Sunday, 29 November 2009

Prague: Quite possibly, the world's most beautiful city...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another fantastic day in the Mother Country. Okay, as promised, time for the recap from what was truly an AMAZING trip and a spot very high on the "must see" list: Prague.

Honestly, I can't say enough about this city - the photos below will hopefully do it some measure of justice, but you really have to see it to believe it - EVERY building is a work of art. The achitecture was like nothing we'd ever seen before, and it has further sparked an already burning desire to hit spots like Riga, Kiev, and Vilnius just to see what aother charming secrets lie behind the now vanished Iron Curtain. But I am gettig ahead of myself - let's start with that alarm going off at 4:15, AM...

Day 1 - Another New Experience

So, first off - OUCH when that alarm went off. I figure I MIGHT have pulled 2 hours of sleep - JT no more than 3. Regardless, by 5 AM we were semi-bright eyed and bushy tailed and in a cab. Only then did Jenny have the sense to check her wallet, at which point she said, "I had 40 pounds in here last night - why do I only have 5 now?" Yeah...that was kind of my fault, as I'd borrowed money from her whilst she was in the bathroom to pay for the previous night's dinner.

When we told the driver we needed to stop at an ATM, I'm pretty sure he thought we said "Would you please solve for Cold Fusion and put someone on Mars?" Suffice it to say that we totally threw him off his chi, but he did recover, and before 6 AM we were at Heathrow Terminal 5 (yep - the famous one that lost all the bags, which I think are STILL piled high and deep in a warehouse in Italy somewhere).

We started the morning with coffee and a cumberland sausage biscuit, and let me tell you what that started for my intestines - THREE STRAIGHT DAYS OF GAS. Granted, the 4 thousand sausages and beer I ate (not a vegetable or fruit in sight, mind you) didn't help, but by takeoff at 7:05, I knew my fellow passengers were in for a long flight (longest 1 hour and 25 minutes of their lives...).

We landed and had an easy transit to Prague, which is MUCH bigger than I expected. The ride from the airport was about 40 minutes, chillin' in a black mercedes and feeling like kings in our court.

We checked in at the Gloria B & B but were told our rooms weren't yet ready. So, dropping our gear, we turned around and headed for Prague's Old Town, home to some of Prague's most famous attractions.

In a word - WOW. Whatever your expectations of Prague are - prepare to have them exceeded and shattered. The walk to Wenscelslas Square wa just GORGEOUS. The Opera House. The Statues. The turrets and towers on EVERY building. And then, best of all - the blood sausage. This, ladies and gentlemen, was life changing.

Picture a footlong dog stuffed with things you never want to imagine eating, but then stuff in huge fat globules and enough spice to kill a small horse. Then, cook it in blood to seal in the flavor. The result? The best $3 meal you'll ever have...and one that I had for lunch ALL THREE DAYS I WAS THERE. Check out JT getting into the act.

We wandered around for a bit before finally selecting the Powder Tower as our first official tourist stop of the day. Since we were fortunate enough to have unseasonably blue skies, we were treated to AMAZING views of the castle and the surrounding Old Town (check out muffin's camera work in sepia). Again - simply stunning (Bristol Pistol - you said it best).

After that, we rolled into Wenscelslas Square, where we wandered through Tyn Chruch, this GORGEOUS church with a caretaker that was ready to bust up anyone who didn't walk counter-clockwise around the church. He might have only been 5'4", but I'm pretty sure that guy knew 4 ways to kill you with just his thumb. This church, incidentally, has the claim to fame of being the final resting place of Tycho Brahe...yeah, I can already tell you guys are just as excited about that fact as Jenny was when I told her.

We then hit up the Christmas Markets that were starting up. Whilst they weren't in full swing, the buzz was already in the air, AND they were testing out the lights on the tree! We then were treated to the "top of the hour" show at the Astronomy Clock, which is something akin to a "Glockenspielesque" performance (funny thing is that we didn't even know it was going to happen). This moment is also provincial, because Team Taylor discovered one of the greatest things ever created: hot wine. Making hot wine is fairly simple:

1. Buy very cheap wine with a high alcohol content.

2. Pour very cheap wine into a massive ass tea kettle.

3. Heat the wine to 4 billion degrees.

4. Advertise (in English) hot wine for 1 pound.

5. Pay an Eastern European girl to wear a ridiculous reindeer hat.

6. Pour into an uber thin glass to scorch the hands of stupid tourists.

7. Drop a lemon into the glass...since lemons are such a native fruit of the Czech Republic...

We then wandered around the old town and watched the sun set on the river before finding this GREAT little local pub, where we sampled two beers. First was Gambrinus (tasty) - second was Pilsner Urquell. Okay, now I have had this stuff a lot before, but in truth I have never liked it. Brewed locally, this stuff is the JAM. SO TASTY!

After a few there, we rolled over to a great little restaurant, where I invested in another European gem - the Pork Knee for two platter. Check out this slab of pig.

The walk back through the Square treated us to another turn of the Astronomy Clock, 1 more glass of hot wine, and the lighting of the tree! Talk about awesome.

Then, exhausted after a GREAT day of wandering around, we rolled back to the room, where we PASSED OUT and slept like rocks for 11 hours. JT didn't stir the entire time. WOW...I was jealous.

Day 2: A PERFECT Saturday

We rose at 11 (yep, it might be a Bed and Breakfast, but you have to wake up WHILE THEY'RE SERVING to actually get it) and headed back toward Old Town. Of course, we had to have a blood sausage en route and then a hot wine to celebrate our arrival. Once there, we found the market in full swing - it was GREAT! Jenny tried a local pastry, which was quite tasty.

We then headed to Prague's most famous landmark - the St. Charles Bridge. Unfortunately, there was some reconstruction work taking place on the bridge (the oldest stone bridge in Europe), but it was still stunning, covered in statues and steeped in history. Also, the bridge serves as the conduit to Prague's other famous landmark - the castle.

Sitting high at the top of "Lesser Town" (no joke - that was it's name - talk about an inferiority complex), the Castle is a massive complex that served as the seat of kings in the region for hundreds of years. Excited about the visit, I rolled up to the counter at 2:50 PM.

Sam: "I'd like 2 tickets for the full tour."

Dude at Counter (DaC): "No."

Sam: "Um...please?"

DaC: "You do not have time to visit."

Sam: "Why?"

DaC: "We are closing in 40 minutes."

Sam: "But it's not even 3."

DaC: "It's winter (insert blank, bored stare here)."

Sam: "We'll be quick."

DaC: "No. Go see the church instead. It's still open and it's free."

Having been slapped in the face by a young Vaclav Havel, we wandered into St. Vitus Cathedral, where we were treated to the MOST AMAZING stained glass we've ever seen. I realize that JT and I have been to a LOT of churches in the last 5 months, but this thing was among the most impressive - WOW. And, in truth, this was what we thought was "the castle" and the only thing we wanted to see, so we looked at it as a cost save!

After the castle, we found another must-do for me: a cave bar with no windows. Dude, I felt like Vin Diesel in Triple X trying to buy cars from Yuri ("Welcome to Anarchy 99" - Chuck, that was in my BEST Teddy KGB accent, just for you "Doesn't he look like a little mouse? Bye, bye little mouse!!!"). This place was GREAT, and again - beer was Cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeap. However, I rolled even bigger, going with a Czech specialty (that's illegal in the UK) - Czech Absinth.

Okay so I order this, and the guy comes back with something that looks like a potion from Severus Snape's classroom. It's green, and I'm pretty sure it's either anti-freeze or battery acid. Beside the glass, he sets down two items: a packet of sugar, and a book of matches. A couple of thoughts run through my head:

1. The sugar is for killing the taste of the poison. The matches are for lighting myself on fire.

2. The sugar is an offering for whatever witch owns this place. The matches are to make my little cauldron boil.

3. Neither of these mean anything - they just want to see what a dumb ass tourist will do with two items that have NOTHING in common with each other.

In the end, the matches stayed put and I put the sugar in the poison. And whilst I'm still here today, I'm pretty sure I took 9 years off my life drinking that stuff.

After that, we found another dive for a couple of drinks before wandering back through the square (can someone say more hot wine) and taking time to enjoy the market and the tree. An interesting thing is that, in front of each big tree in the city (of which there were several), there was always a nativity carved from wood (maybe even from a single block like the guy in "Meet the Parents"). It was just great.

We then rolled over to a restaurant to try the last of the Czech specialties on the list - beef goulash and dumplings. The food was great, but the restaurant gave us 2 surprises:

1. They charged us 198 kronas for a bottle of water. That equates to 8 pounds, or roughly THE SAME PRICE AS 8 BEERS. No wonder it was the ONE THING not on the menu.

2. When I handed them my card, they said, "no sir - only cash." Then, smiling, he said "but we do take Euros!" I almost went back for the matches from the cave bar to try and set this place on fire, but in the end I gave up and paid. However, we were NOT happy. That being said, it was a PERFECT DAY, and our love affair with Prague was safe and sound.

Day 3: A View for the Ages

We got up earlier this day, made it down to brekkie, and then wandered out around 11 again. We hit some different Christmas markets for shopping. And now's the time to admit that, although it's uber-lame, I LOVE shopping now. I don't know what's happened to me. But hey, when you've got this adorable wife traveling with you and buying such stylish headwear, how can you not enjoy it. I mean, come on - look at my little Communist.

We spent a good 2-3 hours before rolling out of the markets and to the river for a last view of the bridge and the castle, when Jenny found an outdoor cafe (read BAR) by the water. The result? Being treated to THE BEST view in Prague - sunny, blue skies, a light breeze, the sound of rushing water, the Charles Bridge in front of us, and a direct view of the castle in the distance. All was right with the world.

We then grabbed a final hot wine in the square (shocker, I know) before picking up our ride to the airport and heading home. All in all, this was among THE BEST long weekends I've EVER had in my life. Having seen it like this, I can't imagine Prague any other way than with the energy of Christmas and all the decorations in the streets. It was a truly, truly magical experience.

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Catherine - I hope that gives you a good idea of what to expect! For the rest of you - chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!! Well, just four days late...


And a GREAT evening to you from across the Pond on this wet and chilly Sunday in the smoke. We're back from an AMAZING adventure in Prague. However, for details of that, you'll have to wait until the next post, as this edition will only focus on a different first for me and Jenny - our first Thanksgiving outside of the United States and away from family.

The work day was good, and Jenny and I left our respective work locations to meet up at the Farringdon Tube stop, where we agreed to get a pint or two before the featured event of the night. We met up and started calling folks to wish them Happy Thanksgiving, ultimately ended up at the Wilmington Arms for pre-dinner drinks. So family, if you're wondering where we called you from, this is an "action shot" of muffin puffin chatting with her mom, dad, and sister - Abbot Ale (her second) in hand. Yes, Kay - the AFD did NOT carry through.

After that, we rolled off to Dollars Grill and Martini Bar, a fantastic little dive that Yazz and Jason took us to back in 2007. This place is great - you get your red meat cooked at the temperature you want it. In my case, I wanted blood, and I got it (Daniel Day-Lewis style).

We met up with 6 other folks, including my long-time Charlotte buddy and now long-term expat Jason Wade. Jason is from Glendale, California, also known as "Little Armenia." He's great - we met on our first project together at Accenture, and we've been throwin' up gang signs and yelling for the L-B-C...2-1-3" ever since. He took a job with an investment bank over here about 4 years ago, and he's now a property owner and living life well, along with his girlfriend Rebecca, who hails from Germany.

His sister Liz, buddy Trauth, and a two of other friends (Matt and David) rounded out the crew of 8, where we had a great night discussing VEGAS, BABY, eating good, drinking great wine, and even sampling some Estonian beer (Viru...not quite donkey trash, but not life changing, either). All in all, this was a GREAT, GREAT night. Not quite the same as turkey and dressing, but it was REALLY good.

However, we didn't get home until 11:45, meaning we didn't go to sleep until almost 12:30. Considering that the alarm was set for 4:15 AM and we were wired from seeing those guys, let's just say it was an EARLY morning for us (stay tuned).

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny (Gobble, gobble...with cheese if you're Claire Colley)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Dr. Dinger has spoken...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another GREAT DAY in the Smoke. Okay, first off - ANNOUNCEMENT - there will be NO BLOG between now and Monday. Why, you ask? Because the Taylors are off again, this time to Prague, baby!!! Taylors vs. the Eastern Bloc - bring on the blood sausage!

So, first off, I must say something that pains me more than folding when I see my straight come up on the river. I must confess that, after secondary review, Brian James "YMCA animal and stalker" Freidinger was right. 3 months ago, Dinger told me - "Don't run on your foot, Sam - it's a stress fracture." Whilst that was plausible, I refused to believe it, going instead with the tried and true mantra of my father: "You've gotta gut divorce it from your mind." Well, having consulted all the medical sites, done 3 self exams, and listened to the advice of Freidinger and Freidinger Orthopeodics, all signs point to a broken foot. I can't run from the truth anymore (or run from anything else at this point due to pain, for that matter). What does this mean? One word, really, best expressed by Eric Cartman on "South Park" - BEEFCAKE!!!!! I'm not fat, I'm big boned...

Secondly, folks are probably wondering about the after-effects of skating. Well, let me sum up:

1. My foot feels like an anvil was dropped on it from an Airbus.

2. There are two weird bands on my legs where there is NO LEG HAIR LEFT.

3. Jenny has about 57 splotches of red where a blister was 5 minutes away from forming.

4. I have a nice gash on my hand that I'm telling people I acquired during a knife fight in Beirut as a kid.

So tonight was a good night, complete with a Pizza Express pizza and plenty of cheese. Also, I tried the Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Ale, which was guuuuuuuuuuuuuud.

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat with you guys Monday, after a great Thanksgiving and trip to the Czech Republic!


Sam and Jenny

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Blades of Glory...and some tasty Mexican "street food"...


And a good evening to you after a FANTASTIC DAY in the Mother Country - so much fun tonight! After a great day at work (cross stuff off the to-do list, baby), Lynda, Jenny, and I rolled down to the Canary Wharf Ice Rink, for one of England's most time-honored traditions - ice skating in the rain...

So we rolled out of the office and over to the rink, where 12 quid buys you an hour on the ice and these UBER-stylish, 100% hardened-and-guaranteed-not-to-fit-you-no-matter-what-you-try skates. As you can see, the girls looked quite excited about the prospect of going Bonnie Blair on the ice. For the record, Jenny and I took a photo like this as well, but I raised my skate to show my bindings and accidentally stabbed my wife in the leg. Yep, all class...

Mercifully, the rain did hold off, and we had an absolute blast. The music, however, struggled a wee bit. We started with 3 Christmas tunes, the third of which was...wait for it...wait for it...Amazing Grace. Knowing that this is really more reserved for funerals, I wondered if God was trying to tell me that being on the ice was a bad idea.
It then went to generally random rock, featuring classics such as "We Built This City (Marconi plays the mamba - Rice, I couldn't help but think of our performance at Russellville)" by Starship and "Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals. Yeah, that's what happens when good i-Pods go bad...

The good news was that there were only 3 of us on the ice most of the time, meaning that, as long as Lynda and Jenny stayed at least 20 feet away from me at all times, there was little chance of me breaking their kneecaps with a wipeout (I had 3 classics, for the record, all with a solid fan base that was waiting to watch me eat it and knowing I wouldn't let them down).

Jenny was like Apollo Anton Ono out there - you should have seen her! As she WHIPPED around the rink, she said, "This is a lot like roller blading, only a bit more slippery." Honestly, I hope the kids get that kind of balance and logic (YEARS FROM NOW, FAMILY-KNOCK ON WOOD-DON'T GET EXCITED). So we decided that, once I get my balance on track and learn how to do a sit-spin and triple toe loop, we are going on the road. We've already started on the choreography.

After an hour of "burning up the ice," we met 3 colleagues at the bar attached to the rink, called "The Moose Bar." Team Maple Leaf, this place was straight out of Regina and gave me the warm and fuzzy feeling of "The Loose Moose" in Toronto. If they'd had Keith's, I would have wet my trousers.
The girls all got mulled wine, while I stuck to Staropramen (gearing up for this weekend). In the photo, you'll notice five gals, 4 I work with, 1 I married: Katrina (from Oz), Fiona (from the UK), Lynda (from South Africa), Carolina (from Venezuela), and Muffin Puffin (from the Sunshine State). We hung out for a bit before the girls bounced, at which point JT and I crossed off another "must-do" in London - Wahaca Mexican!

Now don't get me wrong - I am very much a "you don't eat Mexican food outside of the US because all the good Mexican cooks are working there!" kind of guy. However, this place was off the chain. They bill themselves as offering "street food," which basically means you get fresh food as it's ready ("market style" they call it). Check out Muffin Puffin with tequila and sangrita!

After that, it was back home, where I came home to a birthday present from H-bomb! H, you rock the party that rocks the pinata - thank you SO MUCH! As you can see, your gift of liquid gold comes highly prized and will be chilled for the appropriate moment. SO COOL!

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


(a soon to be sore) Sam and Jenny

Monday, 23 November 2009

Hittin' a milestone...Blog #100, BABY!!!!!


And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another great day in the Mother Country. Tonight is Blog #100!!! Can you believe it? Hard to believe that we're almost 5 months into our assignment - where on earth is the time going?

Today was a good (and super busy) day, stacked with all those "30 miute meetings" that result in tons of decisions but an inbox that would terrify even Bill Gates. The good news is that, after an 18 hiatus, I finally got my lazy ass back in the gym and ran a 5K. The bad news is that my foot hurt every step, is sore now, and honestly feels the worst it's felt in month. NOT IDEAL. But it's al good. Tomorrow is cross-training, so we'll see how we fare on Wednesday. Worst case, I'll hop off the treadmill and pull out one of my old "Chuck Powell 'Little Arnold' Workouts" and embarass myself by curling 2kg weights. But if nothing else, I take comfort in the knowledge that, while I might be fat, I still have my leg hair...(sorry TP - I couldn't resist).

Also, last night I forgot to mention that I finished "Divine Justice" on the train ride over on Saturday - very entertaining, and a very fast read. And I'm happy to report that the body count did NOT disappoint.

Okay, so my wife just rolled in from Body Combat, and she's flexin' guns and showin' off some firepower, so it's time to make some dinner and call it a night.

That's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny (now in the Blogger's Century Club!)

Sunday, 22 November 2009

The Great Brussels Booze Fest...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond after an AMAZNG WEEKEND! Can we just say again HOW MUCH we love Brussels? We only had 32 hours in the world's beer capital (over 800 kinds in a country smaller than South Carolina), but we made every second count. It was worth the hangover that is already stalking me (and the headache that has securely placed an entire percussion section in my cerebral cortex)...

We arrived at 10:03 AM, secure in the knowledge that we were exactly one mile from our hotel. The problem, however, is that Brussels streets make Charlotte and London look like a simple grid system. The result? 40 minutes and four broken French conversations later, we were finally on the metro (cash only for us since NONE of the THREE cards we tried worked, for the record), bound for "Louise." However, the other problem with the Brussels metro is that, despite being small and compact (stops are about 20 seconds riding apart), everything moves in random curves, and ultimately every train goes to the same stop, the mythical Simonis (think about questing after the Foutain of Youth, as that would be easier to attain). However, upon further examination, you realize there are TWO Simonis stops, each on different lines and at opposite ends of Europe. Since there are NO idicators as to which stop is which, you just have to hop on the metro (cleanest on earth) and hope for the best. Unfortunately, hope is not a business strategy, and so we had to get off and go the other way.

Our room at the Hilton (all about points, baby) was GREAT, and we got upgraded and had a FANTASTIC view of the city. Before noon, we were rolling out to Place du Grand Sablon, a cute area for antiques. We found Le Petite Sablon almost instantly, which was a park we remembered from our time here in 2007. It was so crazy to see some of the same sights again, including the statue of my good buddy Mercator (thanks for the maps, pops).

Also, we wandered into a beautiful church which we recognized but showcased fresh new stained glass that felt quite new to us. Talk about gorgeous! It was a simply PERFECT day in the 60's, light breeze, and NO RAIN. We weren't counting on all these sunny skies, so we were quite thrilled.

We did experience an early hiccup, however, when we found Caffe Leffe shut down due to a "mysterious yet accidental fire" (as per the note on the door). Consequently, the booze fest had to being just down the street. 10 minutes later, however, we had our first Leffe of the trip, and all was right with the world.

The big activity of the day was the Cantillion Brewery. This place, the last family owned traditional lambic brewery, was a definite highlight and a must-do for folks traveling to Brussels. 5 Euro gets you a self-guided tour and two tastings, and we considered this money VERY well spent.

First and foremost, the best quote of the entire trip (from the guide book): "The beer is ready when white foam begins spewing up from the bunghole." Yep, you read that right - Jenny read it first and started laughing, and then I read it and nearly wet my pants. Apparently the bung hole is the place in the barrel that you hammer shut to let the beer ferment (that's right, you gotta nail the bung hole...I know, I's endless humor). All the same, we have recorded the moment of discovery for posterity (WOW, how old am I?).

The beer tasting was a disappointment, as geuze (3 year fermented beer) and kriek (sour cherry beer) were, in a word, TART. Let's just say we struggled to get it down and then got out of Dodge. However, I did get this GREAT photo, which I am going to refer to henceforth as "every man's dream."

After that, it was off to Parvis de St. Giles, where we hit up three bars in a row. First up was Brasserie D'el Union, where we each had a Grimbergen. We then sauntered to Maison du Peupel (Tait - you can thank Mike Davis for this, as he gave us ALL these suggestions - the man is the font of all Brussels knowledge), where I had a pair of Mardesous 6% (JT had a Mardesous and a La Chouffe) whilst eating some meat and cheese. Yep, peppy cheekies.

If was then over to the third bar on the street, where JT and I CAMPED OUT for about 2 hours, throwing back 4 Cinay Blonds. WOW, this stuff is the nectar of the gods. It's really a good think we don't live in this city...

After that, some locals directed us to Le Perasall, where we had THE BEST mussels of our lives, cooked in garlic cream sauce (and, of course, washed down by Maes, yet another kind of beer). Uber tasty. So tasty in fact that we couldn't stop eating and consequently had to walk through Grand Place (and get lost 11 times) just to burn off some calories and feel human again.

We never could find our way home, however (um, the booze, perhaps - Englischer Garden memories, anyone), and 20 minutes and 6 metro stops later, we were back at the Hilton, where we slept a SOLID 11 hours in one of the most comfortable beds EVER. Oh, and I think I forgot to mention all the truffles we ate on the winding journey home...

Today was GREAT (even if short). We "popped" out of bed at 11:20, put on the same clothes we had last night (who needs showers?), and rolled to Grand Place, where they were busy setting up the Christmas Tree in the center of the square. We wandered around a bit, taking in the architecture. Honestly, Grand Place is one of the prettiest spots on earth to me. There are SO MANY beautiful buildings there, and on a sunny day like today, it's just fabulous.

Lunch was at a place called "The Tavern," where a crackling fire lured us in and a MASSIVE ASS PORK KNUCKLE ensured I would not blow away in the wind. Check that puppy out! We also tried Ramee blond - very tasty.

We then wandered across the square (after truffles and the Manneqin Pis, of course) to a place we discovered in 2007, this GREAT spot that brews artisan beers. This place was hilarious 2 years ago, as it was "ladies night," and, in addition to beer, Jenny got all the free champagne she could drink. Whilst we didn't get that lucky this time, we were NOT disappointed.

I went through FOUR TRIPLES: Artisan (8%), Ramee (7.5%), Westmalle (9.5%), and Waterloo (8%). Consequently, I'll give you the spoiler alert and tell you that I PASSED OUT on the Eurostar back and was pratically in a coma until the dude came on the PA and said "Welcome to London." Quality, and VERY professional.

Jenny had 4 beers as well, including a Pavel Kwak! Check out my muffin with her glass! This beer (8.4%) is classic, as the wooden handle is what stagecoach drivers used to use while working to keep their beers steady. Very nice...

And so we're now back at the flat, where a headache is setting in and it's time to pass out YET AGAIN. Becca and Johnny - I hope that the shower was a blast! Holler at me on Skype tomorrow, as I want to hear all about it!

That's all the news that's fit to print. Chat with you tomorrow (after a guaranteed AFD)!


An almost sober Sam and Jenny

Friday, 20 November 2009

WHEW! The weekend is here!!!


And a good evening to you from across the Pond at the end of a long and busy week here in the Mother Country. First off - ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!! There will be no blog tomorrow, as the Taylors will be out of the country (shocking, I know). That's right - it's time for the Brussels Booze Fest!!! Miller, Ray - I know, I know...LBRC - GPS.

The highlight of the daywould be lunch at Nando's with Muffin Puffin, Owain, and Liz. Realizing that last time my eyes were bigger than my stomach, I held off on the"extra portion" of wings, opting instead for the creamy mash (think potatoes so full of butter they are Munchinland style Yellow) and spicy rice (because, really, who doesn't need TWO SIDES OF CARBS). Hey, there's a lot of beer coming my way this weekend. It's never too early to prep for "soaking it up."

Other than that, not much to report. However, I would be remiss if I didn't share this photo with everyone. Check out the image of Adam (my stepbrother) and Pattie (my half-sister). This photo is classic for 4 reasons: First, this is the photo of Pattie on the day of her first Varsity basketball game for Cherokee. This is important because, I am proud to say, she was the only freshman named to the Varsity squad (way to go, PR - very proud of you). Second, this is the photo of Adam on his first day as a substitute teacher. Third, on this auspicious day, Adam was PATTIE'S HOME ROOM TEACHER. Classic - who knows how many spitballs went flying in that room. Fourth, if you look in the back, you'll see that the 1985 Ford Bronco (OJ style) is still alive and well at over 200K miles. This thing has seen the wars, and my dad still drives it to work even though the following gears no longer work:
1. Drive
2. Reverse
3. First Gear
Yep, it's either in 2nd gear or you are pulling into a 20 acre field to turn it. And Sean, you think I'm a cheap bastard...

So I'm about to settle in for some Sainsbury's pizza, which we'll wash down with some cheese, hummous, crackers, and Cobras. All in all, it looks to be a successful night.

That's all the news that's fit to print. Chat Sunday! Ray and Matt - I'll drink a jug of Leffe for you!


Sam and Jenny

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Finally a quiet night in...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond after a BUSY DAY in the Smoke. And whilst there's not much to report tonight, Tom Price will at least be happy to know that it was not an AFD and we're now one bottle of red wine light at the Taylor household.

So I left work late after a very Productive (but VERY busy) day and caught the train home, arriving to the smell of pasta cooking. Tell me I don't live the life! 2 minutes later, my wife is serving me a cheese tray (Stilton = smelly but guuuuuuuuuuuuud...peppy cheekies) and handing me my first glass of Rioja (Ray - fret not, this doesn't mean my opinion has changed on ANYTHING AT ALL). 10 minutes after that, I'm nose down in some goat's cheese and walnut pasta - delish (and only a pound!).

Not a whole lot to report today. I've been a total slacker and have avoided the gym with a passion. However, I'm trying to get there tomorrow. And I better, especially since I killed a SQUARE PIE today. Hitman, I walked out just to get a salad, but I saw the Square Pie store, and the sign out front said: "You know you want one." I sure as hell did, and 5 minutes (and 7 pounds) later, I was feasting on THE BEST pie of my life. I almost wet my trousers from the excitement.

Okay, very short (and pretty lame, I realize) tonight, but hopefully we'll make up for it tomorrow when I take my wife out for dinner. At a minimum, you'll get to see my smokin' hot wife and my scraggly ass, both of which I'm sure you're equally excited about.

That's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Stand UP!!!! For the Saracens...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond (well, except for Tom Price and his nastygrams about my slackness). I realize I have left you high and dry for the last two nights, and I have no excuse save it was after midnight when I made it home on both occasions. I no longer have the stamina I used to (let's keep the jokes to a minimum, please).

So Monday night was great - I met VA and Muffin Puffin at the Bear and Staff, where I'm happy to report the bar redeemed itself by having Timmy Taylor! The girls beat me there, although not by much since they searched for each other in the bar for about 20 minutes. You can only appreciate the humor in this if you've been there, as it's about the size of a Junior Crackerjack box. I love you, pumpkin!!!!!

So I showed up to find that they had asked for two beers but been served three. When I asked where the third one was, they said "Still at the bar." Sure enough, standing like a lone guardian of the taps, was the missing Timmy. Despite sitting for 30 minutes, it was still guuuuuuuud (and turned out to be free). I also tried a Pure Ubu (Sit, Ubu, sit - good dog), which was fresh and very tasty.

Dinner that night was at Zizzi, where JT magically pulled out another 50% off coupon - way to go, puffin! I had a GREAT pizza, and we ate like kings whilst polishing off a bottle of Montepulciano - SO GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUD.

After that, it was back home, where we hung out for a bit before calling it a night. VA, we had so much fun!!!!! Thank you so much for making the trip - here's hoping it was one of the most memorable birthdays ever.

On Tuesday, I said bye and Happy Birthday (the official day) to VA before rolling to work. The highlight of Tuesday was DEFINITELY in the evening, as me, JT, Lord, and his friend Nikki rolled up to Wembley Park for a GREAT night out - Saracens vs. Springboks!

So, this match was a friendly (aka exhibition) between the current Guinness Premiership Champions (the English league) known as the Saracens and the current Tri-nations and World Cup Champions, the Springboks of South Africa.
Also, Wembley is a WICKED AWESOME venue - talk about gorgeous. Built in 2006, it has AMAZING views and great seats, and the arch over the stadium is REALLY cool.

This game was GREAT. Tons of tries (what they call touchdowns), lots of great hits, good action, and fantastic seats (for only 10 quid!). We had a blast. The best part was when the Saracens scored, as we were treated to this fabulous little ditty called "Stand Up for the Saracens." Jenny and I made it a point to always rise and dance with the flags we found at Will Call. I mean, check out our passion for Rugby!
In a shocker, the Saracens won 24-23. It was easily the most exciting game we've watched live in the UK. The only downside? A CLASSIC halftime blunder.

So we wait on getting beers at the break until the lines die down. However, given that the servers are all 13 years old and don't apprciate HOW QUICKLY WE NEED BEER TO STAY HYDRATED AND HAPPY, the lines go slow. That meant that we would miss the last 5 minutes of halftime. As we get in line, Goodyer says, "Yeah, every halftime they let 3 guys kick a conversion (their equivalent of a field goal). If he its the post, he gets 250,000 sterling." We are both laughing about it when the crowd ERUPTS in the stadium. That's right, boys and girls, we'd missed the first successful kick in YEARS. Well played. But hey, at least I got an overpriced and exceptionally flat beer out of it...

After that, the lines for the metro were insane, so we ended up getting a curry at Wembley and taking the late train home. Hence, no blog last night. But now I'm back and better than ever!

Okay, time for dinner and an AFD. My muffin has a great spread of food and cheese for us!

That's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Capping off a GREAT weekend in the Smoke with the girls...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond - what a FANTASTIC weekend! So today, we popped out of bed around 10 AM (mercifully, no hangover to speak of). After showering, we rolled over to the Prince Regent, where we had a staple of Britsh cuisine - the Full English Breakfast.

Despite less than fabulous service and decent (at best) coffee, we had a GREAT brekkie. 5 pounds gets you the following:

1. Enough toast to feed the Red Army (white or brown - your choice)

2. A monster cut of black pudding (think haggas)
3. A good slab of rasher (country ham)

4. 2 eggs (always fried - no options here, folks)

5. A sauteed portobello mushroom (garlic, salt, and oil, baby)

6. More bread (and did I mention enough butter to kill a small horse?)

7. Beans (good for your heart...)

8. A wicked good cut of Cumberland Sausage

9. Ploughman's mash (mashed potatoes filled with veggies and butter)

10. A big ole' slice of tomato (Grainger County style)

It was DELICIOUS, and we left quite full. After that, given that the sun was FINALLY shining, we rolled over to Hyde Park Corner, where we had a great walk through all the monuments of Hyde Park and St. James Park, including Wellington's Arch and all the war memorials.

We wandered past Buckingham Palace and into St. James Park, where we were treated to a wonderful waterfowl display, including lots of loons, mallard ducks, swans, and even some ginormous pelicans - wicked cool. What was NOT cool, however, were all these MORONS feeding squirrels all over the place, encouraging the squirrels to jump on top of them and practially eat peanuts out of their hands. I could almost see the rabies moving around...I felt like I was watching the opening 5 minutes of "28 Days Later."

At the end of St. James Park, we saw a military presentation by the Cavalry Brigade. There were all these kids dressed in red capes like the Volturi, and I kept waiting for Edward to burst out of the shadows. All kidding aside, it was very interesting, as the band led a processional of veterans and their families.

We then rolled over to Cafe Nero for a coffee, where we tried the Amaretto Latte. It was just nice to sit for a bit and rest our dogs. Then it was over to Harrod's, where we were treated to a FANTASTIC window display (yeah, go ahead, say it - Sam - you are REALLY gay). This year's theme was commemorating the 70th annivesary of "The Wizard of Oz," and the window displays loosely followed the story, all the while showcasing tons of items for sale inside. Some of the displays were really clever - such as this one showcasing that all the witch (or should I say Elphaba) really ever wanted was Dorothy's stylish shoes.

We trolled around the food court as well (honestly, you have to see it to believe it) before stopping to get a hug from Maxwell (the Harrod's bear) on the way out.

We then rolled back to the flat, where muffin puffin is set to soon deliver a bottle of Tempranillo (Spanish red) before we set out to find dinner somewhere (most likely at a Turkish joint down the way).

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny

A whirlwind tour and new sights for the Taylors...


And a good morning to you from across the Pond. Yesterday was a GREAT day - talk about so much fun! We started off with coffee at the house, and VA, JT, and I then walked out the door to blue skies with the intention of wandering through London's parks. 4 minutes later (literally), we had a CATEGORY 5 HURRICANE blasting us with the hardest wind and rain I've seen since we got here. Consequently, we changed course and went for the staple of the Taylor tour of the Smoke: The British Museum. 60 minutes, door-to-door - ladies and gentlemen, at this point I am a model of efficiency...

After that, we rolled down to Borough Market, where we had the best run there EVER! I ate myself almost into a coma, beginning with a massive Bratwurst (Shogun - I did ask for it in German, for the record, only to find that the gal didn't speak German - NICE). The Bratwurst vanished quick, just in time for us to go through the normal run of samples. Then we picked up some jamon (grass fed - I can't afford the acorn fed stuff!).

The highlight came when we FINALLY GOT OUR CHORIZO ROLL! JT and I opted for a double roll, and we ate like kings. VA got a single roll, but then she rallied to also pick up an ostrich burger, which JT and I proudly assisted with. Add in a box of olives stuffed with peppers and garlic cloves, and you've got some WELL FED people.

However, we didn't stop there! On the walk out, we split a bottle of Pinotage (Mans Vinters - Puma, you remain correct - there's no such thing as a bad pinotage), finishing our olives at a place called the Wine Wharf.

Then muffin puffin bounced off to pick up Catherine, and VA and I headed to the infamous Tate Modern, this INSANE Modern Art Museum. The purpose? To find THE WORST piece of art I'd ever seen - "Double No."

Unfortunately, the donkey trash that was "Double No" was gone, and the exhibits had (I must confess) radically improved. However, there were still the following highlights:

1. A silent movie of a totally nude dude (twig, giggleberries, and all), a woman (same way - in the buff), and a workout ball on a couch. All they did was keep changing places. I have no words.

2. A box of vaccuum cleaners in plastic, supposedly explaining the mystery of "perpetual newness." What a lazy bastard...please tell me he didn't get paid for that...

3. A dude who painted only with blood and razor blades (including his most famous piece, called MENSTRUATIONS. Really? REALLY?

4. A movie of a woman being covered in eggs, blood, and razor blades, whilst another guy is above her covered in mud whilst a woman is below him blowing up a balloon just beneath his bare ass. When I saw it, all I could think of was "this is straight out of the mind of Hannibal Lecter." I might never recover...
After that, we walked to Piccadilly Circus, where we met Lady Catherine and Muffin Puffin for drinks at the Glass Blower (Ray - same place we first drank with the Tavares clan).

We then moved over to some other unnamed pub, where VA finally tried Timothy Taylor Landlord Ale (she got the last pint in the cask, for the record - I settled for Hop a Doodle Doo by Brewster's).

After that, we rolled home, where it was 11:30 and the troops were hungry. Lucky for us, we had 10 pounds of leftover paella, plenty of jamon, and two kinds of cheese (caerphilly (Welsh) and goat's cheese (French) with herbs and spices) to keep us occupied. Mix in some more beer and the rest of the Amarula (Grimshaw - it was a huge hit with Lady Catherine), and you have a GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUD (but LATE! try 2 AM) night.

Now we're rallying for a full English Breakfast, so it's time to shower and get my game face on! And that game face would guessed it Price - CHUUUUUUUUUUUUBBBBBBYYYYYYYY BUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNNNYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!

That's all the news that's fit to print. Chat soon!


Sam and Jenny

Saturday, 14 November 2009



And a good morning (yeah, I realize I'm a bit late) to you from across the Pond - it's the WEEKEND!!!!!!!! And, for the second time since moving over...WE'VE GOT COMPANY!!!

After another uber productive day at work, brainstorming about the TIB for the AOC (if you don't know those TLA's, then you just aren't cool...riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight), JT and I rolled to Covent Garden (granted, I forgot the best way to go and ended up practically going to SCOTLAND to get there - details...), where we met up with an old friend from college (and then from Charlotte). Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, one of the powerhouse altos of THV - Virginia Brown!!!!!!!!!

VA is the resident Bone Thug in Harmony in my life - she's was THV's "hard core gangsta." Don't let the innocent look fool you - she can flash gang signs with the best of them.

We rolled down to the Porterhouse, where the girls had Hersbrucker Pilsners (German style beer) whilst I had a couple of Porterhouse Reds (VERY fresh - SO GUUUUUUUD). We then rolled next door to La Tasca (50% off coupon, baby!!!), but an hour wait sent us packing.

So we rolled home and found the La Tasca closest to our home, only to find that it had been CLOSED. However, determined at this point to have some jamon y queso, we rolled to Regent Street, where we found another one AND a server from Barcelona. Therefore, I got the chance to practice my Spanish!

The food ws great, even if the Paella took OVER AN HOUR to come out. Considering that VA arrived that morning, I don't know how she was able to keep her eyes open.

Okay, time to catch a shower and get the day started. Borrough Market today!

That's all the news that's fit to print. Chat soon!


Sam and Jenny

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Dubai...where do I even begin...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond on a VERY WET day in the Mother Country. Okay, so apologies for no blog last night, but as we got in late and I was still fighting with "Terry the Tapeworm" (yep, he's got a name now since he's a permanent guest), I thought it better to start over today and give you the recap.
Dubai - WOW. Okay, I must confess that I assumed Dubai was "Singapore in the Desert" That was more than a bit incorrect. This isn't a place where East meets West. It's a place where East and West try to avoid each other but collide into each other on a regular basis, often in shopping malls the size of Midwest cities. It is a place of redonkulous contrasts and crazy adventures, the Taylor version I'll recap for you now.

Day 1: Connecting in Bahrain

Okay, so we took the overnight flight from London and flew Gulf Air - not exactly donkey trash, but what Airbus 330 does NOT have air conditioning? I mean seriously, if the flight was to GREENLAND, I think no A/C would have been fine. But we were flying to the MIDDLE EAST, where the forecast was 98 degrees and sunny every day (yeah, that weather guy has a TOUGH job). The other highlight was the list of movies they offered in the magazine that didn't match what was actually playing. This didn't matter either, however, since all movies were on a loop that you couldn't possibly time (since nothing was synced with anything else). HILARIOUS.

But wait - the best part was the layover in Bahrain. We arrived in the airport (tiny), and what were we greeted by? That's right - polar bears, santa clauses, and Christmas trees. Really? REALLY? Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: The Bahrain Duty Free Winter Band!!!

But we finally got to Dubai, where we found our hotel and got checked in. We then spent the evening wandering around and exploring the Creek, wandering through souks and milling about. We milled around for about an hour looking for food, but to no avail (literally - we walked 2 miles and didn't see a SINGLE RESTAURANT OF ANY KIND). So where did we eat, you ask? Well, the Taylors rolled into a shopping mall and had a delicious meal of Iraqi kebabs at the food court, of course! Hey - we are very cosmopolitan and cultured - it's how we roll.

But since we aren't Muslim, we did need some booze after the fast food, so we rolled out in search for alcohol. This led to another good story...

So, in the UAE, alcohol is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN except in the emirate (think "state") of Dubai. But in Dubai, you can only serve booze if you are attached to a hotel. That's why, 30 minutes later, JT and I ended up at the York Intercontinental, drinking Stella and watching cricket in a bar called, appropriately enough, "The Pub." Yep - they pay their marketing groups BIG BUCKS in Dubai...

After that, it was off to bed, where we slept 14 hours. Chuck, I know that you're proud...

Day 2: A Tour of Opulence

So we set out this day to tour the famous spots of Dubai. The first stop was the Mall of the Emirates, the first of many posh malls on the trip. However, the funny part was getting there.

Here's the thing - Dubai is spread out all over hell. It's about 4 BILLION miles wide, and you are supposed to take cabs everywhere. To avoid this cost, muffin puffin and I rolled to the metro, where, after I was warned by security for apparently trying to board the "ladies cabin," we rolled to the mall.

This was the NICEST METRO I've ever seen. Only later did I learn why - IT WAS TWO MONTHS OLD. Like everything else in the city, it's brand new. Hell, the area known was "Old Dubai" dates back to 1971...

So we get off at the mall and go to Ski Dubai. Yes - in case you haven't heard of this, it's an indoor ski center in the desert. I will go on record and say that we didn't do it because, well, everyone who's done it HATED it. Plus, well, I'm a cheap bastard. But then again, if you're reading this, you already knew that...

After that, it was off to the Jumierah Beach Hotel, which was less than impressive. Then it was off to Umm Sequim Beach, where I first swam in the Gulf. Key point here - if you call it the "Persian" Gulf in UAE, you go to jail. If you call it the "Arabian" gulf, they don't cart you off, but they don't like you. It's just "The Gulf." Yep - because apparentl in Emirati textbooks, it's either a) the only Gulf that exists, or b) the only Gulf worth reading about.

It was also the final resting place of Sean's phone. Hitman - Tigs forgot it was in her pocket, and she didn't realize that 10 pounds didn't buy a 100% waterproof phone. The best part? We got it all on camera...the photo is about 2 seconds before impact...

We then rolled to one of the most famous spots in Dubai - the Burj Al-Arab hotel. Coming in at just over $4000 USD per night (but with complimentary tea!), this is billed as the world's only 7 star hotel. Jenny and I tried to get in, only to be told that my outfit wouldn't even get me on the bridge over the ocean to get there. I tried to bribe them by saying "But I voted for Obama!", but that didn't get us over the goal line. Oh well...Price - despite the fact that they have "The Gap" in every mall here (of which there are many), clearly flannel plaid hasn't caught on in the 100 degree heat.
We then headed out to the Atlantis (Ogas - this is for you), where we were able to bribe our way into getting drinks. We wanted to go to the Atlantis because it was on "The Palm," one of 3 islands that Dubai has created in the middle of the Gulf. The Palm is crazy because it's COVERED with apartments and villas. Only later did we learn that NONE OF THEM are occupied and it's totally empty. Good use of resources and manpower clearly...

Dinner was at a place called Le Meridian, where we had sushi. The rolls weren't that expensive. The beer and water, however, ALMOST COST US OUR FIRST BORN. Honestly, if you aren't on an expense account in this place, I don't know how you survive. Lucky for me I beat up an old guy on the way in and took his wallet - otherwise we'd still be washing dishes.

Day 3: Talladega Nights meets Baja Rally

So this day was great. We started off by crossing the river on an abra, the water taxi of Dubai. That's right Megs and Ray - I WAS ON A BOAT. As was my muffin, who looks a lot cuter in photos...

We rolled through the Gold Souk (Mom - this is pretty much your wildest dream come true - gold EVERYWHERE to be negotiated and haggled over), looking at stuff that not even Nefertiti would have worn. Talk about AMAZING. We also rolled through the spice souk, which smelled good but wasn't very excited. All the same, good times.
We crossed back over and started looking for somewhere to pee. Lucky for us, the Dubai Museum was open (and less than a dollar to enter), so that was our spot!

After that, we crossed off the big tourist attraction of Dubai - DUNE BASHING. So here's how this goes:

1. 45 minutes late, your driver, a Pakistani named Hahn, picks you up. Just like Ricky Bobby, this cat is "all hopped up on Mountain Dew."

2. Youi meet your fellow passengers, two of which are from Iran - we were a veritable United Nations.

3. You drive 40 miles outside of the city and into the desert, at which point your driver switches from listening to Arabic music to "SHORTY FIRE BURNIN' ON THE DANCE FLOOR."

4. All of a sudden, you are driving 40 miles an hour over sand dunes and through wild camels, all the while wondering "if this is how my life ends, how will they explain this to my family?"

5. You stop for photos whilst Hahn cracks open ANOTHER Mountain Dew.

6. You get onto the main road, only to find out you have a flat and cracked a wheel well. But don't worry - as you can see, it's all under control.

7. You go to a "Bedouin camp," where you do everything touristy and cheesy you've always wanted to do. Check us out at the shisha - You may call me "Sheik Taylor" from now on.

8. You get a HUGE plate at the buffet, only to hear them say "last call" as you sit down. So you promptly get up and get ANOTHER huge plate, bringing your calorie total to 12,000 in about 10 minutes (but so guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu - peppy cheekies).

9. My wife embraces Henna and belly do I - check out the moves. Next Stop - "So You Think You Can Dance?" - bring it.
All in all - this was a BLAST and one of the highlights of the trip. We even got our photo on top of a camel that wanted to eat me alive. All in all, a good day, even if we did have to listen to a lot of Beyonce (sorry, Pappas).

We returned home at 9 PM, too full to sleep. So instead we agreed to wander until we came across something interesting. After walking a quarter mile, we saw a shopping area PACKED with people. Wandering in, we discovered that all we'd done is wander into a Carre Four (their Food City). Price - I asked them if they had any "King of the Hill" or "Millet Brun" jerseys laying around, but since they were all hairy and had unshaven legs, none of them had a clue what I was talking about...


Okay - this day was SPECTACULAR. We spent 8 hours in one of the BEST waterparks ever. This place was great, complete with slides that had "master blasters," meaning that, instead of walking to the top, you jumped into the tube at the bottom and the water blasted you to the top! You had rides both ways! Plus, there was this amazing Flo-rider, which you could use to practice body-boarding. I was, well, TERRIBLE, but JT picked it up in no time flat - she was awesome! And best of all, you should have seen her in her hot little wet suit - I practically had to beat the emirati men away. Also, we spent this day with our Iranian peeps - look at us improving foreign relations!

We rolled back home, got a shower, and then headed to the Intercontinental Festival City, where we met one of Tait's buddies - Mike Davis (and his friend Nic). Tait - I know you never thought you'd see it, but here's a pic of us together, throwin' one back and toasting you, T-bone!

These guys were great. We hit this RIDICULOUS buffet at Anise, complete with all the sushi and sashimi you could ever want. I ate so much, in fact, that I picked up a nice little parasite, which has kept me quite lean over the last two days. However, tonight I did have my first meal since Monday, so I can't complain. Back on the horse, baby!!!! Chubby Bunny!!!!!!!!!!

After dinner, we walked next door (still connected, of course) to the Belgian Beer Company, where we had proper pints of Leffe. All in all, a good night, the one problem being that it ended at 3 AM...

Day 5: Wait - there's ANOTHER mall to see?

We started this day at Jumierah Beach Park. The water was gorgeous, and we'd love to show you...except photos weren't allowed. Instead, I can tell you that we spent 4 hours there and had a blast, but I'm still trying to get the sand out of my hair. But hey, the weather was perfect, the water was clear, and life was guuuuuuuuuuuuud.

After the water, we rolled to the "Financial Center," one of 4 "downtowns" in Dubai. Whilst here, we visited a must see attraction - The Dubai Mall. Now I must confess, malls and Sammy don't often mix (insert gasps and awed stares here), but this place was a tourist attraction in it's own right. It was AMAZING. Highlights:

1. 1200 stores. That's right - about 12 stores for every person that lives in Whitesburg.

2. A water wall the size of Mt. Everest.

3. An indoor aquarium with SHARK DIVING. We watched this happen - INSANE.

4. The world's largest dancing water fountain (move over, Bellagio...).

5. An ice skating rink.

6. Sega Republic - an indoor amusement park dedicated to uber massive video games.


Yeah, now's a good time to mention that, if it's an American Chain, it's in Dubai. The biggest chain in Dubai, you ask? CHILI'S. That's right, Michael Scott is clearly a genius, because Chili's is the new boardroom ("Can I get an "awesome blossom - extra awesome?"). You have to see it to believe it.

We wandered through the mall and then saw the dancing water before rolling home and eating at an Indian joint named "Kwality." As you can imagine, this was just what my stomach needed after a day of diarrehea...

Day 6: Headin' out

So we got up and thought about getting the metro to the airport. Logical and cheap, right? Oh no, don't bother. Why, you ask? BECAUSE LUGGAGE ISN'T ALLOWED ON THE METRO. That's right - it stops there, but unless you're traveling with just a briefcase or backpack, DON'T BOTHER - you'll get caned. Might wanna rethink that one, boys.

But I will say - the airport is insane nice, complete with the world's largest duty free shop. JT and I didn't care about that, however - we wanted one last slice of Americana. That's why I got a Spicy McChicken from McDonald's and muffin puffin got a last Cold Stone ice cream.

On the way out, we were treated to a nice view of the Palm, which was pretty cool from the air. Now if only they could get someone to live there...

It should be noted that I finished "Son of a Witch" whilst on this trip. While not as good as "Wicked," Maguire is a true story-telling master, and his characters are arguably the richest and most developed of any I've ever read. Full marks, brother Gregory - I look forward to "A Lion Among Men."

I am SO GLAD that we went, but I am VERY glad to be home. And whilst I really enjoyed it, I am in no hurry to go back.
Okay, sorry so long tonight, but I wanted to give you guys the play by play. Also, as I've got a friend visiting tomorrow, it might be sporadic over the next couple of days. Can't wait to see you, VA!
That's all the news that's fit to print - chat tomorrow!
Sam and Jenny

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Victory (FINALLY) through harmony...GO GUNNERS!!!


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. First off - ANNOUNCEMENT!!!! There will be no blog between 6-10 November, as Team Taylor is off again to the Middle East, this time to see the fantastic experient that is Dubai.

Today we crossed off another big one! Well, in truth, we crossed off two, as not only did we see our first UEFA Champions League match, but we finally saw a victory in the United Kingdom! 1 for 5 - YEAH, BABY!!!

Tonight a group of co-workers rolled over to Islington, where we entered a Mecca of British (and global) soccer - Emirates Stadium. Emirates is home to the Arsenal Gunners, one of Britain's premier football clubs.

Before entering, however, we needed food. I sauntered over to a hot dog vendor, where he was selling a ginormous dog for 3 pounds or TWO ginormous dogs (on the same bun) for 4 pounds. I don't think I need to tell you which one I opted for...go ahead and say it, Price - CHUUUUUUUUUUUUBBBBBYYYYY BUUUNNNNNNYYY!!!!!!!!

No disrepect to Leyton Orient (Ori-EEEEEEEENT, OOOOOOO-rient...), but watching Arsenal tonight, one can truly appreciate how beautiful footy is played. These guys were AMAZING, and the goals (all 4 of them) were off the chain. It was such a great experience - the crowd chanting, the energy of the game, and the company were all fantastic. All in all - AMAZING!

After the game, JT and rolled over to the Tube, stopping for a pint at the pub right by the station. I was excited, because, well - it was named after me. The legend clearly has gone world wide...

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat with you guys on Veteran's Day, when I give you the recap from the Vegas of the Middle East! Chat then!


(A very, VERY excited) Sam and Jenny

P.S. Posh Puma - I'm happy to report that Arson is still the king - those people LOVE that guy.