London Calling

I arrived in London remarkably jet lagged. It took at least an hour to get off the plane. The airport was flooded with people as the royal wedding had just taken place the day prior, and there were not enough arrival gates for ourplane to park. So we disembarked via stairs and hopped on a bus. From there, I waited at least another hour in line to spend about 60 seconds going through Border Control.

Needless to say, I was exhausted. However, it was morning and I was determined to make the most of my short amount of time in London, if nothing else to park myself in a coffee shop and hunt down some wifi. So I bought an all day tube pass, and set off towards Piccadilly.

I’ve got to admit, I’ve had Good Life by OneRepublic stuck in my head ever since, due to the lyrics,

“Woke up in London yesterday / found myself in the city / near Piccadilly / don’t really know how I got here / I got some pictures on my phone.”

Clearly they were singing about my life, right?

Coffee Mishaps

I stopped in a Costa Coffee that failed me on wifi, so went to this bookstore that had wifi and sat down in their cafe (without buying a coffee, I know I’m the worst. But I didn’t actually want coffee, and I had already wasted my money on a cafe that claimed to offer wifi but didn’t.)

I set my iced coffee down on the floor next to my feet so as to be inconspicuous. And super smooth me kicks my huge iced latte over and spills it EVERYWHERE. I quickly get up, toss my branded plastic to-go coffee container in the trash, and ask the barista for some towels to clean up the mess. I help him clean it up, and he insists on making me another coffee. I didn’t even buy a coffee from this cafe!! Wow I felt so bad, but he insisted and I couldn’t bring myself to admit that my latte hadn’t even come from their cafe. Oops! Anyways, the guy was incredibly nice and the bookstore absolutely beautiful.

 

Travel Delays

The first week of my travels I was planning to travel with my friend Sam from Maryland/North Carolina, who I met on study abroad in Málaga last year. However, while I was meandering around London and charging up in a cafe, she messaged me in a panic saying her flight was delayed by TEN WHOLE HOURS. Yikes. I started to wonder if she’d even make it, our flight scheduled to Naples from London was bright and early next morning at 6 a.m.

She briefly considered a flight through a strange airline with a layover in Moscow, but continued to hassle United Airlines all night until she managed to find a flight into Rome, then to take a train to meet up with me in Naples. She actually ended up arriving to Naples before I did.

Shopping in Piccadilly, wandering Kings Cross

 I bought this red bikini top from Jack Wills and wandered through many stores far beyond my price range. Window shopping for the win 😉

I finally got to the stop to buy tickets to the Stansted Airport, where my Airbnb host would pick me up for a small fee and take me back in the morning. The train ride was absolutely BEAUTIFUL through the English countryside, and it was refreshing to see the sun peek out as I left the bustling city of London. It was nearing the evening and I came to the realization that I had eaten absolutely nothing all day. Delta airlines fed me well on the flight across the pond, and I was normally accustomed to being asleep at that time. Furthermore, I had a coffee which filled me and I wanted to save money in London. (I know, I did drop 20 pounds on that swimsuit shop, shhh…)

Anyways, by that point I was quite hungry, and opted for fish and chips at a shop called “Stanleys” in the small town of Little Canfield near the Stansted airport. WOW that serving was huge. If you are ever there, find a friend to share your order of fish and chips!

It felt amazing to set my things down after a day of hauling my carry-on about London all day. (Boy am I thankful I managed to pack in only a carry-on. Perhaps I’ll make a post about that sometime.)

I slept so hard that night. Lovely Airbnb. 

Farewell to the Familiar

I am spending the majority of summer 2018 in Spain to practice my Spanish and explore the Basque culture in northern Spain. But first, I am going to take a moment to share more from my travels between my home in Iowa and my home in Spain. 

Goodbyes

The trees were in full bloom when I went to my hometown for a few days, and my dear friend Ellie arrived bearing gifts of scotcheroos (affectionately referred to as yum-yum bars in my family.)

I also had time to catch up with my Iowa State gals, Alaina (who was about to head to Europe as well), and Maddie (who had just returned from Europe herself.) It had been so long since I had really caught up with these amigos and it was so inspiring to chat with some friends equally passionate and enthusiastic about travel.

I also had to say bye to all my Des Moines buddies. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to greatly miss Des Moines, especially all my pals there.    

Des Moines → Chicago

My journey begins with the five and a half hour drive from Des Moines to a the St. Charles suburb in Chicago, where I stayed with my friend Will for a few nights before my flight from the states.

Our car-jam sesh included good tunes ranging from Beyonce to Michael Jackson, BROCKHAMPTON to The Black Keys. A little bit of everything, just the way it should be.

I ended up falling asleep for the last hour, as I only got two hours of sleep the night before when I stayed up until 5 a.m. working on a final assignment for my Media Planning class and had multiple senior photo sessions that same morning.

Will’s family was incredibly kind and welcoming during my stay, and even introduced me to the infamous Portillo’s, where I had the most delicious Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich. WOW.  I’m salivating at just the thought of that meal. Their cake shakes are amazing too.

May 20-21 | O’Hare to Detroit, Detroit to London

Next up, London!

Duluth, Minnesota and the North Shore

I have been to Duluth twice within the past year, once in October for a soccer game with the Drake Women’s Soccer Club and again this December on a roadtrip with my best friend Ellie to the north shore of Lake Superior.

After we got our butts kicked in the soccer game in October, I stuck around the city with my teammates Kailey and Shannon. My spirits were low after the loss and I was stressed out about all the homework I would need to attend to during the six to seven hour drive back to school, but I am so happy I stuck around.

Pizza Luce

Our first stop was Pizza Luce, this amazing pizza parlor with baked potato pizza. Yes, you heard me right. The baked potato pizza consists of a pizza crust topped with a hearty but creamy red baked potato. Don’t believe me? Check out their website and read the description…

We smother our pizza crust in buttery, garlic baby red mashed potatoes and top it with broccoli, fresh-diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese and chopped bacon. Served with a side of sour cream.

I believe there is also a Pizza Luce location in Minneapolis, so if you don’t have the time for a trek to northern Minnesota, you are still in luck.

Electric Fetus

This record store is one of those eclectic shops where you can laugh at all the touristy merchandise while you sift through used records hoping to strike gold. I always love seeing albums that I know and love on Spotify and imagining those tunes spinning on a turn table (an item on my wishlist!)

Airbnb

When Ellie and I stayed in Duluth,we opted for an Airbnb. The hosts we stayed with were great. I would highly recommend staying with our host if you are in Duluth and needing somewhere inexpensive to crash for a few nights. The wifi was great for when I needed to do some work, the cats were sweet, and they even let us borrow their snowshoes!

Scenic Byway

Ellie and I hit the Scenic Byway of the North Shore Drive, which I would highly recommend if you are on a leisurely trip and not in a hurry to get from point A to point B. So when you approach a fork in the road and must choose between the Scenic Byway or Highway 61 Expressway, choose the views and take the Scenic Byway.

Split Rock Lighthouse

This spot was beautiful. Ellie and I stopped on the side of the road before we got there to get the landscape view, and then drove into the state park. The museum leading up the lighthouse was fun, I would recommend walking through.