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!

Lyon & French Alps

 

Dan recently had the opportunity to join a weeklong project in Lyon, France.  Of course as it was a new city for us, I quickly wanted to join!  So I arrived on Friday at the end of the week for a night in Lyon then the weekend in the Alps.

After Dan finished up work on Friday, I met him in the city centre where we walked around exploring.  The city is really adorable – I couldn’t believe how many cafe’s, restaurants and bars there were! It’s a very small, but incredibly charming city built around the confluence of the Rhône and Saône Rivers.  I wish we had more time there than just the one evening…

 

Lyon is known as one of the gastronomic capitals of the world.  It is FILLED with Michelin starred restaurants and is home to some of the most infamous culinary institutes.  I’m a HUGE Anthony Bourdain fan (R.I.P.), and love to follow his recommendations as we travel around the world.  One of my favourite episodes of Parts Unknown was his Lyon trip.  He visited Paul Bocuse’s restaurant and was able to dine WITH Chef Paul himself!  Watching Anthony Bourdain’s excitement and respect for such a chef made me want to experience those feelings as well.  I had just been promoted at work, and Dan told me we were going to go out to dinner to celebrate that evening.  Never did I think we’d be able to get into Paul Bocuse – but somehow Dan managed to secure a booking!!!

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We indulged in the most memorable six course meal:

  • Amuse-bouche de l’Auberge
  • Duck foie gras terrine, ginger jelly, dried fruits chutney [Kirsten] & Traditional Lyon quenelles of pike with crayfish, Normande sauce [Dan]
  • Filet of beef Rossini, Périgueux sauce [Kirsten] & Fricassee of Bresse chicken in cream sauce, morel mushrooms [Dan]
  • Selection of fresh and matured cheeses from ‘La Mère Richard’
  • Delicacies & Temptations
  • Fantasies & Chocolates

Two things in particular stood out to me; first was the veal sweetbread that was on top of my beef filet – out of this world delicious! And secondly, was the dessert cart.  I wish I was able to take better photos of them (because there were FOUR – not just ONE dessert cart!) I had a hard time containing myself and not asking for a sampling of each of the desserts offered!  It was such a special evening and was by far the best meal of my life!


 

Part two of our trip kicked off early the next morning as we hired a car and drove off east towards the French Alps.  Our plan was to arrive late morning and spend the afternoon hiking.  However…the World Cup was on (and France was playing) and it was nearly 100 degrees out, so we decided to take it easy and just drive and stop in a few small villages along the way and then watch the match at a local pub.

It was such a beautiful drive climbing up and up through winding steep mountain roads, to where we stayed at a beautiful catered chalet.  The house was built into the rocks.  It was quite a striking mix between old/mountain rock and modern.  The area even had a local friendly donkey that greeted us 🙂

 

 

The next day we set off for a full day’s hike in the alps.  Dan chose a beautiful trail around one of the ski resorts with views of Mount Blanc.  The weather was absolutely perfect!  It was quite funny because it was about 70 degrees and sunny, but parts of our hike were still through the snow!

We love adventure trips, and this one in particular because it was such a contrasting trip – gourmet meals to trekking in the alps.  It was also really cool to see this area in the summer as this was a similar area we were in the winter for our ski trip!

Zakynthos, Greece

One of our favourite trips of all time was about two years ago when we spend a long weekend in  Santorini, Greece.   When we sat down  this spring to decide where we should visit for a long relaxing weekend, we both quickly agreed on going back to a Greek island.  We settled on Zakynthos as it was super easy to reach and offered some great resorts.

This will quite possibly be my shortest blog post, as we pretty much spent 90% of the time lying by our resort’s infinity pool overlooking the blue Mediterranean Sea.  The remainder of our time we spent on our motorcycle winding through the olive tree farms to see the dramatic coastline or out to eat the most incredible Greek food.

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How we spent our whole first day 🙂

For our first night on the island, Dan found the most amazing Greek restaurant for dinner, Bassia.  We actually ended up loving it so much, we went a total of 3 times throughout our week there!

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The next  morning we drove across the island over to Porto Limnionas, a sheltered cove for swimming.  The 1.5 hour drive was so beautiful, passing through olive farms, vineyards and tiny little towns.  When we arrived to our lunch destination, we were greeted with the cutest little restaurant set high above the cove overlooking the most crystal clear turquoise waters!  After a quick bite, we climbed down the steps to the water where we went swimming and explored the caves.  I couldn’t believe how clear the water was – you could see the sandy bottom the whole time and the water was at least 30 feet deep!

That night’s dinner treated us to one of the best views on the island. Lofos Pizzaria is set up in the hills, overlooking the middle valley of the island.  It is quite the trek to get to on a motorcycle…lots of hairpin turns and a steep climb!  But after a somewhat eventful trip there, we made it in one piece and enjoyed some Greek pizza and a perfect sunset!

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The next day, we did nothing but move from the pool to the beach 🙂 It was perfection!

IMG_3918In the evening, we rode over to another incredible Greek restaurant.  The entire “dining room” is set outside, underneath a canopy of greenery and fairy lights.  It’s magical!

For our last excursion, we drove across the island and to the north to see the Island’s most famous sight – Shipwreck Beach!

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From there, we explored another beach, Xigia Beach.  This area is incredibly unique, as the water has a layer of collagen on the top!  The natural springs flow sulphur and collagen, making the water feel silky and smooth against your skin (although quite stinky too!).

 

For our last night, we went back to our favourite restaurant where the staff treated us to a “going away” meal which included 5 courses of their best Greek dishes.  It was an unforgettable meal, and we made some great friends that we hope we can go back and visit some day.

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We were really lucky to have a late evening flight back to London and were able to spend the WHOLE day pool and seaside again.  It was the perfect trip.  We were able to actually relax, read (and finish!) books and soak up the Greek sun.  I cannot recommend this place enough, particularly our hotel.  It was a 10/10.

Birthday Trip to Morocco

I’ve officially joined the dirty thirty club!  And what a welcome I received! I started celebrating on Wednesday with my work colleagues and the party didn’t stop until the following Tuesday when we flew  back to London!  Friday evening I was welcomed with a surprise visit from the Phelps and Ives at our flat with a cake, sparklers and bubbly.  I’m so lucky to have such great (and thoughtful!) friends in London!  I was so surprised!  It as the PERFECT way to kick off my 30th birthday celebration!

 

The party kicked back off around 4am on Saturday morning when we had to meet the Ives on a bus to the airport for a super early morning flight 🙂  We flew into Marrakesh, Morocco for a weekend of birthday shenanigans and exploring.  After quickly checking into our riad* (which was ADORABLE!), we headed off to check out the city of Marrakesh and get lost in the souks! *A riad is a traditional Moroccan house that is situated around a courtyard, that typically contains a pool or fountain.  Many have now been converted into boutique hotels.

We spent the entire day wandering through the market stalls and bartering for Moroccan goods.  I loved all of the foreign sights, sounds and smells that the area had to offer.  It’s so fun for me to experience a culture that is so far from what my day-to-day is.  I love to fully submerse myself into it.

That evening we had a lovely dinner at a restaurant the Riad recommended.  After feasting on various Moroccan tajines (a stew that is cooked for long hours in a clay pot, typically with meat, vegetables and sometimes dried fruits such as dates or apricots). Dan let the staff know it was my birthday…and the party started!  A group of about 10 staff brought out a beautiful dessert, firecracker candles and a beautiful serenade of a Moroccan rendition of Happy Birthday!

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The next morning we were met by our driver, Aziz, who would transport us for the next 3 days through the mountains, countryside and desert.  Our first day on the road was primarily spent winding through the Atlas Mountains.  We made various pit stops along the way to soak in the views.  It was quite surreal seeing snow tipped mountains just above the yellow/orange sand desert.  Our favourite pit stop along the way was a craft market where we spent hours searching for the perfect Moroccan rug to bring back as a souvenir.  I fell in love with the bartering and feel very proud with the deal I managed to negotiate for our stunning area rug!

After a total of 6 hours of driving, we arrived at the Dades Gorges where we stayed the night.  The area is jaw-dropping as there are small villages and winding roads carved in and around a large gorge that is formed from the Dades River.  Our hotel was no exception, as it was literally carved out of the earth with the Dades River flowing in front.  We loved the hotel, especially the staff.  We quickly became friends with the staff and spent the early evening hanging out sharing stories about our lives and learning about their traditional Berber lifestyle.  That evening we had a fantastic meal followed by another birthday party.  The Moroccan’s love a birthday party – and this one again did not disappoint! Our driver, Aziz, (and the rug guys from earlier in the day!) ended up getting me a birthday cake and surprised me!  The rest of the evening was spent enjoying Berber music and dancing with our new friends.

 

Sunday morning we met Aziz early for another long day of driving.  We drove another 6 odd hours with many stops for beautiful photos of the dramatic scenery along the way.  We even managed to find a roadside stand selling traditional Berber clothing where we couldn’t resist the photo op of playing dress up!

After what seemed like forever, we finally made it to what I was looking forward to the whole time…the Merzouga Sahara Dunes.  Some of the largest, most dramatic dunes in the Sahara!  From every direction your eye could see were the most gorgeous orange velvety smooth dunes.  It was almost as if they were large orange sand waves frozen in place.  We hopped on our camels to make a 1.5 hour trek out further into the Sahara where we would camp for the night.  The trek was incredible – slightly uncomfortable, but hard to think about your discomfort when the scenery is once-in-a-lifetime beautiful!

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That evening we had another traditional tajine dinner in the communal berber tent after watching the sunset over the dunes.  We enjoyed some entertainment before hitting our beds early as we had an early start the next day…

…at 4:30 am!!!  We woke and hopped on our camels again for the 1.5 hour trek back.  It’s hard to describe how beautiful the trek in the dark was.  I’ve never seen the sky so on fire with stars.  You could see the creamy milky way weaving through millions and millions of bright stars.  It was unbelievable.  And after about an hour of trekking in the dark, the sun started to peek up from the horizon and we witnessed the most beautiful sunrise as we arrived back to our vehicle.  The rest of the trip was spent in the vehicle making our way back to Marrakesh to make our flight home back to London. It was such a lovely way to celebrate entering into a new decade of life!

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Oslo, Norway

Dan has been able to travel to Oslo a few times for work trips these past few months, so we decided that I would join him for a night to do some exploring!  It was as really short trip, as we flew in Saturday morning and I flew back Sunday night.  But it’s a really small city so it was really easy to do in a quick weekend.  So many people told us that Oslo is a really boring city, but we ended up really loving it and finding it incredibly beautiful!

We spent Saturday afternoon just wandering around the city’s shopping area.  It’s basically just one long high street.  But one beautiful high street and at the end of the shopping street sits the Palace up on the hill with a beautiful park.  When we reached the end of the walk and got to the park, we decided we should go ice skating in the park!  We rented hockey skates and as soon as we got them – it started to snow!  I’m talking the most perfect big fluffy snowflakes!  Living in London, we don’t get snow and I LOVE snow!  And how perfect to be skating in the snow in Norway!  Perfection!

 

As I only had one night in Oslo, we decided to try and visit as many places as possible for food and drink.  So we started off at the top floor of our hotel for a cocktail – which happens to be the tallest building in Oslo!  Next stop was a cave bar/restaurant for dinner and some Norwegian beer.  They were known for their sausages so we had to try them, and they didn’t disappoint!  After dinner,  we bar hopped at a handful of craft beer bars around the city.  The craft beer scene was fantastic there – especially the sour beers!  So many fun ones to try, I loved it!

On Sunday we decided to take a long walk along the waterfront.  We started over by the Oslo Opera House which is a stunning display of architecture along the sea.  The  building and sun created beautiful reflections into the water.

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The remainder of my short time in the city was spent just wandering around, enjoying the wonderful weather and being with Dan.  We love weekends away where we can just take it slow and not feel rushed to see a lot of tourist sites.  Oslo was so beautiful and was the perfect quick (but slow) getaway! And I got my snow fix in 🙂

My mom visits London & Almafi Coast

A few weeks ago, my mom was able to make the trip over to London! We were excited to show her our London life.  We spent a whole week in London showing her all of the hot spots and sharing all of our favourite local places.  We did an afternoon tea at Kensington Palace, brunch at Duck & Waffle, a river ride down the Thames, saw Wicked the musical, had coffee and macaroons at Laudree, checked out Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London. It was full on London!

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After getting her acquainted with London life, we took her over to Italy for the weekend to show her a bit more of Europe.  We flew in and out of Naples, which is the perfect gateway to the Almafi Coast.  We spent the morning of our first day there exploring the Pompeii and Hurclean area.

From Pompeii, we drove (ahem – Dan drove) the super windy, beautiful roads over the mountains to the Almafi Coast.  We stayed in a little village just south of Almafi town.  It was beautiful!  Our hotel had an amazing balcony with views of the sea and coast line and a fun rooftop bar where we enjoyed a night cap watching the sunset over the coast.  We spent the afternoon laying on the beach and swimming in the sea before heading into Almafi for some shopping and a wonderful pasta dinner on the water.

The next day we drove the entire Almafi coast from Almafi over to Sorrento.  It was incredibly beautiful!  Although we were only in this area for less than 24 hours, we decided we liked this area much better than the Cinque Terre area.  Much less crowded and stunning 360 degree views from every angle!

From Sorrento, we hopped on a ferry to go spend one night on the island of Capri.  It’s a quick 30 minute ferry and the views when you arrive are breathtaking.  To be fair, every view once you’re near, or at Capri, are breathtaking!  Our AirBNB for the night was up at the top of the island which provided some great sunset views.  We spent the afternoon down at the beach in the turquoise water and the evening indulging in more delicious Italian pasta.

The next day we took a boat tour around the whole island.  The weather was absolutely perfect for a day out on the boat.  Capri was lovely.  We loved it.  It’s quite touristy, but we went in the shoulder season, so it was just perfect.  The food was incredible, the people were nice and the scenery was gorgeous.  It would be a great place to go back to for a relaxing weekend, as there isn’t much to actually do.

We ended with a ferry ride back to Sorrento and a drive to the Naples airport.  We made a quick pit stop in Naples to walk around and grab one last gelato before dropping the car off.  It was a great weekend and it was nice to be able to show my mom how we do our short weekend trips!

My mom left London the day after we returned from Italy…and I started a new job! It was great finally getting her over to Europe!  We love showing our friends and family our life over here!

 

Oktoberfest: Munich, Germany

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile now, you’ve probably noticed how often I say “This was a bucket list trip!”  We’ve been so fortunate to be able to cross so many items off our “list” since moving across the pond!  And this past weekend, Oktoberfest in Munich was another cross of the list!

Oktoberfest is unlike any other celebration in the world.  It’s hard to compare the experience.  It’s not quite a festival, it’s not just a big party, it’s a mixture of culture, traditions, fun (and yes lot’s of beer and food)! And it was bigger and better than I had  even dreamed! Prost!

We arrived Saturday morning and immediately made our way over to Theresienwiese, the official Oktoberfest grounds.  Dressed in our liederhosen and dirndl, our group quickly took in the sights, sounds and made a quick decision to soak up the beautiful German sun and enjoy our lunch in a beer garden.  (Side note: I totally fell in love with my dirndl, and wish I could wear it every weekend!) We were super lucky and were able to grab a picnic table immediately.  Our first Oktoberfest stein’s and taste of Bavarian food was perfection.

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After lunch, we moseyed around the Oktoberfest grounds to find a spot to enjoy our afternoon.  We learned quickly that once you get a table at a tent or beer garden…you stay there!  The place gets completely packed and it’s not worth giving up your spot because it is unlikely you will find another one.  We were incredibly lucky to find a spot in the Lauenbrau beer garden where we parked ourselves for the afternoon/early evening.

The next day, we decided it would be a wise choice to take a break from the main tents and festivities.  As Dan and I had already been to Munich a few times before, we didn’t have any specific sights to see, so we rented bikes with the Phelps for the day.   The weather was perfect and we biked all through the English Gardens.  We even came across an amazing Hofbrau Haus beer garden in the middle of our bike which was the perfect pit stop.  The boys loved biking down the hills and we all enjoyed watching the surfers in the river.

That evening we went for an early dinner with the whole group at the Original Hofbrau Haus.  It’s a complete tourist trap now, but I still think their food is incredible!  And the building is so beautiful! I think it’s totally worth going to on every trip to Munich!

For Monday, we had a table reservation at Pschorr-Brauosl.  We spent the majority of the day drinking steins, eating the most incredible (and filling) Bavarian food, dancing on tables and singing along to the oompah music.  Not to mention, singing Ein Prosit every 15 minutes…:)  One of the best parts about Oktoberfest is that everyone is your friend.  As soon as you enter, you have hundreds of friends who want to eat, drink, dance and laugh with you.  It was so fun!

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Unfortunately, it was a quick weekend and that night we all had to fly back to London.  This was a total bucket list success.  We already have so much love for Germany (especially Bavaria), and Oktoberfest made us love it even more! We’d love to go back someday!  Auf Wiedersehen!

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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!