Category Archives: 50 shades of greyhound

motherland

So this is it. I am home and it is beyond weird. Don’t get me wrong, it is nice to be home in a house but it is bizarre not to have constant company (especially after our crazy week in Florida) and to suddenly just be in England again. I guess the most notable thing that I need to share with y’all is that we made it home and that we made it home 100% disaster free!!! For a moment we did think that Bella’s bag had gone missing but it just came round late. There were no delays. We had lots of leg room. I honestly am astonished that we are here in one piece.  But enough about that, let’s talk about Miami.

Miami was awesome, and despite being there for less that 24 hours I think we both have agreed that we have to go back when we are 21. We got up early and decided to go and explore, heading straight for the beach which was gorgeous and the weather was so nice and it was just a perfect way to end our travels. I literally never wanted to move from that beach. But we did, and in search of food (obviously). We found a little cafe called The Big Pink and settled down to our final American meal which was a breakfast of waffles and banana (me) and a lovely looking fruit parfait (Bella) and reminisced a bit about how much fun everything is. We then ventured to the shops but as we both have NO money at all this was more of a window shopping excursion. We came across one of those awful beachside souvenir shops and decided it was only apt to purchase a disgustingly tacky item in our last destination. We both, after a lot of deliberation, chose very tasteful shorts with Miami Beach written across the bum. Bet you can’t wait to see those?

Anyway, time was running out and we had our final bus to catch so we just strolled along Ocean Drive in the sun and envied all the glamorous Miami inhabitants who begin drinking cocktails bigger than my head at around 12pm, and vowed to come back. After a final little stop on the beach and some moans about not wanting to go home, we headed to the bus and made it to the airport. This really isn’t very interesting because it was just so easy. We were really early, dropped our bags off and got through security within about 15 minutes and then just sat and waited for the plane. I did at one point drop my boarding pass, but luckily a nice old man picked it up for me. Luck worked in our favour yesterday. I feel like the only exciting part of the flight, which actually was very momentous, was the fact that we realised that we could drink on the plane! You can tell America has changed us – we worried that we might not be served, hunted down our IDs and asked very nicely. Typically, the air steward man was obliging and mis-heard us talking about how it was our first legal drink in six months. He thought we were giving up drinking for six months and was utterly disgusted at the prospect. However, when we put him straight and told him all our alcoholic trials and tribulations of the American drinking age he insisted that if we felt like we needed more wine that we should just let him know. How nice!

The rest was pretty standard. We landed, went through security, got our bags and met Bella’s dad and that was it. The year done.  AND IT FEELS SO WEIRD. After leaving Bella and her dad to get my little bus home I just found myself getting very confused. It literally felt like we were in Heathrow at Christmas about a month ago – I can remember it all so clearly and there I was back in the bus station in the same exact spot that I was texting Bella about a one legged pigeon at Christmas. It’s really odd because everything seems so familiar and yet so alien at the same time. I began making some very acute anthropological observations in this alone time. Here are just some of them:

  • English accents now sound really weird
  • English people are very pale and ill looking
  • Our roads are really narrow
  • Left over bunting from the Jubilee looks really sad in the rain
  • But I like all this Olympic stuff everywhere – it’s exciting!
  • Why are people wearing scarfs in June?
  • Why can I see my breath when I breathe?

Ok, maybe they aren’t anthropological but you get the idea. And another thing – I felt a bit lonely. I realised for the first time in about 6 months I was completely riding solo. No Bella to be my little travelling buddy. No girls in the house. No roommates. Just me. SOOOO…to rectify this I called my mum (who I had just woken up after two hours sleep) which she didn’t enjoy. Ooops! I think I am gonna miss this constant company. (Friends at home take note please and entertain me!) It is probably a good job I am starting work tomorrow because otherwise I would definitely be bored out of my brain. My amazing week with the J-Team has definitely not prepared me for only-childom again that is for sure!! Hmmm, I feel like now is the time to be reflective but I think I am too tired and jet lagged to do it. I will instead reflect on my time at Tesco – it got very excited over all the British food and even made my mum by crumpets, rice pudding and Marmite. I also got two of my disposable cameras developed and was happy to find I do have pictures of Austin and San Antonio so I can prove I have been to these places despite my lost camera!

SO, I guess that is it. I am home. It feels very weird, like America was some sort of weird dream. Maybe I am actually just asleep? That would explain a lot. I will reflect properly tomorrow. But for now – GOODNIGHT!

S xx

OHHHH and I would also like to announce we have completed 40/53 on our bucket list which I think is pretty good!!

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disasters on disasters

Honestly, I’ve had the best week ever this week but given that this is us, I feel like nobody will be surprised to learn that the week has not been without its disasters. Here are just a sampling of the many tales we have, including the highlights and the lowlights:

– We went to this hilarious restaurant called 50s Prime Time Diner where the idea is you’re at your aunt’s house for dinner and your server is your aunt/cousin/uncle – we had Cousin Katie. We were told off for putting our elbows on our table, slurping our drinks, beginning to eat our dessert before anyone else, piling up the plates wrongly, not setting the table quick enough, laughing too much, amongst many other things. My favourite bit though was when my brother put his elbows on the table one too many times and had to stand in the doorway pressing a sugar packet to the wall with his nose while we all pointed at him and yelled SHAME SHAME SHAME and another waiter tormented him. Sounds bizarre but seriously it was HILARIOUS.

– I also want to elaborate on the Peter Pan encounter. Aside from our breakfast with the Winnie the Pooh characters, he was the first character we met and he was possibly one of my favourites I’ve ever met – we were literally talking to him like he was our friend and he was majorly taking the piss and in the end shoved us both away going “go away girls” – possibly out of character for Disney but hilarious anyway? After claiming that there was no quintessential Peter Pan pose he made us do some sort of yoga/flying pose and then after he did the Peter Pan pose with my brother or someone he pulled us in to get a second picture – I think he liked us (although he was definitely also flirting with my brother and he was wearing green tights so)

– Also on the first day was another of my highlights where we were the stars of the parade – basically in one of the parades you go and like dance with the characters. This is mainly for little kids obviously but for whatever reason it was basically just us lot and Woody getting down in front of Cinderella’s castle which was BRILLIANT. We even ended up with our own personal photographer in the form of a Disney photo man who just stuck with us the whole time taking pictures. Later on in the trip we went back to do this parade again with Mr Incredible but unfortunately there were too many little kids for us to get any attention and so we just had to dance with ourselves.

– We stayed at the Hard Rock in Universal cause you get unlimited front of line access to all the rides with a hotel room key. There were 11 of us and 3 hotel rooms which works out fairly well but for some reason it was declared that the most logical way to organise the group would be to put all 6 girls in one room. This meant that Sophie and I ended up having to make nests on the floor out of spare bedding which was not the most comfortable. Ivan called us at 1am for some reason and then, despite the fact that we had to be up at some ungodly hour to get early access into Harry Potter land, I decided to stay up till 2:30 reminiscing about school with Georgie

– We ate at Margaritaville where, as I have mentioned, there was a live band and a British waiter and we requested Chicken Fried. We were really very lairy but not as sloppy as the very very drunk middle aged woman who was flailing about on the dance floor giving sultry glances to the unsuspecting band. There was also a hilarious man with the hips of a snake doing samba dancing with random girls which entertained me for quite a while.

– We also made a friend in Universal in the line for one of the water rides – he was about sixteen and still had braces but we chatted away and it even transpired that he was staying in the same hotel as us…sadly we did not see him again that night

– On Thursday evening we introduced everybody to Beer Pong and Flip Cup which went down brilliantly. At first us girls won but as soon as the boys got the hang of it they basically thrashed us…given that there were probably 6 girls to their 3 boys this is pretty shameful, BUT Sophie and I have definitely improved a lot and even made some actual shots! Everyone got VERY into it and we have literally never seen anyone be so excited as the boys when they kept winning. For the real authentic experience we’d even forced my parents to buy us a case of Natty which went down with varying degrees of success…

– IT RAINED. And rained and rained and rained. After 2 days of typically sunny weather it then proceeded to rain ALL THE TIME for basically three days solid which warranted the purchase of Disney ponchos. I am not even joking. We wandered about wearing what is essentially a glorified bin bag for three days and we loved it. We’d all bought animal themed Mickey ears and not to be deterred, we wore them over our ponchos in a show of great British spirit.

– We ate dinner with Cinderella, Prince Charming, the Wicked Stepmother and the Ugly Stepsisters who were hilarious and witnessed them all waltzing with guests which made my life

– Although we had been due to leave on Saturday morning, given the weather and the fact that we love Disney, we decided to extend our stay by a night; we weren’t trying to spend a day in Miami in the rain. In theory this was a brilliant plan but in fact it only led to to more disasters. That comes later though. As it was supposed to be our last night we ate at a place called Whispering Canyon Cafe which is one of my favourites, it’s in one of my favourite hotels and you get a skillet of all our favourite barbeque food and my brother got put in ‘canyon jail’ and so on and we all had a great time. UNTIL we went to leave. The others had all gone on ahead to the fun bus so it was just Sophie, Lindsay, my mum and I and as mum went up the kerb her knee dislocated and popped back in but then started to swell up crazily. None of us were really sure what to do but Lindsay (the 15 year old in this situation) took charge and ordered Sophie and I to go tell a Disney man. The first man we saw asked us if we were okay and how we were or whatever and we were like FINE and then proceeded to tell his friend about the incident, and so they all came like running down and then went off to get a wheelchair. There was some discussion about whether to call an ambulance (or as Lindsay called it an ambu-LANCE) but eventually they did and so while we were waiting for it basically my mum was sitting in this wheelchair in the pouring rain with an umbrella, just outside the hotel lobby, while Sophie and I chatted away with the manager guy who had come out to look after us. He was very sarcastic and funny and we were all making largely inappropriate jokes given the situation…anyway in the end it was decided that hospital was unnecessary so we said goodbye to our new friend and jumped into the fun bus and returned home.

– We got a private audience with Mickey & Minnie and we are pretty sure that Minnie was a Theta in another life cause while Mickey was completely baffled when we asked to kite him, Minnie knew exactly what was going on! They were too tall to actually kite so we made individual kites with them…we had such banter with the two of them and their photographer that he told us we were all awesome as we left which was sweet. Did I mention I LOVE MEETING CHARACTERS?

– Georgie and I spent a very long time finding out the etymology behind both of our last names and looking up our coats of arms…

– At one point, everything we went on immediately broke down on us. We spent twenty minutes sitting in the loading bit of Pirates of the Caribbean, broken down, waving at the woman supposed to be sending off. We spent ten minutes sitting in Nemo listening to the same song over and over again. We broke down briefly on Haunted Mansion. We broke down on Buzz, which actually ended up being very good for our scores as our guns still worked, especially for Georgie.

– And finally, the epic disaster that was today/leaving Orlando. After we decided to stay in Orlando an extra day, we decided it was probably about time to book our transport to Miami. This was directly after the knee incident so I wasn’t really thinking properly and accidentally booked the shuttle for the 11th. We needed it for the 10th. We emailed immediately after but got no reply, so the next day when we were at Typhoon Lagoon, Sophie spent a considerable amount of time on the phone trying to get them to change it. Various people were telling us different things and in the end she shouted at them a bit and they agreed to change it and told us they’d give us a confirmation, which we never got. We were becoming increasingly worried and so this morning, still confirmation less, called them and we were told that it was fine and the reservation had been changed. So, we all piled into the fun bus and set off for the glamorous pick up location of the Holiday Inn parking lot.

The people in the hotel claimed to have no idea where this shuttle company picked up from and so we waited there for LITERALLY TWO HOURS, during which time my parents took Faryl & Georgie to the airport for their flight and returned, before eventually giving up. We went to the airport and went through various options – a flight to Miami, changing our flight to London to come out of Orlando tonight – before eventually discovering a bus company that ran from Orlando for $60 each, at 7pm. By this point it was about 3 so we had some time to kill but so did my parents and everyone so that was gonna be fine. THEN we discovered that Faryl & Georgie’s flight was delayed so much that they were going to miss their connection (sound familiar?) so everyone went to kick off at the US Airways people. After initially being told they would have to go home via Paris, they have ended up doing this route home: Orlando –> Philadelphia –> Manchester –> London/home.

Anyway eventually we composed an email to the initial shuttle company and have been told we are getting a refund – yay – and the bus we ended up on was VERY luxurious with enough leg room for like a giraffe and wifi and so on. We arrived in Miami fine and arrived at our hotel, which is hilarious and run/populated entirely by guidos, but even though Miami looks SUPER fun we figured we were too tired/underage to bother going out so following the trend of this month we basically just went to bed.

In summary, I LOVE DISNEY WORLD (and thanks mum and dad for taking us and everyone on the trip with us/the J team!!) and I cannot believe that this is our last day ever ever of our year abroad. We are literally leaving TONIGHT. Expect a reflective post some time very soon!

B

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m-i-c-k-e-y m-o-u-s-e

Okay, we have some rare downtime so here is a list of the things we have done since our hangover day in San Antonio!

– Been delayed in Nashville airport for a while and enjoyed the live country music put on for us (and along those lines, been asked if we ourselves were country singers…we debated starting up a little duo but decided against it)

– Chatted away to Peter Pan like he was one of our good friends…but actually

– Met Mickey dressed up as a Jedi, Goofy dressed as Darth Vader (plus boxer shorts, for some reason) and many many other characters

– Danced with Woody in a parade and expressed our love for him, which was clearly reciprocated

– Eaten breakfast with Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore

– Visited Hogwarts and drank Butterbeer there!

– Got wetter than I have ever been in my life on a series of water rides at Universal

– Successfully requested Chicken Fried from an aging singer in Margaritaville, which totally went over the heads of everyone we were with…true Amurcans

– Got NO SLEEP at all

– Attracted bizarre amount of attention from various Disney characters, including being seduced by Jafar, shimmying with the Genie and getting winked at by some sort of Monsters Inc creature

– Drank illegal Margaritas in Margaritaville

– Made up my mind that I MUST WORK IN DISNEY AT SOME POINT

– Watched various Star Wars characters dancing to LMFAO and various other tunes

– Socialised with many a gay at the Magic Kingdom’s ‘Gay Day’…amazing

We have also been on about a billion rides, my camera has given up and died (NOOOOO), my bikinis I ordered have failed to be delivered, and Sophie’s entire bag was robbed on our very first day in the Magic Kingdom. Standard disasters but whatever, I love Disney woooooo

B

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celebrate today

Sorry we’ve been so absent lately…we’ve been busy doing this

 

More soon – Universal awaits!

B

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let’s pretend to be hungover

Today was a hungover day. Except we weren’t hungover.

We woke up with great ambitions, we were gonna go to the lake and chill there until the forecast thunderstorm at 6 where we were going to retreat and get ready for food. However, we woke up to grey grey skies and so we instead decided to pretend to be hungover. It just felt like one of those days. Let’s just say it was the hangover of all our travels. That works right?

Our first hangover activity was breakfast as we were both rather hungry and breakfast always makes you feel better. We decided Denny’s would be a perfect venue so after getting ready really slowly we decided to make the trek which was SO worth it. Despite smelling slightly like vom in there (or was that just me smelling that Bella?) the food was perfect.  We both had banana and pancake combos with eggs, bacon and hash browns. It started to cure our hangover very quickly.

Next stop was our favourite landmark here in San Antonio – Rivercenter Mall. After re-visiting some of the shops we undertook hangover activity number two. We went to the movies and saw What to Expect When You’re Expecting which was actually really good and funny. It made us both kind of want to have babies  so watch out boys (speak for yourself – it made me never want a child – B).  Anyway, we enjoyed the movie a lot and it was only $4 each which made it possibly the cheapest movie I have ever seen.

After this, we continued back round the shops. I finally invested in some Victoria’s Secret yoga pants after finally realising how comfortable they were and Bella and I both got some yoga shorts too. As you can tell we will be doing a lot of yoga next year! Chili’s was our next stop where we once again exploited our position as a married couple and ordered the two dine for $20 meal. This was on the bucket list so we felt compelled to go and our server was very nice and wished us well on our travels. Obviously, afterwards we went to get froyo. We ate our froyo out by the river, and spent some time reminiscing about our year (again) and creating black and white video montages in our heads…all to the ambient sound of panpipes that was drifting through the mall. I think it is good that we are going back to civilisation tomorrow – if you can really call Disney World/the Orlando area at large civilization??

On the way home we met a nice man who told us that we “must be from a state where they grow very pretty girls” to which we thanked him and let him cross the road in front of us so we could escape. However, he carried on trying to talk to us and told us he was called Jose and that he used to live with his grandparents. He then kept apologising and blurted out he was homeless and wanted a burger…we sadly couldn’t provide him with one and hastily crossed the road. Poor Jose.

I think we are both quite happy to leave San Antonio. It is a cool city, but a bit weird and I think we had run out of things to do. I am not quite sure how we missed that we had four days here to begin with. However, we have had a nice time and have been able to go shopping which is always fun and therapeutic to our weary traveller souls. But now, we are just excited because  WE ARE GOING TO DISNEY TOMORROW ARRRRRRGH!!

WE ARE COMING MICKEY!!

S xx

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welcome to amsterdam

Ways you know you’ve been in Texas too long: when the forecast reads 80 degrees for today and you think ooh, that’ll be nice and cool then.

We have also come to the conclusion that we just can’t do mornings in San Antonio. Given our love of Barton Springs, yesterday our plan for the day was to go to this park that has a swimmable lake in it. It was very cloudy and overcast and humid, but we actually started on our journey to this lake, through a distinctly sketchy neighborhood, before deciding that it was just too gross and not worth it and so we turned back. There is a cafe behind our classy Rodeway Inn called Lulu’s that has been on Man vs Food and won all kinds of awards for best breakfast and so on so we decided to go there. When we got there, we discovered that they stopped serving breakfast at 11. It was 11:30. They do serve 3lb cinnamon rolls there (the reason they were on Man vs Food) but as neither of us really felt like eating the pastry equivalent of a small baby we decided to forgo that and ended up eating sandwiches for breakfast. They were good but not mindblowing (in fairness it is difficult to make grilled chicken and lettuce all that exciting).

We went back via the hotel room to change out of our bikinis and then headed back into downtown, at which point, obviously, the sun came back with a vengeance. We went to this other mexican market place which was definitely more authentic than La Villita but just as weird, every shop had exactly the same stuff in it. We almost bought some lovely traditional Spanish attire to wear about at home but refrained. We also went to this bakery/restaurant called Mi Tierra which is open 24/7 and has literally never closed since it opened in like the 1940s and we both bought traditional Mexican pastries, mine involved guava, which were SO good and also really cheap so that was a success.

We also went into another museum, this one featuring an exhibit something to do with the revolution/Mexican culture in general. The lady on the desk was a very anxious sort of person and confiscated Sophie’s water (I kept mine stealthily hidden) and also wanted to take her bag as she was apparently worried that Sophie might swing it wildly around and destroy all the exhibits. This gave me the impression that all the statues and stuff would be arranged in very narrow corridors where it would be easy for one to accidentally knock it over with a Barnes and Noble bag for life but no, when we got into the museum itself (I am surprised we weren’t frisked first) we found that everything was very spread out in traditional art gallery style so I think this woman just needs to chill out for a second.

We found that we don’t really know anything about Mexico but we duly wandered about the museum for a while – to be honest we were only there for the a/c. Then we headed back to Hemisfair Park where it was too hot to even sit in the sun so we sat in the shade for a few hours and occasionally stood close enough to the fountain that we got sprayed by it.

Eventually we decided to go get food. We were planning on going to this BBQ restaurant that is relatively near our hotel but after trekking to it we discovered that it shuts at 4:30. I’m not sure this is a successful business model for a restaurant, but whatever. Luckily we had seen another BBQ restaurant on the River Walk which we were sure wouldn’t be as good but whatever, we went there. It was nice to sit by the river and stuff, and our waiter was very friendly and gave us free bread even though the menu distinctly says you have to pay for it. Also at one point another waiter came over, told us he thought we were very beautiful, said “welcome to Amsterdam” (I think he was a bit confused) and gave us a little rose – clearly picked from a bush – each. As we had spent all day sitting/walking around in the ridiculous heat we were fairly sure we were not looking particularly beautiful and figured he probably gave roses to everybody, but we did keep a close eye on him and all the other females in the restaurant and none of them got roses so whatever, I guess he just likes the bedraggled, shiny sweaty look.

After dinner we declined dessert in favour of “Mr Ice Cream” who boasted 37 flavours of ice cream. I didn’t get anything cause I was full but Sophie got banana pudding flavoured ice cream which she said was the best ice cream she’d ever had in her life. I sampled a bit and it was indeed very very good. We sat outside the ice cream place for a while and eventually returned to the hotel room for a Toddlers & Tiaras marathon. I realise that it is a bit lame that we have spent every evening watching TV but honestly it is just nice to be able to do so and so…sorry not sorry!

Today the plan is to ACTUALLY go to the lake. It is very cloudy outside right now but the weather forecast tells us it will brighten up around noon so hopefully we will be able to head out in a while. It also tells us there is going to be a massive thunderstorm at like 6 which may hinder our dinner plans somewhat but whatever, we’ll deal with that when we come to it. If it doesn’t brighten up I’m not really sure what we will do…we have exhausted the city’s supply of bizarre Mexican markets and free museums so we may have to find other ways to entertain ourselves!

TOMORROW WE HEAD FOR ORLANDO!!!

B

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i never thought tomatoes were a good idea

Today has been a very chilled out, cultural kind of day.

This morning, the plan was to go to a farmer’s market. This farmer’s market had been enthusiastically advertised on posters and stuff all around the plaza yesterday, but when we got there it was literally three tables consisting mainly of plants, some vegetables, and a lady with some cakes. As Sophie said, it was more jumble sale than farmer’s market. We decided to look elsewhere for breakfast, so we headed to La Villita, this Spanish-y ‘arts market’ just off the River Walk.

This was possibly one of the weirdest places I have ever been in my life. It was mostly weird because it was so quiet – a total ghost town. We made our way to the La Villita cafe, where we indulged in a muffin (Sophie) and the most luxurious, elaborate yoghurt parfait I’ve ever seen in my life for me; it came in a real glass goblet thing and everything! For those keeping track of our funds this was an unexpected expense but let’s blame it on the lack of farmer’s market, shall we?

We spent a little time exploring the actual market/village place but to be honest, a lot of the shops/galleries were just a bit weird and I wasn’t sure I trusted the legitimacy of their stuff – they were all staffed by like, pale ginger men who didn’t seem very Mexican. Some of the stuff was cool though. Sophie liked the day of the dead stuff especially.

When we left we were a bit disenchanted to be honest and we were also a bit confused as to what exactly San Antonio was – there was a lot of tourist stuff but we didn’t understand where the actual people went. We decided to head for the Alamo, and on the way, we passed the Rivercenter Mall, which we had seen signs for yesterday. We decided to go in, which was a good decision, because this mall was freaking huge. As neither of us have really seen real shops since San Diego, we indulged in some good old shopping and spent at least an hour and a half wandering around the many, many Texas/America-themed souvenir stores, including my favourite, ‘Flag World’. I stocked up on a wide range of tacky gifts for my brother & sister so look forward to that, kids!

After we were shopped out we continued on our way and stumbled across what we had been looking for all along, really – an entire row of tacky tourist shops and attractions. For some reason, t-shirt stores are apparently big in San Antonio. They’re all just like the ones they work in in Jersey Shore, where you get like a decal on the front of whatever t-shirt you want and so we have both made tentative plans to go back and get one before we leave. Don’t worry, we’ll keep y’all updated.

Finally, we reached the destination we had set off for several hours earlier: the Alamo. We followed signs to ‘The Shrine’, but as we don’t really know what the Alamo is all about I feel the significance of the Shrine was somewhat lost on us. Instead we wandered around the grounds and took pictures amongst the cacti and palm trees. Very tropical.

All this activity had worn us out so we decided to retire to Hemisfair park. We bought shaved ice and ate it right by the cart, which was playing some hilarious old-school tunes, and then we came over all cultural and went into an art gallery that celebrated Mexican culture. I think this may be the first art gallery I’ve been in in my life actually, and it’s also another thing off the bucket list so that’s good. We spent the rest of the afternoon lying on a Mexican blanket that Sophie bought this morning – have we mentioned that it is HOT here?!

We were slowly being eaten alive and we were also starving, so at around 5:30 we decided to head back to find some food. For some reason we both really wanted Hooters, so that is where we went. In Williamsburg Tuesday is unlimited wings which is what we wanted but apparently that is not the case here (although we were sceptical and did think the waitress was lying to us, but we’ve just googled and no, she wasn’t), so we had to order separate, ten wing plates. Imagine – only ten wings each. We also ordered a side salad since we like to get our vitamins in. There was some sort of big basketball game going on which started almost as we were finishing so everyone was all decked out in all their Spurs gear and stuff which was cool.

We wandered around the River Walk a little more after dinner. It really is the weirdest place – it’s like Disney World on crack, and what’s possibly the weirdest is that the whole river is like basically under the rest of the city so that if you’re on the streets you rarely even see it. So strange. All the Mexican and Italian restaurants have like little troupes of men playing instruments and singing which is HILARIOUS. Anyway we realised we’d done well on the budget today and had like $5 left on it, so to celebrate, we decided to spent $8 on Haagen Dazs. Economists we are not. In our defense we only ordered a kiddie cup each so it’s really Haagen Dazs’ fault for being so ridiculously overpriced.

We could have wandered around the River Walk a bit more but really all it is restaurants so we decided to head back to the hotel where, happily, we discovered that there is an ongoing Teen Mom marathon AND there was an episode of Dance Moms on that I hadn’t seen before. So basically, the perfect evening.

B

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welcome to san antone

We have made it to our final destination San Antonio after about two and a half weeks and a couple and thousand miles. We are a laptop, and ipod and a pair of shoes down (all me) and a number of bikini bottoms down (Bella), but we are here, in one piece. It seems so weird that we are already so close to Disney world, but then Williamsburg seems like it was so long ago already…

But enough reflecting. We need to save that for the end of this thing. Instead, here is a brief run down of what we did today.

  • Got up and headed straight for South Congress (again) cos we really liked it and wanted to go in all the shops.
  • Spent about two hours exploring all the really cool shops. There were some awesome antiquey shops full of vintage american flags, neon lights and the odd bit of taxidermy. Literally just loads of cool shops with really nice clothes and really cool stuff. We also found (another) old fashioned candy store and both had some candy to set us up for the rest of the day. We also found a really cool little book shop but were shocked to overhear one guy asking his girlfriend who Jane Austen was (and this was after he asked her what sort of store they were in …)
  • After shopping we needed food/cool (because its about 35 degrees here) and so we headed to Guero’s Tacos which was so good. After a bit a of wait we hand a veritable Mexican feast and I ate chips on chips but it was really good. No wonder it was so busy
  • We then had the same conversation about how we had both fallen in love with Austin about five times
  • It was finally time to leave so we got on the bus back to our apartment, said our goodbyes and met Ana the apartment lady who helped us with our bags and took they keys
  • We had an interesting taxi journey to the Greyhound with a driver who has a keen interest in forgery. He was fascinated by all the promotional signs on the side of the road for various political candidates and suggested that we made our own signs along with him and but them amongst the real candidates and then took a picture. What a joker.
  • Greyhound. Actually very short and very uneventful.
  • Brief panic when we get off because our bags had disappeared. Luckily they re-appeared pretty quickly.
  • After another jolly taxi man we arrived at the Rodeway Inn Downtown (who said we weren’t classy?)   where we were greeted with TWO DOUBLE BEDS. Yay. Its actually not too bad!
  • Hungry as always, we ventured downtown, got our first glimpses of the river walk and eventually weaved our way around the river to get some food. We were planning on a cheap meal but ended up at a restaurant called Bella on the River. We had to go there. If there was a Sophie restaurant I would have forced us to go there soo…
  • It was very nice and we noticed it was the first proper restaurant we had been to in ages. We shared a pizza like a married couple and listened to a nice man playing jazz piano. It was all very civilised. (It was so nice! We’ve eaten at so many restaurants but we haven’t been to an actual NICE one for a while…despite the fact we set off with the intention to find somewhere cheap and easy I was very glad we ‘accidentally’ went upmarket! AND obviously it was named after me so it was fate -B)

And there we have it. Now we are in bed, watching MTV and loving life in our own personal beds. Just a shame the shower doesn’t really work properly.

S xx

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WE LOVE AUSTIN

IT’S ME! Yes, I can secretly use Bella’s laptop when she is in the shower to hijack this thing. (she said I could)

Anyway, we are in Austin and it’s SO coool. It’s very cool and very hipstery and has loads of cool shops and bars (once again another place we where we are willing ourselves to be 21!) and we like it a lot. Yesterday, we decided possibly slightly stupidly to walk the two and a half miles to 6th Street which is one of the “famous” Austin streets in temperatures of around 94 degrees fahrenheit. It was actually not too bad and we have become much more tanned because of it. But this is besides the point. We began our little adventure by heading down to the UT (University of Texas) Campus which is HUGE. They have over 38,000 undergrads so I guess this is why, but at the moment the campus is just full of high schoolers on summer programs. We obviously then headed to the Theta house which was the biggest we have seen yet. It was pink and gated and literally had about 30 parking spots.

***

Okay Sophie started this this morning and then we had to leave so Ima take over.

First off, it’s official: WE LOVE AUSTIN. Seriously, I am in love and am already planning ways to return the instant I turn 21.

Anyway, to briefly cover yesterday. After the Theta house, which we couldn’t get too close to due to the enormous wrought-iron gates, we carried on our way down Guadalupe St, where we came across some stalls selling various handmade things and one in particular selling millions of friendship bracelets. These are basically both of our weakness in life and the guy making them was this old ex/possibly current stoner man who was like making them there and then and stuff so we each bought 2 cause we are all hipster now and even promised to return. We had just left the bracelet man and were carrying on our way when we got stopped by two people holding a camera. They told us they were from PBS news and wanted to interview us about the election. We told them we were from England and not all that knowledgeable but we’d give it a try and they were quite excited about this as apparently they’d been told to look for variety. Anyway Sophie went first but literally, as soon as they asked her the question “what is the most important issue today” or whatever, I have never seen anyone look more terrified in her life and eventually she gave up entirely, declaring that she is not qualified to answer such questions. I then took my turn and just made a lot of stuff up about how we all must be hopeful about the future and improve education and so on and so on…I have no idea why we attract these camera crews but you know, I assume it is a very local thing but look out for us on PBS any day now?

We then continued on our way, headed for 6th street. On our way down we were stopped by this Indian man who stopped us to ask us where he’d parked his car. I am not even kidding. We said three times that we’re not from here and had no idea where he might have parked his car but he kept insisting it was in a parking lot on this street and where was it? The weirdest part was he didn’t even seem particularly mental, he just seemed to really believe that we were likely to know where he’d parked his car. Luckily he finally got the message that we didn’t, and so we escaped to 6th street. We wandered all around looking at all the cool bars and stuff and going in and out of all the hilarious souvenir stores, i.e exactly the same thing we have done in every other destination. We also got italian ice with ice cream, which is basically our new obsession in life. Then we went to Anthropologie (again) and went to a HUGE bookstore. When we walked in we had to leave our bags at the front desk and then they informed us we looked like we’d been swimming which I thought was very rude till I remembered we were both wearing bikinis. We were in there for ages looking at travel books and imagining our future lives as famous travel writers (but actually) and then we had to leave ’cause we were meeting Katherine’s brother who lives near Austin and had v kindly offered to show us round for a bit! We went to this really nice mall a little out of town where I was finally able to buy some new bikini bottoms to replace all my mysteriously lost ones, and then returned downtown for dinner. We weren’t trying to get arrested or deported 2 weeks before we leave, and we were both knackered soooo we then returned to the apartment for another wild night trying to sort our lives out.

This morning we were up and out reasonably early and our first stop was the bracelet man again for Sophie to buy more bracelets. Then we carried on heading south, with a brief stop at Whole Foods to buy food for a picnic (and one of the Mexican mangos Carie was telling us about the other day!), which we ate in a park just across the river. It was very picturesque and there were millions of dogs around.

Our ultimate destination for the day was the Barton Springs pool. There were so many cool restaurants and stuff on the way there and the actual pool itself was AMAZING – it’s a bit of the lake that you can swim in. It was really really cold but as it was so hot outside it was perfect to cool down in and I even did some actual swimming at one point which was very impressive I felt. My favourite bit though was watching everyone on the diving board, which kept me entertained for hours and hours. It was so nice just to lie in the sun for a while and chill – we both felt very relaxed!

SO NICE

However eventually we became too hungry to lie there any more so we set off for South First Street, where we were aiming for a restaurant we had found in our extensive research last night (obviously this revolves around food). It was called Freddie’s Place and from the street it looked like just an empty car park but the actual restaurant was set really far back and most of it is outside amongst the trees and fairy lights. There was live music and all the waiters had funny t-shirts and ours was this cool hippie guy and the food was REALLY good. We were enjoying ourselves so much, and we’d eaten so healthily today, we decided to order dessert. They had this thing called Fried PBJ which we decided to be adventurous and try and it was seriously one of the weirdest things I have ever eaten; literally a deep fried sandwich so it looked a little bit like fried chicken. Personally I felt it needed more peanut butter and a little less jelly…somebody tell the chef!

a healthy dessert

Afterwards we walked down First which we really liked, it was like stepping back in time and was very cool, and then we headed over to South Congress which we have been waiting to do for months and months. It lived up to our expectations – it was AMAZING! I think it helped that since we’d eaten slightly later than usual, we were doing all this stuff at a more regular hour when it was dark and everyone was about and there was music at places and fairy lights and it was just sooooo cool! What we really liked was that unlike Nashville or wherever there were loads of kids around and a more chilled out atmosphere that didn’t make us so unbelievably depressed that we are not 21.

Eventually we had to leave but we have already resolved to go back tomorrow morning. I think Austin is the only place I feel like we really need more time – it’s not that we haven’t managed to see all/most of what we wanted to but just that we would both love to spend more time here! I for one could spend at least three more days just hanging out by the lake watching people throw themselves off the diving board…

Also it is INSANE that tomorrow we reach our last destination! What is our life?!

B

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everything’s bigger in texas

First things first: Sophie’s laptop, which has been on its last legs for many months now, has officially died. This means that I am left in sole charge of the blog…HAH. No I’m just kidding, I’m way too lazy to write every post from here on out, but really, we are a laptop down. Sophie has also started incurring several million more disasters to add to our total, including dropping eggs on the floor, losing earrings, etc. But, we’re in Austin – our second to last stop before Disneyworld! – and we are alive.

Yesterday, our last day in Dallas, started at a place called Breadwinners which is this really cute cafe/restaurant thing Carie took us to. It was only 11:20 but they gave us the lunch menu but whatever, we were down. They also brought out some ‘bread’ which was actually cake and which was DELICIOUS. We all had some combination of salad/soup/sandwich and even though it was restaurant food, it didn’t really taste like it – my salad had real, actual chicken in it like off an actual chicken! Which makes a nice change. We were sitting in this cute like atrium/half-outdoor area and it felt a bit like we were in Paris, it was so nice!

Next up was a very cultural activity: we went to the Dallas Arboretum to see an art exhibit! It was by a guy called Chihuly and involved a lot of glass orbs/sculptures and stuff and it was really cool. We went and picked up Hanna, who I met at Sig Chi formal and who went to Carie’s high school/lives in Dallas, and then off we went, with only one near disaster in the parking lot. We were on a mission to take as many photos as we could so that our Dallas album didn’t look too bare next to all our others (always thinking about Facebook…sorry about it). Hanna was especially dedicated to this mission, making us imitate various statues and stuff. Regarde:

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This was probably our most cultural activity so far and it was so much fun! It was also REALLY HOT so we were forced to buy enormous tubs of frozen lemonade obviously.

Eventually we had to leave, so we returned to Carie’s condo and finally managed to meet her mum who is LOVELY! We couldn’t stay long as we had to leave for the Greyhound, boooo, so we gathered up all our stuff and put it in Carie’s dad’s truck, and it was here that the disasters started. We had literally just pulled out when Sophie noticed that we didn’t seem to have the tickets printed for this journey, so we had to run back inside and print it on Carie’s dad’s computer (THANKS). This would have been fine except for the fact that by this point we were seriously cutting it close on time. We had wanted to go to the bank to get cash for the taxi at the other end but had to forgo this and luckily Carie’s knowledge of Dallas meant that we could ignore the iPhone’s ridiculous instructions, which wanted us to go a really complicated way through lots of traffic, and got to the Greyhound just in time. THANKS CARIE for excellent driving!

This was not the end of our disasters, though. We thought we were going to be fine, we just had to line up, weigh our bags, and we were good, until we noticed that the ONE lady working the desk was moving literally in slow motion. THEN we noticed that the two guys in front of us had literally seven or eight bags between them, and were ALSO moving in slow motion. One of them was too heavy so they started very slowly moving trainers between bags, with no sense of urgency whatsoever, while all the people in the line with us watched the clock count down to 5:15 when our bus was supposed to leave. Eventually a man behind us went and talked to another lady and left the line, so we did the same, and she gave us our luggage tags (without even weighing our bags, although really it is very obvious that neither of us could possibly carry a bag that weighed more than 50lbs anyway) and, finally, we were on our way. This bus was very luxurious again, leather seats and wi fi, and it was only half full which was a very welcome change!

The drive to Austin is only about 3 hours and it was interesting to see some of Texas as we drove through. There were some very old school buildings (think Wild West movies) and a LOT of neon. We have noticed that the outskirts to every single city we have visited are all exactly the same: car dealerships, then chain restaurants and more neon, then cheap chain hotels/motels, then a bit of a gap, then finally, the city.

We pulled into Austin just about on time and got a taxi. The taxi driver didn’t know the address we gave him but eventually we found it and he left us at the road. It was at this point we realised that we didn’t actually know a) what number our apartment was or b) what building it was in. Luckily the owner’s girlfriend was going to be there to meet us to give us the keys so we called her and she came and rescued us. She was LOVELY – she had even left us water, coffee, eggs and milk and offered us the loan of her bike. As there are 2 of us and 1 bike we had to decline but it was so nice of her to offer and she told us to call if we need anything at all. It was so lucky she was there – if they’d left the key somewhere like the guy did in Savannah we would have been totally and utterly lost.

After she left we made a quick trip to a nearby convenience/largely alcohol store for Goldfish and bread (nutritious snacks), struggled to unlock the door (to the great amusement of the people next door who seemed to think we were Jamaican, judging by their imitations of our accents) and spent the evening watching terrible TV about murders/ doing nothing. Another wild night on our travels!

Today/now we are going to explore downtown Austin…we have heard great things so we are excited! Also one more time, THANK YOU SO MUCH to Carie & her family we had SUCH a good time in Dallas and it was so so so nice to be in a real house – we wish we could have stayed longer! We will be back! (Hopefully)

B

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corn cooking 101

This morning for the first time since we began our travels 2 weeks ago, we actually more or less succeeded in having a lie-in. We got up at like just past ten and then had a lovely leisurely breakfast cooked by our able chefs & hosts, Carie & her brother Charles: bacon, eggs, sausage, raspberries and English muffins to make us feel right at home.

Today was scheduled to be our ‘chill by the pool’ day but unfortunately the sun wasn’t really out so we decided to switch things up a bit and instead embarked on a driving tour of Dallas – but first we experienced the great luxury of doing laundry YAYYYY. Then we all jumped into Carie’s adorable white bug and set off – entirely in the wrong direction. It was okay though, we figured it out and soon we were cruising around the Arts District which is full of like art galleries, a symphony hall, various art schools and so on and looked very cool. Next up it was the first of many little shopping center places we visited today, where we got Starbucks and looked at all the adorable things we are all going to furnish our future houses with from Anthropologie.

After a brief trip to an adorable cookie store, we ventured to yet another college campus, SMU, and, yes, yet another Theta house. This one was possibly the grandest yet. We deliberated knocking on the door but instead decided just to peer in through the windows like true creepers, as well as taking the required Theta mouth pictures on the front steps. I can only hope that there were no rogue Thetas watching from the windows – we already attracted some attention from a bemused truck driver.

Following this, Carie took us to what was essentially sorority heaven: an entire store filled with pretty much any sorority themed item you can possibly imagine, plus a little bit of Lilly. After making several rounds of this store lusting after Theta themed athletic shorts, greek letter cookie cutters (they were out of Theta ones but seriously if they’d had them, we would have bought them) and many other useless items, we eventually both just bought stickers for our laptops.

I could seriously have stayed in there all day but we had other errands to run: namely, buying cupcakes. Carie took us to Sprinkles Cupcakes and I chose salted caramel, Sophie got carrot cake and Carie got red velvet. Solid choices all round. Then there was just one more errand to run, a quick trip to Walgreens, and then we returned to Carie’s gorgeous condo. The sun had come out so we went to the pool for a bit. It was already kind of late though so the shade kept chasing us but it was okay, it was still warm. It was also really windy which proved a bit of a problem when Carie’s dad came down to grill for dinner – there are grills and stuff by the pool SO NICE – but we bravely battled through. We were using Nero Wolfe’s corn grilling technique as he is apparently some kind of hero:

heroic

where basically you just stick corn on the grill and do NOTHING to it. We were a little sceptical but it worked very well and the corn was very nice, except for the small problem that Charles was experiencing where corn kept flying up his nose/into Sophie’s eyes. We also had delish gourmet handmade burgers with bacon wrapped around which were soooooo nice. Even though we have eaten in some amazing restaurants since we started our travels (and have told everyone all about them in great detail) it was so nice to have just regular home cooked food and we also felt super American especially as we were drinking sweet tea! Also we learned about Arnold Palmer who invented sweet tea and lemonade which I am now a fan of.

After dinner we thought vaguely about going for a walk but instead we decided just to sit in the A/C for a bit, chill, eat our cupcakes which were SO good, and fill Carie’s dad in on Greyhound tales and sorority stories. Then it was time for more food, this time in the way of froyo, a staple of our diets. Carie’s brother hadn’t had it before so we basically insisted he came and actually this was one of my favourite froyo shops I have visited – I chose lots of healthy toppings and they had such good flavours AND they had a wall you can write on, which we were greatly entertained by. Sophie showed off her great artwork.

The day’s final stop was the cinema/theater. We went to this really really cool movie theater that was like stepping back in time, all neon lights and cool stuff. One of the screens is AMAZING it has like real sofas in it instead of regular seats. Our movie wasn’t in that screen but Carie persuaded the popcorn man to let us go in and have a look by telling him we were from England and we’re leaving soon and so on and so on – girl gets stuff done!

Anyway the movie we were seeing was Dark Shadows. I do not even know how to go about explaining this movie. It was definitely one of the weirdest things I have ever seen in my life – we all came out of it just completely baffled and not really sure how to take it. It was just seriously seriously weird and extremely trippy and possibly nightmare-inducing. However overall I think I liked it. It was also quite funny, and like, Helena Bonham Carter is a goddess obviously. It was just…strange.

After this weird, trippy end to the night we returned back to the condo and back to our princess room. Today has been so nice – we haven’t really felt like tourists at all which after 2 weeks of travelling is a very welcome change! And also we have clean clothes now! I really wish we were staying in Dallas another night buttt sadly tomorrow we must leave for Austin. However we do have exciting plans for the day involving a picnic, bubble tea, glass orbs and possibly even a civilised game of boules (all this = weather permitting) so more fun stuff lies ahead! (sry I’m so lame)

B

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let’s go to hamsterdam

Yesterday we had our first sketchy Greyhound ride. Fear not – no one was directly sketchy to us but the whole thing was just slightly unpleasant. But first, we must tell you what we did in Memphis yesterday morning.

We woke up to find that the magical mystery tour of Memphis was set to continue. I always like to be roused in the morning with the question “are you guys hungry?” and so this was a perfect way to start the day. We hopped in the car and eventually ended up at a place called Gibson’s Doughnuts. These are not your average Krispy Kremes or Dunkin Donuts, no. These were all fresh, handmade, delicious doughnuts. We were only going to have one each but Katherine insisted we had two so we had one there and took one for the road. I had a coconut one for breakfast and Bella chose blueberry which were both really good, and of course I washed that down with a carton of chocolate milk.

We then continued the tour and went to a gorgeous park called Shelby Farms where we just wandered around in the sun for a bit, reminisced about how annoying Furby’s were and generally absorbed the nice atmosphere. We were near Katherine’s friend Sarah’s house so we decided to pop by. She had the most gorgeous dogs (one was called Sophie) so we played with them for a bit and then realised it was probably time to sort our lives our and head towards the Greyhound.

We were going to drive by Graceland on the way there (apparently no people who actually live in Memphis have any clue where it is/ have never been) but after getting a little lost in the slightly more sketchy area of town we decided that maybe we should abort Elvis and concentrate on getting the bus. Luckily we made it in time. I really, really enjoyed Memphis and I think this is mostly because we had someone with us who knows the city so knew all the cool places to take us. Also I feel like downtown Memphis is pretty small so without a car we may have been a bit stuck so thank you SOOOOOOO much Katherine for being our personal tour guide and hosting us for the last couple of days – we had a great time!

Now here is where the trouble began. We arrive at the Greyhound with about twenty minutes to spare before we needed to board our bus. This is cutting it fairly fine but oh no, luckily the bus was AN HOUR LATE. This is fair enough if there seems to be a real problem but the bus was literally sitting right in front of us for this hour. Drivers were having veritable feasts of pizza and chatting away but not bloody boarding the bus. When we were eventually boarded we were some of the last people to get on the bus and so this meant we had to begin our journey solo. I was next to a portly Mexican man who, everytime we stopped, wanted to know if we were inDallas. We Weren’t. This bus was also graced with a couple, possibly the fattest I have ever seen, who seemed to have missed the memo about personal hygiene (mother, think dirty biscuit people). There odour was so bad that many people sitting around them decided to move away because it was making them retch. I also think they might have been brother and sister lovers but lets not speculate too much now.

It was a good job people moved away from them, because our next few hours were broken up rather nicely but overhearing stories from one of the moved men – his name was Dre. Dre had decided to perch himself next to a little white boy called Will and so began their 3 hour conversation to Little Rock. It started in a fairly standard way, talking about weed and the different types you could get. This moved on to medical marijuana – the guy in front had a medical card so he could get weed in California They then moved on, with the guy in front to talk about Hamsterdam. That is Amsterdam to you and me. Their little friend had visited Hamsterdam and showed them the business card of a prostitute he had the pleasure of using. It had her “real picture” and she was a bargain at just $30 for a session. After this, the discussed the merits of hostels (because he had stayed in one in Hamsterdam) and Dre was surprised to find that they didn’t all get killed like in the movie hostel.

After this the conversation took a slightly more innocent tone for a while. The men discussed their favourite cereals and lamented the dangers of surfing. However, then Dre began to tell his life story. His father was the biggest drug dealer in his town – making up to $12,000 a day (apparently). Now Dre didn’t want to follow in his path so he got a girl pregnant – when she was 13. Dre didn’t seem to keen on his baby mamma. She was “not the sort of baby mamma any guy would want”. It was all fine and he loved his only son, but unfortunately when he did some time in prison, she got a new boyfriend. What bothered Dre so much about this was that he sent her lots of money because obviously he loved his son, but she spent it all on going out and clothes for her. He believes this money should be spent on “new kicks for my son…he should not be going to school in Spiderman sneakers.” Glad to see his had his priorities straight.  He carried on telling Will about the time he saw a white girl who was so hot…he thought she was an albino black person…

Unfortunately, we arrived in Little Rockfor our last real ten minute break before the rest of the like 7 hour journey. Here Bella and I were able to move next to each other so that was something. The bus was crap and didn’t have wi-fi. Everyone had reclined their seats and I was FREEZING. I seemed to sleep for quite a lot of the journey, but I realised on this bus ride was the first time in months that I had wished that I was home. I just wanted my bed! Luckily, Carie was there waiting at 2.30am with her dad (bless them it was SO late) and we were presented with the Princess room in her gorgeous condo. Picture the scene – we are on beds so tall they look like something out of the princess and the pea with like four poster iron things. Its so cool and I can safely safe we had a great night sleep.

BRING IT ON DALLAS

S xx

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walking in memphis

WE ARE IN MEMPHIS. And Memphis is fun.

We arrived in Memphis last night and after a short taxi ride arrived at the lovely Katherine’s house. We were quickly hurried out again so that we could all grab some dinner and we drove over to a place called Huey’s where we met some of Katherine’s friends from home. It was really nice just to sit and chat to the girls without having to plan our next stop. The burgers were really good and we left fully satisfied (as we always do). We were going to head on to a hookah bar, but after Katherine leaving her bag in the restaurant, a 45 minute wait to smoke and all of us being very tired we decided just to go back home and chill before we went to bed.

We were really excited to have a lie in and Katherine had warned us that she has been sleeping in until noon, so we were fully expecting to sleep forever. However, we awoke at 10am (and so did Katherine) ready to take on Memphis. We started the day by meeting Katherine’s 97 year old grandmother, who was very lovely and very southern. We then drove around, seeing Katherine’s school, and all the really nice neighbourhoods in Memphis with some really gorgeous house that looked like Barbie dream houses. We kept driving and ended up at really cool BBQ restaurant called the Germantown Commissary. Memphis is famed for its BBQ so we were fully ready to sample it. The place itself was like a little wooden hut with weird posters all over the walls but the pulled pork sandwiches were amazing. I see what all the fuss is about. Apparently so do Tim McGraw and Faith Hill who had apparently visited so we were in good company.

After lunch (did I mention we got to take cups from the restaurant home with us?) we carried on driving around, went in a gated community (as you do) to look at all these glamorous enormous mansions, providing some inspiration for our futures as Southern Belle trophy wives, and then carried on driving downtown. We drove past the Peabody hotel (but we didn’t see the marching ducks) and then headed down to the river. Throughout this whole day Katherine hadn’t told us where we were going so it was like a magical mystery tour of the city. After another brief detour where we realised we had no cash to pay for parking and had to be rescued by Katherine’s lovely mum, it was revealed that we were going to Mud Island River Park. We boarded a monorail over the Mississippi River to get to the park itself, which turned to be this amazing, very detailed mini replica of the river which you can walk in. It took you through all the states with all the major cities on the side including real detailed maps of them, which was v helpful when planning how to get to Beale St later! It was so cool and really really nice – the weather was perfect too, and so basically we walked the whole length of the Mississippi! On the monorail on the way back we met a guy who had an accent so strong neither of us could understand a word he was saying, but we got that he LOVED MEMPHIS when he showed us all the tattoos he had including the word Memphis and many a Memphis landmark, all immortalised on his arm.

Next up on the tour was Beale Street, which was amazing. It was basically like Nashville’s Broadway but with less country music and more Blues, and once again we wished and wished we were 21! There was lots of live music for us to enjoy though and we bought more trashy postcards to add to our collection, before heading back to Katherine’s to chill for a bit/watch Say Yes To The Dress.

Beale Street

After a while it was time for another mystery stop. This one was based in the ghetto/a slightly sketchier area of Memphis: Jerry’s Sno Cone! It’s this hilarious bright pink building right in the middle of nowhere and we all got Supremes, which is sno cone with ice cream and they have like a bazillion flavours. We had yet another no-cash mishap but after a brief trip to a sketchy garage and a case of mysteriously disappearing sunglasses, we secured our Jerry’s. This is one of my favourite things about being with a native – we would never have found/ventured near Jerry’s alone!!

SNO CONES!

Tonight, after Katherine discovering the joys of Dance Moms, we headed out for dinner. And no, it was not at another BBQ establishment but a Moroccan restaurant called Casablanca (mum you would have loved it). We had some lovely humus and falafel (our faves) and then some real lamb and real vegetables. It was incredible and although we felt full, we for once we didn’t feel disgusted with ourselves because this food wasn’t laden with grease!

And now for wine and SATC

Laterz

S & B

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nashville, home of weirdos

Good evening fellow travellers.

Picture the scene: a tiny little table with a stone turtle on it, millions of fire flies which Sophie keeps pointing out, amazed, as if it’s the same one travelling really fast, some people around a corner jamming, one of them possibly with a violin. This is our life right now.

But first, let us rewind back to this morning. Our new French roommates left quite early so we got up quite early too and went for breakfast. This morning we even had real bread rather than rolls but it was very crumbly which was weird but with peanut butter it actually tasted pretty good you will be pleased to know. We then embarked on our two mile hike back down the highway and into downtown (the area where all the bars and tacky shops are). The gift shops were very entertaining and had more Southern crap than you can ever imagine. There was a confederate flag bikini that we both really wanted, but unfortunately it was $36.99 and even if we had shared it, it would have taken a whole day out of the budget. A whole day’s budget that we instead spent on ice cream.

Our spirits were raised though when we came across a whole rack of photos dedicated to Southern recipes, but these were not any Southern recipes – these were Elvis’ personal Southern recipes (or at least they had pictures of his face/of him tucking into delicious biscuits on them). We invested in an Elvis’ biscuits postcard and an Elvis’ banana pudding postcard to go with the fried chicken one we already bought in Savannah (sadly this one doesn’t have Elvis’ face on it), so be prepared for a genuine Southern feast when we return to the homeland! We also found a store that we really really liked that was full of sparkly things and friendship bracelets, and so we bought some bracelets and bonded with the guy at the cash register who had the quietest voice in the world/mumbled a lot but was very nice. My bracelet says ‘cancer’ which was fair enough when it was with all the other star sign bracelets but I have since realised I am wandering about with the word ‘cancer’ attached to my wrist so that’s cool.

After the many many gift stores we decided it was high time we went for an ice cream for lunch, so we went to Mike’s Ice Cream. I had a root beer float since we are in Amurca and I actually love root beer, and Sophie had a butterscotch milkshake. We ended up sitting there for ages because a) there was A/C, b) there was wi-fi, and c) we were hemmed in by a crazy man in a mobility scooter. Eventually though, we escaped, and the crazy man thanked us for letting him sit near us. We told him he should consider it an honour and a privilege. Jokes, of course we didn’t. We simply fled. And we fled to the country music hall of fame ( gift shop ) – we weren’t trying to pay to get in now were we?

Next up was a bit more wandering, and then we decided to go sit on some grass by the river. It was here that we had today’s two disasters. One, we sat down and Sophie noticed that her shoe was broken. Then she picked up her bag and noticed that all her water had spilt everywhere. We thought this was fine until we realised that her ipod, which has survived so long and through so much, was looking more than a little dead. It was too hot to move/do anything about it though, so we sat there until another crazy man arrived, and then moved a couple hundred feet to the right. We hadn’t been sitting there very long when a man came along, blessed us with a stick, and told us that “Jesus loves y’all.” So that was nice.

At around 5 we decided to go for more food. Should we just rename this blog “British Girls Eat Their Way Through the South”? Maybe. Maybe something catchier is in order. Anyway, we went to Dick’s Last Resort, which I have been going on about going to basically all year, and it was here that we met today’s friend, Jordan, who was our waiter. He made fun of us and called us cheap for ordering water but was overall very nice, very chatty and very keen to tell us his entire life story. He was born in Anglesey and demanded to know all the things we hate about America. We ate BBQ ribs and chicken, naturally, and since we were sharing and they ‘don’t do plates,’ we had to eat it off a bit of paper in the middle of the table. Wonderful. At the end of the meal we discovered that Jordan is an ex frat boy, has the same keyring as me, used to date a Theta and has the same bank card so after that we were pretty much BFFs.

It was only about 6 at this point and we really wanted to hear some live music but we are irritatingly under age. As we wandered around downtown, we came across yet more weirdos: a man who held up a sign asking us to sit on his face, another man who was offering kisses for $1 (we declined) and a crazy woman who was making fun of foreigners and then asked us if we spoke English. Eventually we decided there was literally nothing to do but eat more food and so we found ourselves in Margaritaville, where there was at least a live man doing some singing, ordering dessert. I honestly don’t know how these things happen. Anyway we had another nice waiter who told us he was new and so to bear with him if we had any questions.

Afterwards we did a bit more wandering. The guys outside the various bars and stuff were all taunting us because we look old enough that they try and entice us in but we can’t actually go in past 6 or 7 PM. We decided to cut our losses and return to the hostel, where we are now. We both really really like Nashville but it is SO ANNOYING being so underage!

B

Total Disaster Count: 11

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do you think they think we’re idiots

Okay, so we were slightly worried that the hostel in Nashville might be a bit sketchy. Everyone will be glad to know that it is fine. It is a bit like a sort of hippy commune thing and the owners all look like characters out of a Tim Burton movie but overall, it’s fine. We arrived, were shown around and then shown to our room, where we met our roommates, two girls also from the UK.

Delightfully, they were leaving at 6AM this morning so that was a lovely wakeup for us both but it was nice to have the room to ourselves when we actually got up. We went and ate our free breakfast of peanut butter & nutella in rolls (very continental) and then we decided to head downtown-ish to the farmer’s market, which was really nice. Just outside was a lady singing country music in an ampitheater which we particularly enjoyed. In the farmer’s market, we made friends with a number of people, including a man who gave us samples of cookies, a man who tried to force us to sample mac and cheese and called me a terrible friend for not liking cheese, and a man who very nearly forced entire cheesecakes upon us and eventually insisted that we take his flier with their number on it so that if we get a cheesecake urge at any hour he can come by and hand-deliver us one. We have concluded that Tennessee people are very very polite and friendly and we like them a lot.

Anyway, instead of entire, 3.5 pound cheesecakes we decided to buy a lovely punnet of strawberries and took them outside to eat. By the way just as a warning this day basically revolves entirely around food so prepare yourselves now. Afterwards, we decided to walk all the way back towards the hostel and past it to Vanderbilt, where there was a baseball game. It was midday, it was HOT and the journey involved basically walking down a highway – wise as ever. Don’t worry though, we stopped at a gas station to hydrate ourselves. Sophie bought an orange push pop thing which proceeded to melt all over her and her white top – needless to say we were attracting some v strange looks as we wandered down the highway.

Eventually we made it to Vanderbilt – it wasn’t actually that far so don’t worry, parents. The iphone led us possibly the strangest way possible across campus towards the baseball field, but we did make a pitstop in the library to use their bathroom. Their library was very unSwem-like, it was a bit like Cambridge, all grand and everything. When we eventually got to the baseball field/pitch/whatever, we bought our tickets, tried to go in the wrong entrance, found the right entrance, and then it started pouring down with massive thunder and lightning. We sought shelter under a nearby tent offering free koozies amongst other things, which we stocked up on. One of the guys in charge fully encouraged this. He started asking us about where we were from, what we were doing etc and was clearly very bemused by what the hell we were doing at a Vanderbilt baseball game. To be honest, by this point, so were we.

It carried on raining and didn’t really look like it was going to let up so they sent us all inside into the gym/arena whatever, where we bought hot dogs like true Amurcans until it finally stopped enough to go back outside. There was this group of boys around like 14 or so with VERY southern accents so we sat like a couple of rows behind them to listen to them. However this then backfired on us as their group multiplied and multiplied until we were sitting so awkwardly close that we definitely looked like we were trying to creep on them, so we subtly moved back a row.

our new best friends

Neither of us have any idea about the rules of baseball, even with our extensive knowledge of rounders, but the sun came out again and so we sat there for a while until we got hungry and decided to head for dinner. I am glad we went even though we didn’t understand one thing that happened cause it was on the bucket list and everyone’s accents were sooooo southern and there were so many funny people around. Also, on the way towards food we found another theta house!! We once again creepily took pictures – all theta houses are obviously the best on campus…

Next up was, you guessed it, dinner. We went to a restaurant called South Street because we both really wanted chicken & meat and stuff and ordered some sort of barbeque combo platter thing which was realllyyyy good, and spent most of the meal lamenting all the food we are gonna miss next year.

We were planning on going downtown this evening to take in the scenes etc butttt we got back to the room and literally could not face moving/walking all that way so who knows what lies in store this evening…I suspect not very much

B

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