Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Greetings from Sunny UK

I know right?! "Sunny" and "UK" together are not what you'd initially think! But let me tell you - as we are seeing the seasons change around here, I can feel {and see!} the chilly winter fade into a crisp and fresh spring. I can't wait to experience summer here - I hear it's lovely and more than makes up for the winter! It's practically what everyone apologetically says when they welcome you to the UK in the midst of winter.

This past weekend was a bit of a rite of passage for us - as it marked the unofficial end of my first 'busy season' here (the official end was Monday, but everything was pretty much done on Friday). Granted, that's a loose term as there is always work to be done...but that didn't stop us from celebrating with a trip {of course}! We made plans with friends to check out the Seven Sisters Country Park - set on the edge of the southern coast full of rolling pastures, wildlife, rocky beaches and white chalk cliffs! They are the stuff of desktop background picture dreams {no, seriously, these were ACTUALLY on my standard desktop background wallpaper for my work computer...see for yourself!}

Funnily enough, after we planned the trip, a coworker leaned over and pointed at my screen and said "that's where we are going." I could not believe it! What's more is that I really didn't believe it would look like that in real life either - I thought it was some photoshop magic or that they got really lucky and caught it at a good time! But as I quickly learned when we arrived Sunday morning in Seaford, England that was EXACTLY how they looked. And they must have caught it on a sunny day like we did, because I feel like Dan should now sell these pictures to the 'stock photo' folks to be placed on desktop backgrounds everywhere!

Our day-long hike was complete with beaches, village pubs, pastures, sheep, LAMBS!, cows, rolling green hills, steep white cliffs, and sunny, clear skies! But don't just take my word for it - let this picture dump do the talking!!

This doesn't really capture how many sheep we were surrounded by! They were literally everywhere and we could just walk right up to them (or TRY to as evidenced from the picture above). However, they were a bit skittish and would run away from us as fast as their fluffy little legs could carry them! We even saw a separate pasture with adorable little baby lambs and their mommas. It was so precious.

It was a magical day with friends and was a perfect intro to what lies ahead as the weather continues to cooperate!

P.S. pretty much all of the photo cred goes to that amazing husband of mine!

Where do you guys like to head when the weather gets a bit warmer?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Weekend in Edinburgh

Dan and I ventured to Edinburgh last weekend and it marked our first big trip away from London since moving here. It was somewhat of a spontaneous plan, and pretty much started with me saying "let's go somewhere...anywhere!" Wanderlust at its finest, folks. That's how most trips start for me - I just say I NEED to get away, and then BAM, next thing I know I've already booked something and packed our bags!

And that's pretty much how our Edinburgh trip started too! I just came home and decided I needed to make trip plans and Dan and I have both always wanted to go to Scotland. Firstly because of my family heritage, and secondly because of the beautiful scenery and history surrounding the country. So, we booked our train tickets, and threw some clothes in our bags!

We set off early Saturday morning, and took a 6 hours train ride to Edinburgh full of snacks, card games, movies and chatting away...oh and sheep on the hillsides. LOTS of sheep on the hillsides! When we got to the city that afternoon, we walked around, took photographs, found a pub and ate some more.

As we were aimlessly walking around, we happened across one of those free walking tours that you can find throughout many large cities. {As a side bar, Dan and I have done a few of these tours in the past and really enjoyed them! We personally can recommend the Berlin and Prague ones, but I'm sure they are all really great! It's a nice, FREE, way to see the city with friendly guides and some history thrown in too - all for free! Also, I am not being compensated in any way by Sandemans, I just like free things.} So since we came across the tour, we joined up for a couple stops to hear some of the fun facts about the city, particularly about the Edinburgh Castle. The guide explained that the castle is THE most besieged castle in European history - all because of it's extremely advantageous position on Castle Rock - an extinct volcano that dates back 350 million years.

It was fun to hear a little bit of history on the castle and the unique geography of the stronghold, but then we moved on to follow our noses down to the village market and indulge a little. We weaved in and out of the booths and stopped to get some freshly made Paella from a Spanish man and his grandmother {so you KNOW it's good} and then topped it off by sharing a macaron and ice cream followed by a search for colored doors and buildings {my fav!}.

After the market, we found our hotel and checked in. I had an extremely tiring week at work, so I took a wee little baby nap and then was pumped and ready to go for the evening! We walked around, and if you follow me on Insta, you'll know that we found the Elephant House - the cafe overlooking the Edinburgh castle in which JK Rowling sat and began writing my absolute favorite series of all time. It was a dream of mine to visit the cafe where it all started, and I have to say, I found that I loved the cafe for it's charm just as much as it's HP-renown. I can see why JK and so many authors have found solace and inspiration there.

After our coffees and souvenir-buying, we headed back out to explore a bit more. We had a pint at a local pub, took some night pictures of the castle and the town, ate some street food and meandered back to our hotel on the deserted streets of the capital. It was heavenly.

In the morning, we got up and had a late breakfast at Elephant House...yes you read that right. I just couldn't stay away. This time I snapped some obligatory bathroom-shots {trust me}. I even helped another girl {to no avail} who was looking for a quote she had written a year ago.

Although Ron, Hermione and Harry might have some serious misgivings about it's accuracy, I think my tea leaves were trying to tell me something....Professor Trelawney would be proud ;) #theboywholived

Afterwards, Dan and I walked up Calton Hill to get some awesome views of the city and the ocean.

We then made sure we had as much Scottish tea and whiskey as we could fit in our backpacks before catching our train back to London.

I'm so happy that our first big UK trip was Edinburgh. It's a charming city and I'm excited to go back and experience it in other seasons too! It was still crisp with the feeling of new Spring, and yet things were already bright, sunny and green! As you probably already gathered, we pretty much ate, drank and photographed our way through the city - which is my favorite way to experience a new place.

Whew! That was a long one - thanks for sticking with me!

Even though it's only been a week, I'm already scheming for our next few trips! Do any of you ever get that spontaneous wanderlust feeling? Do you have any favorite ways/suggestions for how you like to experience new cities?