A Travellerspoint blog

Last Day in London (and Europe)

semi-overcast 39 °F

Today was our last day not only in London, but in Europe as we leave on a flight tomorrow back to the United States. While I am sure that our families and loved ones are ecstatic to see us after being abroad for the past seven months, it is sad knowing that our around the world adventure has come to an end. Kaela and I have grown together tremendously over the course of this trip (as it would be difficult not to), and we have shared and experienced things that we would never have imagined. For instance, being separated at Oktoberfest in Munich for 8 hours with no way of contacting one another…and no way of me finding my way home! However, somehow we found our way back into each other’s arms and now, after 4 special years together and a magical morning in Paris, we have a wedding (and the rest of our lives) to look forward to as well. We will cherish the innumerable memories that we have accumulated throughout our adventure together and will most definitely reflect on them for the rest of our lives. We are currently looking forward to planning our next globetrotting adventure. What countries should be next? For a wanderlust couple like us, anywhere is possible. Moreover, we are most excited about our next adventure together: life.

We started our last day in London like any other: by laying in bed and laughing away the morning until the sunlight demanded that we get out of bed. I made a breakfast for both of us consisting of yogurt and granola as we prepared for the long day ahead. We were planning on walking 6 kilometers to the Tower of London, since Tutu claims it would be a travesty to leave London without seeing the Crown Jewels. We hesitated at first, due to the high entrance price, but since Tutu has been our personal travel guide for the extent of our journey, we figured we would trust her opinion once more as it has not let us down yet. We left the apartment just after 11:00 and started the the long walk over to the Tower of London. We had a lovely scenic walk through London on the way. Since we are both in fact English Masters (sometimes it can be hard to remember), we decided to make a short stop on our way over to the Tower of London in order to see the replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. The Globe was pretty much on our way; we only had to make a small detour across the Thames river to see it.

We soon arrived at the Globe and we were impressed with the architecture! It definitely looks like a building that was built in a different era due to the design of it (although it is a modern reconstruction). We walked around the perimeter of the Globe, and took a few pictures outside of it before moving on. The theater wasn’t having any performances today, unfortunately, and we decided not to go inside for a tour since the cost was so high. We soon started walking towards the Tower of London again. We continued walking along the Thames river and enjoyed seeing a different side of London. We were even able to see the London Eye during our walk although we previously agreed that we did not feel the need to ride this ferris wheel, especially when considering the exorbitant price! We arrived at the Tower of London just after 13:00. We were surprised to see a castle type structure when we walked up; we didn’t know what to expect as we hadn’t looked it up! I guess you could say that we fully trusted Tutu's opinion that we should visit the Tower of London so much that we didn't even look it up beforehand! Since we knew this particular attraction would take us an hour or two to complete, we wanted to find a quick snack before we entered. We walked into a nearby Pret A Manger, yet thought that the prices were slightly high for the meal that we were looking for. Kaela looked on her phone and saw that there was a Tesco express on the other side of the Tower of London so we decided to make the trek around it. At the store, I got my favorite cheese and onion sandwich, an England supermarket staple, while Kaela got a delicious pasta salad with feta and sun-dried tomatoes. We also got an egg sandwich and a liter of apple juice to split. We sat on a ledge outside of the Tesco to eat our lunch. Kaela ended up begging me to finish eating faster because she loves to eat her food quickly and also, because, now that she was finished eating, she was freezing since it was so cold outside today! When we left the apartment it was 37 degrees Fahrenheit and, by this time, it had not gotten much warmer. I quickly scarfed down the last few bites of my sandwich and we headed off back to the Tower of London to begin our tour, but not without walking up the London Bridge to take a few pictures.

Once we walked back down from the London Bridge and back over to the Tower of London, we headed over to the group entrance. We bought our tickets online the night before, for a slight discount, and were directed to proceed to this gate. Kaela showed the main security guard the reservation on her phone and we walked right through! We were surprised that her phone wasn’t scanned in any way; we wonder how they keep track of entering guests. As soon as we walked in the main gate of the, overall, quite impressive compound, Kaela made it clear that we should head directly to the exhibit that we had come specifically to the Tower of London to see: the Crown Jewels. We checked the site map and quickly navigated ourselves to the main door of the Crown Jewels exposition. Just as we were walking toward the entrance, we saw a small crowd accumulating to one side. It seemed that we had walked up just in time to witness the changing of the guard! We watched for five minutes or so as new guards came in to replace the previous ones. After the crowd dissipated we headed into the exhibit.

The exhibit is incredibly technological. As soon as we walked in there were three large screens that communicated the importance, and the long history, of the Crown Jewels. As we made our way into the next room we were able to read descriptions of each of the items that were included within the collection. In this room there were also several other screens projecting the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. It was interesting to see the procession take place, and to see how each of the items in the exhibit are specifically used during such a special day. When we finally arrived at the Crown Jewels themselves, we realized how truly spectacular these items are. We were not allowed to take pictures during this particular portion of the exhibit, and the constantly patrolling workers seemed to ensure this. It was a rather unique setup that the exhibit used as well. The major items of the collection were featured along one long row that was flanked on both sides by a moving platform. Viewers simply needed to stand on the platform in order to gaze at these magnificent objects, presumably because seeing these objects render viewers incapable of walking (or possibly it is to keep people moving when the exhibit experiences heavy crowds). We took our time viewing these gorgeous items, and even had to walk backwards several times to ensure that we were not whisked away before we fully finished gawking at the Crown Jewels. The Soverign’s Sceptre with Cross has, perhaps, the single most incredible jewel in the entire collection: a 530.2 carrot diamond, which is the largest colorless cut diamond in the world. While the Scepter contained the single most amazing jewel, the Imperial State Crown is possibly the most impressive of them all, although it is difficult to decided because each crown appears more impressive than the last. Most of these crowns contain so many diamonds that it is difficult to describe the sparkle and the shine that these headpieces give off. Although, to be fair, it doesn’t quite compare to Kaela’s new ring ;)

After we felt like we looked at the main items of the collection for an unreasonable amount of time (like there could ever be such a thing), we looked at the collection of solid gold items that were located in the adjoining hallways. It seems that anything that the Royal family could possibly need was made out of gold as a precaution. There must have been a handful of extremely large and ornate salt holders. There was also an enormous basin that could hold hundreds, if not thousands, of bottles of wine (I forget the exact number). There was also an accompany “ladle” to serve the drinks from the basin that more resembled a paddle for a row boat, also made out of gold. At this point we reached the end of the collection and thought that it was rather ironic that there was a donation bin next to the exit door, considering that we just saw items worth hundreds of millions, if not billions, of British Pounds.

Once we finished viewing the crown jewels we quickly stopped in a side museum that was located near the exit door. We walked in and were immediately confused as to what the layout was and how we were supposed to progress through this particular exhibit. We ended up just looking at the large collection of war and commemoration medals in the first room before exiting. We now headed to what seemed to be the other main portion of the exhibit: the large castle structure located in the center. The entire Tower of London property is rather interesting because it seems to be a small enclosed town. There was even a corner of the “town” that resembled a small German town based on the architectural styles we have seen. We walked into the central building and found it to be a museum exhibiting armory and weapons. The first room contained examples, and actual pieces, of armor that would be used to protect horses and riders. It was also interesting seeing pieces of armor that were designed specifically for the Royal family, or seeing smaller suits of armor designed for their sons. After this room we walked up a few flights of stairs to see examples of weaponry, which always is fun to see! We saw several examples of medieval weapons such as clubs and spears and, surprisingly, numerous examples of modern weaponry. In 1997, England enacted new legislation that changed the laws regarding who can lawfully possess a gun. The police instituted a buy-back program in order to entice gun owners to hand over their personal weapons. The state then kept the more rare, exotic, or special weapons to be shown on tour or in museums. One of the more fantastic examples that was seen in the exhibit include a pistol that was encrusted with over 1,000 diamonds and had sapphire placed in the grip. There were also small hand cannons and old-style pistols, along with a few gold-plated modern weapons. After I spent a while waiting to take perfect pictures of these unique weapons, Kaela and I exited the central building and looked at the map to continue our tour. We decided to visit the torture room and walk along the upper wall, which would grant us elevated views of not only the Tower of London, but also the London Bridge.

We made our way over to what we thought was the torture exhibit, but turned out to be the walk along the wall. As we were following the corridors and looking for the outside walkway, we walked into a faux bedroom and there were several actors inside of if acting as if it were 700 years ago! They were discussing relations with France and the possibilities of war. It was quite a shock for Kaela and I to walk in there and see that, as we weren’t expecting it at all. Moreover, once we were in the same room as them, we weren’t sure how we should react because we were within several feet of them! We quickly left the room to game-plan, since the actors spooked us. We decided to continue on because the walkway had to be through that room! When we re-entered the room the actors were no longer performing and one even said hello to us! We scurried out of the room because we felt like we were interrupting something. We walked up a narrow, winding staircase and eventually arrived at a room that was adjacent to the walkway we were hoping to find! We spent a few minutes at the top of the walkway admiring the view and taking a few memorable pictures of our visit. After we finished we headed back down to ground level and happened to accidentally stumble upon the torture exhibit! This part was rather short and pretty much consisted of a single room containing a few of the most used instruments of the time. The majority of the torture instruments were to keep individuals in highly uncomfortable positions either being crouched or curled up in the fetal position. There was also an example of one of the more famous ones that involves stretching a person’s body to uncomfortable, and often painful, ends. Nearly all of the signs continuously declared that torture was very rarely used and that it is most definitely not used today, let alone in the last several hundred years. Since they were so adamant in making this point, we’ll take it with a grain of salt. In another tower, prisoners were held and some were allowed to exercise on the top floor. There are impressive carvings in the stone walls of this particular building that are covered with glass to preserve them.

Once we exited the torture exhibit, we felt that our visit to the Tower of London had pretty much concluded for the day. We headed out of the exit and into a nearby gift shop to get a few more souvenirs for ourselves and others. After some intense shopping and bargain hunting, we completed our purchase and led the shop. Unfortunately, it was time for the true decision to be made; we had to decide to spend 10 British Pounds on a metro ride back to the apartment, or complete the hour walk back. After some deliberation we decided that we could handle the walk, particularly because it was our last day in Europe (and because the underground in London is several times more expensive than similar locations such as Madrid and Paris). We had a romantic, yet chilly, walk through London on the way back to our apartment. It was nice to be able to casually stroll through the city and admire the small intricacies that make London the city that it is. We took a few breaks along the way to rest our legs and enjoy the scenery, and we eventually made it back to the neighborhood that we are currently staying in. On the way home, we decided to stop at the store right away so we would not have to go back out for dinner. We purchased the dinner meal deal, which consisted of picking out two main courses and a side for 6 British Pounds. We both got a different type of Indian curry with rice along with a mixed side that both of us weren't entirely sure what it contained. Look at us, even on our last night in Europe we are being adventurous ;) We also picked up a loaf of garlic bread to complement our curries. We headed home after and immediately collapsed into bed after learning that we walked 21,000 steps today and just under 10 miles!

We relaxed around the apartment for a while and started getting ready for our long travel day tomorrow. I worked on compiling the pictures from the day while Kaela organized the room and heated up our dinner. Once dinner was ready, we finished watching the rest of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol while we ate. The curry was surprisingly delicious! The adventurous sides that we got ended up being fairly tasty as well, apart from one item that neither one of us cared for (and neither one of us still knows what is in it). After dinner we worked on packing and organizing our bags for a little while before deciding that, since it was our last night, we would go across the street to the Crown and Anchor Pub and enjoy one last pint before heading home. Kaela decided to get a heavy dark beer since she is trying to train herself to like them. I settled for a pint of London’s Finest (yes, that is the actual name), which was a lighter beer, especially when compared to Kaela’s. We decided to split both of them so that we would experience the best of both worlds. The atmosphere in the pub is not quite what we were expecting either. It seemed that it was full of people who had just gotten off work and came for a drink or two as we seemed to be the youngest ones in this particular establishment. Since the Real Madrid game was on at this time, I was hoping that we would be able to catch the second half in the pub, but it wasn’t on. After we finished our round we headed back outside and completed the 50 meter walk back to our apartment (how convenient!). Once we got back to the apartment we agreed that we would finish packing in the morning, since we still have to brush our teeth and whatnot tomorrow.

Kaela is fast asleep and I have been stalling in my mission to complete this post because that means that our time in Europe has actually come to an end. It is difficult to believe that so much time has passed so quickly. The memories and experiences that I have encountered over the past 7 months are indescribable. I am grateful for having the opportunity to go on this trip of a lifetime, especially with Kaela, who is a wonderful person. We are both incredibly thankful for everything that anyone has done to help us in making this dream trip a reality, particularly Heather, Paul, Carl, Joyce, Tutu, Kuku, La’akea, Pat, and Bonnie. We are full of emotions now that our journey has come to an end. We are happy to return to the United States to see our families and loved ones, yet are sad to be leaving this particular chapter of our lives behind. We will cherish these memories for the rest of our lives. Thanks to everyone. Although this is our last day in Europe, our journey is not truly complete until we arrive back in California. As we have had a number of interesting, and rather frightening, travel days throughout our journey, we will be sure to post about them once we are home safe in California. We have a 12 hour flight tomorrow direct from London to Los Angeles. We are excited for what the next chapter in our lives has in store for us. Until tomorrow.


Justin and Kaela

The London Tower!

The London Bridge!

The Globe Theater!

The London Eye!

Entering the Crown Jewels exhibit

Commemorative and military metals

The Armory Museum in the London Tower

Looks like a German village to me! How cute

Fancy prisoner artwork

A throne fit for a king? Perhaps.

A walk through London at Dusk

The Crown and Anchor to cap off our around the world adventure

Posted by JK_Adventures 18:54 Archived in England Comments (4)

The British Museum

sunny 38 °F

We had a busy day in London with La’akea today. Justin and I woke up at 9:00 to check in with La to see when he would be arriving from Oxford. He took the bus from Oxford to London so we could hang out in the city together and venture over to the British Museum. We decided to meet up at the British Museum around 10:00, so Justin and I got dressed and made the fifteen minute walk over to the museum. La wasn’t there yet so we cooled off and waited outside for him to arrive. Once he walked up we all headed inside the museum and started to game plan what we wanted to see. The museum has free admittance so it was pretty crowded with tourists.

We grabbed a map and started with the Ancient Egyptian rooms. The first room we walked into had the Rosetta Stone, which is a large stone that has three different scripts carved into it; it dates back to 196 BC. The Rosetta Stone contains translations of the same text in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script, and Ancient Greek. Until this text was found nobody knew how to read or decode hieroglyphs. Justin and I have been to many places where there are replica obelisks that have made up hieroglyphs. Other civilizations and cultures just adored the Egyptian culture so much that they rushed to replicate it. Since Hieroglyphs were not deciphered until the Rosetta Stone was found in 1799, modern civilizations modeled items, such as obelisks, after the Egyptian style yet the hieroglyphs on the monuments were nothing more than gibberish, since the language was unknown at the time. The lingua-franca in 1799 (the year it was rediscovered) was Greek, which allowed people to translate the hieroglyphs.

Justin has been talking about the Rosetta Stone for our entire trip, and how important it was to understanding the Egyptian culture and way of life, so it was nice to finally see such an important piece of history. We continued touring the Ancient Egyptian exhibits with La’akea as our personal tour guide. He knew so many fun facts about the time period and he was able to further describe any works where we still had questions. There were massive sculptures on display that were still in incredible shape! La said that it is incredibly rare to have such large busts and monuments in such great condition. It was impressive to see such massive works dating back to such an early time period. We were all surprised to see many tourists touching the works! I saw one mom and daughter take a picture while completely leaning on a sculpture even though there were plenty of signs posted by each work saying not to touch them. I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t any security around to stop this from happening! Justin and I always try to be extremely respectful when traveling around, particularly because we realize how old the majority of these works are and that it is important to help keep them as best preserved as we can for future generations. It is disappointing, and makes us quite sad, to see other individuals treating the exhibits and such important and ancient artifacts so poorly.

We continued our tour with La through the Ancient Roman exhibits where we got an even more extensive tour from La’akea. Since Ancient Roman history is a specialty of his and he has spent many years studying the time period (including learning to read Latin), he was able to give us detailed historical facts about the sculptures we were seeing. He told us all about the historical figures depicted and explained what their lives were like during the time period. We also got to see the missing parts of the Acropolis and Parthenon that were outright taken from Greece by Britain. It was crazy to see the original statues that are missing from the facades at the Acropolis. When we were in Athens and we visited the new Acropolis Museum, there were multiple of signs stating that missing pieces from this museum were located in the British Museum. It definitely seemed like there was tension between the two cultures as far as who should have the ancient artifacts. Obviously, the stolen Greek artifacts are only an example as this is true for several otter cultures located within the museum, especially the Egyptians.

As we continued our tour, we also visited exhibits featuring some random categories that I wasn’t expecting. We got to see an entire room full of clocks and time pieces, and there was another room featuring currency from all over the world. There was a special hands on section where we got to hold an Alexander the Great coin that dated back to 300 BC! That was definitely an unexpected bonus :) We finished our visit with a look at an exhibit featuring Sutton Hoo burials. Sutton Hoo is a site where sixth and seventh century burial grounds were found. The famous burial that we learned about displayed wealthy Anglo-Saxon artifacts that were kept in an undisturbed burial ship. At this point we were getting pretty tired and hungry so we thought it would be a good time to end our tour and head over to Piccadilly Circus for lunch.

We took the underground to Piccadilly Circus, which is a massive shopping area. We stopped in a Sainsbury’s to pick up some sandwiches and were surprised with a big lunch salad bar! La and I packed our bowls to the brim with different pasta salads and rices and Justin picked up a couple of sandwiches for himself. We enjoyed our food outside the store then headed over to a local sporting goods store called Lillywhites. The boys wandered the soccer section for quite a while before determining that the store didn’t have what they were looking for. We kept walked around for a couple of blocks and found another soccer store, but didn’t find anything again. At this point La was ready to settle for defeat and wanted some coffee to cheer himself up. We stopped in a trendy looking coffee shop and found a relaxing booth downstairs where we chatted for 20 minutes.

After our mini break we said our goodbyes and La headed back toward Piccadilly to catch a bus that would take him back to Oxford. Justin and I continued our walk back towards the apartment and planned out what we wanted to do for dinner. The walk didn’t take us too long at all! We stopped in the local market to grab a few more things for dinner, then we headed back home to relax for the rest of the night. We were both completely exhausted by the time we got home and we were ready for a nap right when we walked in the door. We ended up sleeping an hour past our alarm! Once we finally got up I started making dinner and Justin loaded up the end of Airplane since we fell asleep while watching it last night. We only had about twenty minutes left in the movie. We started watching Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, but started to get sleepy again. We’re pretty much all ready for bed now and it’s time to get some rest. We’re planning on visiting Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tower of London tomorrow! We have a very busy LAST DAY in London before we head back to the US! As always, more stories to come :) Until then.

Kaela and Justin

Exploring the city.

The British Museum!

Alexander the Great coin.

Artifacts from the Acropolis.

Ancient Egyptian artifacts and more!

Crazy soccer section at Lillywhites.

Posted by JK_Adventures 15:50 Archived in England Comments (1)

Travel Day: Oxford to London

sunny 40 °F

It's hard to believe that today was our last travel day before we make our long trek home! We started our morning off right around 10:00 when we got up to finish packing. We definitely acquired many more items while we were in Oxford, so packing was a bit more tricky trying to get everything to fit. Once all three of us were packed up we handed in our keys and waited outside for a cab. It seems like all of the cabs require you to call ahead, which makes it impossible to hail one on the street. The first cab company La called said that it would be a 45 minute wait! We obviously tried another company and we were picked up within ten minutes. It was a chilly wait outside, but the cab was nice and cozy. La got dropped off before the train station because he was on his way back to Pan and Pipa's apartment and Justin and I had to go a little further to the station. We paid our driver using all of our extra change then waited at the station for an hour before our train arrived. I splurged and bought a cappuccino while we were waiting to keep me warm.

We had a freezing cold wait on the platform before they let anyone on the train, but once we boarded we warmed up right away. We piled all of our bags around us and relaxed for the rest of the journey. The ride only took a little over an hour and it was pretty empty until we got to the stop right outside of London. Once we arrived at London Paddington, it was a mad dash off the train and we were quickly swept into the sea of rushing passengers. Everyone seemed to be in a much bigger hurry than we were. We were still a few kilometers away from our apartment, but instead of taking the tube we figured we could get some exercise and explore the surrounding area by walking to the apartment. We're staying in a different area than before so we thought it would be nice to see it on foot and take advantage of our walk. We also wanted to get our 10,000 steps in ;) We figured the rest of the day would be pretty mellow because we wanted to hang out before our two extremely busy days to come.

The walk took us exactly 45 minutes, which would be a pretty easy journey normally, but having bags made it into a mini work out. We weaves through the streets of London and finally arrived in the neighborhood of the apartment. We couldn't find the correct building at first, so I called the property and asked for some directions. Unfortunately, the receptionist was evil and rude and apparently had zero knowledge of the surrounding area. When I told her where we walked from she basically scolded me and tried to get me to back track and walk toward a different train station so she could give me directions from there. When I explained that we were right in the area and that I just couldn't locate the building, she scolded me again and told me she wasn't good with street names, which apparently was my fault. Once I finally figured out where to go (on my own without the help of the evil lady), I got more scolding when I was checking in! Who knows where this woman learned about customer service or basic manners, but it was pretty clear she had neither. We didn't let the horrible woman ruin our day though. We quickly dropped off our bags in the quaint apartment and set off to walk around the neighborhood. Our apartment is literally surrounded by Indian restaurants! It was the most pleasant smelling walk we've had :) We thought about stopping in for dinner, but we knew we would want two meals tonight since we didn’t really have lunch.

We opted for a homemade meal so we stopped in the grocery store and picked up some items for dinner. We settled on pasta because we knew it’d be hearty and delicious as always. We wandered around the store picking out all of the necessary ingredients for dinner, dessert, and for breakfast for the rest of the time we’re here. I started making dinner right away and Justin loaded up the movie Airplane since I’ve never seen it. He always makes fun of me for not seeing such a classic comedy, so I was happy to finally watch it. We enjoyed our meals and the movie and ended up falling asleep with twenty minutes left in the film. Once it gets dark it’s tough to stay awake! We definitely get tired much earlier here considering the sun sets at 16:00. We only napped for a short time and woke up right after the movie ended. We made another helping of pasta and started to clean up for the night. I even got to Skype with my mom and Tutu! Tutu and Kuku are already in California and they’re all spending their Sunday decorating the house for Christmas. Mom and Tutu were a total crackup and I can’t wait to see everyone in person in a few days!

We have a busy day planned tomorrow and La’akea is planning on taking a train into London for the day. We all want to visit the British Museum and La will be our own tour guide again ;) Justin and I also need to go to Shakespeare’s Globe and we need to visit the Tower of London so we can see the Crown Jewels. I don’t think Tutu will let us come home unless we see those jewels! Can’t believe we only have a few days left on this crazy adventure! Until next time :)

Kaela and Justin

Just one picture today...more to come tomorrow!

Posted by JK_Adventures 14:18 Archived in England Comments (0)

A Day in Oxford

sunny 39 °F

We had another fun filled day in Oxford! We started off our morning around 9:15 when we woke up and got ready to head out for La's soccer game. Once we were all ready we had to wait a few minutes for a cab, then we were off to the field! None of La'akea's teammates appeared to be at the field when we arrived. The other team was talking to the groundsman and the ref about the field conditions, and the ref said he didn't want to ref the game since the field was hard. Even though the groundsman cleared them to play the ref still wasn't into it. Kaela and I ended up walking a few blocks to find some coffee while all of the playing was being settled. We didn't find any coffee shops, but we did stumble upon a big grocery store. We bought some sandwiches and Kaela got a pasta salad, but we still didn't find any coffee. We brought our snacks back to the field and met up with Pan once we got back. Pan was waiting for us with an American football so that we could play a little catch. By the time we got back the teams were starting to warm up and the ref was gone, so the opposing team appointed one of their players as the ref instead.

The game was fun to watch but, unfortunately, it soon became evident that La'akea's St. John's team was outmatched by Lincoln. Before half time, Lincoln quickly built up a 4-0 lead. Although, two of those goals were due to crucial mistakes made by St. John's players. First of all, one of the goals was a clear own goal by on of the defenders. Apparently he was expecting the keeper to clear the ball out of the box on a corner but, when he missed, the defender ended up heading it into the back of the net. We were all impressed with how great the header was, but it was just in the wrong goal! On another goal that Lincoln scored, the goalie tried to catch the ball on another corner kick but, since it was freezing and the ground was wet, the ball went right through his hands! After an initial struggle, one of the Lincoln players cooly slotted the ball into the bottom corner. However, Saint John's was awarded a penalty in the final minutes of the first half and the Lincoln went into the break with a 4-1 advantage.

Saint John's came out of halftime with a new determination and they were able to score another goal, on a La'akea assist, to make the score 2-4. The real controversy for the game happened soon after.One of La’akea’s teammates dribbled down the right hand side of the field and, just before crossing the end line, and the ball found La’akea at the top of the penalty spot. He was caught off guard by a surprise bounce and tipped the ball forward to another teammate who, to the untrained eye, may have appeared in off-side position. However, the defender that was guarding the Saint John’s player that originally crossed the ball to La’akea was clearly holding all Saint John’s players onside because he was too lazy to run back to support his teammates after defending the cross. At the time of protest, the defender was just crossing the touchline to re-enter the field of play. Lincoln immediately protested and stopped playing due to this apparent offside position and eventually took the ball from Saint John’s for a free kick. I saw how the entire situation unfolded and I immediately voiced my discontent, which must have been heard by all of the players on the field for a number of reasons. First of all, there were only 3 people watching the game, which were me, Kaela, and Pan (a friend of La’akea’s). Secondly, I know that all of the players heard my discontent because they all stopped and looked in my direction! I could not stand to see such blatant cheating, especially when it is directed at La’akea’s team. It was difficult for me to let this horrifying unsportsmanlike action go for the rest of the day, and I continued to voice my discontent at Lincoln players for the remainder of the match. Also, La’akea’s team soon scored another goal within the following minutes, which would have effectively tied the game had the horrible offsides call not been allowed. Saint John’s soon seemed to lose all of their momentum, however, and the final score ended up being 3-6.

After the game finished, Kaela, La’akea, Pan, and I headed over to one of their favorite Thai restaurants to have the delicious Duck Panang curry that we have heard so much about over the previous days. We got to the restaurant, Angrid Thai, and were disappointed to learn that the Sriracha was watered down, as was pointed out by the avid Sriracha lover, La’akea. I had the Duck Panang and Kaela had the Sweet and Sour chicken. We shared most of our meal and we thought that the restaurant was quite good, and also not too expensive! Just outside of the restaurant was a large christmas market! When our meal was over we walked through all of the aisles looking at the various items. Kaela eventually stopped and begged me to purchase one item for a gift, which we eventually did. After we finished in the market, We parted ways with Pan and Pippa (his fiancé who met us at Angrid Thai) before heading back to the house to relax. We were all exhausted by this point, so once we got home we immediately took a nap. We ended up sleeping for around an hour and a half and it was difficult for me to wake up when it was finally time! We woke up just in time to head out to dinner at a fantastic local French restaurant: Pierre Victoire Bistrot.

We had a lovely walk over to the restaurant and the frigid temperatures helped to wake us up. Once we got there, La’akea informed us that dinner was on him to celebrate our engagement! How very kind of him. We all had delicious meals as well. La’akea had a fantastic steak with an even more succulent lemon and cream sauce. Kaela had the lamb, which she was hesitant to have at first since she hasn’t had it previously, but she thoroughly enjoyed it. I had the seafood risotto, which was also incredibly fantastic. We definitely had a great meal together! After we finished eating, and relaxing at the restaurant, we headed outside and walked down a few storefronts to the Duke of Cambridge, which is a fancy bar nearby our restaurant. It was quite crowded but, since we were waiting to meet up with Pan and Pippa again, we still decided to get a drink inside. I chose the safe option and I told La’akea that I would simply have whatever he would be having and Kaela got a delicious mixed drink. Since this bar did not serve La’akea’s favorite drink, the sazerac, he decided to get something different which was equally delicious, although the name currently escapes me. We enjoyed our drinks in the packed atmosphere before leaving and walking over to the Lamb and Flag, which is the bar owned by Saint John’s college. When we arrived La’akea quickly remembered that the Christmas dinner just got out so the bar was packed. However, we waited outside the Lamb and Flag and eventually met up with Pan and Pippa. Since it was so crowded we headed to another favorite local bar of La’akea’s: The Three Goats Head. At this pub we all had the same fantastic Samuel Smith beer that La’akea picked out. We only had around 10 minutes to drink it though because we were informed that the pub would be closing soon! The beer was fantastic and after we headed out, we parted ways with Pan and Pippa. La’akea, Kaela, and I were planning on stopping by the Kings Arms for one more round but, as soon as we arrived, we saw that they closed down early and wouldn’t be serving anymore! Since we didn’t really want to walk anywhere else, we walked to get a kebab, which Kaela had been practically begging for the entire night.

We headed back over to Hussein’s across from Saint John’s and picked up a late night snack before quickly grabbing a taxi and heading back to our apartment. We enjoyed our treat while watching an episode of Archer together before soon getting ready for bed and falling asleep not too long thereafter. We had another fantastic day in Oxford with La’akea and had a great time wandering the town together. Until tomorrow!

Justin and Kaela

Beautiful day for a game!

Walking the streets of Oxford.

Our incredible meal...thank you La'akea!!

Posted by JK_Adventures 14:00 Archived in England Comments (0)

Exploring Oxford

sunny 39 °F

We had another fantastic day in Oxford. La'akea started his morning off bright and early and spent a few hours working on papers while Justin and I slept in. I finally got up right around 10:00 and joined La on our terrace to hang out and have some hot chocolate. Justin took a bit longer to start moving, but soon we were all getting ready to start our day. We left our place right before noon and walked straight over to St. John's College to have lunch in the school dining hall. La got us into the grounds and into the caf with his inside hookups and we all got a super cheap lunch on campus. We each got to pick what we wanted from a buffet serving massive portion sizes. Since La knew the people working he was able to get our huge lunches for only five pounds total! We enjoyed our meals while La told us fun facts about the university. He knows all about Oxford's history! After lunch we continued walking through the grounds of St. John's with La as our personal tour guide. He took us to areas that normal tourists aren't allowed to visit, so it was fun getting secret special access!

Once we had seen all that was accessible, we walked over to the covered market in town to pick up some items for dinner. We were planning on making fresh poke and teri chicken at Pan and Pipa's apartment, so we picked up fresh tuna steaks and some chicken breasts. We also got to wander around the market to check out some of the fun shops. La had a specific request from his wife to pick up some of her favorite reusable shopping bags from a local shop, so I picked up one of the bags too. We stopped at one other super market to get some extra items for dinner, then we headed over to Pan and Pipa's to drop off all of the groceries. We didn't stay at their apartment for too long because La wanted to take us around Oxford while we still had day light.

We had fun walking by all of the shops on the main streets and we went on a souvenir spree! We have tons of fun gifts from Oxford now and we can't wait to give them to the family when we get back home. La also took us around to see some historic sites in town. We walked over to the Radcliffe Camera, which is a historical building used as an undergraduate reading/study room. The building is right next to the beautiful Bodleian Library, which we weren't able to get in to because it is strictly restricted to members of college. The only other way to visit the library is with an expensive tour, so we continued our city tour with La instead! He took us over to Christ Church next. Christ Church is another college of Oxford and La said it is known for having wealthy students. The college sounds very wealthy and they appeared to spend a lot of time and money making their school look beautiful. All of the buildings and grounds (from what we could see) were immaculate! We only walked around the outside of the college because it was another hefty price to tour the grounds and we had already gotten a great free tour of St. John's! We took some fun pictures then made our way back over to Pan and Pipa's.

We stopped in a few more shops to pick up some more souvenirs, then walked back to the apartment to sit down and rest. We walked well over our 10,000 step fitbit goal and we were all pretty exhausted. The rest of our night consisted of hanging out and relaxing in their great apartment. Pan and Pipa made the poke and La made an incredible chicken teriyaki! Everyone was dying to eat the delicious local food that reminded us of Hawaii :) The only part of the meal that was "off" was the weird Thai sticky rice that we bought, which actually tasted like a rice pudding blob instead of proper sticky rice. It was still decent enough to eat with our poke and chicken, but it definitely wasn't a favorite of the meal!

After dinner the boys all played video games together and Justin even got to play a few games of Fifa! I know he's pretty excited to play his new game once he gets back to California, so I guess this was good practice for him. Once they were pau with their video games we moved on to an even better game of Heads Up! Since Justin, La, and I discovered it in Wales we have been addicted and wanted to share the fun with Pan and Pipa. We ended up playing the game for over an hour and we were all screaming and laughing throughout the entire process. Around 22:00 we figured it was time to head home so La could rest up for his soccer match tomorrow morning and so Pan could work on his school papers. We called a cab and were back at our room within ten minutes.

We've been hanging out and cleaning up since we got back and we're all ready for bed. We have a busy morning tomorrow with La's soccer match and Justin and I are ready to cheer our little hearts out! Until then :)

Kaela and Justin

Outside of Radcliffe Camera.

Playing it cool in the dining hall!

Walking around St. John's College.

Exploring the streets of Oxford.

Taking a look at the extravagant Christ Church.

Posted by JK_Adventures 16:40 Archived in England Comments (0)

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