Visiting my Grandma

Hey!

Sorry for the lack of posts. I know I promised cooking posts soon, but seeing as I’m only in Japan for a week it’s been a little hard. I’ve been visiting my grandma in Osaka, getting doctor’s appointments (dentists), getting a haircut, shopping and just relaxing at home. It’s been fun, but I’ll be heading back to NYC soon (in 2 days!) and then once I get settled into my new apartment (I still have to buy furniture and the like), I’ll FINALLY be able to cook. Don’t worry! I have plenty of recipes I want to try!

Not to mention Fae’s guest post to write! And I think I know just what to do 🙂 So stay tuned!

Hugs and puppies,

Mimi

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Banana Chocolate Cream Pie

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So today was a very big day for some of us. My family friend, more like my second older sister, got engaged on her birthday and we were celebrating both happy occasions. Because I wanted to make something special, I tried my hand at a chocolate cream pie. Now if you don’t know, I was scared of making chocolate cream pies because the thought of adding hot milk to egg yolks and combining them without cooking the egg yolks scared me. But today I was able to do it. Yay! And I made this amazing cream pie to boot. Everyone loved it and I loved it too! It was rich and chocolate-y and smooth, without being overly sweet or heavy. I got the recipe from Melissa Jacobson at Food and wine. However, I did make a few tweaks and adjustments.

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whoops! Sorry about the left over plate in the corner :/

So what are we waiting for? Let’s get started!

Ingredients: 

Crust:
6 ounces Oreo cookies (no filling), crumbled into fine crumbs. The recipe calls for just chocolate wafers
-4 tbsp butter (unsalted)
1 tbsp sugar the original called for 2 tbsp
-1 pinch of salt
Filling:
-2 cups whole milk
-1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
-3 egg yolks
-1/4 cup cornstarch
-1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped, I used bittersweet, which I thought it toned down the sweetness
-1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
Topping:
-3/4 cup heavy cream
-1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-1 tsp brown sugar
-Chocolate shavings, for garnish
2 bananas, sliced

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, mix the cookie crumbs with the butter, sugar and salt until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Pour the mixture into a pie dish (I used a tart pan witha removable bottom) and press evenly over the bottom and up the side of the dish to form a crust. Bake for 8 minutes, until the crust is fragrant. Remove from the oven and, using the bottom of a drinking glass, immediately press the crumbs again to compact the crust. Let cool completely.
  2. Heat the milk with 1/4 cup of the sugar until bubbles form around the edge. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar (I added more sugar than the original recipe because I was using bittersweet chocolate), cornstarch, and salt . Gradually whisk in 1 cup of the hot milk mixture. Pour the egg and milk mixture into the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until very thick, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate until smooth. Now here Melissa says to strain it, but I didn’t and I didn’t have any problems with my cream. I think as long as you continuously whisk, there shouldn’t be any lumps. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pie filling and refrigerate until chilled, about a few hours.
  3. Let the pie stand at room temperature. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the cream with the brown sugar and the vanilla until firm. Spread the whipped cream over the pie, arrange the banana slices on top and garnish with chocolate curls.

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To make it more banana-y, I think I’ll add a layer of banana slices along the bottom of the crust before pouring in the chocolate cream. I really enjoyed making this pie and I’m definitely going to be making this again! Did I mention that of the whole thing, less than a quarter of it remains? We demolished it and it was so worth it. P.S I’ve been asked to do a guest post for Fae’s food blog! She’s absolutely amazing and I want to have a worthy post! What do you think I should cook? I was thinking one of my dad’s Japanese recipes like chicken katsu (a type of fried chicken) or chilled soup. What do you guys think? Would you like to see a sweet or savory post?

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

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Camden Market and Kangaroo Burgers, Soup Kitchens and Tourist sites

 

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During my last two days in London (yes I know this is a very late post), Max took me down along this little canal to Camden Market and he also took me to a soup kitchen, after which I met up with an old friend from middle school (it really is a small world after all) and we looked at all the tourist-y sites.

The canal was pretty fun. Not only did I get to see a quieter path within London, but I learned a bit about the importance of the canal way back when. Apparently, before planes and bigger ships, merchants would bring their wares down the canal. The canal even has a boat elevator, which is pretty neat. There are two gates where the canal gets higher. What happens is, the people on the boat close the gate farthest from them and drain the water from the small section of canal. They then open the gate closer to the boat to let the boat into the section. Then they close off the gates and fill the area with water until the boat reaches the new canal height, open the gates and release the boat. Ta-da boat elevator. Did you get that? Maybe it’s better in pictures?

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After walking along the canal, we entered Camden market, another big market. While the food is not as great as the food in Borough Market, they are said to have amazing, fun trinkets you can buy. I simply settled for a Kangaroo burger.

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It was definitely a rich burger, but wasn’t as gamey as I thought it would be. It had more of a heavy feeling though, sitting in my stomach. I thought it was a lot fattier than beef burgers, but it wasn’t terrible. The stand also had zebra, crocodile and camel. Whoaaaaa. Intriguing, but I was full on kangaroo, so I passed.

Afterwards, we headed back to Max’s place to go grocery shopping and start our baking party, stopping along a few parks along the way.

SUNDAY MORNING

Early sunday morning, Max and I dragged ourselves out of bed to go to the soup kitchen by 6 am (we woke up at 4:30. Yikes). Once we got there, we donned aprons, chugged coffee and began manning our stations. We were making traditional english breakfasts, so I was in charge of the bacon (6 rashers aka 6 stacks of bacon) and two boxes of sausages…

That's one of many batches of sausages...

That’s one of many batches of sausages…

Max was in charge of eggs as well as heating other foods (beans, tomatoes, etc) and then he was in charge of the cash register.

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At 12 pm, we were free to go. So Max and I, after cleaning up, headed out to grab some bagels. After 6 hours of cooking, I was absolutely famished.

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After our bagels, which were incredulously inexpensive (1 pound for a bagel with cream cheese. What???), Max went home to nap and I met up with my friend Andrea. We had gone to the same school and then she had moved away. By coincidence, she was studying in Cambridge, so we decided to meet up. After finding each other, we headed off to see the tourist-y sies of London. Aka….

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Big Ben:

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London Eye:

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Buckingham Palace:

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And then I was very tired, by then it was around 6 or 7 pm, so I headed home for a quick catnap and Andrea headed back to Cambridge. After my nap, Max and I ate a quick dinner and we went off to the pubs! Because I couldn’t leave London without a pint! Embarassingly, I was so tired that I got drunk off less than a quarter of a half-pint of cider, ate a lot of fried chicken and called it a night.

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And woke up again at 4 am to catch the plane to Luton airport to catch my flight back to Madrid. After which, I went to my 3 pm class. It was a crazy day and let’s just say I was asleep before my head even hit the pillow that night!

My trip to London was absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to go back. The parks, the markets, the pubs, the buses, everything is so amazing I really didn’t want to leave and found myself hating Madrid when I got back. But that’s about it for my travel posts. My semester abroad is officially over and I’m happy to say I’ll have and I do have access to a kitchen again.

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Naughty Girl Scout Cookies: Drunken Samoas

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So while I was in London, Max and I had a baking party. I wanted to bake for them because well, they were letting me stay with them for a few nights and I felt that baking some cookies or something would be a nice gesture. At the baking party, I decided to make samoas again. However instead of making them the way I usually make them, I decided to add a little something extra and make these girl scout cookies into naughty girl scout cookies. We used Baileys because we forgot to buy heavy cream and we assumed that baileys was a great replacement. And then for an extra added kick, we added coconut rum, which I thought would go well with the coconut flakes. They did. It was absolutely delicious. To the point where we were eating the caramel straight out of the bowl.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get baking!

Ingredients:

Base:
-1 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-2 cups AP flour
-1/4 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp vanilla
-1 tbsp milk (or not)
Topping:
-12 ounces Coconut flakes
– 3 cups chewy caramels
-3 tbsp Baileys*
-1 tbsp coconut rum*
-8-12 ounces chocolate chips

*For a bigger kick, increase the amount of liquor however much you want. Just make sure the caramel isn’t TOO liquid-y

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Pour the coconut until a single layer on a roasting pan and place in the oven. You want to toast the coconut until it’s a nice golden brown. Be careful though, once coconut starts to brown, it can easily burn! I recommend taking it out and tossing the coconut around every 2 minutes (although Kiera says 5, so I assume 5 is okay too). While the coconut is toasting, begin assembling the caramel. By that I mean unwrap the soft caramels and place them in a bowl.
  2. Cream the butter and the sugar until well combined. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and add it to the butter mixture.
  3. Once everything is well combined, add in the vanilla and mix until it forms a dough. If the dough is still crumbly, add a bit of milk (little by little) until the dough is nice and smooth. Kiera says to roll out the dough and place it in the fridge, but since I didn’t have the space in my fridge, I simply wrapped the dough (divided into two) in the plastic wrap and chilled them for at least 30 minutes.
  4. If you haven’t rolled out the dough, do so on waxed or parchment paper. Then using a circular cookie cutter, cut out the cookie shapes the dough. Now you can use a smaller cookie cutter to cut out the center, but I simply used a thumbprint cookie method. As in I used my thumb to punch out little circular holes in the center of the cookies. The dough is really delicate, so it’s recommended to cut out the cookies (about ½ an inch apart) straight on the baking sheet and then peel away the excess dough.
  5. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes or until they become a nice golden brown. While keeping a close eye on the cookies, begin making the caramel. Add in the baileys and heat at 30 second increments in the microwave. Once the mixture is melted and well combined, add in the coconut rum and combine it with the toasted coconut. Set aside.
  6. Melt the chocolate and set aside. Once the cookies are completely cooled, transfer on a wire rack. You want the cookies to be completely cooled or they WILL break. They’re very delicate. Top with the coconut/caramel mixture and then using a spoon or a ziploc bag, drizzle on the melted chocolate.
  7. Now comes the hard part: Place the remaining chocolate in a small shallow bowl and picking up the cookie very carefully, dip the bottom in the chocolate and place on the wire rack to cool. For this, I found it useful to plop the cookie in, and fish it GENTLY out with two forks. I think it might be best to layer the wire rack with wax paper so the chocolate doesn’t stick. It’ll also help with cleanup in that there will be no drips of chocolate on the table under the wire rack!

And that’s it! These were such a hit, I can’t wait to make them again! Though I am dying to make thin mints now (both naughty and regular). It was my first time baking with alcohol, but it was really pretty fun and I don’t think it was too hard. I even found out, by accident, that covering the cookie part of the samoa completely in chocolate wasn’t too bad either. But hey, that’s how you learn to cook right? Experimentation! We even made baileys short bread. But that’s another post. I can’t wait to bake more when I get back to NYC and Tokyo!

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Borough Market, South Kensington, Bedford Park and Beyoncé

Whatttt? Yeah you read the title right. I had a pretty crazy day that day. It started off pretty lazy, wandering around Borough Market.

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I mean being a self-proclaimed foodie, food markets like borough market excite me to no end and honestly, it was amazing! There were so many stalls, so many different kinds of foods. If you’re ever in London. Borough Market’s the place to go!

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I had my first meat pie, well first English meat pie with mash and gravy. It was delightful and I’m sad that I wasn’t able to get a second one. A return to London is definitely a must. I absolutely fell in love with London. After finishing our pies and wandering around some more/getting a dessert. My friend, who’s name is Max, found out that he actually had to go to class. So we rented some bikes (they have a cool bike share thing in Europe that’s currently starting in NYC as well) and we headed over to South Kensington. It was amazing because while on the bike, I got a quick tour of London. We saw the London eye,  big ben and the parliament building, the rode past Westminister abbey and Buckingham palace. By this time, we were already a tad late and tired, so we hopped off the bikes and took the metro. Turns out Max’s class was an architectural one and today was a field trip day. I crashed the class and had a pretty awesome time, seeing things in London that were interesting and that I probably wouldn’t have seen on my own 🙂

We went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal Geographical Society, Albert Memorial (I giggled at that because well, at NYU our online course sign-up process is done on a program called Albert)

The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Natural History Museum

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And Bedford park, the first suburb that was architecturally designed

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After that, Max and I took the bus back to London and I went to the Beyoncé concert at the O2 arena. It was the most amazing concert ever. While I didn’t get to sit with my friends, I did make new ones and they were the sweetest people ever 🙂

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I mean Beyoncé was absolutely amazing live. I don’t know how she does it. She sang so many songs and it was absolutely amazing. Honestly…I have no words. So here’s photos:

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Is she not perfect?

Is she not perfect?

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After the Beyoncé concert, I met up with Max and his friends and we all went to a Irish pub where I discovered the most amazing drink. Ice cream cocktails. I may or may not have stolen the pub menu so that I can recreate them, so keep an eye out for a post on ice cream cocktails in a little while. I can think of no better drink to cool off and relax with during the summer than the Irish Disco Biscuit. Sneak preview? It contains Baileys, Creme de Menthe, oreos, vanilla ice cream and milk. Yup. Heaven right there.

Irish Disco Biscuit

Irish Disco Biscuit

And with that, I’m going to have to resume packing!

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

I Solemnly Swear I’m Up to No Good

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So the past couple of days, I was in London and it was absolutely magical. I stayed with my friend who’s studying abroad there and it was literally the best break I ever had. On my first full day, after my crazy late night adventure, I went to the Warner Brother’s Harry Potter Tour. Which made perfect sense as it was May 2nd, the Wizarding World Independence day as you all know. If not, it’s the day Harry and his friends officially beat Voldemort, having gotten rid of all his horcruxes. As a Quidditch playing Harry Potter nerd, words could not describe my excitement for that day, so if you don’t mind. I’ll let the pictures do the talking and the describing:

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I really loved how they used studios J and K. For J.K Rowling. I think I would melt if I ever met her. Her and Julia Powell and Julia Child and…I digress. Okay so after walking into the studio with my ticket in my hot little hand, we entered a small room which displayed all the Harry Potter movie posters from all over the world. I thought it would have been interesting if they had displayed the book covers as well, but que será, será.

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And then we went into the cinema room where we were greeted by Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint (in the pre-recorded before tour show way). And were introduced to what we were about to see. Oh my goodness, despite going alone, I was ready to explode!

Ahhhhhh :)

Ahhhhhh 🙂

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It started off in the Great Hall, just like Harry and Ron walk into the Great Hall on their first year in Hogwarts. Unlike them, I knew my house. I’m a Hufflepuff through and through. After a quick guided tour of the great hall, we got all the time in the world to browse different sections of the studio. I definitely enjoyed looking at the costumes and hearing about hair pieces and whatnot. Apparently Helena Bonham Carter kept picking off her fake nails and leaving them everywhere around the set.

I especially liked the Gryffindor dormitory and the common room!

 

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And the wands of every major character:

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Going to visit Dumbledore…If I remember correctly, the password was Lemon drops or cockaroach clusters 🙂

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And then there was the potions class room

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The Burrow

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Hagrid’s Hut

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And the broomsticks! There was a section where you could “fly” on a broom or the Ford Angela. Because I was alone I kind of stuck to the broom stick riding. But it was pretty fun! There were more exhibits too, like newspapers, Umbridge’s office at the Ministry of Magic, the statue of Magic is Might, photos of the animal actors, books, the prophecy carrying orbs, the snake door to the chamber of secrets, the broomsticks, the mirror of desire, the portraits, the stairs and even the chocolate feast.

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There was everything! And I learned a lot of secrets too! Like How they made Hagrid look like a half giant and how they made the quidditch players fly. It was crazy seeing how small the sets actually were and how all this was created!

After that studio, I went outside to see the sets for outside scenes like Privet drive:

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The Hogwarts bridge:

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The Knight Bus:

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and of course a refreshing cup of butterbeer!

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After that, it was back inside for more Potter magic! There was the creation of the magical creatures:

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This part of the tour also explained how the goblins were designed, how the animals were designed and some funny stories about the special effects team.

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After seeing Buckbeak, was my favorite part…

Diagon Alley

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I mean who doesn’t dream about wandering around Diagon alley? It’s full of magical wonders! I just wish you could have gone inside the shops!

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I know I’d give anything to walk into the Quidditch Supplies store:

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And don’t even get me started on Weasleys Wizard Wheezes

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Ahhh I think I could have spent the whole day there if the stores were open! Alas they were not. Must’ve been out celebrating! After that I got to wander through the small yet very detailed models of everything they made for the Wizarding World. It was absolutely amazing. There were art sketches of characters and creatures

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and even a life sized model of Hogwarts

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And then there were the boxes of wands with the names of everyone who ever collaborated on the movies. I unfortunately didn’t find the major characters, but there were a lot of boxes!

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After that was the end of the tour and I hit the gift shop, where I got myself a Hufflepuff pin and some peppermint toads. It was a hard decision, but I didn’t think I had room in my bag for anything more.

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If you’re ever in London, whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or not. I think that this is definitely worth a visit. Remember to book your tickets ahead of time at the website and have a magical time! It was so sad to leave the studios , but I hope to be back someday. Maybe with my future kids (though I’m pretty sure that won’t be for at least another 20-30 years). But, no matter your age. The magic of Harry Potter and J.K Rowling is, in my opinion, for anyone who wants to discover it. So I highly recommend a visit!

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Mischief Managed!
Mimi

 

Hello Summer! and my first adventure in London

So I’m finally done with finals. You know what that means? I’m officially a NYU senior, summer has begun and I can finally start blogging about London, my parents’ visit to Madrid and in a few days I will be going home to Tokyo! I’m so terribly excited! So let’s get started!

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There are a couple of hilarious stories from my London trip and the first story starts with my very first adventure (or rather, panic attack) in London as soon as I stepped off the train from the airport.

I was supposed to catch the 11:48 pm train from Gatwick to Farringdon Underground. Unfortunately, my plane was 15 minutes early and so I caught a train that before the 11:48. I was a little worried at first, seeing as I had no idea which train to take, but this nice british guy  at the platform was kind enough to tell me which train to get on. In fact, since we were on the same train, we had a nice conversation about what I was doing in London (he was a londoner), where we were coming from, what I was planning on doing, etc. Well I waved goodbye to him at Farringdon station and briskly headed toward the exit, but my friend was no where to be found. I waited for a good 10 minutes before I started to worry a bit. I headed into the nearest bar in hopes of getting wifi. No such luck. So wandering around for 20 minutes or so, asking for wifi, I finally gathered my courage to go to the security office in hopes that they would let me use their computer. I was silly enough not to have my friend’s british number. Oops? I had hoped that I could get it off facebook, but without wifi there was no such luck. After a mini panic attack (there may or may not have been tears involved), I pushed the door open and asked if they had wifi so I could contact my friend. The security lady looked at me as if I were insane. Now comes the funny part…While she asked the younger security guy if I could somehow connect to wifi and he graciously lent me his phone to let me use facebook, she started asking me questions:

-Do I know the guy I was supposed to meet? Of course, he’s a friend from school

-Where was I coming from? Madrid, but I’m visiting a friend who’s studying in London

-Had I met him before? Obviously or I would be at a hostel

-Had we only communicated via facebook? of course not, I just don’t have a phone number or an address.

-Did I have a back-up place to stay? Uh….no, but I’m sure I can find a hostel. Worst case scenario.

Long story short, she assumed that I was meeting my friend like a blind date sort of thing and that he had stood me up. Ah. Well, not to sound silly, but I’m not exactly the kind of girl who’s naive enough to spend the night with some dude, whom I’ve never met before. Meanwhile the younger guard interjected that I was brave because it was my first time coming to London and I had no other contact method but facebook to get in touch with my friend. True that was a little stupid of me, but it was London! I assumed by speaking English, I’d manage somehow.

By then it was 12:15-12:30 ish and I finally managed to get a hold of my friend. He’s at the train station. Excited, I tell the security guards. The lady rolls her eyes at me (I think she thought I was crazy or something) and the guy looks relieved. We go to the back of the office where they have me scan the security cameras to see where he’s located in the train station and they also called his name on the PA system, requesting him to make himself known to the nearest station guard. That was pretty cool. I mean why wouldn’t it be? To have your name called on the PA system of a train station. In London! Ahahah well as we can all assume I finally met up with my friend. The lady went to go get him and I think she gave him a stern talking too because when I saw him, he apologized a lot. Not that it was a big deal. Now that I look back on it, my panic attack was only paranoia induced. So we thanked the guards, laughed it off and headed to his place.

And that was my first adventure in London. I thought it was pretty great start to the visit. Don’t you?  🙂

Okay, okay, okay maybe I am a little naive, but I was okay in the end! I wasn’t mugged nor attacked. I kept my calm (mostly) and it ended the way it was supposed to. I have nothing to complain about, just a awesome story to tell!

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi