Catching Up

I am happy to say that I have completed my first semester of grad school.  My final ended up being a take home test which was a wonderful surprise.  This past week Robyn and Megan visited which caused a slight delay in my blog posting.  With my four weeks of freedom ahead, I plan on catching up in many areas.  I can’t wait to read books just for fun, finally be up-to-date with blogging, celebrate Christmas, visit with friends, do some deep cleaning and donating, and tend to some much procrastinated to-do items.  I’m still amazed that this time last year I was 10 days into my European adventures.  To catch up from day 1 & 2 already posted, here are days 3 to the end of the trip.

Day 3 in Rome was filled with Italian pizza, St. Peter’s Square, and packing up to head to London.  We even met Aggies from wearing our Aggie Catholic shirts!

Days 4, 5, 6 in London were fabulous!  We saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, went on a walking tour, toured a Christmas market, attended a prayer service at Westminster Abbey, saw the Texas Embassy, went underground into Winston Churchill’s war rooms, shopped at Harrod’s twice, walked the London Bridge, and so many more things.

London is beautiful at night.  Have I mentioned how much I LOVE London?

Harrods has 7 floors of every item under the sun.  Their is clothing for the entire family, a grocery store, multiple restaurants, jewelry, wedding dresses, a pet shop, a toy department, cars, furniture, and so much more.  You could easily get lost in the 4.5 acres of shopping.  We set a meeting location and time just so this wouldn’t happen!

Buckingham Palace gates are exquisite.  The Rosetta Stone was the highlight of the British Museum and much larger than I expected and Winston Churchill’s war rooms were a favorite of mine.

On day 7, we left bright and early for Dublin.  I think this morning started around 3 am. While in Dublin, we saw a leprechaun museum, castles, Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, The Temple Bar, and went on a walking tour.

We even had an impromptu photo shoot next to the frozen pond in our coordinating outfits. Can you tell that it was very cold?

The highlight of our day trip to Dublin was Lauren and I dunking our Aggie rings.  She chose Coors Light while I chose Bulmer’s Irish Cider.  Only a few people can say they’ve dunked their ring in Dublin.

From London, we went to Paris.  These European adventures turned into the amazing race.  By day 8, we were feeling the effects of traveling to three countries in seven days. Paris was delayed by the first of a few snow storms we would encounter.  We spent most of  this day in Heathrow airport waiting to fly to Paris.  This left us with two full days to see Paris.

Day 9 was filled with lots and lots of French pastries.  We attended cooking school at Le Cordon Bleu.  This experience was the highlight of Paris for me.  Our French chef paired with an Australian interpreter were quite a duo.  We made croissants, brioche, chocolate rolls, apple tart, peach turnovers, and chocolate pinwheels.

Together we walked out with 9 pastry boxes and two bags full of bread!

We went to Versailles on day 10 and were slowed down by lots of fresh snow!

The Hall of Mirrors and snow covered gardens were beautiful.

Paris was rounded out by visiting the Louvre and Eiffel Tower.  There were only 30+ mph winds while we rode the elevator up the Eiffel Tower.  We’re lucky we didn’t blow off!

On day 11 we traveled to Amsterdam.  This is home to Anne Frank’s hideaway house, countless canals, and french fry stands.  The first thing we saw after getting off the train was a huge I am Amsterdam sign.  Naturally, we had to take pictures – especially with the ‘R.’

The canals are gorgeous with snow covered boats and row houses.  After visiting Anne Frank’s house, we took a canal boat tour around the city.

One delayed train ride later, we found out that our flight from Paris to Houston had been cancelled.  There were no outgoing flights from Paris or London (where our connection was).  The trains were closed and truly we were stranded!  A few expensive phone calls later, we had our parents looking for other options.  We were ready to get out of Paris, so we took our chances and headed to the train station the next morning.  Just as we thought, all the trains were shut down.  Because of Lauren’s gumption and God’s grace, we heard from a security worker that we should check the bus station.  Off we went!  Luckily, there was a bus leaving Paris for London.  We bought 3 tickets and breathed a sigh of relief.  At least we were half way to getting home.  Plus, we would be with English speaking people again.  Once in London, we heard from our mom that the soonest we would be home was the day after Christmas.  So much for our original plan of the 21st!  This snow storm left 400,000 people stranded at Heathrow.

We decided to live up our second time around in London.  We left our mark at the Texas Embassy, shopped at Harrods (for the 3rd time), saw Wicked on Broadway, shopped on Christmas Eve, and attended midnight mass at Westminster Abbey.  Somewhere during our 5 day extension to our trip, we forgot to take pictures.   After sixteen days of traveling, we made it home to Texas, our beloved state.

The trip was one that we will never forget; however, all three of us are very glad to be home and in Texas this Christmas.

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