Faffin about

After our trip to Paris we were exhausted and allowed ourselves to sleep in. Our manager from the ship Annabel now works at Legoland in Windsor, and we decided to head there for a visit!

The drive was about 45 minutes. She works as guest experience manager at the Legoland Windsor hotel. She was at the doors greeting us when we arrived. We were amazed at the intricate Lego theme through out the hotel – it was tiny about four floors but so awesome! She gave us free passes for the park.

The park is made for young children but we still really enjoyed it. First ride we did was Atlantis where you sat in a submarine and rode through an aquarium. Next we walked over to mini land. It has Lego replicas of all the places we’ve seen this vacation. So cool! It even has the nasa space center in Florida which I thought was random.

Next ride we went on was a sky ride that took us for a tour over the mini land. Next we walked through a Lego Star Wars exhibit. Right as we started I said to Lauren I don’t like it in here it’s dark and I feel like I’m gonna trip. Two seconds later I tripped and broke my flip flop. I walked through the rest of the exhibit shoeless. When I got out Lauren tried to fix it with a hair elastic. That lasted 3 seconds. We found a store that sold flip flops but obviously couldn’t find a pair in my size. I ended up buying an ugly pair of flip flops for 14 pounds that were a size to small. Lauren was like why do these things only happen to you!?

We then went on legolands biggest roller coaster. It was a good time. We met up
With Annabel after her shift ended. She gave us a tour of the hotel, each floor has a different theme.

We then ate at the hotels restaurant. We got Lego shaped fries for the table and I got chicken taziki skewer thing. The English love their curry, which is so strange to me. After the restaurant we drove into Windsor and went to tesco for a bit. Then I saw the Windsor castle!! The queen was in because they raise a certain flag when she is there. We had so much fun with Annabel we couldn’t stop laughing. We fell right back into and we couldn’t believe we hadn’t seen each other in 18 months! On the drive home I was talking to Lauren how Annabel was only on the ship for 5 weeks and it’s amazing how close we are with each other. Being back on land gives you much better perspective into ship life. 5 weeks at a land job would not create the friendship our ship job did.

The next day was an early morning to head to a place called Thorpe park which is an amusement park. We went with Lauren’s boyfriend and his friend tom. We had a fun day riding various roller coasters. It’s a lot like six flags. Some of the coasters were really intense! It ended up being a really nice day. We’ve really lucked out with weather!

We came back to James house to get ready to go out. He ordered Chinese food and I couldn’t believe how different it was from American Chinese. The only menu similarities I found were boneless spare ribs and chow mein. We ordered Kung po chicken, crispy chili beef, prawn toast, prawn crackers and egg fried rice. The prawn toast was like sesame toast stuffed with prawn filling, I didn’t really like it. The prawn crackers I loved, I have no idea how to explain them it’s like a airy chip, google it you’re interested.

We then got dressed to head out to the clubs in south Hampton. We had a good time there was a lot of American music at every place we went, more American than English. The English love the techno pretend Spanish music, it was hilarious. It was weird to be amongst 18 year olds (that is the drinking age in England). We had a good time! Today were heading back to Lauren’s house to have dinner with her family, we will relax there for the rest of the weekend !

Cheers!

South Hampton and Paris !

After London we slept in for a bit :). Once we got dressed we headed out to ASDA , a store kind if comparable to walmart. I enjoyed that (obviously). The drive was about an hour- and I love driving through the back roads of England. Through the hills and trees and tiny weird highways. The funniest part about England is you’ll be driving for miles through curvy winding back roads. You won’t see a single convenience store or gas station. But you will see a pub. Cute little pubs almost every five miles. Even in Lauren’s small neighborhood they only thing in walking distance is a pub. I don’t know how these pubs survive in the middle of farm lands without even any houses near by but it seems to work!

We arrived at a shopping center in south Hampton. The center is pretty close to the water and I could see a few cruise ships! There is a store all the nursery girls used to talk about called Primark It’s comparable to forever 21 – super super cheap clothes and Accessories. Here I got a Big Ben shirt and some English socks. Made for some cheap souvenirs! We walked around the shops some more until it was time to head back.

Lauren took me to the pub where she used to live and work. We got drinks and sat in the garden. The pub was so big , it had three levels and she told me she lived on the top. So English!

From there we went to met our old ship friend Lou. She was our nursery manager, and her and Lauren now work together. It was so fun for the three of us to be together. I was so happy to see her and we talked ship gossip most of the time. I love that I can go almost anywhere in the world and meet up with people from the ship :).

We came home and got packed for our Paris adventure! We went to bed at 1130 and had to wake up at 3 am to get to our train that left from London at 540. So running on a few hours of sleep and having such a Long day ahead of us worried us a bit. Driving through London as such an early hour (4 am). I got see lots of parts I hadn’t seen initially. We did so many of the tourist bits the day before I didn’t see the “real” London – where the people actually live and work. I recognized a few places from the movie Parent Trap :).
I also saw Harrods, as we drove through Chelsea. It was so so beautiful!

We arrived at St. Pancras station. We had to go through customs and security. We took the euro star, which was about 2 1/2 hour ride. Beautiful views of England and Paris. We were nervous about navigating our way around Paris, neither of us able to speak French. We knew we had to take the metro to the office of the tour bus we wanted to take. We did really well with that, switching over two lines and when we walked out of the metro the office was right there! When we first stepped onto the metro a man was playing the accordion… It couldn’t of gotten any more French.

The bus we bought tickets to was called LE open tour. A double decker bus that makes 50 stops in Paris and you can hop on and off whenever you want to. We first accidentally hopped on a line we didn’t want to take first. The yellow line, which brought us all through the heart of the city . Which ended up being pretty awesome because we saw so many things without getting off the bus. The bus is also equipped with headphones so you get a lovely audio tour while your driving around. We saw things like moulin rouge, opera house , and lots of other really old buildings.

We then got on the right track and hopped on over to the green line. The first stop we got off at was the Lourve. So many people there!!! Such a gorgeous place and it was so huge!!! Lauren’s tourist book gave us a tip on a secret entrance and we didn’t have to wait in the absurd line which saved us so much time. When we first got there we did a really tourist thing and pAid 1.50 € for the bathroom. We knew that there had to be free bathrooms around but we couldn’t take it we had to go so bad!!! It costs us 12 € to get into the museum which was disappointing but we had to see the Mona Lisa . The Lourve is so huge and filled with so much art we didn’t even see a fourth of it . You can probably spend two days there just soaking in all the art. We saw two major things Mona Lisa and Venus de milo.

Next stop was the lock bridge! We bought locks from a street vendor and Lauren and I both wrote our names and our boyfriends names on the lock and found a nice spot on the bridge and threw the keys! It was so to do it’s something I’ve always wanted to do!

We then stopped at Norte dame – which was stunning . We got a baguette sandwich and ate it on the street with a view of Norte dame and we couldn’t of been happier. This sandwich was SO tasty .

During our trip to Paris Lauren and I were HYPER aware of our surroundings. Being real conscious of being pick pocketed. We didn’t allow ourselves to be relaxed and kept a constant hand our baggage. (Which was so tiny we traveled very very light) we never ran into trouble, or witnessed any trouble thank goodness !

We drove by the arc de triumphs. Decided not to get off the bus cuz we had a wonderful view of the arc right from the bus!

Next stop was Eiffel Tower ! It was amazing to pull up to it and see it in real life. Of course the bottom was under renovation so you couldn’t look up it. But it was amazing none the less. Park around it was very un impressive. We spent some time there in the grass but it was honestly just Nothing.

Our last stop was Sacre croux. Amazing amazing building. Lots and lots of stairs and wonderful gardens and fountains. Beautiful views of Paris skyline. We got street crepes here and split a Brie cheese baguette . It really doesn’t get better than that.

We took metro back to the station where Lauren got smooshed in the doors and I almost lost her she screamed for me and I pulled her into the train.

Every part of Paris is gorgeous . There’s not a new and a old part . It’s all old and every building is just built with such detail. Like in other major cities there are usually 2 or 3 landmarks that are old and have beautiful Architecture but for Paris it’s literally every single building ! What a break taking city.

Train ride back was beautiful watching the sunset over hills of Paris and then hills of England. It was a 22 hour day but we enjoyed every second!

London!

Today was most exciting part of the trip yet -London! We woke up around “half seven” left the house and drove an hour to Lauren’s “nan” and “granddads”. After spending some time there eating toast we walked to the train station called stoneleigh. Let me tell you when they say mind the gap they actually mean it . The gap is large but inside the train is pretty great. There’s small handles on top of seats to make it easy for people to move about. And in the standing areas there are a bum cushion to lean against . It’s the little things really.

We got off at Waterloo station. Walked outside and there was the London eye! We had already bought tickets so we just hopped right on. Lauren also got us fast pass tickets so we skipped the line! We got into our pod and began our adventure over the city! It was really cool to see an aerial view of London!

When we got off the eye we walked over the west minster bridge- right up to Big Ben. The streets have signs painted on the ground to tell you where to look when crossing the road – it’s so hard to get the hang of . Then we walked over to west minster abbey. One thing I noticed about London is that women wear sneakers in their work attire. Nylons dresses and sneakers Lauren says they change before they go into work . It was so strange to see .

Then from there we walked to a couple of squares. We saw some guards walking around- which I assumed was changing of the guards … They didn’t have red coats or furry hats I was told that was for special occasions. Horse guard parade led us to beautiful park which is how we walked to bucking ham palace . Tourists everywhere! Pretty cool to see and I was so amazed at how close and walkable every attraction was.

We then were starving and went on a hunt for a place that yelp said had the best fish and chips. We are outside under a tent next to a couple that ended up being from Boston – who were very familiar with Dartmouth. Small world. Our fish and chips cost us about 18 pounds. They were so tasty. The place is supposedly world famous and rightfully so. Thanks yelp! We then found a place with macaroon filled with gelato . We tried that so tasty! Then sat at the next bakery we saw we had the funniest sarcastic French waiter .

From there I found an English grocery store marks and Spencer’s . It was so posh. I had a ball!! Then we figured out the bus system and took about 35 minute bus ride to London bridge. It has aqua accents so I especially loved it. When I saw the London bridge it made it so real .

Funny things about to London – some parts are SO old and some parts are SO new. Modern modern buildings right next to buildings that were hundreds of years old. In turn everything is under construction .

Getting around is so easy! We bought a travel card that got us on the train, the tube and even the red double decker buses! It’s brilliant!

Every inch is under security cameras. You look anywhere and you literally see 8 security cameras. Streets , parks , buses and trains . You’re being watched. Police were only evident in front of big landmarks – but not really anywhere else! I felt much safer than I originally thought I would .

Tipping is optional. If you tip- it’s only if the server did an excellent job and then it’s only 10 % tip!

We saw the whole city in six hours! Exhausting but wonderful!

Hopping Across the Pond

I’ve recently embarked on my first journey to Europe! Lauren my english friend from the ship came to visit me and now I have gone home with her. I Filled her trip with the most we could, including Boston, Martha’s Vineyard, Newport, Providence and even NYC! We are certainly tired from our American portion of the trip, its nice to be here now.

Our flight left at 1045 at night but it was delayed. Which meant we spent extra time in the airport and extra time on the plane when we landed. 9 hour plane ride… it was horrible. But it was the first time I was served meals on the plane. I got pasta dinner which was tasty and a croissant for breakfast. When we arrived to London it was about 11 am. Lauren’s boyfriend and her boyfriends friend picked us up. It was hard for us to fit our luggage into the tiny english car. Driving on the wrong side of the road was an adjustment for me. Seeing all the english version of American cars was hilarious. It took us about an hour to get home from the airport. I was excited to fly into Healthrow airport although I didn’t see much of it.

Lauren’s parents are on holiday so we have the house to ourselves for the week which is nice. I love her house. She lives in a place called Hampshire. The roads are so tiny here and everything is very hilly. She has a lovely back garden ( backyard). One problem is she has 3 kitties, and I’m highly allergic. The house is decorated so cute, and it feels so English. Lauren had me tea and crumpets, I really tried to like tea but I just cant. The crumpets she served with butter. Her stove has a toaster built in, just for crumpets. The fridge is small and behind a cupboard. Everything in general is smaller here. The freezer and laundry is in a separate room you have to go outside to get to. They have built this great glass sun room that is super nice. The garden is built on a hill. It has two separate patios in the hill and everything is super private.

The first day I was here we relaxed a bunch and then went grocery shopping. I enjoyed seeing all the English groceries, American versions of some of the products. I Got a lot of tasty things, digestives. cadbury chocolate, mullen yogurt, pretzels and hummus, cornish pasties. My grocery shopping cost me 15 pounds. Most credit cards here have chips in them and you insert them rather than swipe. So at a cash register it takes a while and they actually really check your signature. My first meal Lauren made me was a collection of things found in her freezer, potato pancakes, fish and prawn cakes and chicken. Lauren got crisps ( chips) at the store, prawn flavoured .Which sounded so disgusting to me but when I actually ate them they were so tasty! On the way home we stopped for gas and when Lauren went in the store to pay the man said your friend in the car looks really tired. Hahaha We watched American TV and went to bed early.

Woke up this mornin at 11 am. Which means I got 13 hours of sleep. We hung around and she made me a scone which had clotted cream, jam and strawberry on it. It was so delicious. We took a walk around the neighbourhood. The roads are small and kind of scary to walk, we also walked a foot path. It is so pretty out here in the country of England. All the houses were very english, all cottage like. There is a bar down the road I hope to get to soon. The funniest part is that none of the houses have addresses. Each house has a name, which is how to distinguish between each. Laurens house name is Rosebank, I don’t understand how that works when your giving someone directions Lauren said it is quite difficult.

London tomorrow and I cant wait!!!

English words I’ve learnt :
Lay-by : small parking spot off the road
Holiday – vacation
Petrol- Gas
Hen Party: Bachelorette
Cinema- movies
Flannel – Wash Cloth

Oreo Brownie Bites

I can’t believe I haven’t posted about these brownies before!!! There are gooey bites of heaven!! The concept is basically an Oreo Ball on top of a brownie!!!

Ingredients:

  • Brownie Mix (any ingredients the box calls for)
  • One package of Oreos ( I always use double stuffed)
  • One bag of chocolate chips ( I use milk, feel free to use whatever kind you prefer)
  • One block of cream cheese (Do yourself a favor don’t skimp on the cream cheese use name brand)

Make brownies according to package, however, use a tiny muffin tin to place batter in. Bake these until brownies are cooked through, I think around 12 minutes.

While brownies are baking it is time to make the Oreo Balls. I now do it a way a coworker told me about. I separate the cookie part from the creme. Add all cookies into food processor, grind them up then add Oreo cream, and then the block of cream cheese. Just makes for a nice texture. You can also do it crunchy and throw all the Oreos into a ziploc bag and hammer it until the cows come home. You can place this mixture into fridge until brownies are ready.

After brownies have come out of the oven, and are cooled. I take a scoop of Oreo balls and scoop it onto each brownie bite.

Here is tricky step, Take the newly scooped brownies and place them in the fridge. When you are dipping into chocolate it will be so much easier if the Oreo mixture is chilled onto brownie. If you don’t have time to refrigerate I would just drip chocolate over with a spoon.

So melt your chocolate, and dip each bite into making a chocolate layer over the whole brownie.

I like to eat them chilled, I think it tastes better but many people eat them at room temp too!

 

You could alter this recipe by making a normal pan of brownies, in 9X13 pan adding Oreo mixture on top and then chocolate, it would just be a messier cut, and messier to eat but would taste the same I’m sure!

 

Tres Leches Cake

My coworker one day and I were talking about food ( we always talk about food) and she told me about the most ridiculous cake that sounds so disgusting to make but said it was TASTY. I couldn’t resist trying it the next week, she gave me a copy of her recipe with her comments, but I am not sure where she got this recipe from. It sounds ridiculous because it has THREE kinds of milk ( hence the tres leche) This cake definitely tastes mexican like, almost a flan/ custard taste to it. Its not as sweet you would expect like american kind of sweet but it is definitely to fulfill your sugar cravings. Here goes nothing, and if your feeling brave, I urge you try it.  This is a cake you make the day before an event. It takes a day to sit under refrigeration.

  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup of Flour

For coating (glaze)

  • Sweetened Condensed Milk (regular sized can)
  • Evaporated Milk (Regular sized Can)
  • 2 cups of Whole milk

For Cream on Top

  • 1 1/2 Cups of Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of Sugar

I used my kitchen aid mixer for every step :). First blend together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and Eggs and beat together.  Mix in Flour, Baking Soda and powder two tablespoons at a time.

Grease 9X13 pan and Pour batter into it. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Wait until cake is completely cooled. When Cake is cooled stab cake with a fork, as the directions say 9 million times. I usually do around 8 million. The point is that there needs to be holes everywhere in the cake.

Next mix three milks together, and pour over the cake. When you pour you are going to be like OMG this is too much milk! But just relax and keep pouring, because the cake acts as a sponge and will suck up all that milk! The next day you will have a nice dense cake.

Right before serving you are going to make the whipped cream layer, with heavy cream and sugar and vanilla whip until it reaches whipped cream status, and layer on top of cake and enjoy!