Confessions of a Gym Convert

I’m sitting on the sofa, with a glass of vino and a magazine whilst boyfriend ogles at football.  All of a sudden this crazy thought runs through my head .. ‘I’d rather be at the gym.’  Shocker.  Those of you who know me well, will know that my idea of exercise is my weekly dance class (swiftly followed by a four pack of Red Stripe), busting a move past midnight or walking to and from the kitchen for a cuppa.

Since I’ve moved back to the ole’ hometown, I’ve been greeted by my fitness fanatic besties whose daily chants of ‘Join the gym’ and ‘Oh it will be SO much fun when we can go to the gym together’ got me quite mad.  So mad, I got a lift to the gym, got a tour, induction and handed over my direct debit details quite simply to shut them up.  But by golly did that one backfire.

In first year I joined the gym at University.  I went twice.  TWICE.  And one of those times I got so frightened because I didn’t know where the changing rooms were I spent the whole 45 minutes on a treadmill in a t-shirt and jeans.  Nightmare.  I frolicked by the next two years of Uni dancing thrice weekly, dancing the night away fourice (not a word really, is it?) weekly and hoping that was that in the ‘Health and Fitness’ department.

But something has happened since I’ve come home.  I’ve grown up (gosh, but that’s for a WHOLE other blog) and started taking this whole health thing a bit more seriously.

I find exercising dull.  I do!  Really, really dull.  Dancing, fine, great, y’all know that’s a hefty passion of mine but anything else?  Flipping boring to be honest.  Or so I thought.  The gym I attend has these fabulous machines with a TV on them, a fantastic circuits machine that hiss water pressure at you, these amazing swing things that look like they belong in a bondage bedroom and wait for it .. a climbing wall.  I walked in, and quite literally, excitement overload.  I had no idea what any of these things were and like a kid in a candy shop, felt ever so excited to give it all a go.  And day by day, week by week, that’s exactly what I did.

I always thought people that went to the gym were right idiots.  I mean, if you want to go on a treadmill, go on a flipping run!  If you want to lift weights, I’ve got two cans of baked beans you can borrow.  I thought that if I walked in in frayed tracksuit bottoms and a ‘Graduate 2013’ t-shirt I’d get the ‘you shouldn’t be here’ looks, like when I order a large glass of Pinot at 10.55am (it’s 5.55pm somewhere).  But there isn’t any of that.  If anything, people look at you with respect, silently applauding, ‘well done you’ looks.  It feels good.

For about two months now I’ve been experimenting with all the bits and bobs and every day I find something new.  Today, I even went on a SKIING machine, can you believe that?!  My bum feels fabulous.  From ‘gym’ being a dirty word, it’s become a word of excitement, of enjoyment.  It’s something I look forward to, a break from an essay, an evening out with my friends, or just an hour of Bella time.  I’m not on any crazy mission to lose weight, or even tone up.  I just feel good after exercise.  I feel good after finding a new machine or finding a new muscle in my body I didn’t know existed.  Going to the gym feels good!  So, I’ve somehow transformed from a girl who ate pizza 5 nights a week, to a woman who respects her body and her health, and my good old friend the gym has helped me do that.  My advice?  Find a FUN gym!  One with sex swings, trampolines and climbing walls.  You never know what else will come with it. 

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Still True

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Bedroom Beauty Challenge January – Vivacious Vixen

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So Louise over at Sprinkle of Glitter (www.sprinkleofglitter.blogspot.co.uk – go check her out, she’s lovely) has come up with a fabulous idea of a monthly Bedroom Beauty Challenge.  This is perfect for me.  I’ve been wanting to get into Beauty Blogging for a while but wasn’t quite sure how, so this is the perfect opportunity for me to give it a go to see if a) I’m any good at it and b) if you guys like it!  So January’s challenge was ‘Vivacious Vixen’.  My immediate thoughts on reading that was the word ‘voluptuous’ so full of sex and steam, and Vixen, who I believe was one of Santa’s reindeer, so a bit cheeky and happy too.  I tried to combine these thoughts.  

Note: all my makeup I used here is my clubby, evening, night out makeup.  So it looks seriously dark in the natural light!  I don’t look like this normally!!

Here’s how I got on:

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So here are Bella’s make up bits I used to create the look.  I started with Maybelline Fit Concealer in Shade 10 which I used under my eyes and on my spots.  Next I used my L’Oreal Nude Maguique BB Cream in Light skin tone to get even coverage on my base.  I applied this with my fingers.  After, I applied MAC Pro Longwear SPF 10 Foundation in Shade N20, again applying with my fingers.  I used to apply my foundation with brushes and sponges but a couple of months ago I decided to try and use my fingers, and I haven’t looked back.  I find that personally the blend I can create is much neater, and because I have combination skin I can apply more and less to my red patchy skin areas and my oily areas.  I would definitely recommend giving finger foundation application (gosh, that sounds a bit naughty..!) a try if you haven’t.

I then moved onto power.  Firstly using No7 Starfish Bronzer which I applied with a Body Shop Blusher Blush into my contours heading up to my temples.  I applied a small dot of L’Oreal Blush in Sandalwood Pink to the apple of my cheek.  I then applied my main powder oven the top, still using the same brush, which is L’Oreal The Minerals True Match powder in N3 Creamy Beige.

Once my face was completed I moved onto my eyes, using Naked by Urban Decay eye shadow pallet.  If I would recommend any eye product I’ve ever used, it would be this.  It’s amazing!  I used 5 different colours to create my eye look, and you can’t see them very clearly in the picture I’ve used, so I might do an in depth review of the pallet at some point.  I applied L’Oreal Infallible Studio Eyeliner in Chocolate Addiction to my top lid and bottom lid creating a sharp flick.  Next I applied my mascara, L’Oreal Falsh Lash Telescopic in Hypnotic Brown to my top and bottom lashes.  I finished off my look with a few spritzes of MAC Fix+, a fixing spray that keeps all your makeup in place.

And here was the result:

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So there we have it!  My first ever go at Beauty Blogging using Sprinkle of Glitter’s Bedroom Beauty Challenge.  Things I’ve Learnt:

  • As this was all my going out, night clubby make-up, it looked really weird and FAR too dark for any day time activities.  So I will know to steer clear of that I future.
  • I really need to work on my lip stick application!
  • Next Bedroom Beauty Challenge – I will do my hair to match.
  • My eye brows need a good pluck.
  • And note to self: remove ear plaster!

I really enjoyed this challenge.  Will you be taking part?!  Love Bella x

Southampton: A Fresher’s Guide

So I’ve been living and studying in Southampton for two years now and as part of going into my third year and presenting a Freshers’ radio piece on Southampton, I’ve put together this minute guide about three of my favourite areas; Nightlife, Lifestyle and Shopping.  So if you’re a fresher, a local or a stranger I hope this helps you discover the wonderful city that Southampton is :)

Nightlife

Jesters

Jesters; you know, I’m really not sure if there are any words.  Southampton hearsay tells me that its officially the worst night club in the UK.  Set underground with a dance floor the size of a kitchen and an amazing outdoor/smoking area, in the two years I’ve been there I’ve seen sex against walls, people vomit and continue dancing and people sitting in their own urine.  Rough right?!  But amazing.  To me, Jesters really is unique.  You can turn up in a bodycon and heels, skinnies and converse, fancy dress or tracksuits and be accepted, be allowed entry .. and probably even pull if you wanted to.  Its the place in Southampton you go to drink, to dance, to chat, to meet people, to play games.  It is just incredible, so much fun and you know what?  I think the saying genuinely applies: it really is so so bad, its so so good.

 

Oceana

Oceana is a chain of nightclubs around the country.  I’d never been to one before Uni before and in Freshers alone I saw Katy B, S Club 3 and 5ive (well 2wo..) perform live.  It’s huge and you go to dance, well I go to dance anyway.  They have two main dance rooms, one is a giant ‘Ice Box’ where the play slow grooves, R and B (gosh , I feel old) and the like and the other … is a Disco Room; one of the best rooms in the south of England I’m sure of it.  An illuminated dance floor, interactive DJs and a whole lot of singing it really is just a great, fun night out.  Be cafeful not to ask for a soft drink though, one barman went all Coyote on me once: Hell No, H2O!  Nightmare, but a great night.

Reflex

Do you see a pattern?  Bella’s general favourite night club spots are places she can wear jeans, boogie on down and generally have a great time.  Reflex is no different, I think its officially an 80s club but it plays old school tunes non stop, with another illuminated floor, a lush VIP area and … poles.  Yes, the wonder of poles in night clubs.  Making the most average of humans believe they are an Ibiza paid dancer gyrating, shimmying up it; flipping embarrassing, but again, a flipping lot of fun.

Lifestyle

Southampton Common

When you look at a map of Southampton, the Common is basically the giant green bit in the middle.  A wonderful recreation area, with a lake, a park, walkways, skateways, jog routes, carnivals held there; just a really great central area.  I’ve been for gorgeous evening walks there, had snow fights, played football in the scorching sun (Southampton gets great weather by the way), eaten far too many ice creams than I care to admit, and ogled at men in rugby training.  The Common, I believe as the youngsters say, is where its at.

Hamble

I’m pretty sure Hamble is a well kept secret for Southamptoners.  When I first moved there and googled ‘beach’, this is what came up.  Its about a fifteen minute drive from the centre but I’m not really sure if beach is the best way to describe it.  Its more like a pebbled shore.  But it is kinda cultural, it has ancient ruins of a sort and lots of beautiful walks and a sailing club.  A really nice afternoon out if you fancy it.

New Forest

Gosh, do I really need to tell you about the New Forest?  I’ve been going every year since I was born but it was just last year that I took the boyfriend for the first time, and since then we’ve had some great days out there.  He was just bewildered that just twenty minutes (I drive fast, okay?!) from the centre are cattle grids, hills, greenery, sunsets and wait for it … wild horses.  Nuts right?!  More like beautiful.  Just go, okay?!

Shopping

Westquay

When I say Westquay, I mean just the general Southampton City Centre shopping area.  It has all your favourites; Topshop, Urban Outfitters, an amazing Boots, New Look, Zara etc.  Other personal highlights include the gorgeous John Lewis I can get lost in for hours as well as the Waterstones/Costa which is great for a chilled cuppa and a read.  Westquay is the main centre which is connected to Above Bar Street which has the rest of the shops.  Make sure you check out Above Bar around Christmas time for the amazing German market, mulled wine and chocolate smothered loveliness galore!

Ikea

Ikea, what can I say?  I have been known to go just for dinner (meatballs, dahling) then for breakfast the next day, I love it that much.  Aside from the great tasting, great costing food, even if you can’t afford/don’t need a thing, its great for a wander around.  If you’ve never been, go!  Personal favourites are the apartments you can wander around and the marketplace for candles, fake flowers and paintings.

Portswood Charity Shops

Portswood is basically the student area of Southampton where 95% of those in private rented accommodation who are Uni students will live.  Whilst its not the most desirable area in the world, the charity shops are cracking.  I would say there are perhaps 10 or 11.  I find myself casually popping in on my way to the supermarket, or devoting entire afternoons to trawling around picking up tit bits.  The fashion is good, the home ware is good, the furniture is extrememly good and as far as charity shop pricings go .. its up there.

 

So a baby guide.  Enjoy Southampton, I most certainly do!

 

 

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

So on Sunday evening I was dragged to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with my Mum and Grandma.  Okay, not dragged.  But it got to 5pm and to tell you the truth I really couldn’t be bothered to get myself out of my PJs and head to Woking town centre to the cinema.  But I’m so glad I did.

This is IMBD’s synopsis of the movie:

‘British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways.’

Sounds boring?  It really wasn’t.  Cue gold actors and actresses Bill Nighy, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Celia Imrie and Penelope Wilton along with Skins and Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel frolicking around India.  For quintessentially an old persons movie, it was very bold to have homosexual and racist story lines within it.

What I found most interest was the similarity of my Mother and Grandmother to two of the characters.  My Mother to Judi Dench, a cultural adviser in an Indian telecommunications office, which my Mum is, and my grandmother to Maggie Smith, an elderly lady with a hip replacement.  Maybe that’s why I found it so endearing, but it was absolutely hilarious too with cracking one liners and sex scenes.

It also portrayed a story line that is close to me.  It breaks my heart to see members of my family and family friends in unhappy relationships and marriages, thinking that they are too old to break away and start afresh or to have a life change.  The film involved one couple, mid to late 50s I would say divorcing after 30 odd years of marriage to start again and be happy in new lives which I thought was beautiful.  I’m sure everybody can think of at least one couple that could do with seeing this movie.

So basically, it was wonderful.  Funny, charming, endearing, saucy and fiesty would be some words to describe it.  And 7.5 stars from IMDB … not bad.

Dam Madness

So last week I casually went to Amsterdam.  Yeah, no biggie.  Ya know, just thought ‘d fly over for a few days, test the water.  AND IT WAS INSANE!  It was actually for a University Geography Field Trip so we did lots of work, but fun work.  No standing in rivers measuring flow or anything juvenile like that (I take it back, river flow is VERY important …), total human geography madness, interviews, observations, the works.  Pretty awesome.  So whilst we worked all day, we partied all night.  The evenings were our own and by jove did we make the most of them.  Here’s some snaps and stories:

Ah Amsterdam, the Venice of the North.  Except the boyfriend didn’t even know it had canals!  We were lucky enough that the weather was beautiful while we there (yes, weather, it WAS a geography trip guys) which I feel made it SO much better.  Oh and on the right, standard Netherlands.  You know, I think I might try make clogs cool.

Right, so despite what I’ve given up for Lent (Oh my goodness, it’s SHOPPING.  But I’ve just realised you probably don’t know that, stay tuned for a blog), I felt that being international (i.e. not in England), it was alright to purchase a couple of small things.  Tiny.  Absolutely miniscule (not like three maxi dresses, a crop top and four necklaces … NOTHING like that).  So I rallied the troups and we headed to a gorgeous flea market down by one of the canals.  It was amazing.  Antiques, trinkets, vintage galore.  Stunning.  Oh, and the middle picture is just a really cute Dutch house.

Naw, thought I’d put at least one cute couply picture in there.  Yes, Andrew came too!  Being a fellow geographer and all that.  It was really weird actually, being on holiday with him but not being with him if you see what I mean.  We had 68 other geographers, 3 lecturers and 3 postgrads to keep us company.  It didn’t work out too bad though.  He was in my working group meaning I actually spent all day with him and we hung out in the evenings together in a big group.  So yeah, it worked well.  Oop, middle picture is my stunning new swatch watch.  BUT, I purchased it Duty Free so it doesn’t even count.  The picture on the left is my absolutely revolutionised idea of hot chocolate!  Warm milk, and actual chocolate.  Why did I not think of this before?!  Dutch, you are dreamboats.

Yes, we went to the sex museum.  Picture on the left is be sitting on a giant willy, standard.  (For anyone that cares I’m wearing blouse and denim jacket, both Dorothy Perkins, scarf from Zara, Urban Outfitters jeans and Converse.  I was a TOURIST, okay?!)  The middle picture is Josh, Bec, myself and Andrew on a night out.  But Amsterdam nights out are very different to Southampton nights out.  Coffee Shops.  That’s all I’m going to say on the matter.  And the left was just a cool sign.

Picture on the left is my STUNNING working group.  I’d never met the two girls Emma and Louise before, but we got on SO well!  There’s something about working together and being together for long periods of time in a new environment that just makes everybody bond.  I can’t wait to catch up with them both over some vino after Easter.  Yes, I went to McDonalds in Amsterdam, sue me.  But they officially did the best burger I have ever tasted.  A McKroket.  Exclusive to the Netherlands.  Which is short, is a cheese croquette in a burger.  It was so amazing that on the last night I had three at once.  And on the right, shows one of the most famous coffee shops in Amsterdam, right in the middle of the Red Light District (which we did visit, but I didn’t manage to get any pictures of for fear of being shot).  It’s called Bulldog and it was incredible, inside it’s got heaps of pictures and autographs of all the famous people that have been there.  I’m talking Rihanna, Eminem, Shaggy, Andre 3000, The Black Eyed Peas … and Atomic Kitten!  I squealed a little bit when I saw their picture.

So that was Amsterdam.  The final picture shows my fab working group on the new I AMsterdam sign, and we cleverly just went in the DAM bit, I know right.  So smart.  So I had a great time.  Friends, fun and frolics.  All I could ask for.  When can I go again?!

2010 Year Of Culture: June

Well this one’s a bit late!  Apologies for the slack blogging as of late, I’ve been very busy actually living my life as opposed to hoarded with thousands of books and my laptop.  I’m living my life to the absolute full for the first time in a long time, and I’m flipping loving it.

So Week 23 was a trip to see ‘Sex and The City 2’ in prep for New York and the ‘Sex And The City’ location tour.  I love anything SATC and this film was no exception.  Sparkly, sexy and hilarious, just as usual.  Week 24 was a cheeky London shopping trip as a revision break.  Complete with bargains galore, naturally.

Week 25 could actually pass for culture, The Hogs Back Brewery near Farhnam.  My friend Rosie and I trekked it over there to stock up on Father’s Day goodies.  It’s incredible, I would really reccommend you go if you get the chance.  You walk up this cute staircase to the most amazing Brewery shop filled with local ales, wines, whiskies; so good!  The smell was just lovely.  You can have a tour, but Rosie and I just looked over the balcony at the giant Brewery machines (apologies for not knowing the technical term).  Amazing trip out.

And the next week?  New York of course!  Now, that totally passes for culture!  Exam hell is over.  My blog is the capital of cheese anyway, so in enhancement, I’m loving life.  So good!

I <3 NY

So good they named it twice … SO GOOD!  New York, New York for a week – one of the greatest weeks of my life.  My Mum and I jetted off after my last exam for a week of girly tourism, shopping and bliss.  Such an incredible time.  After 8am champers at the airport (of course, darling) and an 8 hour flight we arrived.  I fainted in the cab on the way to the hotel, not eating for 8 hours and 36 degree temperatures from being inside with my hoards of revision food isn’t exactly a good mix.  But the less said about that the better.  Our hotel was absolutely beautiful, located on 51st and 7th we were just 5 minutes walk away from both Central Park and Times Square – perfect!

The first night consisted of a bleary eyed walk around Times Square and Macy’s, just lapping up the atmosphere.  The lights, the smells, the atmosphere, the people = just incredible.  I walked into a shop and it was ‘Oh Hey Gurl, I’m Tiffany, Yall just give me a holla if you need anything!’  I loved the women.  So genuine, so friendly, so up for just helping you and being a good sales person.  I felt happy and secure around them, not at all as though they were about to mouth off about me in their little check out till pow wows.

Jet Lag came like a demon, I was up at 3am shaving my legs and reading ‘Seventeen’ magazine for an hour, fell asleep for an hour before heading to Grand Central Station for breakfast.  So surreal being there at 6am.  The business men were buzzing about doing their thing while we sat gormlessly eating bagels deciding our plan for the day.  Next, we headed up the Empire State Building.  Stunning views!  We could see for miles, it was just breathtaking, so overwhelming that we were actually there after months and months of planning, speculating, talking…  We got the bus down to Battery Park where we chilled out at the World Finance Centre at the yacht harbour.  I felt so elite!  With Hollywood bodies jogging past us and yummy mummies doing yoga it was The Apprentice meets 90210, New York style.  After a casual stroll to Trinity Church, I fell in love.  Now, those of you who know me well will be well aware one of my favourite films of all time is ‘National Treasure’, where the suspected treasure of the world is concealed in the Trinity Church basement.  I was just in awe, I had half a mind to ask the security guards if I could have a sneaky peek down to the cellar.  We headed down Wall Street to Federal Hall where a looming monument of George Washington stood, one of my favourite Presidents.  One Staten Island Ferry with prime views of the Statue of Liberty later, an incredible Planet Hollywood meal awaited us before tumbling into bed.

The second day was just as beautiful.  We strolled around Central Park for a good chunk of our morning before heading to the American Museum of Natural History (think Night at the Museum, but better).  Highlights were definitely the gigantic whale and the statue from Easter Island, no I’m not being sarcastic, these elements were genuinely very interesting.  Then we headed to Top of the Rock (Rockerfeller Centre), which was in my opinion, even more breathtaking that the Empire State.  There was a phenomenal view of Central Park and back to the Empire State Building.  We stayed up there for a good hour, why rush when you’ve got the world at your feet?

The next day was Saturday.  After a lovely Diner breakfast and a quick stroll around the Times Warner Mall, the Sex and The City On Location Tour awaited us.  3 of the best hours of my life!  We headed all around Manhattan, seeing all the famous locations for all the best scenes, not to mention hopping off the bus to visit the stunning SATC shopping area, complete with cupcakes!  We strolled through the 6th Avenue Saturday Street Market before hopping to a secret burger joint – quite possibly the best meal of my life!  One 34th Street shopping trip later we were well and truly shattered.

Independance Day!  Yes, such an awesome experience being able to be in New York for 4th July.  We got the bus down again to Battery Park, where we visited Ground Zero.  It was very moving actually.  Despite the fact that work has now begun on the Ground Zero site, think cranes and builders, you could still feel the overwhelming emotion of something greater.  It was well worth a see.  Then we headed back to Trinity Church for the Church Service.  So beautiful!  There was an incredible sermon plus some marvelous hymns, including one titled ‘America’.  I’ve never felt so patriotic!  Then we headed to Pier 17, one of the liveliest of the Piers, for Lunch and an atmospheric soaking sesh.  We got a cab over Brooklyn Bridge before walking back across it.  Astonishing!  Walking from Brooklyn to Manhattan in 36 degree heat, seeing first hand the hazy smog encompassing the city combined with all the scents and sights of heaven was just, amazing.  We got the subway to Bloomingdales where I picked up quite a few bargains I must say!  The evening was glorious.  After cooling off in our hotel pool we headed over to Times Square where we watched the fireworks.  We weren’t too fussed about being by the river.  Seen one firework, seen them all.  Times Square was the perfect place to be, police horses and buskers galore, to be amongst the people of the greatest city on Earth on the greatest day of their year.  Not even thesaurus.com can give me the words to describe that one.

The Monday of our trip was the hottest day New York City had received in a decade, so yes, was pretty warm.  After a stroll around the gorgeous St Patrick’s Cathedral and the purchase of my Christmas present (I couldn’t afford it, okay?!) in Saks, we went to MOMA, The Museum of Modern Art.  I felt very cool wandering around, with all the super arty, geek glasses, tattooed lovelies.  We caught the bus up to Columbia Uni – so Gossip Girl it was unreal!  I loved it, the American equivalent of Oxford no doubt.  We sat in the heat watching all the Preps wandering about with their Starbucks, I honestly felt like I was on a movie set.  Next we headed to the Lincoln Centre, ‘the cultural hub of the city’, I was right at home.  We sat and watched some of the Juliard Students in an open air concert which was so relaxing.  I really felt like a New Yorker in that moment.  The sun was shining, we were sat with our smoothies enjoying the talented youngsters of tomorrow sing their dear little hearts out, I felt so relaxed.  It was lovely.

Our last day was spent as though it was our last.  We headed to the USS Intrepid which was just awesome.  The nerd in me was the reason we went there really, the Air, Sea and Space Museum, but we loved it.  Going down in a submarine, watching a Kamikaze show and learning SO much about Vietnam.  We headed to Bryant Park for a coffee before the New York Public Library.  Cue me running around like a loonie in the ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ and ‘Sex And The City’ film set.  I was so excited!  But the best was yet to come … The Declaration of Independance!  On display for a beautiful 10 days, so beautiful!  I literally stood and looked at the 2 pieces of paper for a good half hour, scrutinising every word.  And the best part … Josiah Bartlet was a real person!  I’m well aware that won’t mean much to most of you, but basically it’s that the fictional President from hit US Politics Show ‘The West Wing’, was actually a real New Hampshire Congress Man in 1776.  We headed to the General Post Office for a wee look about before strolling around the Upper East Side once more in true Gossip Girl fashion.  One Central Park walk, Manicure and Chocolate Shop later we had lots of beer and went to bed.

Our last morning consisted of a Bloomingdales Brunch before a super long stint at the Airport, but lots of Duty Free Purchases!  Congratulations if you’ve made it to the end of this blog, thought, travelogue splurge.  You deserve a medal.  So yes New York, so good they named it twice.  I’ve exhausted thesaurus.com but really, there are no words to describe how amazing my week was.  I’ve only just begun to do it justice.