Monday, August 29, 2016

Twenty-One Years.

I've been thinking about this day for a couple of years now. Mind you, I've been drinking for quite some time, delicately and in the company of my family, of course, but I've always had speculations as to how I would celebrate my twenty-first.

First, there were dreams of Mexico. Even though you can drink there at a much younger age, I had plans of having an adult drink in the adult pool, surrounded by palm trees and with the sound of the ocean ahead of me.

Then there was the whole college expectation. You get wasted. You go out, pound 'em out, get very drunk, and forget what even happened.

But underneath all of the stories and recommendations as to how I should celebrate, I had my own agenda. I knew that the best way to spend it would be how I like to celebrate any momentous occasion: fine dining and the bubbly. I could always picture myself at a fancy spot, vintage dress on and rhinestones shining brightly. It's not that I refused to celebrate any other way (last night was proof enough of that!), it's just that with that constant idea in my head, it eventually turned itself into a reality. Power of thinking!

So today, sitting by myself and catching up on some much needed catching up, I began researching  where I wanted to go out. The others were out enjoying Carnival and were unsure as to whether they would be up to going out later, but luckily, I got a new roommate and we hit it off right away. Same food in our shopping carts, both with love of Kate Spade, and both from the West Coast, my new friend and I booked a reservation and headed out to Soho for a birthday dinner.

Sketch, ladies and gentlemen. Being the gal who fancies things on the formal side, I chose to go to the most Instagrammed restaurant in all of London. Situated in Soho, this pink room offers an atmosphere like no other. With delightfully handsome gentlemen taking care of us, we had quite the celebratory evening indeed...

Glasses of bubbly for the table! 

Even though it just looks like regular risotto, do not be fooled. A Parmesan risotto, this had limoncello and roasted apricots that made it to die for...

And did I mention that the loos were actually in egg pods? Wickedest thing ever. 

And of course, sweets to treat. 

Technically, it's not because I've reached the bottom of my espresso cup.

What a memorable birthday. 

An English Welcome.

I've gone and I've done it. The bags were successfully packed, the seas were crossed, the keys were given, and a week has already gone by since I bid Alaska farewell and settled into British life.

I write this from my new flat in London. It's now near noon, as I just woke up from a rather late night (early morning?) in the city and I have been dying to catch up with you. See, I had a little holiday before school. I enticed my dad to accompany me on this new journey, knowing that I could do it by myself, but wanting to share it with someone I love. So for the past week or so, my dad and I have been playing tourists around the streets of London.

I must say, it's a fantastic way to get to know the city I'll be living in the next few months, and being the history buff I am, you can only imagine how enamored I've been with all of London's past tales and secrets. There has been shopping (not one, but two purchases at Ted Baker already), sightseeing, camera taking, and of course, lots of visits to the pubs!

London is very different from home. It's an international city so it's not only bustling with tourists, but with Londoners from all walks of earth. It's taken a little bit to get used to the little things, like crossing the road and looking the opposite way (they drive on the left side of the road, after all), the transportation system (which was way too confusing the first time, but it's now as easy as pie), the rules as far as tipping (watch out for the 12.5% service charge at the end of the bill!), and many others.

But it's all very exciting. And new. I can't wait to share more adventures with you as they come my way, but for now, here are some of the highlights from my past week with Dad!

We coincidentally arrived in the heat of the moment (no pun intended). London has had their record hottest week and we arrived on the ninety degree day, which for our exhausted selves, was not ideal! To compensate, we went for a nice drink in one of the many nearby pubs. Cheers to a first night in London!

On one of the first days, my dad and I partook in the "Best of London" walking tour, which took us from Tower of London via boat to Westminster and then around to Buckingham Palace, ending for afternoon tea at a grand hotel.

The one sword that beheaded Queen Anne Boleyn...

Just posing along the most photographed phone booth in all of London!

This was a welcome sight indeed after walking all over the city today!

This pub, located down by Trafalgar Square, was quite nice. Aside from enjoying a few ciders or too (and consequent singing to the music playing), I played a game with some gents I met upstairs. I think I'm acclimatizing quite well...

A little walk along the bridge..

Then for a little bus sightseeing, my dad and I booked a ride onto the Ghost Bus Tours, which had us in an old bus that used to carry the deceased through London's streets (like a hearse). The tour highlighted the particular horrors, murders, beheadings, hauntings, and terror that lurk the streets of London. What an evening that was!

The Savoy Hotel with a particular dislike for the number 13 due to some rather gruesome tragedies. Fun fact: if you die there, they'll pay for the funeral.  

Then you have this gate. Buried just inside are hundreds upon hundreds of "ladies of the night" that now lay resting under the Shard.

The next day, Dad and I were up at the crack of dawn to take a bus tour down to Bath and Stonehenge. After a much needed nap on the bus, we rolled into the delightful town of Bath, where we spent a few hours wandering the shop lined streets and taking in the spectacular buildings surrounding us.

Dad couldn't help but throw some Bath jokes out there:
"What do they call the fatter people of Bath? Bathtubs."
"What drugs do the people of Bath take? Bath salts."

Second time around with Mr. Baker here...

Now that I'm twenty-one (in a country that drinks at eighteen), I am able to enjoy myself a glass of the bubbly. #roseallday

Upon leaving the delightful city of Bath, we headed on towards Stonehenge, all the while enjoying the scenery, but particularly the British pub quiz facts that our guide was so keen enough to share with us.

For instance, did you know that a hangover actually comes from when the townspeople watched local hangings. They would drink after the hanging to drown in their sorrows or some such and that's where the word "hang-over" comes from.

And the term "honeymoon." Back then, they referred to the months as moons, and when a bride was married off, it was customary for the father of the bride to supply a month's worth of mead (alcholol made with honey) to the newlywed couple. "Honey-moon."

Upon arrival at Stonehenge, I definitely felt a presence. This place has a draw, that's for sure, and it truly is a spectacular and extraordinary mystery. Dad and I both agreed that visiting Stonehenge was pretty... rockin'.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who thinks this looks like a breaching whale!

And we ended the eve with a celebratory birthday dinner. For it marks my 21st!

Then, because I'm twenty-one and I live with some pretty outgoing roommates, we all went out on the town and celebrated. Good start to my semester so far!