Cruisin’ the Baltic Sea

(July 1, 2014)  Last year when we thought we were moving back home, Josh and I decided that our last trip in Europe would be a cruise in the Baltic Sea.  A few of our friends had done the cruise and raved about it and our thoughts were that we hadn’t had much opportunity to explore Northern Europe and that we could at least touch upon some areas we hadn’t seen and then decide if they were places we would want to make the journey back to Europe to see in more detail.  In the end, instead of a “goodbye Europe” trip, it ended up being, “Intro to Northern Europe” now that we are moving there.

We aren’t cruisers by nature.  There is nothing wrong with it, it’s just not usually our cup of tea.  Plus we often travel for just long weekends rather than for a week or more at a time so most cruises don’t usually fit into our schedule.  The only other cruise that I had been on was the Disney one 6 years ago with Josh and Aidan (Liam was at home) and Josh had been on several in his earlier 20s but cruising in your 20s is very different than cruising with your family in your late 30s.

Regardless, we are very excited about the cruise and all the stops we will be making, especially St. Petersburg, Russia.  There aren’t many opportunities one has to visit Russia in their lifetime and so we are especially looking forward to that port.

We had decided a while back that since the boat wasn’t leaving the port til around 5PM Continue reading

A Trip to England for my Birthday Weekend!! Feliz Cumpleaños to me!!

In the midst of the chaos that is currently our lives, my birthday has arrived.  I don’t know how it happened as it doesn’t feel like it should be June yet.  In fact, my aunt sent me a message the other day wishing me a happy early birthday and my first thought was, “is she crazy, my birthday isn’t for months”.  Then I realized, time is passing by incredibly quickly here these days and in fact, it’s here. Never in my life have I almost forgotten my birthday but it almost happened.

The kids and I flew into London Luton Airport on Friday night.  LATE.  Very. Very. Late.  So late I almost considered leaving Barcelona Airport and saying screw the whole trip.  The kids, more so Aidan, Continue reading

Weekend in the English Countryside with the Cousins!

Josh has a lot of family in England and Ireland and one of the advantages about us living in Europe has been being able to visit with them easier than we could when we lived Stateside.  During this time, we’ve become very close with Josh’s cousin Fiona and her family in northern England.

Back in November, they met up with us in Edinburgh, Scotland – with the timing of events on their end and flights on ours, we only got one full day in, barely that.  And yet, they drove 4 hours to meet up with us.  It was a great chance for the kids to meet their cousins for the first time.  The best part was that they all hit it off immediately. Continue reading

Our Final Day – London Aquarium

We were incredibly lucky with the weather in London pretty much the entire time we were there.  We had temps in the upper 40s during the day with sun (yes sun, in London!).  However, as we knew, this couldn’t last.  And our last day the weather was… blech…. it started off with some rain (surprise!) and temps in the lower 30s with a promise of only improving by a few degrees. Continue reading

The London Science Museum…and Chinese Food

That title is probably a bit misleading.  But those were the two big highlights of our 4th day in London so I suppose it’s apt. And… I couldn’t think of another title.  On another note, I just want to point out that museums in London are free.  They are huge, beautifully maintained and free.  This would probably explain why most of London was in the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum on the days that we wanted to tour them as well.

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Dinosaurs and More!!

Once again, we started out strong at 10AM (seriously, what happened to the American in us if we can’t get out the door before 10AM on a given day unless it’s school or work related?).  Our goal this morning, the Natural History Museum.  Our handyman had suggested it to us as there is a huge display of dinosaur bones being shown there that the boys would like. Continue reading

History Lessons – London Day 2

Our second day started off much better than the first one.  We hit the ground running around 10AM.  The great thing about our kids these days is their flexibility.  Gone are the days where we have to be back for nap or bedtimes, and while they need to eat, they can also do it on the run.  So there is no longer a need for us to be out the door at the crack of dawn for just a few precious hours.   Continue reading

Third Time is the Charm… London – Finally!!

After two failed attempts to go to London, we are FINALLY going!!  Yes, finally.  Amazing that we have lived in Europe for 3 years now and have not yet made it to one of the most famous cities in the world (aside from flying through Heathrow that is).  Our first year we were in the airport getting ready to board our flight here when all the air traffic controllers in Spain went on the strike.  Before our eyes, the entire airport emptied out… London.Fail.  The second attempt was this past fall when we made a trip to Legoland, Windsor and the Cotswolds.  We hadn’t planned on a trip Continue reading

Our (Failed) Attempt to See London

Since the kids weren’t as enthused with our nature hike thru Chipping Campden as I had hoped, my original plans of hitting another Cotswolds town or two and exploring before heading to the airport no longer seemed like a good idea for Sunday. They have, apparently, become city children.  So I made the (mistaken) suggestion of heading into London.  The kids were super excited by the idea and Aidan was talking about Hamleys, a huge toy store he’d heard about through kids at school. Because yes, that is the whole purpose of going to London – to see a toy store.

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Stepping Back in Time – The Cotswolds

Slightly northwest of London lays an area called the Cotswolds.  Before the last year, I had never heard of it but the more people I have talked to, the more have said what a gorgeous area this is and an absolute must visit when in England.  The Cotswolds are relatively untouched – with homes dating back hundreds of years made from a golden limestone.  The homes, many of which still have thatch roofs, glisten in the sun with their stone facades.  It’s absolutely beautiful and the more I heard of it, the more I realized, I must go!