Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One Sweet September: The UK

We officially have five days left of our travels through Europe before heading home. It's been a pretty awesome two and a half weeks, and we've covered a lot of ground. So, I'll start in on the posts now, before I get sucked into the moving home business next week...

Our first stop after leaving Oslo was Edinburgh. Ken visited Edinburgh a couple of times while studying abroad during college, and he absolutely loved it there. I'd never been, so it was definitely on our list of places to visit for awhile.

Edinburgh is dominated by a huge castle on a hill overlooking the city. It's gorgeous!

Pretty homes on the walk up to the castle.

Heading in to check her out.

Ken, holding down the fort.

View from the top.

Please excuse the hair - Edinburgh was super windy. Also, you can't carry a hair dryer and diffuser around Europe when all you're rocking is a carry-on. So, flat hair it was until we reached more humid locations.

Other sights around Edinburgh (don't remember what they were)...

Back in his college days, Ken stayed at this gem. We don't stay at fancy hotels by any means, but he was a little upset with me for not booking the Castle Rock Hostel for this trip.

We also spent an entire day on a bus trip through the Scottish Highlands. It was fantastic!


We met some Highland cows, and they were adorable! The big guy here is Hamish.

A drive around Loch Ness was part of the tour...

...and we found Nessie!

We also found a really lovely place called Under the Stairs for delish burgers in Edinburgh. Definitely the best burger I've had on this continent.

After a few days in Scotland, we took the train down to London so we could catch a cheaper flight out of the UK (and why not make a stop in London when you have the chance?).

I'd definitely hit the wall at this point in the travels, after all the August stuff, and a few busy days in Scotland. So, there are only a few pics from London.

We managed to find a good deal on a great hotel in Kensington, and I absolutely fell in love with the area.

Traveling for three weeks is a little rough on getting in enough veggies. Thank goodness for the salad bar at this gem.

Pretty colors between Kensington and Notting Hill.

London gave us some fantastic weather the two days we were there. 

Other noteworthy happenings: 
  • Stumbling upon a place with the best tacos we've had in Europe. Thanks, Lupita!
  • After only getting in short runs during the insanity of August, it was nice to go for a long run through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens on an absolutely gorgeous day. That felt pretty darn amazing. We'll call it the Moment of Zen.
After London we headed to Germany to spend time with our best friends from P-town. So, our adventures with Josh & Laura are next...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Last Month in Norge

Well, our last month here has vanished in the blink of an

We spent the first week of August traveling. I went to Spain with one of my best friends from college, and Ken went to Poland, just for kicks. Ken's parents came to visit for a week after that. Then moving prep, packing, goodbyes, cleaning, etc. engulfed the last two weeks.

So, here we are in September. I've made it through the gazillion to do's that come with moving across the world, our belongings were sent off across the Atlantic this week, Ken's last day of work was yesterday, and we leave tomorrow to travel for three weeks before moving home for good.

I'm not quite ready to post a goodbye to Oslo yet. We have one more night here on our way back to Portland at the end of September to pick up our bags and say goodbye to our friends one last time, so I'd rather save it until then. Honestly, I'm just too tired for that right now.

So, here's a lighthearted post about us having fun with our August visitors instead :)

Mica and I met during our freshman year in college, when she roamed the hallways of the dorm chatting with everyone to get to know them. We hit it off immediately, and she also introduced me to her group of friends, who in turn became my group of closest friends in college. There were six of us, and we still make an effort to see each other at least once per year.

Mica wanted to come over to Europe for a visit, so we picked a warm, sunny place to meet for a week...Spain :)

We met in Barcelona, then thought a nice, chill place would be fun after the big city. So, Alicante it was afterwards! Apparently I didn't get out the camera much during the trip, but I think that's because I just recently visited both places in April. And, it was so nice to just walk around and chat with Mica. 

Kid, thanks so much for visiting - it really meant a lot that you wanted to come all the way over here to hang out, and I had such a nice time with you! I'll always remember to look up every word in a menu item before I order from now on, after our lovely platter of shrimp friends :)

Barcelona from Tibidabo.

Park Guell.

Tasty tapas outside in El Born.

The best cupcake I've had from a bakery in Europe so far - thanks, Lolita Bakery!

Mica loaded up with her packs on the way to Alicante. We happened upon a festival for the Patron Saint of Alicante on the night we arrived, which was awesome to catch.

Castillo de Santa Bรกrbara. We totally waited around for a pirate show we read about up here, and sadly, it never happened...

Cute Kid at the castle.

My favorite plaza in Alicante, decked out for the festival. 

Mica headed off to London from Alicante to catch the Olympic fever, and my flight back to Oslo was out of Valencia. So, I had the day to explore the city...

Plaza del Ayuntamiento.

Loved the colors.

The gorgeous Mercado Central.

Pretty tiles.

Iglesia de San Juan del Mercado.

La Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias de Valencia - a huge complex with a bunch of museums and crazy looking buildings. 

More of La Ciudad - it was massive.

I'd post some pics of Ken's solo trip to Poland, but I'm pretty sure he didn't take any :)

Some special visitors arrived just a couple of days after we returned from our Spain/Poland adventures. Bob and Mary (Ken's parents) were finally able to make it over for a visit!

Ken, Mary, and Bob on a boat ride in the Oslofjord.

Captain Henrik driving the boat out of Aker Brygge.

Buds. Have I mentioned that Henrik is the best neighbor we ever could have asked for during our time in Oslo? Thanks for being awesome, Henrik!

Bob and Mary lucked out and got to be here for three of only about 15 sunny days in Oslo this summer. They didn't believe us when we said it was rainy and chilly all summer.

Since Oslo isn't a huge city and you can cover most of it in about two or three days, we decided to take a trip to Dublin so we could eat and drink for a reasonable price...

Enjoying the Guinness tour.

Temple Bar.

Dublin Castle.

I did some shopping one day, and happened upon a natural food store with possibly the best takeout lunch options I've had in Europe. After a summer spent mostly in Norway, this was fantastic! I was amazed at how much good food we found in Dublin, including a beautiful dinner at Fallon & Byrne (no photo, but I want to remember the name in case we make it back to Dublin some day). I guess you know you've been in Scandinavia too long when you ooh and ahh over foods that are everyday staples in the U.S. :)

Thanks for visiting, Bob and Mary! We had a nice time showing you around, and hope you had a lot of fun here.

Bob and Mary joked that my Moment of Zen for this post would be when they left our apartment to catch their flight back home...haha. I might have to give it to the boat ride in Oslo, or the falafel wrap above :)