Royal Wedding Mania

The Royals are coming! This Saturday Meghan and Harry will wed at St. George’s Chapel in the town of Windsor.

I am a bit sad I am not throwing a party for the wedding! In 2011 I stayed up all night to watch Prince William and Kate Middleton get hitched. I baked a cake, decorated my apt and hosted friends to celebrate. Not that I went overboard or anything. I mean, maybe I did, but who doesn’t love a good party!?

Andrew and I will not be attending the wedding (ha) nor will we be celebrating in Windsor (although I’m having a bit of FOMO!) I am happy enough to watch everything at home with my pupper and a glass of bubbles! Andrew even said he would watch the wedding with me. Major points for him!

While we won’t be in Windsor on Saturday, we WILL be there tomorrow. We decided to go to Legoland as it is on Andrew’s UK Bucket List and Legoland is about 10 miles from where the wedding will take place.

I’m wondering if this is a big mistake as it’s estimated that 30,000 people will camp out on Friday night and another 150,000 will show up on Saturday for the event. The church accommodates 800, obviously all of the seats are spoken for, but the wedding will be streamed live on large screens. The main draw is that there will be a 25 minute procession through the town of Windsor where the public and can glimpse the newlyweds.

 

For those lucky enough to get an invitation, they have to arrive at the church at 9:30am. Family will follow at 11:20 and the ceremony will begin at noon. (That’s 4am for you Seattlites!) The first reception will follow at Windsor Castle for 600 guests. A second 200 person reception will be held for family and friends that evening. It’s assumed there will be a fireworks display similar to Will and Kate’s nuptials. (If you need ALL the deets- check out this article)

My impression from the Brits I’ve talked to is that most people will be watching the wedding and celebrating with a barbecue or low key party.

Factoids:

  • Wills and Kate were married on Friday, April 29, 2011 at Westminster Abbey in London. The date was declared a holiday (just for that year) and people were given the day off work. Because Harry is lower on the totem pole his wedding wasn’t given official holiday status and was scheduled for a Saturday so people could celebrate. Also, there are already two holidays in May so having three would be a bit excessive.
  • Meghan’s real name is Rachel Meghan Markle. A pretty good name if you ask me.
  • Pubs were allowed to apply for permits to extend their operating hours for the occasion.
  • The town of Windsor is 25 miles west of London.
  • Windsor castle is where the Queen and Prince Phillip spend the majority of the year.
  • Andrew and I toured the castle with our friends from Kansas City. I’m thrilled that we toured the hall were the first reception will be held (below)!
  • The royals are paying for the wedding although it appears (I can’t find anything official) that public money will be spend on some aspects like airport level security for the visitors to Windsor on Saturday.

 

 

I am enjoying seeing all the merch for the wedding. I get a big kick out of it. And NO, I have not bought anything but there are some super cute commemorative coffee cups that I am tempted by.

 

 

I’ll let you know how Legoland goes!

xoxo

Rachel

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Strolling Down Memory Lane while Packing for Ireland

Flights, kennel, hotels and rental car: check, check, check and check.

Time to pack our bags: Andrew and I fly to Ireland tomorrow night to spend a few days with Andrew’s college friends, Kim, Ben and their little tyke, Luca, who are in Europe for a vacation and conference.

This trip is a homecoming of sorts for me as I spent a cold wet six months in Galway for a study abroad program. (Perhaps to prepare me for a future life in Seattle?) So I’ve been strolling down memory lane.

2007- The year I studied abroad, visited Paris and London for the first time, told Andrew farewell as I didn’t accept a job offer from Boeing (we were just friends) and graduated from college.

 

 

 

I had a chuckle when I read my journal from January of 2007. At the time I knew I wanted to travel and/or live abroad. I believe my time studying in Ireland paved the way for Andrew and I to embrace a UK adventure.

In college I knew I wanted to study abroad but was set on studying in France. The conflict was that I wouldn’t be able to meet my goal of graduating in four years if I studied in France due to the way the credits transferred. While my junior and senior year were some of the happiest days of my life, I struggled for a patch of time during my senior year when I wasn’t getting enough sleep and wasn’t managing my time, my social life, and sorority obligations very well. The overwhelming reality that I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up felt suffocating. With all the chaos in my head, I wrote off studying abroad.

Plot twist! The week before the deadline to apply for a study abroad program an Irish student spoke in one of my classes about his experience at MSU. A lightbulb lit up above my head. I made a split decision and turned in my application to the College of Business Office the next day. (I wouldn’t have made the decision to go if it weren’t for my mom’s encouragement and support. Thanks, mom!)

And so I went. And journaled. I’m struck by how my entries from that spring are full of optimism: everything was novel and exciting:

I arrived in Ireland on the 1st of January. It was a long plane ride, but somehow not as tiring as my flight to Lithuania last May. After staying in a hostel for a few nights (an excellent experience, resulting in new friends all over Europe) I moved into my apartment.

My Irish, roommate, Dervla, has been a good resource, educating me on the colloquialisms of Ireland (many of which I’ve integrated into my everyday speech). College started on the 8th and has been an experience in itself. Registration for classes is done in person and differs from department to department. This proved somewhat frustrating, but as they say ‘nothing worthwhile is ever easy.’ I’ve navigated the campus fairly easily and am no longer lost, as I frequently was during orientation last week. (The trick was to look for other lost-looking Americans and band together.)

My apartment complex, Dunaras, is a 20 minute walk from campus. It’s not a bad walk, but the rain takes some getting used to, or rather, learning how to stay dry and be prepared for frequent down pours. A good deal of Americans live in the complex and I’ve met many of them. Some seem surprised when I tell them I didn’t come with a program: in fact, I’ve gotten a bit tired of telling them in essence, I traveled here alone and yesterday jested that I came with the ‘Rachel Hofacker Program for Excellence.’

Yesterday I registered for an Irish language course: while the course is not-for-credit, it’s a once in a life time opportunity and seems to be a good bit of fun combined with a dynamic learning environment. I’m also registered for a ‘Women in Irish Society’ course that commences next week and an English class that studies literature concerning the American South (it seems somehow unreal to be sitting in a lecture hall in Ireland hearing my professor explain the historical context of works written about slavery in America).

All in all, things are grand. The few hiccups are simply static compared to the friendly demeanor of the natives, the beauty of the land and the unbounded opportunity for travel during my hiatus in The “Emerald Isle”.

 

I’m so excited!

We’ll explore Galway, the University and the surrounding national parks and find some live music!

Eeek.

Cue Galway Girl. Which was shot in Galway!

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Storm Emma aka When the Uk Shuts Down

Trains are not running and flights are cancelled. Schools are closed. Super market shelves are bare. Storm Emma is killing the UK right now. It’s said to be the worst storm since 1962. Headlines read:

And people are going ham

 

 

The red warning covered parts of Devon, Somerset and south Wales and prompted Devon and Cornwall police to declare a major incident.

It was only the third such warning the Met Office has issued since the current system came into force in 2011. The red warning means: “Widespread damage, travel and power disruption and risk to life is likely”.

Storm Emma, named by the Portuguese weather service, pushed up from the south bringing heavy snow and gusts of more than 60mph.

 

People are stranded on the roads and are abandoning their cards. A drive that usually takes Andrew a half hour took him two hours. He almost abandoned the car as he was within walking distance to home. He helped push several cars up hills and had to have someone push our car.

Despite warnings, people are still taking to the roads

The weather is costing the UK millions. The AA estimated that there were 8,260 collisions on Britain’s roads from the snow chaos in just three days, with the insurance cost already above £10m.

Havoc aside, everyone is enjoying playing in the snow, including Team Great Britian’s Billy Morgan, just back from Pyeongchang with a Winter Olympics bronze medal, who took to the streets of Essex to perform tricks and spins.

 

Andrew I were both scheduled to take our driving tests so we can get our UK license but the tests have been cancelled. Time to snuggle in for a long winter’s nap. Luckily Andrew can work from home!

*Info from https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/01/beast-from-east-storm-emma-uk-worst-weather-years

 

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Christmas Letter aka 2017 in Review

January

  • After learning about the opportunity in December we finalized our decision to take an assignment in Great Britain for 9 months. Andrew’s 2016 schedule had him in the US for 1 week a month and we decided we should live in the same country in 2017.
  • Rachel accepted the Chapter Advisor position for the Alpha Omicron Pi chapter at University of Washington (this was in the works before we decided to go to GB). Rachel was in the AOII chapter at Montana State University in Bozeman as an undergrad. 

February

  • Rachel traveled to Nashville for an AOII Leadership convention to network with other leaders and learn more about the organization.
  • As our departure date approached Rachel said goodbye to her job at Mary’s Place in Seattle. She was worked as part of the employment team as a career coach, coaching people experiencing homeless on job skills, and company liaison, building relationships with non-profits willing to become employers. Read about Mary’s Place: http://www.marysplaceseattle.org/
  • Andrew traveled to GB one last time before the big move. 

March

  • We packed, threw a going away party and moved!!! Was this ever a task! Not only did we have to pack everything up, but deciding what to take for the next nine months proved challenging. While I (Rachel) knew that GB would have everything we needed, I knew it would be nice to bring some things that would remind me of home (pictures, knick knacks) and some creature comforts (favorite polar fleece blanket, down comforter) and some more practical things, like over the counter medicines that require a prescription in the UK (Melatonin, Alieve, etc). I should have made a decision tree for that one but it probably would have looked like a bad football play.
  • Upon arrival Ezra went to quarantine even after a vet review and USDA representative review of his paperwork: Mr. Doggo had a three day gap in his rabies vaccination resulting in a 21 day kennel stay. The blessing in all of it was that we were able to choose where he was boarded and  somehow (Providentially) chose the most benevolent kennel owner who had a soft spot for Ezra and cooked him chicken and rice when he wasn’t feeling well (stress). We visited him during his jail time and worried but he came home just fine and didn’t seem worse for the wear. In hindsight we should have hired a firm to handle the paperwork but we thought we were being frugal by doing it all ourselves. Read more:  https://andrewandrachel.com/2017/03/17/uk-arrival/
  • Upon arrival we moved into an executive serviced apartment (ESA) while we looked for a place to call  home. The ESA felt more like a hotel than a place we could relax for the next 9 months. 
  • Finding an apartment proved difficult as few rentals allow pets. We eventually found a place with a view that knocked our socks off. Read more: https://andrewandrachel.com/2017/04/23/home-home-on-the-quay/
  • Seattle friends Kimi and Charlie were in London for a work trip so we drove into London for dinner. Rachel rode the train in during the week to have some girl time with Kimi. We miss our sweet friends! Read more:  https://andrewandrachel.com/2017/06/02/trips-to-london-town/

April

  • Our shipment from Seattle arrived so unpack we did the items we had deemed un-live-without-able and started navigating life in Poole.
  • We opened a bank account which was no easy task. (I’ll blog on that eventually)
  • Andrew had a three day weekend so we made a get away to London. Read more:  https://andrewandrachel.com/2017/06/02/trips-to-london-town/

May

  • Andrew’s cousin, Nick, was in Luxembourg doing some post-college-graduation (same University as Andrew!) travel so naturally we booked a low-cost-carrier flight east. We loved spending time with Nick and friends the Lloyds. Read more here: https://andrewandrachel.com/2017/06/06/lovely-luxembourg/
  • I (Rachel) was missing my choir back in Seattle so I found a singing course offered by an a capella group. I enjoyed the 6 week class and joined the chorus after passing my audition. 

June

July

  • Andrew’s aunt, Theresa, visited for a weekend after meeting up with her son Nick whom we visited in Luxembourg (see above). We had the best time catching up and visiting Hurst castle together.
  • Our friends from Seattle, aka the Lovebirds, Bryan and Caroline, were kind enough to meet up with us on their honeymoon so we spent a whirlwind 24 hours together in Londontown.
  • Rachel flew to Montana to throw a bridal shower for her brother, Peter’s betrothed, Renée. A week later Peter and Renée married on a beautiful day in Billings, Montana. Andrew made a quick trip to the states to celebrate with the Hofacker clan. Wedding photos by Sara Jeanne Photography

August

  • Rachel stayed in Montana for a few weeks post wedding to attend the 100th anniversary of the Alpha Phi chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi at Montana State University. She celebrated with loads of friends from college (or as the Brits would say – mates from uni) and met an AOII who studied abroad at MSU and lives in London.
  • Andrew’s program wasn’t going to finish within the year, as we thought would be the case, so we decided to stay in the UK for a bit longer, until fall 2018 give or take. While we have traveled on the continent we have failed to explore much of the UK. But we are determined to change this. Read more here: https://andrewandrachel.com/2017/11/20/chapter-2-2018/
  • At the end of August we received notice that our landlords were giving us the boot and moving back into the terrace house we were renting. And so the hunt began for a new abode.

October

  • Rachel’s parents came for a visit in October. Highlights were trips to Corfe Castle (UK) and a steam train ride, London and Paris. You can see we enjoyed all the culinary delights Paris has to offer. teehee
  • Since we were extending our stay in Jolly Ol’ England, we transferred our church membership to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England we attend. The timing coincided just so that Rachel’s parents where able to attend the service. 
  • The Sunday Rachel’s parents departed, we flew to Morocco to join friends Teresa and Charlie on the African leg of their overseas trip. Andrew and Charlie traveled together post-college so they were happy to reunite for adventure 2.0 with wife upgrades. We really had the best trip together.
  • The week after our Morocco trip, Rachel competed with her chorus in the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Convention in Bournemouth, UK. Read more here: https://andrewandrachel.com/2017/10/31/ladies-association-of-british-barbershop-convention/
  • On the 31st, Rachel took the train to London for a special Reformation Service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

November

  • We struggled to find a new apartment but eventually settled on a space relatively close to our original neighborhood. We packed, signed the papers for the new place and moved the day before we left for France, a trip scheduled before we knew of our landlord’s intentions. 
  • Pack, pack, pack. Move, move, move and we hopped on the chunnel for Disneyland Paris. We enjoyed the French interpretation of Disney magic and subsequently spent a few days in Paris proper before heading home. 
  • We unpacked and are still working on making our “house into a home”. 
  • Rachel’s chorus provided the entertainment for visitors to Upton house, a historic home in Poole.
  • For Thanksgiving Rachel collaborated with Andrew’s coworker’s wife, Sheryl, to plan and host a traditional feast for Andrew’s Expat coworkers. It was a huge success and everyone appreciated the taste of home! 

December

  • Another Christmas singout: Rachel sang with her chorus, Wessex Harmony, at a historic state house called Kingston Lacey!
  • We are settling in, trimming our tree, decorating ugly sweater cookies, and caroling loudly for all to hear. (And watching Elf on repeat, obv)
  • On the 7th we will fly to Hamburg, Germany to experience the Christmas markets, drink mulled wine and visit a miniatures museum Andrew has had his eye on for some time http://www.miniatur-wunderland.com/
  • Rachel has a Christmas concert on Dec 14th!!! Much excite!
  • We are headed to Scotland on Boxing Day to find some snow and drink cocoa by a fireplace for a week. Ezra is coming along as we secured a dog friendly Airbnb. And it’s just not Christmas without a ball of fur/joy who licks your nose and snuggles next to you.

Here we are another year older, hopefully wiser! It has been a wild ride and we count our blessings every day for this awesome European adventure. We miss you all and wish you a beautiful Christmas and New Year!

Love, The Fergs aka Team USA

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Chapter 2: 2018

Big news! We’re extending our time in the UK! 

Our original assignment ended at the close of Dec 2017 but as we contemplated returning home we felt peaceful about staying (there’s plenty more for Andrew to do here work-wise and we like living in Poole) and honestly we just haven’t traveled enough for our liking! Our current plan is to stay through next fall. Andrew’s new contract ends in fall 2018 but we’re not sure exactly when we’ll be headed back to America the beautiful as we could opt to come home earlier or stay longer.

Right about the time we decided to stay our landlords informed us they were ending our lease as they decided to move back in.

It was a long process to find a new apartment as there wasn’t much available this fall that really got us excited.

The positive was that this time round we were better prepared for the task of apartment hunting. We knew most places are anti-dog and only want a six month lease. We did find a place in the historic part of Poole that we loved and even put down a deposit on it but the landlord backed out at the last minute! So we were back to square one 🙁 We considered a place in Bournemouth that was an estate house that had been converted into apartments: the tall ceilings were to die for and the updated kitchen was a dream, but our gut said ‘no, stay in Poole’. After lots of prayer and heartache, we settled on a place that is only a 15 minute walk from our previous abode, one that we had originally decided against.

Our lease ended on Nov 15th. There was a small problem with that date: we were leaving for France on November 11th, a trip that had been booked months in advance. Luckily we were able to get everything approved, checked, signed-off and rubber-stamped by Wednesday, 8 Nov so we could move in the day before we left for France. 

Goodbye, sweet home

 

Our last day in the apartment/terrace house. We were having fun and saying goodbye to our closet under the stairs aka Harry Potter closet and our kitchen (US flag). Note Andrew’s blue steel.

 

Our new place is north of the boating lake in Poole, which is north of Parkstone Bay and east of the quay (see map below). It’s a three bedroom apartment with a view of the lake and a nice outdoor seating area. The building used to be a 9 room bed and breakfast before the owner converted it into apartments, one on each floor.

 

Our new casa- front, back porch with view of the little lake and kitchen/living/dining. We are on the second floor. 

 

Moving was hard emotionally. We loved our terrace house so much: the view could never be beat. There was a ton that went into moving to the UK and that apartment was our sanctuary when life felt overwhelming and/or scary =  adulting + a new country, figuring everything out + not knowing what you don’t know. Having a space that felt like home made that transition and the stressful days at the beginning easier. After reflection and some tears, I reframed the move as an opportunity to stay in the UK instead of the disruption and heartache of leaving a home we adored. Cheers to chapter 2 of our European adventure! #grateful #thankful #blessed #adventure!

Now to unpack!

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Ladies Association of British Barbershop Convention

The superchorus: Tudor Roses, Spirit of the South and Wessex Harmony on stage in Bournemouth. 

Back in the spring I was missing my choir back home so I jumped on the interwebs and found a singing course offered by a local choir. I enjoyed the 6 week class and ended up joining the choir after passing my audition. Wessex Harmony is an a cappella barbershop ladies chorus that is part of the Ladies Association of British Barbershop. The equivalent in the states is called Sweet Adelines. There are some chorus’ in Europe that compete in Sweet Adelines competitions, usually when they consistently place first in the European competitions are looking for the next level of competition.

Some top choirs 

When I joined in the spring, the first task was for me to learn the two songs my chorus was preparing for the Convention at the end of October. Because my chorus is relatively small, we banded together with 2 other groups to join a super-chorus. Coaches were hired to improve the group’s singing and everyone met up on a few Saturdays to perfect our efforts. Each member of the chorus was required to submit a recording of themselves singing the songs, which the section leaders reviewed to ensure that the members were singing the right notes.

I’m a tenor so my section is very small: we are usually referred to as the “sprinkles on top”.

“The Barbershop Cone: Barbershop harmonies have a different balance than the cylindrical SATB- Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, i that our top voices sing with less weight and intensity than our lower voices”  

Convention was great! I roomed with another member from Australia and we whooped it up! There are songs called Polecats that every chorus learns so everyone can sing the songs together at gatherings. Andrew was even able to join in Bohemian Rhapsody!

Instagram filters with roommate Kelly, The Wessex Harmony Tenor Section, Crazy Cat on my head

Our super-chorus performed on Saturday, 10/28,  and placed 16 out of 28 in our category, which was better than we expected especially given that there were limited rehearsals all together. It was a wonderful experience. There was such a feeling of camaraderie and celebration and I enjoyed ever minute of it. The ladies in my chorus are absolute gems!

After everyone competed there was a party themed “A Night with the Stars”. One of the groups took this in a different direction than most of the choirs who dressed up like Divas and went literally to the stars in their Star Trek costumes!

 

Watch our performances here. “Love Me” and “Once Upon a Time”. The judges noted that our second song was very challenging so we were happy with our performance.

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Tea with the Bride to Be

I flew home to Montana in July to throw my future sister-in-law a bridal shower. From the moment I landed, my mom and I buzzed around Billings, Montana to gather all the necessary decorations. We camped out at my aunt Denise’s house to get all the food ready. Luckily my mom and aunt are real champs and let me talk them into staying up past their bedtime to get everything done the night before the shower. It wasn’t a hard sell: my mom and aunt grew up making shenanigans so they were in their element helping me pull everything together.

We had a great shower with lots of tea and love and presents! The theme was Bride With Tea: Renee’s Instagram handle is Renee with Tea so it was a take on that. My mom made delicious chocolate chip scones and finger sandwiches and unearthed her vintage tea set for the occasion. I printed Renee and Peter’s engagement photos printed 8×8 at Costco which was a nice touch and gave Renee the photos after the shower. Given that I was in the UK prior to the shower, I used postable.com to create and send the invitations as the service addresses and posts mail for you.

Renee enjoyed herself and loved the scones! Success

 

 

Renee’s Mom, Ellen, Renee, and Amy (my mumma)

 

Now on to prep for the wedding… (Andrew photoshopped the sign!)

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Croatia

For our anniversary, or as we call it, our annual honeymoon, we flew to Croatia. Like Luxembourg, Croatia wasn’t on my radar, but Andrew suggested it so I was game. There were two main draws for Split: 1) it lies on the coast= beaches and 2) the Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO world heritage site.

 

 

The palace is the only UNESCO site that is active: approximately 3,000 people live within the palace walls upper levels while the the ground level is occupied by vendors and restaurants.

 

Diocletian’s Palace is an ancient palace built for the Roman Emperor Diocletian at the turn of the fourth century AD, that today forms about half the old town of Split, Croatia. While it is referred to as a “palace” because of its intended use as the retirement residence of Diocletian, the term can be misleading as the structure is massive and more resembles a large fortress: about half of it was for Diocletian’s personal use, and the rest housed the military garrison.

The Palace is one of the most famous and complete architectural and cultural features on the Croatian Adriatic coast. As the world’s most complete remains of a Roman palace, it holds an outstanding place in Mediterranean, European and world heritage.

 

Recently Split has experienced a boon of tourism due to the Game of Thrones (Season 4) filming that took place in the palace. 

 

Things we dun

We ate! In fact we it feels like we did a lot of eating, as one does on vacation. We loved restaurants Perijov, Bokeria, Mazzgoon. We ate at a Pancake House called Stari Plac quite a few times- we just couldn’t get enough Nutella Crepes!

As we wandered around looking for dinner one night I noticed many people drinking what looked like fizzy orange booze . I sought out a bus boy to reveal the name of the secret drink and he happily obliged: Aperol Spritz. (Aperol is an Italian apéritif made of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, cinchona and other ingredients.) The drink is made of Aperol, Prosecco and soda. It wasn’t quite my cup of tea but I was glad to sate my curiosity.

 

We spent a lot of time exploring the palace and walking through town. There were many restaurants and shops inside.

There was a garden in a square near our Airbnb that was home for a half dozen or so stray cats. Ever time we walked back to our Airbnb we made a game of counting the cats. The restaurants in the square would put out food for the cats. I image they have a pretty good life dozing in the sun and being fed by the kind restauranteurs and tourist.

On the 13th while we were walking around the vendor tents just outside the Palace walls I saw a lot of women carrying lilies. My curiosity could not be contained so I finally asked a local. She revealed that June 13th is St. Anthony’s Day. St. Anthony of Padua is the patron saint of lost things. He was known for his eloquent homilies.

The reason St. Anthony’s help is invoked for finding things lost or stolen is traced to an incident that occurred in Bologna. According to the story, Anthony had a book of psalms that was of some importance to him as it contained the notes and comments he had made to use in teaching his students. A novice who had decided to leave took the psalter with him. Prior to the invention of the printing press, any book was an item of value. Upon noticing it was missing, Anthony prayed it would be found or returned. The thief was moved to restore the book to Anthony and return to the Order. The stolen book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna. (From Wikipedia)

Reading bout him made me wish I could jump in a time machine and meet him. The older I get the more  history interests me so those time-machine-moments happen more and more frequently. (Although we’ve been watching Doctor Who and I’m learning about all the dangers of time travel! haha)

We climbed the bell tower

We toured the Roman cellars

We walked down the coast

We took a day trip via boat to a town north of Split and swam in the rain. 

 

Andrew Scuba’d

Andrew went scuba diving and got his Advanced Scuba certificate so that he can go on deeper dives. A lot of the ship wrecks he wanted to see are deeper than we were certified for so he decided to take the opportunity to get certified. Unfortunately, I caught some kind of flu that made dizzy, weak and miserably uncomfortable so I had to sit this adventure out which was super sad since we’ve been scuba diving together in June 4 out of the last 5 years. So while Andrew scuba’ed I rested, read my British chick-lit and researched my new interest in bullet journaling on YouTube.

 

A Surprise

While there I did a bit of browsing the jewelry stands and found myself drawn to Turquoise rings. Last year I worked with a woman who wore a lot of Turquoise and coral jewelry and since seeing her pieces I was on the hunt for a Turquoise jewelry.

I found a ring I was particularly drawn to one at a vendor in the Palace Cellars. After hemming and hawing for a few days and doing some research online, I decided to bite the bullet. I told Andrew about my decision and we went to make the purchase. Lo and behold the ring was gone! It had been sold. I was bummed since it hadn’t been a quick decision as I’m trying to make smart purchases that I will love for years to come. I told Andrew I knew it was silly (first world problems) but I was sad that I’d missed the opportunity after giving it so much thought. He was a little bit crap at comforting me and when I addressed this he agreed which was an odd conversation and he even remarked “Yeah, I’m not being real empathetic”. When we got home that night he beckoned me to the bathroom to ask me a question. I talked to him for a minute before turning around to face the mirror. The ring I had agonized over was sitting on the mirror’s ledge! I was shocked. How had the ring gotten there?! He had created quite the roose. I don’t know why but I was so surprised I started crying. We had a good laugh and I was feeling very loved by his well orchestrated surprise. I think my love language is all five! (words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, physical touch)

 

The Plitvice Lakes National Park Excursion

At the tail end of our trip we rented a car to drive 3 hours north to the National Park in Croatia. Originally we weren’t planning on visiting the lakes but during our stay in Luxembourg our friends (the Lloyds) mentioned they were a must see. So north we drove.

We got to the park at 8am to beat the crowds that bus in for day trips. The park was amazing, though that word does not do it justice. I felt like I was in a movie or a super surreal version of DisneyLand. While the pictures Andrew took are phenomenal, I just cannot describe how beatiful it was being surrounded by waterfalls,lakes, streams and running water. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon or the Red Wood Forest (Bucket List!) but I imagine the Lakes are on par. 

After six hours of me walking around with big eyes commenting to Andrew how dumb-struck I was, we returned to our Airbnb near the park. (We had taken one of the paths that led us from one end of the park to the other.) We laid down for a nap but were awoken by a hail storm. Our host was very panicked and Andrew came to the rescue, helping bail out water from the pond that had formed in front of her garage door.

The 83 year old lady living next door said she had not seen a storm like that in Croatia during her lifetime. Perhaps to our host’s annoyance, Andrew and I were like giddy school kids as we had seen these kind of storms growing up in Montana/Colorado/Seattle. We were very thankful we had left the park before the storm struck. I was imagining terrified groups of tourists running down the boardwalks to get back to lakes’ shores. I was also a bit bummed I had missed the insanity that I’m sure ensued, although it probably would have been very un-fun to hike back to the car in soaking wet shoes. We saw huge groups of Asian tourist many of whom were very nicely dressed with nice cameras so I hope they all weren’t too miserable. :/

You can view all of Andrew’s pictures on Flikr

Thoughts

I hadn’t realized prior to this trip that Rome and Split are on the same latitude. Croatia felt very much like what I had always imagined a Mediterranean locale to be. It was hot but not stiflingly so though the bar was forever raised after visiting Hong Kong during the summer of 2014.

We both enjoyed people watching during our trip and there were ample opportunities as we did a lot of walking and sitting at restaurants and on the prom. I really enjoyed taking note of the fashion trends.  I saw hardly anyone wearing jeans or jean shorts. (I brought jean shorts on the trip but ended up wearing my dresses or olive green shorts.) I did see a lot of white jeans and people dressed up somewhat during the day. Lots of adorable rompers, cold shoulder tops and lots of white. I don’t recall seeing flip flops which I’ve come to realize are a sure way to stick out as an American.  I saw a lot of platform sandals and rose metallic sandals.

 

While we were in Split we stayed close to homebase = our Airbnb. We are still finding a balance between relaxation and activity while on vacation, we both get antsy but at different times and in different ways. It was really great to have an Airbnb that was within walking distance to the palace and the beach, grocery store, and restaurants. We ate lots of gelato and had fun wandering around the palace. On our anniversary we like to reflect on our goals and figure out how we are working together on common goals.  We spent a lot of time sitting on the prom and talking about life and making goals for the future. Here’s to year 5 of marriage! (Tink!)

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