Tag Archives: London

Abroad Blog of the Week: Brilliant London

Just because the Olympics are over, doesn’t mean there isn’t more fun to be had in London. This Abroad Blog of the Week proves that is a fact. Ally of Brilliant London is an American expat who has made it her goal to discover London one photo and one day at a time. Her daily posts are easy reads and include pictures, history, and fun facts about various landmarks and events throughout the city. Some of my personal favorite posts were of the Diamond Jubilee. But what I like most about Brilliant London is the variety. You can find the famous tourist spots on her blog, but there is even more of the unknown, less-frequently visited diamonds in the rough. If you’re planning a trip to London, this is definitely a blog to reference. I was fortunate to virtually chat with Ally and get some further tips on exploring London. (Thanks, Ally!)

What made you decide to start Brilliant London?

As American expats, our time in London is limited, and knowing that we will be returning to the States within the next few years, I found myself determined not to miss anything. We are so fortunate to have this opportunity, and I don’t want to return home knowing that I didn’t take advantage of all that London has to offer. I decided that making a commitment to writing about one location a day would be a good goal, and after more than 150 posts, I have just begun to scratch the surface! I am learning so much, and all of my research has provided me with some excellent trivia and party conversation…’did you know that London actually averages less rainfall per year than New York City?’ or ‘did you know that The Queen has owned more than 30 Corgis during her reign?’ See? Isn’t that useful table talk?!

 London has been a busy place this summer. What has been your favorite event of the summer?

 I have to confess that I have been blogging from the States this summer as we like to come back and see our friends and family while school is out, however, London has been a busy place all year! What excellent timing we have had for our adventure! I was among the crowds lined up along the streets to watch Kate and William’s Royal Wedding Procession, and I was again up at the crack of dawn to wave to The Queen as she passed-by for her Diamond Jubilee Procession. Everything has been so festive in London from the hundreds of union flags strung-up along Oxford Street to the giant Olympic Rings hanging from Tower Bridge. I think my favorite event, though, would have to be attending the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace. I will never forget it!

On all your adventures through London do you prefer to go with friends/family or solo?

 We do a lot of exploring as a family, and I like to meet up with my friends for a good museum exhibit or theatre production, but I tend to head out on my own during the week to explore the city and take photos for Brilliant London. I map out a specific area, mark a few landmarks, and see where my camera takes me. I love when I find a hidden street or alley that just looks like the London we all picture from Charles Dickens or Sherlock Holmes, and I have taken thousands of photos since I started this project.

 Where do you get the best fish and chips?

 We love fish and chips! My favorite spot is fish! Kitchen in Borough Market. It is a traditional takeaway counter, and the atmosphere is fantastic! The kids like to watch them batter the fish behind the counter while we wait, and then we can wander around the market afterwards. A great day out!

 What advice would you give someone who is moving abroad to London?

 First of all, if it is your first time living abroad, cut yourself a break because the details of moving are huge and stressful! Once you get settled-in, though, it can be one of the best experiences of your life. Our family moved from the American suburbs, and we made some important decisions that we don’t regret. We live in the city, near an underground station, and we don’t have a car. London is a very easy city to get around without a car, and our children have become incredibly independent while living in the city. Our lifestyle has changed in the following ways: I grocery shop at the neighborhood market everyday, as our refrigerator is tiny; I do laundry everyday, as our washing machine is tiny; and we spend a lot of time out exploring the city as our house is tiny….are you beginning to get the picture? Other than the lack of space, it has been very easy to adjust from America. For me, London is all about the history, live theatre, museums, international foods, the parks, and the Royal Ceremonies. If you have the opportunity to live abroad in London, go for it, and explore, explore, explore! London is Brilliant!

Olympic Insider: Jane’s Olympic Blog

With the Olympics starting this week, I’ve been searching through Olympic tagged posts on WordPress to gear up! A few nights ago I came upon a blog that stuck out: Jane’s Olympic Blog. Jane is from Bromley, England and her blog is all about serving as an ambassador for Team London. She is a true Olympic insider! Jane was so kind to answer a few of my questions.

What Olympic sport are you most excited to see?

We’ve got tickets to see the table tennis, as hubby plays it (though not to Olympic level!), so that will be the most exciting, I think. Plus of course the athletics – I wonder how many records will be broken and how quick Usain Bolt will run?!

What is the most important thing they teach you in ambassador training?

Our ambassador training provided us with a lot of knowledge about what we’ll be doing – welcoming people to London and providing them with information on places nearby, how to get to where they want to go and what else is going on nearby.

As an ambassador for London, what restaurant would you recommend a visitor to try?

We can’t recommend specific restaurants as there are so many and it depends where we’ll be based, and on individual taste. I will be in the ‘Flying Squad’ which means I’ll get to travel about and provide cover at different Ambassador stations each day. For anyone coming to London, the best place to look for restaurants and read their reviews is http://www.timeout.com/london/.

Definitely check out Jane’s blog for the inside scoop on the London Olympics.

London Calling!

Only 3 days until Opening Ceremonies! I was in the grocery store yesterday and saw this display. I couldn’t help but take some pictures and make one small purchase for Friday.

I just had to get the London Lollies to celebrate on Friday. Unfortunately we’ll be watching the Opening Ceremonies from LAX but at least we’ll do it in style!

Abroad Blog(s) of the Week: Ones to Watch

This week I thought I would do something a bit different and highlight a few blogs that I’ve been following. What each of these bloggers have in common is that they are preparing to study abroad. They come from various places and each is headed some place different, but all of them are taking a great deal of time and effort to prepare for their journey, which I hope leads to a great abroad blog. Here are some new ones to add to your reader:

Mary in Haifa

Like me, Mary is a study abroad professional. She travels the country helping students study abroad affordably in really interesting locations. Mary is taking a year leave from work to study abroad again (jealous), but this time, she’s doing her Master’s degree in Haifa, Israel in Holocaust Studies. Mary’s blog has so much depth already because she knows what she is getting herself into. She is prepared and has even reached out to the local roller derby team in Haifa to meet friends. This is definitely one to add to your blog roll for this fall.

FREEdom Abroad

I happen to have the privilege of being the advisor to the lovely blogger of FREEdom Abroad. Katie is first headed to London at the end of July for a semester abroad with our university, then will be traveling through Asia independently, and she’ll finish out the year with a semester in Budapest, Hungary. As a journalism major, Katie’s writing is interesting and inquisitive. She is constantly wanting to try something new and she is highly adventurous (sometimes to the dismay of her study abroad advisor!).

Turkish Musings

This blog is written by Hayley, a senior at Grand Valley State University headed to Turkey for the semester. Hayley’s prep has been extensive. She posts regularly and goes into detail into everything from learning the Turkish alphabet, saying goodbye to friends, and the visa and financial aid process. I’ve allow noticed that Hayley is pretty active in the blogosphere and is reading a lot of abroad blogs to prepare. I’m pretty eager for Hayley to go abroad to read her personal Turkish musings. One more fun fact about Hayley – she’s a regional official for the US Figure Skating Association.

Adelaide for a Year

I’ve only been following Anthony of Adelaide for a Year for a about a week but I’ve enjoyed going back through this prep posts. From Essex, UK, Anthony just arrived in Australia to spend a year studying at Flinders University in Adelaide. There are so few men that study abroad and blog about it that I was excited to find Anthony’s site. His new camera seems to be serving him well and I really appreciated his first post about leaving home. Now that he’s just arrive in Adelaide, I’m sure he’ll have some great pictures up soon.

Friday’s Olympian to Watch: David Rudisha

Yesterday Hubby and I flew to Oklahoma City (house hunting weekend) via United Airlines. All I had with me was my Kindle so while all electronics had to be stored away, I started reading through their magazine, Hemisphere. It had a nice spread about the olympics and highlighted several Americans to watch. Reading about the athletes of my own country, it made me realize that I am completely uneducated about the Olympians from anywhere else. So I started researching other Olympians to watch and plan to highlight a new one every Friday from now until the end of the Olympics.

This week’s Olympian to watch is David Rudisha

Olympic Sport: 800 Meter

Hometown: Kilgoris, Kenya

Birthdate: December 17, 1988 (age 23)

Height: 6’3″ (that is 14 inches taller than me)

Weight: 157 lbs.

His story: In the past three years, Rudisha has only lost 1 race.  Yep, just 1.  Pretty incredible, right?  He grew up as a member of the Maasai tribe in the Trans Mara region, a tribe known for a tradition of fearsome warriors and cattle-herders.  In fact, when David went home in 2010 to celebrate setting the world record, there were 5,000 people and 1.000 cattle in attendance. The Olympics are in Rudisha’s blood – his father won a silver medal at the 1968 games and David states that his dad’s achievements have encouraged his own success. Overall, David is loved by his country. Known by the nickname of King David, he makes his people proud and is definitely one to watch during the London Games.

Want to read more? Check out these articles about David.