The Big Europe Trip: Geneva

16 Jul

I’ve been putting off this post for aaages because I was intimidated at the thought of how large my Switzerland post was going to be. So I’m going to write bite-sized individual posts about the cities we went to. Much less daunting!

Geneva wasn’t originally on our list of cities to visit, but we’d managed to book one of the CERN group tours, so we decided to fly in from London and do some sightseeing on our first day in Switzerland. We stashed our luggage at the train station and walked around Old Town admiring the architecture.
IMG_20190429_111230I especially liked this building. So colourful!
IMG_20190429_170244
All the Swiss cities we visited felt very affluent, but Geneva especially so. Also, we were like “ooh, Old Town, how historic” but it turns out that there’s an Old Town in every city in Switzerland.

It was quite windy that day and the Jet D’Eau (a big spray of water on Lake Geneva) wasn’t operating, so we just walked around the lake and took a photo with the Flower Clock.
MVIMG_20190429_112958(Behind those sunglasses are tired, tired eyes. We’d gotten up at like, 3am)

We took a tram to CERN for the tour. CERN is known for its research on particle physics and, of course, the Large Hadron Collider. The tour didn’t go to the underground part where the LHR was, but it was still pretty cool.

The Globe is a CERN-related museum across the street from the main building.
MVIMG_20190429_122428It looks bigger than it is – the museum is only one floor and the upper level is an event space. There’s a more interesting museum about the LHC in the CERN building.

I liked the art on this building. Very thematic!IMG_20190429_133904Inside was the control room for the particle collider (apparently it’s normally busier than this).
IMG_20190429_141712I think our tour guide told us this is part of the original LHC. MVIMG_20190429_142957And here are the enormous tools they used to work on it. James is in the photo for size comparison.
IMG_20190429_145425It was a pretty cool tour, even if we were dead tired and didn’t quite understand a lot of the details.

Afterwards we grabbed some lunch (I got to speak French!) and then took the train to Bern. We didn’t really spend that much time in Bern, but it was a great base for all the day trips we wanted to do. We were too exhausted to eat out, so just grabbed some convenience food from a supermarket, then crashed for the night. And the next day – Gruyere!

 

The Big Europe Trip: London

11 Jun

A couple of months ago James had to be in Zurich for work, so we decided to add a couple of cities and make a vacation out of it.

It’s not an international trip if I don’t start it with the Paper Plane cocktail at the Polaris Lounge:
MVIMG_20190424_145120I had fish and chips for lunch and this lovely meringue for lunch-dessert:
IMG_20190424_153326Also I received three compliments on my new Globe-Trotter luggage before we even landed. =D

Day 1

We arrived around midday and got a fast pass through the arrivals hall at Heathrow which saved us a ton of time. We collected our checked luggage, purchased Oyster cards, then took the Piccadilly train to our AirBNB.

We wanted to make it a low-key day so we could recover from the flight but still tell ourselves we’d seen a bit of London, so we checked out the Google office. They were very into their post-it note art!
IMG_20190425_155854The elevators were cool – they had that fancy technology where you press the button for your floor and it assigns you an elevator.

In one of the microkitchens we discovered canned water. I don’t know why we found it so shocking but we did.
IMG_20190425_154201It’s weird, right??

The office was pretty small but there was a lot of construction nearby to build a larger campus – hopefully we get to see it next time we visit! It’s hard to tell, but the little floor level markers are Android figures.
IMG_20190425_145654Speaking of Android figures, here is a hint for what I bought as my London souvenir:IMG_20190425_151327On the walk back to the station there was this cool bird cage swing. =)
MVIMG_20190425_160819_1 We had an early dinner at an Indian restaurant, then headed to a couple of cocktail bars. IMG_20190425_192048_1The cocktails at Lounge Bohemia were very inventive and the presentation was fantastic, but taste-wise they ranged from average to awful. There’s just no way to make a red bull reduction taste good. We had a lot of fun though!

My tasting menu was “good morning” themed and contained six mini cocktails. I was already pretty excited that my first drink came in a bathtub and halfway through I found this little guy:
IMG_20190425_194837 This toothpaste one had rum and peas in it. It was kind of gross and I made James finish it.IMG_20190425_201545This is a photo of him resentfully drinking it:
IMG_20190425_201442The coffee cocktail was my favourite:
IMG_20190425_202305Feeling like we’d beaten jet lag, we took the bus back to our place for a well-earned sleep.

Day 2

We started the day off at the Tower of London. We went on the Beefeater Tour (definitely recommend! It’s free and really informative), looked at the Crown Jewels, and had a nice walk around. This is James standing where the tower moat used to be:
IMG_20190426_094706 Afterwards we walked across the Tower of London Bridge and took a bunch of photos. It was windy and my hair makes it look like I have a ton of eyeliner on.IMG_20190426_115044Then went to the Borough Market where James bought some scotch eggs for a morning snack. They were delicious, but right afterwards we had afternoon tea at Sketch, so the timing wasn’t ideal.

Sketch is famous for its gorgeous bathroom (scented with a billion Diptyque candles) and individual pod toilets:
IMG_20190426_132219 Also its beautiful pink room: IMG_20190426_140826The food was delicious (and AYCE – damn you scotch eggs) and we were massively stuffed at the end.

Afterwards James bought himself a souvenir – a hand carved umbrella from James Smith & Sons. They had cheaper umbrellas, but James argued (quite rightly) that the point of going to a store like that is to buy their custom-made ones.

The ones in this photo started at £250 depending on the wood and the shape of the handle.
IMG_20190426_174438But James fell in love with this super fancy option.
IMG_20190427_112719Hello Owl!

The store customized the umbrella’s height to him, which was pretty cool. Here he is getting fitted (behind him are the cheaper regular umbrellas)
IMG_20190426_173835We then went to the British Museum, which was amazing, and not too crowded on a Wednesday evening. We saw all the highlights, and I think James was quite pleased at being able to show Owl a bit of the world.

The Easter Island statue:
MVIMG_20190426_200229 Assyrian lion sculptures:IMG_20190426_202137And the Rosetta Stone (this one was just me – Owl saw it earlier with more people around):
MVIMG_20190426_202206Then we went to the Connaught Bar where we had fantastic cocktails (James thought they were the best of the trip) and bought a bottle of their house gin.

Day 3

In the morning we went to Westminster Abbey which was a lot more interesting than I expected. The highlight was definitely the Jubilee Galleries for an extra £5 – we got to see the Magna Carta, and had a killer view down the length of the chapel. No photos allowed though. =(

Afterwards James and I split up and he went to a gin class at the City of London Distillery where he learned about gin and distilled a bottle with his own custom mix of ingredients.
IMG_20190427_131928He got to name it and said he wished he’d called it Jamegin.IMG_20190427_135402They store the recipe on site, so if James ever runs out he can get them to make him another bottle. =)

While he was making (and drinking) booze, I went shopping and had some more Indian food for lunch.
IMG_20190427_131108Afterwards I went to the Burberry flagship store. I tried on almost every trench they had looking for the perfect one, and eventually found it in the Heritage Kensington in honey. I think the coat looks much nicer open rather than belted, and I love, love, love it.

31e83adca0a909c83ff20ac740520612e938d7f0

image from Burberry

Maybe I should rethink my usual method of shopping online because apparently I don’t know myself as well as I think I do – I surprised myself by preferring the double breasted trenches and more relaxed fits.

Anyway, giant, unwieldy Burberry shopping bag in hand, I met up with James again and we headed to the Royal Stables for some more sightseeing. We went later in the day (around 3:30/4pm) and we were practically alone as we looked at all the different royal carriages.
IMG_20190427_160129We also went to the Queen’s Gallery, which wasn’t quite as spectacular, though I did get to see Faberge eggs for the first time, which was pretty cool.

The highlight was definitely the Buckingham Palace state rooms. In Summer the rooms are open to the public but in Spring they only have small group tours on days when the Queen isn’t in residence. It’s more expensive, but it was amazing. 

James and I agreed it was one of the highlights of our trip to London, which was unexpected because we’re not normally interested in that kind of stuff. But the tour guide was really informative and a fantastic story teller (Her: If you’re looking around and wondering whether something is real gold, it is), and we got to see a bunch of priceless art and history in a really intimate, unhurried setting.

As usual, no photos allowed, so here’s one we took outside the palace afterwards.
IMG_20190427_200552
Then for dinner we went to Bob Bob Ricard. IMG_20190427_224849Don’t mind if we do!

Day 4

We were pretty knackered by day four, and had a bit of a sleep in before popping down the street to Blacklock Soho.
IMG_20190428_121320Where we had the world’s largest Sunday Roast.
IMG_20190428_123933The Yorkshire puddings were so big that they had multiple potatoes living in the craters. James liked the roast beef, pork and crackling but my favourite was the lamb. It was delicious and if I ate like that every Sunday I would be as fat as a yorkshire pudding.

Then we went to Jensen’s so James could try (and buy) some more gin. We also went to the Tate Modern where we saw – and failed to appreciate – a bunch of Rothkos. James discovered he likes Surrealism though, so there’s that.

The Tower of Babel at the Tate Modern:IMG_20190428_171115We had dinner at Padella, which I had been forewarned would be very busy. Also, when you see there is a queue outside the building, that is not a queue to get into the restaurant – that is a queue to leave your name/number to get a dining time. We got there 30 minutes after it opened and had an estimated eating slot at 6:30pm/7ish – perfect!

To kill time went for a bit of a wander around the waterfront.
IMG_20190428_182210 (1)You can see a little bit of my lovely new coat!

When we went back to Padella the pastas were beautiful. Really tasty and really affordably priced, even with wine.IMG_20190428_190720Afterwards we had cocktails at Lyaness which, in its former incantation was rated the best bar in the world, but eh. It was fine, but I can think of several bars that I think are superior. I did like this sign in the hotel lobby though:
MVIMG_20190428_195454(It turned out the sign changed automatically every 10 minutes or so. I sent James out to admire it and he came back confused because it just had some random quote about coffee).

I enjoyed our time in London – I think we packed a lot into three and a half days. =) The next morning we grabbed an Uber to the airport and got on a flight for the next leg of our trip – Switzerland!

A Long Weekend with Friends in Vegas

19 Apr

Last weekend we headed to Vegas with some of our friends. Matt flew in from Idaho Falls and Brian from Atlanta, so it was a mini reunion.

Friday

The holiday got off to a great start when James and I got upgraded on the flight over.
IMG_20190412_135709We stayed at the Cosmopolitan, which we chose because it was well-located and had great restaurants (and so we could finally use James’ Marriott points). The room was pretty swish too.
MVIMG_20190412_160113 And there was a lovely plunge bath in the bathroom:MVIMG_20190412_160150Also here is my fancy new Globetrotter luggage in the hotel closet:
MVIMG_20190412_160546It is heavier and in some ways less practical than the backpack I usually use, but I love it and it makes me feel like a fancy lady. It was a birthday gift from the cats. (My friends in Melbourne – “wow, the cats are really sophisticated shoppers”).

We met up with our friends to gamble a bit and walk around drinking.
MVIMG_20190412_184252In front of the Arc de Triomphe! IMG_20190412_192532David and Robin in the back are with us too – I think they just didn’t realise the photo was being taken.

I saw this sign on the way to dinner and made myself a promise that at some point during the trip I would come back for it.
IMG_20190412_200955We had dinner at Yardbird and met up with Brian.
MVIMG_20190412_203501Hey Brian!

Saturday

James and I had a morning swim with nobody around which was lovely.
IMG_20190415_113906Then we met up with the others to grab breakfast from Eggslut and headed to Fremont street.

We lost money at craps, and grabbed some consolation booze slushies:
IMG_20190413_141618 Fremont street was easier to walk around than the strip, and the gambling was cheaper. We enjoyed it immensely.MVIMG_20190413_142114We split up for dinner because we couldn’t agree where to go, and it’s hard to accommodate large groups on short notice. James and I grabbed some White Castle, because there aren’t any White Castles where we live, and Harold and Kumar made it look so tasty .
IMG_20190413_184253I wasn’t that impressed but James really liked it and went back for more later that night. I was, however, quite pleased with … my foot long hot dog for $2.49.MVIMG_20190413_185208After our separate dinners we joined again to see the show Absinthe. It was wonderful! Really funny and sexy and impressive!
MVIMG_20190413_214419_3 After the show we went to look at the Bellagio fountains. The boys:57099023_1193474760833153_2557348756399849472_n (1)The girls:
MVIMG_20190413_220839Around midnight we headed to the Linq High Roller. (Also, as an aside, there are a surprising number of parents dragging around their very sleepy-looking toddlers at that time).

We opted for the carriage with the open bar, and there weren’t enough of them so we had to stand in line for aaages which sucked. But our moods improved very quickly once we got a few drinks in us.
MVIMG_20190414_002630(I kept getting the bartender to make 4-6 drinks at a time, then passing them around our group. Afterwards James patted me and said I did a good job keeping people drunk)

We kept the night going at the Linq casino, where Jaimie played blackjack and Kyle, Will and David played craps. The rest of us played our own game – putting tickets and receipts in Will’s hoodie without him realising.
IMG_20190414_010504It was marvellous . You can tell that Will is happy because we’re all happy, but starting to get a bit suspicious because of all the commemorative selfies.
IMG_20190414_010626The Pixel 3 can turn photos into gifs! In this masterpiece Matt is victorious, Will is still oblivious, and James is pissing himself laughing in the background.
MVIMG_20190414_010831_exported_stabilized_7044674902544752651(When Will finally figured it out he tore off his hoodie in despair)

Later in the evening we started putting things in his jeans pockets. It also later expanded to David and Kyle, the other craps players, but Will was the most dangerous game because he was always on such high alert.

Behold! A bunch of shit in David’s pocket, a ticket in Will’s, and a ticket tucked into Kyle’s collar:
MVIMG_20190414_013507David had the most stuff in his pants because he was the drunkest and the easiest to reverse-pickpocket. At one point the guys managed to get some ketchup and salt and pepper packets into his pockets.
Screenshot_20190419-132654When David saw that group message he checked his back pockets and, finding them free of salt and pepper, relaxed. Will never relaxed and never stopped looking for the salt and pepper he was convinced were in his pockets.

Sunday

The next morning, David finally realised he was pepperpants. It was a joyful moment that Lauren thoughtfully documented for us.57104044_313521219334497_837560335442378752_n (1)We met up for breakfast and I quickly made the guys pose for a photo.MVIMG_20190414_110753 (1)Behind the scenes – Will desperately trying to avoid James covering his face:MVIMG_20190414_110755_exported_stabilized_9174266252883273041.gifAfterwards we went to the Paris casino where James won $10 on the slot machine – hooray!

In the evening James and I went to see Penn and Teller – they were awesome. I asked James which show he preferred, and he said he liked both shows but he’s never seen magic before, so he gave the edge to P&T.

Here we are with some playing cards we had to pick from a bucket at the start of the night. IMG_20190414_203201 At the end of the show they ran everyone in the audience through a magic trick together (though James said it was just modular arithmetic and the least impressive trick they did).

The cards made a nice souvenir though, and we got them signed by Penn and Teller at the end of the night. =)
IMG_20190414_224641 It was really nice of them to stick around so everyone could get photos with them (and quite disconcerting to hear Teller speak). IMG_20190414_225615

Monday

Most people had left by Monday, but a couple of us stayed an extra night since hotels were so cheap. We met up with Matt for a breakfast buffet at Wicked Spoon.
IMG_20190415_081634 James with his loot: IMG_20190415_081842The desserts (IMO) were the highlight: IMG_20190415_081356
Unfortunately I couldn’t eat as much as I normally do since I was full from the rest of the weekend, but I really enjoyed it and would go back.

After brunch we had a morning swim.MVIMG_20190415_114317_exported_stabilized_1235102162126888304.gifI love the Pixel 3 so much. (Incidentally, people in the group would post their photos in the group chat and Jaimie said that when multiple people had taken the same photo, James/my photos were always the best. Seriously, the camera is flipping fantastic).

We showered, packed, and checked out of the hotel. We killed some time gambling while we waited to go to the airport and James continued his lucky streak on the slot machines. He picked this one because of the name and because there were cats on it that looked like Kyoto and Mouse – and won $25. =)
IMG_20190415_150604 (1)A 10 leopard win! What a great way to end the long weekend. (We also got upgraded on the flight back, so that was cool too)

One last group photo. Bye friends! I had the best time!
57258229_297476897813113_5562392255056052224_n (1)

A Mammoth Time in Mammoth

1 Mar

We just got back from what turned out to be quite a long trip to Mammoth Mountain!

The original plan had been to stay five days but our flight to Mammoth kept getting cancelled because of the storm at the other end. I was getting quite bummed out and James was working really hard to keep my spirits high.

But three days after our original flight one of the planes finally made it! James arranged for our return flight to get pushed back as well, and when we arrived the snow was fantastic!MVIMG_20190210_112030This was James before he started digging out the ash bin on the balcony. Look at him – so fresh and optimistic:
IMG_20190206_170316And this was him halfway through: IMG_20190206_172726The weather was quite dicey so there were only a couple of days where the whole mountain was open. But we had multiple days with over a foot of fresh snow so it was hard to complain!

James and I were originally planning to skip Saturday and Sunday, but each day had 18″ of snow overnight so we figured we’d go in the morning and head back once everything got tracked out. The first couple of runs were incredible! The snow was sooo deep (knee to thigh deep on me) and I could hear people on the chairlifts getting really excited haha.

But most of the mountain was closed so this is what the lift lines looked like …IMG_20190209_092512(Also doesn’t that photo look like one of those old school Christmas cards? Weird)

With that many people the snow got tracked out pretty fast. James left earlier than I did, which was smart because by the time I left (1ish) there was a line for the gondola to get back down, which I’ve never seen before.

Also before he left, he found Woolly and got a photo with him!
IMG_20190209_114844He said he was the first one to get a photo and immediately a long queue formed after him. I guess it was a lining up kind of day!

On Sunday morning we got there about 30 minutes early but the opening was delayed by an hour because of the wind. On the plus side there was a ton of snow falling – this was what my board looked like if I stood still for a couple of minutes:IMG_20190210_084044After we were told they wouldn’t open the lifts for awhile, a lot of people went to wait in the lodge. But some of us got impatient and hiked up the run to get a couple of turns in. MVIMG_20190210_085311Also it looks flat but it wasn’t!

Mammoth kept most of the mountain closed again, but they gradually opened up some of the lower chairlifts so there was deep powder to be had all morning.

Tuesday was the day we were supposed to depart and we basically ended up spending the whole day at the airport because our flight (and the flight that United moved us to) kept getting delayed and then cancelled. Both incoming flights actually circled the airport and left without landing, which was pretty disappointing, especially since Tuesday had been our last chance to leave before the next storm.

We had to reschedule a bunch of stuff back home and extend the cat sitter, but once that all got sorted (and we did another grocery shop) I was looking forward to another few days of snowboarding. =D

Wednesday had a wonderful combination of fresh snow and no people. IMG_20190213_091735Me (on Wednesday): I think today has been the best day.
James: You’ve said that every day!

On Thursday Mammoth didn’t actually open at all because of the storm. It was nice to have a relaxation day but in the evening our power got knocked out for 5 hours which sucked.

Here is James boiling water on top of the wood heater to make instant ramen.
IMG_20190214_175146Then on Friday I was back to my regular snowboard schedule. =)

We managed to get out on Saturday. The San Francisco flight was cancelled but we routed via Denver and finally got home that way. It was an eventful but wonderful snow trip – I think my favourite ever.

Bye Mammoth – see you next time!IMG_20190216_120526

First Trip of 2019: New York City!

4 Feb

I didn’t go at all to NYC last year so decided to join James for his first work trip of 2019. It’s the middle of winter here in the US – you can’t really tell in SF since it’s still hoodie weather, but we were definitely feeling it in NY!

Monday

It was a high of -9C when we arrived on Monday afternoon. While we waited for our Uber I saw a discarded bottle of water that had frozen solid.

This time we stayed at the Dream Downtown, which is normally James’ least preferred of the three hotels closest to Google because it’s attached to a nightclub and gets loud and crowded. It does, however, have an outdoor pool – which is just what you want when it’s below freezing.  IMG_20190121_160451I was pleased with the pictures my new Pixel took underwater!

The pool was heated to 26C so it was actually really nice. IMG_20190121_160345Getting out of the pool was a different matter though. When we walked to get our clothes it was so cold our wet feet kept freezing to the ground. We were too afraid to stand still in case we got stuck.

We had a fortifying shower then went to I Sodi for dinner (and on the walk there my damp hair got all hard and frozen). It’s a popular restaurant but we easily got a walk-in spot at the bar since it was so cold – I guess most people were staying home and getting dinner delivered.

Afterwards we went to a couple of bars (Employees Only and Little Branch), then headed back to our hotel to crash.

Tuesday

Thanks to the night before I craved greasy food all morning. I was also feeling very tired so spent pretty much the entire morning googling easily-accessible potsticker restaurants. I eventually settled on Halal Guys, since I remembered really loving it when James and I first visited NY.

I walked to the East Village location:IMG_20190122_123614It was OK but not as good as I remembered. =( I feel like I make a better version using the Serious Eats recipe.

For dinner we continued my comfort-food binge and went to Xi’an Famous Foods for hand-pulled noodles and had some pork dumplings at Vanessa’s.

Wednesday

I walked in a different direction this time and headed down Bleecker street. I had a toasted cheese sandwich at Murray’s Cheese, then went to the Dominique Ansel bakery where I had a cronut:IMG_20190123_131107It was almond and cherry flavoured and very good. I also got a Blizzard Bear because I thought it was adorable (though it was maybe 20% as good as the cronut). But look at it – so cute!
IMG_20190123_131037I removed the bear’s scarf and sent James a pic:Screenshot_20190129-100420 (1)Rude.

After some post-lunch window shopping I headed back to the hotel for a quick nap before meeting James for dinner. We went to Olmsted in Williamsburg with James’ colleague and his girlfriend. The food was delicious and dessert was adorable s’mores in the backyard of the restaurant.
IMG_20190123_211537Afterwards James’ colleague took us to his local bar, where we drank insanely cheap craft cocktails because he’s buddies with the bartender. The bartender was chatting with our group all night, doing shots with us, making random drinks for us to try … and the bill at the end of the night was $25 (not each – altogether). I told James afterwards that I have never felt like such a VIP.

Thursday

Once again it was difficult to wake up because we drank too much the night before. But we had to go to YouTube so dragged ourselves up at 9am.

The last time I visited New York James was still part of the Play organisation, so this was the first time I’d seen the YouTube office. Behold!MVIMG_20190124_095145We couldn’t go in because it was in use, but behind this wall there’s a fancy secret VIP room with nice booze and insanely expensive speakers.
MVIMG_20190124_100151Here I am looking tired and doing a voice recording for YouTube.IMG_20190124_115621 (1)And here is James editing file names so the sound editors could tell which file was which.
IMG_20190124_112408Then it was lunchtime! We had sushi and pasta, both of which were really good. The food in the New York office always seems better than the food in the Bay Area. James said the coffee is much better too.

The pasta was cooked on the spot for us, which was pretty cool. I had bolognese with capers, olives, onion and tomato, and parmesan sprinkled on top.
IMG_20190124_123203
Then I went back to the hotel for what was becoming my daily nap. When James got back we went out for dinner and drinks at The Office and The Aviary.

The drinks at The Office were better but the drinks at The Aviary were way more fun! We had two at The Office so were already feeling a bit tipsy by the time we headed to The Aviary.
IMG_20190124_200751(That’s right, busting out the Junya Watanabe top again. Once again it was a compliment magnet).

A ship in a bottle! Unfortunately the actual drink was poured into a glass. Note the atmospheric candle behind it.IMG_20190124_202357We also ordered this pork skin to eat. It’s not on the menu but The Aviary is pretty famous for it.

OooooOOoooooh!
MVIMG_20190124_203010It was delicious. So crispy and salty – like a prawn cracker but SO much better. At that point we’d had 4 or 5 drinks so that pork skin really hit the spot.

This is the pork skin about 20 minutes in. To be honest, if this was what they had given us to begin with I still wouldn’t have been disappointed.IMG_20190124_205508They gave us these classy little moist towelettes to clean our hands and James was so drunk he thought it was a tiny complimentary drink.
IMG_20190124_222355Also a group of three came over and said we looked adorable and gave us their leftover snacks – some olives and cheesy popcorn. It was very nice of them. =)

James’ cocktail marinating:
IMG_20190124_205753My cocktail smoking:
mvimg_20190124_210458_exported_stabilized_2902587954644618319At the end of the night (and by that I mean 9:30pm – which was doubly pathetic because it was only 6:30pm West Coast time!) we took an Uber back to the hotel where James was lured by a Halal truck and got some lamb and rice to eat in bed.MVIMG_20190124_230747

Friday

The original plan was to get spring onion pancakes for breakfast but James was feeling a bit ill (possibly from Halal cart) so we decided to go to Google instead.

Breakfast is thataway!IMG_20190125_094615No pics but I had eggs over medium, bacon, grilled tomato with mozzarella and some rocket (which Americans call arugula).

I always feel super bloated when I leave New York because of how much we gorge ourselves, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to going back and having some more pork skin. It was good to get home to lovely temperate San Francisco weather though. =)

Google Holiday Party 2018: Under the Big Top

13 Jan

Hello everyone! Wow it’s 2019 already – where does the time go? I’ve been meaning to blog but James and I both got sick late last year which sucked. =(

Anyway, the 2018 Google holiday party was circus themed and held at the De Young Museum. There was a weird entry process which involved showing ID and scanning individual QR codes. We thought the extra security was maybe because of the YouTube shooting.

There was a station with various fancy hot dogs:
IMG_20181201_194216(From recollection: regular, kim chi, chilli and reuben)

We got there right at the start and managed to knock out some activities that we knew would have long lines later. We did a tarot reading and also had caricatures drawn. You can tell from the progress picture that it’s not going to look anything like James haha.
MVIMG_20181201_201112The semi-outdoor area had fairy floss (two flavours! Pumpkin pie and I think either lychee or passionfruit), drinks, popcorn, a sushi stand and noodle stations. IMG_20181201_195857I went back for fairy floss like, 4 times.
IMG_20181201_200059That’s the Junya Watanabe top that I bought from Japan. People went nuts for it – I must have had 20 people come up to me and tell me they loved it. So that was nice. =)

This year they had a cool ball pit photo booth (with the camera overhead).
IMG_20181207_150737The museum opened the exhibit halls so we could just wander through without crowds.
IMG_20181201_211241We found my doppelganger in the Contemporary Muslim Fashions exhibit.
IMG_20181201_214912The food was pretty nicely spread out this year, so there weren’t any obvious bottlenecks. However, the big scandal was there was no decent booze this year. Normally they have cute little cocktails but not this year – just beer/wine and mocktails. =/ One of James’ coworkers told him about a rumour he’d heard that there was a proper bar in the observation room, so we headed up there only to be disappointed.

However, we did find a lady who wrote poetry on demand (the same lady who was at Googleween). I picked out a nice piece of paper and she asked what I wanted my poem to be about – I asked her to write about my top. I explained how I’d bought it in Japan on a whim, and how people had been coming up to me all night to compliment it.

Guys. The poem was perfect. IMG_20181201_210828James even calls it my Bowser top, so you can imagine how delighted I was.

Fortified with poetry but also deflated from lack of booze, we took the elevator back down, where I collected yet another compliment and we bumped into the colleague who had told us the drink rumour and James had to inform him the bar was a lie. (We checked in with a bunch of our friends who work in different parts of Google and only one of them had cocktails at his party, so maybe this is a new trend).

We took another photo at one of the photo booths, doing quick changes in between shots to try and display the food options.
IMG_20181207_150809James held the hot dog too close to the lens in the second photo, which I am still somewhat bitter about.

I like seeing James’ coworkers, eating and taking fun photos, but have to admit that Google parties are way less fun without cocktails. Am I spoiled? I’m probably a little bit spoiled. (Narrator: She was a lot spoiled).

Aaaand Back to Melbourne For a Bit!

4 Dec

Last month James and I headed back to Melbourne for Cat’s wedding. It was a shorter trip (about 10 days) since our last visit was relatively recent. Don’t want people getting sick of us!

Pre-flight cocktails in the Polaris lounge:
IMG_20181113_205407The flight was scheduled to leave quite late – around 11pm – and it was probably midnight by the time they started dinner service. Who wants dinner at midnight???

I slept for most of the trip. James’ in-flight entertainment was busted but it worked out because they gave him $250 for the inconvenience and we just switched seats. =)

About to touch down in Sydney (check out the Opera House!) MVIMG_20181114_133645(Also for what it’s worth, connecting in Sydney is so annoying. You have to take a bus between terminals and it takes forever).

The wedding was the night after we arrived and luckily we weren’t too jet-lagged. =) The ceremony was beautiful and we had a great time catching up with family and some of Cat’s old friends.

My incredibly talented friend Kim made the wedding cake.
IMG_20181117_171243And in the background are my cousins Victor and Henry!

Here James and I are taking advantage of the ice cream cart.IMG_20181117_190613Cat had very kindly made sure there were plenty of dairy-free food options for James, including a delicious pizza at the end of the night.

It was a really fun way to kick off our trip to Melbourne!

We stayed at an AirBNB in the city and the location was pretty much perfect – right near Melbourne Central. We were near all our favourite restaurants and we ate ourselves stupid.

Also the current “thing” seems to be edible flowers (Nicola tells me they’re pansies, but I didn’t want to write “edible pansies” for obvious reasons). The pansies were very popular at brunch and we also encountered them in cocktails. Sometimes the brunch placement made sense – on top of a stack of pancakes or something. Sometimes the brunch placement was perplexing – “oh, here’s a flower on top of some scrambled eggs”.

But anyway, we went to some old favourites (*cough* Rose Garden *cough*) and also discovered some amazing new places. I know I say it every time, but Melbourne gets more and more cool every time we go back.

Miznon:
IMG_20181121_212325 The food was fantastic and their music playlist was even better.IMG_20181121_212206I am unique like a pita!

And James with the flagship dish, the flowering cabbage.
IMG_20181121_205050 He looks like he is wearing guyliner but those are just his beautiful eyes.

Din Tai Fung:

We ate soo many xiao long bao!
IMG_20181122_132252
Eau de Vie:

Last time we went we promised ourselves we’d do their cocktail and food degustation menu. Damo and Joel joined us and it was super fun catching up.

Our first drink of the night – mezcal and aloe.
MVIMG_20181123_194548 Mushroom soup with a surprise duck egg inside.IMG_20181123_195505Wine cocktails getting smoked:
IMG_20181123_203940 Our host making a sorbet palate cleanser: IMG_20181123_210342And the finished product!
IMG_20181123_210815Pillar of Salt:
IMG_20181124_111010 (1)(This sign doesn’t make sense to me. It’s not much of a statement – wouldn’t everyone rather live full than die hungry?)IMG_20181124_114424Melbourne brunches are so, so good. This meal was delicious (and the guy brought me an extra serve of turkish bread for free, yay!)

Mjolnir:
IMG_20181125_185757 Skol! IMG_20181125_192102Us and our wonderful friends! (Also check out our giant viking horn drinking vessels).
MVIMG_20181125_194911They lit a lot of things on fire that night. Here is a Baked Alaska: 00000IMG_00000_BURST20181125211320_COVERThe bill came in this gorgeous pop-up ship!
IMG_20181125_213109As usual we had a whirlwind schedule, meeting up with  for lunch and dinner pretty much every day we were back. I only took photos of 30% of what we ate but most of it was amazing. Every time James and I think maybe we’ve overhyped the food in our memories but every time it’s just as good as we remember.

Also, have some Melbourne street art:

We passed this every day and I kept thinking that I should take a photo – I finally did on our last evening in Melbourne.
IMG_20181125_091646 I saw this one while I was in a car and had to take a photo because it was so gorgeous: MVIMG_20181124_143152Ever since I bought my Gucci Aces, James has been saying “that’s Gucci” (apparently the children say it to mean something is good) so this graffiti pleased me despite its subject:
IMG_20181124_132456Everybody likes raccoons:
MVIMG_20181116_112953Oh my.IMG_20181125_152649Our last day in Melbourne wasn’t really a day at all because we had to leave at 8am. Though it turned out we could have hung around a little longer because our flight to Auckland was over an hour delayed, which unfortunately meant that we missed our planned connection.

They put us on an Air New Zealand flight five hours later and during that time we just killed time at the lounge. We had some cocktails (not nearly as good as the ones in the Polaris lounge) and a light lunch. Also baos!MVIMG_20181126_181858The flight was really nice – I think the seats are a bit wider than United’s and the service was better. Though Polaris is better in terms of couple seating – the only real option with the Air New Zealand herringbone layout is to go one behind the other or across the aisle from each other. Though they had a little ottoman you could perch on to chat to the other person or eat a meal together which was quite nice. (James: It was Gucci).

Oh hey!
IMG_20181127_074818
We were glad to get back to the cats and our normal routine, though it’s always a bit sad to leave. I think I’ll forever be a Melburnian at heart. Also, there were so many restaurants we wanted to try but weren’t able to get around to. Next time!
IMG_20181126_064844New Things About Melbourne:

  • Flowers on food
  • Cheese tea
  • Yeezy’s everywhere
  • Food delivery couriers also everywhere
  • Supermarkets now charging for shopping bags (though they’re sturdier than the old shopping bags)
  • Lines outside designer stores
  • Google office! (Though James said it’s really small and just sales/marketing)

Things About Melbourne That We Had Forgotten:

  • How you split the bill (everyone takes it in turns to line up and tell the cashier what they ate)
  • Sunday surcharges at restaurants
  • Were there always this many smokers?
  • Myer Christmas windows!!!