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Slow Down London!

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This month, the city of London will host the ten-day Slow Down London a “Living Life in Real Time” festival for busy city dwellers. Running April 24th through May 4th, the festival focuses on taking a break from the pressures of city living (something we college students already excel at) and relaxing. The program encourages Londoners to “explore slow music and arts, to try meditation and yoga, to sample slow food and crafts, to discover ‘slow travel’ in our own city, to debate ideas about time and pace, and to find our own ways to challenge the cult of speed and to appreciate the world around us.” And with ranging from “Wine and Words,” a poetry and vino session at Foyles to free guided tours at the National Portrait Gallery, or discounted yoga and meditation sessions, just about everyone can find a reason to relax next week.

Richard Whitaker

Richard Whitaker

Even if you’re not into the events, there is no better way to tour the city then to walk around by foot, get inspired by Slow Down London and take some time out of your busy day and EXPLORE! Take your sandwich to the park, or find a new restaurant in your neighbourhood. Now that the weather outside is no longer frightful, no more excuses! continue reading

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A Walk on the “Wilde” Side Indeed: Hotspots of Literary History

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Oscar Wilde - janetmck and mukund76

Oscar Wilde - janetmck and mukund76

All of this travelling has given us all a little wanderlust (aka the desire to travel our already small savings away). Europe is packed with history than we’ll ever be able to see in just three short months, but with some great tour guides and a little organization, we’re hoping to cram as much of it in as possible! Since we’re here to study literature and culture, and Dublin was just the first stop on the journey, I can’t wait to check out these other top writing-geek destinations soon:

London: Well, this one’s a bit obvious I suppose, I am living in Kensington and heading to the theatre every week to see a play for class, but for those of you not already enrolled in a literary adventure, London’s blue circle plaques make it easy. Placed outside the doors of London sites, the plaques serve as a guide to the more famous happenings within many an ordinary-looking building). London has been home to many of the most famous authors of all time: Charles Dickens, H.G. Wells, Virginia Woolf, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Keats, J.M. Barrie, and of course Shakespeare are just a few of the city’s most recognizable names. I can’t wait to search out the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, check out Oscar Wilde’s house in Chelsea, and see Romeo and Juliet at the Globe Theatre…luckily the blue-badge guided Literary London Tour will make it even easier! continue reading

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The Singapore Flyer “Towers” Above the Eye

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I’ve been in London for nearly three weeks and I’m finally ready to dig into some of the more touristy adventures that the city has to offer! But as I’m preparing to board the world-famous London Eye, I find out that its already been beaten! That’s right, London’s not the only place to import tons upon tons of steel and glass in order to reconstruct a huge, spinning wheel that flies (slowly) skyward…sure, I’ll stand in the winding queue of tourists waiting for an unbelievable view of the city, and, sure, it will be beautiful and majestic, but what about its rival? The Eye is unbelievably tall, but the Singapore Flyer, pardon my pun, just flies a little higher.

The Singapore Flyer

I must admit that ever since watching Anthony Bourdain’s episode on Singapore, I’ve been dying to go! Yes, I just admitted to loving both the Travel Channel and Anthony Bourdain, but don’t knock ’til you’ve tried..er…watched it! Bourdain does an amazing job of discovering the local cultural and culinary hot-spots of each city he visits, and Singapore’s no exception. Not only does the Republic of Singapore provide a rich combination of Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian cuisines, but also a huge variety of tours, activities, and sites to keep even the pickiest tourist (like myself) entertained! continue reading

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The Dublin Report

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Guiness Factory Girls!

Guiness Factory Girls!

After a whirlwind of a weekend, we’re back! Exhausted, convinced of inability to ever arrive on time (nothing like a two mile sprint through the airport to get your blood pumping), and ready to keep travelling our quarter away! Dublin was beautiful, and for those of you thinking about a weekend trip, or just curious about mine (hi mom!) here is a list of my favorite parts of the Dublin experience. continue reading

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They Aren’t Called French Fries? Trying Out the Local Cuisines

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I was more than a little nervous about giving up the fantastic variety of Californian cuisine for my move to London. Sure I’d be living in a fantastic neighbourhood (Kensington, ever heard of it?), taking fun classes (hi, field trips to Oxford, Parliament, the Globe), working a fun company, meeting tons of new people, and travelling like mad (read my Dublin post anyone?), but all I could think about as I jumped on that United jet was, what about burritos? Cheeseburgers? Pluto’s salads? As delightful as afternoon tea sounds, anyone who’s hopped on the “English cuisine” Wikipedia page can probably understand my hesitation. I’m sorry guys, but chip sandwiches? How does somebody even come up with that?

Chip Butty - Annie Mole

Chip Butty - Annie Mole

Which isn’t to say a chip butty isn’t one of the first things I tried when I got here (add a little ketchup and it’s not bad!), but I certainly wasn’t prepared for the richness of the culinary culture here. continue reading

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Find Your Shade of Green

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Green View - Olof S

Green View - Olof S

Thinking about going green? With families around the world changing their light bulbs, cleaning products, diet, recycling and commuting habits, why not try applying some of those ideas to your vacation time too!While some of us (ahem) might be using the green movement as a way to avoid bathing, the changes to your holiday time this year needn’t be so drastic. Here are three minor changes I’ve discovered through my own travels that can majorly affect the way you experience your vacation (for the better, I swear!) continue reading

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Orange You Going? Queen’s Day in the Netherlands

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Queen's Day Celebrations - katielips

Queen's Day Celebrations - katielips

Looking for an excuse to get out of town this month? Why not check out the Netherlands largest (and certainly most colourful) festival of the year, Queen’s Day. Held on the birthday of the former Queen Juliana, every April 30th the country fills with festivity. All shops are closed for the day, and almost the entire country becomes an open-air market. You’ll see everything from open-air concerts to food vendors and parades, all, of course, thoroughly covered in the country’s famous bright orange and completely open to the public.

And if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the current Queen Beatrix, she’s rumoured to attend two Dutch cities’ celebrations each year.

While you’re there, why not check out a few of the other things the Netherlands has to offer? It may have started as a small fishing village, but as the 6th largest metropolitan area in Europe, Amsterdam has clearly moved beyond its humble roots. continue reading

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Dublin, Ireland, We’re Doing it Tourist Style…

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Dublin Green at Trinity College - lynq8831

Dublin Green at Trinity College - lynq8831

Well, I’ve officially been in the UK for a week, and it’s already time to go on a holiday. Dublin, Ireland, here I (and a collection of five other American twenty-something’s) come! As if we haven’t had enough tourism our first week in England, its time to give Dublin’s tourist market a try. I might be missing Spring Break in Cancun this year, but who needs the sun and sand when you can spend your holiday weekends travelling around Europe?

We’ll be there for three days, and are already looking forward to a jam-packed schedule of the most fantastically touristy sites possible. continue reading

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