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Posts tagged ‘travel’

159. My Adventures in Italy!

I was supposed to post this quite a while ago. It’s been almost two weeks since I returned and what a whirlwind it has been…but more about that later! 

I have to begin with saying that it was such an amazing trip and a fantastic experience to end with before I start adult working life (that still hasn’t sunk in and I start tomorrow!).

We were based in Florence and stayed in a rented apartment. I had no idea how nice it would be because there was a mix up with addresses and I wasn’t sure that the one we booked was the one we’d get. Sure it enough, it wasn’t…it was much better. We couldn’t believe our luck when we saw how good the location was (literally one road from the Duomo!), how clean it was, how BIG it was and how it was furnished with pretty much everything we could possibly need. It was great having a space to ourselves where we could be slobs together and do whatever the hell we wanted. The only downside about the flat was that it was on the third floor and there was no lift. My legs got a good workout climbing all those bloody steps.

The weather was hot, just as we expected it to be. When we stepped off the plane, the heat washed over us in waves. However it was dry heat so it was far more tolerable; humid heat is the worst. Eurgh! Despite the generous use of sun cream, I still came back tanned. This would normally be celebrated but brown people have this notion that fair is beautiful. Personally I think the tan looks pretty good but my mum was like ehhh. What do you expect when we’re out for 12 hours every day?!

The food was really really good. We had a few concerns about whether Meeti’s dietary requirements would be easily met (vegan plus no eggs, onions or garlic) but it turns out Italians use few ingredients and what they say is what you get. A margherita pizza is literally just dough, tomato sauce and mozzerella but my god it tastes good. One of the best places we ate at was called the ‘OK- bar’ which is quite a self-deprecating name. It ought to be called the ‘Mighty fine- bar’ or ‘A lot better than OK- bar’. I had pasta or pizza every single day. So good!

It’s always hard to describe an atmosphere but Florence had a really good one. Obviously there were lots of tourists but it still felt calm and all the people we met were super friendly. The evenings were particularly special because Florence simply lights up, both literally and metaphorically. The cool air is so inviting that it brings everyone out and you can easily chat the night away. In contrast to the intimate town feel of Florence, Rome strongly felt like a city in the sense that it was buzzing with people and was so big. However it also didn’t feel as safe. Case in point- Meeti felt someone tug on her bag as she walked off the metro. We were on high alert for the rest of the day as we simply couldn’t afford to lose our bags. Pisa also didn’t compare to Florence. Despite its beauty and being the home of the leaning tower, it didn’t charm me in the same way. Every road you walk down in Florence has something that catches your eye and steals your attention. It is so much more than just the sights.

But speaking of sights, Florence is of course famous for its art and culture and for being the setting of Dan Brown’s book which excited Meeti to no end. Being a Maths/Science orientated person I am really not the most cultured person. I don’t appreciate Art in the way other people do; I don’t know what makes one painting better than another; I can’t talk about brush strokes and historical background for more than five minutes. But even I knew that some of the stuff I saw was really special.

Every time I see this, it make me squee!

The level of detail of some of the paintings and sculptures was exemplary and subtle things like facial expressions and soft eyes captured emotion in a way that I had never seen before. But being us, we weren’t serious for long and very soon we started adding our own silly captions to the paintings and copying the some of the really bizarre stances of the sculptures to great comical effect.

Mad skillz right there

Mad copying skillz right there

Medusa!

Medusa!

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I have to say, back in the day the artists were seriously obsessed with the human body is all its naked glory. Boobs and pee-pees everywhere. It was quite disconcerting initially. I found it curious that all the men seemed to have abs of steel whilst the women were curvy, fat rolls in abundance, cleavage hanging out. Given the realism of the paintings I thought it was strange how everyone was hairless, even the guys (except for the mandatory man bush). I know it’s effort to add shadow but if they had time to include cellulite and butt dimples I figure it would have been a walk in the park.

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Is it just me or does this position look really uncomfortable?

Check out the level of detail- the veins in his hand!

Check out the level of detail- the veins in his hand!

I couldn’t possibly list all the things I saw so instead I will talk about the highlights. The best part of the holiday by far was our evening on the steps at the top of Piazzale Michelangelo. It was one of those moments you read about in books. The sun was going down; the air was cool; there was a man playing classic songs on an acoustic guitar to an enraptured crowd; the view was spectacular. It felt magical to be there with some of my favourite people in the whole world, munching on our cheese and tomato baguettes from home. It’s definitely up there in the top five best evenings of my life.

The view from Piazzale Michelangelo, simply magnificent!

The view from Piazzale Michelangelo, simply magnificent!

The awesome dude who kept us entertained all evening!

The awesome dude who kept us entertained all evening!

Climbing nearly five hundred mismatched awkward steps up narrow paths and in dark conditions doesn’t sound great but the view at the top of the Duomo more than made up for it. You could see for miles around, even mountains in the distance and it was so bright up there that it was hard not to squint in all the pictures. The Boboli gardens also provided picturesque views with its fountains and paths roofed by trees. The sheer scale of the gardens was impressive and its famous path lined with sculptures and plants definitely lived up to expectations.

One of my favourite pictures I took on the trip! Look at that sky!

One of my favourite pictures I took on the trip! Look at that sky!

Dat view though!

Dat view though!

Here are some more pics from our trip!

Over and Out!

158. It’s Showtime!

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, perhaps you’ll recall that I wished for two things this year. The first was to obtain a First in my degree which I did (huzzah!) and the second was go on holiday with my friends. Well guess what, it’s happening! We are due to fly to Italy tomorrow and I am so excited!

We’re mainly going to be based in Florence (which looks gorgeous!) though we plan to make a day trip to Rome and Pisa. Seeing as none of us have started working yet, we’re trying to be resourceful when it comes to spending. For example we rented a house for the week instead of booking a hotel. I actually prefer that because there’s more privacy, we can be loud and it’s just more suitable for a group. 

I have been such an eager beaver about this trip. I went to the library and took out two travel books which I have pretty much read cover to cover and I had far too much fun researching our itinerary, which incidentally is a spreadsheet. What do you expect from five mathematicians?!

So yeah, I’ll be back in a week! Laters!

Over and Out!

151. The End of an Era

It been a few weeks since I finished uni for good, finished my full time education for good. Last year I wasn’t ready to leave. This year I am. I have loved Imperial College London. I have never been worked so hard, never had my brain fried so thoroughly, never taken such terrifying exams. At the same time, I have never been so proud of what I’ve achieved or learnt so much so quickly or loved the people around me so fiercely. These four years have been really special.

Despite still living at home, I have experienced independence in a way I had previously not known. My oyster card has been my gateway to London, with which I have mastered the underground. I could sleepwalk my way to Gloucester Road; in fact I probably have…9am lectures are rough.

Anyway I don’t want to gush. The pictures say it better than I could ever describe. *gets out tissues*

 

 

I made a video montage with many more pics which can be viewed here, if you wish to experience the full journey.

Over and Out!

126. So did I actually do anything on my To-Do List?

So I made a list of things I wanted to do over Summer and I thought it might be a good idea to check if I actually did any of them. I know it’s October but better late than never. Here goes:

  • Buy clothes for my internship (so that I look good while I succeed! )
    I had a very successful shopping trip with my dad. I managed to buy five shirts/blouses for under £60 so I was well chuffed! Shame I didn’t give two hoots about what I was wearing about a week into the internship.
  • Visit all my friends who I haven’t seen in a while
    I visited a few close friends but nowhere near everyone I hoped to see. GUILTY!

    akjk

    Me and JK

  • Buy clothes for my cousin’s wedding
    Ah ha ha the last minute panic that was my Paris trip. I really liked the green asian style maxi dress I bought- made me feel a million dollars!
  • Be nice to my cousin who doesn’t like me when she comes to visit
    This went surprisingly well actually. I think we both made a conscious effort to be warmer towards each other even though we don’t see eye to eye. I’m pleased we parted on good terms.
  • Think seriously about fourth year modules and start collecting past papers/ problem sheet solutions
    I dedicated quite a lot of time thinking about my final year and how I needed to boost my marks. I find it amusing that the modules I decided to do this term are exactly what I originally planned to do before all the scrutiny and over analysis of past papers. Sometimes it really is best not to overthink. I’m very happy with my choices.
  • Bake lasagna for my parents again
    Shockingly I got around to doing this. It was a real pain getting my parents out the kitchen but I succeeded in baking something edible. It was good but there is definitely room for improvement (more white sauce!)

    lasagna

    Om nom nom

  • Start writing down Mum’s recipes (step one of wife training)
    This didn’t happen… I’m clearly putting off wife training. I should just start apologising to my husband now. If he exists.
  • Organise a holiday somewhere in Europe for September
    I must have spent hours looking at potential destinations but did I go anywhere? NOPE. In part, I blame my parents because they were so reluctant. My mum’s preference is always to go to Pakistan to see family but that means never getting a chance to actually explore the country. My dad’s preference is to minimise spending and if he had it his way we’d be in a tiny self catering hostel and seeing lots of places but not actually ‘doing’ anything. Either way, not the holiday I was looking for.
  • Start reading A Game of Thrones
    Alas this didn’t happen either. HOWEVER I did manage to read quite a few books during my jury service because there was so much waiting around. I just love reading sessions- I really miss it during term time. Technically speaking I could read a few pages everyday but I find that very unsatisfying. I prefer to totally immerse myself into a new world not just dip in and out of it.
  • Spend a day baking
    I had a lovely day baking fairy cakes with my beautiful cousin Mele. They came out so soft and fluffy! I also whipped the cream by hand which required some serious elbow grease but it came out well. We decorated the cakes with flakes and sprinkles and gosh they were scrummy!

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    Who doesn’t love a bit of rainbow sprinkles?!

  • Go to Thorpe Park
    Hmmm I went to Alton Towers instead which was a real trek so I think it should count. NEXTTT
  • Watch: Hangover 3, The King’s Speech, Season 7 and 8 of House, the last series of Doctor Who…and all the other stuff saved on our Sky Box
    This was my proudest achievement. I watched it all! I’ve officially seen every episode of House. Totally cried when it ended.
  • Sort out all the papers and folders scattered across my room
    I dedicated an entire day sifting through the crap in my room. I don’t know how I amass so much paper. By the end I had a pile up to my knees that went straight into recycling. Now there’s more room for me to collect new crap. Huzzah!
  • Back up my files and wipe my laptop(asaurus) because it’s so damn slow!
    I actually wiped my laptop TWICE but I still haven’t bothered to copy my files over. Turns out all I really need is the internet!
  • Do some reading for my fourth year project- maybe even form an outline of how I want to structure it
    I was quite annoyed that I couldn’t do much for my project over the Summer but I wasn’t the only one so I don’t feel so bad. I have a truckload to do for it now though. Le sigh.
  • Finish furnishing my Neohome
    Neopets took a back seat this Summer. Am I growing up? NOOOOOOOO. (I still play the stock market. I will never give it up.)
  • Finish decorating the Disney Princesses wall in my room (I’m a grown up, honest)
    I did the colouring….but I still need to cut them out and stick them on my wall. It was surprisingly therapeutic just sitting there deciding which shade of pink was right for Aurora’s dress. #lifedecisions

    aurora

    See how well I kept in the lines. Such a pro.

  • Lose a few pounds or worse comes to worst, don’t put ON any more weight!
    I didn’t lose weight. On the plus side, I didn’t really gain anything either. In my books, that’s a win!
  • KEEP BLOGGING!
    I think I did just enough though I got super busy during my internship…

Overall I think I did quite well. Did most of the important things on the list!

Over and Out!

64. Brown people at the airport

I go to Heathrow a lot. Usually I’m picking up or dropping off relatives coming from/ going to Pakistan and I’ve noticed a number of things.

– Before we even get to the airport, we do the customary weighing of the suitcases to find out just how overweight they are. Instead of putting the case on the scale, my dad always insists on standing on the scale, noting his weight and then lifting the suitcase and calculating the increase. Apparently this is more accurate… but you gotto feel sorry for the pour soul (usually me) who has to have their face against the floor (and near feet) to get the readings. *grumble grumble*

– You don’t need to look at the screen to find out which area of the airport you need to go. Just follow the masses of people talking really loudly (in Punjabi or Urdu) and you’ll soon find your way to the PIA desk.

– There may be 3 or 4 people actually getting on the plane but a good 10-15 people coming to see them off. This might make them feel special but to every other passenger, this is hella annoying. Why are you all congregated right in the middle of the check in? Why are you all in the queue if you’re not travelling?! You’re making the queue longer!

Image Credit: thehindu.com

– Suitcases. About 70% of the passengers have suitcases from the 1970’s that look they they weigh a tonne and don’t have wheels. Even worse, some people just bring a hench cardboard box and mummify it in string. This is understandable if you’re taking something odd shaped abroad that won’t fit in a usual suitcase but most of the time it’s just full of clothes.

– The ladies are travelling in clothes that I would usually reserve for wearing to a wedding. How can you sit through a 7 hour flight in such heavy garments and make up? You are going to look like your face melted when you get off the plane. And heels too! You’re already struggling with your overweight luggage. Your inappropriate footwear is only going to this worse.

– The luggage is always overweight and not just a little bit, outrageously so.  My relatives actually PLAN on taking overweight luggage and create a ‘lucky bag’. This is a bag that they’d like to take but if it doesn’t go- oh well. They’ll wait in the queue and try and suss out who the most lenient check in person is and try and go for them. Then they will try and butter up the person behind the desk (I genuinely heard one man say ‘you’re looking very smart’ and the lady said ‘don’t even try it’).  One time we managed to convince someone to let us take an extra 15kg on board including golf clubs and other times we get the really anal check in person who is like hmmm you’re 1kg over, cough up. I have to add that nearly every time I go to the airport, I meet someone who wants us to check in their bag if we have room. The cheek!

How can my luggage be overweight? I weighed it at home!

– Every child is carrying their own body weight as ‘hand luggage’. Their parents are telling them ‘it’s only for a little bit’. I have experienced being that child and trust me when I say it is not a little bit and it canes your back.

– There’s always that one family that didn’t come prepared with a ‘lucky bag’ and has to open their suitcase in front of everyone and start removing things. What you notice is that they are filled to the brim with ‘gifts’ such as 5 packets of kitkat, a dozen cardigans from Marks and Spencer, Vaseline moisturising cream and random things like jam or baked beans which aren’t as nice in Pakistan. Hey…whatever makes them happy.

Over and Out!

58. Paris Baby!

I’m going to Paris! Not right now, but in July, smack bang in the middle of my internship, for my cousin’s wedding. We booked the tickets today!

It is going to be EPIC. My cousin is the bride and she is French hence the whole going to Paris thing. This is the first time in years that a really close family member of mine is getting married. Weddings are totally different experiences when it is your family member getting married. You have more responsibilities but also a whole load more fun. You get to help behind the scenes, get everyone sorted and of course you’re allowed to dance like an idiot (this is normally frowned upon at other people’s weddings).

I have family all over the place and we’re all going to be converging in Paris which is basically a logistical nightmare. Everyone wants to go together but it’s hard when you have people from America, Scotland, Manchester and 3 families from London, particularly if they can’t agree on a mode of transport. What is even better is that all of us, yes ALL of us will be staying in one rented house for the duration of the wedding. I can picture it already… sleeping on the floor, arguing over bathroom schedules, not having enough plates for breakfast etc. There will be a good 20 of us living in this one house. It will be absolutely manic but that’s all part of the appeal.

My experience will be particularly crazy because of the fact it’s in the middle of my internship. It’s probably not great to be taking holidays (even though we are allowed two days off- I checked the contract) in case it affects my job prospects but my cousin will only be getting married once (I hope) and I really don’t want to miss it. Basically… YOLO I’m going. I emailed the company requesting the day off and it’s not a definitive yes but it sounds promising so we took a gamble and booked the tickets anyway.

I’m going to be going on a Saturday in the afternoon. The wedding is on Sunday and I’m leaving on Monday at half 6 in the morning. I am going to be sooo dead when I return. I can’t believe half 6 in the morning was the only train left on Monday,  almost 3 months in advance. Mental!

Eeee I’m so excited!

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My cousin’s registration last week

Over and Out!

47. A Bizarre Encounter With A Bus Driver

I take a bus, an overground train and an underground train to get to university, which is pretty much every mode of transport. So if one goes wrong, I am actually screwed.

You might be thinking, eh… there were no buses included in your university travel post. This is true. The thing is, it is kinda difficult to get away with acting like a tourist in your own hometown. Additionally, my phone is super annoying and can’t take pictures silently. I don’t want people on the bus thinking I’m taking pictures of the backs of their heads. I could get punched.

On with the story…Yesterday I was waiting at the bus stop in the pouring rain without an umbrella. It was early afternoon so it was quiet- there were only another 5 people there. The E6 bus pulled up and the driver opened the doors directly in front of where I was sitting. Everyone got on except me, because, well it’s not my bus.

However the driver left the doors open and motioned that I should get in. I shouted from my seat that this wasn’t my bus and he clutched his heart and fell back theatrically as if I’d just shot him. This was the last thing I was expecting. It totally caught me off guard and I started laughing. He told me to get on again and I said I really couldn’t. He then blew me a kiss and drove off. That part was a little weird but overall a highly amusing interaction.

People do such funny things!