Leiden, Holland

A couple of months ago Liam and I took another mother-son trip, this time to Leiden. Will was heading over to the States for his youngest brother’s wedding, so Liam and I flew over to Holland to see our friends. We couldn’t afford for all of us to go to the US (money and jet-lag), but this way we wouldn’t be alone the whole time Will was away. I went into this trip with a lot of confidence considering how well Liam did in Wuppertal the previous month. Unfortunately, Liam didn’t realise he had set a precedent and decided to handle the trip a bit differently. And by “differently” I mean he whined and cried the whole time. Oh that boy, always spicing things up for me. Precious lamb (not).

Anyway, despite the personality change in my cute travel partner, I’m glad we got to see our friends, to befriend their beautiful baby girl, and to explore their new home city! Leiden is such a beautiful place. It is so green and peaceful. I enjoyed being able to explore it a bit. It was also nice for us to chill with our babies and let them play together, and to catch up on each others lives as new parents!

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Thank you, Trisha and Corey (and Olivia), for being such wonderful hosts and friends!

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Wuppertal, Germany

Liam and I survived our mother-son trip to Germany last month!

I was really nervous about how Liam would sleep in a new place BUT Liam was a freakin’ super star and slept like a champ! Hallelujah!! It might help that Germany is only one time zone away. Still, thank you, Liam.

So, anyway, Germany was amazing! I had been wanting to visit Andrea and Garrick since they moved out there last year. Going when I did turned out to be great timing because it was their one year anniversary for living there; so I got to babysit and let them have a night out to celebrate. I had also been itching to do some travel and explore a new place or two and dust off the cobwebs on photography skills.

Andrea and Garrick, and Eloise, were amazing. With the face-to-face chat between us two new moms, Liam having toys and a buddy to play with – even though he made her cry more times than I’d like to admit, the warmer weather, doing our nails and applying face masks, Garrick’s baseball chat, and the Allen’s amazing hospitality, it was an amazing trip!

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I had so much fun hanging out with Andrea and Garrick (and Eloise!). This was a much needed trip for me and I was so glad to have been able to get some good quality time in with my friends :) I can’t wait until next time!

 

Venice

WILL COMES HOME TODAY!!!! WILL COMES HOME TODAY!!!!! WILL COMES HOMES TODAY!!!!! WILL COMES HOME TODAY!!!! WILL COMES HOME TODAY!!!!!

This is my mantra this morning. It was my mantra when my alarm went off at 6am so I can call him before he headed off and it will be my mantra as I’m vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom and putting a ham in the slow cooker and baking! Lots of baking today!

But on to business: Venice!

I’m STILL pinching myself that we were just there two and a half weeks ago! Oh it was amazing!

For starters, we traveled to Venice together. That was huge for me because I had been doing a lot of traveling by myself lately and I was getting tired of it. I prefer my 5am explorations for bus stops to include my husband. It’s just better that way.

Second, our hotel was awesome. We weren’t sure what kind of hotel the Groupon deal would land us in but I’m pretty sure we hit the jackpot! We stayed at the Hotel Pausania and couldn’t have been more pleased. Everyone was really kind and helpful and we loved it’s location. It’s a short walk from where the airport bus drops you off but in a quiet area. We weren’t surrounded by other hotels which means we weren’t surrounded by tourists. There were a ton of local bars and restaurants by us too. And, it was only a short walk from the hotel to the main piazza (San Marco).

Third, we didn’t break the bank. So many people write about how Venice is expensive because they have to import everything and that made me nervous. We got an amazing deal from Groupon (which we saved on our flights and hotel) and we were smart about food.

And fourth, Will and I were both on the same page with exploring. That’s all we wanted to do. And we all know that’s huge because I’m not a walker. But I was so entranced by the city that walking was all  I wanted to do. And Will and I both loved getting lost in Venice. Not that you could because it’s so small, but it was fun trying!

When you guys go to Venice (because it’s an absolute must!) you have to check out Bistrot Ai Do Draghi. It’s a cute little bar we found trying to get out of the rain that was such a gem! The snacks they provided were all homemade and delicious! And really good wine as well :)

Our last day in Venice was super cool. First of all, we experienced acqua alta (“high tide”) where everything was covered in water. People were walking in water up to their shins! It’s was crazy. The hotel was prepared for it and had the furniture up on platforms the night before. Will and I were on the second floor so it didn’t affect us until we went down for breakfast the next day. We were not prepared so we stayed in the hotel that morning but the tide had gone back down and everything went back to normal by the late morning. Which, I was grateful for because I did not want to walk around in sopping, wet clothes. It also smelled rancid. But that was life in Venice and it was cool to experience it. Another bonus for our last day was that the sun came out! <insert angels singing>

Oh he’s so handsome!! (I can’t believe he comes home today!!!!!!!)

Oh Venice!

In my head Venice was this magical floating city and that’s exactly what it is. There’s no other city in the world like it. It felt like a time capsule that transported me to another time or another world. It really did feel magical to me. I mean, there are opera singers floating down the canals and aqua-colored water and delicious food everywhere… if that doesn’t scream magical I don’t know what does!

Parisian Summer (3/4)

My second week in Paris was filled with more food and lots of looking up! I could not get enough of the old shutters and window boxes and rooftops! There is a historic beauty to all of them.

Will and I also went record hunting. Just before heading off to Paris Will bought a record player from one of our friends and so he’s on the hunt to start up his record collection. The unfortunate problem with this is that Will already has records. A ton of records. But they’re back in the States. Do we buy another copy of something we already have? Do we go without? What do we do? I’m sure this is a common amongst expats; the stuff that you left behind. They’ve been kept because they’re important, but due to whatever restrictions that were in place (weight, money, space, etc.) we had to leave them behind. <sigh> First world problems.

Parisian Summer (2/4)

Will and I had never been on such a long holiday. Well, technically he was working but still, I was on holiday. I got a little overwhelmed with how much time I had but very quickly embraced it. The luxury of time is not something we have too much of too often. But, on this particular holiday we did. And I think we made pretty good use of our time!

Going to the market to buy fresh ingredients for a big breakfast, picnics under the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, ride the velíb everywhere, frequent our local all patisseries, Sacre Coeur, Musée D’Orsay, Musée L’Orangerie, big group dinners, walks in the park in time to see the sun set, Versailles, and then some.

It was a good first week!

You can see more Paris pictures here.

Parisian Summer (1/4)

Hmmm, where do I start?

Let me start with the fact that as I’m writing this post I’m still recovering from the torrential downpour and relentless gusts of wind that characterized our 20 minute walk home from church today. So, as I reminisce about the amazing-ness that was Paris, my heart is growing just a little bit bitter that I’m here (Edinburgh) and not there. But, there’s chili simmering on the stove (courtesy of my Love!) to help me get over it.

I digress. To fill you in, New College, The University of Edinburgh’s divinity school, has a close relationship with Institut Catholique de Paris (ICP) in that there are scholarships handed out every summer to a bunch of New College students to learn French in Paris for one month during the summer. This scholarship is enough to pay for the month-long class, one month’s worth of rent, and living costs (note: this is open to all New College students). Well, this year we were able to snag one of the scholarships, along with a bunch of our friends, and enjoy a month of Parisian bliss.

So, how was it? Amazing. Fantastic. Magical. Phenomenal. There was sun, lots of sleeping in, walks along the Seine, riding bikes all over the city, lots of eating. Scratch that. TONS of eating! You guys, I took gluttony to a whole new level on this trip. No joke.

Will and I found ourselves quickly settling in and feeling “at home” in Paris. It took us by surprise how easy it was to feel at home there. I don’t know if it was a month of (nearly) “free” living or the 100% increase in our exposure to the sun and delicious pastries or hanging out with our friends 24/7 but it was seriously the best holiday I’ve ever been on.

Paris. Revisited.

Lately I’ve been missing Paris. Missing the light, the Lourve, the Eiffel Tour, the Arc de Triomphe, the accents, the bread, and the people. So, while I’m sitting in a cafe, sipping on some Scottish tea, escaping the Scottish weather, I’m dreaming of a summer in Paris, eating a fresh baguette from ______ and walking around with this lady (bonjour Emma!) taking pictures of the way the light hits the pyramid in the Lourve, the lights of Eiffel Tour, the details of  the Arc de Triomphe, and Montmarte! Sigh :)

Rome. Re-visited.

I’m having a case of severe wanderlust. It’s February and I want to go somewhere… anywhere! This time last year Will and I were on a plane to Rome. So, I thought I’d take a quick minute to re-visit Rome with you.
This is what we saw when we landed.

That’s right, the weekend we decided to fly down south was the weekend Europe decided to have a freak out and drop 6 inches of snow. They hadn’t had this much snow in 30 years! I will say that it made for a gorgeous walk in the morning.

For the next three days we walked  e v e r y w h e r e !! And I forgot to wear wool socks that first day so my feet got wet and cold and froze and hurt like hell. Needless to say, I was that American tourist in the bathroom of the Vatican standing barefoot on the floor drying her socks in shoes underneath the hand dryer. It was not a high moment.
It was our first trip with friends and it was so much fun! We saw so many things (i.e. the Spanish Steps, the Sistine Chapel, The Vatican, Mass, the ruins, etc.). I loved Rome, absolutely loved it! It gave me a tiny taste of Italy and now I can’t wait to explore more of it! And I highly recommend vacationing with friends.