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!

leiden_zpsmciahgahleiden-5_zpsaflux23tleiden-18_zpsr1xbpk4fleiden-23_zpsbaxjzicmleiden-15_zpsbyungbb4leiden-10_zpsdhpkqo27leiden-9_zpsecrekuk1leiden-48_zpsrag7xee4leiden-17_zpshcxcb8n3leiden-11_zpsjvp8gg1hleiden-46_zpsql0qjokjleiden-12_zps6nhqmqrrleiden-19_zpsydhmctxyleiden-47_zpsgwyhyfthleiden-13_zpsqwqdptthleiden-51_zpsdznsssueleiden-20_zpsp8ghfwthleiden-14_zpscsbobwesleiden-50_zpsvz1vxhjileiden-16_zpsfbbqcb1ileiden-52_zpsdc4q0crbleiden-45_zpshjhfcvq3leiden-6_zpsmv4uxnctleiden-8_zpsibrs5penleiden-3_zpshmtrpeix

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

Advertisements

Münster, Germany

While Liam and I were visiting the Allens in Wuppertal last month we took a day trip up to Münster for their Saturday market. Now, you guys know I love a good market so I was very keen!

As soon as Liam and Eloise woke up from their morning naps we all packed up our things and hopped in the car. Once there, we strapped our kids up – Eloise in the stroller and Liam in the Ergo – and made our way to the market.

The market itself was great! They had flowers and meats and vegetables and honies. But, what I think was really cool about this market was the massive amount of food trucks they had. I love a good food truck!

wuppertal-2_zpsulmjbnc7wuppertal-4_zps2s7corl8wuppertal-6_zpsbnlsjxfswuppertal-7_zpsc6ujrggkwuppertal-8_zpsbsn5d5fnwuppertal-9_zpsxolwhogbwuppertal-10_zpsd1xcz0sbwuppertal-11_zpsmygfcmziwuppertal-12_zpsmdo5uxu3wuppertal-13_zpsrbywtjyswuppertal-14_zpshgk0hyvwwuppertal-16_zpshjpws0mewuppertal-15_zpsbkjfvt1k1wuppertal-5_zpss0mfiwwkwuppertal-17_zps6jiedaftwuppertal-18_zpsx5vjotvewuppertal-25_zpsl9mv7cse

After the market we parked ourselves at the Pinkus’ Müller for some lunch and a bit of a break. Afterwards, we slowly made our way back to the car to head back home.

wuppertal-19_zpshsmirm1owuppertal-20_zpsp13thfcxwuppertal-21_zpsy1kzjudswuppertal-22_zpsz95tdffcwuppertal-23_zpstjftzdigwuppertal-24_zpskkffakhcwuppertal-26_zpsnokjwjnbimg_2225_zpsauqlho6n

I was hoping Liam would get sleepy and fall asleep in the Ergo for his afternoon nap. Nope. This boy had too much to see. This boy loves being outside and observing everything. I was so proud of how he did. However, the real star of the day was my back. It carried that boy like a boss AND didn’t even complain afterwards! Thank you, back :)

I really enjoyed walking around Münster. It’s a really beautiful city.

Fun fact: After the war the Old Town was rebuilt exactly as it looked before the war.

Fun fact numero dos: it’s the bicycle capital of Germany.

I think both of those things heavily contribute to the attractiveness of Münster. I would definitely go back if I lived closer… and try out every single food truck!

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!

img_2168_zpsjfvd4fzdwuppertal-52_zps9x3lanfzwuppertal-37_zps7u8mbfluwuppertal-32_zpsqinbzowcwuppertal-36_zpsuouqb2jewuppertal-51_zpsla5jixefwuppertal_zpse4d01cqowuppertal-50_zps9pws5l8bwuppertal-41_zpsy9bojqpnwuppertal-42_zpsg8r8axddwuppertal-33_zps2kmhqlv4wuppertal-38_zps5a7h7mt0wuppertal-2_zpspdczktfz
PC: Andreaimg_2209_zpse4bwayhgimg_2200_zpsr0pqkqtwimg_2228_zpslwqakbv5
PC: Andrea

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!

 

Heidelberg

Will update: Will crushed his final test for his language course this week. And of course “crushed” is his word because that’s what Will does. He doesn’t just pass a test or beat the competition… he CRUSHES it! AND, we’re in the single digits of days left until Will comes home. SINGLE. DIGITS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

With Will coming home in eight days (eight days!!!!) I have a blog goal of getting caught up and to start writing in more present-tense. That means I need to blog about the rest of Germany (which is this post), Bristol, a couple of cafes, Venice (<– which was awesome!), and develop the roll of film in my Minolta. So, let’s start with Heidelberg.

Right after New Year’s, Will and I took a day trip up to Heidelberg. It’s just north of Stuttgart (which is north of Tübingen) and described as a “larger version of Tübingen”. I wanted to go there because my dad was stationed there about 40+ years ago and every time he talks about it a huge smile comes across his face as he remembers his time there. So, being this close to a city that means so much to my dad, I had to go.

Nutella crepes will forever make me the happiest little tourist ever!!

I looked up a place to eat before going to Heidelberg and number one on Trip Advisor was Schnitzelbank. You guys, this place did not fail to deliver. It was absolutely amazing! We were told to book a reservation because it’s small and fills up fast, but luckily we got there early enough to get the last table. It has a really cozy and friendly atmosphere and the staff are so kind. But, the star of the show was the food. Will and I got the schnitzel (duh!) and the spaetzle. Both were the best we had ever had. Every bite was fantastic! If I lived in Heidelberg I would have a standing reservation for dinner there every night. No joke, that food was amazing.

The best part (after the food) was being able to Skype with my dad the next day and actually know what he was talking about when he mentioned going to the castle or hanging out at the river or walking along the streets in the Alstadt! I didn’t feel like we were an ocean apart. I felt like he was right next to us telling us about buying french fries off of a street vendor or how everyone would go to this certain part of the river on sunny days. I loved it.

I’m so glad Will and I took the opportunity to go :)

Auf Wiedersehen Twenty Thirteen

You guys, less than two weeks until Will comes home.

Less. Than. Two. Weeks. I may be freakin’ out a little bit on the inside!

So, about our time in Germany and New Year’s Eve.

Will and I aren’t big planners but when we travel we like to have an idea of what we should see and do in a place and have a “top 3” list. But for Germany there was no plan; we were both just so happy to be together that we didn’t care that we didn’t make any plans.

I will admit that before leading up to Christmas I was a little frustrated that Will wasn’t coming to Edinburgh and I was the one who had to make the trek. It would have been so much easier if he came to me and it would have been nice to have him home for Christmas. But, honestly, I don’t think I could have let him leave again: not that it’s been any easier for me to be the one leaving! Saying goodbye either way has been hard for both of us. As soon as I got there I instantly knew we made the right call with me going to him. If he had come to Edinburgh there would have been so much to do and people to see that we would have spent waaaaay too much time and money trying to fit everything in. It would have been packed. Packed with good things like seeing friends, but packed none the less. With me in Tübingen we were able to have a nice lazy holiday! Something I know I was really craving.

Since Tübingen is so small, and I pretty much saw everything when I visited in November, there wasn’t much left to do. We cooked together a lot, I read all three Hunger Games books, we stayed up late, slept in late, went to a couple of pubs, watched movies, baked sugar cookies, took walks, and went on a day trip to Heidelberg (that’s for another post). It was a supremely lazy holiday!

For New Year’s Eve we met up with one of his friends at a local pub then went to another friend’s for dinner and fireworks. Now, my picture’s for fireworks don’t really do the whole experience justice because there were a ton of trees around, but hopefully the video will give you an idea as to how crazy the fireworks were! Seriously, there were fireworks going off all over the place! It was amazing!

Pretty cool, right?!

I’m such a fan of New Year’s Eve. I really do love it. And as I’m getting older I’m feeling more and more sentimental towards it. Maybe it was our being apart this year that has intensified these feelings but it feels like the one of the more important things Will and I do in our marriage. It’s simple, and almost implied that we’re together on this holiday (much like we should be for every holiday), but it means so much to me to make sure we’re together specifically for those last and first minutes.

It felt a little easier to breathe on this trip than on the last because we had so much time together. So much time to hold hands, tell stories, make future plans, and talk about the year we’ve just been through and plan for the year ahead.

I don’t know about you, but 2013 was pretty good. Will passed his 1 year review boards for his PhD, I took on a new role at work, we started going to a new church, we both started to feel settled in Edinburgh, we officially have lived in our flat for longer than anywhere else we lived in together, we saw more of Scotland (and England), we saw more of Europe, we got to play host to our awesome friends and family who came to visit, we celebrated four wonderful years of marriage, Will got several reviews published (!!), I started a new decade (hello 30!), and we made new friends all while strengthening old friends here! Great, eh?!

And now, looking ahead onto 2014, there’s so much to look forward to!

Auf wiedersehen twenty thirteen! Hallo twenty fourteen!!

“Good ‘Ole Times” In Oxford

I’m currently on a train headed back up to Edinburgh. I’ve said my last goodbye to Will and will officially start my “Less than 2 weeks” countdown on Sunday! Oh, my heart is so ready to be with him on a more permanent basis.

So, to distract myself, let me tell you about Oxford. After the company christmas party I headed on over to Oxford to see my favorite engaged couple!! Gilly and Elizabeth!! I hadn’t seen them since we went to Skye together back in June. Ugh, it had been too long. Needless to say, I’m so glad I got to see them! And our friend David, who now lives in Bristol, came to hang out too! It was  such a wonderful time!

I enjoyed my 36 hours in Oxford so much. My favorite bit was Saturday evening. We met up with two of Gilly and Elizabeth’s friends in a pub, ordered mulled wine and beer, and chatted the night away. We talked about everything from family to weddings (!!) to God’s callings on our lives… and it felt like “old times”! I have missed those moments.

I really am so grateful for these friends!

Barcelona (3/3)

I’m not a walker. As in, I do not find enjoyment from aimlessly walking around seeing “where I end up and what I see.” Nope, I want a direct path from point A to point B and I point B better have a chair. Will on the other hand, can walk. for. days. When we want to go for a “walk around the block” I think a literal block and Will thinks we’re going to discover a new part of the city no one’s ever seen before. We’re learning where our middle ground is.

Needless to say, there was a ton of walking around in Barcelona. But there was also a lot of laying around at the beach soooooo, it all evened out. But the whole thing was absolutely wonderful!

We both loved Barcelona so much! I’m so glad we went. It’s such a beautiful city with so much to offer: the largest outdoor market, a popular beach, delicious food, a vibrant atmosphere, and a great culture. My favorite area is the Gothic Quarter! I would be happy to aimlessly walk around in there. And we know that’s saying a lot.

I’m also grateful I was able to use the little Spanish I know. Will was proud of me. Heck, I was proud of me!

So, that was are Barcelona trip. I’m sorry it took me so long to blog about it but then, it’s been nice for me to reminisce about warmer days.

Barcelona (2/3)

Will update: Things are going really well for Will. He just started a new intensive German language class that is every day. He loves it so much he doesn’t mind the 8am start (<– miracle). He’s constantly working in the library and scanning journals and books and continuing to impress his professors and friends with his German. He’s also ready to be home. Which is wonderful because I’m ready for him to be home. LESS THAN FOUR WEEKS!!!!!

 

After La Sagrada Familia we went out to Barceloneta for lunch.

We had tapas, paella, cheesecake and sangria! It was delicious! But I’m not sure if it’s because I’m used to my mom’s paella I felt like my mom’s is better. Sorry, Barcelona, Barbara:1, Barcelona:0.

A bonus about that lunch was we were right next to the beach! Well, the number one bonus about Barcelona is its beach! Will and I both love the beach and hadn’t been to a proper beach since our second wedding anniversary when we went to Tampa, Florida. It was great seeing people walk/rollerblade/run/cycle down the board walk and admire how blue the water looks. We ended up going to the beach three times in our four days there! And it didn’t feel like enough. A couple of times we walked back to our port the long way just so we could walk along the beach. I think we realized how much we missed the beach. Sorry Scotland, Barcelona:1, Scotland:0

We spent a couple of half days at the beach and found this little corner store on the boardwalk that sold guava juice (score!) and everything we needed to make ham and cheese baguettes (and having just come from Paris we were loving this). So, on our last day we packed everything up but our swimsuits and spent the whole day at the beach enjoying our guava juice and baguettes. We were living the dream!

Oh I wanna go back!

Barcelona (1/3)

So, remember that time Will and I went to Barcelona after our month in Paris? Uh, yeah, that did happen and I’m just now blogging about it.

So, yeah, we went to Barcelona after Paris and it was amazing! I had been before but it was only for two days after a 10 day Mediterranean cruise with my family seven years ago. When we went my brother and I split up from my parents to rent bikes for the day to just ride around. The city seems like a blur from my memories but I distinctly remember how much I loved everything about Barcelona. The beach. The gothic quarter. The beautiful people. The sun. I knew I had to go back.

The second thing we were most looking forward to about Barcelona was Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia (first was the beach… duh!).

This structure literally took our breath away! We were both speechless. The lights, the images, the colors, the art, the intention. All of it. Everything about the structure has a meaning and a purpose. Even the shadowy parts of the ceiling represent something. It really is a stunning structure.

I’m really glad we saw La Sagrada Famila. Apparently, they predict that construction will be complete in 30 years. I predict a potential 3rd trip to Barcelona in 2044.

We also managed to see three more Gaudí buildings, though we didn’t go inside: Casa Batlló.

Casa Calvet

And La Pedrera.

A Delayed Christmas

So, some of you know from my Facebook that I didn’t get to see Will on Christmas Eve (a lot of tears were shed). My first flight was delayed twice leaving me with a 5 minute layover. As soon as I could I ran to find my flight only to find out it had already left (more tears were shed). Then, KLM put me up in a hotel and gave me some flight vouchers (Merry Christmas to me!). While Will had to ride the train back to Tübingen alone that night.

So, Will and I both woke up alone Christmas morning (even more tears were shed). Not what we were both hoping for this Christmas.

But, we got up Christmas morning with a countdown in our heads: T minus 4 hours! We had a quick skype in the morning over breakfast and we both made our way to our respective airports (me to the Amsterdam aiport and him to Stuttgart’s airport). I picked up some Stroopwafels (Will LOVES these things!) and little ornament to remind ourselves of this Christmas. 

Seeing his face at the airport was pure beauty! I had missed him so much!

We had some time before the next Tübingen bus would arrive so we grabbed a snack and told each other what we got for Christmas. It was a bit anti-climactic (which is good for me because I’m not a gifts person) but we knew that going into this. I was only taking carry-on luggage and whatever I got him he’d have to bring it back six weeks later (just six more weeks!!!!!). But because Will IS a gifts person there were wrapped up chocolates he got from a chocolate festival waiting for me in his room. Yeah, I’m spoiled!

20131228-121412.jpgYesterday’s walk along the Neckar River in Tübingen, Germany

We had our big Christmas breakfast and our Christmas dinner the following day (Boxing Day) and enjoyed a wonderful walk throughout the city a the day after that (when the sun decided to come out).

Even though we lost a day I’m grateful that this happened on a trip where we had 11 days together and not one that we had just three days: that would have been absolutely horrible. And even though our Christmas was delayed a bit I’m grateful that we both have this chunk of time to spend together; which happens to feel both special and normal at the same time (??). I don’t know, this long distance thing is weird.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

All I Want For Christmas…

I have a confession: I haven’t  been feeling the Christmas Spirit this year. This whole long distance thing has put a real damper on this festive season and I’m just not into it. There’s no tree up in our flat, no lights, minimal baking, and no Christmas music. If you walked into our flat you would not think it was Christmas. I did think about putting things up but I knew that the more “Christmas-y” it felt the more alone I’d feel and that I’d also have to put it all away by myself… unless I decide to leave it up for when Will comes back home in February ;) But seriously, I’ve been feeling very homesick and I just wanted to lessen all of that.

BUT, all of that is about to change! Today, after work, I’m flying out to Germany to go spend Christmas with the love of my life! It’s the only thing I want for Christmas: 11 days with Will to hold his hand, laugh together, cuddle up to him in the middle of the night, walk side by side down tiny German streets, escape the cold together in a cozy pub with some gluhwein, and wake up next to him every morning! It’s all I want: to be part of a couple again, with Will (… and a leather jacket… and a subscription to Birchbox ;) ).

These pictures are from my Minolta when I went out there in November for two and a half days. It was too short but it was worth it. He’s worth 6am tube rides and overnight buses.

I’m really looking forward to having more time in Tubingen. It’s not a large city but it’s charming and quaint and bustling and cozy. And the German language… beautiful! It’s a very impressive and underrated language. I enjoyed hearing it all around me.

So, since it’s Christmas Eve, and in Germany they celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, I thought I would wish you all a FROHE WEIHNACHTEN!!

Glasgow. Take 1

Is there a place near where you live that you’d like to visit, and kind of feel like you should because it’s so close, but just haven’t? And people are shocked you haven’t been there yet because it’s just so close? Well, that’s Glasgow for me. It’s less than an hour on the train and it’s so cheap to get there. How has it taken me this long to check the place out?

Anyway, yeah, it’s taken me two years to get to Glasgow. I don’t know that much about it except that it’s larger than Edinburgh, has better shopping, it’s a grid (much like New York City), there are some really rough parts, the Glaswegian accent is incomprehensible, it has some of the most die-hard football (soccer) fans in the world, and it rains more. Yeah, you heard me, it rains more! That could be the reason why I haven’t tried to visit. But, when my friend Aya said she was running in a half marathon on Glasgow I thought this would be chance to go check out the big city on the west.

The three of us got there just in time to get Aya to her wave and so Kengo and I went to find a spot to cheer for her at the start. After we failed to spot her in the sea of runners we walked around to try and catch her at one of the check points.

After spotting the fastest runner, a Kenyan (duh!), we waited for Aya to come running by on some bridge… while it rained.

And then somehow we missed her. We were the worst cheerleaders. In Kengo’s defense he thought we should head to finish before I did and I kept saying, “But how could we miss her?! Do you really think we missed her?” And so we stayed longer just to make sure. But, having left my face-recognition goggles at home I should have conceded and just gone to the finish line. My b.

And there she was waiting for us. And she had been waiting for a while… worst. cheerleaders. ever.

So, then we went to go find a place to eat and where Aya could change.

Afterwards we headed over to Glasgow’s Street Feastival. I had heard about the Street Feastival from this post by Mary over in My Life in Scotland and so I really wanted to check it out. Besides, who doesn’t love a good food festival? No one. Ever. Now, I do realize that we could have eaten at the food festival, but as my dad always says, “hindsight is 20-20.”

The food festival was really cool! It was much better than Edinburgh’s food festival we went to last summer (we paid £10 each to get in and still paid £5-6 for a plate of food. At this one we only paid £2 each to get in. Glasgow 1: Edinburgh 0). I also liked how cozy it was and the variety of food that was available. There was asian food, caribbean food, coffee, scottish food, cider, and desserts! Seriously, I want to go back next year!

After the festival we headed back to the train station and stopped in some stores along the way. I really enjoyed Glasgow. I can’t believe it took me this long to make it over there but it’s now on my to-do list as soon as Will comes home! I know it’ll take several trips to really get a feel for everything it has to offer but now that I’ve gotten a taste (literally) I’m keen for more!

Peaches & Herb

20131110-151548.jpg

I’m visiting Will, in Tubingen, for a long weekend and we’ve been having the most perfect lazy Sunday!

I hope all of you are able to love on your loved ones this weekend too :)

Parisian Summer (4/4)

Will Update: Will’s language classes have started up and he’s signed up for Ugaritic and another dead language class. He’s had a couple of dinners with his hall mates and they’re all lovely! It’s been a difficult first month since nothing’s really started until last week but life’s trucking along. He’ll be checking out a church this weekend so that will also help him find community and feel more a part of things there. 

The rest of our time in Paris was wonderful! More food (duh!), more holding hands, more looking up, and lots of taking it all in; I even went for a run!

We did start to feel rushed though. To feel like we had missed so many things to do in Paris and fit more sights and more food and more of everything into our time there but I think it was more that we were trying to cling to what we could about our time there. It was such a wonderful time. I want to go back. We both do.

Sunsets from Tour Montpenarsse, French onion soup, steak tar tar, the National Opera, Notre Dame, Printemps, The National Library, The Seine, Lovers Lock bridge, end of the month hang outs!

Paris has captured our hearts. We will be grateful for the time we’ve had. Not just in Paris, but also with our friends. They played a huge part in making our Parisian summer a great one. Between making meals together, having wine in the park, watching sunsets, meeting at cafes, and all of it, what made it the most special were our friends!

Also, I wrote a quick little guest post about visiting Edinburgh on her blog, Moxacity. You can check it out here! And then you can come visit me!

Oh, and here’s are Parisian flat! We were so lucky to get it cuz it’s lush! Right in the 2nd arrondissement and great for having friends over.
Note: doesn’t Will have great legs?!!!!!

If you’ve missed the other Parisian Summer posts you can check out  1, 2, 3 here.