Archive for August 2012

touch down: London town

The day after the #DWGMF wrapped, Thursday, I jetted off to London. The last day of the conference had also been P's last day at work before moving to Kenya, but he was already gone by the time I got back to the office. But as luck would have it, P ended up being on the same bus heading to the airport the next morning! 
So getting to London involved: street car - bus - plane - train - and then I was at Victoria Station, where S came and picked me up. (Originally he'd considered coming to get me from Gatwick - and holding up a sign with my name and then pretend not to recognize me on purpose - but decided that he only values our friendship at £18, so it wasn't worth the train ticket haha.)
So all summer, S has been pulling 'I told you so's all over the place. Before leaving for London, I asked if I should bring shorts to London, and he was all like, "no, it's London, we don't wear shorts here." I arrive, and of course this is the one day when it's boiling hot in London. -_-

We ended up doing a quick walk by some of the major points (Buckingham Palace, a park, the London Eye, Big Ben, etc.) and then booking it over to Piccadilly Circus so I could go buy shorts. Sticky jeans are no fun!
London is just so alive. So many people (and so well-dressed and polite too!), so much activity, so much cool stuff to see. It was actually pretty impressive how far we managed to walk in one day.
There are Union Jack flags all over the place in London, but in preparation for the Olympics, there were other flags adorning the streets as well ^.
British telephone booths! (Although I've seen identical ones in Canada as well.) I don't imagine these see as much use nowadays, what with the prevalence of cell phones and what not. (Or handy, if you're German ;) I went inside one for a photo and it smelled like urine, unfortunately.
Food is always important, so we hit up The Icecreamists in Covent Garden. You have to order a minimum of two scoops, and these things are massive! They have really interesting flavours though - including one made with real breast milk. Wasn't feeling YOLO enough to try it that day though - I opted for a scoop of Ferrero Rocher (bottom) and a scoop of caramel popcorn (top) instead. Delicious, but melted really quickly in the summer heat and got kind of messy. 
We ended up just grabbing dinner at Covent Garden as well. Alas, can't remember the name of the place we ate at. It was pretty good though! (Although I'm not a huge fan of rocket/arugula.)
Trafalgar Square! This would be a place where we would end up many times over the course of the next couple of days.
All in all, the London trip started off with a fully packed, insanely awesome first day!

Lull Before London

In the period between getting back from Maastricht & Aachen and going to London, UK, there was a lull of sorts where I stayed in town for two consecutive weekends. Work was fairly busy, but the weekends were fairly relaxed and consisted of just chilling with E & M, C & J, and a bunch of other UN interns. Snapped a couple of photos during those two weeks, so I'll let those do most of the talking instead:
Grabbed dinner with E & M one night at Madame Negla - as promised by E, these sandwiches were super good! You can't really tell from the photo, but there were green peas in it as well.  
The decor of the place was a little...disturbing though. It was really pink and sort of decorated like the inside of a little girl's bedroom or something. We also got eis and hot chocolate afterwards (not at the same time, of course) and they got much amusement of teaching me "Das ist das Haus vom Nikolaus."  
Watched the Germany vs. Greece match of the Euro Cup with C & J. Everyone looks calmly seated here ^, but whenever Germany scored, and especially when Germany won, there was lots of rambunctious celebrating. It was especially intense after the game - we're talking people climbing on traffic lights, traffic jams, honking horns, car rocking... Definitely awesome to experience being a part of the crowd.

Met a bunch of other UN interns at an international event, and as it turned out, a bunch of them were also going to the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum. It was certainly an impressive conference. I think the final stats had something like over 2,000 attendees from over 100 countries.  
Lots of interesting sessions on a plethora of topics ranging from media to education to fashion to tourism and beyond. Speakers were impressive and quite varied as well - for example, there was the CEO of Frankfurt book fair, the deputy editor-in-chief for ELLE Vietnam, a past Indonesian president... 

One of the sessions I sat in on, "Fair Trade Fashion: Education for Sustainable Consumption," featured TUDO BOM, a fair trade fashion line made in Brasil and Paris - and a month later, I walked by a TUDO BOM store by chance in Paris. Crazy stuff! 

One of the other girls attending that session was also tweeting it (since it is a media conference and all), and I thought her name sounded familiar - as it turns out, it was because we'd corresponded by e-mail in the lead up to NAMUN. Small world, right? 
While the days were packed with plenary sessions, the evenings were a lot more lax. Day 1 was a boat trip, day 2 was a reception at the Bundeskuntshalle (which I'd been to previously), and day 3 was a reception at Deustche Welle. Hey, as an intern/student, not going to turn down free (good!) food ;) 
Apparently the party doesn't stop at college-level conferences - it was kind of cool to see all these journalists and activists rocking out on the boat to live music. (The cover artists were all really good too!) 
Next stop: London!

missing liebe Deutschland like mad already

It's been a week since I left Germany; hardly feels real. It's funny - this summer has been entirely surreal. On the one hand, it just doesn't seem like real life (being an expat, living on a foreign continent alone, freedom to travel and basically do whatever), but at the same time, it's more real life (40 hour work week, commuting, living on one's own) than normal life (which at this point is school, I suppose). It's certainly been a summer of contrasts. 

On some levels, it hasn't fully sunk in yet that I'm back in Canada now. Logging into CouchSurfing the other night, I was almost surprised to see the location change. I think I've officially caught the travel bug; can't seem to stop fantasizing about where I could go next summer, or whether I can squeeze in a trip somewhere during the winter break. 

A couple of personal projects that I'm hoping to make significant progress on this month, but alas they haven't proceeded nearly as far as I would've liked so far. The hours of each day seem to creep by at an entirely different pace here. 

Missing the people, the culture, the nature...heck, I even kind of miss the taste of the water, the consistency of the Nutella, the frischk√§se... Also really missing the prospect of possibility that comes with living in a foreign place, the feeling that something extraordinary and unexpected could happen at any time, the knowledge that different things and experiences are readily available for discovering. 

^ Photo taken on the tarmac at CGN (Cologne-Bonn), pre-departure for Amsterdam. The sun was just starting to rise over the horizon line. That, in conjunction with a 4am taxi ride with head-banging techno music being blasted as we raced down the autobahn at like 140 km/h, barely able to see 15 feet ahead in the dark, seemed like a fitting send-off. 

So much for recapping things in order. Will try to backtrack and recount some more of this summer's adventures throughout the course of this month though! Let's make August a worthy last month of summer break. 

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