Monday, December 20, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside...

The holiday season is here for sure, and we know this because it is COLD in England!  We got about 3 inches of snow here in Cambridge over the weekend, and although that may not sound like much, you have to understand that England does not have the infrastructure to handle snow and ice.  So many flights were canceled this weekend, roads were icy, and trains were stopped.  Hopefully, the worst is over as we have trips to Spain and Scotland planned this week.

We didn't make it to York due to the snow, and also because we were both pretty drained. We spent the weekend catching up on some much needed sleep and American television and movies :)  It feels so weird that its Christmas and New Year's and neither of us will see our families this season.  I think this may be the first holiday that I have not seen my family, and its a bit strange.

We didn't decorate our home, and we didn't buy any presents - but we are traveling - and I am learning that our travel experiences are really worth way more than any gift we could give each other.  As we make memories and create stories to tell our little ones (in a few years),  I am reminded that the holidays are not about how much money we spend, but how much time we spend with the people we love.

Wherever you are this season, I hope you are with at least one person that you love,  and that it's time well spent.  Safe traveling and stay warm :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Awww....Dam!


Two weeks ago, the USA celebrated Thanksgiving (I will save my thoughts on this holiday for a later post), and we thought we should really make the most of our long weekend here in Europe.  So, we packed up a small bag (because we flew easyjet!) and headed to Amsterdam for four days.

You may think that the only reason to visit Amsterdam is for coffee shops and red lights, but this is such a cool city with so much more to offer.  And with the the rumors that the Amsterdam government will soon stop selling "coffee" to tourists and that the Red Light District will continue to decrease in size, you may want to plan to see some other parts of the city while you are there.


We flew from London Stansted to Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, a quick 45 minute flight. Upon arrival, we breezed through immigrations and customs and headed out to the bus stops where we caught the #197 bus to Leidseplein. The bus dropped us on the bridge just across from the Marriott, and all we had to do was turn around and there was the Marriott! Luckily our room was available at 9am so we checked in and napped for a few hours. We had been awake since 4am...

Let me tell you about the Marriott in Leidseplein - if you find yourself in Amsterdam, this may be one of the best places to stay.  The location was perfect, and everything we wanted to see/do was within walking distance.  The executive lounge is one of the best we have seen - great snacks throughout the day and cocktail hour in the evenings, also extremely spacious and well decorated.  The staff here are very helpful and the concierge was extremely informative.

Once you are all settled wherever you choose to stay in the area, it really is so easy to get out and explore the city.  After you have had enough of the "coffee" and red lights, here are some other places that you should not miss on a long weekend in Amsterdam:

  • Anne Frank House and the Jordaan Neighborhood
  • From there, walk behind the house to see the Homomonument and then onto Sara's Pancake House for a quick snack
  • Head to the Dam Square to take in all the sites, tour the Royal Palace and people watch.
  • From the Dam, its an easy walk to the Red Light District -  many smaller museums are location on this street like the Hash Museum and Erotic Museum.
  • By now, you will be tired...grab dinner and cocktails and enjoy the night!
  • Another day, head to Museumplein and check out Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum
  • From there its a beautiful walk to the Singel flower market and then on to Spui and Rokin for a Canal Boat Tour with Rondvaart tour company.
  • There's a GREAT sushi restaurant near the river here, I forget the name but it's easy to spot and GOOD!
  • Your last day, shop in the Leidseplein area and then visit the Amsterdam History Museum
  • Take a walk to the Begijnhof and then have rijstaffel (Indonesian rice table) at nearby Kantjil & de Tijger. 
  • Hangout in Rembrandtplein
  • Take in a an improv comedy show at Boom! Chicago in Leidseplein - its great and a taste of "home" with American comedians who live in Amsterdam
Up next...York!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Paradise...

Can you believe it's been two months since I last wrote anything on this blog?!?! It's a shame...but I have a good excuse.  I was back in the United States to get married and then onto Turks and Caicos to honeymoon, so I think I earned the break.  I have been thinking about what I would write today, and how much of it would be travel related.  I will tell you that Turks and Caicos is a true paradise on earth, and that of all the Caribbean islands we have visited, THIS is the place I would love to return, time and time again.  More on that in a bit...

Getting married was the most emotionally filling experience of my life.  Of course, there is drama and chaos when planning a wedding, and a to-do list that never seems to end, only grow longer.  To top it all off, we planned our wedding (with the help of a fabulous planner) from England!  Imagine having to schedule things and pay for things without actually seeing them? Or trusting in other people to do things for you from so far away?  It was not easy, but it was an experience that taught me so much.

Here's what I learned:
  • My husband and I are capable of achieving anything, we are team players, we are supportive and we get SH!T done.  We know when the other wants a break, and we know when we need to put business aside for some fun.  
  • Giving up control to someone else and trusting in someone's advice and experience is a relief.  We were so fortunate to have a planner, however, it was not easy for me at first.  I am, by nature, a control freak and a planner.   Letting go and letting someone else manage was amazing for me.  I grew from that experience and I will apply it in other areas of my life.
  • Family and friends are everything.  We are so far away and we miss those closest to us more than you will ever know (unless you have lived overseas).  Our loved ones are so supportive of us, but it doesn't get easier to hug someone and say "see you later".  That good-bye hug is always painful.  I always walk away strong (well, I try to at least), but usually cry a little on the long flight back across the pond.
  • We were so blessed to GIVE that special day to our families and friends.  It meant so much to have them there.  They gave us their presence, and we hope that we have given them a night they may never forget.  
  • I am stronger than I ever thought I was - we did it!!!
  • And lastly, I would like to never plan another wedding, ever.  It's fun once, and that's all I will say about that :)
Now onto the traveling advice - that is what you came here to read, right?  If you ever find yourself with time, money and the opportunity to spend time on Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, then here is what you MUST know.
  • This place has the clearest, calmest, bluest water I have seen in my life.  You have to see it to believe it.  I promise.
  • You have to eat lobster EVERY day, and you must plan to visit during lobster season - it's a rule - I just made it up.
  • You must try conch salad - don't let the fact that it's raw turn you away - its taste like chicken :)
  • Take a full day tour with Dream Caicos - snorkel, swim in 7000 ft deep water, dive for conchs. enjoy a secluded beach, have a bbq lunch and then try some fresh conch salad - it will change your life.
  • Play golf if you like, or while your partner plays golf, go to a spa.  Enjoy it.
  • You have got to eat at these places - Coco Bistro, Bay Bistro, Da Conch Shack (on a Thursday night), Tiki Hut (on a Wednesday), Yoshi Sushi (yes, sushi..on an island), Mango Reef ( the lobster pasta is everything), and Hemmingways
  • Considering spending your vacation at the Gansevoort, and letting Kalvin be your taxi driver for the week.  Stock up on snacks and spirits at the local IGA, settle in, and enjoy.
  • Drinks lots of rum punch, relax, and take in every moment and every sunset - this is what dreams are made of right here.
Tomorrow morning, we are off to spend Thanksgiving in Amsterdam!  Until next time, be thankful!!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

When in Rome...



So, I will preface this post by stating that its not as insightful or creative as I would like it to be, but I do want to share our 3 days in Rome with you.  We just have lots of other big things going on these days....like, getting married in two weeks!!  However, if you have 3 days to spend in Rome, I cannot really think of a better way to spend the time - we saw so much of the city and really found everything easy to navigate.

Pre-Trip Planning

We purchased our Roma Pass online in advance and picked them up at the tourist stand in Ciampino Airport - super easy and highly recommended.  The experts on tripadvisor.com helped me to plan our 3 days so that we could maximize the benefits of the Roma Pass.  We also made our reservations for the Borghese Gallery in advance, over the phone.  We did not pay for these tickets, only made reservations - our entry was free with Roma Pass.  And, we booked our reservation to the Vatican in advance as well, it wasn’t too crowded when we got there, but it was nice to not have to wait in line.  We also downloaded Rick Steve’s FREE Rome Audio guides -these saved quite a bit of money and were useful at most of the major attractions - do this.

Day 1 in Rome


We flew from London’s Stansted airport into Rome’s Ciampino airport. It was an easy flight on Ryanair AND we survived all of the carry-on luggage rules and regulations.  Upon arrival in Rome, we picked up our Roma Passes and headed to find transportation.  We had every intention of trying the shuttle bus and saving some money, but we were tired, hot, and ready to get to our hotel, so we took a taxi.  Before getting in the taxi, we confirmed that the cost to our hotel (Marriott Grand Flora) would be 40 Euro - its the standard set cost, its the law. 

We arrived at the hotel, check in, dropped our bags and quickly changed.  We grabbed a quick lunch and we were off to Vatican City!  Since the Roma Pass covers metro transportation, we took advantage of this whenever possible - we took the Metro to Vatican City and spent most of the remainder of our day there.

In Vatican City, we toured the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St Peter’s Basilica.  We took the elevator ride and 320 narrow, hot, stair climb up to the top of St. Peter’s Dome for some of the most amazing view of Rome!  The stairs really weren’t that bad, but it was hot and the staircase was extremely narrow - I do not recommend this if you are claustrophobic! After leaving the dome, we spent some time in St. Peter’s Square taking in the sites and reading about the history that was surrounding us. 

After leaving St. Peter’s square, we crossed the Tiber River and grabbed a pizza and a few beers - we were pretty exhausted at this point.  We had planned to go to the Colosseum, but we were exhausted.  Instead, we used google maps on our phone and headed to Gelateria del Teatro - we had been told this was THE place to go for gelato in Rome and boy was the walk worth it!  We compared all other gelato in Rome to this place, and none of it could top it!  The pistachio gelato was our favorite - do this. 

After our pizza, beer and gelato we were pretty full and ready to relax a bit.  We took a taxi back to the Marriott and hung out for a few hours before heading to dinner.  We had dinner in Campo de’ Fiori at Ristorante la Carbonara.  The area is quite touristy, but it was nice to people watch while we enjoyed our meal.  The food was okay, I think we may have ordered the wrong items - because I hear the place is pretty good. Anyway, we saved room for dessert, because we had plans for that!

After dinner, we walked around Campo de’ Fiori for a bit and took in the sites of the square.  Then we started our way back to hotel with Rick Steve’s Night Walk Across Rome as our guide - this walk took us to the following places:  Piazza Navona and the Four Rivers Fountain, Tre Scalini Bar in the piazza for a tartufo “death by chocolate” ice cream for dessert,  a night view of the Pantheon, Piazza Capranica, Piazza Colonna, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps - we took our time enjoying all of the sites, taking photos and really absorbing it all - it was a beautiful night.

Day 2 in Rome

Sunday morning we slept in and then grabbed a small breakfast at a cafe near the Marriott.  From there, we walked over to the Borghese Gallery through the Borghese Gardens for our 11:00am reservation to tour the Museum.  This was an easy walk from the Marriott - the gardens are just beyond the ancient wall to the right of the hotel.  The Borghese Gallery was amazing - we really enjoyed it and it was the perfect size - not too overwhelming.  The audioguide was also well worth the cost - definitely recommend this museum - but be sure to make your reservations in advance - lots of people just showed up and had to wait hours for the next available time slot. 

After the museum, we took the metro to the Colosseum - when you walk out of the metro stop the Colosseum is directly in front of you - amazing!  Getting into the Colosseum with the Roma Pass was a breeze, no line to wait in at all.  We used Rick Steve’s audio guide here also, so we were all set.  After the Colosseum, we grabbed lunch and then toured the Roman Forums (again with the RS guide) and headed up the stairs to Capitoline Hil.  We didn’t do any of the museums here because our time was limited, but we took lots of photos, sat on the steps and took it all in - again.

From here, we headed to the Pantheon - we walked a lot this day.  The weather was great and I don’t think we realized how much we were walking because of all of sites we saw along the way.  We used the audioguide again here - it took about 45 mins to really “see” the Pantheon and learn about it’s history.  There is not a line to enter and entry is free.  Easy.  After the Pantheon, we grabbed more gelato - when in Rome...

We headed back to our hotel to rest - we were tired - the sun and walking had worn us out.  We grabbed a quick nap, and then headed out to dinner in Trastevere - another touristy, lively neighborhood of Rome.  We had dinner at Ristorante Checco, outdoors in their covered dining area - this was a great meal, we really enjoyed it and the food was delicious!  The pasta was probably the highlight of our meal.  We hung out in the area some and took some pretty cool night photos of the Tiber River.

Day 3 in Rome

On our final day in Rome, we had planned to head to the Appian Way and to see the catacombs, but we thought it might be a stretch since we were flying back to London on the same day.  Instead, we decided to see some other sites in Rome that we had missed the previous two days. 

From our hotel, we walked to the Cappucin Crypt - its in the same area of the Marriott, so this was an easy walk.  The crypt, which is below the church of Santa Maria on Via Veneto houses the bones of more than 4000 monks - the bones are “artfully” arranged in various rooms - we could not take photos, but google this place - you have to see it!  After leaving here, we grabbed lunch and walked towards the Victor Emmanuel Monument, we took photos here but didn’t go in, we also took some photos at Trajan’s Column and Forum, and then headed to Mamertime Prison near the Roman Forums.  We weren’t sure what to expect with their tour, but I am glad we decided to tour the prison - this is where Saints Peter and Paul were once held.  It was also interesting to see how structures were built on top of other stuctures over the years, today, there is a church above the prison. 

After leaving the prison, we grabbed our final gelato in Rome, picked up our bags from Marriott and took a taxi back to the airport.  What a wonderful, educational three days in Rome!  The weather was great and while we didn’t se everything, we saw so much and made so many memories!  Hope this guide helps you on your visit to Rome!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Letter to My 19 Year Old Self

This post was inspired by a similar letter that a friend of mine wrote to her younger self.  At the time, I thought it was a great idea, but I really was not certain of what I would write to younger myself, so I decided to hold off on the letter.  And tonight at 12:00am, when I have a flight to catch in 3 hours, I was compelled to write...

Allyson,

You will be turning 19 next month, and there are somethings you need to know. 

On Time:

Right now, a year seems like forever to you and you are counting down for the end of each semester.  Trust me, you should cherish each of these days of your college life and make memories that will last forever.  Take time and get to know more people, don’t just stay close to your main circle of friends.  You will be surprised at the awesome group of diverse classmates you have, and you will regret not taking the time to get know them years later.

Soon, life will go by right before your eyes, and a year will seem like only a few months to you.  You will see loved ones pass away and learn that you are not invincible the way that you seem to think you are.  Protect yourself and your loved ones, because this it, its the one chance we have at life, there are no do-overs.

On Money:

While you may think that signing up for a credit card in order to receive a free t-shirt or meal on spring break makes perfect economic sense, you are so wrong.  Be smart with your money, and don’t fall for the schemes that target college students.  You will pay for them for years to come. 

Practice the importance of having irreplaceable life experiences and not having replaceable things.  In the end, you will not look back on your life and think about the shoes you wore or the purse you carried, but you will remember all of the amazing people and places that were a part of your life experience.  Never get so caught up in things that you forget to create memories. 

On Love:

You are your hardest critic, and you don’t give yourself enough credit.  You are much more strong, beautiful and worthy than you think you are.   You should try dating people who think this also.  Be careful of who you choose to let into your life and how you define love. 

Do not expect that people will always hurt you, and do not push away the people who are not hurting you.  Trust me, one day, when you have pretty much decided that relationships just aren’t for you, you’ll meet someone who will show you what you truly deserve.  True love really is worth the wait.

But don’t worry, everything you are going through, including the heartache, is helping you to learn and grow.  It will make you appreciate the real thing, when it finally does come along.   Don’t compare your love life and relationship status to everyone else’s - “forever” isn’t something you should rush or force.

On People:

Be prepared for both the good and bad in people to shock you.  You will be disappointed and pleasantly surprised by random strangers and friends and family.  Try not to judge people.  You may think you know what’s going in someone’s life or why they are a certain way, but you really have no clue.  Always strive to see the best in people, but strong enough to remove toxic people from your life. 

Don’t assume that people are not doing what you think they should or there for you the way you think they should be because they just don’t care.  Think about the amount that people have to “give” to you as a glass of water - for some people there glass is full and they have lots of time / generosity to give, they will be very present.  For others, there glass is maybe only half full of water or less - they may not have it in them to be the friend of family member that you think they should be - but this likely has nothing at all to do with you.  You have no clue what these people have gone through and you should be appreciative of every moment that anyone is capable of giving.

You don’t have to please everyone, and everyone does not have to be your friend.  Learn to choose your happiness over other people’s - because most people are choosing their happiness over your own.  Know when its time to put yourself first and don’t feel bad for doing it.  Also, its OK to say NO to people, and when you do, don’t regret it at all.

Cherish the people closest to you, and make sure that they know how much you love them.  The time is now to let them know and create memories with them.

On Career:

You really don’t belong behind a desk or in front of a computer, but you’ll choose a career that puts you exactly there.  You should learn now to take risks and follow your dreams, even if those dreams are not immediately as financially lucrative as a more practical career.  Most people who take daring risks eventually reap much larger rewards, try it some time.  And, try not to always make excuses for why you are not following your dreams - because truly, none of these are acceptable. 

You are a people person, you love to travel, you love to help others, and you love to share your story - find a way to do this.  No matter what.

On Travel:

You think that you have seen the world now?  Just wait.  You can only imagine the places that you will go and see during your lifetime!  And the best part is...you will get to see these new places and create these new memories with your best friend.  Appreciate the opportunities that you have to travel the world, absorb the cultures and always remember that if you wanted to learn more about America, you would have stayed there instead of traveling the world.  Live among the locals,  eat with the locals, learn about the land and go home to tell the stories.  You don't know it now, but you are going to see and experience parts of the world that many people may not ever get to see.  Share what you have seen and learned, and let all of this have a positive effect on you.  You may not agree with what you see around the world, but learn from it and be moved by the goodness that you will find in people, no matter where you are.



On Health:

Take care of yourself.  Exercise and be mindful of what you eat.  Right now, you can eat anything you want, not work out, stay up late and not gain a pound.  This will all change, be prepared for hard work if you don’t make smart decisions today.

Allyson, you think you have your life all planned out, but be prepared for the twists and turns to come.  Someone one day will compare your life and adventures to a roller coaster - hold on, enjoy the ride.

Love,
Your (almost) 29 Year Old Self.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Carolina in My Mind...

"And I'm going to Carolina in mind...", well actually I really am going to Carolina in the morning - one last time before we go back together to get married.  I am thrilled to get home and see my family and friends, but again, I am really going to miss Cambridge because it has become "home" for me now, for obvious reasons.  Luckily, this time, my trip home is a week long, and not a month filled with business trips - I should be able to find time to relax and enjoy.

As I was packing for this trip, I started to think about how quickly time flies.  Can you believe we are already halfway finished with our 2-year time here in England?!   It has been an amazing journey and we have seen and shared so much together.  I am looking forward to the year to come - so many good things to focus on when those difficult times present themselves, and I am sure that they will.

This is truly a journey, and as a mentor told me once.  "You are about to have the experience of a life time, hold on and enjoy the ride!"

I am holding on, and I don't ever want this ride to end.

See you very soon Carolina.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The City of Light - Paris!



One European city that definitely requires more than a 3 days visit is “The City of Light” - Paris, France.  We spent Saturday - Monday of our July 4th weekend there this year, and it was a great trip, but as with most places we visit these days we wish we had a little more time.  Our goal is to see most of the places in Europe we have always wanted to visit, even if it requires weekend trips.  And while some may say these trips don’t do the city justice, I really have to disagree!  We have had some pretty amazing, educational and exciting weekend trips so far! 

Today, I give you 3 days in Paris...

We flew from London’s Luton airport into Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport - quick 50 minute flight.  And while the Eurostar train is a more scenic trip, the flight was pretty fast, and much less expensive than the train.  Once we arrived at the airport around 8:30am local time, we breezed through customs and headed outside to meet our hotel transportation.  We used parishuttle.com for this.  Departing the airport we discovered it was pouring rain outside!  Not the best way to start a holiday weekend, but..when you only have 3 days, the rain cannot stop you!

We arrived at our hotel and checked in, but since it was so early, we weren’t able to go to our rooms, so we dropped our bags at the front desk, grabbed whatever rain gear we had (which wasn’t much) and headed out to explore.  We headed to Notre Dame on the Metro subway system.

The rain actually proved to be our friend, as I suppose most tourists don’t want to go out in the rain, there was hardly any crowd or line at Notre Dame when we arrived -this quickly changed as soon as the skies started to clear up a bit!

First part of day one included:

Notre Dame Cathedral, Saint Chappelle Cathedral, views of the Siene River and “Love Locks”, Palais de Justice, one of the only original metro stops, flower market, the Deportation Memorial, a yummy Thai lunch in the Latin Quarter and some delicious ice cream from the famous Berthillon ice cream parlor, just across the river from Notre Dame.    All of these sites were in the same area and in walking distance to one another.  Afterwards, we took the metro back to our hotel (which was very close to the Eiffel Tower) and took in some day views of the Eiffel Tower, and people watched for a while, before a pretty long nap - we were exhausted!

Saturday evening, just before sunset, we headed back to the Eiffel Tower for our pre-booked reservations.  We purchased our tickets online for getting to the top of the tower, and saved ourselves from having to spend 4 hours waiting in line!  The trip to the top was great, despite a lot of annoying teenagers around us.  We enjoyed the sunset from the Eiffel Tower and all of the great views of Paris. 

Once we were back on the ground, we were able to see the tower at night on our walk towards Trocadero Place.  Here we experienced the most magnificent views of the Eiffel Tower, people-watched a bit as the World Cup celebration for Spain’s victory that same night was taking place, and then found a really cool place to grab dinner and drinks.  On our way back to the hotel, while walking through the Champs du Mars, we watched the Eiffel Tower’s hourly light show.

Sunday morning we woke up and headed to Versailles, it took about 30 -45 minutes to get there and as expected the train was packed with tourists.  Luckily we had purchased our tickets in advance and only had to wait in one REALLY long line, as opposed to two of them.  Versailles is great and we could have spent a whole day here, in fact we almost did.  After Versailles, we headed back into Paris and visited Napoleon’s Tomb and the Army Museum. 

After a nap, we had a bit more energy and headed back out for the evening.  For dinner, we went to Le Relais de L'Entrecote, one of the best places in Paris for steak frites (steak and fries).  Be sure to arrive around 7, as the line is crazy and they don’t take reservations!  Also, there is no menu!  Everyone gets steak frites served in this awesome curry sauce and a salad, your only choice is beverage and how you want your steak prepared - I recommend medium.  After a great meal and bottle of wine, we walked towards the river and enjoyed an evening boat cruise.  We saw many of the sites we had seen the previous day, but from a different view - very nice.

Monday morning, we checked out of our hotel and left our bags at the front desk.  We visited the Louvre and avoided lines using the underground metro entrance.  We spent about 2 hours here - and really only scratched the surface.  I had been here before, he had not.  An art lover could spend 3 days touring the Louvre, but due to our limited time we saw the most popular pieces of art, walked around a bit, and then were on our way! 

From the Louvre we walked through the Tuileries Gardens and Place de la Concorde to the Champs-Elysees - Paris’ most famous boulevard.   We did quite a bit of shopping on our way to see the Arc de Triomphe, and the walked back down the boulevard for more shopping and a bite to eat.   At this point, it was time to head back to our hotel and prepare for our flight to London.  We ate again in the Rue Cler neighborhood where our hotel was located and enjoyed the fact that this neighborhood was nowhere near as crowded as most of the places we visited this weekend.  We had a few macaroons, and headed back to London - great weekend, and there really is something to be said about Paris, love was certainly in the air :)

Next stop...Rome...stay tuned!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Prague, Czech Republic



We spent the weekend of June 18 -20th in Prague, Czech Republic, and I wanted to share our experience with others considering visiting this amazing city!  
We flew from London Stansted into Prague early Friday morning - flight was great and arrival/customs was a breeze.  Upon arrival we stopped at an ATM in the main airport halls to take out some cash, and purchased a ticket on the cedaz shuttle bus that would drop us off directly in front of the Marriott, at Namesti Republiky.   The overall service of the shuttle was great, but I will mention that the first shuttle that went past was full so we had to wait another 30 minutes for the next shuttle - not a huge deal, but we were eager to check in and start exploring - sitting outside of an airport for an hour wasn’t ideal, and we probably would just take a taxi to save time in the future.
Upon arrival at the Marriott we checked in, our room was ready, and dropped off our bags.  Grabbed a quick lunch in the Marriott hotel and then headed off to explore.  Our day started with a walk from our hotel past Wenceslas Square to the Tram #22 stop.  This tram is a great way to get orientation to the city of Prague and stops at most of the main attractions and areas of Prague.  We rode the tram into the Castle Quarter to the Pohorelec stop.   From here, we walked over to the Strahov Monastery and Library, and downhill through the gate to the monastery gardens - this was a highlight of the day and some of the most amazing city views we have seen.  After taking in the views we walked along to the Castle Square and then on into Prague Castle, which is more like a complex than an actual castle.  Within the castle gates, we visited St Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace, the Basilica and Convent of St George and the Golden Lane.  
Once we left Prague Castle, we found our way down a staircase that led us into Prague’s Little Quarter, and while this area wasn’t full of tourist attraction, it was a very charming neighborhood that did not feel as crowded as it actually was.  On our way, we found a great viewing area of the Charles Bridge, down by the water / shore - awesome photo opportunity.  In the Little Quarter, we visited the Lennon Wall, where graffiti has been since 1980 when John Lennon was killed.  For a long time, police would remove the graffiti every night and it would reappear the next day. This was also a gathering place for peace-seekers in Prague until their independence came in 1989. Kampa Island, Little Quarter Square, and the Church of St Nicholas other places we toured during our time in Little Quarter.  
We left Little Quarter by crossing the Charles Bridge, got some great daytime views from the bridge and enjoyed the various performers on the bridge.  The other side of the bridge leads you to the Old Town Square through Karlova Street - a zig-zagged, narrow street full of tourists, tourist traps, and marionette dolls. We arrived into Old Town Square with perfect timing as the astronomical clock was just about to strike on the hour, so we joined with other crowds and waited -  the “show” was underwhelming, but it was a bit magical as we had a guidebook that explained all of the figures and what each meant.  Lucky for us, the town square had a jumbo screen setup in the middle for the World Cup and USA was playing!  So we grabbed some food from the street vendors and enjoyed the sites, game and great weather for a while.  While in town square, be sure to look for the Tyn Church, the 27 crosses, Church of St Nicolas, and the Jan Hus Memorial.  
We were pretty worn out at this point, so we headed back to our hotel, stopping at the Billa Supermarket for some water and other things we needed for the weekend.  After  quick nap, we were ready to head out for dinner.  Our concierge at the Marriott was a huge help and arranged reservations for us at Hergetova Cihelna (recommended to me by a friend) - this place has THE MOST amazing view of Charles Bridge at night!  We sat outside, right by the water - our tables we covered which was a good thing since it started to rain, and they also have blankets at each chair in case it gets cool.  The food was not the best, but it was definitely a great experience and worth the views.  We left the restaurant when it stopped raining and headed back across Charles Bridge into the Old Town. 
That night, we took some really cool pictures of Prague and its architecture on the bridge and the while in Old Town - we headed to M1 Lounge and had drinks and hung out for a while - pretty cool spot.  
Saturday morning, we woke up pretty early as we were scheduled to tour Terezin Concentration Camp with Martin Tours - we usually do not like to be part of a tour group but considering our short time here in Prague and the distance from Prague to Terezin we opted for a tour because we really could not afford to waste time or get lost!  This was a great tour, and it was not too crowded at all - there were maybe 15 people on our tour.  You can read much more about Terezin hereTerezin and brought 60,000 Jews here to form a “model” concentration camp.  This was the place that Hitler would show in propaganda and to international organizations like the Red Cross to prove that he was not harming anyone.  He would also force the Jews at Terezin to be part of propaganda videos, were they were forced to pretend they were enjoying themselves, play soccer, and say that this was a great place.  
This is a sobering place and very moving.  Some of the areas that we will never forget include:
  • The children’s museum, where the artwork of the 100,000 children who were held here is stored.  Only 100 of these children survived.  
  • The washroom that was used for show, the prisoners were never allowed to actually use it and no water was connected to the sinks.
  • The shower stalls that were used to fool the Jews - they got used to the idea of communal showers here at Terezin and then when they were moved to Auschwitz they  had no clue that the shower stall were actually gas chambers that would send them to their deaths. 
  • The sign above the prison cells reads “Arbeit Macht Frei” - “Work Makes You Free”...
  • The execution hall and grounds - this was dark, narrow 15 minute walk through a hallway that led to execution grounds - prisoners would take this walk prior to their execution.  
I recommend this trip to everyone who visits Prague - Prague is an amazing city with lots to do, but I think we all need to see this so we never forget what happened.  
When we returned back to Prague from our day trip, we took a quick nap and relaxed for a bit before heading back out to explore Prague.  We climbed to the top of one of bridge towers for a photo-op, and stopped at the John of Nepomuk statue and brass relief on the bridge to rub the “magic” spot and make our one wish - we’ll keep you posted on if our wishes come true :)  We grabbed a quick bite to eat, had some Cream and Dream Ice Cream on Karlova street and called it a night.
The next morning, we headed to visit the Jewish Quarter - this is the area where Jews were allowed to store their archives while the Nazis were clearing their communities and sending them to concentration camps.  We avoided the lines by buying our tickets to see all of the sites at the Maisel Synagogue instead of the Pinkas Synagogue.  We toured both synagogues, Old Jewish cemetery, the ceremonial hall and the old-new synagogue.  Perhaps, the most moving was the cemetery.  From 1439 - 1787 this was the only burial ground were Jews were allowed to bury their loved ones in Prague.  Over 12,000 people have buried here - over time, they have been buried on top of one another as the space is limited - this has led to the shifting of tombstone and the formation of a raised space because of the numbers buried.  Also quite moving were 77,297 names of the Jews moved form Prague to Auschwitz to be killed in gas chambers hand-written on the walls of the Pinkas Synagogue.
After leaving the Jewish Quarter, we walked back towards the Old Town Square, shopped a little, grabbed lunch and headed to our hotel where we took a taxi to the airport.  Prague is a beautiful city that is full of history - when we found out we were going to be living in England for a few years, of all the places I wanted to visit, I never considered Prague - however, this is definitely a place to visit if you ever get the chance!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The French Riviera - Trip Report



So, if you follow my blog then you know that we have been traveling quite a bit lately.  You also know that we recently visited the south of France for a planned long weekend.  However, due to a little SNAFU, our 3-day trip, became a 2-day trip.  So, I will start off by saying that you certainly need more than 2 days to do this trip justice, and in fact, even after 3 days you will still wish you could stay longer - this place is just that beautiful.

We flew into Nice, and took the #210 Xpress bus directly into Cannes - this was very easy and comfortable  - about a 30-40 minute ride.  The bus dropped us off right at the main port in Cannes, and our walk to the Intercontinental Carlton hotel was pleasant with very little luggage.  The Carlton is a classic, elegant, historic hotel - it is everything that you imagine a hotel like this would be - great location, rooms and service.  We checked into the hotel and immediately headed out to explore as our time was very limited.

Now, many people will say that Cannes is not the best "home base" for a trip like this, and while I can see their point - if you like sandy beaches (and not pebble beaches like Nice has) and you really want to relax - then this is the place to be!  In Cannes, we strolled the Promenade, took in the gorgeous views of the beach, grabbed some lunch, stood on the famous Cannes film festival red carpet, and checked out the Port and Old Town Square - that about covers the things to do in Cannes :)

From there, we took a train into Monaco where we spent the remainder of the afternoon and evening.  In Monaco, we walked from the station to Palace Square - on the way we saw the Grand Prix de Monaco race track - at Palace Square, we took in some awesome views of the city and sea below us, the Prince's Palace, the Fontieville district, the Cathedral of Monaco, the Cousteau Aquarium (which was built on a cliff, just amazing!!), and the Jardin Exotique - from their we headed back down to the port and checked out the big boy yachts and grabbed dinner.  While at dinner, we met a really fun American brother and sister who were touring France and Italy with their parents - we ended spending the rest of our evening finishing our bottle of wine (and theirs) and having great conversation!

Here's the thing -we missed out on seeing the famous Monte Carlo casino - our dinner and conversation took longer than expected and we really were enjoying ourselves!  We had to catch the last train from Monaco to Cannes, and weren't able to see the casino - my one regret of the trip really, well that and totally getting our departure airport from London wrong, causing us to miss an entire day! - but a great excuse to go back and visit this beautiful place again!

Once back in Cannes, we were pretty worn out and called it a night.  We woke up early the next morning, grabbed a quick breakfast and hung out a bit on the beach in Cannes.  After checking out of the hotel, we took the train back into Nice - where we would fly out of later that evening.

Once in Nice, we headed towards the Avenue Jean Medicin, Nice's "main street".  We arrived at the Place Massena and took in the sights, the fountains and architecture.  What was really cool is that the president of France was hosting several African dignitaries in Nice this particular weekend, and they were having lunch at a restaurant nearby, so security was everywhere and crowds were waiting to catch a glimpse of the government officials.  From here, we walked to Cours Saleya, Nice's main market square and then over to the Promenade where we hung out on the pebble beaches, took some cool photos and explored the area.  When it was time, we grabbed a taxi and headed back to the airport.

We were exhausted, and we needed more time - but this was a great weekend - and we certainly found a place that we want to see again!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It's Been A Long Time..


I shouldn't have left you...(you may know the rest!). OK friends, it really has been too long, I know.  I am going to make every effort to keep better updates on how things are going, where we are going, and where my thoughts are.  So, since I last shared with you, I have been to New York, North Carolina, Las Vegas, Cannes, Nice and Monaco!  Yes, it has been exhausting but great experiences along the way.

I won't give too many details on the trip to States, b/c it frankly was not a tourist trip, but I will share this with you - there were times when I was back in the US when I longed to here in Cambridge - I really never thought I could miss this place the way I did.  My trips to NY and Las Vegas were work-related, stressful, exhausting and really pushed me to the limit physically and mentally.  My time in NC with my family was awesome - but very emotional.

As I am entering my "grown up" years, I am also entering that phase of life where things begin to change - its hard to see parents age and their health not be what it once was, its hard to walk away from someone in the hospital and know you can't see them again for months.  It's not easy to get a phone call that your someone you love is being rushed to the ER. But you know what?  It means the world to be close enough to rush to someone's side, hold someone's hand, cry with them, hug them, laugh with them - it means everything.  I had to go through some things with my family that I really would have rather not experienced, but the fact that I was there to go through it with them and not here in England...it meant so much.

Life will happen whether you live next door to your loved ones or one the other side of the world.  I cannot control the happiness and health of anyone I love, no matter where I live.  But what I can do is make the moments we have together in person, on the phone, on iChat, whatever it may be, worthwhile.  I can make them smile, inspire them, be open and honest with them and allow them to do the same...

Now...that was the USA adventure....from there we move to the French Riviera, a bit less stressful and exhausting :)

For Memorial Day weekend, we planned a trip to Nice, Cannes and Monaco in the south of France.  We were supposed to leave on Saturday morning....here's a travel tip for you:

MAKE SURE YOU KNOW YOUR DEPARTURE AIRPORT 
BEFORE LEAVING YOUR HOME

Yeah, so....I thought we were flying out of one London airport, and we were actually supposed to fly out of a different one, in the complete opposite direction!  We didn't figure this out until we had parked in long term parking, taken the shuttle to the airport and attempted to check-in at the WRONG airport!  Yes, it was awful!  I wanted to cry and needless to say it was a silent ride from the wrong airport back to our home at 7am that day :)  However, we didn't let it stop our trip.  We found a one way ticket that left first thing Sunday morning and we spent all of Sunday and Monday touring the area.

Our home base was the Intercontinental Carlton in Cannes (pronounced "can").  Many will suggest you stay in Nice (pronounced "niece") because there is more to do, but if you want the perfect place to do nothing - then Cannes is the place for you!  From Cannes we took the train to Monte Carlo/Monaco and also into Nice - very easy to get around in this area and definitely worth a return trip for us since we missed a day :)  ** I will post a detailed trip report as my next post for those interested!

Friday morning we leave for Prague, Czech Republic - I think it's going to rain every day we are there - but that is nothing for us these days!  When you live in England, rain does not stop your plans for the day!  All in all, its been an exciting few months since I last shared with you - definitely some highs and lows, but that's life I suppose.  

I am blessed to have some pretty crazy stories to tell these days and thankful that you care to read them from time to time :)

(By the way, I know this really should have been two posts, but I needed to get this update to you in whatever way it came to me!)

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Ash Has Passed! U.S.A Bound!


Who would have thought I would ever live in a place where air traffic was at a COMPLETE standstill due to a volcanic ash cloud?   And...in case you are having trouble pronouncing the Icelandic volcano's name, check out this video.  Its been quite a news adventure here in the United Kingdom, but it sounds like the ash has passed, and we can now travel freely again.  

I am headed to New York, North Carolina, and Las Vegas over the course of this next month, and while I am so excited to see my family and friends, I really will miss this place.  That's hard to admit, considering the mess of a time we have had with the house we live in, getting unpacked, and trying to have all appliances functioning, as expected, at the same time - hasn't happened yet.

It's been difficult because there is a level of customer service, a sense of urgency and the "get in done now" mentality that we have in the States, that really is lacking in the UK.  Things take much longer to get repaired and no one is really concerned with our issues, the way we want them to be at least.

There have been days these past few weeks, where it really was not easy or fun at all.  There were days when we both have said and thought "What in the Hell were we thinking moving here?!?".  There have been days when we forgot about the awesome opportunity we have here and focused solely on the things that were going wrong.  Being the ultimate optimist, this is not what I would normally recommend, and sometimes it takes both of us to pull ourselves back on track and focus on all of the amazing things we have going on in our lives (living/working abroad, home finally rented out in NC!, traveling the world together, wedding in 5 months) - there are so many life experiences that we are getting to share together - and we try our best to remember that on those days when nothing here in the UK seems to go our way.

While its been tough some days to adjust, there is no one else in this world I would want to share this experience with, and there is no other place I would rather be than in Cambridge, UK where the plumbing sucks, internet is unreliable and the food can be rather bland :)

I would like to ask whoever reads this blog to remember this on your tough days - it really doesn't matter where we live, or how much $ we make, we each have our WTF days, and its ok to have them and to feel that way.  But, its important when those days arrive, we remember the awesome opportunities that have come our way, the amazing people that we are so fortunate to have in our lives, and the funny/sad/adventurous/inspiring stories we create AND live everyday!  I, for one, cannot wait to tell our children about our time abroad.

I look forward to my travels over this next month, but oddly enough this crazy place is starting to feel like "home" to me, and I look forward to returning here in a month! Of course, I do hope all the repairs are made before I return!

Safe travels in your daily journeys and adventures :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Brussels, Bruges, Ghent Trip Report

Here is a trip report i posted and some photos from our latest journey...my reflections to follow in next post :)



We spent a 3-day weekend in Brussels last week, we loved it! Here is what we did:
Day 1:
We took the Eurostar from St Pancras to Brussels at 620am, so we arrived Brussels very early Friday morning. Leaving the train station was easy, exchanged some pounds for euros, and quickly caught a taxi outside of the station. We stayed at the Marriott in the city center, near the Bourse (see my hotel review for more on Marriott). After arriving, we checked in, took a quick nap, then headed out to explore:
Walking from Marriott, we passed the Bourse, then headed to Grand Place, b/c of limited time, we didn't do any of the museums, but we did spend time in Grand Place using a tour book we had to read about the different buildings (hotel de ville, maison du roi, le renard, maison des ducs de brabarrt, le cornet, maison des brasseurs, maison de boulangers). We also looked to find the swan and fox in the grand place also.
From there we headed down rue charles blus, and rubbed the statue of everard 't serclaes for good luck! After passing the statue, we popped into Dandoy and purchased some biscuits to munch on over the weekend and saw the mannekin-pis. Afterwards, we grabbed lunch, and found the eglise saint-nicolas for a quick photo and also took some photos around the place saint gery. From there, we walked back toward grand place down the rue de bouchers(which is pretty cool) and ended up at the galeries royales de saint - hubert and did some window shopping and went into agora place where we took a photo of the statue of charles buls, had a waffle, and then purchased a smal box of chocolates from Leonidas. i also purchased a lace handkerchief for my wedding day while we were out. after this we were pretty exhausted, we ate dinner later that night at a great argentinean restaurant just off of the grand place, took some awesome night time photos in the grand place and enjoyed the great weather.
saturday - we woke up, grabbed a quick breakfast, and toook train to bruges - we LOVED this day - its worth it, really. after leaving the train station, we walked down the main road and stopped at the begijnhof - this is definitely a place to see, its so peaceful. we walked through the museum which was great also. at the exit, are some great photo ops of the river also.
from there we headed into town, we first went into the Church of Our Lady, where we saw Michaelangelo's Madonna and Child, and some other very nice artwork, this was a nice stop. after this we headed toward the markt. once here, we checked out the belfort, we didnt climb it b/c the line was quite long and our time was limited. we grabbed lunch in at a place around the markt and just took in the sites. we took briedalstraat (the st that connects burg to the markt) and arrived at the burg. we took in the sites here and read about each of the buildings in the square. we walked through blinde ezelstraat and took some more great photos along the river, grabbed a waffle and headed to the train station.
we took the train from bruges to ghent, but i have to tell you that our time in ghent was VERY limited. we walked around some and saw some of the main buildings in the city, but the construction in the city while we were there was horrendous - so many of the paths we needed to walk to get to places were through construction sites, so it didnt make for great photos and i am sure it took away from the beauty of the city. after seeing bruges, we were disappointed, and i am sure also a bit tired - so we took the train back into brussels. that night we grabbed dinner at an italian restaurant called latini in st catherines place - very good food here.
sunday - we woke up and took the subway to the atomium in brussels, we didnt go into the tour b/c our time was limited but it was decent photo op. i think this whole area would be great for children, or if you have more time to spend in brussels, but if your time is very limited, i dont know if i would put it on the must see list.
we took the train back into the city and got off at the parc station, we took photos of the royal palace, walked to sablon and really explored some more of the city streets. we stopped and took photos of the st michael cathedral, grabed lunch, and one more waffle for the road :) we hung out in marriott lounge, ate our waffle and had coffee, then took a taxi back to station to head back to london!
whew! ok, so we did a lot this weekend but it never felt rushed, i really enjoyed bruges and brussels and wish that we would have a better experience in ghent, the construction really doesnt give tourists the best experience i assume.
hope this review helps people out there who are looking to spend a weekend in this cool city!



Thursday, March 25, 2010

Welcome to Atlanta, Reminders From Home

Well, we arrrived safely in Atlanta, Georgia this Tuesday night, and let me just tell you, that it feels SO good to be back in the U. S. of A - and more specfically - the SOUTH!  I didn't realize how much I missed this place until we landed.  It really felt good to be back around familiar things and Southern hospitality.  It even felt great walking outside of the airport - the air is different in the South, maybe?

Little things that were so normal to us when we lived in the States have now increased in value tremendously - everything is cheaper here, people are nicer, the sun shines, and it just feels like home - I never lived in Atlanta - but I believe that living in another part of the world is making me realize how much I love that we get to call America home - no matter where else in the world we may live. 

Now, I love living in Europe - I love the newness of everything we do, I love that we can never complain that we are bored, and I love that we get to share this experience together.  I have traveled all over the world, but the feeling of when that plane's wheels touch down on a US runway, really, nothing can compare.

I want to share an article with you - something that is somehow related to everything I typed - living in different part of the world can be difficult, but it helps to have small reminders of home to help you adjust to your new surroundings - for example, watching US movies/tv when you can is a great escape.  Also, being able to get some type of US food chain, yes, even fast food is now a luxury - it all makes things seem a little bit more bareable on those tough days.

I just read this - Afghanistan military bases have decided to remove "luxuries" like Burger King, Dairy Queen and movie theatres (yes, I use Queen's English now!) from all of their bases.  I understand that this is a war zone and not a resort, but those small things probably really are a luxury for those serving there.  I know the feeling I get when we are on base in the UK shopping - just being able to purchase things from home that I cannot find anywhere else in England makes me still feel somehow "connected". 

Check out the article here

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Valentine's Day - And What I Love Most

This Valentine's weekend luckily fell on a 3-day weekend, so we both finished up with work early and took the train from Cambridge to London Friday afternoon.  Once we arrived, we checked into our favorite hotel, the Renaissance Chancery Court and relaxed for a bit.  Later that night, we went to the National Gallery, as its open late on Fridays, and grabbed dinner at Thai Cafe in Trafalgar Square.  We also checked out the Olympic excitement in Trafalgar Square (2012, London!).

                                  
National Gallery
Olympic Ice Sculpture, Trafalgar Square

Saturday we woke up and headed to the Tower of London, and the Tower Bridge - great experience and everyone who visits London should see this place.  From there we grabbed lunch and took the tube back to Covent Garden - we had tickets the the matinee showing of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" starring Sanna Lathan, Phylicia Rashad, and James Earl Jones.  What a magnificent production by Debbie Allen!!  And James Earl Jones was the STAR of this play!  After the play we grabbed dinner at Sopihe's, a yummy steakhouse in the theatre district of the city.



Tower Bridge, taken from the Tower of London
Novello Theatre, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Sunday, we took  a train out to Greenwich, where we visited the local attractions like the National Maritime Museum, the Painted Hall and the Queen's House. We also  stood on the Prime Meridian and set our watches at the most accurate place on earth! We also had pretty good fajitas and margaritas at Cafe Sol  - great day, cold, but lots of fun together!


That line in between us is the Prime Meridian, and yes..that is it

Monday, we hung out on Oxford and Regent Streets - and planned our shopping adventure that's scheduled for this coming weekend, and ate lunch at Maxwell's - the best place for chicken wings we have found so far :)

I was reflecting on this trip the past few days, and while there were no flowers, balloons or teddy bears on Valentine's Day - I was surrounded by many of the things that I love - him, a cool city, things I have never experienced before, great food and drinks, and a cultural and historical lesson that I am blessed to receive.  It was a beautiful weekend and there is nothing that I would change - not even the times we got lost, couldn't decide where to eat, got caught in the rain, etc - it all made the trip special and a moment of my life that I will always cherish - I cannot wait to see what's next!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Support Our Troops



Since moving to England a week ago, I have thought a lot about the commitment that our military and their families make for us.   I did not grow up in a military family, and I always thought that while I appreciated what our military does for us every day, that I KNEW it was not something for me.  And...here I am, about to become a part of a military family!  And so far, this experience, has taught me so much about the sacrifices that are made every single day for our freedom.

It seem cliche to type "Support Our Troops" these days, but I don't think we can really overstate this.  Over this past weekend, we went to comedy show just off the military base.  Until then, I had not yet realized how young some of the people are who serve - some of these kids are not old enough to buy drinks, but are here in England away from everything that they know.  I am learning so much right now, but also becoming more appreciative everyday....

I found this poem title "The Military Wife"  - I can relate to a lot of this - not the babies, not yet...but its a good poem - check it out:


The Military Wife

The good Lord was creating a model for military wives and was into his
sixth day of overtime when an angel appeared. She said, "Lord, you seem to
be having a lot of trouble with this one. What's the matter with the
standard model?" 

The Lord replied, "Have you seen the specs on this order? She has to be
completely independent, posses the qualities of both father and mother, be
a perfect hostess to four or forty with an hour's notice, run on black
coffee, handle every emergency imaginable without a manual, be able to
carry on cheerfully, ever if she's pregnant and has the flu, and she must
be willing to move 10 times in 17 years. And oh, yes, she must have six
pairs of hands."

The angel shook her head. "Six pairs of hands? No way!" 

The Lord continued, "Don't worry, we shall make other military wives to
help her. And we will give her an unusually strong heart so it can swell
with pride in her husband's achievements, sustain the pain of separations,
beat soundly when it's over-worked and tired, and be large enough to say 'I
understand,' when she does not, and say 'I love you,' regardless." 

The angel circled the model of the military wife, looked at it closely and
sighed, "It looks fine, but it's too soft." 

"She might look soft," replied the Lord, "but she has the strength of a
lion. You would not believe what she can endure."

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek of the
Lord's creation. "There's a leak," she announced. "Something is wrong with
the construction. I am not surprised that it has cracked. You are trying to
put too much into this model." 

The Lord appeared offended at the angel's lack of confidence. What you see
is not a leak," he said. "It's a tear." 

"A tear? What is it there for?" asked the angel.

The Lord replied, "It's for joy sadness, pain, disappointment, loneliness,
pride and a dedication to all the values that she and her husband hold
dear." 

"You are a genius!" exclaimed the angel.

The Lord looked puzzled and replied, "I didn't put it there." 
Borrowed from the Black Knight Wives HMM
264 (REIN)
[http://www.angelfire.com/nc/BlackKnightWives/]  

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

you can take the girl outta the country...

You know how the saying goes!  well, this is my first time living out of the US and more importantly living outside of the South!!! I am a Southern girl to the core of my soul and there are so many things I am going to miss about living in the South (southern United States that is, not Southern UK).  I was going through some recent photos I took before I left, and came across this one that I took at a local gas station/gambling joint/convenience store in Mebane, NC - my dad frequents this place.  Its the kind of place thats both sketchy and familiar ....you know, the place that if you weren't from the area or from the south, you would NEVER even stop and ask this place for directions - but, familiar in that it felt like I had seen all of the store's patrons in similar stores across the south.

If you aren't from the South, you may not have any clue what this is, and if you are...well then, you know exactly what I'm talking about!

Pickled sausage, pickles, pickled eggs, and pickled pigs feet - for sale