhere near this "obsessed" with Sherlock as I am right now. The fact is... they're filming series three in about two weeks, right here in London. I'm a film major, as well as a huge fan of the Sherlock series and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes short stories, and two of my major acting inspirations are Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch. Not only this, but Sherlock truly reopened my eyes to the possibility and beauty of storytelling, of the power of truly wonderfully crafted characters and well-shot film. And Sherlock - with its flawless performances from not only Freeman and Cumberbatch, but Gatiss, Andrew Scott, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Louise Brealey, and others - helped me get out of my "actor's slump," something that plagued me constantly over this past semester of sheer insanity, schedule balancing and nonstop rehearsals and performances. All of this (combined with the fact that I've been blessed and graced enough with the opportunity to live in London for two months) has made me a bit fanatical over the last couple of weeks. So, though I harp about it constantly, I'm not normally this rabid about a TV show.
... butseriously. It's the best show on television right now - and that includes HBO's Game of Thrones. Yes, I went there. So, if you have any dignity as a storyteller, an actor or a filmmaker, or even as an book reader - WATCH. THIS. SHOW.
Ahem. Now. Back to business.
I know I said that I would wait until much later to treat myself to this little gem of London, but Kib was the one of the people who introduced me to BBC's Sherlock (and Morgan... they used blackmail, those snarky bastards...), which then rekindled my love for the original stories (which I read when I was a tot in 2nd grade) and I don't know if we'd have another opportunity to share this adventure together! So... off we went to Baker Street. Again, we got to see the awesome statue of the Great Detective himself, and then we headed over, bought our museum tickets and stood in line for an hour - that's right, an hour - to go inside of the famous 221B Baker Street. And let me tell you... it was worth the wait.
|The infamous 221B Baker Street's "study."|
|I'm a badass. Be jealous.|
It was all very surreal and incredibly exciting, and for a minute I forgot that it was 2013 in London, and I could practically... disregard the fact that there were loud cars outside and glass buildings down the road and an Underground system pounding away only four "floors" below. It was wonderful - a beautiful thirty or forty minutes of sheer bliss as I completely lost myself and let 221B Baker Street become a temporary reality.
Check out these photos from 221B Baker Street - the Sherlock Holmes Museum! Only £8 for an awesome immersion into Victorian era adventures! :D
It was sad to go, but I feel like I'll come back later - if not for myself, for my friends that could not join me (I'm talking to you, Julie, Lizzie, Nicole, Alison, Morgan). But that wasn't the only 221B Baker Street that I found that day...
... I found the 221B Baker Street that BBC One uses for filming Sherlock. That's right. I found that Baker Street.
For obvious reasons, I'm not going to post exactly where it is (though anyone in London who lives in this particular part of town can probably tell you... and it's really not that hard to Google it, but it's the principle of the thing!), just to respect the wishes of Mark Gatiss, Steve Moffat and Stephen Thompson (the co-creators and writers). Having worked on a set for a bit over these last few months, the last thing that you'd want is rabid fangirls screwing up the process of creating a work of art... and that almost makes me not want to go and see the set, too (though, if I end up stumbling past set over the next few weeks, I will contain my inner fangirl, put on my "filmmaker façade and just observe... I've had practice - thank you, Dear Eleanor).
But, for just that moment... I totally lost my shit. Like... seriously. I ran up and down the street and pointed at different things and then ran across the street to find the particular location where they probably set the crane for establishing shots - pretty much, having a filmgasm. It was rather lovely.
Hopefully over the next few days, I'll be able to go back and have food at the little restaurant underneath the flat that they use for 221B Baker Street (even though I'm pretty sure they built the actual flat in some studio somewhere). But finding a location that they use for the set just made everything come to life all over again, and re-inspired me to continue to pursue this film career thing - whether as an actor (the ultimate dream) or as a producer or director.
Until then, "The game is afoot!" - like Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, I'm not bored of London, and I'm always ready to find something new and exciting - to have another daring adventure or two. While they had a 25-year-long companionship in London, I have a measly two months, and I intend to make the most of it while I can!
Oh, wait. I only have five weeks left.
Chinatown and Camden
|Heading into Chinatown, which is right near|
Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.
After that, we meandered through Chinatown, and I must say... it's a wonderful part of town. I really do enjoy getting immersed into cultures, even if it's in the middle of London, England. So many fun restaurants and street performers! We all ate at this place called The Black Bean (original name, I know), and even though the service was a bit strange, the food was absolutely incredible - I love Chinese food! If you're ever in Chinatown in London and want a quick meal, go to The Black Bean, and get some matcha green tea (delicious) and then some chicken fried rice - only £6 total, for a pretty decent meal! I can't even get a salad in Shoreditch for that much money!
Afterwards, Kelly headed back to her flat to prepare for moving to her new flat - so, sadly, we parted ways on the Underground. But, hopefully in the near future we'll be able to meet up and go on more tourist-y adventures! From Piccadilly Circus, we found our way to the Northern Line and made it up to Camden so that I could buy Kib a drink at, once again, The World's End.
Seriously, one of the coolest pubs I've been to in London, and that's not just because it's based on the movie that's coming out soon with the same title. Even though there was really loud metal scream-o music playing, I totally loved the vibe I was getting there. It's huge, fun, old... it's just an awesome pub. I got myself two pints of lager and bought Kib a few (she went through all of the trouble and expense to come up here to see me, so it was the least that I could do), before we went to another pub down the way to get try a different vibe. This pub was pretty hipster and strange, but still pretty cool.
Afterwards, we headed back to my flat and parted ways for the evening, all pretty exhausted. So, an episode of Sherlock later, Kib and I hit the hay and went to bed, and the next morning I was off to work again.
It was really great to get to see Kib again. Seriously, she's the bomb.com, one of my closest friends in the world, and it's pretty rad that I get to spend an entire summer in the same country as her. Instead of having to spend around $1,000 to get to see her, she spent around... £60 in train fares. I call that an epic win. :) I'll definitely be seeing her again before I peace back out to the ol' US-of-A (too damn soon).
Luh you, Kibbles and Bits.
Check out these photos from our adventures to Camden Town and Chinatown! Good craic with some awesome people!
Working Near Banglatown
|It's like Canada! Only it's not French - it's Bengali!|
To be completely honest with you - and myself, for that matter - I haven't felt this uncomfortable surrounded by people of a different culture in a long time. Maybe it's because I'm from Colorado, and we're all pretty white and Christian (other than Boulder, but Boulder's the exception to any rule ever), but being surrounded by such a strange and bizarre culture was just... unsettling. And, to be even more frank... there is a stigma attached to being Muslim, something that I apparently (and embarrassingly) haven't been able to overcome. And the fact that a brutal murder occurred in London just a month before I came here - done by self proclaimed "Muslim converts," didn't help matters either. Don't get me wrong, I have Muslim friends and colleagues back home in Colorado, and even here (Neeemooooooo). And I've always considered myself to be completely lacking in racism of any kind. I like to think that I'm accepting of other people despite their faith, creed, skin color, sexual orientation, etc... And being uncomfortable around a bunch of Muslims just made me feel horrible about myself. I couldn't stop these feelings of discomfort for about the first two weeks that I was here.
|It's like Chinatown! Only it's not Chinese - IT'S BENGALI!|
Over the last two weeks, I've been growing more and more comfortable in Banglatown. In fact, I actively look for ways to go and explore it whenever I can, especially so during my lunch break. Even though I can't really eat any of the food there at the moment, as most of it includes some kind of bread or grease (I'm trying to be Paleo... in England... which is nigh impossibly anyway), but I do enjoy peeking into shops and meeting new people and looking at different things that people sell around there. The other day, I walked into a store and the owner said, "As-salam alaykum" without looking up, almost automatically... and I said "Wa alaykumu s-salam" back, and he seemed kind of surprised! That was pretty hilarious, haha!
Just another thing that I'm learning in this wonderful city.
"I'm going on an adventure!"
My bosses have recently discovered that I do, in fact, have an Oyster Card - one that is good for both Zones 1 and 2 of London. This means that, when errands are in need of doing, I am the automatic American (and only American) for the job. I really don't mind it, to be honest. Since I have so little time here (only two months, you say? ABSURD), I snatch up any chance that I have to leave the office and explore London. I especially like the fact that I don't have WiFi and can't automatically look up things with a map. I'm beginning to get to know my way around the city pretty well, to be honest, and I don't want to spoil that sense of discovery and adventure with technology. Besides, as I've learned over the last year (from getting lost in Warsaw, Poland, to living here in London), you don't really get to know or truly experience a city - or a place - until you get lost in it a few times and learn to enjoy the feeling of not knowing where you are or where you'll be. So, going on errands always ends up being a little mini-adventure in it of itself.
Though a lot of my errands comprise of things like, "Bring this package to Oxford Circus before 4:00pm," or "Tobacco, love, Cutter's Choice - can you get me a pack from Tesco's, I'm waiting for a call from a director," or "Kay-tea, can you go and get some more tea?" I do get to go on some random adventures here and there. Like that one time I left London for the first time, and almost got lost to the point of no return. You know, just casually.
I should probably explain. Long story short, I was running a quick errand for Georgina (a producer), when I received a text from her on The Brick, asking me to go to another part of town. I was pretty excited (ADVENTURE TIME), and quickly found someone to give me directions (people here are rather nice about that kind of thing, if they know what you're talking about).
... and then I saw that it didn't just include the Tube. I had to take the Overground, and enter Zone 5 in London. I've only been to Zone 3, and that was still on the Tube.
Okay, quick story. Katie, while getting good at figuring out where to go when she needs to go there, is extremely uncomfortable trying to find somewhere new without someone there with her - and especially so without technology. I wouldn't have WiFi with me when I tried to get to where ever the hell I was going, and my iPhone could sometimes not be the most reliable of sources. Also, my UK phone has been dubbed "The Brick," in that it literally is useless except to use for a paperweight. So, I was pretty freaking nervous, combined with the fact that I had to impress this boss with my "directional skills." Along with a probably undiagnosed anxiety problem, this wasn't painting a very encouraging picture.
Somehow, though, I kept my cool, and got myself to the Waterloo Overground train station. So, an hour and a half travel from Shoreditch later (which is in East London), I found myself all the way in West London, in the suburbs. With no WiFi and nothing to go on but the directions that Georgina had texted me. And, somehow, I got myself to the location to pick up the package, and still made it back to Irresistible before closing at 18:00 [6:00pm] (I had left at around 15:30 [3:30pm]. It was a bloody miracle, and a terrifyingly awesome adventure. At least it wasn't like that one time in Poland. Oh, Poland...
At any rate, it was good craic now that I look back on it. It definitely tested my patience and my ability to keep my cool under a pressure situation in a foreign country with no technology and a ridiculous time deadline with limited funds and a package the size of a large dog. So... if ever confronted with a similar situation... I'll... be prepared for that, I guess.
Check out these pictures from my random adventure to West London. Happy days.
So, until the next adventure...