4 feet 2 mouths

walking and eating our way around the world

Archive for the category “Great Britain”

London Love (by Carmen)

St. Pauls and Millenium Bridge

So the round the world trip begins!  First stop is my favorite city, London.  We only spent a couple days there on our way to Spain, but I couldn’t be more excited.  I’ve said before that I have relationships with cities.  Between London and me, it’s complicated.  I totally fell for London when Nathan and I moved there in 2006.  After 6 months, our work visas were up and it was time to head back to California so Nathan could go to grad school.  I left with a heavy heart and a promise to return as soon as possible.  Well, life happened and it has now been 6 years since we lived there.  Now I am totally ready to go back, except the city (or I should say the conservative politicians currently in power) doesn’t want me.  The difficulty of getting a work visa today is certainly putting a strain on the relationship.  At this point, I’m wondering whether my love for London will survive or if we’re fated to be old pals that see each other every once in a while.

Oh London, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Me and the double decker during a 2010 visit

London bike share terminal

1. Transport.  Transport is my passion and career.  The fact that London’s transport is so excellent earns it big points in my book.  From the state of the art traffic control center to the extensive tube network to the double decker buses to the bike sharing to the wayfinding signs for pedestrians, London is always on looking ahead and making getting around easier.

Nathan at the Olympic Park (in 2010)

Olympics in Stratford (2012)

2. Diversity.  When we worked in London, Nathan and I worked with and met people from all over the world.  The city is the very definition of cosmopolitan and I believe it was a perfect setting for this year’s Olympics.

Baozi Inn Chinese food

3. Food.  With diversity, there are invariably comes good food options.  Pretty much anything you can imagine will exist in London, especially good Indian. And British food is modernizing as well by using old standards such as stews and roasts and adding new cooking techniques, seasonings or ingredients.  There are definitely still a lot of bad restaurants but if you look a little harder you will still find endless options.  Knowing where to go is made easier by the London food blogging community, which is so much fun to read it inspired me to start a blog in the first place!

British Museum roof

Old Naval College in Greenwich

4. Culture.  Free museums are awesome.  They make it possible to stop in for an hour instead of having to plan a whole day around seeing a museum. Add this to all the cultural events, theater, art shows, markets, etc. that are always happening around the city and you can always find something entertaining to do.  Among museums you have to pay for, the London Transport Museum perfectly combines two passions of mine. I can totally geek out climbing all the old double deckers. And don’t even get me started about the gift shop.

Brick building

5. History.  I really love knowing that generations before me have shared the same space.  It’s ironic that I live in California, which considers anything beyond 50 years old to be historic.  I like it when places are centuries old, and that isn’t hard to find in London.  Founded by the Romans, it has layers and layers of history to explore.

The iconic Tower Bridge

The good news is that Nathan and I are going to give it a shot and at least try to secure jobs there after we finish traveling.  Even if it doesn’t work out it is better to have loved and lost than never have loved at all…

What Now? (by Nathan & Carmen)

Returning to San Francicso

Nathan’s favorite restaurant: Sol Food in San Rafael

When we initially thought of traveling for six months to a year the idea was more of a dream than a reality.  Traveling internationally becomes an addiction, some call it the travel bug, but our need to travel became a living necessity after our first trips to Europe.  The symptoms are rather subtle at first: excitement to review photos, enthusiasm when returning to our jobs and enjoyment to fall back into the routine of ordinary life.  Fast forward a couple months and the restlessness initiates the ideas of another big trip start forming.  We typically settle the anxiety through a scattering of weekend trips and hiking adventures.  Eventually the urge to travel becomes so intense that we busy ourselves planning the destinations of our next multi-week exploration.

Carmen on Barcelona steps (2006)

Returning to California meant some big choices.  While there were seemingly endless possibilities of what to do next, for us, it really came down to two.  Option 1 is to settle down somewhere and start job hunting.  “Somewhere” is still to be determined which is both scary and exciting.  Option 2 is to keep going and take the full year off to travel, explore, meet new people, hike, and eat delicious foods.  After much thought, financial analysis and discussion, we decided there was really only one responsible choice.  We simply had to find out what was behind door number 2.

Carmen enjoying a rosé and a perfect lunch at Prune in NYC (2011)

New York street art and bicycle (2011)

So we finally committed to a full year off.  Woo hoo!  Then the challenge was to figure out what the rest of the year includes.  First we made a fantasy list of all the places we would ever like to go if money and time were no object (i.e. the fun part). Next we cut down that list to what we could realistically do (i.e. the less fun part). Now we are in the midst of doing all the planning required to make the dream come true.  The rough itinerary for the rest of the year is as follows:

  • Summer 2012 :: USA
  • September – October 2012 :: Europe
  • November 2012 :: India
  • December 2012 :: Southeast Asia
  • January 2013 :: China

The blog continues! And we will be sharing and documenting the details right here for everyone to enjoy.  Here is a teaser of the things to come:

Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park (2010)

In 2010 we hiked embarked on a week-long expedition into the canyons of Southern Utah.  We discovered majestic scenery and seemingly painted landscapes.  Our enjoyment of the canyons of Cafayate and the beautiful rocks of our Salar de Uyuni adventure enticed us to go and see one thing – The Grand Canyon.  There will be more hikes, more food and more red canyons.

New York density (2011)

Chicago highrises (2011)

Our United States tour will continue from vertical cliffs to vertigo skyscrapers as we explore New York City and Chicago with friends and family.  From there we trade in the tallest buildings for the tallest rows of corn, Nebraska here we come!

Hiking with Manish in Muir Woods (2010)

Having a laugh outside Bouchon Bakery

We return for the best of California summer where we will be posting about the best spots in San Francisco and Los Angeles.  You can expect hiking and all of our favorite restaurants.

Gaudí’s Casa Batlló (2006)

The real excursion happens in September.  With our passports in hand, clothes freshly laundered we will be climbing aboard another jet plane for another five months of adventure.  First stop Spain.  There are just some activities that would never happen unless we took a year off to travel.  Thus, let’s put a our four feet to the test as we will be walking 500 miles across northern Spain on the Santiago de Compostela trail.

Nathan on the Thames (2010)

London’s historic architecture (2006)

Spain is not the only European place we want to see.  We’ll tie in our favorite city, London, France, Germany and some great wine excursions along the way.

Indian lunch while in Singapore (2009)

But nothing will be as bustling and exciting as what we expect to find in our next country.  We are both excited and almost giddy to begin our exploration of India.  We can’t wait to experience the intense flavors, markets and crowds that are unlike anything we have ever seen.

Thai cooking by 4FEET2MOUTHS (2011)

Our love of Thai food and our love of our Thai friend brings us to this beautiful country.  From boat-side street food to dancing octopus we will be trying to stay cool while eating chilies in Thailand.  Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam will conclude our exploration of the Indochinese peninsula.

Shanghai nightscape (2009)

Pan-fried Soup Dumplings at Yang’s in Shanghai (2009)

Asia would not be complete without seeing more of the wonders of China.  Carmen and I fell in love with the authentic and varied cuisines during a vacation in 2009.  From then on we have been obsessed with Sichuan cuisine.  We are looking forward to hardcore negotiating at the markets, mouth numbing delights from street side vendors and, of course, much hand waving and pointing.

Hong Kong density (2009)

Dim sum craziness in Hong Kong (2009)

We could not forget Hong Kong!  This city packs a punch with more fifty story buildings than anywhere else, delicious food and a perfect blend of East and West.

The Great wall of China (2009)

How about that for a year of travel?  We will explore four continents, over sixteen countries, all the while creating profound memories.  As much as possible we are going to try to meet up with friends along the way.  We will walk, we will eat and 4FEET2MOUTHS travels on – see you on the road!

Forbidden city cauldron handle (2009)

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