We first found out we were going to Paris the night of our rehearsal dinner, thanks to a surprise gift from Jill, Shanna, Julie, Carly and Michelle. After missing our train from Windsor to London Waterloo by mere seconds, we called a taxi to rush us into London. There we caught the high-speed Eurostar Train that took us under the English Channel and into Paris. Two hours later we arrived in Paris and attempted to walk to the hotel, but we quickly learned that the trek was far greater than we (Tim) had estimated. We finally caught a taxi after striking out several times at the supposed taxi pick-up points, and arrived at the Hotel Le A. The very chic hotel had a large and modern library and a cozy lobby, equipped with a lovely fireplace and all white furniture...not to mention an elevator that changed colors on every floor. The hotel staff was very helpful in finding us romantic places to eat and the location was perfect, just one block from the Champs Elysees.
Our first adventure was the Arch de Triumph (center of Paris) where we hiked to the top and saw breathtaking views of the city, thanks to a break in the clouds. Views included the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Seine River, the Champs Elysees, and all the roads leading up to the Arch. Since the sun was out we decided to hop onto the double-decker tour bus to get a feel for the city from above. We scoped out places we wanted to see and got some random tid-bits of information from the “not so helpful” electronic tour guide. Later that night we had an amazing dinner thanks to a recommendation from the hotel.
The next morning we headed to the Louvre by way of taxi since we were afraid to try out the local subway. After a quick bite to eat and much needed coffee we signed up for a “highlights” tour (in English of course) and then spent 2 hours on our own exploring mostly the Egyptian section of the museum and some of the Greek sculpture. The amount of art at the Louvre was unbelievable and the building itself was very impressive. The highlights tour proved to be a great decision since our tour guide was very knowledgeable and offered great insight as we admired the many works. The tour included the Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa, Winked Victory of Samothrace and many more. After our time at the museum we took a stroll along the Seine River making our way towards Notre Dame. The scene along the river reminded us of being in a Hollywood romance movie. We crossed at Pont Neuf to the Isle de la Cite and were soon at Notre Dame. Notre Dame stood majestically on the Isle of Cite and was glowing orange with light from the setting sun. We took several pictures and then headed in for a view from the inside. After, we walked across the street for our first taste of authentic crepes at a café conveniently called the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Yum, butter and sugar crepes.
Later that night, we went to the Eiffel Tower which glows at night and sparkles every 10 minutes to the hour. Our trip to the top was well worth it thanks to the amazing views and city lights. The sky was clear and the city was glowing beneath us. After our romantic night at the Eiffel Tower, we decided to take the untraditional route and had a late night sushi dinner on the Champs Elysees. After dinner, we had a lovely stroll back to our hotel, window shopping along Champs Elysees. Kaitlin took particular interest in the Louis Vutton lights display.
The next morning we had omelets, cappuccinos and crepes at a nearby café and rushed back to the hotel to catch a taxi to the train station. We made the train with only minutes to spare…another close call. It was sad to say “au revoir” to Paris.
There is nothing like an email titled: URGENT I’M COMING from one of your best friends – 48 hours before they fly across the Atlantic. I was more then thrilled to get the news from Julie that she was going to forgo her San Diego trip to come visit! I basically went to bed, woke up, and there she was at Heathro Airport. We had a great time during her visit! Full of energy and life as always we spend the whole time laughing and catching up on our new life changes. Doing surprisingly well at resisting jet lag we met for lunch by the bookstore where I work. When I got home that night the jet lag (and Tim feeding her a few beers) got the better of her and she was sleeping. The next day Tim and I headed off for Paris and had Julie babysitting the house with her really nice English friends. Once we got back into London we went to meet her and company along the Thames in Southwark neighborhood in London. After a few beers and many laughs we went out for Turkish dinner and Julie kept the restaurant staff fully entertained. Later that night we took a hilarious train ride home (one of many to follow). Tim was then off on a week a week long work trip to Plymouth, England and Julie too-in typical flight scare fashion - took a trip to Amsterdam to explore the city. She ended up knowing someone from San Francisco on her flight there and of course she made friends once she arrived. Another highlight was going to see Willy Russel’s musical Blood Brothers on Charing Cross Road in London. The story is of two twins who are separated at birth and grow up on opposite sides of towns with very different up brings. There paths continue to cross later in life until a final clash leas to tragic circumstances. Although Julie got a cavity mid-show and I felt sick after finishing up her Amsterdam chocolates, the show was great and we were singing along and both jumped in our seats during the last scene. Once Tim was back we went out for a really yummy Thai food in the city and they didn’t even care when we decorated their paper table cloth with lovely drawings. After dessert we headed home the next day she was off back to LA. So sad to have her leave, but it makes us excited to get back to sunny so cal to see her in her new home!
We had an amazing time in Edinburgh and can't wait to plan another trip there! We purchased a cheap flight on easyjet.com, booked a hotel and were on our way. We left early from Luton Airport, one of London's smaller airports and only 45 minutes from Windsor. After the flight and a short shuttle to Edinburgh, we met up with Barb...Jake was attending an open house at his almamator, George Watson's school. We got tickets to bus tour around Edinburgh, in typical tourist fashion, and hitched a ride to the Royal Mile, a famous street stretching from the Edinburgh Castle to Hollyrood Palace (a royal residence). After a little shopping, we met up with Jake and his youngest brother Sandy (by this point we had already met the rest of the MacKenzie clan in Windsor). After one of our many Starbucks breaks we finished off the bus tour and hiked back to our hotel for check-in. That night, while Barb and Jake were at the school reunion, we headed out for a night on the town with Kaitlin's cousin Joe Howe, who just got his masters at University of Kent in England and was ironically in Edinburgh at the same time. We started at Hard Rock Cafe for dinner, and then went to several bars to hear live music and drink with the locals...vodka bar, jazz club, and local pub. A great night thanks to our tour guide Joe. The next day we spent all day at the castle, which has amazing views of the city as it sits on atop an extinct volcanoe. There were many great sites to see at the castle, our favorite the Honours of Scotland - Scottish Crown Jewels, Sceptor and Sword of State. We learned about the amazing stories of it being lost, buried, hidden and recovered many times. Kaitlin thought the dog cemetary was particularly touching. We finished the day with a tour of the University Club at Edinburgh University, a place Jake remembered well from his school days. Our trip concluded with a wonderful dinner and a quick goodbye to our first visitors.
We had to finish the Long Walk.. rain or shine or both
Of all days to take Barb and Jake on the Long Walk (which you will come to know if you come visit us - please bring running shoes) it was sunny at first then all of a sudden we were caught in a sudden rain and wind storm of sorts AND in the path of hundreds of wild deer. Of course when we got to the end of the Long Walk ready to head back the sky opened and we were looking for our sunglasses. I guess in the end Tim did prove us wrong by not bringing a rain coast after all. . oh that day on the Long Walk.
Barb and Jake were our first visitors and I picked them up with ease at Heathrow airport (if you really want the skinny of what its like to stay with us in our cozy house- contact them). We had a great time while they were here visiting and will have great memories of their trip out here. We jammed packed 2 weeks with nonstop tourist and "locals" adventures. One of the best trips we took was to Bath, England most famously know for the remains of the Roman Baths and where Jane Austin lived (and wrote about) in many of her books. Barb, Jake, Jake's longtime friend, Hugh Summerville, and I packed up the trusty -wrong side of the road- Ford Mondeo and hit the M4. About and hour and a half later I found myself in one of the cutest little towns I have seen so far. It was like something out of a fairy tale.. We had high tea and biscuits atop of the Jane Austin museum, then took a walk to the Roman Baths. An incredible day! The story of the Roman baths is so interesting, and the story is still unveiling. In fact parts of the Bath are still being "dug" up today. We could have stayed there all day, and in fact I can't wait to go back!
Beautiful sky over Croyde
By our third weekend in England, Tim was getting a bit homesick, missng the ocean. We decided to make a trek to North Devon in search of waves. Our drive from Windsor accross the English countryside was so beautiful often passing by sheep in the middle of the road. Thanks to a great book from Ben and Annett about surfing in the UK we knew exactly where we were headed. We first stopped at a small town called Lynmouth which was at the mouth of the Lyn River. The town was a quite but beautiful place where the forest stretched all the way to the sea. Although the surf was not up, we had a great lunch and spent time sitting by the river.
Destined to find surf we headed to the west coast of North Devon which is more consistent for surf due to its westerly exposure. Two hours later we landed in Croyde, the surf capital of Devon where the surf was fantastic and the beach was packed with vacationers and locals taking advantage of the waves. We stayed the night in nearby Barnstaple so Tim could go surfing early in the morning. We tried the local Mexican restaurant in Barnstaple which used chili powder sauce instead of salsa and accidentally put sugar on the rim of our margaritas...looks like we're going to miss that for another few months.
Drinking coffee our first day in Windsor to overcome jet lag...a bit disoriented.
A veiw of our flat from the park outside. The park is regularly visited by locals with their dogs...Kaitlin falls in love each time a cute dog passes by.
Waterfront Windsor from a bridge crossing the Thames. In the background, a sneak peak at the Windsor Castle.
After a long plane flight from Seattle to Heathrow, we wandered out through a rather uncrowded customs, gathered our two cartloads of luggage and looked for the FM Global sign amongst millions of others. Our ride from Heathrow to our apartment was our first taste of driving on the "right" (correct) side of the road as the driver put it. He explained how it evolved from jousting and since most people are right handed the jousters approached on the left side, holding the joust with their right hand...no debate there. Our apartment is on the second floor of a two story apartment complex with approximately 30 units. It has two bedrooms and two baths, mini-fridge (compared to what we're used to), combined washer and dryer unit, and even a dishwasher. The electrical, appliances, toilets and all are taking some getting used to. After much frustration of plugs, converters, voltage tranformers, we decided what needed to be bought new and what we would just say bye to for 6 months (don't worry Kaitlin did get a new hairstraightener). So far we have adjusted really well to the 8 hour with much coffee and Tylenol PM. We are testing out all the local pubs (there is about one on every corner) and restaurants and have mixed reviews. We have learned to avoid many items such as mushy peas, warm beer (its seriusly served warm at some places) and packets of "brown sauce" and "Mint" ewwwww. We have yet to find half and half, and are still wondering what bio and non bio detergent is. Aside from the above we have found some great neighboor hood pubs with great live music and bubbling with good times and lots of laughter. We have a little journal of great restuarnts to take our visitors so far and its growing by the day! Windor castle is a short 5 minute walk from our place, the Thames River about 3 minutes, and most importantly the Windsor Royal Mall is about 3 minutes too. Tim and I got a tour of his office (2 minute walk from our apartment) and its a really impressive building, full of really nice FM Global employees. We welcome anyone who wants to come visit! So far we are looking forward to our parents, SB and Jake, Michelle and Wolf, Ben and Annett, and have heard interest from others as well. We can't wait to see all of you!!
Mom Malone, Kaitlin and I traveled to Seattle for another Bumbershoot festival and of course to spend precious time with Malones...Dan, Kirsten and Emily. K & I barely made it on the plane with our loads of luggage that we were dragging to the UK...but $150 in overweight baggage fees later we were on our way. Our first day in Issaquah was spent enjoying beautiful weather, playing with Emily and enjoying a barbecue with Barbara and Jake MacKenzie...who made the trip again to Seattle for Jake's Bday. The rest of the weekend (at least for Dan and myself) was spent listening to more music than most could handle with acts ranging from folk to metal to rock and everything in between....OK there was a tad bit of beer drinking as well, unfortunately in the overpriced beer gardens. Kaitlin spent a memorable Saturday on Capital Hill visiting Heather's soon to be work place Coco La Ta...and setting her up with her first blind date. Kirsten, Emily and Mom Malone also made it out for one afternoon of festivities... pictures soon to follow. Overall a spectacular Bumbershoot weekend and you can guaruntee we'll be back next year!
We are so excited to start our first blog! Brilliant! So much going on, and we have so much to say. We thank everyone for coming to the wedding and for being a part of our day! It was such a magical day and we still can't stop talking about it! We appreciate all the love and support everyone has given us, and we can't wait to see everyone again!!
After the wedding, we had a lovely "mini-moon" in beautiful Temecula. We took the Ortega Hwy and had an amazingly beautiful drive "over the hills." We stayed in a charming room that over looked the golf course at the Temecula Creek Inn. The first day we played a round of golf (and Kaitlin's first experience on a golf cart), the second day and night we spent at the Pechanga Casino and Resort eating yummy food, and Tim trying his luck at Craps (not so lucky). The next day we made best friends with three other couples on the Grape Escape wine tasting tour. We went to about 5 vineyards, and had a romantic picnic lunch with cheeses and wine. Our newlywed status on the wine tour got us a lot of special treatment from everyone, and we managed more drinks then we (Kaitlin) could handle! The next morning we woke up at 4:30am, got coffees from Starbucks and drove out to the sight where our sunrise hot air balloon ride was. This is something everyone must experience! It was so beautiful, and an unforgettable morning! We rose up over 2,000 feet at one point, and dropped down inches above a vineyard! The sun rose over the hills, and it was so amazing!
Right now we are setting up in England in our new home for the next 6 months, and are loving every second of our new adventure (even the "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride"... we got our car today and Tim tried his hand at driving on the OTHER side of the road YIKES - stories to follow).
Over and out for now, stay tuned. Cheers from Windsor!