27 February 2011

It's been a busy week!

Yikes. It has been a long, crazy, busy week!

As far as school, I had two presentations this week - in Terrorism and Conflict Resolution. Both went fine, but I'm glad they are done and over with!

Socially, it's been an insane (and fun) weekend. Yesterday was the lovely Charlotte's day of birth, so we celebrated in style for a good 72 hours. The celebrations started on Thursday night, with dinner and drinks at Mestizo with about fifteen friends. It was a joint celebration, for Char's upcoming birthday, and Paul's birthday which was last weekend.

Travel buddies! Francie, me, Char, and Abbey.

Francie and I.

The birthday girl and I!

On Friday, we hit up the happy hour(s) at Fifty Five, a favorite of the IPP crew. Amazingly, it was my first time there and I really liked it! It was nice and chill, they played good music, and they have a pretty awesome drinks menu. I didn't drink that night, but everyone raves about the cocktails there.

The REAL celebration took place yesterday though! I started the day off with my long run for the week, a nine miler. After that, I headed over to Char's to do a little pre-gaming before heading over to Cargo, a well known club here in London. I'm not normally a club kind of girl at all, but I had a really good time with my friends. The group that went was really fantastic and overall, the night was really amusing and fun.

Char and I; me in my first outfit of the night. I ended up changing. Silliness.

Champagne with the birthday girl!

The girls at the hazy club! Me, Charlotte's friend Amanda, Char, Francie, and Abbey.

Me and a goofy Abbey and Amanda.

My absolute loves, Charlotte and Abbey.

All of the girls: Abbey, me, Char, Francie, and Amanda before we left.

Funny story. We got on the wrong bus leaving from Shoreditch, and didn't realize it until about 45 minutes later (night buses get extremely busy on Saturday nights!) when we saw we were on London Bridge. Oye! So, we had to get off, wait nearly a half hour for the *right* bus, and didn't get home until after 5 a.m.

Here we are waiting for the correct bus! JB, me, and Charlotte.

Once home, us girls decided it was a good idea to sit, chat, and eat crackers for about 45 minutes until 6 a.m. I have no explanation for this. We had an absolute blast dissecting the night and doing reenactments.

I fear that I'm getting attached to my friend's friends that are just in town visiting! I love hanging out with both Francie and Amanda, and they're both only around for limited periods of time. Such a shame.

So that was my week! This week will be consumed with schoolwork and dissertation work, since I have my first official meeting with my dissertation supervisor the week after. Time to get serious!

20 February 2011

Brussels, Belgium!

Ahh, to be back in London. Even being gone for three days feels like a long time to be away from this city. As we stepped out of St. Pancras onto Euston Road last night, Charlotte and I both breathed a sigh of relief that we were back in our city.

However, that's not to say that we didn't love Brussels, because we certainly did! Let's just say this: it's not possible for me and my group of friends to not enjoy ourselves in a city filled with famous Belgian chocolate; delicious, homemade street waffles (topped with things like the aforementioned chocolate, white chocolate, nutella, and/or whipped cream and fruit), Belgian beer, and the frites! Interesting tidbit: Belgians claim that "french fries" actually originated in Belgium, and were only given that name when American soldiers came to Belgium during World War I and tasted the frites. Due to the fact that the Belgian solders spoke French, the Americans coined the goodies as french fries. Fair enough.

How can one country be home to so many of my favorite things? Waffles, and chocolate, and fries - oh my! Let's just say that we definitely ate and drank our way through Brussels.

The Godiva factory was conveniently located right next to our hostel.

How does one CHOOSE what to put on a waffle?!?!?

Enjoying my first waffle. I chose white chocolate.

I was also very happy to find animal crackers in Brussels. So far, I haven't seen any in London. 

You wouldn't believe the amount of small, independent chocolate stores in Brussels!

The Delirium Cafe, which is actually a three-story bar - a place where we spent a good portion of our time on Thursday.

Belgian beer at the Delirium.

Fishbowls at Delirium: fishbowls that do NOT kid around! Strongest fishbowl ever. Don't worry, this was shared between the four of us!

The most delicious tea at a shisha bar.

Waffle numero three. Yes, I had three. I was there for three days. Leave me alone and stop judging.

Contrary to what these photos suggest, we did actually do some things besides drinking and eating. I can't even begin to guess the distances that we walked throughout the city over the course of three days, just exploring and seeing where the tourist signs posted in French would take us.

Me, Abbey, and Charlotte in Grand Place; which has been voted to be the most beautiful square in Europe!

At Manneken Pis - also known as the little peeing boy statue. It's a little underwhelming, no pun intended...but still interesting! It was created in the early 1600s.

More of Grand Place.

Hiking up some hills to get a good view of the city.

The Music Museum, which has a restaurant on the 10th floor with panoramic views of the city. The architecture in Brussels is pretty stunning though.

The Palace.

Pieces from the Berlin Wall.

European Parliament.

Grand Place, as seen at night.

A street off of the square.

Sitting in one of our "regulars" - the Danish Tavern. When we got to be unbearably cold and needed a break, we would go sit here, drink tea (ok, Abbey drank a huge beer), chat, and regroup. In this photo, I am showing off my peeing boy tin that I was so happy about.

Overall, it was a really nice few days spent with great friends. We laughed a lot, I got to visit a new city and country, and just had a really fantastic time.

Charlotte, me, Francie (Abbey's old friend from Taiwan!), and Abbey with the city of Brussels in the background.

 Some more of the beautiful architecture.

I finally got myself a Longchamp bag, which I counted as my souvenir. :P I've been wanting one since I was in Paris two summers ago! Sure, Longchamp is a French company...but, they were speaking French in Belgium...that could be enough reason to just get it. Right? RIGHT?!?

Charlotte and I in Grand Place. It was so beautiful and sunny the first day!

Abbey and I doing some work on the never ending fishbowl.

And finally, my favorite replica of Mannekin Pis. Apparently he's also a huge fan of waffles.

It was real, Brussels! 

Oh, interesting little tidbit: the day we arrived in Brussels, Thursday, was a historical day. It marked Belgium overtaking the record for the longest time in attempting to form a government: 249 days (and counting). That "honor" previously was held by Iraq. Interesting article on that here.