Foodtastic Friday #7: Kieley’s

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It seems a little ridiculous that I’ve gone almost four months without actually eating a full pub meal in Ireland. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done plenty of sides, but I’ve been sorely lacking in a full meal. I think I was mistakenly under the impression that pub food was only burgers–which I get plenty of at home.

Let me just assure you right now: not true.

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The lovely pub that served as my first pub meal was Kieley’s, as seen above. Kieley’s is about a five minute walk from my residence, and so it’s the favorite spot of several students to grab a pint and have a conversation (or debate as is often the case). My personal favorite is the Bulmer’s (hard cider), but Kieley’s provides a large assortment of drinks on tap in their lovely, festive bar. Obviously, Christmas is in full swing here in Dublin and the pubs are no different.

20141127_124751My lovely friend, Faith, was in town, and so the two of us went out to dinner. I was eager to show off my favorite pub, and I remembered the signs advertising meal deals I’d seen but never capitalized on. With no real expectations, Faith and I headed in to grab some food and catch up.

I’d always known the staff and Kieley’s was friendly, but I was reminded once again as we stepped in the decorated pub. We grabbed a seat and were quickly asked if we were interested in grabbing a bite. Upon responding positively, we were handed two clip boards with several pages of laminated papers. Although the menus themselves were nothing special, the amount of variety certainly was! Kieley’s provides everything from appetizers to dessert, and if the meal I had was anything to go on, none of it is anything short of delicious.

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Faith grabbed a traditional Irish stew and some gluten free garlic bread. I’m told this is fairly difficult to find, so heads up everyone! As you can see, the bowl is quite large, and this hearty stew is quite filling. I went for a BLT ciabatta, and I was not disappointed. The sandwich came with a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup (part of the reason I was so set on the sandwich, honestly) and was served on a rustic wooden cutting board.

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I’ve never been let down by Kieley’s, and tonight was no exception. No matter what you’re looking for–a pint, a place to watch the Rugby game, or somewhere to get together with friends–Kieley’s is the place to go. Earlier in the nights tend to be quieter, unless there’s a game on, and later nights can draw a crowd so large it’s impossible to move around. All together, Kieley’s is a great representation of an Irish pub.

If you’re feeling like at night out at a friendly pub, try Kieley’s. You can find it at 22 Donnybrook Road, Dublin 4 and check out their website here complete with a menu. Be warned, however, part of the reason Kieley’s serves its menus on homey clipboards is due to its tendency to change and update!

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Foodtastic Friday #6: Burritos and Blues

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There is one type of food I have been craving for quite some time now: Mexican food–more specifically burritos and tacos. Ireland is pretty great about having a variety of cultural foods to choose from, but I could NOT seem to find any Mexican restaurants.

This week, thankfully, I was in luck.

Sierra, Faith, and I had just completed our long day of exploring Dublin, and we were pretty near starving at this point. Finding a restaurant to suit our needs was mildly difficult, however, because one of us is allergic to gluten, and the other is a vegetarian. Alas, as we neared the end of Grafton Street, a beacon of hope burned on a side street:

20141129_172848Of course, my heart was beating at twice its normal speed and saliva was gathering in my mouth already, but I just KNEW that this was exactly the food I–I mean we–needed. Most likely Sierra and Faith could see the child-on-Christmas-morning joy on my face, and they agreed that nachos sounded good to them (thank you for indulging my craziness, friends). Then we saw there was a student deal, so it was settled.

Inside was nothing special, but lime green seats and spray-painted art lined the walls with large text. At the very back of the small room lay the the kitchen, and, praise the lord, my burrito. Also, props to the random guy photo-bombing my picture with a smile.

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Both the girls grabbed Big Ass Nachos, while I opted for a chicken burrito with all the trimmings. Burn Salsa is delicious, contains a savory twang, and is not too hot at all. I might go and try the “Blow-Your-Head-Off” Salsa next time, but I was too scared to ruin my much desired burrito this time.

Although there was not many available seating inside for more than two people at a time, we enjoyed sitting outside on the small porch with the heat lamps warming us up. Sierra is pretty intent on her vegetarian Big Ass Nachos.

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I DEVOURED my burrito, and it was only 5.50 euro for the whole thing and a drink! Great times.

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If you’re in Ireland and dying for your fix of Mexican food, then make way for Burritos & Blues at 2 Wexford St Dublin 2. A picture of their menu has been uploaded below, and you can check out their Facebook and website.

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Nerds Reunited–Dublin Edition

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As the homesickness for Turkey and Thanksgiving set in, so did the impending weekend of the next nerd reunion–minus a few members.

Although I was still entrenched in the “finish my science study” craze, the weekend still picked up on ten times a better note than the ending of our last reunion; I had gotten my phone the night before from family friends at a nice dinner reunion described here. I grabbed faith from the Aircoach stop, and we talked science for a bit with much crazy hand gesturing and excitement and brofists (#womeninSTEM). Although we had planned to go to a dinner my residence was putting on, we got too hungry and decided to head over to Kiely’s for a great time.

Friday contained a long day of science while Faith explored the city center, but we killed time waiting for Sierra by going to a cute tree lighting ceremony Donnybrook was putting on. There was one terribly moment where I was convinced Faith had gotten terribly lost and was about to storm Dublin searching for her, but then she appeared! Thank goodness!

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Then we captured a wild Sierra with a Franny sandwich (group hug) and spent the rest of the night cackling with nerd-ish glee! Dublin has slightly less obvious sightseeing locations, but I did manage to drag them through most of Dublin on Saturday and part of Sunday. Highlight pics below, but I believe it’s pretty fair to say the Guinness tour was our favorite.

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Augustine’s Cathedral, St. Catherine’s Christmas Fair, the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Castle, Burritos & Blues, the Christmas Market, the Port, and Mockingjay! Not a bad birthday weekend!

Its hard to describe how great it was to see these girls. I’m so glad both Sierra and Faith ended up in Britain, because being able to see them twice supplied the energy I really needed to keep going. I’ve made some great friends here, but there’s something about not having to explain all your embarrassing stories and personality quirks again that’s extremely refreshing. Honestly, my favorite moments from the weekend didn’t revolve around the historic sites of Dublin at all.

Listening to Sierra and Faith snark about during the first Lord of the Rings Movie–which I’d never watched until this weekend. Making Sierra read FMA, Faith read Naruto, and then popping back and forth between the different screens. Every grumpy cat Sierra took, and every faithfully bad pun Faith spurted. All of it was great.

So basically…

Love you awesome Nerds. I expect our adventures to keep going.

 

 

Hey, I’m 21!–In Ireland…

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A guide to the emotional roller coaster of coming of age in a different country.

Most Americans tend to feel that the 21st birthday is the last birthday really worth celebrating. After 21, surviving another year doesn’t come with any benefits–there’s no rule saying you have to be 30 to go on a cruise or any such restriction. At 21, the world is pretty much your oyster, the last roadblock to becoming a full-fledged adult, and a certain hype tends to build around that.

Warranted or not, half-thought out plans and dreams form around this birthday much like you might visualize a wedding. Underage friends promise each other to make it the best night of each other’s lives. Road trips to Vegas seem forbidden and exciting.

Regardless what level of intensity the plans take, there is always the underlying understanding that when this momentous occasion occurs, it will occur with you together.

Except when it isn’t momentous and you aren’t together.

I’ve never been one to put a lot of thought into my birthday. I’m the kind of girl that makes sure Facebook doesn’t send reminders to people that it’s my birthday. I hate the idea that anyone is obligated to treat me differently because of the day on the calendar, but as my special day approached, I couldn’t help but feel…

…robbed.

My dearest and closest friends were spread out across the globe, and the one thing that made my 21st birthday so special was something I’d been able to legally do since I set foot on an international flight. For a person so used to trying to avoid the birthday spotlight, it was weird that I felt so obscured now that this momentous occasion had been ripped away.

Thankfully, my bitterness didn’t last too long, because Faith and Sierra traveled from Britain to make sure I felt pretty dang special. Over and over again they demonstrated just how well they knew me, with nerdy movies, manga, feminist rants, and Mockingjay. When I said goodbye, I was actually feeling pretty great.

Sipping a coffee in the coffee dock, I never imagined my birthday was about to get even better.

Atreyi was sweet enough to sweep into the room with a box of cupcakes in hand, alerting everyone in the area that it was my birthday. To this moment, I can’t decide if the treats actually tasted as good as I remember, or if I was just touched. Michelle was horrified that she hadn’t been able to decorate my door (something we generally do for hallmates), but Atreyi assured her she had that covered as well–which I responded to with a very confused expression. Sure enough, when I went back to my room, this lovely sign was greeting me:

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Additionally, both girls promised to dedicate a night out this week, and we’re going dancing on Thursday. Dancing is my ultimate weakness, so I agreed pretty readily. Plus, who could deny a night out with friends like these?

So, if you’re turning 21 in a country where you’ve already passed the drinking age, don’t fret. It’s going to hurt. A lot of your long-dreamed plans are going to fall through. But also take a moment to remember where you are, abroad. That’s sure to be a story for the rest of your life if nothing else.

But the most important advice I can offer you is to surround yourself with friends. They’re what make the moment special–not the drinking age. Create memories, and have a blast.

McKenzie out.

Foodtastic Friday #5: East Side Tavern

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Once again, I was able to stay away from Asian food this week and delved into pub food.

I had the great luck to be able to meet up with family friends from my hometown, and to welcome them to Ireland we all went out to dinner. The restaurant I had in mind was unfortunately, closed, but we ended up right next to a warm looking pub called East Side Tavern.

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Christmas was definitely in the air, and the interior was strung up in twinkle lights and even had a merrily glowing Christmas tree in the background. Deep browns and dark wood set the decoration theme for the bar, and the main source of light was candle light. Maybe most intriguing, with its enormous tower of alcohol bottles, was the bar that served as the centerpiece for the tavern.

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After directing us to a seat, it wasn’t long until our waiter returned to take our orders, and I have to say that the staff was extremely friendly. We were already being waited on by one waiter, but that didn’t stop his colleagues from checking to make sure we were okay every once and a while–and we were far from the only people in the establishment.

We decided to split an appetizer, and grabbed a “full cheeseboard” with colattin cheddar, wicklow bann, and comte. The cheeseboard also came with a couple slices of apple, fig, and pieces of bread organized artfully on a wooden cutting board. However, it was the moment the appetizer landed on the table that I realized even though the plate was 11 euro, it was going to be far from filling. Each slice of cheese was the size of a Babybel cheesewheel if not smaller. They WERE delicious, just tiny.

Then came the main meals.

Like the appetizers, the dishes were intricately prepared, but tiny. The crab dish contained three small crab dishes, and the salmon dish had the TINIEST slices of raw (but good) salmon imaginable. Each plate was decorated with ornate sliced carrots and drizzled sauces, but did little as a main meal. The bowl of mussels was a reasonable size–large, even–and the table enjoyed sharing them. In the picture below, our plates frame the mussel dish and side of chips we ordered.

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The intricate display or the tasty-but-small crab cakes.

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After the flavorful dinner, we decided to grab dessert and were intrigued by the addition of an item called BEERamisu. It much resembled tiramisu, but the bottom of the glass was full of stout, fresh Guinness. We also grabbed some churros with chocolate sauce, which I can list no possible complaint for. They were warm, sweet, and everything expected of a dessert.

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If you’re craving mussels, BEERamisu, or would like to see a large stack of alcohol, then The East Side Tavern at 104 Leeson St. Lwr, Dublin 2 is your place. It looses a lot of points in my book for being so skimpy on the meal sizes and expensive, but you can check out their twitter, facebook, and the menu below before you decide for yourself.

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Foodtastic Friday #4: Nando’s Peri Peri

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It’s that time of the week again! I’ve finally broken away from Asian food, and this blog is all about the wonders of Portuguese cuisine.

The restaurant in today’s spotlight is Nando’s, and I’ve actually been there twice–in two separate countries. My first expedition to Nando’s took place in London, when Faith and I were visiting our friend Sierra. Much of the dining area was visible from outside due to the large windows that composed most of Nando’s walls, and the warm assortment of reds, yellows, and oranges couldn’t help but create a vibrant environment. The large crowds at the tables created a pleasant background noise, and laughter was a common occurrence. This was a common theme in both restaurants, even if the set up wasn’t completely the same. The image below was taken in Dublin.

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After snagging an empty booth, I perused the menu and decided to grab a Veggie PERIdise burger. I’m not actually vegetarian, but I do enjoy vegetarian meals. Nando’s is special in that waiters and waitresses will seat you and hand out menus, but they don’t take orders; so we queued at the counter to place them ourselves.

I was extremely pleased by the mashed potatoes I ordered with my burger. They were perfectly seasoned, and warm enough to fight the cold of the night but not hot enough to scald my tongue.  Unfortunately I didn’t grab a picture, but I snagged a pic from a friend (taken at the same location).

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The veggie burger itself was a tad dry. Although the burger came with tomatoes and lettuce, it still seemed to be missing something. That something, as it turned out, was Nando’s extremely large variety of sauces. Spicy-ness ranges from flavorful to extra spicy. I was only able to test about two (the garlic sauce was SPECTACULAR), but I swore to return and try them all.

Which I did. In Dublin.

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Dylan was celebrating his 22nd birthday, and I was pleased to learn he’d chosen to do so at Nando’s. Although Michelle and I got a bit lost on the way there, we eventually found our way to the party. I grabbed a large serving of chips and  peach rooibos tea, and Michelle grabbed a veggie burger.

I had a great time for a lot of reasons other than the sauces, but I’ll admit that I had fun trying the sauces. None of them were too hot for me, and even the sauces dedicated to being spicy had a tangy flavor I enjoyed. The staff was particularly great and let us stay past closing to finish our food (we had had so much fun talking that very little eating got done), and when we headed outside, it was raining. Oh, Ireland.

 But anyway! If you’re feeling a craving for some Portuguese food, head to 12 St Andrews Street, Dublin, Dublin 2 or one of their other locations that can be found on their website. For sake of ease, the menu has been included below.

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Foodtastic Friday #3: Pho Ta

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It seems I gravitate towards oriental foods no matter where on the globe I am. This Friday’s adventure was Vietnamese food. Okay, prior to that, the adventure was Christmas shopping, but that’s another adventure for another blogpost.

At half six, the sun was long gone, and a chill was beginning to set into the Dublin air. Sarah, Atreyi, Ralph and I were more than a little tired (sorry for shopping so long, guys!), and hunger had set in. I actually wasn’t hungry, but I was willing to come along wherever the group was going.

Atreyi insisted she knew the best place to grab Vietnamese food, so we followed along, zigzagging and cutting through alleyways until we ended in front of this beautiful little storefront. I took a moment to applaud the typography–I’m sure Beth would love it–and we headed inside.

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Inside was no less charming than the outside, and I would argue that it was even more so. The restaurant was once a house, so the homey feel was immediate with the addition of the low-lit lights and soft music. Golds and dark woods decorated the small space, and only a couple of other quietly talking groups were present. We stayed for long enough to know that the crowds of people definitely kept coming.

Ralph was kind enough to order our table a round of appetizers, although I couldn’t for the life of me pronounce the name: nem thit. They were a deep fried, pork spring roll. The sauces that accompanied it were one more sour sauce (like a vinegar) and another hot sauce. Yum.

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For the main course, I enjoyed xio thit, which is steamed sticky rice with pork. Oh, my goodness, it was delicious. The pork was so tender it literally fell apart in my mouth, and it was juicy enough to flavor the sticky rice. In addition, the meal came with a small cucumber salad that I enjoyed very much.

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Although I eat with chopsticks often, I think I’m just at the point where I can eat my food normally without dropping pieces or generally looking like an idiot. Atreyi (who spent time in Korea) and I were pretty proud of our skills.

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Anyway! The meals are extremely well priced. Sarah paid  nine euro for a bowl of ramen so big she couldn’t finish it, and there were not complaints at our table. See those happy smiles?

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Check out their Facebook here or go grab some food at 6 Cope Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Dublin, Ireland. Their menu is a literal book, but they DO have picture on their FB page, so go check that out if you’re interested.

Foodtastic Friday #2: Borza Take Away

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What kind of college kid would I be if I didn’t review at least one “fast food” restaurant? Let’s be honest, as a college student, life is not all sit-down-restaurants and wine-tasting. More often it’s studying, studying, fun, more studying, and, “Hey, what type of food goes well with studying?” Well, friends, worry no more. I am about to tell you what the best study snack is.

Curry chips.

Yes, you heard me: curry chips. Curry chips are the lifeblood of college students. They inspire intellectual insight, motivate mass amounts of manual labor, and produce productive plans (okay, I went overboard with the alliteration, but use any excuse, right?).

But what exactly ARE curry chips?

Well, my uncultured turnip, curry chips are thickly sliced potatoes covered in curry sauce. Americans (of which I actually AM) would better understand the dish if I called them curry FRIES–but po-tate-o, po-tat-o, chips, fries. A picture of them is included just  below (enjoy my blue duvet and nerd-glasses-sheets).

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Yes, they look messy. Yes, they are messy. And yes, they’re not the healthiest treat. Nonetheless, they’re warm, flavorful, and a great little break during the mundane routine that is writing a practical (lab) report. Curry chips can come covered in a variety of curries, but this particular brand uses yellow curry. Some curry sauces even contain visible spices and tomato chunks, but while the looks of the curry are varied, I’m sure they’re all delicious.

Now, where did I get such wonderful treats?

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About five minutes from my dorm is a small, one-roomed shop called Borza’s Take Away. The Subway-esque bar is manned by a couple members of staff who work to churn out the orders of the constantly busy room. Several maps of Ireland line the room, and the menu is prominently displayed in several locations.

My first time there I grabbed a chicken wrap–which I highly recommend–as a five euro meal deal. Obviously the food isn’t five star quality, but it’s tasty and serves well as fuel to those grabbing a quick, cheap dinner.

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When I decided to try the garlic cheese chips, I was expecting a creamy cheese sauce with some garlic powder or even some sliced cloves. Not nearly the case. The garlic was added as a garlic cream from a tube, and the cheese was just unmelted shredded cheese. Sadly, the flavors did NOT complement each other at ALL, and I could only eat about eight bites before I gave up entirely.

But all in all, not a bad little shop. Quick service, warm food, low prices. As a broke college kid, who can beat that? Grab the curry chips at 4 Donnybrook Road, Donnybrook D4, Co. Dublin.

*Menus up soon.

Foodtastic Friday #1: HaiLan Korean Restaurant

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Okay! So, because I’m obviously terrible at keeping a regular blog, I’m going to take a leaf from my good friend Faith and introduce a weekly event: Foodtastic Fridays!

Trying new food is never a hassle, and if any of you all ever head over to Ireland, hopefully I’ll have some useful advice for you! I’m going to start off this event with the second restaurant I went to when I hit Dublin.

Crazily enough, some friends and I were craving Ramen. No, not the ramen in plastic packages (which there is a surprising deficit of here), but the actual Asian (it’s unclear to whether it originated in Japan or China) dish. Ramen is noodles served in a meat broth–although it can be served in fish broth–with various toppings like mushrooms, pork, green onions, dried seaweed, kale, and an odd processed fish product called kamaboko. Look, it even comes in Hello Kitty shape!

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As always, the journey to GET to the meal was half the battle. We had originally searched out two restaurants as options–the names of both ellude me at the moment. However, as wifi became a memory in the crowded streets of Temple bar, we were forced to regroup at Starbucks (pumpkin lattes AND wifi, yes please). After setting out again, we did find the restaurants we were looking for, but they were either far outside our college budget, or didn’t serve the varieties of ramen we were craving. Just as we were resigning ourselves to do something else, we found this cute little shop:20140914_202840

The inside was very bright and welcoming, and I’m kicking myself for not snapping a picture (maybe I’ll go back and grab one later). There were two tiers for seating, a bar in the center where patrons could pay and simultaneously be tempted to buy more food in the form of adorable deserts.

I grabbed the tonkotsu ramen–which is pork bone broth–and loved it. Although I prefer the ramen I shared with my old roomie Jenny, this was a great meal as well. It was only ten euro, and it was served with oniguri! I love oniguri.20140914_195210

So, basically the Emily, Michelle, and I agree: 10/10 would recommend trying out HaiLan Korean Restaurant! Try it out yourself at 65 Dame Street, Dublin 2, Ireland.

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Also, I enjoy being able to see the menu to get an idea of the place, so here they are!

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Nerds Reunite!–London Edition

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This has been sitting in my drafts for quite a while–*cough* one month *cough*–but I finally got the energy to sit down and finish it! (And pretend I put this up in October like I was supposed to.)

During the last weekend in October, I embarked on one of the greatest adventures of my life. It all started when Sierra messaged Faith and I with a simple demand: “Daniel Radcliffe is coming to London Comic Con. Get over here.”

Naturally, that’s all it took to set me to planning my getaway immediately. Faith agreed soon afterwards, and before the clock struck noon, everyone had tickets to come to London–and comic con!

Comic ConI left early Thursday morning, and because I never looked at a map, I thought it was fine to fly into Manchester airport. The flight was only 10 euro, so I was pretty much sold, and then I bought what I thought were train tickets to London. Lies. What I actually bought was a six hour bus ride, and Manchester is nearly on the other side of Britain from London. Check it out.

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Regardless of the long, long trip, I made it to London. After switching buses in Birmingham, I started a conversation with girl in a Bullet for my Valentine shirt, and we had a great time conversing for the rest of the trip. Also, keep in mind that the red line is NOT the path my bus took–it’s the quickest path. I took National Express, which had comfy enough buses, but I’ll get into my problems with them later.

Soon after I got off the bus, I was able to secure wifi in a sketchy little cafe where you could buy internet time (really felt thrown back a couple decades). Faith was nearby, so we planned to meet up, and then headed together to the Mile End stop. After getting creeped on by a rando and totally lost on Sierra’s campus, Sierra came and collected us. When the celebratory hugging had subsided, we went to Nando’s for dinner, which I talk about in this post.

 Unfortunately, Sierra had class the next day, but after we shared breakfast at a place that had a weirdly-unique-name-that-escapes-me Faith and I had fun wandering the campus. We even found a herb garden and trees that were changing colors, so that made both of us pretty happy.

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It wasn’t long until Sierra got out of class, and then, COMIC CON! I met a sister TARDIS in the tube, saw Daniel Radcliffe speak mouth words in my general direction, met up with another DU-er, ate lots of cheese and bread, took pictures with everyone I possibly could, listened to the voice-actor for Ed in Brotherhood, walked right next to the Power Rangers, got really excited for Horns, sat in on a panel at the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, fought against the crowd, and just had loads of fun! Granted, this took place over a span of three days, but it was so great! Enjoy the best moments below, such as Franan being annoyed by the queue!

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So there we have Pikachu, Kakashi in a suit, Erza Scarlet from Fairy Tail,  Madara, a random ANBU, Suigetsu, Hinata, and Pitt–in no particular order. Of course, we did much more than go to comic con, but every day we did go to Comic Con.

On top of being super nerdy, we also enjoyed sights like the Shard, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, and Westfield shopping center. The we also did things like watch Rocky Picture Horror Show, and read manga, and I basically had a fantastic weekend.

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All good things must come to an end, and this long weekend was no different. However, it cam to more of an abrupt halt than I was expecting. First of all, my 6 hour bus was a half hour late, which lead to it being over an HOUR late for my 8 am flight. I was also exhausted, and coudn’t help falling asleep in the final (EXTRA) hour of travel. I thought my phone/headphones were safely tucked into the ouside pocket of my laptop case, but that was not so. Apparently, wrapping items around your body do not make them safe.

In my frantic rush to get to the security line on time, I didn’t notice my phone was missing until I got off the bus. I ran back as soon as I did, but my bus had already left. With a sick feeling in my stomach, I proceeded to the security line until I could get to a phone, and immediately called National Express. They informed me they could not call the bus driver, as he could not take calls during his travel, but they would check the bus for my phone when it reached its final destination.

First of all, false. The driver had been taking calls that whole trip, and there were two staff members on board–presumably so one could focus on driving while the other dealt with other problems?! Second of all, this was not a city bus. This was a long distance bus that only made stops about every hour. I got through security in record time, and had they called the driver, I’m positive my phone could have been recovered before my phone left the bus–the man sitting next to me had not left the bus when I did. Alas they did not, and my phone never made it to the final stop.

I’ve since been able to get another phone, but I’ll always be sad about the picture from my final day (complete with Westfield pics and an awesome Lilu cosplay from Fifth Element). So, London pickpockets DO exist, actually, so be careful.

But don’t let them ruin a great memory. I’ve been bitter for a long time, but writing this post helped me to remember I really did have a fantastic time in London.