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Day: July 28, 2016

We went to Europe – The Short Version

We went to Europe – The Short Version

Since we were gone for two weeks and went to 3 different countries, the blog posts are long. Add pics in and they get longer. If you don’t feel like reading through the posts and just want to skim the pics, this is your post!

Kelly’s Trip Summary:

JFK was a nightmare coming and going! But the flight to Zurich turned out to not be so bad. Zurich wasn’t my fave. There were tons of fancy cars but they were also loud, and we heard revving engines well into the night. I worried 24 hours in Zurich wouldn’t be enough but I thought it was more than enough.

Lucerne was amazing! It was such a pretty city. I like that it was situated right on the river. Lucerne in the sun was a totally different city than Lucerne with clouds. The mountain views were all around and I loved that! I’m really glad we went to Mt Pilatus! It was a really cool experience and probably the only mountain I will ever climb.

Paris was okay! I really thought I would like it more. I guess my expectations were a little high. I don’t think it helped the park was blocked off. I had visions of drinking champagne in the park under a twinkly Eiffel Tower but that was hard since it didn’t get dark till so late. We only saw the Eiffel Tower lit up once and that was from a cab at 1am. The city itself was pretty and the food was amazing. I think 4 days in Paris was a day too long though.

London was short and sweet! It was great seeing E&T and just hanging out.

Devon was amazing! I would put it at the top of my favorite places (Lucerne was probably 1st). It was just beautiful! And relaxing. It was also great to see the fam.

Reigate was good! We went there for family and we spent tons of time with everyone so that was nice.

All in all, the trip was amazing! I kind of worried that we weren’t spending enough time in places but honestly, I think the time we spent in each place was just right. Since we were gone for two weeks, it was nice to be on the move. It was also a lot though. I was glad to be home!

Also, I read 5 books on the trip and I took over 1500 pictures!  I’ve tried to narrow that down quite a bit!  They also have not been edited at all so… yeah.

Matt’s Trip Summary:

Considering that we’d planned this trip for so long it really seemed to sneak up on us. We got the flights, hotels, and travel booked so far ahead of time we kind of “forgot” about the trip. Wasn’t really until about a week out that it really hit me that it was time to go!

Trip started of very smoothly and got derailed rather quickly once we got to JFK. I didn’t really mind the delay so much, as the plane was broken, but just not being told anything was rather quite annoying. I was thinking to myself that it was a good thing we decided to spend the night in Zurich and didn’t have other travel arrangements that we’d have to change. Once we got underway the flight over was uneventful.

Zurich was a nice way to ease into the trip. I’m glad we got to check it out but I wouldn’t spend anymore than a day there. It would probably be a good home base to do a few day trips to some other places in Switzerland.

Lucerne was beautiful! Glad that we got some nice weather so that Kelly could see just how magical Switzerland is. I kept telling her that it just doesn’t look real and I’m glad that she got to see that. Really do wish that we had better weather when we went up Mt Pilatus so that we could see the mountains. Next time we go I think we’ll head more into the Alps.

I really enjoy the way of life in Paris. Good food. Good wine. Enjoying life. Hard to beat sitting outside at a brasserie and enjoying a nice meal as the world goes by. Was nice to see some of the sights again and to see some new once. Was disappointed that the Champ de Mars was closed for the Euro Fan Zone as it’s one of my favorite places in Paris.

England was really nice. Seeing lots of family and getting to explore some new places was great. I still cannot believe the house Devon. The pictures that we took there really don’t do it justice. Hard to believe that we were in England! It always feels nice and familiar to be in England and it was a nice way to end the trip.

I enjoyed the pace of the trip. Spending a few days somewhere and then moving on to the next place. One little adventure after another. I think we spent just about the right amount of time in each place. Never felt like we didn’t get a chance to do something and never felt bored.

Of course we got to bookend the trip with another travel disaster in JFK. In all of my travels I’ve never had issues like this before. Hopefully we’ve paid our dues and won’t have to experience anything like this again any time soon.
Quick links to each location:

We’re going to Europe!






Road to Reigate


Going Home!

Going Home!

Saturday July 9 – We were up super early to catch our flight from Heathrow to JFK.  J&S drove us to the airport and we arrived around 7:30.  We didn’t know what security in Heathrow would be like so we wanted to make sure we had enough time.  As it turned out, we had PLENTY of time.  Heathrow was a breeze.  It probably took us longer to check in to our flight than to clear security.

Once we were in the terminal, we grabbed some breakfast and then made our way to duty free.  Chocolate and candy were on the list.  We grabbed what we wanted and then waited for our flight.


The flight from Heathrow to JFK was pretty easy, I had hopes of reading but reading was making me sleepy so I ended up watching 3 movies on the plane, “Daddy’s Home” “Point Break” (the new one) and “Sisters”.

We landed at JFK around 1:00 pm local time.  We then had to go through customs and clear security, again…. Once we were finally back through, we headed for our terminal.  I was pretty excited there was a Shake Shack in our terminal so that’s what we had for lunch.

Our flight time kept changing and finally around 4:00 pm we were able to board.  We sat at the gate for a good 20 mins before the pilot came on to say we were waiting for the catering truck to come.  About 10 mins later, they’d come and gone and we were still waiting.  At this point, the pilot comes back on and tells us the airport was requiring them to open the door.  Lots of grumbles later, the door was opened and we were told we could deplane if we wanted.  Apparently there is some rule that you can’t sit on the tarmac for more than 3 hours but we’d only been on the plane about an hour.  The pilot seemed pretty frustrated we had to open the door and said Delta was on the phone “giving them a strong talking to”.

Finally we were allowed to push away from the gate and make our way to the take off queue.  We were like 12th in line but the pilot said it normally was pretty quick and he was right.  But by the time we got in the air, we should have been landing in Raleigh.  It was very frustrating.  We were allowed to take the “short cut” to Raleigh, which saved us a few mins then, I guess.  We landed at RDU around 7:00 pm.

Then we were headed home!  We finally got home around 9:00 pm, cuddled some kitties and went to bed!



Thursday July 7 – We woke up and headed to Matt’s grandmother, Beryl’s,  house to hang out with the fam.  Several of his cousins were stopping by with their kids and then we were going to take Beryl out to lunch for her birthday.  She turned 90 on the 16th.

While we were there, I got a message from my mom saying my grandmother had passed away.  We were prepared for this and I figured it would probably happen while we were on our trip.  Matt and I took a little walk around the neighborhood so I could chat with mom and get a few more details and collect myself.  While I wasn’t close to my grandmother, not in recent years, I was still sad.

Once we got back to the house, it was about time to head to lunch so we took Beryl to one of her favorite restaurants, the Black Horse.

While we were in Reigate, I asked if we could check out a few antique stores.  I figured I could find something much cooler than your average tourist souvenir.  So after lunch we drove over to Dorking to check out the antiques.  While I didn’t see anything crazy, I did find some old glass picture slides so I bought a few of those.  I figured they were small and would be easy to carry on.

Friday July 8 – We went to Heaver Castle for the day.  This was the childhood home of Ann Boleyn.  The grounds were beautiful, it was a nice place to spend the day.  While I spent most of my time with my eye in my camera, Matt spent most of his day looking up.  Situated near Heathrow and Gatwick, tons of planes were flying over.





Taking pics of Malcolm and Steve taking pics.





Flowers for the wedding that was in the afternoon.



Beryl and Jill
Beryl and Matt
Beryl and Vala


Scared kitty!
Matt, Beryl, and Me (photo courtesy of Steve Edwards)
Michael, Steve, Jill, Beryl, Matt (photo bombing 😉 ) Me, Vala, Malcolm (photo courtesy of Steve Edwards)

The castle itself was interesting but you couldn’t take pics of the inside!  Finally it was time to head back.  As we were pulling out of our parking spot, we backed into another car.  Haha, whoops.  No real damage and everyone was fine.

That night we had dinner at the Black Horse again, to celebrate Beryl’s birthday.  It was also our last night to see everyone.  We had an early flight out of Heathrow and needed to be up around 5:00 am.

Matt helping Beryl and Jill take a selfie.
Road to Reigate

Road to Reigate

Wednesday July 6 – The final leg of our trip started as we left the beach house and headed to see the rest of the family in Reigate.

On the way, we drove through Dartmoor National Park.  This place was amazing.  Almost as soon as you drive across the cattle grates, you see animals on the sides of the road.  There were cows, sheep, horses.  I had no clue what to expect so I was pretty surprised to see all the animals.  We decided to stop and check out the horses.  I was able to pet a few of them.  It. Was. So. Cool!  Unfortunately, no one (ahem Matt) got a pic of me petting a wild horse!

The park was pretty big so we were constantly in and out of it with animals all around.

This was the first horse I petted. He wasn’t super friendly.






We stopped for a quick coffee break and a few bathroom breaks on our way to Stonehenge.  Matt was super excited to go, haha, not!  But it was on the way so we stopped.  Apparently, you used to be able to just stop on the side of the road and walk to it, but now they had a visitor center and bus shuttles to the actual site.  Oh and did I mention it was pricey?  *thumbs down*  Anyway, we hopped on a bus to check it out.  I have to say, it was pretty cool.  Not quite what I was expecting but I’m glad we went.  I would probably be with Matt on not going again though.







After Stonehenge, we headed for the small town of Winchester for dinner.  One of the largest cathedrals in Europe was there and we were trying to make it before it closed.  Unfortunately, you had to pay to go in so we just walked around outside and took pics there.  Then we headed over to find dinner.







We stopped at an Italian place, which was good because we were starving at this point.

We still had another hours drive to get to Reigate and pulled into our hotel a little after 8:00 pm.  The hotel was well……it had seen better days.  We got our bags settled before heading to Matt’s other grandmothers house to say hi.



Sunday July 3 – Matt and I woke up early to catch our train to Devon, a 4 hour train ride.  Joy!  Since the train station wasn’t all that close to our hotel we decided to grab a taxi again.

At the train station we grabbed some lunch while we waited for the 1:00 train.  The train ride was pretty uneventful but we did follow the coast for a little while and that was nice though mostly I just read.

Jill and Steve picked us up from the train station and we headed to the beach house.  It was only 15 – 20 mins from the train station.

Matt’s grandmother and aunt have rented this house before, and while we’d seen pics, the view was even better in person!  The house was very nice and situated at the top of a hill.  We had panoramic views all around.



We got to the house and got settled before taking a quick walk around to check things out.  I probably took the most pics of any one place while we were at the beach house!  The place was absolutely stunning.









I’m not sure what this is but I WANT one at our house! It was in the yard at the beach house.



Monday July 4 – We woke up to find we were fogged in.  The fog lasted till around noon before finally burning off and producing another beautiful day.  We took another walk down to the beach with Matt’s aunt and uncle.  I was like a little kid and finally said we needed to go because my pockets were full of shells and rocks.  hehe


I have no clue what this was but the leaves were HUGE! I wish I’d made Matt go stand beside it for comparison.







One of several frigates we saw going in and out of the harbor.


My haul from the beach.

Tuesday July 5 – We decided to go to Plymouth, which was about 10 minutes away, to take a look around.  This is the  Plymouth, where the Pilgrams set sail from.  It was a cute little coastal town and we even saw where they think the Pilgrims left from. 😉

Right here! This is where they think the steps to the Mayflower probably were. Matt and his mom.










The time at the beach house was mostly spent enjoying the views or hiking around the house.  It was a nice relaxing time.

London – Europe ’16

London – Europe ’16

Saturday July  2 – Matt and I were up early to catch our train to London.  It was really nice having the train station so close to the hotel.

I was pretty excited to take the high speed train from Paris to London and to go through the chunnel!  Matt had never done the chunnel train so it was a first for us both.

Since we were crossing over to England, we had to go through customs at the train station.  It was pretty quick which left us about an hour to wait for our train.  There were a ton of people waiting in our train terminal so I made Matt go in search of food, which took forever!

The train from Paris to London was only about 3 hours so we would arrive in London a little after lunch.  The plan was to then meet Matt’s cousin Emma and her boyfriend Tim, for a “normal” day in London!

The train ride was pretty uneventful and the chunnel was a little disappointing.  I really thought you might be able to see some water as you were approaching but we got nada!  One minute fields were passing, the next we were in the chunnel.  It only took about 20 minutes to get through and then we were headed to the city.

image1 (1)
This was right before we went into the chunnel.

Once we got to the train station, we started looking for the train to get to the hotel.  The train station was absolutely crazy so we kept passing up ticket lines hoping for a shorter one.  We finally stopped at one and Matt was just going to wait while I stood with the bags.  We’d popped into a Starbucks so I was happy for the moment.  Not more than a few minutes passed before Matt walked back to me and said we’d just find a cab.

The cab line was much shorter and we figured it was worth the 18 pounds.  We also figured, we had gotten to the hotel before Matt would have actually gotten through the ticket line.

We stayed at the Doubletree Westminster.  While I really would have liked to stay somewhere a little less generic, the room was nice, convenient, and had good views.






I’m pretty sure I have this exact same pic from our last trip to London. 😉

Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived, so we grabbed what we needed and headed to meet E&T.  We met them at the Embankment Station and then headed out to find lunch.  We ended up at a place Matt and I had eaten at the last time we were in London over by the Tate Modern.  We sat down and were both like “we’ve been here before!”

Matt on the left on our trip. Matt on the right from our previous trip! I was like “GET ON THE HORSE!” haha

After lunch we decided to take a water taxi to Greenwich.  Matt and I had to buy tickets but E&T could use their train pass.  We waited and waited and waited.  We finally talked to one of the attendants to see what was going on.  He moved us to the front of the line and we waited for a while longer.  Finally our taxi came but a large party had taken the wrong taxi and they ushered them onto the next one, which meant we were SOL!  We finally decided the water taxi was going to be a bust, since we’d been there close to an hour and were still waiting.  We tried to get our money back but it turned into this big ordeal so E&T took our tickets and were going to submit a refund request.




At this point, we all decided we needed a drink so we headed for a pub.  We had a few drinks there while a little rainstorm passed before heading to dinner.  We went to a Mexican place called Wahaca.  They severed small plates so we tried a few different things, which were all really good.

The only pic we got of the 4 of us.

Matt and I still hadn’t checked into our hotel so we decided to call it a night.  We made it back to the hotel and got settled in our room, then we walked a few blocks to grab some water and food for breakfast the next morning.  Another early morning as we were headed to Devon for some family time.

View from the elevator bank on our floor.