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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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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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The Spring Break Diaries – Getting There (Day 1 & 2)

We are finally back in the Burg after what can only be described as one of the best (nearly) weeks of our lives. I have fallen in love with California and I know we have all, since getting back, been trying to find ANY way to return (masters programs/becoming a surfers wife – you get the idea!).  SO – here you have it, our spring break diary. LET THE EXCITEMENT COMMENCE!

Day 1.

Day 1 was not very exciting as it was really just our flight, but none the less there are a few carefully selected highlights that need to be remembered…

  • We got picked up by taxi Jose who was a very lovely man. As this taxi service was around $30 cheaper than any of the other ones we called we were expecting something a bit sketchy – we were envisioning ourselves being driven to Richmond in a rickshaw style device by a man in a sombrero but luckily for us, Mr. Jose was very efficient in getting us to the airport…around 3 hours early. (mine and Emily’s doing obviously)
  • Because this is us, our plane to Chicago was delayed. Initially it was only 25 mins but every time we looked it kept creeping up until we were delayed for a whole hour.
  • Boredom ensued but was soon defeated by an…interesting…game of “would you rather?”; no limbs or be deaf and blind?…seeds or herbs? etc etc.
  • Flight one was a mini-plane to Chicago which terrified Emily somewhat
  • Chicago airport and their interesting baggage claim systems. Apparently it is a great idea to put everyone in a line and then take off the bags in a random order so no one can see them. This means that people were missing their connections and an INSANE airline woman began shouting at a poor innocent passenger exclaiming “why you wait for your bag!? WHY YOU WAIT?!!” Obviously people should never check bags. Lesson learnt.
  • Noodles
  • Flight two – Chicago to San Diego
  • This flight was lovely. Whilst Emily and I weeped to New Years Eve, Bella was stuck next to an obese woman with an interesting aroma and a fear of flying who decided to fidget for the whole four hours of the flight. (Literally the worst seat neighbour you could ever imagine. She literally spilled over into my chair, played her music at an offensively loud level and spent the whole time muttering about how she ‘couldn’t handle this.’ She couldn’t handle this?! WHAT ABOUT ME?!)
  • WE ARRIVED IN SAN DIEGO (and drove off to Coronado where we were staying) – in a state of extreme excitement
  • The Hotel (Loews Coronado). Lets just talk about that. The hotel was seriously gorgeous, I do not know why we were allowed to stay there and I feel the hotel didn’t really either.
  • However, one woman Sister Katie thought we had been there for ages. As we were checking in we noticed a wedding party outside, at which point I realised that is my destiny to get married at the Hotel Del Coronado, and then as we were leaving the lobby area for our building we were accosted by a little, possibly drunken old lady who informed us that we were “fantastic” and thanked us for taking part in the wedding before she was gently corrected by her friend who told her that we were in fact complete strangers. She then introduced herself as Sister Katie and we all laughed uproariously and she shared some wonderful advice to do with having too much fun and ‘being careful’ (wink wink nudge nudge…)
  • And then we went to bed cos we are wild (and were moderately jet lagged with the three hour time difference)

Day 2. 

  • We were all awake by 7am, obviously really excited for our day ahead. Having meticulously checked the weather for the past 3 weeks we were aware that today was going to be the hottest day (29 degrees woo) so this day had been designated as sunbathing day. And here was the view we woke up to :

  • After a quick breakfast muffin and a mini explore we headed to the pool. Jack Johnson was playing and I don’t think any of us could have been any happier at this point.  The pool was gorgeous (and heated) and we must remember IT IS MARCH. What is this insanity?!
  • In the afternoon we headed to the beach. Even more gorgeous than the pool and to top that off – Lifeguard towers. My Baywatch fantasies were well and truly fulfilled and over the course of five days I must have taken at least 50 pictures involving lifeguard towers in various guises.

  • That evening, obligatory British sunburn in tow, we headed into Coronado town centre. We had the standard argument of where do we go for dinner and eventually settled on a lovely little restaurant called Rhinoceros and all ate way too much and then decided to have ice cream afterwards just to gorge ourselves further.
  • Then we went back to the hotel in preparation for the next day: THE BIG ROAD TRIP!

To be continued…

S xx

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BIRTHDAY BOY

So today is:

– the 20th day of black history month day

– mono-day

– nearly but not quite snow-day

– Presidents Day

– MY BIRTHDAY!

wooooooooo, and boy has it been an interesting one!

I woke up today, at 3am, with a very very swollen throat. As birthday surprises go, this wasn’t the big present I was counting on. I am not going into details with all my glandular issues (I feel that Bella has heard enough about my glands over the past four months) but basically I had a rather eventful morning.

By 8am I decided I should probably go to the health center because I couldn’t speak, so took the trip, through the snow across our gorgeously wintery campus down to see the doc. I went through the same process I have gone through now…5 times I think of the doctor exclaiming my glands are rather large, having a chat about England naturally, and then testing me for mono (as well as tonsillitis and strep throat). This time the doctor promised me a birthday diagnosis!

You know that you have been to the blood lady too many times when she recognises you, feels very bad and makes you “her special hot chocolate, which is for all the staff, with marshmallows” because she felt bad for me. TRAGIC. Anyway, as I plodded off back to the waiting room with my hot chocolate I was expecting them to just be like “nahhhhhh…there isn’t really anything wrong with you…..just a virus or something” …

Then they called me in.

Doc: SO…we have great news!

Me: yes….

Doc: YOU HAVE MONO!   (this is glandular fever for us brits)

Me: ooooooh noooo!

So yeah, four mono blood tests later I have finally been told what I always had suspected. This biggest tragedy of this affair is that I have to be sober Sophie at Campus Golf  and semi-formal! One of the nurses hugged me in despair and the doctor gave me a superman stress ball as a “birthday present to make me feel better!” as well as a wad full of information, a warning not to do any strenuous exercise (like “jumping out of windows”) and a pack of steroids.

So that was that – my tragic birthday morning!

The rest of the day I spent eating soft foods, going to one class, eating more soft food with Bella (fanx 4 da berrybody), eating more soft food with my theta fam and emily and josie, dressing like a princess. And what am I doing tonight you wonder?  more soft food (red velvet ben and jerrys – fanx grace!) and Gossip Girl… so all in all a wild 20th birthday for me!!

I blame this weekend for my current state! Never. Drinking. Again (for 8 days…)

S xx

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DC Days 3 & 4: “can we get another spoon please?”

(First I just have to say that WE HAVE HIT THE BIG TIME BABY and are currently featured on the Flat Hat website, albeit with my name spelt wrongly. Woooooo I always knew I’d be a celeb someday.) And with that:

Day 3

This was Monday, Columbus Day (sorry but we have no idea what that means) and also the day we set aside for shopping. After having consumed at least three times our own body weights in cheesecake the night before, we had all made a pact to Eat Healthily from now until the rest of our lives, and so we healthily bypassed the bagels and muffins for breakfast and made our way, bright and early, to Georgetown. Conveniently wiping the outlets from our memories, we convinced ourselves that this is the only chance we will get to shop between now and Christmas, and so for the rest of the morning, we happily abused our poor, poor bank accounts. We did split up at one point, and since Sophie’s phone was completely out of minutes and mine very nearly, we made a cunning plan that Josie and Emily would take Emily’s phone, and Sophie would take Josie’s. This would have been a brilliant and very effective plan if Emily had actually had her phone.

Luckily, we were drawn together by magic/fates/Gods/luck anyway and, in celebration, decided to hit Serendipity (another of Sally’s recommendations – THANKS GIRLLLL) for lunch. We got a seat by the window, which was wide open, so we could terrify passers-by by shoving video cameras in their faces and acting like spoon-holding puppets. We did quite well on the health front with our sandwiches etc, but then we decided that it would be very rude not to get an ice cream and proceeded to work our way through the hugest carrot cake sundae I have ever seen. I say ‘work our way through’ – it took us all of five minutes and required very little effort.

In a sort of sugary, carroty haze, we did some more shopping, wandered around some stairs that were apparently famous for some reason (can’t remember why, sure Sophie will know) and then headed back to the hotel before the night’s entertainment – CAPS GAME! We had spontaneously booked tickets to go and I am soooo glad we did cause this was literally my favourite thing we did. As our tickets only cost $20 or so each we were practically in the ceiling tiles but it didn’t matter, we had soooo much fun and got extremely into it, we were quite literally on the edge of our seats. We have officially named ourselves Caps fans…apparently we have to go to 3 games before we are wise enough to buy/wear the jerseys.

On the way back we magically discovered yet another new favourite place in the world, this shop that looked like a regular book shop but was secretly also a cafe/bar/restaurant. As we hadn’t eaten for at least two hours now we were practically dying with starvation but we limited ourselves to just bread and appetizers and then we spend agesss wandering around the bookshop part getting our nerd on and mourning the death of real books etc etc. We are planning to go on a mass kindle burning protest at some point so watch out.

Day 4

Mrs & Mrs Organization i.e Sophie and Emily had decreed that we would get up at 8am this morning. Naturally this didn’t happen which meant that our planned trip to show Josie all the sights she’d missed had to be done at top speed. We went on a glorious quest for knowledge in the Library of Congress and then came the most exciting part, the part where we went to the Capitol and sat in on Congress which made us feel extremely important. Also for some reason I apparently got really carried away with the statues they had everywhere as my camera is full of pictures of them. Anyway if we went anywhere else I don’t remember doing it, and then we went back to the hotel, grabbed our stuff, and then it was off to Union Station to go homeee booooo :(. The train home was long and boring as per as per. Then it was back to Sadler for dinner where for some reason they decided to only give us disposable plates.

DC = DONE. We had suchhh a good time if you can’t tell and then the fun has not stopped oh no we have been up to all sorts this week and literally in 30 minutes I am going to go be INITIATED into Theta and then it’s CLUE WEEEEEEEKKKKKK i.e what I have been looking forward to all my life. GET EXCITED cause I am.

B

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