I've got some major blog updates coming up around here. Greg and I took an amazing trip to Europe! I've never been and have always thought it would be fun, but I knew I didn't want to spend all of that money to go by myself or go with a group of friends. I did a study abroad in college, and it was amazing, but sometimes it would be difficult to travel in a group setting. You have to spend lots of time being patient and going where someone else wants to go- even if it's not a priority to you.
So imagine my delight when Greg told me that he had served a mission in The Netherlands! My little heart jumped for joy. Because A, Holland is incredible. B, that means this boy spoke Dutch. C, I always thought the Dutch lifestyle seemed pretty neat. And D, that meant that someday we could go there together.
We talked about the possibility of going for our honeymoon, right after we got married, but it just seemed like too much! Planning a wedding was a lot of work and then we rushed into the holidays. We decided to take some more time to save up, get to know each other, take some smaller trips together, and then have time to plan everything we wanted to do. And I'm so so glad we ended up doing it this way. I just can't imagine the stress ball I would have been if we had really gone for our honeymoon.
We left on September 5th and came home on September 22nd. Our companies were both awesome to work with and we're so nice to let us go and do this. We stuck to a budget and only went $100 over, which we thought was pretty good!
A quick note on our journey across the pond. We took a flight from Atlanta to London on Virgin Atlantic Airlines. I had heard a lot of good things about this airline, but I wasn't sure how a flight could be awesome- you're still stuck in one place for 8 hours. But people, I kid you not, it was the best flight I have ever taken in my entire life. The flight attendants were the nicest people, like not just flight attendant nice, but legitimate nice. We sat right next to a gal with a newborn baby, and the way they treated that mother was GOLD. They were so warm and hospitable. They played with the baby, offered to hold her, set up a bassinet for her. Got things out of the mom's luggage in the over-head compartment. I was a little sad when we first sat down because my personal TV screen was not working. But the flight attendant had an iPad back up with all the same movies and TV shows, and she apologized over and over again for the inconvenience. The food was top notch! Not just good for airplane food, but for real food! And they gave us socks, a blanket, a night mask, a toothbrush and paste, pillow, and adorable wooden headphones (all for free!). As great as some of those perks were, it wouldn't have been quite a great experience if it weren't for the flight attendants. They were friendly with each other and the passengers, and it just made things to comfortable for the rest of us. Highly, highly recommend!
Now back to the purpose... our destinations!
Our first stop was London! A place I have thought SO SO much about it in my life. I consider England our sister country and I've always imagined what it must be like since learning about the American Revolution and all my Jane Austen interests. I had high expectations and I'm glad to report that this city did not disappoint! So many of my interests and appreciation in pattern design and art were covered here and I was in retail heaven. So many floral prints, I could die!
We landed at 7 am, with a bit of worry knowing that we were going to have to stay awake all day. We checked into our AirBNB and gave them our luggage, and we were off!
We went straight to church after we set down our bags. I've heard a lot about the Hyde Park ward from my friends who did their study abroad in London, so I thought it would be fun to check out. It was our first opportunity to use our guide book, so we were a bit lost. We got off at the wrong tube stop, which meant we got a long walk to the church. But it was beautiful!! We got to church really late because I would stop at every corner and want to take lots of pictures. I was just in shock at all the beautiful buildings and how British everyone was.
When we got to church (which doubles as a visitors center) we got a flier for a fireside with Clayton and Christine Christensen happening that evening. Well, my sister is Clayton's assistant so I know them. And I was like, "Wait, what? They are in London?!" The guy handing out the fliers said, "Yeah, they are in the chapel right now for church." Small world! So we went into church and got to chat with them after. Pretty crazy that we were in a new country for only 3 hours when we saw someone we knew.
We checked out a lot of the walking tourist sites that first day, as sleepy as we were! We went to Westminster Abbey for their service, and panicked when they put us in the front row because we knew we'd fall asleep. And sleep, we did. I felt so bad but I literally could not keep my eyes open. Greg couldn't either. We kept waking up and then tried to wake the other one up without causing too much of a disruption. So embarrassing!
We finally made it through the day and went to sleep around 8 pm. But it ended up being a perfect way to start the trip because jet lag was officially over when we woke up the next morning.
London! London! We loved London!
A few highlights:
- Westminster Abbey
- Buckingham Palace
- Tate Modern (so much Andy Warhol and other Pop artists!)
- double decker buses
- Tower of London
- Tower Bridge
- watching the birds at the boardwalk near Tower Bridge (funny quote from Greg, "That pigeon is so lazy, it has to use its wings to jump down the step.")
- the amazing lego statues at Hamley's
- fish and chips
- Big Ben
- so much people watching
- National Gallery (Van Gogh's sunflowers), and long chats about travel in the coffee shop
- buying compression socks at the pharmacy to handle the swelling of my bruised ankle (joy!)
- The most amazing (and expensive) lobster roll of my life at Burger & Lobster (but then again, what isn't good dipped in melted herb butter?)
- Trafalgar Square
- talking in a British accent as much as we possibly could
- Greg calling me "Deary" in an accent instead of using my name
- flowers everywhere!
- red velvet cupcakes from Hummingbird Bakery
- watching all the motorcyclists with ALL of their protective gear
- mastering the bus and tube system