A London Holiday

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Our second trip into London involved books, a museum, and ice skating, so it was pretty perfect. There were several bookstores on my London to-do list, but perhaps the store I was most excited to visit was Persephone Books.

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Persephone is a small, independent press that focuses on works by female authors that have gone out of print or been forgotten. We visited on a quiet Thursday afternoon and the shop was just as nice as I expected it to be. Each of the titles on the shelves was accompanied by a brief, handwritten note describing the book. Checking out the staff picks is one of my favorite things to do in a bookstore, so I love that this personal touch was used at Persephone.

The books are beautifully published as well and I took my time selecting a book to take home with me. You also get a free bookmark with each purchase. Their bookmarks feature patterns that match the different endpapers in each book, so then I had another hard decision to make about which pattern to choose. The book I picked up was The Making of a Marchioness, which is written by the same author that wrote A Little Princess and The Secret Garden. Although this was my first visit to Persephone, I certainly hope it won’t be my last.

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After Persephone Books, we popped by The British Library (and caught a glimpse of the stunning St. Pancras Hotel as we were walking over to The British Library). I particularly wanted to see their free permanent exhibit titled Treasures of the British Library. There are amazing artifacts in this collection, including books from the Middle Ages and manuscripts by Jane Austen. I love history and the fact that this exhibit has a literary focus made me even more excited. Best of all, that exhibit is completely free to visit.

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We couldn’t linger for too long at The British Library because we’d booked tickets to go ice skating at a rink outside The Natural History Museum. I’ve only been ice skating a handful of times, but every time I go, I throughly enjoy it. I thought that this rink was particularly picturesque, with the beautiful architecture of The National History Museum serving as a backdrop and trees covered in twinkle lights. We skated for around an hour, but that was a decent amount of time, because boy, ice skating is a workout! As an hour came to a close, the sun began to set, and it was a lovely moment.

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We had time for one more bookstore before we had to hop on the train back home and it was a good one- we visited Foyles on Charing Cross Road. This store is beautiful and massive. We were there for about 30-40 minutes, but it did not feel like enough time. There are just books everywhere- so much to see and explore. We only made it about halfway through the fiction section before we had to leave, but I’ve decided that I simply must go back. I did manage to purchase two more books in that time though. I bought Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (one of my favorite books, but I didn’t own a copy because I borrowed it from the library when I read it) and The Mothers by Brit Bennett.

That’s all I have to report from my trip to London! I had a great time and I’m so glad that I was able to spend time with my family. If all goes according to plan, I’ll hopefully be able to have more London adventures later this year!

Tomorrow, we’re throwing it back to warmer days and talking about Seattle in the next installment of travel week!

London at Night

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Welcome to the first post of travel week! We’re going to work our way backwards in time, so I’m starting with my trip to London a few months ago.

Ahhh, London, you magical city, you. I was so excited to visit London over the holidays and it did not disappoint. My family lives in the suburbs of London and we managed to make it into the city twice during my visit. The first time, we spent an evening browsing the shops in some of London’s busiest areas- Oxford Street, Carnaby Street, and Covent Garden.

I loved walking around these streets and didn’t even mind the crowds. There’s just something about being a tourist in another city, you know? We were able to see the festive lights and decorations everywhere and it was wonderful, simply wonderful.

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Where We Shopped

– Liberty London: This department store was at the top of my must-see list and it was lovely. There was a whole section for haberdashery (isn’t that an excellent word?) and fabrics, where I was able to browse through some of the beautiful fabrics that I’d only seen online. They have home goods, clothes, shoes, beauty, craft supplies, and more. There was another section just filled with Christmas supplies and I was so tempted. If we’d gone even a day or two before Christmas, I’m sure I would have bought something. Basically, it’s a store full of all the things that I like and I wanted everything. I’m really glad we were able to visit and I’m making it a point to go back there on my next trip. I’d love to see it in the daytime as well!

kikki.K: I was thrilled that we were able to make it to this stationery store. Really though, my cousin actually snapped a picture of me in the store because I was clearly overjoyed, like a kid in a candy store. I’ve coveted many kikki.K products online, but last time I checked, the shipping expenses were rather high, so I’d never bought anything. I knew I had to take advantage while I was in London since they don’t have any stores in the US yet. To top it all off, they were having a sale while we there! I managed to restrain myself somewhat and picked up some pretty gold binder clips, a notebook, a birthday card for a friend, and a beautiful copper pen.

South Kensington Books: We stumbled onto this bookstore. It wasn’t on my original list, but of course I am happy to drop into any bookstore. It’s a small shop, but they have a good selection. I’ve now started my collection of Penguin Little Black Classics, beginning with the two titles I bought at this shop: The Tinder Box by Hans Christian Andersen and Femme Fatale by Guy de Maupassant. I also bought The Muse by Jessie Burton, which has the loveliest book cover.

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What We Ate

Ben’s Cookies: My cousins asked if we wanted to stop for warm, gooey cookies and I said, “Lead the way!” As promised, the cookies were warm and fresh, and the chocolatey chunks that they use are massive. I went with my favorite, white chocolate chip macadamia nut, and it was rich and delicious.

Mod Pizza: This place is a choose your own toppings pizza bar and it’s a great deal. After a few hours of tramping around, my cousins and brother wanted some proper food. I was still rather full from my cookies and other snacks I’d eaten earlier, so I didn’t get my own pizza. I did watch as everyone built their pizzas (you can add as many toppings as you want for the same price) and sampled a couple slices. We were there later in the evening, so the place wasn’t crowded at all. It’s a relaxed, casual place and it was the perfect spot for us to rest and set down our bags before we headed back home.

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Check back tomorrow for another postcard from London!

London, Here I Come!

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I’m so very excited- a week from today, I’m jetting off to London to spend Christmas with my family! My family is flying over from California and we’ll be visiting my aunt, uncle, and cousins who live there. It will be so great to see my relatives again and to meet my littlest cousins, who weren’t around yet when I last visited.

I’ve been to London twice before and the last time was in the summer of 2010. This will be my first time going as an adult though and I can’t wait to do some exploring. Just thinking about seeing London all dressed up the holidays brings a happy tear to my eye!

Since we’re going to visit family, I imagine a good chunk of time will be spent at their home, but there are a few places I’d like to visit if we have the time. I’m still putting together my list, but here are a few of the spots on my radar:

Sketch (afternoon tea): This place is pretty pricey, but also very pretty. Also, I’ve never done a proper sit-down tea before and I feel like it would be really fun.

Persephone (books): You know there will be at least one book store on any travel list I’m making! This company publishes really beautiful books and I’ve always been jealous of my bookish friends in the UK who have easy access to their store.

National History Museum: I’d love to go to a museum or two while I’m there and my cousins suggested that we go to one with an ice rink outside. Museum-hopping and ice skating sounds like the perfect winter day to me.

If you have any London recommendations, I’d love to read about them in the comments below. What do you have planned for the holidays?

(image via)

Pike Place Market

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Remember the family trip I took over the summer? Well, today I’m finally kicking of my recaps of the trip. There are so many pictures to sort through and places to talk about, so I decided it would be easiest to do this bit by bit. I’m also thinking of doing a round-up post towards the end to link all of the posts and places in one mini guide.

I thought we’d start with one spot that many people have heard of, whether or not you’ve been to Seattle: Pike Place Market. This was one of the first destinations I added to my list and the one place that everyone named when I asked for Seattle recommendations. Most of them said, “It’s touristy, but worth it” and they were right.

Even though we had a relatively short journey from LAX to SEA, we were pretty tired when we arrived in the afternoon of our first day in Seattle. We had a chill, relaxing night, and rested up to go exploring on Day 2. And oh boy, did we explore. I think we visited the most places on this day. But there I go, getting ahead of myself again!

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Our first stop in Seattle was Pike Place Market. After reading a few travel guides, I knew that the market is more crowded in the afternoon, so I wanted us to head there on the earlier side. But, I’d forgotten what it’s like when you travel with family, and by the time all of us were ready, it was already late morning/early afternoon.

Driving to the market was my first experience with Seattle hills. I was not prepared for the incline on some of those hills. After driving around for a bit, we finally found a parking spot at what felt like a 75-degree angle, and then walked down the hill to Pike Place.

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I enjoy markets in general and Pike Place has something for everyone. There are restaurants, groceries, flowers, handcrafted goods, food stands, and much more. We spent a few hours wandering around the market and of course I went crazy with the pictures because there was so much that caught my eye.

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Some highlights of the market and surrounding areas for me were:

– Hot mini donuts: these were so yummy and there were some topped with maple and bacon bits (!!)

– Rachel’s Ginger Beer: this place was recommended to me by a friend who lived in Seattle and a refreshing drink was just what I needed after walking around for a while

– The flowers: the flowers were lovely and not crazy expensive. I was sorely tempted to take some back to our Airbnb, but I knew we’d be walking around for the rest of the day and I didn’t want them to wilt before we made it back. If I lived near the market though, I’m pretty sure a good chunk of my money would be diverted to those pretty flowers

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We were able to see the flying fish too. Somehow, in all of my research before the trip, I hadn’t heard about the flying fish before we got there. Then my mom mentioned it, but I had no idea what she was referring to. We happened to catch the show and it was pretty amusing to see the men tossing this huge fish around. One of their tricks is to throw a fish towards you and then catch it right before it seems like the fish will smack you in the face (I have a clip of my mom reacting to this- it’s so funny!).

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After we’d walked around for a bit, we grabbed some fish and chips and sat outside behind the market to enjoy our food. The weather was fantastic and sitting in that open area provided some good people watching, mostly of other tourist families just like us.

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I realized early on that one of my favorite things about Seattle is that there are views of water everywhere. Sitting on a bench overlooking the water and munching a tasty meal is something I could quickly get used to.

After our lunch, we packed up to head to the next spot on my list. But this wasn’t our only visit to Pike Place- we actually went back another day during our trip. My mom wanted to pick up some more souvenirs and I was happy to go back for another round. On our second trip, we saw the gum wall and the hula hooping guitar man, two important things that we’d missed on our first go-around!

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Pike Place Market was such a wonderful, vibrant place, and I’d definitely go back. I’d love to experience it earlier in the day too, when it’s a bit less crowded and the market is just coming to life.

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