The Street Tells Me When to Look Right or Left
Back in the USA

I’m officially home in the USA! It took over 20 hours to get home, flying from Charles de Gualle, to Chicago, to LaGuardia, but food (bell pepper pasta and Chicago deep dish..might as well keep blogging about food), movies (HP 6), and the best travel companion (no, not the 2 year old sitting behind me for 8.5 hours) made it bearable.

It’s good to be back, but I know that in a couple of days I’m really going to be missing the place I’ve called home for the last three and a half months.

I hope you enjoyed reading my ridiculously long and rambling blog posts!

Here are all of my pictures in one location, so you don’t have to scroll through everything to find a certain link:

London 1 -

London 2 -

Geneva -

Munich -


Edinburgh -

Dublin -

Amsterdam -

Thanksgiving -

Lyon/Dijon -

Paris -
Bonjour, Paris!

Paris pictures:

Mon, 13-Dec

Our hour and a half ride through French countryside got us into Paris around lunch time. We quickly figured out the metro system and made our way to the hotel - Hotel Roma Sacre Couer - in the middle of the Montmartre district of Paris. We were in the hotel for all  of 5 minutes before heading out to meet up with a 2pm tour of the Montmartre district. The tour was with the same company we’ve done all our free walking tours with, but we got to Paris too late for that one. This tour was great because the Montmartre district is very unique to Paris. Before starting the tour we ran to a creperie to grab lunch on the go. Brian got a baguette sandwich and I got a ham and cheese crepe. The lady probably dumped 2 cups of cheese on the freshly made crepe. Just what I needed. So warm and delicious. Anyway, the tour. Montmartre is home to artists and Paris’s red light district. The famous Moulin Rouge and other cabaret bars are here. This area is the only one in Paris that is remotely hilly. With the massive hills, winding, narrow streets, and beautiful buildings, this is a cool place to explore. We saw where Van Gogh lived, Picasso’s studio, Cafe des Deux Moulins where Amelie was filmed, the oldest windmill in Paris (moulin=windmill), and the Artists Square, where artists have galleries and sketch portraits of you. There was also the cabaret bar, Lapin Agile, where Picasso frequented, and the last vineyard in Paris, which sells coveted wine that ironically tastes pretty bad. Finally, we saw the Basilica Sacre Couer. This church is probably the most beautiful one I have seen. It’s also at the highest point in Paris, offering a nice view of the city.

train to Paris —^

ham and cheese crepe :)

Basilica Sacre Coeur —-^

at the top of Sacre Coeur

That night, Brian and I went to see the Arc de Triomphe all lit up. We were going to climb up inside but it was closed for something that. Looked like a military ceremony. We decided to walk partway down the famous Champs-Elysses. The trees down it were all lit up for Christmas. We branched off a side street to get dinner, but first saw our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower peeking out behind a building. There happened to be a French flag flying in the foreground so it was a cute picture. Anyway. Dinners. Amazing. My friend told us to go to Relais de L’Entrecote. It opens at 7pm and you get there then to line up or you won’t be seated promptly. They only serve one dish - steak and frites (fries). The first question they ask is how do you like your steak cooked? Then, what do you want to drink? Before you know it you have a walnut salad, baguette with mustard, and a bottle of Bordeaux in front of you. After clearing through this the waitress then brings the steak and massive plate of frites to the table and plates everything in front of you. The steak, finished with pesto sauce, was so tender and flavorful. And here’s the best part: round two. Without even asking the waitress comes out with a second plate for you. In reality, the total amount of food probably equaled what you would get at an American steakhouse, it was just split onto two smaller plates. But regardless, delicious. We finished the night with another Nutella crepe from yet another Christmas market on the Champs-Elysses.

Arc de Triomphe

first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower :)

steak and frites :-D

Tues, 14-Dec

Slow to rise this morning, but after an almond crepe (me) and baguette sandwich (Brian) we arrived in the Place St Michel for our nearly 4 hour free walking tour of Paris. It was brutally freezing but tea halfway through did the trick. The tour brought us everywhere a typical Paris tourist should go: Notre Dame, Latin quarter (universities) Pont Neuf (new bridge), the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Tuileries Gardens, Les Invalides (old hospital for vets and they could live there - 60 still do), opera house, Musee d’Orsay, among other places. After the tour we went with the group to a French cafe for a late lunch. My mulled wine warmed my shivering body quite nicely. Brian enjoyed his first French onion soup and I  my croque monsieur, aka hot ham and cheese sandwich with extra cheese melted on top.

Tuileries Gardens —^

Then we walked to the Champs de Mars to take our official Eiffel Tower pictures. We made it to the Musee d’Orsay for the last hour. This place houses the Impressionist/Post Impressionist works of Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, etc. Though I have not one artistic bone in my body, I enjoyed these paintings. The hour we had though was good enough..I’m sure art fanatics would have been shocked at us. The best part though is that we got in for free, saving 8 euros each.   EU citizens between 18-26 get into many places for free in France. Our UK visas made us EU-citizenish enough to not have to pay :).

That night for dinner we went to the Artists Square in Montmartre for dinner at this great restaurant called Au Clairon des Chasseurs. It had everything left that we wanted to try in France. Splitting our two set menus got us French onion soup, escargot (so good! tastes like mussels), beef bourguignon, roasted duck, camabert cheese and profiteroles. Our waiter was a charismatic French man who conveniently spoke English.  Always helps :)

French onion soup :)


Wed, 15-Dec

Today we decided to take a morning trip out to the Palace of Versailles, summer home to King Louis XIV, XV, and XVI. This place is the most ornate, intricate, massive, gorgeous estate you will ever see. The state rooms in the palace took around 2 hours to see. There was also a temporary exhibit (sadly all in French but still cool) of the sciences experimented with at the palace: zoology, physics, aeronautics, veterinary, etc. Then, since our free student pass (18 euro value) got us access to the entire estate, we walked 1 mile out to the Grand and Petit Trianons, other residences occupied by royalties including King Lous XVI’s wife, Marie Antoinette. This one mile distance between the palace and smaller residences was filled with gardens, fountains, and a Grand Canal which they used to boat down. It was pretty in the winter, so I can imagine what it’s like in full bloom in the summer. The estate expands even beyond the 1 mile walk though, which is crazy.


Hall of Mirrors

After getting back to Paris from Versailles, we decided to actually go inside Notre Dame, since we didn’t with the tour yesteryday. The Cathedral was obviously pretty inside. But then we discovered we could climb to the top of the bell tower (free for students, :) 5 euro saved). 400 windy steps later, we had what was I think the best view of Paris we’ve seen. Of course we saw the classic gargoyles and massive bell.

After Notre Dame we walked to the Louvre to try and be cultured. We saw everything we needed to see in just over 2 hours. The museum is so massive that it would take weeks to see and actually appreciate everything inside. All the descriptions were in French though, so that made it a tad more acceptable for us to walk more quickly by most things haha. We saw the Code of Hammurabi, the sphinx, statue of Ramses II, Aphrodite, a Michelangelo sculpture, and, of course, Da Vinci’s infamous Mona Lisa. This was essentially the only place in the museum where you noticed crowds. Definitely worth seeing this much-studied work of art.

there she is!

the Louvre at night

After leaving the Louvre we said goodbye to central Paris and went back up to Montmarte for our final dinner. We chose another restaurant in the Artist’s Square and again got the set menu. We each got French Onion soup this time - too delicious to share. I got beef bourguignon again and Brian opted for the turkey cordon bleu (sounds French, right?). Dessert = choc mousse and coconut pie with custard sauce :). We finished the night with a half bottle of Bordeaux that we bought to drink while packing up for home. A good end to a good trip in France and a semester abroad :).

only fitting to end the post with a picture of beef bourguignon :)

Dijon - Wine and Mustard :)

pictures from Lyon and Dijon:

Sun, 12-Dec

We arrived in Dijon at 8:30am at the train station. The ride from Lyon to Dijon took 1.5 hours and took us through some pretty countryside. We got breakfast at a café (quiche and croissant) in the station and waited there until 9:30 when our tour guide, Nicolas, was going to pick us up. Nicolas was taking us on a 3 hour tour of the Burgundy region wine vineyards, followed by a visit to what was previously a winery at a castle/monastery. Monks were crucial in the development and classification of the wine in this region. The drive though the vineyards was beautiful, despite it being winter. The small villages we passed though were charming. Along the way, Nicolas taught us the Burgundy classification system. Generally, the region produces Pinot Noir (red) and Chardonnay (white), although mostly Pinot Noir. There are four levels of each of these types. The lowest is regional. Its label says Burgundy and means it consists all of Pinot Noir or Chardonnay grapes from various places only within Burgundy. The next status is village status, which means the grapes come from only 1 village. This village name is on the bottle. The last 2 classifications have grapes from only 1 specific vineyard. First Cru is second highest, while the highest status is Grand Cru. The vineyard name followed by first/grand cru is on the label. The class names refer to the specificity of where the grapes come from, not necessarily how good the wine is. The judging of the wine comes entirely from your own palate, although seeing Grand Cru on the label is always eye catching. When we got to the Nuits St Georges village. We stopped at the monastery/castle/old winery and saw the old, massive wine presses. The red wine is made with the grape skin and seeds. The color comes from the skin, while the tanning (this is what gives your mouth a bitter and dry taste after a sip) comes from the seed. A younger wine has more tanning. Age (oxygen flow through cork) mellows the wine. The white wine doesn’t have skin as seeds. The flavor is therefore judged on acidity not tanning. After the castle we went to a wine cellar, Pierre Laforest – La Grand Cave, where we saw the wine cellar and had tastings of two whites and four reds. Nicolas taught us to look at the color (darker = older) in the wine reflection, the speed of the legs when the wine drops down the glass after swirled (slower = fuller bodied), and the smell before and after the swirling. More aromas are released when the wine is exposed to air. The first taste is done before swallowing to absorb all flavors. Between the white and red wines we had a cheese bread to clear the palate and first four wines were all village status, while the last two were first cru. They were all fantastic. I’ve definitely come to like wine a lot more since being in Europe. We didn’t buy any bottles sadly, although we ended up getting some later back in Dijon. You can’t tell if you’ll like it until you try it, so hopefully we picked good bottles! Once back in Dijon, we checked into our cute little hotel in the center called Hotel Jacquesmart. Dijon is gorgeous. It’s technically a city, but all of the buildings are so old and most of the streets are cobblestone, so every block makes you feel like you’re nestled in a village. We got lunch at a bistrot (it means “fast”) in a nearby square. Went with the set menu and split chicken and cream soup, shrimp salad, veal and rice, and chicken and potatoes. We got a bottle of village pinot noir, which was good but not as great as the tasting. Dessert was fromage blanc, which was nasty. It was really tart cheese in a gelatin type consistency served with yogurt sauce (I told Brian that “whipped cream” was gross…he said that’s because it’s yogurt…no wonder ha). Afterwards we saw a French family get the fromage blanc and dump a pile of sugar on it…no wonder we didn’t like it. After lunch we explored the city and covered most of it since it’s pretty small and walkable. We saw churches, town hall, and yes, another Christmas market. Apparently on Sunday and Monday most shops are closed. Only ones geared towards tourists are open. This includes restaurants. Again, with the combo of a big lunch and most places being closed, we didn’t get a real dinner. Instead, we split a crepe (first of many!) with Nutella from the Christmas market. We also bought mustard (obviously) and some first cru wine from a shop to bring home. I also got some gingerbread since it’s supposed to be good in Dijon. Our stay in Dijon was short but sweet. After grabbing a Swiss croissant with warm custard for breakfast we hopped on a train to our final destination - Paris!

vineyards of Burgundy —-^

highest burgundy wine classification labels —^

Nicolas preparing for our wine tasting :) —-^

happily with our 2 whites and 4 reds —-^

if you drink, you will die. if you don’t drink, you will die. so drink.

around Dijon

first French crepe :)


Tour de France Commences: Lyon!

Fri, 10-Dec 2010

Woke up at 2:30am to catch a night bus to Victoria Station to get on Gatwick Express for our 7am EasyJet flight to Lyon. Bit of a rough morning as I got sick literally on our way out the door. Felt miserable and was not looking forward to a full morning of travel. Luckily ran into Brian’s roommate on the way out and he was so helpful and got some miracle meds for me on the sport. We made it successfully to Lyon by lunchtime and I was feeling better but didn’t want to push anything. Our hotel in Lyon was interesting. Clean and fine but it had a fully stocked kitchen yet no beds..? there was a couch that had a twin bed that tolled out from underneath and then the ouch itself was the other bed haha. Anyway, we got out first French meal at Brasserie Deruelle. We had printed out a list of French words to help us interpret menus but that didn’t help at all. We found much fewer people spoke English in Lyon and Dijon, but most did in Paris. We got by with “parle vouz engle?”, “merci” and “bonjour.” Pointing at food or items on menus worked best. Luckily in our first restaurant a waiter graciously helped us out and explained everything to us in English. We opted for the set menu. We did this for all of our sit-down meals on the trip since it let us try a whole bunch of food and was the easiest thing to order with the least amount of communication involved haha. Between the two of us, Brian and I had a fantastic meal. The salads – lyonnaise and beaujoliase were great. The first with ham and poached egg, the second with sausage cooked in wine. Entrée was Bavettes a l’echolates and faux filet – both steaks dishes with various veggies. French sauces are superb. Brian’s was with shallot sauce and mine with wonderful mustard sauce. Dessert was a raspberry tart maison and mousse chocolate (Brian tackled that one – way too rich for me. I know, surprising). We walked around out area a tad but mainly just went back to the hotel so I could rest and be better the rest of the trip. We were staying in the business area, so that old/historic/shopping areas would be explored Saturday. In our area though we did find Les Halles, an indoor gourmet food market. There were meats, cheeses, wines, oyster bars, and breads everywhere. We got out first croissant here. Obviously great. We were way too full from lunch for dinner that night, so it was off to bed and early to rise.

Sat, 11-Dec

Walked over to the main area of London to explore. Found a French chain café to get breakfast in called Brioche Doree or something. I got an almond croissant and Brian a chocolate one with an espresso. We walked to Bellacour Square to get info from the tourist office, and then decided to metro up to Croix Rousse (def didn’t spell this right), way up on the hill at the north end of Lyon where the silk weavers historically lived and worked. We visited a silk weaver’s shop called La Maison des Canuts and watched a video on how silk’s made. We missed the tour of the actual loom area, but I think it was only in French anyway, so no big deal. Also, sidenote, people do actually just walk around holding and eating baguettes in France. At least in Lyon and Dijon, we saw so many people carrying one that morning in Lyon that we had to stop into a local ship to split one for ourselves despite just having breakfast. After the silk shop we discovered a Christmas Market, saw the “Only Lyon” sign just like the “I Amsterdam one, and split a poulet (chicken) baguette for lunch. We made it back down to Bellacour Square in time for out 2:30 walking tour of the old district of Lyon. It was absolutely freezing but it was a pretty interesting tour. The streets in this area are long and the buildings close together, so there are these passageways called traboules that are cut –throughs through buildings to move quickly navigate around. These passageways are actually private and have stairs leading up to private homes, but during the day the passage doors are unlocked for anyone who knows where they are to use. Not all houses let their doors be passageways, but many do. On the tour we also learned about the city’s Roman history. It was started by them at the top of the hill and slowly expanded below. The Rhone and Soane run through the city, with the main area being between the two. The Rhone is the “male” and is supposed to be fierce and raging. The Soane, the “lady”, calm and quiet. Currently neither were quiet though. We also learned about the history of the Lights Festival taking place during our visit to Lyon. Back in the day they were going to inaugurate a statue of the Virgin Mary at the top of the hill at the cathedral on her birthday, Sept 8. Due to bad weather, the ceremony was pushed to Dec 8. That night, everyone put candles in their window to inaugurate the statue and now every year on Dec 8 Lyonnaise people follow the tradition. They sell glasses with small candles along with Lyon chocolates. I got one for a souvenir haha. Today, they have extended – the festival for 4 days (til the 11th) for commercial/tourism reasons. The festival of lights, within the past 10 years, has been quite an attraction to see. Throughout the main parts of the city, buildings and monuments are lit up in a variety of colorful and complex patterns. Some viewings are actually light shows that run every few minutes with accompanying music. I can’t even describe the massive amounts of people packed on the streets around these displays. Truly beautiful. After the show, we tried to get some dinner but failed, since we weren’t entirely hungry (bought a baguette and some chevre cheese from a cheese shop – only spoke French – right before the light show). Brian ended up getting a kebab since that’s the only quick, small meal you can get in France after 7:30. We learned quickly that restaurants do not serve lunch after 2 and won’t serve dinner until at least 7/7:30. Between 2 and 7 you can get all the bread, cheese, and pastries you want, but as soon as 7:30 rolls around all these shops basically close – you’re left with either a big sit down meal or kebabs. Anyway, the kebab ended up being fine for Brian for the night. After that we prepared to leave for our 6:45am train to Dijon in the morning.

inside a traboule!

from the top of lyon

this statue by day…

and the same one at night during the lights festival!

more of the lights festival - this one was actually a 10 min lights/music show

The last of the fun times in London :(

This is just going to be a scattered list of the last things that I did during my time in London. Sorry about it all bouncing around, but that’s just kind of what I did in the last two weeks!

Last few weeks in London

22-Nov – Harry Potter 7 on IMAX at the BFI theater with Ashley and Maggie – biggest screen in the UK! Awesome way to see it :)

It snowed the day after Dad and J left! It kept up for the rest of the week and was pretty :).

Repeat visit to Gordon’s Wine Bar. Ventures to Thai, Korean, and Indian restaurants.

Got the best jacket potato with baked beans at Pedro’s Café near work

Final visits to Ben’s Cookies (cherry and white choc chip) and Snog (apple crumble fro-yo)

Markets: Portobello Market – Hummingbird Bakery cupcake, roasted pig with rocket and applesauce on a baguette, falafel sandwich ; Brick Lane – Chinese dumpling

2-December – dinner at a Polish place in South Kensington with Bri, Edda, and Aleka. We were supposed to go to a Japanese place, but it closed early because of the snow (psh). The Polish place was so good. Their meat and cheese perogies rivaled the ones in Krakow. Afterwards we had cookies that Bri made along with Bailey’s and hot chocolate, supplied by my liter of mint chocolate Bailey’s that was half price at Sainsbury’s :)

3-December – “clubbing with the Brits” at Fabric

6-December – class visit to Kid’s Company, a community center for troubled kids

Saw the Christmas lights in Trafalgar Square

Tried to go ice skating at the Somerset House – beautiful!

7-December – CoCo MoMo’s with Kelsey: pumpkin soup and chicken wrap! ; wondered through Harrod’s and the Museum of Science (psychoanalysis and health exhibits) alone ; Carluccio’s with friends – we all went to different theater shows afterwards. Brian and I saw Jersey Boys! Amazing music and amazing seats – 4th row center! Student standby tickets for 25 pounds woo

8-December – lunch with Brian at Bugis St Singapore restaurant ; packed up :( ; last dinner with my friends at Da Mario’s

9-December – last gym, took my final, one last Borough Market run – got a veggie burger and bought a Borough Market burlap bag :)… sadly had to say my goodbyes, went to Brian’s to prep for 2:30am wakeup to go to Lyon! No last dinner or pint in London though because I felt miserable :(.

Thanksgiving with Dad and J

Thanksgiving visit pictures:

Thurs Nov 25

Dad and Jeremy landed in Heathrow at 7:30 Thanksgiving morning! I worked that day so I sent them off to do things until I got out. They ended up walking around Kensington Gardens, went to CoCo MoMo’s for lunch, and met Brian for coffee at Café Forum. I was lucky to get out of work early and then it was off to Thanksgiving dinner! We went to an Italian place across the river from the Tower Bridge called Tentazioni. The restaurant was really nice, but it was funny because in one of the rooms, they put all the Americans getting the Thanksgiving meal in one room, where they had Uncle Sam posters and American flags hanging everywhere haha. The service and food were excellent, and they also had an Italian opera singer performing throughout the meal. We got so much food. It was a set menu, but instead of choosing 1 appetizer, 1 entrée, and 1 dessert, you got all the options. Appetizers: shrimp cocktail with cranberry sauce, pumpkin ravioli. Entrée: roast turkey with cranberry stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, glazed carrots, cranberry and bread sauce, and pumpkin bread. Dessert: pumpkin pie, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate chip cookie. The meal couldn’t compare to SueSue’s Thanksgiving feast, but it did a pretty great job.

Fri Nov 26

Friday morning we went to the Muffin Man for breakfast. I hadn’t been before and wanted to try it out. Dad and J go the full English breakfast and I got smoked salmon, poached egg, and crumpets J. And of course we got a pot of tea. Then we went to Westminster Abbey, and that area and then Trafalgar Square and met up with Brian. We saw Monet’s paintings in the National Gallery, 10 Downing Street where the Prime Minister lives, and ventured over to the Churchill War Rooms. That was pretty cool. We went over to St Paul’s cathedral to try and walk around and climb to the top. We got there too late and only managed to peek inside, but that was enough. Then we walked across the Millennium Bridge (Harry Potter) and then went to a cool pub called Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. It was like Gordon’s Wine Bar in that it was underground and kind of cave-like. Then we went to Harrod’s, got a scone, and walked over to Med Kitchen for dinner.

Muffin Man breakfast —-^

Sat Nov 27

Started the day with breakfast and sampling at Borough Market. Had to take the fam to my favorite spot in London. After we went to Leicester Square to get theater tickets. We got some great seats for a show that evening to a British musical called Blood Brothers. We wandered to Covent Garden after to see the Christmas decorations there (tree, Rudolph topiary, and live reindeer! Haha) and then met up with Brian for a pub lunch at the White Hart, where J got shepard’s pie and Dad his first taste of fish n chips. Then we showed them Brian’s dorm and they met his roomie. Then, to satisfy the HP parts of London, we tubed up to King’s Cross to see Platform 9 and ¾. After that we went up to Hyde Park to see the massive Winder Wonderland Christmas festival. Then got dinner in Chinatown and saw Blood Brothers. Amazing show in terms of the actors’ voices. J wasn’t too keen on the story’s ending, but he acknowledged later that although it was very sad it was good.

changing of the guard —^

Covent Garden Christmas —^

Harry Potter :) —^

Sun Nov 28

Sunday we made a trip out to Wimbledon! We did a tour of the grounds and got to go inside the main courts and visited the museum after. We got another pub lunch in the small town around the stadium. On our way back, we stopped at High Street Kensington to get Ben’s Cookies (the best). A chocolate chip, triple chocolate, and Christmas crackle (choc and hazelnut) cookie later, we were on our way to the Tower of London. We got there late so Dad and J went in for a power 45 minutes to see the crown jewels while I hung around in Starbucks since I’d already been. While waiting I found they had an ice rink right bedside the tower. Since we’d been wanted to go, we decided to do this then since it was in a beautiful place. That night we had out last dinner together at Da Mario’s near me on Gloucester Road. This was one of Princess Diana’s favorite places to go. Their pasta (baked gnocchi!) is superb and their pizza looked amazing. The next morning Dad and J got an early start to Heathrow since the oh so convenient tube strike started then. It was a great visit and a treat for them to come over :).

Wimbledon —^

ice skating at the tower of london —^

End of internship!

Last 2 weeks of work – 23-Nov to 3-Dec

The last two weeks of my internship flew by. We had another staff meeting that I attended. The first presentation was done by Anna, an Ot who had been on a course of the weeks I had been there. Her presentation was about the course she took, called Bobath. It’s a way to classify different levels of cerebral palsy and helps develop the OT’s clinical reasoning skills and handling skills. The second presentation, given by Natasha and Emily, covered the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology supporting upper limb function. This area interests me a lot, so I especially enjoyed this part. I took Friday off that week because Dad and J flew to London Thursday morning to celebrate Thanksgiving with me J. More on that later. During my last week of work, I carried out my third and final session with the child I had been working with one on one. It wasn’t the best session since he was pretty distracted by others in the room. But that was a lesson for me to learn in dealing with unwilling patients so it all adds to my experience. The whole week was sad because I had to wrap up my work and say goodbye to all the kids and the OTs. I loved my internship and found working with all the OTs to be very unique and valuable experiences. Each OT was so great in involving me with their work, answering any of my questions, and always looking to have conversation - whether about their work or general things. They were all great women and I hope to be able to keep in touch with them. I’m going back to London over spring break to see Brian, so I’ll have to pop into the office and say hello again!

I amsterdam! Nov 19-21

All my Amsterdam pictures (had the wrong link earlier!):

Fri, Nov 19
Flew to Amsterdam! Met Carolyn and Ashley at the airport and met Lauren and Maggie at our hotel. Settled in around midnight and saw Brian when he got back from a night out with his friends for a few minutes. He was doing a tour through a company that took him to Amsterdam, the Dutch countryside, back to Amsterdam, and then out to Bruge. My friend and his friends were staying in the same hotel so we were all able to hang out a little throughout the weekend.

Saturday, November 20
We got up early to have breakfast at the hotel (really nice hotel and good breakfast, btw) and were at the Anne Frank house by 9:30. We were staying in the southwest part of the city so we took the metro into the center. Anyway we needed to get to the Anne Frank house early because the online tickets were sold out essentially so we didn’t know how crowded it would be. I think we must have gotten there right when it opened because the line wasn’t long and we got in easily. The house and it’s “secret annex” were really interesting to see. The Frank’s and another family were hidden in what was Mr Franks’s business office. They had bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs hidden behind a bookcase that covered a secret door. They could never go outside at all and had to be silent and still during the day so the workers in the building would not hear them. Eventually some one anonymously sold out their hiding place. They were discovered, arrested, and taken to Auschwitz. Some of the family members were taken to other camps, where they died in gas chambers or of disease. Mr Frank (Otto) was the only member to actually survive the war, one of very few Auschwitz survivors. Anne died a month before the war’s end. Seeing pages of her actual diaries was really amazing. The rooms in the house also had the original wallpaper, pictures and also tick marks that Otto recorded of his two daughters’ heights during their years in hiding. When Otto returned to Amsterdam after the war he later realized the house should be made into a museum to help make people realize the discrimination and problems that society deals with, even today. The house needed a lot of repair but through donations it was successful. The museum opened in 1961 I think. Pretty much everything in it is original. In his old age Otto held youth conferences at the house/museum to discuss societal issues. I thought that was a pretty cool thing for him to do in memory of his family and everyone else who were in similar situations.

^—Anne Frank house (modern from the front museum entrance. you can’t see the secret annex from here)

After the Anne Frank house we decided to get lunch at the nearby Pancake Bakery. For some reason they don’t consider pancakes breakfast here, so the restaurant didn’t open until noon. We used the extra time to just wonder and take lots of pictures of the beautiful canals. Amsterdam is really a pretty city. All the buildings are really close together and are all different yet compliment  each other nicely. They are architecturally old. The city is also quiet since cars aren’t popular. There are so so many bikes and they rule the road. You think you’re walking on the sidewalk or path and all of a sudden you realize that the bell you have been hearing vaguely behind you is actually a biker telling you to move quickly out of his way. Also during this free time we happened upon a little food market. It was like Borough market on a very small scale. They had free samples of cheeses, breads, spreads, fudge and even gingerbread. They were making the big gingerbread cookies right there so the free samples were warm and amazing. I’d heard that Amsterdam had really good gingerbread so after confirming that with my taste test I bought a big piece for later. Later being 5 minutes later :).

gingerbread :) —-^

one of a million canals —-^

So we finally got into the Pancake Bakery and it was amazing. Apparently Rachel Ray came here and highly recommended it. Instead of getting 1 massive pancake I got a bunch of mini ones. They were like silver dollar pancakes but puffy sort of like dumplings. I forget what they’re called. I got them we honey, nuts, mandarin oranges and whipped cream. Yumm :).

After lunch we walked around and got on a tram to another part of the city where we took a canal tour on a boat. It was an enclosed boat, but I stayed on the outside porch for most of the ride because the weather was surprisingly fantastic and I could also take better pictures there. The canal tour took us through the old parts which were beautiful and also the wider open main port where the financial area and trade and cruise ships are. Since I was outside most of the hour long ride I didn’t hear what the guide was saying, but I don’t think I missed much.

The canal tour conveniently ended right outside the Heineken brewery, so that was our next destination. This was pretty similar to the Guinness one in Dublin, but there were horses and interactive shows (we got “boiled and brewed” into beer haha). We also got to taste wort (barley and water before the yeast is added) and had tasting where we learned to appraise a beer (this is my 3rd time doing this now). At the end we could take pictures of ourselves and put it in an e-card with London Bridge with a Heineken emblem shown on it. And we could also make a music video singing along to a Dutch drinking song with a canal ride in the background. Of course we did both of these things. The tour ended with 2 refreshing complimentary drinks of beer.

After the brewery we walked up to Ledysplein(?) because we heard that was a fun place to explore. We ended up walking right into a protest that was ended. We had no idea what was going on and then a lady told me don’t worry it’s not dangerous. Haha. Apparently with the new government there have been lots of budget cuts and so the arts are losing a lot of money. We were in the theater district so that’s why the protest was there. It was cool to see people we playing music and carry signs and stuff. They were also randomly giving out free cake? So of course we got some haha. After passing by the protest we found this Winterland area with a small ice skating rink and food stalls and Christmas decorations. One stall was selling pastries. I saw an apple fritter (appelbeignet). Those being my weakness I got one and obviously it was delicious.

It was getting close to dinner time and Brian and his friends were back from their trip to the Dutch countryside and were ready to meet up for food. They went to a few different small towns and saw cheese and clog making factories. They got back after lunch and did a canal tour and also went to the Van Gogh museum (that’s for you Mr and Mrs Paul since Brian probably won’t tell you those details haha). Anyway we met up at an Italian restaurant since it was cheap and we could get a table for the 9 of us.

After dinner we all just walked around the city for the night together. As you know Amsterdam is famous for it’s Red Light district. Definitely knew I was going to feel super awkward walking around it but I figured it had to be seen ha. The right word for what I saw would be intriguing or thought-provoking. Everyone has their own lifestyle I guess haha. One funny thing we saw was this old tourist Asian man taking a picture of these girls behind their doors. It’s considered extremely rude to do this but he probably didn’t know that. So the girls make faces, open their door, and shoo him away by throwing water at him haha. The water didn’t actually reach him but it was still funny. After wandering around for a while a decided to get a chocolate covered waffle with M&Ms on it. He heated it up so the chocolate melted and I was like a happy little 5 year old eating it. It was a little awkward eating it through the Red Light district since it looked comparable to having popcorn for a movie haha but I was just focused on my waffle so no worries. We finished up the night at a bar and then all went back to the hotel relatively late.

Sunday, Nov 21
Brian and his friends had to get up before 8 to leave with their tour to spend a few hours in Bruge, Brussels before heading back to London. We got to sleep in though since we were traveling on our own and had done pretty much everything we wanted to do on Saturday. We went to the Museumplein to take pictures with the “I amsterdam” (I am amsterdam) sign. That was right by the Rijkmuseum where there’s art by Dutch artists like Rembrandt. And the Van Gogh Museum was also there. We didn’t go in because we’re not art people and can see Van Gogh in London for free. It was also a beautiful sunny day so walking around outside was better anyway.

We then went to Dam Square to do some souvenir shopping. Dam Square is a pretty place with lots of shopping and restaurants around it. The only annoying thing about it was that the palace, which is I’m sure gorgeous and the landmark of the city, was under construction and covered with scaffolding and canvas. Therefore no pretty pictures could be taken. Next we walked around to find a place for lunch. Got a falaffel, pita, salad sandwich from Maoz. It’s really good and apparently a chain. There’s luckily one in London that I can go back to and I may have actually already been to one in New York over the summer. After lunch we went to another Winterland area down the road. This was the same idea as the one we went to last night. I got this dessert called stroopwafel. Basically it’s this really thin waffle, like wafer thin with really small waffle grids made in a pizelle pan. Despite it’s thinness the waffle is cut in half horizontally, hot caramel (or syrup as the lady called it) is spread between and the two halves are reassembled. I bought it warm which was heavenly. You can also buy them room temp, or crumbled into pieces with warm caramel drizzled on top. I first saw these treats in a Starbucks in London ha but had never gotten one. This was the real deal though I’m sure Starbucks can’t compare. After this we pretty much finished our time in Amsterdam, made our way back to the airport and headed home to London.

stroopwafel in winterland :) —-^

This is my last travel weekend until my program is over. Dad and Jeremy are coming for Thanksgiving next week :). Then then I have a week and a half left in London. Before coming home to the States Brian and I are traveling through France for a few days. So stay tuned for all of that!

week 6 of internship - dos mas?

Nov 15-19

Work week highlights:

I observed a dressing clinic that Emily ran for a group of boys at one of the specialized schools. The boys worked on a social story that outlined the importance of clothing, and then they practiced putting on a shirt.

I also got to go on a home visit with Katy to see a 17 month old girl with Down Syndrome. We watched how she played with her toys and interacted with others around her. Katy was trying to see how this child compared to others her age essentially. This was a fun visit to go on. For her condition, they girl seemed to be doing really well. Katy gets to work with this girl for a while, so that’s the sad thing about my internship coming to a close soon. I won’t be able to see the long-term improvements of all the kids I’ve met. I have seen some kids improve though over the six weeks I have been around, which has been nice to see.

On Friday I got to hold my third session with the little boy at his school. This time we worked on recognizing facial expressions (making them out of playdough, acting them out, and drawing them), mimicking movements, remember positions and re-creating them, creating alphabet letters with your arms and legs, and throwing/catching. The boy seemed to be doing well so hopefully this continues. I have one more session with him during the last week I’m here!

^—-My walk back from the school to the office takes me along the canal leading up to Camden Market. It’s really pretty the whole way, this is just a little glimpse.

Non-work highlights of the week:

Monday, Nov 15 - My class took a field trip up to Kentish Town City Farm. It’s a farm up in Kentish Town (the same tube stop as my office, actually) and they are given funds by the NHS to treat mental health patients by having them interact with the animals there. The farm also holds other workshops that patients can participate in. A man named Gui gave us a workshop of our own - singing and dancing. You can imagine how thrilled I was to be doing that, but it actually wasn’t too bad. Gui was entertaining and was good at getting us to participate. And to make things better, after the singing but before the tour of the farm, they center served us tea, cookies, cake, and a whole bunch of different fruits. Very, very kind of them. Gotta love the English. But yea the farm was pretty cool. It’s strange to think that there are pigs and sheep just hanging out in the middle of a city. After class I went to Brian’s and we/he made stir fry for dinner. I did something of importance while he cooked but I can’t remember. Oh yea, I made reservations for a restaurant for Thanksgiving :). Surprisingly they do cater to the American population over here.

animals at the Kentish Town City Farm :) —-^

Tuesday, Nov 16 - Ice skating at the Natural History Museum! A whole bunch of places around here make ice rinks out in front of their buildings during the holidays. Tuesday was student night, so for 8 pounds we got rental, skating for an hour, and a free drink at the bar after. Before skating though, Ashley, Carolyn, and I went to Thai Square for dinner in South Kensington. The plan was to do that, and then grab a cookie from Ben’s Cookies right after on the way to skating. I wish someone had taken a picture of us, because right after we excitedly turned the corner to face Ben’s Cookies, our faces became extremely upset - the door was pulled down and Ben’s Cookies was closed. Brian happened to walk behind us right when that happened and he found our despair quite hilarious. So sad. Not ok. So instead we went to Wafflemeister to get a waffle since dessert was clearly on our minds. Ben’s Cookies to be continued. Ice skating itself was a lot of fun. We’re planning on going at least one more time, possibly to Somerset House, which is supposed to be gorgeous and hosts DJs. Many things to be accomplished in the next 3 weeks.

ice skating at the Natural History Museum —-^

the girls :) —-^ (carolyn’s picture!)

who’s that kid? —-^ (carolyn’s picture again!)

Wednesday, Nov 17 - Brian and I went to the Covent Garden / Leicester Square area to get Indian food at Dishoom. Pretty delicious. We split lentils, cheese/vegetable kebabs, lamb and rice, and garlic naan. That night his dorm’s bar was open and was having cheap drinks, so we just went down to socialize with his friends for a little and then I turned in to prepare for another early gym-run and work day.

Thursday, Nov 18 - Covent Garden food market! They have it every Thursday now during the holidays, so I went after work to check it out. It was like Borough Market on a small scale, I think some of the vendors were actually the same ones. I really wanted to get pumpkin soup with rye bread for dinner, but the lady sold the last cup of it right before I got there :(. I did get a tomato, basil, fresh mozz panini though instead so i was just as content (that one was for you, Jeremy and Kevin). Also got a bread pudding (lady said it was made with cookie and croissant pieces.. how could I not). Then, since the stalls were closing, a bread stall had a crazy sale to get rid of everything. All their stuff was half off, so I bought a massive loaf of Irish soda bread for 1.50 pounds instead of 3. Ate a few slices of it with hot chocolate when I got home and froze the rest for future delicious snacks. Why does life excitement revolve around food..?

week 5 of the internship. flying through!

The highlight of this internship week was that I got to work with a boy all on my own. My mentor OT said from the start that this would be a possibility, and so it finally happened. I worked with him on Tuesday and Thursday and will get to organize 2 more visits. On Tuesday I had my half hour lesson plan all set up. The boy has trouble with body awareness, meaning he struggles with knowing how his body moves through space, how he needs to operate his limbs to get tasks done a certain way.. We started with playing “head shoulders knees and toes” so work on his coordination and also identification of body parts. I made it more difficult by speeding it up. Lots of times for these kids you use a blindfold. This makes them think about what they need to do to move, rather just looking at themselves to figure it out. The boy didn’t want to use it for this though so oh well. Next we went inside the classroom and did some table activities. I had a picture of the person with missing body parts. Whatever was missing I outlined with dotted lines so he could trace over them and complete the picture. The next picture was the same thing but without dotted lines so he had to remember what parts were missing and how they should look (meaning 3d not stick figure). After this I had him color in the original picture naming all the parts. He used these nifty little double sided crayons that you’re supposed to flip with one hand. Fine motor skill work. The session was pretty simple, at least to me, but it was definitely a challenge for the kid. Still, it didn’t go exactly how I wanted, so for next time I did a lot more reading up on his case and tried to pick activities that were clearer and simpler. So on that Thursday I came in with a visual time table (a picture schedule) that showed him exactly what activities we were going to do that day and in what order. We started off playing simon says, then did a mime game. I cut out pictures of steps a kid would take in the morning to get ready for school. The boy had to put them in a sensible order and then act out each step. The acting had to be precise though with correct body movements. This means that when putting on pants, he had to pretend to individually step into each leg, not just pretend to pull his hands up to his waist fast. And for eating that meant pretenting with a fork and knife not just shoveling with your hands. This activity helped the boy become a better planner and think about what he needs to do to get tasks done properly. After the mime game I had him do tracing of his hand. He at first did a large general outline of his fingers without sticking against them. Then I showed him how he was supposed to do it so he could feel the pencil against him and learn what size his hand actually was.

Non internship things that happened this week:

Grace came again on Monday! She had her fall break and ended it back in London. It was great to see her for the fourth time this semester (good work sista). Got some din din at a place called Zizzi’s I think all with some Wake friends.

Tuesday night I made dinner to last forever and it was superb. Recipes if you like: and Still have loads more recipes to try out, either here or at home in our new kitchen :).

Wednesday was Pizza Express night with Brian, Aleka, and Bri. Then we went to a pub after and met Bri’s friend from home who was visiting. Oh also that day there was a massive student riot in London over the raise in university tuition that’s being proposed. Got violent and windows at the Conservative HQ were smashed. I wasn’t anywhere near it but it was interesting. My thoughts: stop complaining, we pay ten times more than you do in the US.

Catherine Morris re-enters my life Friday night. :). Haven’t seen her since we left for summer in May. Way too long. Met up with her and Susan and friends at the Queen’s Arms pub for dinner. Then we went out that night to O’Neills for some good times. Saturday Cat did a day trip while I hung around London trying to check things off my list. That failed a little, but I had just as much fun mindlessly walking around the streets without a plan. Stopped into Ben’s Cookies for the first time. Don’t know how I have not yet been to this little piece of heaven. Basically has the best cookies in the world (school cookies - high school and Wake ones - times 100). They’re priced by weight so you know they’re legit. I got dark chocolate chip with candied ginger in it. So amazing. Wanted to get 5 more kinds, but that’s another day. They have a gift tin that you can fill… tempting present to bring home.. Went to Harrod’s for the third time, now all decked out for Christmas. Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas was playing and I was getting more and more giddy by the minute. Favorite time of year. Bought a scone and was on my merry way. Saturday night Brian and I went out to a Korean restaurant called Assa. Had no idea what to order, so we let the waitress recommend stuff to us. Ended up getting a noodle dish. The noodles were made out of sweet potatos (and they were clear? weird but yummy) and had pork and veggies in a sweet sauce. Then we met up with Cat, Susan, and my floormates at a bar/club called Verve in Covent Garden / Leicester Square. We went to a bar called Freud first but it was too crowded for our big group. Do need to go back there though. But yea Verve was really fun. Good music, cheap entry (although they got you on the drinks good thing I didn’t get any) and all that. All in all fun weekend! It was great to catch up with Cat and relax in London :)

yay Cat :) —-^

Harrod’s Christmas cake.. ridiculous amount of money —-^

kissmas tree in Covent Garden. it lights up when you kiss underneath it’s mistletoe :)