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.  

img_5123

 

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.

snapseed(1)

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!

snapseed(2)

 

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!

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

 

Japan [+Singapore]

Dan had to go back to Tokyo for another long business trip.  Lucky for me, I was able to join him for the last half of the trip!  This was our third time in Tokyo.  I said it the last two times we were there, and I’ll say it again – I love Japan!  I was so happy to be back!

Dan’s time in Japan was primarily spent working.  And after only one week in Tokyo, he had a 2 day work training in Singapore.  He was able to fly to Singapore the weekend before the training began to get some sightseeing in.  Here’s a brief glimpse of his time in Singapore:

Marina Bay Sands

After a long [almost] four weeks apart, I was able to join Dan in Tokyo! I spent the first few days reacquainting myself with the city I love so much [and was quickly reminded of how HOT and HUMID it is there!] Dan made sure to welcome me to the city with a beautiful view of the sunset from Tokyo Tower on my first night in Tokyo.

We had already done a lot of exploring the easy to reach cities outside of Tokyo [Kyoto, Hakone, Yokohama…], and only had a few left on our list to check out.  We decided on Kamakura for our first day trip on Saturday.  It was a really easy one hour direct train ride from Tokyo Central Station.

20170708_123600-01

We wandered the little shopping streets on our way to the first temple, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.  We grabbed a quick lunch then made our way over to the Kotoku-in (Great Buddha of Kamakura).  This thing was MASSIVE!  I knew from photos that it would be large, but I did not expect it to be THIS BIG!  It’s uber impressive, and is quite the sight.  I love that it is also a different kind of sight to see versus another temple.  The last real sight for us was the Hase-dera Temple.  It was beautiful, as it sat up on a cliff with beautiful views of the sea.  It also had an underground tunnel system that we were able to walk through [although, we still can’t figure out what it was used for!  Everything was only in Japanese!].

The final stop of the day was the beach!  As it was nearing 100 degrees Fahrenheit with 75% humidity…we needed the ocean!  Although it was not a beautiful white beach with turquoise waters, it was perfect for a quick dip in the water before hopping back on the train to Tokyo.

When Sunday rolled around, I was still fighting jetlag and Dan was pretty tired from long hours at work.  We decided to sleep in late and relax before heading out to DisneySea for the afternoon/evening.  DisneySea has an awesome deal where you pay a much lower ticket price to visit the park anytime after 4:00 PM until closing.  I’ve been nudging Dan to take me to DisneySea the last two visits to Tokyo, and he finally gave in and we had the most amazing time.  DisneySea is gorgeous – it is set up like a sea version of Epcot.  We spent six glorious hours riding rides, stuffing our faces with overpriced park food and enjoying the shows.  Some of our favourites were the Toy Story ride and the light show they put on in the water at night.  Let me tell you – DisneySea was well worth the wait.  I loved every minute of it.  It was so much fun!  Lines weren’t very long, the park was SO clean [typical Japan!] and it is the only DisneySea park in the world!  I HIGHLY recommend going – just the water light show at night is worth seeing in itself!

While Dan was working the next week, I explored more of Tokyo.  I strolled around the parts of the city that were my favourites, as well as checking out a few new areas.  I also spent a decent amount of time relaxing in some of my favouite quiet parks found dotted throughout the city.  I love how quiet, clean and green Tokyo parks are.  It seemed I always found myself ending up at a park sometime throughout the day to either to some yoga or just catch up on some reading.

Hard to believe I haven’t mentioned it yet, but it’s definitely time I talk about the food.  It’s no secret, I’m OBSESSED with Japanese food.  Some people complain that after some time in Japan, they get sick of it…but I seriously think I could eat it all the time.  It’s incredible!  When I was on my own, I checked off the places that were my favourites from trips past.  Ramen still sits at the top of my list.  I love the variety that each shop offers [and there are SO many ramen shops, you can never get bored trying!].  It should also come as no surprise, that spicy ramen happens to be my favourite variety!

One of the most memorable dinners from the trip was with Dan’s work team when we went out and celebrated the finish of their project with a Kobe beef dinner.  The restaurant was Teppanyaki style, and it reminded me of Benihana.  Our chef prepared the courses on the stainless cooktop in front of us.  The Kobe beef was unreal.  Super buttery [and garlicky] and melt in your mouth delicious.

The best part about this trip to Japan was having Scott and Christine come visit for our last week!  Scott is just as big of a foodie as me, and has always wanted to visit Tokyo for the food and culture scene.  As they’re about to have their first baby (yay!), they figured this was the perfect time to visit and celebrate with a babymoon!  AND – they just moved to LA, so the flight to Tokyo is just about the same as a flight to London would be!

It was incredible having our brother and sister in Tokyo with us.  I played tour guide for them while Dan was at work during the day.  And we took them to our favourite restaurants in the evenings.

For the weekend, the four of us decided to take a day trip up to a countryside/mountain town called Nikko.  We took the train straight there, which only took about an hour.  It is such a quiet small town – it was a nice escape from the city! After dropping our stuff off at our hotel, we spent the afternoon checking out all of the temples and shrines.  All of them are located in the Nikko National Park, so it makes checking all of them out super easy and convenient as they’re all right next to each other!  The park is home to some really cool and unique things; including:  Japan’s most ornately decorated shrine the Toshogo Shrine and the famous Three Wise Monkey’s (Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

That night, we stayed in a traditional Japanese Ryokan.  It was quite the experience!

The next day, we took a bus over to the lake/mountain area to do some hiking and see some waterfalls.  It was so beautiful and the weather was perfect (ok – it was quite hot, but it was manageable!). After a full day of hiking, we headed back to Tokyo for two final nights together.

DSC06189

We finished our time together with a trip to Tsukiji Market and two incredible meals and invaluable time together.  We miss Scott and Christine so much, and our time together is never long enough.  It was such a special treat to be able to experience Japan together.  Something we’ll cherish forever and ever….and it’ll be a great story for Baby Glaser!!! Her first trip to Japan 🙂

Glasers

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.

20170429_163849

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.

IMG-20170513-WA0014

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!

DSC05414

DSC05460

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!!!!

DSC05584

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!

Lugano/Como/Milan + Many overdue updates!

It’s been quiet on the blog the last 2 months…but it’s been far from quiet in our lives!  Here’s a quick update…

Soon after we returned from Africa, Dan’s parents came to visit us.  They spent a week on a cruise down the Danube then flew over to see us for a week.  Here’s a quick snapshot of our time together with them:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dan had a birthday!  Woo hoo!  Dan turned the big two eight.!!! We celebrated with a fantastic steak dinner at Gaucho!  20161005_200621

A week after Mom + Dad Glaser left, we had another set of special guests for a week.  One of my  college friends and her husband came to visit!  Brad + Mara have been one of our closest couple friends for many years now, but we never can seem to live close to each other!  We have one of those special friendships where we can pick up right where we left off last time.  This was their first time to London, and it was so fun showing them around our town!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Another amazing perk of living in London is being able to use it’s fantastic train system.  A few weeks ago we had an open weekend, so we were able to snag some cheap train tickets up to Edinburgh, Scotland. They were such a good deal – Kent and Erin couldn’t resist either, so they ended up joining us as well!  We spent the weekend just wandering around, eating a lot of good food, hiking and whiskey tasting [well – that was mostly Dan].

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Last update before our most recent trip…Halloween!  This is now our 2nd Halloween here in London.  It’s funny, because the Brit’s celebrate Halloween, they’re just not sure why they do it [or why the Americans do it] and they’re not sure how to do it. And they call costumes “Fancy Dress” which still makes me giggle!   So when a large group of Americans like us dress up and go on a pub crawl…it generates a lot of stares and funny looks!  Especially when you’re dressed as a vikings while riding the tube 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On to the trip…

My intentions for the post were to have these incredible nature photos from Lake Lugano and Lake Como.  They were going to show all of the beautiful fall colour in the trees, the beautiful landscape of the Alps, the deep, rich blue of the water and the elaborate homes and boats on the lakes.  They were going to be of Dan and I hiking up, down and all around the mountains.  But…it rained.  Not just a little.  A lot!  It rained the WHOLE time we were there.  And the rain brought with it lovely dense fog.  So our weekend hiking/outdoorsy adventure trip turned into something a little different 🙂

We flew in late Friday night and stayed in Milan.  We rented a car first thing Saturday morning and drove up to Lugano, Switzerland.  We wandered around the city, enjoyed some fantastic Swiss chocolate, espresso and pastries, in hopes the rain would let up so we could hike.  This little town is adorable, and I’d love to go back sometime.  It’s very quiet, quaint and charming.  It had a wonderful small town, local feel to it.  Those kinds of towns are my favourite!  As it never stopped raining, we decided on some pizza at a really cool restaurant overlooking the lake.  We hung out there for awhile, again, in hopes for the rain to stop.

After a bit, we decided it was time to start our alternative [non-hiking] adventure.  So we hopped in the car, and did a driving tour of the lake.  Lake Lugano is fantastic!  Much of the lake shore is untouched, so it is very quiet and you can enjoy it’s natural beauty.  The Swiss Alps tower over the edges, creating a majestic skyline.  It was fun for us to try and imagine how it would look in the sun.  The little villages around the lake were quaint and full of character.  We’d LOVE to come back and stay on Lake Lugano, rent a boat and explore the lake…and actually hike 🙂

We made our way over to Lake Como, where we drove from the middle/western point of the lake down to the southern/western point of the lake.  We checked into our hotel, relaxed a bit [got out of our hiking clothes that we didn’t hike in] then went off into the actual town of Como to explore.  We took the water taxi from the area our hotel was in over to Como.  Shockingly, it stopped raining for about 5 minutes while we were on the boat, so we could stand outside and enjoy the views!

Como was cute.  It’s definitely very touristy, but we were in non-busy season and it was raining, so it was pretty quiet.  We found a little wine cellar in which we did some wine tasting [AMAZING wine] and ate loads of charcuitterie and formaggio!  After a bit more exploring, we decided it was time for some pasta, as we were in Italy!  After a quick Yelp search, we found an amazing little local restaurant and had some AMAZING pasta.  [If you can’t tell from the photo, Dan really liked his dish ;)].

We had high hopes for Sunday – we thought it would be our hiking day as there is no way it could rain that hard 2 days in a row.  But nope…it was raining even harder!  So we packed up, and went on another driving tour.  We drove up the eastern side of the lake and stopped in Bellaggio for some espresso.  We walked the cute little streets and again tried to imagine how pretty it would be in the sun.

As we flew in and out of Milan, we decided to drive down and spend the rest of our town in the city.  The rain wasn’t supposed to be as bad, and it put us a bit closer to the airport.  We spend the afternoon wandering around the city and shopping before heading back to the airport late that evening.

So, instead of an intense hiking/outdoor-sy weekend, we indulged in  pizza, espresso, pasta, chocolate and of course gelato.  We were able to come away with some of my favourite coffee, some great Italian sweaters for Dan, and an amazing wool coat for me.  It wasn’t anything like the weekend we had planned…but it ended up being so perfect for us.  We have both had a few stressful weeks at work, and it was so wonderful not having any agenda and just wandering.  It’s so fun to explore all over the world with my best friend, and no matter what the weather is, or how different our plans end up…we’re doing it together and we have so much fun.

Next weekend we’re off to Vienna and Budapest!

 

 

D’s Adventure in Turin & K’s Adventure in Amsterdam

Dan’s Adventure with Scott [written by Dan]

Living abroad often means less time with family, so when I learned that my brother Scott was coming to Turin for a medical conference, I could not pass up the opportunity for a brothers weekend!  I took Friday off from work and arrived in Turin late Friday morning. Scott had arrived two hours earlier and was waiting out front with our rental car.

The weather on Friday was great, so we spent the afternoon exploring the city and of course having some gelato! The architecture in Turin is very beautiful, with white stone buildings and the traditional orange clay roofs. There are also miles of arcaded sidewalks with beautiful archways, pillars and marble floors.

20160429_225129

Saturday morning we woke up early and headed north toward the Alps! After a beautiful 1.5 hour drive through the mountains, winding valleys and many tunnels, we arrived at the foot of Matterhorn mountain in the little ski village of Cervino. Unfortunately the clouds were clinging to the peak, blocking the view. We still had a great time exploring the village, and to our surprise the slopes were still open. Scott and I both love to ski, so had we known, we would come prepared for some skiing (maybe next time!)

We had lunch in the nearby village of Courmayeur which sits at the foot of Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in the Alps. Again the clouds kept the view of the peak hidden, but there was still plenty surrounding mountains in full view. After wandering the village, and some delicious pizza for lunch, we decided to pop over to France for a couple hours. Mont Blanc is on the French-Italian border and an 11 km tunnel under the mountain connects the two countries. Just across the border is Chamonix. It’s another beautiful ski village, and was by far my favorite from those we visited. The village is surrounded by snowcapped mountains on all sides and is full of restaurants, shops, and charming alpine architecture.

 

 

20160501_144326On Sunday, Scott and I wandered over to Juventus Stadium (Italian league soccer).
Tickets had sold out online, so our plan was to try and buy tickets from someone near the stadium. When we arrived, Scott surprised me with tickets that he had purchased weeks before. What an awesome surprise! We got to see a great game and had an awesome experience.

20160501_224920Scott spent time at his conference in the afternoon, but later that evening we went out for some Italian pizza, which is one of my absolute favorite foods. The place we picked did not disappoint, and was probably the best pizza I’ve ever had!

Monday morning I went for a run along the Po River which runs through Turin. The weather Monday was warm and sunny and it was a perfect morning for a run. Afterwards, Scott and I did some sightseeing and in the afternoon Scott gave a presentation on his cancer research at the conference. I wasn’t able to attend, but I was happy to hear that his speech went really well. I’m very proud of all that he has accomplished!

 

Later in the afternoon we wanted to take advantage of the good weather, so we headed south toward the coast. After about an hour drive we reached the Italian Riveria, just in time to enjoy the last few hours of sunlight and explore the small coastal town of Alassio. We capped the night off with an awesome seafood dinner at a restaurant right along the water.

20160502_205216

Tuesday morning we were up bright and early to catch our flights home. It was sad to say goodbye, but I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend or a better brother to spend it with!

 


Kirsten’s Adventure in Amsterdam [written by Kirsten]

How lucky am I?  I have my best friend [since we were like 8 years old] living over in London now!  This means there will be many blog posts to come with the Glaser/Ives clan [#glaserivesadventures].  As Dan was off with Scott for the long bank holiday, I was fortunate enough to be able to join Kent and Erin in Amsterdam. Kent was a total trooper as he was totally the 3rd wheel on this trip 😉 😉   We took the Eurostar – which again is my favourite way to travel through Europe.  It’s so much more efficient than flying!

20160430_113231We totally hit the jackpot with weather – it was really sunny and warm [-er than London] all weekend.  On Saturday, we headed out to Keukenhof for their world famous, once-a-year, Tulip festival.  This was pretty exciting for me, as Dan went to Hope College in Holland, Michigan, I was used to “Tulip Time” there – and was pretty pumped to see the real thing!  And this blew Michigan’s Tulip Time out of the water!  The tulips were breathtaking – and it was done in such an artistic way.  The whole place smelled so fresh and lovely.  It was great to be able to experience this and see God’s beauty in this form.

After Keukenhof, we started wandering the city.  We made pit stops for some yummy treats and went souvenir shopping through the Floating Flower Market [Bloemenmarkt].  We loaded up on tulip bulbs and wooden shoe knick-nacks.  It was a really cool market – however, I’m not sure if it was really floating.  And it was SO busy, it was hard to really enjoy it.

That evening, we had a booking at a restaurant called Moeder’s.  Moeder = Mother in Dutch!

This ended up being our favourite meal of the trip.  Here is my Yelp! review:

This place is such a gem.  The concept behind a mother’s kitchen is just beautiful.  The minute you walk in and see the walls covered with photos of mothers – you feel like you’re at home.  The service was spectacular- all of the staff was incredibly kind and was accommodating to our English.  The group of 3 of us did our ordering family style, and shared a variety of dishes on the menu.  Everything was incredible.  And the Dutch Apple Pie for dessert is not to miss!!!

That evening after dinner, we were able to meet up with some friends from London who were also visiting Amsterdam.  It was fun to see everyone in a different city!

Sunday was another beautiful day in Amsterdam.  And we needed it – as we were going on a 4.5 hour bike ride through the countryside!  This was by far my favourite thing we did on the trip.  I love riding bikes already – and add the beautiful Dutch countryside to the mix – and I’m happy!  And it was pretty awesome that the three of us got the prettiest bikes of the group 🙂  20160501_103057The tour took us through some amazing neighbourhoods of Amsterdam, beautiful parks and all along the Amstel, to a beautiful windmill and then out through the countryside.  The turn around point was a cheese farm and clog factory out in Amstelveen.  It was fun to see the process of how Dutch Gouda Cheese was made and the process for how they make their famous clogs [Klomp].  The farmer was, as the tour guide called it, “eccentric” – and it was a lot of fun.

image-59e5e3478c5c9ed03afb8aaabf52f636ac7eeadc60b3a59ebd55c5fdfe4957c0-V

After a long day of bike riding, we met up with our friend Scott and took a relaxing boat ride through the canals.
The weather was absolutely perfect for this!  It was nice to lay out on a boat and enjoy the city views!

We had another lovely Dutch dinner that evening, and went to bed relatively early that night, as we were exhausted from our long bike ride.

Monday was our last day in Amsterdam before we took the train back to London in the early afternoon. Amsterdam was fun for a few days – but I was more then ready to get back to London.  Amsterdam’s lack of morals and rules was too overwhelming for me.  I quickly learned how much I like rules and order 😉  We had a great time in Amsterdam and on our first trip together.  Next weekend we’re going to Prague together – with Dan this time :)!

Adventure[s] with Riley

One of Dan’s college roommates, Riley, is over in Munich, Germany for a month on a business trip.  Lucky for us, he was able to come over to London for a weekend.  And the timing could not have been more perfect, as he arrived on the last day of Dan’s busy season!  Yay for busy season being over!

Dan lived with Riley at Hope for 3 years and has become one of his closest friends.  We miss Riley and his fiance’ Brittney SO much, as we are really close with them.  The two of them tie the knot in June this year, and we’re lucky enough to be going back to Michigan for their wedding!

We spent the weekend showing Riley around our city and all of our favourite spots.  We didn’t have much time, so it was a whirlwind tour of the London hotspots.

One interest that both Dan and Riley share strong common ground on is football.  Dan and Riley played together at Hope and they both have a passion for the sport.  Chelsea’s stadium is just a stone’s throw from our flat, so we made sure to take Riley there to buy some souvenirs!  Dan was able to surprise Riley with tickets to an English Premier League match for Saturday afternoon.  To say there were excited to get on a train and head to the match…is quite the understatement 🙂

20160227_114520

20160227_162005

Saturday night we took Riley out in Soho to show him how vibrant the city is at night.  We did a mini pub crawl  and went dancing! (And of course ended the night with DONER!)

We had such an amazing weekend with Riley, we didn’t want to say goodbye.    So instead – we said “see you next weekend!” Since he is in Germany for another 2 weeks, Dan and I decided to hop on a plane and spend another weekend with him over in Germany 🙂


 

For our second weekend together, we settled on Stuttgart.  This was a bucket list weekend for the boys – and it was so fun to watch their excitement all weekend.  Nothing makes me happier than watching the smile on my husband’s face – and knowing that he was having fun with his best friend made it such a fun weekend.  Stuttgart is home to Mercedes Benz and Porsche – so we had to take advantage of that!  We started the weekend off by renting a Mercedes.  These boys were SO excited to be driving on the Autobahn!

We headed south on the A81 towards Switzerland.  Our first stop was the Hollenzollern Castle.  This was the real definition of a fairy tale castle.  It’s presence as you drive up is remarkable – it’s sitting up on the top of the snow capped mountains and you have to take this beautiful windy road up (the boys loved this, whereas I loved the view!).  This was one of my favourite castles we’ve been to yet – I loved how mid evil it was!

After the castle, we continued to make our way down south, stopping for lunch in a cute little German town along the way.  Our turnaround point was Lake Konstancz – a beautiful lake on the Swiss/German border.  This little town was magical!  Unfortunately, it was a bit rainy and grey while we were there, but I could just imagine it’s beauty in the sun.  This is definitely on my list of places to go back to in the warm sunny weather!  As we were so close, we decided to get Riley into Switzerland as he had never been before, so we popped over the border to grab some Swiss chocolate then started making our way back up to Stuttgart for the night.

To say we engaged in the German culture would be an understatement – we FULLY immersed ourselves – especially with the food and drink! We ate like “Könige und Königinnen”.  Lots of carbs 🙂

20160305_200547

Sunday was the day we were all waiting for – we all woke up with little grins and squeals of excitement.  Sunday = Porsche day!  We started the morning off at the Mercedes Museum which was pretty awesome.  I can’t believe how big it is, and it had a lot of history to it.  Between the three of us, we didn’t have any problems picking out our next vehicle 🙂

20160306_095606

Just 10 minutes away was the Porsche museum.  We wandered around the museum, but we found ourselves very anxious because it was almost rental time.  The museum was awesome – I mean some of the most beautiful cars in the world!

We ended our trip with a rental of a 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet.  This car was unbelievable.  Just pure beauty and power.  And the smiles on Dan and Riley’s face – priceless! I absolutely loved sitting in the teeny-tiny (I mean teeeeeeeeeny tinnnnnnny) back seat watching their facial expressions and hearing them giggle (like little girls) during the drive around the Autobahn.

We headed north this time on the A81 up to Heidelberg.  This little town was so cool.  Again, it’s on my list of places to go back to in the summer!  We were lucky enough to even catch the end of a pretzel parade through the town!

 

It was so hard to say goodbye to the Porsche – and goodbye to Riley.  We won’t see him again until his wedding in June when we are back in Michigan.  But it was amazing to see him 2 weekends in a row – and to be able to experience London and Germany the way we did with him.  It was quite the experience crossing off bucket list items off together.

To end, here are the videos we took in the Porsche on the Autobahn!

Birds of a Feather

If you asked both myself and Dan what our thoughts were on moving to London – I think we’d both have pretty much the same answer – we love it.  But we both also wish for one thing, to move our friends and family over here with us! We’ve been so fortunate to have family come visit us over here, and are continually excited for more visitors.  Lucky for me, last week 4 of my best girlfriends, Kelli, Sara, Nicole and Kristie, made the trip across the pond for a visit. These girls are some of my closest friends, and we used to see each other at least once a week…and it’s been excruciatingly hard to not see them for the last 6 months. The weeks/days leading up to their visit, I found myself walking around London with a huge grin on my face in excitement for their arrival.  It was a whirlwind week – and we made memories that we will all share for a lifetime.  Here’s a little recap of our adventure together:

 

Arrival//Day 1:

These girls took quite the route to get over to me.  Starting in Detroit, they flew to Chicago, then Chicago to New York, changed airports in New York then journeyed to London.  But around noon on Saturday, the group of four joined me in my new town!  I was so excited to show them the British way, so I took them to a traditional Afternoon Tea at the Wellington Lounge at the Intercontinental.  This place is really cool – because it used to be the old home of the Queen before she moved into Buckingham.  The tea was amazing, and the sandwiches and sweets are divine.  It was the perfect way to kick off a girl’s week in London!

2016-01-30 13.55.44 (1)

After tea, we walked through Hyde Park, stopping at Kensington Palace to say hello to Princess Kate and Prince William.  It was a beautiful, sunny day in London!

 

Day 2:

I really thought the girls were going to kill me when I told them what we had planned for our 2nd day!  I registered everyone (including Dan) for a 10k run through central London, with proceeds benefiting cancer research.  Even though it was cold, rainy, and windy and 3 of the 5 of us had never ran that distance before, it ended up being so much fun!  We all finished and had a great time doing it together.  Dan was super speedy and ended up finishing 60th out of 15,000 participants!!!  The route was awesome, and it was a great way for the girls to see parts of the city.  After the run, we grabbed a pub lunch and relaxed for the afternoon.

That evening, we were in for a treat.  I was able to snag a booking at one of London’s newest and hottest restaurants – Sexy Fish.  Tons of celebrities and socialites are flocking to this place, and it’s really hard to get in.  The meal was AMAZING!  And it was so fun to dress up and go out with my girls!

20160131_180532

Day 3:

Unfortunately, I had to work today, so I sent the girls off on their own to do some London sightseeing.  They did the London Eye, lunch at Gordon’s Wine bar and shopped at Harrods.  That evening, the met up with Dan for dinner at Dishoom (I still had to workL).

Day 4:

Again, I had to work, so the girls were on their own.  Today, they hopped on a Big Bus tour and rode around the city.  They stopped at Madame Toussaint’s wax museum, and did some shopping around Regent’s Street.

Day 5:

Off on an adventure!  We woke up super early and hopped on a flight to Germany.  After a delayed train, 100 mile long lines, going to the wrong gate and being driven across the tarmac, switching gates 5 times, we actually made our flight and landed in Cologne mid-day.  We then took a train to Koblenz.  The train ride was beautiful, as most of the journey was along the Rhine River.  As we were all exhausted and stressed from the morning, we decided it’d be fun to do a spa day.  Shockingly, I was able to make us a booking (in German), at a Thai Spa down the street from our hotel.  What an experience – it was amazing and so relaxing.

After freshening up at our hotel, we headed into the Old Town area of Koblenz for dinner.  Our dinner was traditional German fare.  We feasted and enjoyed all of it!  We capped the night off with some local brews at another local bar.

Day 6:

The reason for our journey to the small town of Koblenz is really cool.  Nicole’s family is from here, and no one has travelled back since her Great-Grandparents.  It was fun watching Nicole’s face light up in this town as her German heritage shown through.  Although it was a rainy morning, we wanted to experience the main attraction in Koblenz – the Detusche Eck!  This is a beautiful corner where the Mosel and the Rhine meet.  Nicole carried her grandparent’s wedding photo with her, and “brought them” to this special place.  It was such a beautiful moment – I’m so thankful to have been able to experience this with her.

After another traditional German lunch, we wandered through the town square where a little “carnival” was going on then we got back on the train to the airport and headed off to Milan!

20160204_125958

 

We arrived in Milan in the evening.  I had rented a posh-apartment for us in the design district.  This apartment was perfect for the 5 of us.  So beautiful and on this adorable little Italian side street.  We quickly changed and got dressed up for dinner.  I had found a place on Yelp that I wanted to try – and I’m SO thankful for Yelp!  This meal was perfection.  We were treated as if we were in a family’s home!  We all agreed that this was one of the best Italian meals we’ve experienced.

Day 7:

Shopping!  We all were very much looking forward to this day.  Our apartment was just a short walk to the shopping district, and the weather was a beautiful 55 degrees and sunny.  We walked over to the Galleria, which is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls.  Our jaws dropped as we entered, as it was one of the most beautiful building’s we’d ever seen.  And being a group of real estate/architects – it was so much fun admiring the beauty.  We thought it was a great idea to start off our day with breakfast – and why not breakfast at the Gucci café? 🙂

At the centre of the Galleria, there is a mosaic art of bull, which is said that if you spin your heel on the ball three times, it will bring you good luck.  We enjoyed watching many people spinning for good luck, and of course took part in the action!  Best wishes for 2016!

Outside of the Galleria is a beautiful cathedral, Duomo di Milano.  It was stunning!  Full of white marble and covered in gorgeous sculptures.  The shining sun made the building even more beautiful – and it felt so good to stand in its warmth.

The afternoon was filled with shopping, espresso, pizza and cannoli’s.  It was a perfect day in Milan.  Late that night, we got back on a plane and flew back to London.

 

Day 8//Departure:

We all knew this day was coming, but it came way too fast.  We had more we had to fit in, and didn’t want our time together to end.  We did some more shopping on High Street Kensington and then headed to an art gallery in Chelsea to see a Marilyn Monroe exhibit.

20160206_133109

It was so hard to say goodbye.  I used to see these girls all the time and know all of the intricacies of their lives.  It’s been hard for me not seeing them all the time, but it was so beautiful being able to pick up exactly where we had left off in August.  We’re already planning our next reunion when Dan and I will be back in Michigan in June.  Love you girls!  Thank you for adventuring over to see our new London life!

~Birds of a Feather

M+D Glaser Adventure – Part 2: Mum G’s GUEST POST!

Early Saturday morning we had to say goodbye to Mom and Dad Glaser.  Dan and I had such a great long visit with them here in London.  It was great showing them around our new home and city.  They arrived home safely and we miss them already!

I’ve asked Mom Glaser to write a guest post on their trip here in London.  So here is part 2 of their visit:

It was our pleasure to spend a week with Dan and Kirsten. What gracious hosts and tour directors they are. It is very helpful for parents to be able to truly picture where their kids live and work. It was fun to be at their cute, cosy flat and to explore their neighbourhood, London and the countryside.

While Dan and Kirsten worked we toured Kensington Palace and learned about its history and the monarchs that lived there. – We rented a car and visited dear friends who live north of Cambridge. Dick is a very good English driver, but the double roundabouts are beyond me.

Our meals were delicious, interesting, and fun experiences both home and out. (Everyone knows what a great cook Kirsten is). We liked the traditional meat pies at the neighbourhood Blackbird Pub. Gelato ice cream in South Kensington was a treat after an evening walk. – Of course Dick did have to have one of his favourite meals, bangers and mash.

We used the London subway system “The Tube” everyday. Thursday Dan, Dick , and I met Kirsten near her office at Picadilly Circus, walked to Chinatown for dinner, and walked through Covent Garden.

Christmas decorations come early to London. We were impressed with the beautiful lights and special festivities happening throughout the evening. We continued on to the Lyceum Theater where we enjoyed a live production of “The Lion King”. So entertaining – a great show.

Saturday the four of us strolled through the variety of shops at the Portobello Market in Notting Hill.  Later we rode “The Eye”, London’s iconic ferris wheel. The rain stopped, the sun came out and we were treated to fantastic views of London. – Our stayed ended with a wonderful dinner at Oxo Tower Restaurant right on the Thames. Our backdrop was Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and historic London.

We thank Dan and Kirsten for giving us special memories together. We also thank God for keeping them in His care and helping them to flourish in London. Dan and Kirsten, you are brilliant, and we love you!