Thursday, 28 April 2011

All Orange'd out

Thanks to my good friend Alex, I've celebrated more Dutch holidays than I ever knew existed. Last year we rang in Christmas at the local Dutch pub with complete with lots and lots of Dutch beer, a Sinterklaas and really horrible Dutch pop music.

Exhibit A: The dreaded, but incredibly catch 'train song'

Tomorrow my London family (minus one Viking) and I are off to Holland, the land of Dutchies to celebrate Queen's Day in proper style. I have my orange t-shirt all packed and ready to go. Now it's time for bed as I'm getting up at stupid hour to catch our flight.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Why Mothers are the most efficient people. Ever.

I've been putting off booking my flight back home for weeks now.

I think my mom got a bit fed up asking me when I was leaving because last night on Skype she asked me what date i was planning on going.

"umm... July 24th, no, the 21st. Hold on, maybe sometime the week of July 20th. No wait, actually no, definitely July 24th"

Less than 10 minutes after ending our Skype call, I received an email from Air Canada informing me that my ticket from London Heathrow to Toronto Pearson had been booked for July 24th.

My mother does not waffle about. She does not procrastinate. She acts. That's just one of the many things I love about her. Also, she has a lot of air mile points to transfer --> * Bonus *

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Barclays Bikes of Death

I crossed another two items off my bucket list today.

1. Ride Thames Clipper

Result? B minus

Not quite the romantic vision I had of standing on the top deck, wind blowing through my hair watching the impressive skyline of London pass by. It was more like sitting inside because it was too cold to stand outside, and having screaming children run around. Also the windows were too dirty to make out any of the buildings.

2. Rent a Barclays Bike and ride around the city

Result? Massive fail.

First we couldn't get the bikes out of the docking station, even with me and Jess (aka the strongest girl I know) tugging on the bikes. Then the seat, even at the lowest setting, was too high for me. Clearly these were not made for Irene-sized people.

And then there was the issue of actually riding through the streets with the rest of London's traffic. Scary? More like life flashing before your eyes terrifying. Imagine trying to maneuver through cars, London cabbies, double decker buses, other bikers and pedestrians who walk as if they own the street. Now imagine them all on the wrong side of the road.

...yup I know... not fun.

Thankfully it wasn't a long journey and I made it home in one piece, albeit with shaking legs and newfound appreciation for anyone who attempts to travel through this city on two wheels.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Leaving London - Part 1

Most, if not all of you know that I am leaving my beloved London home in a scant few months.

One of my late discoveries of this gorgeous, noisy, hectic city is the simple pleasure of afternoon tea - a timeless English tradition that embraces a freshly brewed pot of tea, scrummy scones and a variety of cakes that look almost too good to eat.

The other day, I indulged and introduced my cousin Kim to afternoon "sweet tea" at one of the city's most popular cafes - Bea's of Bloomsbury, which is consistently rated one of the best places for cakes, cupcakes and well - anything sweet.

I used to be shy and slightly embarrassed about taking photos of my food in restaurants. Now it seems that everyone whips out their cameras at the dinner table and goes snap happy before taking their first bite. When did we all start documenting our eating habits? Maybe when the food started to look so damn good....

check out exhibit A -

...and then there's beautiful sight of freshly baked scones with a heap of clotted cream and strawberry jam on top

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Yes, asian girls can drive

In your face Young Drivers of Canada - you may have failed me three times before granting me a license, but it's true - asian girls CAN drive.

...well snowmobiles at any rate...

Here's something I wasn't expecting about snowmobiling across a glacier

1. Even if you show up dressed in layers + snowboarding pants/jacket apparently it isn't warm enough. No, you need to don a full body suit, which unfortunately for me, didn't come in irene-sizes.

Basically I looked like the shorter, Asian version of the Michelin Man.

2. Snowmobiles are not made for people with small hands. I may have "the perfect hands for violin" as my violin teacher had proclaimed so many times, but they ain't built for handling a snowmobile

3. Snowmobiles are not made for sharp turns. If you try to make a sharp turn, you may find yourself heading straight into your tour guide instead.

4. If you want to go fast on a snowmobile, make sure you're at the back of the line of other snowmobiles, then sneakily slow down and get a good distance behind before speeding up. Try to avoid bumps.

At the end, happy that I had survived a white-knuckle, slightly terrifying experience snowmobiling, there was only one thing left to do....