Dan’s 30th in Majorca, Spain

de001a03-bf3b-45e3-9942-7707154ac1b0October was a special month for us this year, not only did Dan turn thirty, but his brother and family were able to hop across the pond to celebrate with us.  And we’re not talking a small hop…they came all the way from LA to London and then we flew on to Majorca, Spain with them!  And they have a one year old baby!  Scott, Christine and baby Henry were major troopers! 

They arrived in London the fd6b8ec9-8b2a-4419-9225-5e0b83a71045weekend before Dan’s birthday and we were able to show them our new London neighborhood as well as explore some of their favourite areas from the last time they visited.  

After a few days in London, we made our way over to Majorca.  We stayed in a fantastic villa up in the cliffs, with sweeping views of the beautiful Spanish island’s coast. The infinity pool was by far the best feature in the home, and where we spent most of our time.  

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We took a day trip up to Valldemossa, which is a quaint historical village lined with shops and restaurants. We had a fun time exploring and enjoyed soaking in some Spanish culture.

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We celebrated Dan’s 30th on the water at a lovely restaurant in Port d’Andratx. We enjoyed sampling the fresh seafood and we were treated to a beautiful sunset!

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We were able to spend a bit of time at a few of the local beaches.  We visited a popular beach in Palmanova on the southern coast of the island. It had beautiful white sand beaches and we all enjoyed swimming in the sea. Another day we decided to try a “secret” beach. Before long we found ourselves on a two-track winding into the hills. The road eventually became too much for our “mini-van” and so we decided to walk the rest of the way to the beach. After about a 15 minute walk, we were rewarded with a perfectly secluded beach in a small little cove. We spent the afternoon swimming in the crystal clear water and soaking up the sun.

All too soon, our time in Spain was up and Scott, Christine & Henry were headed back to LA.  It was unfortunate timing that one of my big deals at work was closing the week they visited.  It was massively time consuming and kept me occupied much more than I would have liked. As a result I wasn’t able to spend as much time with Scott, Christine and baby Henry as I had hoped, but overall it was a great trip and we love our precious time with family.  It’s so hard not seeing them when we’re living on opposites sides of the world, but we cherished every moment we had together!

2018 Summer in London

It’s not often that I write about our London adventures, but if I’m going to share any, I should probably write about summer in London.   When we first moved to London, there were a few quintessential British events that we noted we must attend, but the last two summer’s Dan and I have been very fortunate to spend in Asia, therefore missing summer in London.

First up:  Royal Ascot!  I was so excited for this, we organised a group to attend probably about six months in advance 🙂

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And unfortunately, to be completely honest, we had quite the disaster with transport and logistics for the day.  We organised a mini bus to transport Dan and I along with 12 other friends to the racetrack.  Not going into detail, it ended up being a nightmare transport service and caused a lot of headache for the whole group.  Luckily, they at least got us to the event and we were able to enjoy some of the races.

Once inside the venue, it’s quite the scene.  It almost feels like you’ve stepped back in time as many of the men are wearing tails and top hats and the women are decked out in beautiful dresses and the most elaborate hats.  The fashion was by far the best part of the experience.  Despite the chaos with the transport, we had such a memorable day at the track.  Totally worth the headaches and we’ll remember this forever!


The second big event we had to make it to was Wimbledon!

The process of securing tickets for Wimbledon is an event in itself. There are a few different ways you can get tickets.  The first is entering the ballot a year in advance and cross your fingers you get in.  We’ve done this the last 3 years and have not been successful.  The second is to queue in line for hours upon hours the day before/morning of each day.  The third is to enter the daily ballot on Ticketmaster to win 2 tickets for the next day’s matches.  This year, we entered the ballot on Ticketmaster daily for the first 4 days unsuccessfully.  Dan decided it was time to queue to guarantee some tickets!  He went around 5am Friday morning and queued until 10am to get a grounds pass.  Funny enough…I entered the ballot that morning while at work (while Dan was queuing) and I won 2 tickets for centre court on Saturday! Our friends Gina and Charles also won tickets to the Saturday matches!

So Dan went two days in a row and was able to see Rodger Federer and Serina Williams play on Friday, then we both saw Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic play on Saturday.

The Wimbledon set-up is so quintessentially British.  From the queuing system to the strawberries and cream to the champagne to the white outfits, it was all perfectly organised, efficient and exceptionally clean.  It’s such a good day out – even if you don’t like tennis, it’s something if you’re able to try and experience!


Another really cool thing we did this summer was kayak down the Thames with the Phelps and Hitchcocks.  Us girls planned the entire evening a as a surprise to our hubby’s.  The weather ended up being absolutely perfect, and we had the most beautiful 2 hour kayak down the Thames where we ended in Greenwich for a pub dinner.


In July, we had a bittersweet moment in which we had to leave our beloved flat in Pimlico and find a new place to live.  Our landlord decided he wanted to sell the flat we were living in, so we had to be out quickly.  We truly loved our flat and neighborhood in Pimlico, it was so hard to leave.  But we were super fortunate to find a new great flat in a new neighborhood for us.  We landed on Marylebone, which has proven to be a great choice.  It is much more central (I  mean my commute to work is just a 20 min. walk!) and it’s right next to Regent’s Park.  It’s a quirky little flat (jungle garden and a wine cave!?!), but we’ve grown to love it already and are quickly making it our cozy new home.


Now that we live close to Regent’s Park, Dan and I have been trying to play more tennis.  (We were also super inspired by Wimbledon!) We knew a lot of our London friends also like to play tennis, so we decided to put on an Expats Tennis Tournament.  I hired out three courts for a morning and organised a round robin tournament with five other double’s teams.  The weather was perfect and the competition was fierce – with Mary and Nick taking home the championship! This is definitely something we’ll try and repeat next summer!


And last, but certainty not least, Dan and I celebrated our SEVEN YEAR WEDDING ANNIVERSARY!

Absolutely crazy to believe that seven years ago we vowed our lives together for better or worse.  I can honestly say it has been the best seven years, and I cannot imagine life any other way.

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We decided to stay in England for our anniversary. We found a cool castle that was converted into a luxury hotel over in Cornwall (southwest corner of England), in Dartmoor National Park.  We thought it would be cool to cycle the area, so we took our bikes on the train and headed down south.  After a quick 1.5 hour train ride, we hopped on our bikes and cycled up, up and UP.  Neither of us were prepared for the amount of uphill the 17 mile cycle to the castle entailed!  More than once we (well I) had to stop and walk our bikes up the steep hills.  Hills aside, it was such a beautiful route.  The English countryside is so special.  I love all of the little pubs, churches and villages dotted along the way.

After a lovely night stay at the castle, the next morning we were off to do some clay pigeon shooting.  We had an awesome guide who taught us some great tips and tricks which had both Dan and I hitting *most* of the targets!

After shooting for a few hours, we hopped back on our bikes for a 15 mile cycle back to the train station.  This cycle journey was much more pleasant as there were some great downhills!  Even though Dan may say I complained quite a bit about the hills, I genuinely loved this trip.  It was so nice to get out of the city and see the beauty England has to offer.  And it was so nice being outside for the majority of the weekend.  Fun to spend a whole weekend with just our cycles and backpacks! It was absolutely perfect for our anniversary!

Detroit does Dubrovnik

Last week Dan and I were so lucky to have FOUR of our Detroit friends come visit us in London.  Sara and Kelli had come last year on the girls trip, but Bill and Jon (Konicki) hadn’t been over yet.  We haven’t seen each other since June of last year when we went back to Michigan!  So this visit was well overdue! And…the best news from the whole trip was finding out Bill and Kelli are having a BABY!!! 

We kicked the trip off with an amazing evening out in London Friday night.  We went to one of my favourite Indian restaurants, Dishoom, for dinner, followed by darts at The Flight Club then drinks at our favourite speakeasy, Nightjar!  It was the perfect intro to London!

The next day (Saturday) we had planned a London pub crawl.  I decided it would be fun to do a golf theme, so I designed a 9 hole “golf course” around Soho.  Each pub/bar was a hole with a different challenge!  It was a load of fun – and Konicki kicked all of our butts.

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Sunday was a chill day.  We went to the Harwood Arms for Sunday roast.  Harwood Arms has been voted the best Sunday roast in London many times.  We’ve been really excited to try it.  Presentation was fantastic, however the actual meal was a bit of a let down.  The meat was great, but the rest of the meal wasn’t anything spectacular.  Also, the pricing was super misleading, so when our bill came, we were a bit upset.  We spent the rest of the day checking out the Tower of London and St. Paul’s before getting some shopping done.

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St. Pauls

On Monday we got up SUPER early (meaning we left our flat at 4am) for our flight to DUBROVNIK!  We got so lucky with the weather for the week we were there.  We went in the shoulder season, so it was a toss up as to if it would be warm enough.  But it ended up being perfection!  75 and sunny the whole time!

We spent the week exploring the old town, walking the walls (incredible!), jumping cliffs, swimming in the sea, boating, eating incredible food and drinking fantastic cocktails and wine.


On our first day, we laid low and hung out at our villa.  Our villa was amazing!  It had incredible views of the sea and mountains, beautiful finishings, two outdoor seating areas, an outdoor bbq and our own private pool!  After our 6am flight, poolside naps were in order.  Then we went to dinner at a seaside restaurant in Old Town.  The restaurant had INCREDIBLE views and the service was great.  But it ended up being super expensive, and I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else visiting.

Dinner Views!

The next day was our exploring day.  We kicked it off with some cliff jumping into the sea!  Then we walked the walls of the city for a few hours.  Dubrovnik is really beautiful!  The old town is fully enclosed with walls.  Behind the Great Wall of China, it is the 2nd longest wall in the world.  The views from the wall are breathtaking!  After walking the walls, we went to the famous Buza bar for some more cliff jumping!

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The following day we went spent the day at the beach relaxing.  It was a bit of a surprise when we arrived at the beach and it ended up being a rock beach.  So that was a bit of a let down, but it was still super beautiful and relaxing.  We enjoyed some great frozen beach cocktails! That evening we dressed up and went cocktail/appetizer hopping around town!

On our last full day in Dubrovnik, we hired a boat with a skipper for the day.  I can’t thank and recommend Dubrovnik Boat Rent enough for our perfect day.  Our skipper, Antonio, was amazing!  We had the boat for the whole day and were able to just tell him where we wanted to go and for how long we wanted to stay! We cruised all around the islands off the coast with stops for swimming, cave exploring, lunch, and ice cream.  The boat was so beautiful and perfect for the 6 of us.  And we had our favourite meal of the trip at one of the islands.  The grilled fish and octopus were out of this world delicious!!!!

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Our boat trip was the perfect end to an already amazing holiday.  I couldn’t stop smiling the whole day because everything was so fun and beautiful.


When we arrived back in London, it was their last night visiting.  We all dressed up and went out to dinner at Sushi Samba and a walk to Big Ben for one last hurrah together.

It was so hard saying goodbye to the four of them.  Dan and I have made great friends over here in London, but there’s something so special about having friends from “home” come spend time with us.  The week was absolute perfection.  I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to travel with.  Unforgettable week!

Byrnes Visit + London Marathon

Riley and Brittany visited!!!  Riley was Dan’s roommate throughout college and they’ve stayed really close friends since.  Riley and Brittany got married last year (we went back to Michigan for their wedding).  Since they started dating, (actually right before Dan and I got married!), I’ve grown close to Brittany as well and the four of us have such a great time together.  We were so happy to host them for a week!

The day they arrived, we did a little bit of sightseeing around Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, and our neighbourhood.  That evening, Brittany and I went to the restaurant on the top of the Walkie Talkie building in London while the boys went to a Premier League football match!  The views from our dinner were incredible! And we timed it perfectly to catch the sunset too!  The boys had an amazing time at their football match as well.  Dan said the atmosphere was unlike any other match he’s been to before.  Crystal Palace beat Arsenal 3-0!

We spent the next 2 days exploring London seeing all of the sights and sharing some of our favourite restaurants with the Byrnes.

As they were here on Easter weekend, we had Friday off and took a nice quick one night trip to Paris! Lucky for me, my birthday also happened to fall on Easter weekend this year! So I got to spend my second birthday in a row in PARIS!

We took the Eurostar over early Thursday morning and headed straight to the bakery to grab a French baguette then over to the Eiffel Tower.  I don’t think this sight will ever get old!  It’s so unbelievable.  There is something so special about the ET.  I could just stand in front of it for hours and admire it!

We then explored Champs-Élysées and then made a stop to my favourite macaroon place  – Laudree!

That evening we went to a Steak & Frites dinner.  It’s an awesome restaurant where there is no menu – they only serve steak & frites!  They ask you how you want your steak prepared then bring you a plate of steak, frites and incredible sauce!  When you finish, they come around and bring you a whole other plate!!!  It was an amazing dinner – we LOVED it!  After dinner we grabbed some French Rose’ (boxed – ha!) and had a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower.  This was my favourite thing we did in Paris last year, and we had to share this experience with Britt & Riley!  The ET at night is magical!

On Friday, we explored a bit more around the city before hopping back on the Eurostar to go back to London that night.

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As Friday was MY BIRTHDAY (!!!)! We started the evening off with a quick stroll through Harrods then we went to one of my favourite restaurants, Burger & Lobster for some birthday lobster!  It was incredible, as always!

On their last day in London, we spent it checking off the rest of the London sights from their list of must-see’s!  It was an incredible visit from incredible friends.  We love Britt & Riley and miss them so much!


In other news, Dan ran his first marathon!  The London marathon is super hard to get into, so Dan and Kent were able to get in by running for a charity!  This is Kent’s 7th(?) marathon!  I am so proud of them with all of their training over the past many months.  I know it was hard for Dan because we had a lot of travel and he had a long work trip to Japan right in the middle of his training schedule!

The day before the marathon, Dan had quite the surprise coming.  His brother, Scott, and I devised a plan to have Scott fly over to cheer Dan on for the marathon.  We pulled off the surprise and Dan was so happy to have Scott here!

 

Post-race celebrations!

English Countryside Camping

People thought we were crazy when we said we were going to go backpacking and camping in January in the UK.  It’s “too cold”, “too wet”, and “too muddy”. But, we did it!  And it was amazing! And you should all do it!

20170128_133223This weekend we packed all of our outdoorsy gear into our big backpacks and headed down south into the South Downs National Park.  We took a train and a bus to get to Ditchling.  From there we hiked about 2 miles to Ridgeview Wine Estate for some sparkling wine tasting.  The vineyard was beautiful and the tasting was great.  One of the best tastings we’ve ever been to for your money.  We sampled 7 different sparkling wines, each one with a very generous pour!  We both agreed that the 2011 Blanc de Blancs and the 2013 Rose de Noirs were our favourites.  We bought a bottle of the Rose to bring back to London with us (Dan had to lug it around for the rest of the weekend!)

20170128_152915After wine tasting, we walked another few miles into town for a quick lunch at a cafe’ before another few miles into our campsite.  We stayed at a place called Blackberry Wood.  It is quite a quirky place. They offer camping in a helicopter, double decker bus, a tree house and a few other odd shelters.  We settled for the simple, wooded site and set up our own tent.  There were only 2 other tent campers there, so it was nice and secluded!

After setting up, we took a nice rest and enjoyed the quiet outdoors.  Living in the city for awhile now, I often forget how much I love nature and enjoying the quiet outdoors.  At dusk, we laced up our hikers again and hiked off another couple of miles into town to grab a pub dinner.  We enjoyed the warmth of the indoors and the fireplace with our delicious pub food and pints.  At this point, it started raining, so we cheated and called a cab to take us back to our campsite.

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Although it was still drizzling when we got back, we decided we had to still have a campfire and s’mores.  It’s really hard to find s’mores ingredients in the UK – so we decided to improvise with Biscoff biscuits, dark chocolate and of course marshmallows.   You guys – don’t ever use a graham cracker and Hershey’s again!  This was a total game changer!  It was amazing and I never want a traditional s’more again!  Delish!  (Total failure on my part to take a picture – but I was too engrossed in it’s delishness to stop and snap one!)

20170129_101604Although it rained most of the night, our tent kept us dry and (mostly) warm.  I wouldn’t say it was the best night’s sleep – but it was still good.  One of my favourite things about camping is having coffee in the morning.  We love Starbucks instant packets for camping.  We boiled water with our little stove and were able to enjoy Starbucks coffee while relaxing in our tent.

Nothing crazy exciting about this weekend.   But it was perfect. Short and sweet.  Dan and I love the outdoors.  We did get a bit cold, damp and muddy – but we love getting away and enjoying our time together.  It really was so beautiful, refreshing and relaxing.   And we were able to get some good mileage in 🙂