Wednesday, August 7, 2013

London Flashback-- A Night out in Camden

Yesterday I was talking to someone at work about our trip to London in April, and I was recounting our pub crawl in Camden. This was one of our favorite nights of the trip, when we stayed out too late, had one drink too many, and had a killer timer pretending to be local Londoners. I realized when I got home that I never actually shared this night on the blog. I'd saved the pictures for their own special post, but after 5-6 posts about our Europe trip, I had to just move on. So now, months later, here's a fun flashback on a great night in London. 

The pub crawl was completely impromptu. We'd had a few flat and somewhat flavorless British beers already on the trip, and decided to google "Craft Beer London" to see what we would find. A Time Out London article lead us to the idea of heading to the Camden neighborhood of London for a night out. Our first stop was Camden Town Brewery. They sell their beers commercially, but also have a taproom located at their brewery. Wood paneled walls, hip people, food trucks, and a location under the train tracks had us feeling like we were actually hanging out in Brooklyn. The beer was really solid, too. This was a great first stop for the night, and I wouldn't hesitate to go back. The only downside was that they closed pretty early, so when 11:00 came and they started shutting down, we asked the bartenders for advice on other craft beer spots in the area.

This was while we were sipping on our first beers,
so I'm not quite sure what their excuse is!

Gourmet hot dogs pair well with craft beer.

Next up we headed to Brew Dog Bar, a few blocks away and just around the corner from the Camden tube station. Brew Dog is a Scottish craft brewery, and I don't think they distribute in the United States at this point (or at least not in Chicago A quick google search says they're only serving at the Anchor Brewery in San Francisco). They brew the same style beers as American craft brewers, and are known for their super high ABV brews. Now that it's been 3+ months, I don't remember at all what we drank, but I do remember being quite satisfied at the quality. Much better than the Fullers type crap that's served at most bars in London. This bar was pretty laid back, and not too crowded. Plus, the bartender we had was really great, and talked to us for quite a while about beers he'd recommend and about the craft beer movement that is slowly taking place in the UK. Again, I'd highly recommend it. 

Getting a little silly at this point...

Brew Dog was only open until midnight, so I think we only had time for one beer. We weren't quite ready to call it a night, though, so we asked our new bartender friend where he wold recommend we end our night. He suggested The Black Heart, a rock and roll bar and music venue located just down the street. It was a dark and noisy place, and felt perfectly Camden. When we asked the bartender what beers he'd recommend, his first suggestion was a Rogue brew. It tasted great, but we explained that we were only visiting London, and wanted to drink great British beers, not something from America! His next suggestion was from a small new brewery north of London called Pressure Drop, and I decided to go with their Pale Ale. A solid choice, and we settled in to watch the crowds and drink one last quality brew. 

I'm willing to bet they're talking about some band I've never heard of.

We grabbed some chips to snack on, and headed towards the bus. We'd stayed out late enough that the tube wasn't running anymore! I kept hoping the Night But would be magical, like in Harry Potter, but no such luck. It got us where we were going, though, so I won't complain. On our walk home down Kensington High Street, we walked past "The Mothership" (aka the largest Whole Foods in the company), and in my slightly inebriated state I had to stop and take a picture. Don't worry, we went back the next day for a proper shopping trip!

And that, my friends, is how you do a night out in Camden. Man, what I would do to be back there right now. I guess I'll settle for some good nights out in NYC, since we'll be there a week from tomorrow! I love traveling.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pure Michigan is a real thing!

Last weekend Joe and I finally took a little weekend trip to Michigan. We've been talking about it for the last six summers, so it's about damn time! The rest of summer was booking up quickly, and we jumped at the opportunity to drive around the coast last weekend to explore a couple of the beach towns just on the other side of the Indiana and Michigan boarder. A quick 90 minutes from Chicago, these little beach towns felt like another world. It felt a bit like the East Coast to me, with lots of grassy growth near the beaches, and amazing vacation homes lining the coast.

Despite the crap weather (we're talking 60-some degree fall like temps), we still loved our quick getaway! We walked along the beaches, went kayaking on the Galien River, ate (mostly tasty) food, did a wine tasting, and even stopped to pick blueberries on the way home. We were gone for only about 28 hours, but came home already talking about the idea of renting a vacation cottage in the area for a week next summer. Those commercials and ads you've seen aren't lying... Michigan is beautiful and totally charming!

I left my good camera at home, but the iphone filled in quite well!

We had dinner at The Stray Dog in New Buffalo. The food was pretty terrible,
which was disappointing for such a popular spot. We'd probably still go back
for the fun atmosphere, and just order really carefully!

Wine tasting in St Joseph

Windy weather made for some crazy waves

So excited!!

Michigan, we will be back! Hopefully on a warmer weekend, too, to get some solid beach time!