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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tutorial Tuesday - Modified Denman

Monday, July 26, 2010

Music Monday - Deuces

Shout owt to my fellow Greek, Kevin McCall (he's a Que from Washington State). I would always see him on my News Feed posting songs, so I'm glad to see his hard work pay off!

London

 So our first taste of London was during our layover to Barcelona. We took the tube into central London and got off at Leicester Square. There are a lot of restaurants, souvenir shops, stores and theaters in that area. So we got lucky because we randomly just chose that stop with no real knowledge of what was there. We were hungry so we just wandered around until we found somewhere affordable to eat. We ended up at this Chinese buffet, which we later regretted. There was no orange chicken, beef broccoli or any other ordinary foods that you would see at a Chinese restaurant in the states. So after leaving there disappointed we browsed some stores and then headed back to the airport. There was a black girl on the tube and in her British accent she asked me what type of hair was in my head. At first I didn't understand her because of her accent, but Tayla clarified for me. I answered for her, and Tayla and I found the question amusing.

I had to take a pic in the famous phone booth

yeah I was walkin around the city with my carry-ons

sleep on the tube

I guess this is like Chinatown

wandering around Leicester Square


So fast forward to after leaving Spain, we headed back to London. Since we missed our original flight, we got to London pretty late so we couldn't take the tube to our hostel. We ended up paying 60 or 80 pounds to take a taxi into town. And the taxi drivers are no joke, they like attack you once you get off the plane trying to get you to take their cab. The ride in the cab was awkward since they drive on the other side of the street, but their cabs are so cute. Well anyways, after about 45min, we reached our hostel.

We booked our hostel on hostelworld.com. We stayed at Smart Russell Square on 71 Guilford St. We stayed in a 9 bed mixed dorm. For Saturday 1 bed was 29.99 pounds. On Sunday the bed was 13.99 pounds. We had to put down a 10% deposit to reserve the beds, and also pay a 1.50 euro service charge. The front desk at the hostel was 24 hours, which was great since we got there so late. But the hostel had no elevators so we had to carry our luggage upstairs. The room had basically no space, I could barely take a decent pic since it was so small.There was 9 beds, and each bed had a curtain for privacy. There was also like 6 drawers that you could rent to store your valuables. There was also 1 sink in the room. In the morning they serve "breakfast" but it was really just cereal and toast. And the showers were like down in the basement, so it was a bit of a walk. There were people of ALL ages there, from tweens to senior citizens, it was kind of awkward LOL. Anyways in the morning we bought tickets for the Big Bus Tours at the front desk.

So the stop for the Big Bus Tours was right around the corner from the hostel, which was very convenient. The Big Bus Tour is great if you only have 1 day in London and want to see all the major tourist sites. We were able to hop on and off the bus at our leisure. And the ticket also included a river cruise which was our favorite part of the day. For more information regarding the tour visit http://www.bigbustours.com/eng/london/custompage.aspx?id=london_sightseeing_tour&gclid=
When the bus tour stopped running for the day, we went on a free walking tour which was also included with our ticket. It was a haunted tour, which started off pretty boring, but got a little better as we went on. From there we went on another search for food. We came across a Mexican restaurant and immediately got excited! I was missing Mexican food while in Europe, this was my first time seeing one. Anyways we went in and ordered a pitcher of Margarita and a sampler platter to split. The margaritas were good and the food was okay. But it wasn't really Mexican food, the menu was more similar to Chili's in the US. Also our waiter sucked but whatever. After we left there we tried to see what London's nightlife is like. We went in this bar, there was a promoter outside who tried to charge us 5 pounds to go in, we said no and he eventually let us in for free. While there we met these older Portuguese men that kept buying us drinks even when we would refuse them. They were funny, but one of them kept whispering in my ear that I was gorgeous and then he grabbed my butt, that was my signal to leave. He kept begging us to stay but we left. While walking back we saw a huge mass of black people and we got excited. So this promoter came up to us and i think we paid like 5 pounds to get in. We got inside and it was COMPLETELY empty! We were confused since there were so many black people outside. So we went back outside and all the black people were gone! Apparently there was some event that just let out which was why they were all there, but I guess they left to go party elsewhere, we were swindled! But we just took up our loss and headed to the tube to head back to our hostel. Our hostel is right around the corner from the tube so that was very convenient.

London Bridge

River cruise



margaritas!!!

lunch

Tower of Jewels


The next morning we got up and went to the Westfield Mall, which is like the biggest mall in Europe. The mall was so huge, I didn't know which way to go. But stores that carried similar items were all nearby to each other which made navigating a little better. Plus they had this touch screen directory. Well we didn't buy anything since the conversion to pound is so horrible, that nothing was worth the price. But we did stop and eat at Nando's which was sooooo good. I highly recommend that you try it if you go to London. I think we both got the 5 chicken wings with 2 sides (corn on the cob and garlic bread). Tayla got basically the same thing but with mashed potatoes instead of garlic bread. Visit their website for more info: http://www.nandos.co.uk/index.cfm

touchscreen directory in Westfield Mall

Nandos


After that we headed back to the hostel to get our luggage and then took the tube to the airport for our flight to Paris.

Tips:
  • Heathrow airport sucks!!!! Its super big and security is intense!
  • very hard to catch a theater show on a Sunday, which is why we didn't see a show :(
  • the weather is always gray and gloomy, so expect rain
  • when shopping, keep in mind the conversion to the pound and how much you are really paying
  • when going out to clubs/bars, try talking down the promoters, it will usually work
  • take the tube! its cheap, easy and convenient.
you have to pay to use the public toilets on the streets...smh

    Saturday, July 24, 2010

    Granada

    Granada is a treasure and our travel to it will stay with us forever
    -Michelle Obama
    So since I stayed in Granada for 4 weeks, it would be ridiculous to write about what I did every second. But I will try to hit the main points in consecutive order of which they happened.

    So from Toledo we took a bus to Granada, which I want to say took like 4-5hrs. We stayed at the Gran Hotel Luna de Granada. Its located on Plaza Manuel Cano 2, 19004 Granada. Our room once again had 2 twin beds pushed together. No kitchenette, but a mini fridge. This hotel was lot less modern than our hotels in Barcelona and Madrid, but it was still decent. We ate breakfast and lunch in the hotel during the week, which was self serve buffet. I was sick of the food towards the end of our trip. Also there was free Wi-Fi in the lobby, which was always cold from the A/C. Also there was a pool on the top of the hotel.There was also a little bar in the hotel that had a TV and food you can order. I never ate there though, I would just go there to ask to use the microwave or for ice. Also the hotel is right across the street from Corte Ingles, which has everything you need. And about a 15-20 min walk to Plaza Nueva and Bib-Rambla Plaza.


    taped up remote
    it was like this when we got there
    
    that foot washer came in handy
    
    Once we settled in, we were starving! In the hotel lobby we saw a deal for Domino's so we grabbed a map and went on an adventure to find Domino's. We took a wrong turn and ended up in a real sketchy area so we were getting a little nervous, and to add to it, it started raining. Anyways we found our way to the main road and eventually Domino's. We ordered a medium pizza and some cheesy bread and soda. I dont remember the exact cost, but it was EXTREMELY cheap, like 5 euros. They had some special where the cheesy bread was only 19 pence!!!! And to add to the great deal, the food tasted sooo good, Domino's in the US need to take some tips from Spain!


    Anyways, enough about Domino's. Frpm here I'll just list places and give you a brief description of my experience...

    World Cup
    So as you may know, or maybe not...the World Cup took place while I was in Spain and Spain won the World Cup for the 1st time while I was there, so of course I had to keep up with the games. One of the popular places to watch the game was at this huge tent in Plaza Nueva. There was a big screen inside the tent, and the perimeter of the tent was filled with vendors selling beer. The place gets PACKED, so you would have to get there early if you want a good spot close to the screen or come during half time. Also, it was extremely hot inside the tent, almost unbearable. But it was free and exciting! (pix are out of order and from different games/days)



    in front of the tent


    
    view from the back/entrance of the tent
    

    
    view from the side of the tent
    












    the streets were cray after they won

    right after the win!!










    I dont even have this much spirit at home in the US lol

    prepping for the game

    Chinese Food Restaurants
    So I went to a couple different Chinese Restaurants in Granada...I can't tell you the exact name or location, but all the Chinese Restaraunts seemed to be similar. Bost restaurants had very nice table settings and always seemed empty, despite the fact the food was pretty decent. The food was very similar to Chinese food in the US, except I didn't see my favorite orange chicken and beef & broccli on the menu. But what kept me coming back to these restaurants was the special combo that consisted of an appetizer, and entree, rice, dessert and a drink for less than 5 Euros!!! Trust me, it was hard to find a full decent meal for that price in Spain, so I at Chinese food probaly like 5 times while there.









    La Bella y La Bestia (Beauty and the Beast) Tapas Bar
    This bar is near to the Cathedral and right next to the popular nightclub, Granada 10. There are many bars nearby, so if you don't like this bar, your sure to find another nearby. I had sangria there which came with free tapas. The place was cool, but nothing to write home about.


    free tapas

    Sangria

    Entrance

    Granada 10
    After leaving La Bella y Bestia we wandered around for a bit, then came back to Granada 10. It was still closed when we got there. I think they finally opened up the doors at like 1am. But while we were waiting, we ran into this guy who was giving out free passes to the club, only thing is, the free passes don't come with drinks, where you can pay $10 to get in and get 1 or 2 free drinks (I don't remember). But we still used the free passes. Once inside, it was pretty empty, but that's because we went inside right when it opened up. The ladies room was upstairs and didnt have tissue :(. There was plenty of seating inside the club which was good, b/c I hate standing around the whole time. We took some shots of tequila while there, I dont remember how much they cost, but I want to say around 3 Euros. There was lots of tourists in the club, doesn't really seem like a place for locals. And the music was a mix of disco, hip hop, funk, salsa, merengue, bachata, Latin, etc.


    shots of Tequila





    Los Italianos
    So we saw this place the night we went to Granada 10 and it was super crowded, reminded me of Diddy Riese in Westwood. So on a random day after souveneir shopping, we decided to stop inside. It's a gelato place with many flavors. I think I got caramel...and it tasted exactly like caramel, but I didn't like it too much.



    Mae West
    Our next Friday night out there we ventured to Mae West. We called a cab, but while waiting for the cab we noticed a mass amount of people across the street, so ve headed over so see what was going on. Well we get across the street and its hundreds of young people just drinking in this vacant lot. So apparently before heading to the clubs, people just hang outside and drink! So we socialized for about 5 mins, then at about 1am hopped in a cab to go to Mae West. When we got there we realized the place was walking distance and we could have saved a little money, but oh well. So we walk upstairs to the club and its a short line. The price was 10 Euros before 2 (I think) and that came with 2 drinks. We got inside and the club was pretty big with 3 rooms. It was still kind of empty when we got inside, but by like 3a you could barely walk through the club. The room on the left played Salsa music, the room in the middle was the biggest and played a mix of music that was similar to what we heard in all the other clubs in Spain. Then in the room to the right there was a bar, TVs and tables. They were playing random old American music like Grease and the Beach Boys. We thought it was kind of funny. This club was less touristy then Granada 10.


    the vacant lot


    the vacant lot again

    free flower I got



    The Alhambra
    So if you ever go to Granada, you must visit the Alhambra. I'm not going to give you the full history behind it, because you can find it anywhere on the internet. I will just tell you about my experience. So we had this tour guide that was a little rude, but we enjoyed the visit nonetheless. The place is huge. It would take an whole day or maybe 2 days to actually take the time to explore all of it. It was too hot and I was tired of walking to stay very long. I might have been able to enjoy it more if the weather was better. Anyways there are some amazing views from the Alhambra and the place is beautiful. There are also souveneir shops at the Alhambra with lots of beautiful yet expensive hamdmade crafts. Oh, and we took a cab there which cost about 18 Euros if I remember correctly (I think we got ripped off).





    our tourguide showing us the handmade crafts



    king's throne

    this is how they cooled off back in the day



    Cueva de La Rocio
    So my friend Brandon came to visit while I was in Granada, so I had to plan out a good weekend for him. So Friday evening we went to see a Flamenco show at Cueve de La Rocio. It is located in the caves of Sacromonte. We caught a cab up there and I think it was like 12 Euros. Anyways we missed the first show, so we just bought tix for the next show which was like 20 Euros and came with 2 free drinks. We all got Sangria and drank 1 of them while we were waiting. Finally it was time for our show, we went inside the cave, which looked different from what I expected. there was chairs lines up around the perimeter of the tiny cave and the dancers danced right in the middle. There were many different dancers and the music was all live. The show got better as it went on and we had a good time.  Oh and at the end of the performance they were picking people out of the crowd to dance with, and they picked me...it was kind of embarrassing yet fun! After that we walked to some Morrocan restaurant, which I dont remember the name of. The decor was nice, but we were unimpressed by the food.




     



















    at the Morroccan restaurant


    drinking sangria as we waited

    where we waited







    El Camborio
    So after dinner we walked to El Camborio, which is a nightclub inside of caves. We got there at about 1am and it was basically empty. I think it cost 7 euros to get in and came with 1 drink. We went up stairs to the lounge area and it was beautiful, with a nice view of the Alhambra lit up at night. Brandon ordered a Mojito. Tayla and I ordered a Mary Pickford. Brandn hated his Mojito and didnt drink it. The Mary Pickford was interesting. Well anyways the club was so empty that we actually ended up playing Hide N Seek LOL. After that we decided to leave. The bouncers tried to convince us to stay, by telling us that it would get more crowded in like an hour, but we didn't really have the patience, so we just headed back to the hotel.



    The Mojito and Mary Pickford


    This is how empty the dance floor was LOL


    playing Hide N Seek

    Our last night in Spain :(
    So on our last night we started pregaming in the hotel (we needed to finish our bottle of alcohol since we couldn't travel with it) and ate shwarma (another cheap eat located everywhere in Granada). After drinking and getting dressed, we headed to Chupiteria 69. Its a little bar located on Socrates 12, that has a huge menu of shots (Chupitos) for 1 Euro. And you get this little token everytime you buy a shot. After 25 tokens you get this free cowboy hat LOL. Anyways I had like 2-3 shots here, but I don't remember which ones, but I believe they were all on the Fuertes (strong) menu.
    After leaving there we went to Granada 10 again. But this time we had to pay :( I think we worked out some deal where we paid 10 or 20 euros and got 2 free drinks. Anyways, those free drinks ultimately put me over the edge, I got pretty drunk, but also had a good time. We caught a taxi back to the hotel and overslept the next morning which resulted in us missing our flight to London on top of my hangover FML


    at Granada 10

    the hat!

    bartender at Granada 10

    Chupito menu

    don't ask LOL

    chupitos!!!!!!


    yeah, I definetely caught him off guard LOL


    **** Of course there were many other places I went to in Granada, but I can't remember the names of all these places :/
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