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Feb 28, 2018

Here comes another long blog post. 

'On the 18th (Sunday) Marissa and I flew out of JFK to London Heathrow. It was a pretty painless flight. Left the cats with Eumi who was watching them for our trip. It marked Marissa's first trip outside the country, she was especially stoked to get her first passport stamp. We took the tube all the way from LHR to our air bnb in Shoreditch, where we dropped off our bags and then wandered around fighting off sleep for a couple hours. We made it lil about 4 then went back to the air bnb and passed out super hard, effectively losing a day but definitely needed it. Our air bnb was a a little bit of an acid trip, it was the ground floor of a loft building so it was one big open apartment. The color scheme was orange and green, so there was fake grass covering the floor, and bright orange vinyl sofas and decor. Very trendy little place. The next day we tried to go to the Kendrick Lamar popup shop in Soho but abandoned the idea once we found out you have to book a specific time slot to show up. Then we walked past Westminster, Big Ben (under scaffolding until 2019 unfortunately) and Trafalgar Square where we got breakfast. Then we walked along the water and across the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Museum. It was pretty cold and rainy but it was a nice walk. We went back to the apartment and recouped before going out and exploring Shoreditch. I got the impression that Shoreditch and Hotxon were once pretty trendy and unknown areas a couple of years ago but have sprung up to be more of a bougie drinking neighborhood like Williamsburg. We went to a highly recommended restaurant called Flatiron which was nice, then went barhopping/exploring. Found a couple of neat places including this awesome indie bookstore, went to a pingpong bar (they love pingpong over there I guess) to spectate the after-hours suit and tie types play. We felt a little...lonely? we are not social creatures so its out of our comfort zones to make friends in new places but we really wished we could have made some friends/drinking buddies! Got hammered and crashed later that night. I lost my passport like an idiot at the Ping pong bar but went back as soon as we realized and it was waiting at the front desk. M got to carry my passport for the rest of the trip (maybe I was subconsciously trying to stay in the Uk?)

Next day we went to the British Museum via bus which was really amazing. I'd been there before so it was fun telling Marissa, "wait for it.." before we got into the main room with the huge vaulted ceiling. We saw a neat little exhibit about Soviet era Currency and of course saw the Rossetta Stone. Then we took the train to Camden and had a nice falafel lunch on the Locks. Killed time, had a beer and then went "home". We decided we'd get some frozen pizzas and made them in the over before packing/doing laundry and going to a little bar around the corner. 

Next day super early we took an uber to Kings Cross to get a train up North to Sheffield. It took about two and a half hours and was scenic. We got out at Sheffield station and walked around while we waited for my mom and brother, Peter, to come grab us. They had flown into Manchester that morning and rented a car for the hour long drive to Sheffield. Everyone was a little stressed out but by the time we got to my grandma's street we were fine. I had fun pointing out landmarks from my childhood to Marissa. Still tripping over the idea that she was there at that point. 

Thing is, my grandparents had no idea we were coming. The 23rd was my grandma's 80th birthday and my mom was the mastermind behind this whole surprise trip. So when we walked up the driveway with flowers and Champagne we could see her in the kitchen SCREAMING when she realized what was happening. I managed to film the whole thing (I filmed everything like I usually do when M and I go on trips), I've never seen my grandma cry so much. They're strong, silent, suffering Scottish folk. Total surprise :)

Next few days were really nice, we got to go out into the Yorkshire country-side and go hiking and see the sheep. We went out to a village called Eyam that was decimated by the Plague, and went inside this perfectly preserved 12th century church. Don't warm your damp, London fabrics by the fire, because I guess it reactivates the plague, I guess. We got to see my Aunt's Susan and Gwen, but we had to leave again on the Saturday (24th) before the little party my mom and Gwen had arranged for my grandmas friends. Not before going to this amazing restaurant called The Botanist downtown where we ate and drank for nearly 3 hours as a birthday dinner. Peter, M and I went out for drinks after and we made some friends :) Around 1 we took the train to Manchester, which was a little fucked because it was packed and we had to sit practically in the bathrooms. Imagine the LIRR on a Friday night. Transferred at Manchester to the airport shuttle and flew from the UK to .. uh. .Finland. 

We probably could have flown direct, but it was marginally cheaper to do a layover in Helsinki. And because we're young and already outside of the country and comfort zone we thought "fuck it, lets do a 15 hour layover in Finland." It was the right choice. Our flight from the UK to Finland was empty, M and I got several rows to ourselves. It was beautiful flying over Scandinavian Islands and lakes in the pitch black night. Once we landed is when the reality of being in a totally different country struck. It was 12 degrees when we landed but we disembarked directly onto the tarmac and onto a little bus rather than directly to the gate. There was packed ice under everything. Once we got to the terminal the whole airport was silent and ghostly. we took a cab (expensive but we didn't really know better) to the hotel we booked deep among snow drifts and coniferous trees, checked in and had a drink at the bar, then showered and hung out in the hotel room watching Finnish TV. Very surreal looking out over the city of Vaanta and seeing nothing but ice and trees with factory smoke in the distance. 

One thing we were struck by was a) how nice everyone was and b) how beautifully designed the city and airport were. The train to the airport was sunken deep into the earth and you could really see the Nordic influence in their structures. All exposed rock, pebbles and concrete.  We had the best complimentary breakfast ever in the hotel (with smoked fish in oil that we weren't brave enough to try at 8:30am) and went to the airport. We walked through security barely breaking stride and so we got to our gate very very early. For nonsmokers this might sound weird but there were these open smoking rooms in the airport where you could do your thing. In the bathroom they had bird sounds on a loop for that immersive pooping-in-nature experience. Beautifully designed airport with bathrooms every 100 feet and pop up shops/fish tanks. It started to snow while we were waiting. 

Anyways the flight was fine, we slept a lot. Another culture difference: vegetarian meals aren't a thing on Finnair (or rather, they are a thing, but you need to request 3 days in advance) and while neither M or I are vegetarians, M doesn't eat chicken or lamb, which were the two meal options. She suffered through the chicken, I happily enjoyed the lamb, which came with this soft cooked celery root. Interesting. We landed around 2pm EST, the 9 hour flight with the time difference meant we only lost 2 hours but Marissa had to work all this week (on Monday they made her stay from 8:30am-10pm and she was wrecked with the jet lag on top of that). This whole week has been insane for her. 

So that was our trip. Thanks for bearing with me if you read all of that. Its funny because we only booked these tickets at the end of January while I was on the Mighty Oak shoot, so if you'd told me over New Years we be going to Europe in February I would have found that pretty amusing. 

Back to reality. Yesterday (2.27) I went in to Nick for a shoot for Cereal Day. The premise was the same as those Candy Corn spots I did back in October, create Chase (from Paw Patrol) out of cereal and stop motion build both him and a title card. It was a great shoot, Danny assisted again. God bless Danny, he's a really good person to have on set. Never a complaint, good suggestions, learns the ropes instantly and laughs at my stupid jokes (VERY IMPORTANT). Inhye L was the production coordinator and helped buy all the cereal (I requested wayyyy too much), Andrea J was the Art Director. Really great team, I went home and edited the footage right away because I was so excited about it. Sincerely hope we get to do another of these in the future with this team, it was a super loose and fun set. Got to see Myriam W as well <3

Pics below, More later :)

PS. If you go to my Videography section you'll see all the videos Ive made of me and M's travel that I mentioned above. Ill be editing the England one this week and will post later. 

 

 

 

Samuel Shumway