Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sheer Terror

Yesterday, I experienced my greatest London trauma to date.

I rode a bicycle on the streets of London.

Well, on some side streets in a residential borough of London. My hubby has been riding his bike for months now. Cyclists are everywhere. It can't be that hard, right?

Let me elaborate on my reality:
1. I borrowed a friends bike. (Not just any bike. An adorable vintage style bike that looks basically like this.)
I know, right? Seriously, how could this not turn out amazing? I imagined riding along in a cute sundress, with a basket of flowers, and my hair blowing in the wind. Then I remembered its November, so I re-imagined myself riding with a cute winter coat, skinny jeans, fingerless gloves, a hat, and my scarf flying in the wind. Still pretty exciting.
However... its heavier than most bikes, and the curved handlebars and basket make it a bit more wobbly. Also, said friend is a bit taller than I-- something I hadn't notice till repeatedly trying to get up on the (unpadded) seat. My bum is still complaining today.
2. Traffic is on the wrong side of the road. Ok, the left side of the road. This one I'd prepared for. I've worked hard to notice traffic patterns and intersections. However the idea of opposing traffic making right turns (ie: left turns in America) still frightened me.
3. I haven't ridden a bike in over a decade. Unfortunately, I didn't remember this till after my excursion. If I had, I might have taken some more time to practice. They say it all comes back to you.

They lie.

I survived, which is a sort of success. And I reminded myself (about every 100 feet) that everyone has to have a first time. And God was gracious enough to give light traffic most of the ride. But it was terrifying. Every stoplight meant having to reprocess traffic laws, remember which side of the road to turn onto, get back up on the (hard) seat, straighten out my front tires so as not to hit the parked cars in front, swerve violently to avoid the cars careening up behind me, and then remember to continue pedalling. It was exhausting. I also realised about halfway through my journey that the bike was in high gear, which probably contributed to the botched cross-traffic turn I couldn't get up to speed for, which resulted in my facing the lane of oncoming traffic till I frantically waved at the oncoming car and promptly took myself and my fancy bike to the sidewalk, where I walked it for the remainder of my journey.

I'm still trying to decide whether or not to try it again.

On a happier note, here are some pictures from the hubby's birthday week! Much fun was had by all!

A big shout out to Rodrigo and Isabella for a great lunch out! It made us laugh that 2 Brazilians and 2 Americans were being served by an Italian waitress at a Cuban restaurant in England. It sounds like a bad joke!

Then the birthday boy and I made potica- a traditional Slovenian Christmas sweet bread recipe passed down through families. Its a November tradition!

Love you, baby! So glad to celebrate another birthday with you!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

For the Geeks

Last week, I went for a walk in central London. I had several errands to run (which, by the way, is an expression foreign to the Brits), and I wanted to end up at the National Portrait Gallery, on Trafalgar Square. Trafalgar is one of my favorite spots in London, as it boasts some of the most spectacular views of the city, is central to so many historical places, and provides hours of people-watching entertainment.

Anyhoo, my time at the gallery was lovely- crowded, as it was half-term and full of school children on break, but lovely. However, the highlight of my day was the mile walk between Great Portland Street and Trafalgar. I had no idea I was walking past so many amazing places, so I kept smiling with delight at all the treasures London's streets had to offer!

Not pictured is when I passed Oxford Street, then Berners Tavern- where apparently, George Clooney dined the other week. The name 'Tavern' is misleading though, as its actually a super-swanky restaurant with soaring ceilings inlaid with elaborate moulding and glittery chandeliers. Not exactly a classic English pub. Still cool to see.

A few blocks later and BOOM! Chinatown! I found it ironic to see so many Asians taking pictures of the three block imitation of their home.

Before I knew it, I was in the heart of Soho (known for its theater district and, um, its interesting nightlife. Look it up for yourself.) However.... I turned the corner and saw chocolate!!! Chocolate everywhere!!!! Colorful candies in piles and piles!!!!! Ok, that's a lie. They're all neatly stacked it tins and boxes and bags, or in color-coded machines that dispense chocolatey goodness at the touch of a £5 note! How did I not know there was an M&M world only 30 minutes from my door?!

Apparently, the M&M corner is better known as Leicester Square (pronounces Lester Square). Its a pretty famous place, but I've only been at its tube stop 60 feet below ground.

I finally arrived at Trafalgar Square, where I always climb the steps of the Portrait Gallery, even if I don't plan to go in. The view is exceptional. This is how it looked when I went in the Gallery.

And this is how it looked with the sun setting as I left. (Which, by the way, was only at 4:00. I didn't realize how much farther north we are here. Apparently, by late December, the sun will set at 3:30. I'm preparing myself for SADs.)

It was a fantastic day with lots of surprises. I love this city and can't wait to share all of it with you!

****** Geeks keep scrolling. The rest of you can stop here.******

****** Keep scrolling....******

******EASTER EGG!!!!******

Congrats to those of you who have scrolled this far and haven't lost interest. By this point, I assume you either truly consider yourself a geek, or just have nothing to do today besides scrolling down a silly blog.

Therefore, I reward you geeks with.......





a Tardis!!!!

You're welcome!

For those of you still reading. Check out this spot on Google maps. http://goo.gl/ePKSxW  The user reviews will keep you nerds occupied for hours!

Still here?

Okay, fine.

And for the Harry Potter nerds.....
I give you....

Muggle Quidditch!

Yes, my wizardly friends, with minimal effort, and what I assume is a nominal fee, you can head over to Hampstead Heath, just below Parliament Hill (which for the history geeks still hanging on, is where Guy Fawkes' compatriots assembled to watch Parliament NOT burn), and involve yourself in a rousing game of Muggle Quidditch. I can't tell you anything about the game itself, as all the players were sitting in a circle on the ground for the entire time I was in view. Apparently, quidditch is substantially less entertaining once you lose the brooms.

All righty, folks. That's it for this blog post. Thanks to all you nerds and geeks for hanging in there. I really have a special place in my heart for each one of you. Check back again for less entertaining posts here from the heart of Britain!

No, seriously. It's done now.

Go home.