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Three hundred and seventy-five

19 Oct

August 15, 2010 to August 25, 2011. 375 days, to be exact. Spent in London, England.

And now I’m home. Back in the United States. A country that somehow became foreign to me as I explored foreign countries. Weird? Yeah.

Sitting here, it’s kind of like a ‘scratch your head moment.’ Did that year really happen? I blinked and suddenly I had lived in Maida Vale and Canary Wharf, worked at an international law firm, met people from all over the world and traveled to nine countries and cities whose names I can’t even pronounce.

People have asked me what I learned in London, what I would miss the most. I can sit here and say that I learned more in my one year living abroad than I did in all my years of schooling combined. I learned that a mistake was no longer getting an answer wrong on an exam, it was scheduling a meeting in Dubai for 3am UK time because you forgot the time difference. It was learning how the UK system of law works and applying it to the tasks that needed to get done. It was learning how to take initiative and it was learning how to to have confidence in my abilities and my knowledge. It was understanding that mistakes are inevitable and will be made, but it’s how I dealt with them and fixed them and kept a level head throughout the process that would be the true test.

I explored more than I ever have before. I wandered streets, I napped in parks, I researched languages and slept in dirty hostels because I wasn’t about to let my meager salary stop me from seeing as much as I could. I got a terrible sunburn in Turkey, missed the last bus home in Portugal, chugged out of a beer stein in Munich and saw a frozen waterfall in Reykjavik. I took planes, busses, taxis, trains, subways and walked until my loose shoe fell off a bridge in Istanbul. I slept in airports to catch 5am flights. I gathered postcards and little treasures in each city to take part of that culture home with me.

I met people from all over the U.S. who had decided to take this ridiculous, wonderful adventure, too. We went to concerts in Hyde Park, took over pubs after work, put on ridiculous outfits to go watch a polo match. We ran around London like it was our playground and we understood that we had 365 days to love on this city like it was the last thing we would ever do. We missed our families and friends, yeah, but we spent the holidays and birthdays and milestones together. We lived together, ate together, traveled together and in one year of friendship, learned more about each other than some of our lifelong friends at home knew about us.

And London. Oh, my wonderful London. You gave me everything. You were as much part of my education as anything else was. You taught me how to be assertive and how to stand up for myself. You showed me beauty in history, in architecture, in culture. You showed me kindness in strangers and love in new friends. You were magic. You taught me to walk with confidence and to push for what I deserve. You brought me to my knees as your overwhelming power crushed me and humbled me. You left me in tears sometimes as you chewed me up and spit me out. You made me happier than I have ever felt and you made me love you like I’ve never loved a city before. Don’t worry, London, we’re not done with each other. You haven’t seen the last of me. I’ll be back. Count on it.

In 375 days, I became a citizen of the world. I became a new person, and one that I am proud to be. My year in London sent me down a path that I will follow for the rest of my life. And now, the path has led to me New York, New York, a city that I have always dreamed of. I will take all that I’ve learned and apply it to the one passion that has been with me my entire life: becoming a writer. While this chapter comes to a close, another one reopens. Follow me here, and watch as I turn the page and begin the next phase. It’s been a wonderful year with you. Thanks so much for reading and being a part of it.

Cheers.

The Mishaps of Marmaris

15 May

I left London for the wedding.

There, I said it. Get all of your gasps and screams of terror out of your system now, ok? Let me explain the rationale behind this decision: The weekend prior to the wedding was already a four-day weekend, due to Bank holidays, and the following Monday was the May Bank holiday, so when Will and Kate declared their wedding day the 29th, BOOM! Two four-day weekends in a row were born. Ergo, one could request the three weekdays off in between these two weekends, and get an 11-day holiday. Comprende?

And so I took those days off, along with Kate, Kenny, Dan, Matt, Kendra and Sarah, and we took our pale, American asses to Marmaris, Turkey for a 5-night, 6-day, all-inclusive Turkish holiday.

For those of you geographically impaired

I could and should start by discussing how beautiful the Turkish coast is, how blue the Aegean sea was, or how much fun I had with my wonderful Mountbatten friends, but all of that takes a backseat to the most important, the most beautiful, thing that Turkey gave me: my tan.

Honestly, I know how sick you have all been of me hearing me bitch and moan about the color of my skin, so congratulations! You no longer have to hear about it. The stars are once more aligned, the earth is spinning properly on its axis, and all balance is restored. Yes, I know I have a problem and I’ll consider seeking help once I return home.

Now that this is on the table, let me get back to my holiday. As you may imagine, majority of the time was spent lounging in the sun with drink in one hand, err, both hands, but there were  a few other events and mishaps that are worth mentioning.

Mishap #1 – The Sword

On our second night in Marmaris, the entertainment team at our resort offered to take anyone who was game into the city for a night out. Kind of like a chaperone, if you will, to help us navigate the busy Bar St.  I’d say there was a group of about 20 of us heading out from the hotel in total. We hopped around from place to place, danced on a few bars…

 

and finally figured we would call it a night around 3am. As we all gathered outside one of the bars, about to head on the bus home, we hear a shout coming from 100 yards away. Then another shout.  And before we knew it, a fight had broken out among some locals. Oh, DeenaPro, this is one of those times you should stop reading, please. Anyway, the fight was far enough away where no one was that concerned. It was only after a man darted around the corner wielding…wait for it…a SWORD, that some internal alarms started going off. Honestly, I am no expert in acts of physical violence, but for any of you that are, consider yourself warned: Swords seem to be the norm in Marmaris, Turkey. After the sword man (as he shall henceforth be named) disappeared around the corner, we were efficiently herded to our bus and headed back to the resort with everyone’s limbs in tact. Honestly, I know I shouldn’t joke about this because it really could have been a dangerous situation, but, honestly, what is this? Aladdin? Zorro? Really?

Mishap #2 – The Elevator

You’d think our run in with the Prince of Arabia was enough excitement for one night. Not so. We arrived back at the hotel around 3:30am and Kate, Sarah, Kendra, Matt and I headed to our rooms, along with three of the other hotel guests that had been out with us. In our tired stupor, we had the brilliant idea to pile all eight of us into an elevator about the size of a port-a-potty. Curse you, alcohol, and your ability to make terrible ideas seem logical. As the doors closed, a MURRRR noise sprung up, which should have been a massive clue that we had about five too many  people in the lift.  Sadly, logic did not set in, and after about 8 seconds of ascension, the lift came to screeching halt. #Winning.

After this sudden stop, we all kind of looked at each other with a collective ‘WTF’ look across our faces. Like, this doesn’t actually happen in real life, right? Yeah, well, apparently it does. First, we tried pressing random elevators buttons. Didn’t work. Then, we pressed the alarm button. Didn’t work. At this point, one of the boys said, “I wonder how long we will be stuck in here! I hope there is enough oxygen for all of us!” It was at this statement that I started, for lack of a better term, freaking out. Thankfully, Kate, in all her brilliance, picked up the phone that was next to the buttons and dialed the number that was on a sticker on it. This is what the conversation sounded like:

Kate: Hello? We are stuck in the elevator!

Kate: Hello?!

Kate: Can you hear me?

Kate: Hello?!

Kate: WE. ARE. STUCK. IN. THE. ELEVATOR. PLEASE COME HELP US. THE END IS IN SIGHT.

While this was going on, I very quietly turned myself towards the corner and pressed my head against the wall. I’m not usually one who takes issue with claustrophobia, but that goddamn oxygen comment was seriously freaking me out. Honestly, the thoughts going through my head at the time were akin to scenes from the Saw movies. I know, I know. I’m super dramatic. You knew this.

Anyway, after about 30 minutes of the most bizarre ideas penetrating my mind (eating my dress, peeing in my purse) we were rescued by two Turkish workmen that were less than pleased that eight moronic 20-somethings decided to pull these shenanigans at 4am. Not wanting to stick around and be cursed at in Turkish, Kate and I quickly jumped out of the pried-open doors, and raced up to the stairs to our room, leaving everyone in a cloud of dust. It might behoove you to know that I did not step foot in the elevator the rest of the trip, and I’m fairly sure Kate still has yet to get in one.

Let this be a lesson to all: If you ever need to sober up quickly, get stuck in an elevator. I promise there is nothing that will be more effective.

In conclusion, I have to admit that my week in Marmaris was worth missing the madness that London became for the royal nuptials. I’ll be returning to Turkey in just two weeks, but fear not, DeenaPro. I’ll keep a sharp eye out for swords and suspiciously constructed elevators.

Cheers.


A Rant and A Rave

13 Apr

Nothing more. Nothing less. I’ve been here 8 months, I think I have the right, no? So because I like to always end on a positive note, the rant will come first:

RANT.

I’m sick of being five hours ahead of everyone and I’m sick of not being able to call my friends and family on long walks to the tube or to work, hence always relying on my iPod to keep me entertained, which means I’m sick of having to charge it every. single. night. Annoying. I hate that in leaving work every day, the real work begins, as dodging and weaving through people on the sidewalks, trying to make it to the tube, is a full-time job in itself. Speaking of the tube, why must it always be delayed? You’d think that the biggest underground system in the world would have figured it out, but no. There is nary a day where the DLR doesn’t stop mid-track, thus prolonging the arduous journey to and from work. I miss driving. I hate that I can’t get in my car, roll the windows down and leisurely drive home every night.

I’m over how I have limited Internet every week (I only get 1500 megabytes a week, if I’ve never mentioned that). I just want to video chat my friends, or watch Glee, without agonizing if my Internet is going to run out. On that note, I’m sick of not being able to watch shows until the day after they air, as I have to wait for them to get posted online. Which means that there is a 99% chance that, unless I swear off Facebook or EW.com, I am going to find out who Brad gave the final rose to before I even get to watch it. Stellar.

I’m annoyed that restaurants here don’t believe in a salad as an entrée. In fact, pretty much any salad at a restaurant consists of lettuce, two tomatoes and, if you’re lucky, a few onion slices. I’m sorry, but why exactly hasn’t Panera opened here yet? There is a dire need for it. I’m tired of only getting a little basket to carry my food items in at the grocery store. I will never take a damn shopping cart and a big aisle at Publix for granted again. Additionally, I’m sick of how people look at me like I have seventeen heads if I wear a dress or shorts without tights. GET OVER IT, PEOPLE, IT’S JUST SKIN. There is like some unspoken rule that women must always wear tights or leggings, no matter what they are wearing. I’m over it. I like my Nike shorts sans leggings, so just deal with it.

I’m sick of missing out on all the news. You people forget to tell me about the latest news and it infuriates me, as we all know I love the gossip. I’m sick of missing out on the reunions and the visits and the dinners. I’m tired of being away from my family and more importantly, the single most important thing in my life: Molly. I am nothing without her.

Ok. Got that out of my system. It’s done and we shan’t speak of it again. Now for the good stuff. And Kenny, I don’t want to hear a word out of you.

RAVE!

I love that everyone in London is so friendly and helpful. I love that after work, the pubs and bars are full of people out on the streets or curbs drinking and laughing. I love that there are a million different areas to go out in, each offering a different kind of scene. Hey, it’s a big step up from the Greek-infested University Ave. in Gainesville. I love that I know my way around this city so well that I haven’t picked up a map in months. I love that I could sit and draw you the tube map from memory.

I love that people are so intrigued by my American accent and continually ask me where I’m from and why I’m here. And oddly enough, I love that when a bunch of us go out together, we get looks like ‘Who are these loud Americans?’ It just amuses me. I love that I go sit on the steps of St. Paul’s to eat my lunch and it’s no big deal. And I really love that the things at work that used to frustrate and confuse me are now second nature and done on auto-pilot.

I just love that I can go to Hyde Park after work, or lie around St. James park on the weekend. I love that on the bus home from work every day, I go over the Thames and see the Tower Bridge and it has never, not once, gotten old. I love that people stop to ask me directions on the street and I know which direction to point them in. Seriously, who would have thought? I love that I know how much a cab should cost to get from point A to point B and I really can’t believe that I could walk across this city and know exactly where I’m going.

I adore that I can go see shows after work like it’s no big deal. That I can just go see Keira Knightley on a Tuesday, like it’s the most ordinary thing in the world. I love that I am finally living in a city where all the concerts and major acts come to. I love that I have embraced and learned so much about British music and icons, so names like Cheryl Cole and Take That have some meaning to me now.

I love that, despite being so very far away, I get the most amazing emails and messages from all of you that have honestly made me miss you all so much that I know upon my return, I will never take being in the same place as you for granted.

So yeah. This is a turn from my usual blog post, but as I have eight months down and four to go, I felt it appropriate. More blogging to come soon. And because it’s the biggest thing on my mind at the moment:

JAMIE ILYSE DOLLINGER IN TWO DAYS.

Things that don’t go together:

21 Feb
Vinegar and Oil. Polka dots and stripes. Hillary Grey and cockroaches. Lauren Profis and tuna fish. And lastly, class and a full-time job.  

Right, so let’s do some math: 6am wake up Mon-Fri+ gym 5 mornings a week + full-time job + class all day on Saturday from 9am-4pm = my life for the past month and a half. FUN, RIGHT?!

No. That was sarcasm.

Thankfully, the busy season of work is coming to a close and class is about to go on a very long hiatus so life can resume as before, where I had time to breathe, sleep, talk to all of you and update this blog. But since I have been MIA for about a month and a half, let me update all of you on some things that you have missed out on:

1. I went to Iceland. Reykjavik, to be exact. Do we need a lesson in pronouncing it? Alright, repeat after me: Ray. Ka. Vik. Again. Ray. Ka. Vik. Good. Anyway, although I’m fairly sure I may have permanently lost feeling in my left pinky toe due to the freezing temperatures, Reykjavik was honestly one of the prettiest places I have ever been. The weekend was filled with geysers, waterfalls, semi-failed attempts at viewing the Northern Lights, hot springs, gorgeous skies and honestly the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. If Iceland isn’t on your bucket list, put it there ASAP. It’s somewhere I would really love to go back to in my life. A few pictures are below, but head to Facebook for the complete set. Moving on. Also, the font is about to go funny. Sorry, I’m working on it.

Emily and I in front of the geyser

2. I turned 23. Which was weird. First, because now I feel old. DeenaPro, send me some wrinkle cream. Second, because I wasn’t at Lodge in 2122, where I spent my last two birthdays. However, despite all of this, it was actually a pretty good day. Sadly, Sarah Dunnicliff became the latest victim to fall prey to my mother’s scheming.  Apparently there was something about a package and getting stuck in customs and other mishaps, but all I know is that I walked to my desk in the afternoon and it looked like this (see below), as set up by Sarah.  DeenaPro, I don’t know how you get my friends to go along with things like this, but I think you have a gift. And Sarah, you are the best and our next trip to AH is on me.  Other goodies I received for my birthday – a massive box of Ben’s Cookies, a gorgeous new Dogeared necklace, a box of Velveeta, a Central Perk mug, a beautiful photo book, plus tons of other things that made my day really wonderful. Thank you so, so much to everyone for their gifts, emails, messages and wall posts on my birthday. It was so great hearing from you all of you and just made me miss you that much more. Ugh, now look what you’ve done. Pass me a freaking tissue.

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3. I started watching Friends. I know, I know. Who am I, where did I come from, what is wrong with me. I get it. For some reason that is beyond me, I never hopped onboard the Friends train. Much to Elizabeth’s chagrin, as Friends is her all-time favorite show in the entire world. She has been plagued by nearly a decade of hearing me moan and groan and whine and complain every time she put Friends on. Flash forward to London and I have never seen a nation of people more obsessed with a television program. Seriously, any time, any day, any channel, Friends is playing. So I started mindlessly watching when I got home from work, and one thing turned to another and I was hooked. Enter Kenny, who so conveniently has all 10 seasons with him and has been so generous as to let me borrow them. Two months and 109 episodes later, I’m halfway through season five. Yippee! I am hooked, I am obsessed, I give Elizabeth permission to tar and feather me for being so ignorant for so long. Cue one Michelle Profis waving white flag in air. I will not rest until I finish i.e. Michelle in my LOST days (for those who were lucky enough to witness that phenomenon). And now please see my current favorite moment that I’ve seen thus far: 

4. I had my first spray tan. Yeah. Stop laughing, Jamie. Sam was kind enough to buy me one for Christmas. I think she tired of hearing me bitch and moan all the time and I really can’t say I blame her. So off to get spray tanned I went. It was…interesting. I think my skin got all of three shades darker, taking me from ghostly status to Michael Jackson status. Sam said she could see a difference, but mine eyes did not behold what hers did. Oh well. The way I see it,  I only have approximately two more months to endure looking like this and then once the summer trips begin, my skin color will be restored to its natural hue of dark black.

5. I hit the six month mark. Which means two things:
  1. I’m now that much closer to reuniting with the bajillion and a half people who I am miserable without.
  2. A massive blog post is coming this week about this milestone that I have reached. So stay tuned.

And with that, I’m done. Please stop hating me for leaving you for so long. It hurts me. Don’t you know how lost I am without you? Blog posts will be back to their regular occurrence, and now that work has calmed down, I will finally have a chance to respond to your emails and messages and video chat with you beautiful people more often. Capeesh?

Sending lots of love from across the pond.

 

A quick letter:

27 Jan

Dear all,

This is just a quick post to say that I am truly sorry for going MIA lately. I’m not lying when I say work has seriously been kicking my ass, as we are right smack in the middle of our busiest time of the year. I wish I could say that it’s going to get better soon, but it won’t until the beginning of March. I wish I could say that I have the weekends to catch up with you all, but I have class every Saturday for the next few weeks, and am going away next weekend.

So please keep the facebook messages, bbms and emails coming because I love love love getting them and I promise that I will respond to you as soon as I possibly can!

I miss and love everyone so very much and can’t wait until I can talk to you all soon!

-Michelle

Not in Kansas anymore…

14 Jan

I am an idiot. A terrifically, massive idiot.  The most moronic of the morons.

Why, you might ask? Because the very day that I dreaded may well have ended up as being one of the best I’ve ever had. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning.

As you may have noticed, to those of you faithfully read this blog, I have not once ever spoken of my flat or my living conditions. The reason is simple: DeenaPro taught me that if I have nothing nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. Hence, when it came to my flat, this blogger kept her mouth shut. Well, hold on to your seats, ladies and gentleman, because that silence is about to be broken.

My flat in one word: gross. Although located in the epitome of sophistication in the gorgeous suburb of Maida Vale, it would be foolish to let the Victorian exterior fool you. Behind those Doric columns was home to peeling wallpaper, narrow staircases, creaking doors and rooms small enough to fit in a Polly Pocket. With that, let the laundry list begin:

-The toilet, that I shared with four other girls, only flushed once every 15 minutes. Let your imagination run wild with that one.

-The boiler was right above my head, making a comfortable sleep nearly impossible.

-From my bed, I could reach out my hand and touch my roommate, Angela. There was approximately one foot between my bed and hers.

-The light in the bathroom was on a timer and would turn off every 15 minutes. I can’t tell you how many times I would be mid-shampoo and have to stumble out of the shower, dripping wet and with soap in my eyes, to fumble to turn the light on.

-I had one shelf in a mini fridge to contain all of my groceries. Which meant there was only room for one carton of grapes at a time. NOT. OK.

-The washing machine was located under the stove. Let me tell you how much fun it was to find bits of food mixed into my underwear.

My roommates were a different story. There were six of us crammed into a flat that could realistically only hold three. While my direct roommate Angela was from California, the other four girls I lived with were from Mumbai. I’m not sure how familiar everyone is with the nuances of Indian culture, but it could not be more different from what I’m used to. Let me be clear: I have nothing against Indians, their way of life or what their interests are, but when you are living in a flat such as ours, it can be very difficult to adapt to the drastic cultural differences. What was probably most difficult for me to live with was the way they cook. It would take them, on most nights, four hours to prepare their meals, which made it absolutely impossible for Angela and I to even attempt to make anything more complicated than a bowl of soup or a plate of salad.  I could honestly list the countless other challenges I faced living with them, but this is not the forum for that discussion. So if you would like further details, do let me know, or feel free to ask DeenaPro, LoPro, H. Grey or LoGo, as they have all experienced it firsthand.

Moving on. Let me get back to the part where I am a massive idiot.

Mountbatten notified us at the beginning of November that they would be moving everyone in Sutherland (the name of my former flat) to new flats in Canary Wharf. When I received this email, I was actually really upset for two reasons. One, I thought this would mean I would no longer be allowed to move to Ability (the other set of Mountbatten flats that are centrally located and where most of my friends live), come March when we were allowed to shift. Second, I associated Canary Wharf with being extremely far away from work and a much longer commute. Needless to say, when I got word that we would be moving, I stumbled over to Sarah’s side of the office, told her to meet me at the copier and tearfully blubbered something like, “Why…sniff sniff….are they doing this…tear sniff…to me? Am I….sniff…not miserable enough?” Poor Sarah. Who wants to get bombarded like that next to a copier? By the way, this was the part where I was a complete fool.

But enough backstory, let’s just fast forward to the good part: the new flat. My flat in one word: un-effing-believable. So amazing that when I walked in on Saturday morning, I actually teared up. So time for another laundry list:

-I have a touch stove. As in there are no buttons, I can control the entire thing just by touching the surface.

-There is a towel heater in my bathroom. So if I were to decide that I always wanted my butt to be warm, I COULD MAKE THAT HAPPEN.

-My view is ridiculous. It’s gorgeous.

-I have big, beautiful leather couches that are completely ideal to watch…wait for it…my flat screen TV on.

-Cara, my roommate, and I are so far apart that we can’t even see each other when we sleep.

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Maybe it’s because I lived in a dump for five months, maybe it’s because my former roommates and I liked each other about as much as I like getting glass drilled into my eye, but I could really not be happier to be living in my new flat. Seriously. I have floated on a cloud all week. The fact that I come home from work and can sit at my table and eat dinner, and not eat it alone on my bed like I used to, is just miraculous to me. Or that on our second night here, my new flatmates and I could all watch The Ugly Truth together on a big comfortable couch, literally blows my mind. I swear my new flatmates must think that I come from the boondocks given the amount of times I’ve said I can’t believe how nice this is and how happy I am.

So now that I’ve moved in to the heaven of all flats: there is really one last point to be made. YOU NOW HAVE NO EXCUSE TO NOT COME VISIT ME. There are a few of you stragglers out there who have looked up flights lately and so NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT. I know who you are. You know who you are. Now come stay in this amazing flat with me. You’d be a fool not to.

Well, that’s it for me. I depart tomorrow morning for the glorious Canary Islands, where I hope to embark on a weekend riddled with strawberry daiquiris, bad choices and some serious UV rays on my ghostly skin.

Adios!

Correction: Hillary and Lauren do London!

2 Jan

Hijacker alert: Hillary and Lauren here reporting live from Londontown. Eek!

So it’s great and all that Michelle lives here, but newsflash: London is the tourist capital of the world. So, as carefully selected guest bloggers (and current/former Weimer residents), we felt it necessary to give all you loyal readers (Hi new friend Sammy Lee!) the scoop from our weeklong holiday! Here are our tips for those of you planning to make your way across the pond.

Our first tip: fly Virgin Atlantic. Better yet, fly on Christmas. We arrived in London on Boxing Day: the British equivalent of Black Friday. Enter thousands of sale-driven shoppers swarming the charming Oxford Street, plus a blasted tube strike, plus two very jetlagged girls and one city-savvy Michelle. That first day is kind of a blur, but all you really need to know is that Michelle introduced us to our new favorite activity: drinking Strongbow at the pub.

Tip #2: GO. TO. HARRODS. Just do it. Between the puppy floor and the designer handbags, we were in heaven. As Lauren learned, don’t take pictures of Laduree macarons (shoutout Ilana Slott), or anything for that matter. They will make you delete the photos. What you can do is go to high tea in the lavish fourth floor dining room. We spent most of our day catching up over endless cups of English tea, buttery scones, finger sandwiches and way too much jam. Delicious.

Tip #3: See Billy Elliot. This was without a doubt one of the highlights of our trip.  The show is just a phenomenal combination of everything you want in a Broadway musical.  You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll wish you took ballet classes. (OK, maybe that’s just those of us who lack all hand-eye coordination).

Tip #4: Whoever said England has bad food clearly has not been to the right places. We found the best of London just by wandering the cobblestone streets of Soho, Covent Garden and Notting Hill. You can settle for the ever-present Pret or EAT shops if you wish, but we chose to experiment. From dinner at Wahaca to brunch at Electric Brasserie, we spent our days wining and dining. For more recommendations, just ask.

Tip #5: Do the touristy stuff. When Michelle is hard at work at Hogan Lovells (which we “did not” see), sneak off to the coolest, yet unfortunately most populated, parts of the city. Tower Bridge, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace were part of the whole experience. We also left the city for a day to see Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Oxford (hello, Hogwarts!). We were even able to fit Kate into our busy schedule for a quick lunch. Hopefully our wedding invitations won’t get lost in the mail.

Book a flight already! Seeing London from a local’s perspective really made our experience more than just a quick Euro getaway.  Even though Michelle cringed every time we dared to take a photo in a red phone booth or attempted to perfect our British accents, she glowed when showing us around her new home. This international hub is full of pleasant, stylish people ready to strike up conversation and help you with the Tube.

Goodbye, London. We leave with empty pockets and memories from a great reunion. Michelle, we miss you already.

Cheers!

Hillary and Lauren