Monday, February 8

Fridays with Fullers

A bit late on this write-up but excited to share it!

My old man got a bit older in January -- the big 3-0! And since he likes beer, I took him to one of his favorite places on this earth: Fuller's Brewery.

(I was thisclose to keeping it a secret! But with my history of bad directions, I figured it'd be better for us to actually get there instead of wandering around in circles, so I spilled the beans the night before.)

Gaaah, of course it was ducking gray weather!

It's a fascinating building: whereas the breweries we're used to in the states are, for the most part, in locations where they can expand out and out and out, Fuller's is in its original London location, where they have to fill in whatever space they have left in the building if they need to install new equipment. So. Lots of narrow stairways and crammed spaces. At one point Britton said it looked like the engine room of the Enterprise. (He would.)

The Fuller's Tour is also a bit of a history lesson. Fuller's has been brewing in the same spot since 1845, a short 170 years ago — and they've kept some of the original equipment on-site to show how things used to be. Like the giant brewing drums (so big young guys would have to climb all the way inside in order to clean them) and the open-air fermentation pools (careful of contamination, and of staff casually siphoning of a pint or two...).

And of course, the guide also taught us about BEER! We got to taste some beer seeds (er, malt), smell some hops, and see the production line for the kegs. As well as most steps in between as well. (Those steps don't photograph as well though)

"For delicious beer, just add water!"

Birfday dude!

And finally, the whole reason you take the tour at all — the beer tasting at the end! We each sampled several of their brews, and of course it was all quite tasty. It's not like we were going to be let down... it's free included beer! (And we're still tickled that neither one of us has to be DD since we don't have to drive anywhere.) Plus, Fuller's has made a stout to compete with The-Famous-Irish-Beer-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named (in this post, at least), which I thoroughly enjoyed. Huzzah!

(And a very happy (belated) birthday to my exit buddy! So glad we're on this big adventure.)

Oh, and we got some really delicious pizza afterward, too!


Wednesday, February 3

Visiting the Barbican Conservatory (Photo Essay)

Help me be a blogger with LATAM's Destination Latin America explorer search! Vote here until Feb. 22, 2016.

Another item checked off of this list of 101 Free Things to Do in London: the Barbican Conservatory! Hidden away in a hall off the center of the Barbican Centre is a very green, warm oasis of tropical plants and koi ponds enclosed in a greenhouse. It very much feels like it used to be the outside of a building complex and someone decided to slap a greenhouse on the side of it.

The day we visited the Barbican Conservatory, the weather was actually rather warm outside — close to 60F — so the warm wonderfulness of finding a temperature-controlled greenhouse in the middle of the City of London in January wasn't quite as novel as it could'a/should'a been. If the weather snaps again though, and it's a Sunday (it's only open on Sundays), and I'm nearby, and I don't have to make a special trip outside of my warm and cozy blanket nest... I'll maybe visit again.

101 Free London Things Barbican Centre Conservatory

101 Free London Things Barbican Centre Conservatory

101 Free London Things Barbican Centre Conservatory

101 Free London Things Barbican Centre Conservatory

101 Free London Things Barbican Centre Conservatory

101 Free London Things Barbican Centre Conservatory

101 Free London Things Barbican Centre Conservatory

101 Free London Things Barbican Centre Conservatory

Thursday, January 28

Acclimating: Part 3

Last week, I ate sushi on the tube at 10:30 pm and didn't care what other passengers thought. I sat in the car I knew would be closest to the exit at my home station. And I called it a station, not a stop, without thinking about it.

Londoner Level 2: Unlocked.

(This was Level 1.)

Don't forget to vote for me in the LATAM Explorer Contest!

Monday, January 25

Latin America: Looking back to plan ahead

I did something big and exciting today!

From the outside, it looked like I sat on my couch for four hours. But on the screen, over the internets, I threw my hat in the ring to be a blogger for LATAM Airlines. The prize includes flights to South America plus a monthly stipend, for up to 12 weeks! I do need your vote though, so click on that link!

To be honest, I had resolved to leave South America on my mental back burner until our lives moved us back to the Western Hemisphere. Flights would be cheaper and I could focus on conquering -- er, traveling around -- Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, wherever the discount flights can get me while we're here. But this crazy opportunity stirred up all of my nostalgia and wanderlust like a brisk breeze through a pile of autumn leaves.

I loved (loved LOVED) Ecuador, for so many reasons. It was my first big trip traveling completamente sola, everyone I met was welcoming and kind, and I grew a lot as a young person. Plus the vistas were breathtaking, the city was historic, the dancing easy and free, and the friends were genuine. So, even if I had hated Ecuador, I would always have had a soft spot for it.

But now, I'm looking forward: what's next? Where to go?

I can't help but salivate at the possibility of going to Rapa Nui (Easter Island). I have been fascinated with the island and those statues ever since I heard the Easter Island song by Throat Culture on Prairie Home Companion in fourth grade. I learned more about it at the Kon-Tiki museum in Oslo in December, since the guy responsible for Kon-Tiki also spent a lot of time researching, excavating and re-staging theories on Rapa Nui.

And I want to go to Buenos Aires. For no reason other than I hear about it so often as the Paris of South America. And it turns out they have a relatively extensive network of bike lanes. And I could take a tango class and try the steak. I hear it's a specialty.

And I want to see Machu Picchu. Because Machu Picchu.

And I want to find all the teeniest tiniest places in between. Where are the Kansas Cities of South America? And which way is the beach? And how high is that mountain? And what time does the art museum close? And where can I find a bike rental shop? Or a really good cafe?

All those things. I want to know all those things.

And let's be real, three months will probably just leave me wanting more. But I'll want to get back to snuggle that guy I married (who is Amazing and Supportive and absolutely on board with this) and I'll probably want to wear something different after all that time, too.

So here's hoping. And don't forget to vote!

Friday, January 22

Three tours you should take in Munich

Munich is a beautiful and welcoming city. If you're only in Munich for a couple of days, there are still great ways to see the city. Here are three walks you should take to appreciate the city, its history and of course — the beer!

1. Sandemans "Free" walking tour

Sandemans Free Munich Walking Tour

For a complete overview of Munich's history, and a walking tour of the city center, Sandemans is the way to go. While it is technically free, the tour guides will ask for tips at the end. It's pay-what-you-can, so if you are a poor college student this is a budget way to learn about Munich. What I enjoy about Sandemans tours is each guide puts his or her personality into a tour, so it's a little different every time. And, it starts in Marienplatz just in time for you to hear the famous, poorly tuned glockenspiel. Something you really only need to hear once in your life.

2. Any tour of Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site

Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site Tour

While it's a heavy subject, I think it is hugely important for anyone to tour Dachau. The immensity of World War II sets in when you can see first-hand what conditions were like during the Holocaust. We once again went with Sandemans (tour supply was short over Christmas), but there are several highly-recommended guides on Trip Advisor who lead smaller groups. I do recommend you go with a guide instead of walking the grounds and reading the placards. My husband has done both and felt he had a much more meaningful experience with an expert than he did on his own. Good guides also have answers to your obscure questions.

3. Build-your-own Beer Tour

Munich Beer Tour

Ok, this is cheating a little bit :) But it's so easy to find beer in Munich! Start at the iconic Hofbraeuhaus (the atmosphere is electric!), but then make it your mission to never drink there again. Try the Jodlerwirt, Augustiner, anything on this map, or turn to Yelp if you're really stuck. And if tours are just how you like to travel, the Internet has you covered there, too. Check out these bar crawls (but don't blame me if you're "bro"ed out by the end of the night).