Friday, June 9, 2017

travel diary: London, Amsterdam, Dublin.

Since traveling to Dublin and Amsterdam last year, I couldn't stop thinking about how much there was to do and see, and how much I didn't get the chance yet to experience.

The bench! I solo tripped it last time here so I didn't actually get to sit on it...

It wasn't that I didn't enjoy last year's trip, but I took it right before my busiest month and right at the time I had just launched a major project. I was exhausted and half-working and poorly prepared. So when the opportunity arose to travel back (at the END of this year's busy month), I couldn't pass it up – add a trip into London, a place I'd always wanted to go, and you had an irresistible itinerary.

My travel buddy Kristen and me at the WB Studio Tour,
in front of the doors to the Great Hall
We flew out of LAX on a Saturday night on a 787 Dreamliner and it was lovely and comfortable, and we had Panda Express before boarding the flight. (The flight back was just OK except for the one guy next to me who elbowed me in the head and face the whole 10 hours, and the part a few hours into the flight where I was asked to move seats for au upgraded male passenger. I guess if you buy the lowest fare with Norwegian, you're not considered a priority.)

Part of me was worried such a packed travel plan would backfire, but everything went well and our tired feet can attest to that.

Below is just a quick snapshot of what we did and what we ate, and I plan to write more about traveling and planning (and being an anxious traveler) and all that later, but if I don't post this now, you can absolutely bet I'll forget 80% of it.

There are also a ton of things here that deserve its own post, so that's coming later...

One thing I want to say: on our last night in London, terror struck the city. We were fortunately not in the area at the time and had just got back to our hotel when we saw the news break in the hotel lobby. Thoughts and prayers to London and all of its incredible people – I really loved my time here and hope to return.

Pizza Hut takeaway
Day 1: London 
Arrived mid-day, checked into airport hotel, figured out public transportation quickly – even though we went the wrong way twice.

What we saw: the London Eye, Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, a shit ton of rain
What we ate: Not gonna lie — we went to a two-story Pizza Hut.

Day 2: Amsterdam 
The NS ticket machines refused to take our credit cards so we had to wait in a long line for the ticket counter in order to get the train to the hotel — but not before attempting to run around the airport finding someone to change our bills into coins so we could go back to a ticket machine. (We failed but Kristen did end up with a Dutch copy of 13 Reasons Why).

Also, shoutout to the Best Western, which was nicer than any Best Western I've ever seen in America.

What we saw: Anne Frank House, Amsterdam Cheese Museum, De Oude Kerk + the bells (and the view from the tower climb), Vondelpark, lots of canals
What we ate: pancakes, cheese, FEBO, Hong Kong sponge cake, Indonesian tapas

Pano from the top of De Oude Kerk

Day 3: Amsterdam 
It was colder, but not too terrible (despite the rain). We woke up early, which was worth it because we got to the I Amsterdam sign when there was just a small handful of tourists out.

What we saw: I Amsterdam sign, The Fault In Our Stars bench, Van Gogh Museum, Albert Cuyp market, Rijksmuseum, flower market, another cheese museum, more canals
What we ate: croissants, burgers, stroopwaffels, more FEBO, more pancakes, Soup en Zo, frites

I/Hi Amsterdam

Day 4: Dublin 
It was much colder in Dublin than Amsterdam, which we realized after standing in the cold for the 747 bus for 25 minutes.

What we saw: Trinity Library, Book of Kells, Temple Bar, Guinness Storehouse, Merrion Square, St. Stephen's Green
What we ate: fish and chips (it was National Fish and Chips Day!), stew and roast ribs from O'Neill's, gelato

Cloudy Dublin Castle grounds

Day 5: Dublin 
It sprinkled throughout the whole day, but not bad enough to force us indoors the entire day. Dublin is very walkable, so we saw quite a bit, but it was also nice to find moments to drink tea indoors.

What we saw: Kilmanhaim Goal, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin Castle grounds, the many taxidermied animals of Ireland's Natural History Museum
What we ate: full Irish breakfast, Keogh's scones and muffins, tarts and tea at Queen of Tarts, spicy chicken wings and soup at Elephant & Castle

Abbey Road Studios
Day 6: London 
Woke up at an absurd hour to get to the Dublin airport, thinking we needed to go through a visa check before the flight (we didn't).

I had a breakfast burrito at the airport. It was essentially (almost) everything you'd find in an Irish breakfast, wrapped in a tortilla and smothered with tomato salsa and guac. It was v weird.

What we saw: Abbey Road crossing (and fellow tourists almost getting hit by cars at Abbey Road crossing), Tower of London, more rain, British Museum, Lush on Oxford Street (!!!), Primark (omg), Chinatown
What we ate: Cereal Killer Cafe (HEAVEN), Lanzhou Noodle Bar, bubble tea

Day 7: London
A bright and sunny day.

What we saw: The British Library, Buckingham Palace, St. James' Park, Westminster Abbey (the outside of it only; unfortunately, the line was too long), Warner Bros. Studio Tour
What we ate: afternoon tea service at Eccleston Square Hotel, butterbeer, McDonald's lol

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