Adventures on the road: Europe edition

Ever since switching jobs and becoming engrossed in the industry of e-commerce, I’ve grown to be more aware of the cycles of the industry. Busy seasons for shoppers have such a big impact on scheduling for retailers of every kind, and online business is no exception. With the last quarter of the year being the busiest for shoppers, I got a special dose of what it’s like to prep for this season, being on the other side of the shopping experience. Aside from getting to learn about the industry, one of the biggest perks of my current job is getting to see how the industry runs on a global scale. I always feel so lucky to get to experience business first hand in markets outside of North America, which is how I spent just under half the month of October in Europe.

Last month, a few of my coworkers and I spent a healthy dose of 12-18 hours every day – for almost half the month – together on the road. Going from London to Munich to Milano and everywhere in between, we had jam-packed days of meetings. In whatever downtime we could find (usually in between meetings as we were driving from one city to the next), we tried to squeeze in as many touristy attractions as possible. The pit stop at the London Eye and Big Ben during golden hour being one of my top 3 most memorable stops.

My absolutely favourite top stop was in Chur, Switzerland. We never intended to even be in Switzerland, but as luck would have it, the trip was rerouted and required a 5 hour trip in the car from Munich to Milan. In that single drive alone, we drove through 5 countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and ending in Italy), stopping only for gas and coffee.

On the quite Sunday morning (while mass was still in session), we found the one and only coffee shop open in this quaint town. I wish we had more time to explore every nook and cranny of this small town, but from the limited interactions with the coffee shop owners paired with the picture perfect weather and quiet streets, it was the perfect pit stop for a mid-day reflection, counting our lucky stars for the experiences so far.

Everything about being on the road makes me really happy! Aside from getting to visit new countries and experience life from a different perspective, being away from home for weeks at a time gives me a whole new appreciation for the life that I have in Seattle.
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Goodbye London, hello Oxford!

Back in April, a couple friends and I spent a day venturing out of the city of London to check out Oxford. My friends are huge Harry Potter fans (I’ve only watched the movies and barely made it through half of the first book. Judge away!), so visiting Christ Church was like hitting the jackpot for them! For those of you who don’t know (like me), the scenery and buildings were inspired by some of the corridors of Christ Church. Some of the movie scenes were filmed here!

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As a fan of unique architecture, the textures on every face of the walls and edges of this building were really incredible! No two rooms were the same, but the theme translated so beautifully between all of them.

For all the Harry Potter fans reading, you will recognize the room in the next set of photos right away. This is the dining hallfrom the movies, which actually still functions as a dining hall today. Sadly, the people in the photos in the frames don’t watch you as you walk by. They’re not animated (thank goodness, because that would be suuuper creepy in real life). ;)

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This really isn’t a blog-worthy outfit photo at all (had to wear comfy clothes for the 2 hour commute from the downtown of London to Oxford), but I wanted to show the perspective of how big this building really is. My friend and I are standing on ledges in the main grass area. Fun fact: this area is not open to the public. There’s a security guard whose job is to stand at the edge of the center sidewalk to scold people who try to enter.

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If you ever get a chance to visit Oxford, I highly recommend stopping by Christ Church for a few hours. Even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan, this building is stunning and such a treat to wander through.
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Typical London tourist: Big Ben, St. Paul’s, and… Bunnychow?

Taking my sweet, sweet time to edit photos from London means that I’m crying less on the inside about the fact that this vacation ended as quickly as it did. One of our days was spent doing nothing but the typical touristy things. We visited the Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and managed to run into the Real Street Food Festival after running from one part of the city to another. Who could say no to yummy street eats between sight seeing?

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Looking at the photo set from this day makes me realize that I need to get back into the habit of taking more photos. There were only a few key frames at each of the touristy locations and none of us were in them! Haha oops. I swear we visited these places! The day was filled with so much walking and being to busy taking in the sights and sounds to remember to whip out the camera at all opportunities.

The coolest part of this day was running into the Real Street Food Festival. It just so happened that this food festival was happening on the weekend we were in London (perfect for us foodies!) and we divided and conquered all the booths to get a taste of everything that caught our eyes.

Our favourite food truck? Bunnychow. I may be a little biased from the name… will not confirm or deny. haha

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The packaging of their food is absolutely genius! A gutted bread bowl stuffed with chicken chili (pictured above) came conveniently boxed for easy toting around the festival. When we found somewhere to sit, lifting the tab made the sides of the box pop open and display the food so beautifully! I really want to high-five whoever came up with this packaging because I couldn’t stop fawning over it.

The bunnychow itself was incredible! So many flavours packed into the stuffing of a bread bowl. Who would’ve guessed? If you’re ever in London, I highly recommend trying to chase down this food truck. You won’t regret it!

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Fashion trumps practicality

Having packed mostly basics wardrobe-wise for this trip (save for a few accessories), this tulle number was the only impractical piece of clothing I managed to stuff into my backpack. I had been searching for the perfect mid-length tulle skirt for the past two summers without any success until I ventured into the girls section of H&M a week before heading out on this trip. This skirt is actually a dress! The top portion is like a cami, which made it easy to layer with a light sweater. At $10, I couldn’t say no. Could you?

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outfit details:
sweater: Forever 21
jacket: c/o Aeropostale
tulle skirt: H&M (dress from girls section)
necklace: SheInside
glasses: c/o SEE eyewear
flats: Target (exact)

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Don’t let the photos fool you! London was pretty rainy for most of the trip. The one day it didn’t rain (aka the day we went to the Borough Market), I decided on wearing this outfit. I got a little too excited by the break in the clouds and didn’t bother to check the weather before stepping out for the day. Needless to say, I had a bad case of “thigh-sicles” by the end of the day.

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Borough Market: eat your heart out

The Borough Market is one of the largest and oldest food markets in London. The vendors cater to both the wholesale and retail markets, showcasing baked goods, organically grown produce, freshly grilled seafood, and so much more! As a lover of food, the Borough Market was on the top of my list of places to check out in London. Let’s be honest: who doesn’t want to eat their way through a new city?

A tip my friends found online was that it’s best to stop by the market on a weekend because more vendors set up shop on the weekends than on weekdays. I couldn’t believe the size of the crowds attracted to the market on the particular day we decided to check it out! Our group must’ve gotten split up three of four times because of all the sea of people in every inch of the market– it was hard to walk anywhere without brushing shoulders with everyone around you!

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One of our favourite stands was Kappacasein’s. I was so shocked to see the lineup for something so simple as a grilled cheese. This stand is famous for their 2″ pile of grated cheeses between slices of sourdough bread. Both locals and visitors don’t think twice to join the long line for one of these delicious treats!

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This isn’t any regular grilled cheese sandwich, though. Each one is made from three different types of very sharp cheeses, stuffed with onion, leek, and crushed garlic. Don’t expect to talk to anyone for the rest of the day after eating one of these sandwiches– the garlic got me good! haha

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Aside from the grilled cheese, I really liked this dish of freshly grilled scallops on a bed of stir fry topped with house-made bacon bits served on a seashell. It boggles my mind how delicious food can be made with such a limited amount of cooking equipment (each stand was literally no wider than 5ft across). I could probably go on and on about all the things we ate this day, but I will try to maintain some dignity because I’m pretty embarrassed for how much food was devoured between stalls. We stopped almost every fourth or fifth stall to nibble on something!

If you ever get a chance to go to London, I would highly recommend checking out the Borough Market, located at 8 Southwark St. It’s conveniently only a couple blocks away from the London Bridge tube station.

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