Day Trip from London to Brighton

Brighton is a quirky little seaside town just an hour out of London by train, which makes it one of the most popular day trips from the city.

Having grown up in Florida, I’m pretty much constantly homesick for the ocean. I hoped a day trip to Brighton would be a nice reprieve from the city – and it was.

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A Year in London (#1)

Maybe you’d never think to compare London and Florida, but they have something in common: they both feel like places where magic dwells. London has that historic, industrial edge; Florida has its swamps, its storms, the encroaching ocean. Magic. Maybe that’s why people always get drawn back.

I’m a few weeks into my second semester in London, and I’ve been putting off this post. It’s so much easier to write about a place when you’re just passing through. Where to start?

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Is the weather as dreary as they say? Yes, but it doesn’t rain as often as you’d think, and when it does, it’s rarely more than a drizzle. After you’ve been through Florida’s rainy seasons and a hurricane or two, London’s weather doesn’t faze you.

Is it as diverse as people claim? Yes! TV & film tend to portray London – and the UK in general – as a place that’s mostly white, but it’s really not.

Is it as exciting as they say? Absolutely. There’s always a show to see, an event to attend, a new restaurant to try. I got to experience my first Bonfire Night and Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, among other things.

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a quick note to NanoHoppers

Hey, all. I haven’t had time to update this blog much recently, as I’m working on term papers, acquired a new job, flew home for the holidays, and have been totally swamped. But I will be more active in the new year. ‘Til then, I do post to twitter every day and I keep my goodreads up-to-date as well.

Things to know about my approach to social media:

  1. I automatically follow back everyone who adds me on wordpress and goodreads. I will not be unfollowing anyone now that NanoHop is “over.”
    • If you’ve followed me on wordpress and I haven’t followed back, comment here! I may have missed you by mistake.
  2. I do not automatically follow back everyone who adds me on twitter.
    • If you retweet more often than you make original posts, I probably won’t follow.
    • If you post a lot about parenting/children or religion, I probably won’t follow.
    • If your entire feed is just “here’s a link to my book!” “here’s a link to my blog!” “here’s a post about how to gain followers!” then I absolutely won’t follow.
    • If you’re a bigot, I absolutely won’t follow, and also, fuck you.
  3. I am 99% more likely to follow back people who interact with me in some way — replying, liking, etc — or who I see interacting with others.
  4. So if I don’t follow you back right away but you’re interested in the stuff I post, feel free to stick around & don’t be shy about engaging with me, and I might follow back in the future. (Of course, no hard feelings if you do want to unfollow me for not following back.)

That’s all. I’m so excited to start reading these new blogs and interacting with all of you amazing writers/readers!

a walk down brick lane

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If you want to have a quiet stroll, going at your own pace and taking time to look around at all the little details — stay far away from Brick Lane on Sunday.

If you want bustle, color, variety, and noise, then there’s no better time to visit Brick Lane than a Sunday, when numerous street markets set up shop along its length, and hordes of clamoring people flood into the narrow road.

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Bonfire Night 2016; Fireworks in East London


Bonfire Night in London is an extravagant affair. Upwards of twenty different fireworks displays are put on over the course of the weekend, many of them accompanied by fairs and music. Others skip the fireworks in favor of flares, donning Guy Fawkes masks and joining the annual Million Mask March against capitalism and corporate greed. News and social media streams end up with a disorienting mix of images: cheery, colorful fireworks alongside eerie shots of masked protesters silhouetted against smoky lights.

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a little indulgence


I just had the prettiest cup of hot chocolate I’ve ever experienced in my life, and I had to share. If you’re in London, get thee to Dark Sugars on Brick Lane straight away.

You can’t tell from the pic, because the chocolate had already started to melt by the time we sat down for a photo session, but they put a literal mountain of chocolate shavings in your cup. As it melts into the hot milk & water, you end up with a rich, textured, filling drink, perfect for a damp and dark London afternoon.

I don’t believe they have wifi, but luckily I didn’t need it to get some writing done. But, fellow chocolate lovers, beware: Dark Sugars also sells individual chocolates and truffles, displayed beautifully in large open bowls. With a range of unique flavors and styles, you’ll be hard-pressed not to fill up a plastic baggie to bursting, which will get pricey.

But… worth it? Quite possibly. I stuck with the hot chocolate, drank every last drop, and by the end was so full I couldn’t even look at the truffles on the way out. I’ll be making a return trip for sure, though, and then? We’ll see how my wallet fares.

yes, you do need travel insurance, and here’s why

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-3-58-57-pmI was a travel insurance skeptic, but I’m also a naturally cautious person. That’s why, when I decided to embark on my 3-month backpacking trip through southeast Asia, I took the recommendation of some big-name travel bloggers & signed up for World Nomads insurance.

Best. Decision. Ever.

My insurance for the whole trip cost about $260. That investment saved me $2500.

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a day in notting hill

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-11-09-58-pmBeing a full-time student doesn’t leave many opportunities for touring around the city, even when that city is London, which seems to have something exciting happening around every corner. I took advantage of a free day, though — no classes, no work that couldn’t be put off until tomorrow, no other commitments — and checked off one of the many items on my London bucket list.

Although you’d never guess just from looking at it, Notting Hill is the site of one of the world’s biggest street festivals once a year, an antiques & fashion market each Saturday, and the filming of a famous movie (you know the one). There’s much more to this charming little neighborhood of pastel-colored townhouses and cute shops than meets the eye.

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