wild green stones alone

one of the things most fascinating to me about traveling is how vastly different everyone's experiences can be. it's always interesting to me to visit a monument or building of interest--something that i've seen a million times in movies, on postcards, on the internet--and see how different it looks from my perspective.

i don't really expect my pictures and words to capture the essence of london--or anywhere i travel, for that matter. i want to look back on these and remember what it was like for me to walk down the crowded streets, to push my way through equally crowded pubs, to feel the cold drizzle and icy wind as i got a glimpse at an overcast big ben.

i want to remember sam, the taxi cab driver, who gave me a whirlwind tour of all the highlights of london--her cockney accent and enthusiasm for her life, her job, and her city.

i really enjoy sharing the simpler things too--things you can't google images of. things like market, stocked with veal brains and an octopus and a beautiful assembly of fresh vegetables.


like the water served in a tequila bottle [which was served at wahaca, an incredible mexican restaurant. and i'm from texas, so trust me when i say it's good].

 i like sharing things that you wouldn't even know to google, like selfridges. selfridges is an incredible store, one that certainly has no comparison in the united states. it's like a macys, with the perfume it sells. it's like a market street/united/publix/local equivalent, with the food it sells. it has floors and floors of food, clothes, books, makeup. i'm cringing comparing it to a walmart, but that's the only store i can think of that covers the amount of territory that selfridges does. it's incredibly classy, very high quality, and extremely impressive. so really, not like walmart at all. 

this is one floor where makeup and beauty products are sold. it also contains a nail salon, hair salon, blow dry bar, and various beauticians standing around eager to test out their curling irons and shades of lipstick on you.

this was a cake available for sale in the bakery. you're certainly not going to find that at your local department store. 

this is not at all specific to london, or even europe, but have you ever actually had a chestnut, fresh off of an open fire? well i have, and i'm real smug about it.

umbrella, scarf, gloves, coat--i hardly recognize myself
chestnuts have many great qualities. they make your hands smell smoky, as though you've just left a campfire. the charred outer layer flakes off and smudges everything in a quaint, earthy way. they stay warm forever, keeping your hands toasty as you roll them around in your palms. 

one of the bad things about chestnuts [and this is just a minor detail] is how they taste like bread and have the texture of a soggy almond and really aren't appetizing at all. 

glad i learned that lesson. 

another food adventure i had was a full, legitimate dim sum experience. at this particular venue, this was how you ordered: pick the most attractive looking chinese symbols, put a quantity next to them, and hope for the best. 

the platters arrive, fresh and steaming, beautifully presented like most things east of the atlantic. the removal of each stack of dim sum creates a fresh wave of steam. the dim sum itself is incredible. my mouth is watering just thinking about it. and yes, i've already come to terms with the fact that dim sum is not going to be found when i go back home.

i want to remember the rush of people everywhere. everywhere was a madhouse--partially because it was the holidays. the streets were illuminated by strings of decorative christmas lights, shaped as icicles, snowflakes, candy canes, you name it.

more than anything, i want to remember how i felt wandering down those christmasy streets. how the world seemed to open up, how it was so much bigger than i remembered, bigger than problems and sadness. i want to remember the way my heels ached and stung from walking around all day and well into the night. i want to remember the thoughts that accompanied those sore soles. i want to remember the way i looked into peoples eyes, the way i laughed with strangers, feeling like i can meet so many more people, make so many new friends. i want to remember the way i saw tiny, fleeting little glimmers of hope. as cliche as it may sound, i still have a whole life ahead of me. and if i had to haul my sorry self to london to find that again then so be it. it's not half bad here anyway. 

[title from tessellate by ellie goulding]

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