WANDERING

Muhammad Ali Center

Turns out I never really knew much about Muhammad Ali outside his boxing career. I learned a ton about him that I never really knew before – extremely arrogant once upon a time, almost went to jail, stands up for his beliefs, generous, etc. This place is definitely worth a visit. There is a lot of interesting art scattered throughout, as well.

Marina Grosseto Ristorante

After a long, cold, rainy day spent exploring the flooding- but still beautiful- streets of Prague, we cleaned ourselves up and met up with friends for dinner at a fun ristorante on the river.

Marina Grosseto Ristorante was lovely. It was one of the more upscale restaurants we ate at during our trip. Located right on the river, the Marina Grosseto provides a stunning view of the castle on the hill just across. The menu has such a wide variety of options, I think our whole table was torn on what to order- everything sounded amazing. I ordered spinach lobster ravioli, or something of that nature. It was fantastic. Everyone’s food looked fantastic. It was one of those times where you want to sneak your fork across to each person’s plate and try all the dishes. I didn’t, but I thought about it.  Marina Grosseto Ristorante may not be ideal if you are in search of traditional Czech cuisine and the atmosphere that would go along with it. However, if you want something that is somewhat elegant, where you are not worried about any misunderstandings with the menu, and above all, a place to enjoy top of the line cuisine, this is a great place to go.

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Cube

Who – My travel bud & I
What – Cube.
Where –  Ibiza, Islas Baleares, Spain
When – One evening in May, 2013
Why – Dinner right around the corner from our hotel

This was a very interesting spot we decided to check out in Ibiza. We stopped by for dinner. Had a beer. Ordered a few different tapas. It was all very good. My favorite dish was the Spanish Omelet. This was the very first time I had tasted one. It blew my mind- it’s pretty much just potato and egg cooked as an omelet type dish, and you slice off a piece as though it’s a piece of pie. Kind of like a quiche, I suppose. Anyways it was great.
Our waitress was so friendly, and spoke very good English. She talked to us for a while and was very interested in all our traveling. There was also a friendly little kitty roaming around, whom I adored- I can’t help it. He mosied on up, first at our feet, then eventually warmed up to us and snuggled right inside my purse. He slept there for a while haha. They’re lucky I didn’t steal him.
This bar had such a nice atmosphere- very dark, red lighting, comfortable booth seating with pillows. We were very relaxed. It was such a nice laid back evening after having been running around the island in the sun all day. We were both glad we stopped by.

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Their Facebook page makes me smile. The kitty is in like half of the photos : )

London Picnics

I have always been stingy. Unwilling to part with my money. Always brooding over purchasing something I’ve wanted, finally buying it, only to return it a week later. Always a lunch packer. Never a buyer. Etc.

I’m not sure how I came to be this way, but such is life. And it’s probably for the best, particularly when traveling. I always seek out cheap meals when possible, and if I don’t find one, I’ve usually got a cliff bar as backup. To my surprise, I found eating cheap to be extremely easy in London. I discovered two places that allowed to me to spend little on a quality meal.

 Prêt a manger and Tesco. I had a European love affair with both. Prêt a manger was somewhat pricier, but compared to my restauranty alternatives, not so much. I would order a sandwich and a cup of soup from Pret and that would be more than enough for the day. (I recently discovered that Prêt a manger has many locations in the US- Boston, NYC, Chi, DC- sadly none near me).

Tesco, which is more of a convenience store, also received many visits from myself. I was reeled in by their 3 euro meal deal- sandwich, chips, & drink for 3 euro (or other options). Essentially a quick, convenient(Tesco is on literally every corner in London), delicious, cheap $5 meal. I was pleased. I would sometimes get a fruit cup or something extra because I eat a lot. To my delight, all the food was really great quality. The sandwiches were really delicious (I had not expected them to be). The bread was high quality grain with little chunks of nuts, seeds, and grains in it. The cheese was always fabulous. The fruit of vegetables involved were always fresh looking and tasting. I would actually really love to get my hands on some Tesco sandwiches right now. Kind of odd considering I’d compare Tesco to a Walgreens or a CVS, yet I would never touch a sandwich sold at either of those two. Tesco’s food was just so fresh. An array of different choices always available to me. Like the pesto bow tie pasta salad I got one day. Also delectable, but I’m a pesto fanatic, so that’s just me. I’m basically just a huge advocate of Tesco now.

I would usually grab my lunch before I got hungry, walk around and do stuff, then when lunchtime rolled around, I’d just find a nice area to have lunch. I mostly found myself picnic-ing in one of the many gorgeous parks of London. St. James’s park. Hyde Park. Victoria Embankment Gardens. Buckingham Palace gardens. And a few other miscellaneous ones. I really didn’t know where I was half of the time, which didn’t matter because everything in London is interesting. I did a lot of lunching & napping in the sun between my sightseeing. It was perfection.

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Let it also be known that I resisted the strong temptation to get Chipotle in London. I wasn’t even aware that it existed over there. My excitement upon its discovery was, needless to say, overwhelming.

NYC Picnic

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Lunch for 3 bucks? In New York City? I’ll allow it.

I accidentally booked a flight to Dublin that had a very long 12 hour layover at the Newark airport (which is just across the river from NYC). The flight itself was not accidental. Just the layover. Oops. Realizing this at the very last minute, I decided this was a perfect time to visit the big apple. So I took the train from the airport into the city. Googled a place to leave my luggage for the day. And set off into the concrete jungle. I brought a cliff bar with me for sustenance, but this did not prove to be sufficient- no surprise there. Walking around in riding boots for a solid 7 hours is a little exhausting. Being the stingy collegiate that I am, I refused to spend my money on any of the over priced lunch places I passed by. I encountered this nice man selling fruit on the street (& many others like him). My initial reaction? How grotesque. Street fruit? But, it all looked delicious and was pretty cheap. So I bought some, and headed for Central Park. After scoping out a good spot, I plopped down on a hefty warm slab of rock, engorged the many fruits I purchased, and took a long nap in the summer sun. Not too shabby.

Malabar Junction

Who  –  Myself
What  –  Malabar Junction, a vibrantly lit, hard to miss, Indian restaurant
Where  –  London, England, right about here. You can see inside the restaurant on google maps (so awesome)
When  –  In the early evening, of a fine Friday during May 2013
Why  –  I had never experienced Indian cuisine up to that point

Upon my arrival in London for the first time ever, I was exhausted and famished. An overview of that day includes:

  • A stressful and early Irish bus adventure to the airport
  • Funtivities at airport security
  • My first ever (& surprisingly successful) attempt to navigate the London tube
  • Wandering around in search for the new hostel
  • Checking in
  • Napping (of course)

By the time I muster the courage to try figuring out the tube again, it is past 5 or 6pm. My destination- the British Museum. I successfully arrive at the Tottenham Court tube stop, rise up to the surface, and out onto the street. This marks my first real venture out into the British abyss, all alone. En route to said museum, I pass by the lit up Indian restaurant, make a u-turn and spontaneously decide to go in.

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A top notch decision on my part. Mmmyes, the old malabar junction, eh? Walking in, I immediately feel at ease inside the Malabar Junction. The people are friendly, but not too friendly where it makes you wonder why. The dining room is relatively empty, but for a large, fun looking family at a big round table in the corner, and a couple having dinner. A glass ceiling above the entire area gives a welcoming and open feel to the room. I already love the place, and have decided that when my family and I are Londoners, this will absolutely be the location for our to-be-traditional Friday evening family dinners. Ignoring the fact that no one in my family likes Indian food. Nor will they ever reside in the UK. I digress.

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New to Indian cuisine, I have no idea where to start with the menu, or what might be good. Despite my ignorance of all things Indian, I love the vast number of vegetarian choices I have to choose from. Indian quickly just became my new favorite cuisine & I haven’t even tasted anything yet. My waiter is very friendly and patiently helps explain the various dishes to me with his quiet Indian accent. I order paneer masala, a flavorful stew-ish thing with dozens of textures. Paneer, a firm indian cheese & masala, I believe is the sauce. Stewed with the fragrant masala sauce are peppers, onions, tomatoes, with the paneer. Though I believe it is characteristic of many Indian dishes, the savory orange color of the dish may turn picky eaters away. I, however, see it as an indication of many flavorfully infused spices. And that makes me happy. A heaping portion served with rice, I would have gladly devoured in its entirety, but alas I could not.

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