Tag Archives: United Kingdom

London Through New Eyes

London was never my favorite city. Alex and I had come here first as teenagers, visiting with our parents for a cold, rainy Christmas while I would have preferred relaxing by the beach in California.

Our parents had a special connection to London – they had both lived here when they’d first started dating back in the 70s, when my mother was a Pan Am stewardess and my father was a backpacker from New Zealand.

But I never understood why they liked the city so much. To me, it was a succession of icons I felt I’d already seen a million times – Big Ben, stone-faced Beefeaters in funny hats, and red telephone booths.  London felt cliched.  The major upside was that we could order pints years before we were 21. The downside was that the beer was warm.

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This time I came back with a new set of eyes. Over the last few years, a lot of signs in our lives have been pointing towards London. First off, a lot of our friends have moved to London for work. Then last year we won the #mybbb contest, sponsored by London-based My Destination.

On that trip, we met Jack and Finn Harries from JacksGap (also Londoners) who introduced us to the UK YouTube scene, which we found much more vibrant and closely knit than its American equivalent. And after pitching travel-themed TV shows to Hollywood, we found that travel television was much stronger in the UK than the US.

So we planned to come to London. We spent four months in Los Angeles taking a break from our travels, re-branding our YouTube channel, building a website and planning out our trip. But we would not experience London like we had before – trapped in the tourist spots and insulated from the city by our guidebooks.

Instead, we would discover London through the locals, exploring it by neighborhoods instead of landmarks, seeking out things we loved to do back home – image_5not what our guidebooks told us was important.

 

Now, after nearly three weeks in the city, we can declare our trip here a total success. We’re getting ready to release some videos that we know you’re going to love – collaborations with local YouTubers and bloggers who have helped us uncover places we never could have found on our own.

From great food to craft beer pubs, amazing street art to underground galleries, we’ve got a nice set of videos that image_4we’re excited to share with you soon. For me, it’s been more than a trip. It’s been a revelation, a discovery of how much of London we’d missed beforehand – and how much more there is to find.

 

We hope you like the videos. As always, stay in touch and send us your tips for London or anywhere else we should check out.

Next stop: VidCon in Anaheim, California!

Searching for our Saxon Roots in Sussex

During their stop in London, Marko and Alex set off for the countryside to search for their ancestral village in Sussex, England. Appeared on MSN Travel UK on 5 October, 2013.

The patrons of the Hamilton Arms pub stared at us bemusedly, making my brother Alex and I feel surprisingly out of place in our supposed ancestral village.  I was starting to think our mission might be in vain.

“Let me get this straight,” said one of the villagers, “You came all the way from California just to find some bloke with your last name?”

“It’s more than that,” I said, describing the feeling of uprootedness that comes with immigrating to the New World, how in America we’ve lost touch with our origins, how having parents from different countries means you grow up part of two cultures, but not entirely of either…

“California,” mused our bar-mate with a laugh, “That sure as hell sounds better than this rainy dump.”

I was beginning to realize our quest might be an American thing.

Read the full story on MSN Travel UK. 

Becoming a True Scot in Edinburgh

The brothers put on kilts and pretend to be Scots – only to discover what it really means to be a “true Scot.”  Appeared on MSN Travel UK on 24 September, 2013.

“We could totally start charging money for this,” said my brother Alex as we finished taking a photo with a pair of Italian tourists in front of Edinburgh Castle.  “Everyone thinks we’re Scottish.”

I laughed as I squatted down to open the camera bag, tucking my kilt to ensure that I didn’t expose myself before the queue forming outside the ticket window.

It was our first time wearing kilts, and the decision to film this week’s episode in traditional Scottish costume was producing an unexpected side-effect: while any local could tell from our accents that we were American, hoards of fellow tourists were asking for photos with ‘real Scotsmen.’

We were soon approached by an elderly Indian tourist.

“How much for a photo?” he asked Alex.

“Umm…one pound?” my brother suggested with a smile.

The man nodded and brought his family over for three snaps with his camera phone.  As we broke from our poses, I waited for Alex to say he was joking, that we were imposters.  Instead, Alex opened his palm, slipped the man’s coin into his sporran, and wished him good day.

“What?” Alex asked me defensively.  “A few more and we’ll have enough for a pint!”

Read the full article on MSN Travel UK. 

 

Tamborrada: The Beat of a Basque Drum

Napoleonic soldiers and pot-bellied chefs storm the streets of San Sebastian, Spain for a massive showdown – a city-wide drum battle called the Tamborrada. But what’s with the costumes and why are locals so stoked about this fiesta?

Before we crack open our beers, we hear the stories from the city’s darkest days and learn why so many people are proud to be from San Sebastian.