May 26, 2016

winning london

If you do not understand the reference from this blog title, please educate yourself on the cinematic brilliance that is the Olsen twins' filmography from 1998-2002 (this movie in particular) before reading. I will wait.

I had high expectations for the city of London because everyone I talked to told me how much I would LOVE it since it has so many things that they knew I loved. And folks, y'all were right!! So kudos to you. 
On our first night in the city, we party crashed the BYU Film study abroad's festivities at the British Film Institute (BFI) and walked around South Bank to enjoy the stunning views of the city lit up at night. My favorite part was walking across the Millennium Bridge (the Death Eater bridge) to see St. Paul's Cathedral. Simply beautiful! Drew did this same study abroad with the film program two summers ago, so thankfully he knew his way around the city well enough to map out our five days here. I honestly would have died on this trip without him-- or at least gotten lost a dozen times due to my lack of any sense of direction--so thanks, boo. 

The first full day consisted of my most highly anticipated event of the entire trip: the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour !!! I could honestly write an entire post solely about this day, but who wants to read that?! (But like, if you're thinking to yourself 'um me, I'm also a huge Potterhead,' then holla @ me and I will totes write one 4 u). All I will say is that it was magical and amazing and everything I dreamed of. If you also consider yourself a huge fan of the series, make it a priority to visit this place at least once in your life. This may sound dumb (and it definitely sounds dumb if you don't even like HP...I'm sorry but who are you and why are you here get out), but I seriously left that place confident that YES the wizarding world is real YES Harry Potter is real YES MAGIC IS REAL, YOU GUYS. The end. 
^^OKAY BUT THIS ?!? So. Many. Emotions.
I don't want to post a ton of pictures so it remains somewhat of a surprise for those of you who are planning to go! But I will leave you with these because I think they encapsulate my feelings fairly accurately: 
This is no exaggeration, I actually started crying. And now this is officially the end of my HP nerd ramble.

Day two started off with a visit to the National Gallery, the first of many amazing museums in the city. The National Gallery had the most gorgeous architecture and we saw the works of J.M.W. Turner (like the Skyfall painting), plus the famous Arnolfini Marriage. Our next stop was Covent Gardens where we picked up a box of Ben's Cookies and proceeded to eat most of it at Green Park. Then, the trifecta of sight-seeing: Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I met a certain heartthrob known as Uncle Jesse at Westminster Abbey. After all the amazing things I did/saw on my trip, this is still the one event everyone is asking me about. It was such a funny 10 minute spectacle of me silently stalking John Stamos from afar contemplating if it was really him, until I finally walked up and asked for a picture. We even bonded over the fact that both his girlfriend and I are Filipina. And yes, he is just as charming as you'd imagine. Have mercy.
That evening Drew, Lauren (one of our dear friends who was on the study abroad!) and I dined at Dishoom, home to some of the best Indian food I have ever eaten. Afterwards we walked over to Piccadilly Circus to watch Les Misérables at the Queen's Theatre !!! If you know me at all, you know that this is my all-time favorite musical. I'm not even a big musical theater buff, but something about Les Mis makes me lose all chill. I was so happy that Drew managed to find us cheap tickets two days before. I had the best time, cried over the same parts I always cry at, and left singing all my favorite songs on the way home.
Here's another fun tweet that gives you an idea of what my opinion of the show was, since we didn't take any pictures that evening. I am crazy but now Drew understands my obsession after watching a live performance, so it's not a total turn-off anymore ;)

Another day, another museum. On day three we started off at Tate Modern and saw Duchamp's Fountain, Warhol's Marilyn Diptych and Guerrilla Girls, Lichtenstein's Whaam!, a few Picasso's, and so many other amazing contemporary pieces. After walking around South Bank again, we wandered over the the British Museum to see the famous Elgin marbles. I finally ate some fish & chips which were decent but not life-changing, and then we headed back over to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre to try our luck with getting tickets for that night's sold-out performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Luckily we were the first ones in the returns line and some kind soul even gave us a ticket for free! £5 and two hours later we were standing front row center for the play. The actors were so talented and I was crying from laughing so hard! I loved how interactive they were with audience members, and being so close to the stage made it all the more dramatic and memorable.

*The following are all iPhone pictures since I guess we didn't really take too many great film pictures this day lolwoops*
On our last full day in London, we checked off the remainder of the must-do's on my list: ate brunch at Portobello Market, roamed the colorful streets of Notting Hill (sadly didn't see Hugh or Julia though), window shopped at Harrod's (in true Elizabeth and Annie James fashion), strolled through Hyde Park, and marveled at Royal Albert Hall and The Albert Memorial. For our last meal in the city, Drew took me to Churchill Arms, his favorite restaurant from his study abroad. It is the coolest looking English pub with plants and flowers climbing all around the inside and outside of the building. The best part? It was actually a pub/Thai restaurant combo. It didn't really make sense to me, but it didn't have to once Thai food was involved.

*A mixture of film photography and iPhone photography*
London was exciting, dreamy, entertaining, and everything I hoped it would be. One day I will return so I can visit more museums, see more shows, spend more time in the countryside outside of the city, and eat five more boxes of Ben's Cookies. The next morning we took a train to Paris for the last stop on our trip :)/:( You can bet I have dozens more pictures and stories to share so stick around if you're not sick of me yet!

May 22, 2016


48 hours after we received our BYU diplomas, Drew and I peaced out for our highly anticipated Tekulve Post-Grad European Extravaganza 2k16! It's especially fun for me to share these pictures because Drew brought along his Nikon FG and I was so excited to see how the film developed. With the exception of using our phones for videos and a few pictures (for the gram), the rest of the trip was captured on film and I am so glad that it was! I was even inspired by a few friends to throwback to the 90s-early 2000s and brought three disposable cameras--including one of those funky waterproof ones!--to use myself. And I don't regret it! There were a few that didn't develop that well (or even at all), but that's the fun of it. The images may turn out quirky, incidental, and grainy, but each one is full of so much personality. And that's the point!
We first spent six glorious days in Iceland, or Ísland, as you say in Icelandic. We have been dreaming of going to Iceland for quite some time now, and even took an Icelandic 101 class last fall semester. Partly just to take a class together before we graduated, and partly because we knew we wanted to travel to this beautiful country one day.
Our first day was spent exploring downtown Reykjavík and it is just the cutest little city! I got a lot of Georgetown vibes from all of the colorful townhouses lining the streets. We marveled over one beautiful building after the next: Hallgrimskírkja, Fríkirkjan, Harpa, Perlan, and so on. There's also tons of street art all over the city, ranging from hardcore graffitied walls to those cute murals pictured above. Between the stunning architecture, cleanliness, and friendliness of the people there, it didn't take long for me to fall in love with Reykjaviík! 
Day two consisted of visiting the famous Blue Lagoon. This geothermal spa is fed from the water run-off of a nearby geothermal power plant and is rich in silica and sulfur, which gives it that gorgeous opaque-blue color. One thing I love about Iceland is how environmentally friendly it is as a country. Not only is it so clean over there, (I literally saw zero pieces of trash on the streets the entire week) but they are big on renewable energy and preserving the natural beauty of the land, while still managing to harness it for other purposes. I found it all so fascinating! Much like a lot of the buildings in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon facility's design was so sleek and modern. We definitely enjoyed our Treat Yo Self 2016 day here, mud masks and all!
In my opinion, the only way to see this country in all of its glory is to road trip it. We rented the cutest little Suzuki Jimny for the whole week and drove all over the country. Well okay, not all over the country, but sometimes it felt that way because we drove a LOT. The landscape is unREAL and you can drive for 50+ miles of mountains, valleys, and farms without even seeing another person. And when you do, it's in a teeny town that consists of maybe 10 buildings with nothing else around it for another 50 miles. It doesn't come as a shock at all that so many movies are shot here, because the scenery is second to none. I finally get it, Jbiebz. It was all so beautiful I'll never get over it. Our third day was definitely my favorite day in Iceland, as we ventured along the southern coast to stay in the tiny beach town of Vík. It probably took us double the amount of time to drive there because we stopped on the side of the road to take pictures every 15 minutes.
After dropping off our bags at an adorable little hostel in Vík, we hit one incredible landmark after another. From the breathtaking waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, to the wreckage of the U.S. Navy aircraft DC-3 on the black sand beach of Sólheimasunder, to the basalt columns of the Reynisfjara shore, southern Iceland was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Sometimes I felt like I was on a different planet!
After saying goodbye to Vík, we drove back up north through the Golden Circle and stayed in the little village of Flúðir. The Golden Circle is a driving route that loops from Reykjavík into central Iceland and back which has been made popular since it hits a few major landmarks in the southwest. The first of which was Geysir, which as you may have guessed from the name, consists of a gigantic geyser that erupts up to 70m high every 15 minutes or so. Up next was probably one of the most impressive sites I have ever seen: Gulfoss. It translates to "Golden Falls," and is so immense and beautiful that pictures don't even do it justice! 
The next day was probably one of the low points of the trip. I say that only because it just consisted of driving. All day long. On unpaved roads. Those roads are no joke, and even though we were in that trusty little 4WD, it was still the bumpiest and and most treacherous drive. Our final destination was Látrabjarg: the largest bird cliffs in Europe, located on the westernmost point of Iceland. To get there you have to drive along the Westfjords for several hours. Despite the dangerous drive, the scenic views from the car and from the top of the cliffs once we finally arrived made it all worth it!
Leaving Iceland was so bittersweet. I already miss the inspiring beauty of the scenery, the 15 hours of sunlight, and feeling like at some points, we had the whole country to ourselves. I was so entranced by this magical land and will definitely find my way back. However, my sadness was over pretty quickly because our next stop was London! Stay tuned for more stories and even more pictures from the next leg of our trip!