Friday, June 28, 2013

The Land of Tea and Crumpets

Mom, pops, and I in our hotel room.
Who was the monkey in the middle??

Mom and pops have arrived! It was so exciting to see them. It's like a sudden sense of comfort came over me when I saw them. I enjoy exploring by myself, but it's nice to have them along as companions. I have moved from the teeny tiny flat into the hotel with the parents. I am quite the nomad theses days. 

Thumbs up for basement Thai restaurant!

We lucked into a disabled hotel room which happens to be huge! In fact, I'm pretty sure the bathroom alone is the size of Annie and Bo's entire flat! Best part, I don't have to shimmy sideways to get in the shower...enough said. 

Best part about mom and dad being here is they were able to bring us some items we were missing. Mom brought me my favorite night lotion. I already feel more at home.  They also brought my favorite pillow case, which makes sleeping on the floor a bit more homely, and a couple packs of gum. FYI, gum is not cheap in Europe and tastes funny here. Never thought I'd be so happy to see Extra! 

I rarely travel with my mother without her having a plan. But, for the first evening, she didn't, so it was left to me to help us stumble upon a good supper venue. That, I can handle! We came across a Thai restaurant tucked away in the basement of a building. I know, what you're thinking...sketch. But, it was affordable, and delicious. Fastest and best service I've had in Europe. The jet lag was getting them,  so it was an early night for us all. 

Flash,Bang Wallop! Blowing things up at The Science Museum!
The following morning we embodied every aspect of tourism. I swear my parents snapped pictures of Big Ben from every possible angle. We went to Trafalgar Square, toured the Supreme Court of London, and walked along the river. Mom pulled out the map at every other corner. I shunned her for looking like a tourist and she said, "I think I'm obviously a tourist by the way I am dressed...I'm not worried about the map." 

Entering the Natural History Museum via the Earth's Interior Escalator!
We ate Mexican food for lunch (again), walked through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park,  and went back to my favorite destination...The Science Museum. This time, it was even better! We went to a show in the kiddie zone where they did demos that exploded. I'm pretty sure we were the only participants above the age of 12. But, I was loving it!! Then, we went through the medical exhibits. I spent forever in the gift shop, and both my parents were great sports about it.

Our annual flower picture...always mom's favorite.
High Tea Gluten Free set-up just for me!
What a treat! 
Friday brought with it lots of the rain. That's more like London, but thus far, I have been lucky to miss the rain. Don't get me wrong, rain is my favorite, but I like it when I can stay inside and drink coffee and read, not walk all over the city. We went to the Natural History Museum where my family allowed me to do more scientific research. This time pops became a nerd with me! We  met Bo for lunch at a delicious British restaurant and saw St. Paul's Cathedral and Harrod's before relaxing at High Tea. I think we all agreed that High Tea was the trip highlight so far...aside from the science museums of course! 

Tomorrow is the surprise excursion that momma and a family friend planned for us. The end of my trip is quick approaching so I'm living every experience to the fullest! 

Sissykins and I pretending to be rulers of our prospective
countries in courtroom 3 of the London Supreme Court.

Imitators of the swan. We were tired of the serious pose.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Welcome to London

I have been overseas a little over a week! The time has flown by since I've been here. There is so much to do and see. People everywhere! The weather has been perfect, overcast but sunny with the perfect amount of chill. Perfect cardigan weather...which is always my preference. However, I am looking forward to my beach trip when I get home! 

Annie and Bo have a teeny tiny flat. I'd say 500 sq feet is a generous estimate. They created a nice makeshift bed for me at the foot of their bed. They graciously gave up their mattress pad, which I have doubled over for a pallet. I am using a mattress pad cover and a towel as a blanket. But let me just say, it is rather comfortable! I sleep better here than I do at home. 

On a typical weekday Bo goes to work. He has a great internship that he really seems to be enjoying. He is full of facts about the city from all the reading he does. Annie and I appreciate having someone who likes to do the research around as neither one of us keeps up with current events or the local interests. Annie and I patiently wait for Moneybags to get home and then we head off to explore. 

This past week sister and I took a trip to Ireland. I have been dying to go there and finally got my chance! We decided on the cheapest travel option, a 12 hour overnight coach ride. We thought that would be an easy 12 hour sleep in the bus...but we didn't think about Ireland's island status which would require us to cross by water. We were awoken in the middle of the night to go through customs and board a ferry. We sleepily arrived at 6 am in the Land of Leprechauns. We had the whole day to explore and we were starving. However, the Irish don't wake up that early. In fact, breakfast places don't even open until 8am. Guess they have too much fun the night before...
So, we decided to work on our Old Glory list while we waited. 
We stayed in a hostel while in Ireland. Believe me, I had my reservations, but it really wasn't bad. It was very affordable and clean. We were in an all female room with 7 other girls from all over Europe. We made conversation with some of our bed mates, one from Holland and one from Australia. It was really cool to hear their perspectives on things. They know so much about America, and we know so little about their countries. We all spoke English, but it was fun to find differences in our words. We discussed cultural differences and social norms in our countries. Very enlightening conversation, but it made Annie and I that more aware of how great America is. I'm not ready to come home yet, but I'm thankful for the freedoms we have in our country.

I longed to run along the coast!
Malahide castle
Our favorite experience in Ireland was going through the countryside to Northern Ireland for a castle tour. Such a welcomed change from the hustle and bustle of the cities. 

Back in London, we have enjoyed some relaxing time. Yesterday was Bo's birthday, so we went out for mexican food at a restaurant that had been recommended to us. It was delicious! Best meal we've had yet, I'd say. No matter where we go, we can't survive without the mexican food! We have seen some of the great sights of London, but we are saving most of our sightseeing for the arrival of our parents. They will be here tomorrow and they want to see everything. We are resting up now knowing it will be non-stop exploration once they arrive. They have planned a surprise day trip away for us on Saturday. That should be a blast! 
The last time I was in London was four years ago. I was studying abroad as a college student. It's amazing how different the experience is when you are traveling for leisure. A lot has changed in my life in those four years, however, the city remains very much the same. I went back to the place I lived last time and walked the streets reminiscing of those experiences. In many ways, that trip shaped my love of travel. It gave me the confidence to go off on my own and make memories for myself. So, fast forward four years, and I am doing just that. One day at a time, documenting new memories for the future to come.
Trafalgar Square

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I'm Back!

In response to multiple requests, I am getting back to blogging. It has been FOREVER! Maybe this time I will be a little more consistent, but don't cross your fingers. I get distracted from blogging easily!

I am amazed at how quickly time goes. As I reflect over my journaling over the years, so much has changed, yet so much is exactly the same. Things that I have been 'working on' for years still have yet to be fixed. Places I plan on going still need to be visited. Goals I plan to reach are still in the being set stage.

Last week, I visited a friend and went to church with her family. It was senior Sunday and all the graduates were receiving a gift. Each student was introduced to the congregation and a synopsis of their life plans was shared, including where they plan to be in 10 years. Without fail, all the girls mentioned that they planned to be married with kids in 10 years. My friend and I giggled as it sounds so cliche. Yet, I'm certain that was my plan when I graduated too. It hasn't been 10 years, but it sure feels like it some days! However, with each year that passes, I get farther and farther away from that vision. I don't think I knew what would be possible for me when I created my life plan. But, life just happens and those plans change for the better. And, now, I'm content knowing there really isn't any sense in planning because God's got a way better planner than I do.

Granny and Grandpa them so much!
Daddy and his babies on wedding day!
Sissykins is married now! I can't believe they just got engaged in November and walked down the aisle in May. It went by so fast! I am still elated for them. I may be more excited than they are. They left the day after their wedding for Europe.

You can follow their adventure at I will be joining them on Saturday for a few weeks! I CANNOT wait! I studied abroad in London in 2010 and loved it. I have been dying to go back, and now is the perfect chance. Bo, Annie, and I are all in countdown mode. Three days to go!!!

England 2010...we'll compare here in a few weeks!

Who knew we'd be education partners in crime?!
Today, I am starting grad school with a dear friend of mine. This opportunity took both of us by surprise and acceptance seemed a bit of a long shot. We both got accepted and will be embarking on this journey together! I'm already ready to graduate! That's right, haven't even been to the campus yet! That pretty much sums up my issue with patience in all areas of my life.

I am so thankful for summer! I love getting to travel...well, let's be honest...I do that all the time, so summer doesn't really change that. I think I am in Lubbock for less than 13 days in the months of May-August. Wouldn't have it any other way! The world was meant to be explored one adventure at a time.