Do a little dance… practical information on Seattle and SF

Afb000 In an earlier post, I already gave the quick lowdown on my West Coast trip, but I wanted to give some more detail on the practical stuff.

First up: guidebooks. Obviously, as a bookhistorian, a fair amount of thought goes into which to bring. I have used copies of the Rough Guides Directions series a couple times lately, and liked them. They’re perfect if you’re in a city for a couple of days, and need some thoughts on where to go and what to do and you want something small and easy to carry. They are aimed at the crowd that is looking for good food, good shopping and good culture, and are organized per neighbourhood. I ended up taking the San Francisco Directions with me and loved it. One downside of this particular guide was that it wasn’t very detailed on public transport, but otherwise, thumbs up. For Seattle, there is no RG Directions guide, so after some research I ended with the normal Rough Guide to Seattle, and a copy of The Food Lover’s Guide to Seattle which is a wonderful guide to find out where to buy the best food and food-related items, organised by product (e.g. chocolate, bread etc). This is one of the best specialty guides I’ve seen in a long time and I can highly recommend it (and if they put maps in it, I would consider this THE best specialty guide I own).

Next: shopping. In Seattle, Pike Place Market was obviously one of my first stops. It’s an eclectic collection of food and general knick-knack shopping, and I loved it. Favourites were Dilettante, the chocolate shop, the guys throwing fish, DeLaurentis for gourmet food shopping (and wine, which is where the pic at the top comes from), the cooking shop Sur La Table and  the mapshop with inflatable and huggable globes and planets Metskers. On Pioneer Square, the Eliott Bay bookstore is a wonderfully eclectic bookstore with a great secondhand section. I was taken to Target and absolutely loved it, and for the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted, go to Fran’s Chocolates (the salt caramels are especially wonderful). In San Francisco I didn’t have too much time to seek out interesting shops, although I loved the Banana Republic flagship store just off Union Square.

Lastly: food! Breakfast in Seattle (with a vote for Best View Whilst Having Breakfast) at Lowell’s in Pike Place Market and the most scrumptious breakfast at Macrina’s Bakery in Belltown (gets busy on weekends but well worth the wait). Very good (and cheap) hearty Mexican fare in a relaxed setting at Agua Verde near the University (I had the flank steak taco with a side of mashed potatoes and I swear I almost ate my fingers with the food it was that good). Food in SF: we had lunch at a great Thai place, but I forgot to write down the name. It’s one block south of Union Square, I think on Geary Street. Dirt-cheap, big portions and good stuff.

It’s wet, grubby and the taxi drivers drive like maniacs

Afb001aaaaaaahhhh, it’s good to be back in NYC! Now, if only someone would turn off the rain-tap, life would be so much easier ;-) I’m fed up with soaked socks and umbrellas, enough with the water already.

Shout out to the people who sent me recommendations for my west coast trip, much appreciated, even if I didn’t have time or room to follow them up. I’m keeping them in my archive, so next time I go I know where to go and what to eat!

Both Seattle and San Francisco were great. I’d never been to Seattle before, but now I understand grunge music a lot better. If it rained like that for more than the 3 days I was there, I would write depressing songs too ;-) But the city itself was great, we were fortunate to have some great local guides to show us around, I discovered the joys of shopping at Target (I had to almost be surgically removed from the store), tasted some of the best chocolate ever at Fran’s chocolates (and of course I had to try two other chocolate shops too), saw the awesome Snoquamie Falls, and had the most perfect breakfast (minus a 40 min wait) at Macrina’s Bakery in Belltown.

San Francisco was an improvement weather wise, and it was nice to not have soaked shoes and socks for a few days. I didn’t have enough time to do all I wanted to do and see here, but I did go up to Berkeley to visit a fellow LBS exchangee, which was great fun, discovered the delights of shopping at Banana Republic, and caught up with a few of my LBS friends. All in all it was a great trip, and I had a blast. But now, it’s back to the grind, no more traveling for me until I travel home for Christmas.

Job applications are still on the agenda (with two big ones due this week), as is coursework (desperately trying to catch up from my 6 day absence, and some cool projects in the pipeline such as our Advertising Management creative brief (about which more another time) and the New Product Development new product we’re developing). I’m starting to become a little homesick (strangely enough for both NL and the UK), and although I’m still enjoying my time here, I’m also looking forward to going home. I’ve already bought my first two Christmas presents and I’m starting to worry about how I’ll get my stuff back home ;-)

[edit: see also this post for recommendations and practical details of my West Coast trip.]

This was sooooo cool!

Afb090Literally and figuratively! Miss M (fellow LBS student at Stern this term) and I flew up to Chicago to visit the LBS gang there for the weekend. And it was so cool! Chicago’s such a great city (although I’m not sure I could live there, it gets soooo cold), and we had loads of fun. Saw a comedy show at Second City (which was very interesting: we couldn’t understand all the jokes since they were about American people we didn’t know, and the ones we thought humourous didn’t make any of the Americans laugh), had drinks with Poweryogi (nice to see you again sweetie!), visited the Kellogg campus (hosted by the wonderful Mr N and Ms F), did a Segway tour of Chicago (which rocked!!! Can highly recommend it), visited the Art Institute (where I loved this exhibition called So the Story Goes, which had some awesome photography in it), had deep pan pizza, went to the Kingston Mines Blues Club, and then after only two hours of sleep, I was back on a plane to NYC.

On my way back, I saw some corporate communications which I thought were awesome. My Airtran flight left from a gate that is set apart from the rest of Midway airport, and you have to take a little hike to get there. Airtran has cleverly solved the hike with the following:
Afb100Afb101Afb102Afb104

I thought they were brilliant! They take away the uncertainty of ‘am I going in the right direction?’, and ‘how much longer is it going to take?’ and ‘boy, this really is the sticks!’ in a very humorous way. Big thumbs up for Airtran!

Right, off to do some homework now, the term has heated up a bit in terms of work, and I’ll be out of town from Thursday til Sunday. 

Far and away

Afb044_1My life still feels like one big to do list, which seems to be growing exponentially by the day. However, I keep on ticking on a lot of things to:

  • Go to Edinburgh for the weekend. Check. Went there last weekend with three friends and had a great time. I’m not a big fan of theatre, so I only went to the production that one of our classmates was putting on, but I saw some great art exhibitions, had some great meals and heard some great jazz. And had some great flight-delays. Edinburgh is such a cool city, can highly recommend it to anyone.
  • Find tenants for our landlady. Check. Done and sorted. Pfiew.
  • Catch up with (most) of my friends in London. Check. Think I’ve spoken to almost everyone I’ve wanted to speak to before I leave for NYC. Friends are a very good thing!
  • Have leaving lunch at work. Check. Had my leaving lunch today, although tomorrow’s my last day at work (today was the day the most people could make it). Nice lunch, very nice speech, very nice presents and very nice card. Great end to a great internship.
  • Organize leaving drinks for classmates. Check. Tomorrow night my housemate and I are hanging out in a local pub with our friends and classmates. I’ll be missing them when in NY.
  • Figure out what to do with all that s**t that magically appeared in my room. Sort of check. My parents were here and took 40 kgs home, a friend is storing two boxes of books, my binders have been reduced to a small stack of papers which will hopefully fit into my school locker, and the rest I am either throwing out, or taking with me to NY. Moving continents is hard to organize ;-)
  • Try and find time to blog. Check. But I’m struggling a little bit, apologies for that. There are so many emails (apologies again if I haven’t replied yet), moving issues and life in general interfering.
  • Worry about my shadowing project. Check. But less than last time I worried about it. Through a friend I’ve managed to get in contact with someone who’ll hopefully let me shadow them for a few days. Keep fingers crossed.
  • Crave Dutch food. Check. Good thing I’m off to my parents on Sunday before I’m off to New York next week, so that I can eat some of my mum’s wonderful food. Yum.

Sandcastle

SandcastleRight, quick post to say that I’m not posting. Which I then obviously am. But not a real one. Just a quick one to say I’m out for the weekend, building sandcastles down at the seaside in Devon, trying desperately to get something resembling a tan, and will post early next week.

And for those who are interested: I did get my US visa, great story to tell about that, will tell all next week (anyone wanna buy a big box of bandaids?). And I still don’t have anywhere to live in New York.

Au revoir

Au revoir crepes. Au revoir Louvre. Au revoir yummie croissants. Au revoir strolling in the rain (ok, so maybe that’s one thing I won’t miss. And I don’t have to miss it, it’s raining in London too!). I had a blast in Paris, visited too many bookshops (although I didn’t buy a lot, I kept on thinking about the fact that this year alone I’ll have to move twice), museums and chocolate shops and was fascinated by Fashion TV (we don’t even have a telly in our house).

I’m back in London for two days, and this Wednesday I’m off to my parents til Sunday (can’t wait!). I haven’t seen them in three months and I can’t wait to catch up, give them a big hug and eat some of my mum’s fabulous food. Three months without a visit to parents also means I haven’t had a haircut in three months and I can’t wait to fly over to get that hair out of my face and get it dyed again.

Next week’s the start of the last term from our first year and our final set of core courses. We’ve got Markstrat (marketing simulation) for the first five weeks, and the full ten weeks of Information Management, Management Accounting and Macro-economics. On top of that, I’m also taking two electives, Understanding Entrpreneurial Management and Advanced Marketing Strategy. So I guess I’ll have my work cut out for me next term.

Last Friday the R2 admits came out, and I want to send my warmest congrats to all the admits: well done gals and guys! Speaking of R2 admits, there’s a new LBS blogger on the block, give a big hand to EHFM :-)

PS Sadly enough, I didn’t get through the lottery for the Clinton speech… but I’ve got a friend who’s going and who might be a guest-blogger to report on the speech.

PS2 I want to share a couple more pics of my trip (all taken with mobile phone, apologies for the quality):Pantheon [edit: taken on the one morning the sun was shining]Dutch bar in the Marais (see the Grolsch bottles? That’s from my hometown!)
Well, this is ONE way of selling chocolate…(7.70 euros per 100 grams)

PS 3 I’ve started writing at length about my recent travel and food experiences on a separate blog for those interested in more detail, click here.


Paris part deux

Il pleut en Paris. [translation: it rains in Paris] Somehow, being surrounded by all these native French speakers, my secondary school French (the full six years of it) is coming back and I can get by reasonably well shopping and getting into museums. Apparently, I look so Parisian that some American tourists asked me the way in their best French… they were quite surprised I answered in fluent English with an English accent.

My love affair with Paris is continuing. What is there not to love (except for the weather)? I went to the Musee National des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet and was very impressed, both with the building which is very light, airy and feels serene and with the collection of Asian art and the large amount of buddhas. The audio guide was good, but to my taste there were too few items that were covered. On the way to and from I did some shopping at some of Paris’ excellent food markets, which offer some delectable foodstuffs. Later on this week the Quartier Latin is on the schedule, and the Marais, and to finish off some more Louvre. Ah, Paris mon amour :-)

Bonjour Paris

Blogger’s been a bit wobbly lately, something to do with a wonky server. Please accept my apologies if you’ve been trying to read the blog but couldn’t because of these problems. One of the issues that doesn’t seem to be solved yet is the upload of pictures, so they’ll have to wait for a bit til they get that up and running again.

I’m writing this blogpost from Paris, woohoo! I’m here for a week, rented an apartment near the Centre Pompidou and I’m having a blast. Today I walked to the Louvre, for which a friend very kindly gave me two free tickets (which means I’ll get to go again later on this week, yippie!) and it was fabulous, what a great museum. I think I must have been one of the few tourists that didn’t head over to see the Mona Lisa first stop, my big love is Rubens, so I went to see his paintings (see left for a picture). Wow. I was so impressed and awestruck. Next stop were the Napoleon III Apartments, which give the words opulence and decadence a whole new meaning. Last stop within the Louvre was an expedition to find Zurbaran’s pictures, but I couldn’t find them on display, and I lingered a while in the Italian painting section, where I inadvertedly caught a glimpse of the Mona Lisa.

I’ve done some great food shopping (including a chocolate lollipop from Jean Paul Hevin)(the pump on the left is also one of his chocolate creations, for 45 euros it could be yours), and I think I’m falling in love with this city ;-) Don’t get me wrong, London is still my number two (my hometown will always be no 1), but Paris is making a good third. There’s something about the way Parisians park (bump the car behind you, bump the car in front, et voila, there’s a parking space where there wasn’t one before!), the way Parisian women smoke (so elegantly, makes me almost jealous I don’t smoke) and the lovely architecture of cream coloured buildings and churches.

Pictures to follow when Blogger gets its act together again.
[edit 1. Blogger lets me put up pictures, so I’ve added a few. All of them are made on my mobile phone so I apologize for the poor quality.]

Home sweet…. ehm… where is home again?

I’ve flown to my parents in the Netherlands for Christmas and I was about to say ‘home sweet home’ when I realised that although this is where my roots lie and I will call this place ‘home’ the rest of my life, I haven’t actually lived here for over 10 years, and when talking about returning to London, I call that ‘home’ too… maybe ‘home’ has become more of a mental space, calling it that place where my family and friends are, and where I feel at home. But that’s no longer one physical place.
The pictures in this blog-post are some of the pics I took when taking a walk in one of the local forests on First Christmas-day. We (the Dutch) must be the only nation that actually has a first and second Christmasday! I think it’s quite clever, though, this way it’s easier to arrange Christmas with your in-laws: one day at your parents, one day at his.

A couple of interesting weblinks: Tim Berners-Lee, the man who more or less invented the Internet, has started a weblog here, and if you’re a true consultant and you want to convince the dude/dudette you’re with why they should continue dating you, read this, it had me in stitches.

Holiday… it’ll be so nice

Since I’ll be spending tomorrow-night at my parents’, I’m already packing my bag for my hols (flying out on Wednesday). I love packing, it’s one of the few chores in and around the house I actually enjoy doing. Biggest decisions regarding what to bring of course revolve around reading material. A carefully selected stack of magazines and books is waiting for perusal by the pool… Sorry, didn’t mean to poke anyone’s eyes out, but I’m just so happy that I can escape everything for a week. That also means that I’ll take a week off from blogging, I’ll be back late next week.