Babymoon in Europe: Part Three

The third leg of our trip consisted of a quick stopover in Belgium before we finished our trip back in London.  My husband’s favorite movie is the cult classic In Bruges, so the only reason we were making the trek to Belgium was so Lee could see it in person.  When making the arrangements to stop over in Belgium, Bruges didn’t have a hotel where I would be able to receive my discount.  In fact, they didn’t  have one of my hotels at all, so we opted to stay in Brussels to take advantage of the cheap room, but spend half of our layover in Bruges as it was only about an hour away by train.  Imagine my surprise when we got off the train and started seeing signs for the newest hotel in Bruges, the exact same brand that I work for.  As it turns out, the hotel had just opened a month before, but because I had made the Belgium travel arrangements so far in advance (and of course, never thought to double check after the hotel reservation was made) we missed out on the opportunity to fully take in the city.  Oh well.  At least we know for next time.  And I’m fairly certain there will be a next time.

Bruges was absolutely breathtaking.  Like Amsterdam, Bruges is a canal city, and is referred to as the Venice of the North.  Lee had researched all of the spots where In Bruges had been filmed, and so our day was basically spent retracing the steps of Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.

We visited the Belfry of Bruges, but the line to get in was incredibly long, and while I was game to climb the 366 steps to the top, Lee didn’t think that was the best idea.  Instead, we enjoyed a drink at a restaurant in the town square and admired the view.

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We only had about 4 hours to kill in Bruges, but we managed to fit in quite a bit of walking and drinking.  Well, Lee managed to fit in the drinking.  Considering I was 5 months pregnant, I had to stop every so often to either use a bathroom or rest my feet, and I always insisted I do so at a bar.  Just because I couldn’t drink didn’t mean my husband couldn’t partake in a delicious Belgian beer or two.

Then it was back to Brussels.  I was pretty exhausted from all of the walking, so we called it an early night.  We had most of the next day to sightsee before we had to catch our train.

I’ll be honest, I did some research before we went to Brussels to try to map out any sightseeing we might want to do, and I didn’t come up with a lot that I absolutely had to do or see.  Everyone makes such a big deal out of the Mannekin Pis statue, and I don’t know why.  It’s a tiny statue of a boy peeing.  We saw it, snapped a picture, and that’s it.  I won’t need to venture to that street corner again.

 

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Grand Place was beautiful, and I suppose if we were there for Christmas or to see the flower carpet that they build every couple of years that would be cool.  But there was nothing exciting going on when we were there.  We didn’t have time to do much else, so I can’t say that Brussels made that much of an impact on me.

We boarded the train late Thursday afternoon to head back to London.  We had one more full day in London to enjoy before we went home and jumped into full nesting mode.  I was excited to spend more time in London, but it was bittersweet.  London is our favorite place in the whole wide world, and yet, I had no idea when we’d be able to make it back.  We are so excited to be able to share our favorite city with our daughter someday, but want to make sure we bring her back at an age where she’s a bit more mobile and able to truly appreciate the experience.  As such, the last leg of our trip would be our last visit for the foreseeable future.

We started our day with a walk through St. James Park, up to Buckingham Palace, then through Green Park to Harrod’s.  I’ve always wanted to have lunch at Harrod’s and yet in all of the times I’ve been to London, I’ve never purchased so much as a coffee there.  That was going to change this trip!  We walked through their food halls, shopping for lunch and delicacies to take home.

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We hit up a couple more shops before making our way back to the hotel so we could drop off our bags before dinner.  We had dinner reservations at Lee’s favorite London restaurant:  Gino D’Acampo’s.  There are a few of Gino’s restaurants located throughout the UK, but the closest one to us was at Euston station.  That night, we were able to just sit back, relax with some delicious Italian food, reminisce about our lives together and share our hopes for the future.

Neither one of us were ready to say goodbye to the city just yet, so after dinner we hopped on the tube and went to Tower Bridge.  It’s such a beautiful area, with the Tower of London situated right next to it.  It was a beautiful night so we decided to walk along the river and take in the views one more time.  We ended up walking along the river all the way back to our hotel, which was roughly 2.5 miles.  It was the perfect way to end our amazing vacation.

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We left London early the next morning and while our hearts may have been slightly heavy, we were excited to go home and start preparing for our sweet baby girl.  This trip helped us close the infertile chapter of our lives.  We were on our way home to start the next chapter:  The one where we become parents.

Babymoon in Europe: Part Two

We left London Sunday evening and hopped on the Eurostar to Amsterdam.  I’m sure you’re wondering, “what’s a pregnant woman going to do in Amsterdam?”  I mean, I couldn’t drink, I couldn’t get high, and at almost 6 months pregnant, I wasn’t able to hop on a bike to see the sights.  But I could eat!

We got in to Amsterdam late Sunday night, so we didn’t have a chance to do much that first night, other than to find a place to eat close to our hotel.  Like the London leg of our trip, we didn’t have much of an itinerary.  Our plan was to figure it out when we got there.

The one thing I knew, I wanted to visit in Amsterdam was the Anne Frank Huis, but be warned: tickets sell out fast!  I procrastinated on purchasing them, and tickets were gone by the time I tried.  They do release a limited number of same day tickets each day, so I held out hope that I’d get lucky by checking the website each day that we were there.

We came up empty-handed the first day, so we decided to just walk around Amsterdam and see the sights.  Our hotel was located right on one of the canals, so we walked some of the canals, through  the Jordaan neighborhood, Vondelpark and up to the Rijksmuseum.

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We ran out of time to do much more that day, so we made our way back closer to the hotel to find a place to eat.  We found a cute little restaurant a couple blocks from our hotel to grab a bite to eat, but I couldn’t tell you anything about that dining experience.  Why?  Because my eyes were transfixed on the bakery across the street.  I don’t know how I didn’t notice it before.  It was bright, colorful and super inviting.  I told Lee we would be making a pit stop at the bakery as soon as dinner was over.

The bakery was packed.  I perused all of the different options while I patiently waited for my turn.  After some back and forth and absolutely no help from Lee, I chose a slice of Dutch apple pie and a chocolate cream puff.  They did not disappoint.

 

We awoke the next day, attempted to get tickets to the Anne Frank House and this time we were successful!  We finished our breakfast and then made our way over to the museum.

The tour was amazing.  Heartbreaking, but amazing.  You actually get to walk through the apartment where Anne’s family and others were holed up during World War II.  There are still remnants of pictures and magazine ads up on the wall in the room that Anne and her sister occupied for the majority of their time in the apartment.  I found the museum to be educational, poignant and incredibly well done.

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Anne Frank’s diary is on display, in all of the languages in which it has been translated.

From there, we took a boat tour of the canals, which was conveniently located outside of the museum.  It had started to rain, so it seemed the best way to see the rest of Amsterdam since we couldn’t walk around.

We made one more trip to Rene’s bakery on our way back to the hotel before calling it a night.  The next leg of our trip would be taking us to Brussels first thing the next morning.

While there was a lot we managed to accomplish in the 2 days we spent in Amsterdam, there’s definitely a lot that we need to go back and experience.  I would have loved to rent a bike and see the sights that way, however, I was a little nervous about hopping on a bike at 5 months pregnant.   I’ve never been to a city that is so bike friendly!  I would have also liked to take a day trip out to the country side to see some of the famous windmills.  And I’d be lying if I said trying a space cake wasn’t somewhat intriguing.

It might take us years to make it back to Amsterdam, but it’s definitely on our list of places to visit again.

 

Babymoon in Europe: Part One

As you may remember, my husband and I planned a trip to Europe.  We scheduled the trip a few months after our IVF cycle, with the idea being the same as our Europe trip after the previous cycle.  If our IVF was successful, it would make for an incredible babymoon.  If it wasn’t, well, at least we’d have a vacation to look forward to.  As luck would have it, our cycle was successful, and we were determined to make our babymoon one hell of a celebration.

We left for Europe at the end of October.  Our trip would start as our Europe trips always do; with a few days in London.  This was my 8th trip to London and my husband’s 4th, so we didn’t really have an itinerary planned for this trip.  Our plan was simply to take in the sights and enjoy ourselves.  Chances are we won’t be making it across the pond again any time soon.

We did make a point to visit the Museum of London, which neither of us had been to in our previous visits.  It’s a museum that takes you through the history of London, from the prehistoric ages all the way to the present time.  It’s a great way to experience London’s history and it’s free!  We spent the better part of our day taking in London’s history at the museum.

Our weekend in London was spent with some of our closest friends and favorite UK residents, Charlie & Gareth.  We spent the morning making our way over to One New Change, a shopping center complete with rooftop patio and breathtaking views of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the city itself.  It was there that my baby bump made its social media debut.

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From there, we went to Borough Market.  It’s an outdoor food market with tons of vendors and a variety of different foods.  We managed to destroy some cheese and olives breadsticks, pretzels, pad thai, bratwurst and Turkish delight in the short time we were there.  Honestly, we might have had more.  It’s all a food coma haze to me at this point.  They were out of the one thing we showed up for, however.  There’s a vendor there called the Pieminister that’s supposed to have the most amazing pie and mash, but alas, they were out of all the ones we wanted by the time we got there.  Oh well.  Gives us an excuse to go back, doesn’t it?

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A pregnant woman leads the way into the food market of her dreams

From there, we made a special trip to a bookstore in London called Waterstones.  Their store on Picadilly is the largest bookstore in all of Europe and one of my favorite places to visit when we come to London.  This time, our visit was particularly special, as I was buying my baby girl her very first Paddington Bear book.  I got incredibly emotional walking through the children’s books thinking about how lucky we were to be having this baby and how I couldn’t wait to start reading her some of my favorite stories from my childhood.  Picture it if you will; me, 5 months pregnant, walking around the  children’s book section, clutching a stuffed Paddington bear and crying hysterically.  Lee just looked at me and laughed.  Not in like, a “haha your tears are funny”, but more of a “that’s my pregnant wife, isn’t she adorable” sort of way.  I would use the excuse that pregnancy makes one emotional, but frankly, I’m just an emotional person and Paddington is one of my favorite books.  I probably would have cried about buying it for my child even if I wasn’t pregnant.

After a long day out and about in the city, it was time to head back to the hotel.  The plan was to take a quick nap and head out for dinner with our friends.  In actuality, it ended up being a 3 and half hour nap, followed by snacks purchased from the local grocery store, playing card games and watching music videos in our friend’s room.  It was a wild Saturday night.

Our last day in London was more like a half day, as we would be leaving for Amsterdam on the Eurostar later that evening.  We had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel with our friends, and did a bit of shopping before we left for the train station.  We stopped at a cute stationary store and I happened to find a pregnancy journal.  It seemed like the perfect thing to work on during our 4 and a half hour train ride, so I snatched it up.

We also made a quick stop over at the British Museum, another one of the free museums that London has to offer.  We didn’t stay long, as we had a train to catch, but it provided a great spot to look around while we waited for an afternoon rain shower to pass.  The Great Court is, in my humble opinion, one of the coolest places in London.

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Once the rain passed, we walked back to the hotel, picked up our luggage and said goodbye to our friends.  Then it was off to St. Pancras to embark on the next leg of our European Vacation:  Amsterdam!

 

 

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Well, this should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, but surprise!  Lee and I are planning another Europe trip.  5 months from today, we’ll be on our way.

How can we afford this you ask?  Skymiles.  You see, roughly 5 years ago, when Lee and I were planning our wedding, I suggested that we sign up for the Delta Skymiles Card.  While we had some money set aside for our wedding, I figured if we were going to have the party we wanted, it was going to involve some debt.  And if we were going to incur some debt, we might as well get some credit card perks to go with it.  As we planned our wedding, we would put all purchases on the credit card, and then pay it off as soon as possible.  We managed to amass a fair number of miles this way, but not quite enough to pay for a honeymoon.  That would have to wait.

Then 4 rounds of IUI and 2 rounds of IVF happened.  We’ve got miles coming out of our ears at this point.  So many, in fact, that we’re able to pay for both of our flights with miles and still have enough leftover for another trip.  I guess that’s our silver lining?  Thanks inferility!

We’ll start the trip in London as usual, because that’s our favorite place in the entire world.

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Why do we love London so much?   The history is definitely a huge part of it.  Walking through a city with over 1,000 years of well-documented history is pretty awe-inspiring.  Also, the food is pretty amazing.  Don’t let anyone tell you that Brits don’t know food.  That’s false.  London is a melting pot of culture, so there’s something for everyone when it comes to food.  The last time we were there, we had great pub food, but we enjoyed fantastic Italian and Turkish fare as well.  The walkability of the city is another reason to be obsessed.  There’s so much to see in London and most everything is conveniently accessible by foot, tube or train.  Finally, the hotel company I work for has such great hotel deals over in Europe that it allows us to stay in luxury without breaking the bank.  As long as they keep offering such a generous perk, I will make sure to take advantage.

After a fun-filled 4 days in London, we’re heading to Amsterdam!

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Neither Lee and I have ever been to Amsterdam, unless you count an hour-long layover at their airport.  There’s so much to see in the Netherlands!  We’ll be spending 3 days there, and so far have plans to do a half-day trip out to the countryside as well as a trip to the Anne Frank museum.  Other than that?  We’ll do what we do best on vacation.  Walk around and take in the sights.

We’re hoping to take the Eurostar out to Amsterdam, as they now have a direct from London.  On the way back we’re planning on making a stopover in Brussels.  Depending on how long we have in Belgium, Lee would like to make a quick trip to Bruges as well.  One of his favorite movies is the dark comedy “In Bruges” so Lee’s looking forward to channeling his inner Colin Farrell for an afternoon.  (I’d personally prefer that he channel his inner Colin Firth, but that’s another discussion altogether).

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Bruges is known as one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so I’m looking forward to taking in the history!  After a quick trip through Belgium, it’s back to London for a couple more days to wrap up our vacation.

Naturally, we’re hoping for a big fat positive at the end of this cycle, which would make this vacation a pretty epic babymoon.  In the event that we don’t get the outcome we’re hoping for, we’ll need something to look forward to.  While I don’t know that there’s anything that will quell the sadness and disappointment we’ll be experiencing if this round doesn’t work, spending some time in our favorite place will probably help to ease the pain; at least for a little while.

Keeping up the cautiously optimistic attitude in the meantime.  T-minus 4 weeks until we learn the outcome.

 

Christmas in Europe Part 3: The Weihnachtmarkts

We left London on Sunday evening to head to Reading, where our friends Charlie & Gareth live.  We were leaving for Germany on Tuesday evening which gave us a day and a half to relax and do nothing.  Except that Gareth had a little surprise for us.  He was already on Christmas Break and as such, was taking us to Winchester to check out their Christmas market.  He’d never been and he’d heard it was one of the best in the state.  Lee and I had never been to Winchester, so it seemed like a no-brainer to check it out.

Winchester was absolutely beautiful.  And old.  You see, Winchester has been an inhabited town since about 150 BC and was the capital of England during the reign of King Alfred (871-899 AD), so yeah.  It’s ancient.  We stayed mainly in the city center, which contained a beautiful cathedral and tons of shops.

 

 

Winchester’s Christmas market was nice enough, but Gareth was adamant that it didn’t compare to what were going to experience in Cologne.  I was glad to hear this, because so far, I hadn’t been all that impressed.  Every market we had been to in England was nice, but not overwhelmingly exciting.

Tuesday we packed our bags, headed back to Heathrow and made our way to Düsseldorf.  The plan was to spend a night in Dusseldorf and then make our way to Cologne on Wednesday.  When we got to Dusseldorf, we quickly checked into our hotel and made our way to the “altstadt”, or old town, to check out our first real Christmas market.  Unfortunately,  by the time we made it to the city center, they were closing up for the night.  We walked around a bit to figure out which markets to hit up the next day before heading to the hotel for the night.

 

 

After a somewhat slow start that morning (too much Prosecco and cribbage the night before) we made our way back to the altstadt and Lee and I finally got to experience our first authentic Weihnachtmarkt.

Oh.  My.  God, you guys.  If you ever have the opportunity to go to Germany during the Christmas season, DO IT.  Everything, from the atmosphere, to the drinks to the food, is beyond amazing.  I got to try my very first glühwein, which is a hot mulled wine, available in both red and white varieties, and Lee got his fill of hot chocolate with both Bailey’s and amaretto.file1-2

We spent about half the day walking through Düsseldorf before making our way to the train station to head to Cologne.  Lee and I were pretty jazzed about the markets we had experienced in Düsseldorf, however, Charlie & Gareth continued to assured once again, that they didn’t hold a torch to Cologne.

They weren’t lying.  As our train slid into the Cologne train station, we saw a beautifully gothic, almost foreboding cathedral in the distance.  It was absolutely breathtaking.  We  made our way to the hotel, dropped our things and went to explore the city.

As luck would have it, there was a Christmas market about 50 feet from the hotel entrance, so we didn’t have to go far to find some Christmas cheer.  I was parched after a 45 minute train ride, so our first stop was at the market bar so we could get another glass of that delicious mulled wine.  Once we’d had a look around we proceeded to the next market.

One of the great things about the Cologne Christmas markets is their proximity to each other.  You don’t typically have to walk more than 5-10 minutes before finding another one.  Cologne had a total of 9 markets set up when we were there, and I believe we made it to 8.

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Our evening was spent trying a bunch of new and exciting foods and drinking a lot of mulled wine and beer.  The markets close around 10, which meant that everyone made their way to the nearest bars to keep the festivities going.  We had a couple more drinks before making our way back to the hotel.  (We had a VERY spirited game of Cribbage that needed finishing)  A couple more glasses of wine and beer later, Gareth and I were still losing at Cribbage but less inclined to care.

Thursday morning, Gareth & Charlie walked us down to the Cologne lock bridge.  Like it’s Paris counterpart, the lock bridge is a place where couples place a lock with their names and anniversary date on the bridge.  The couple breaks the key off in the lock before making a wish and throwing the key into the Rhine.  Charlie and Gareth immortalized their wedding date on their last trip to Cologne and it didn’t take much convincing for Lee and I to decide to immortalize ours as well.  We even found a spot right next to Charlie and Gareth’s lock so we’ll always have a place next to each other.  Best friends for life!

 

The rest of the day was spent hitting up Christmas Market after Christmas market and stopping for glühwein whenever we got cold.  Charlie and Gareth made reservations for us at their favorite Cologne restaurant that evening, an Alpine-themed restaurant complete with servers donning lederhosen and boots of beers.  I chose to try Wienerschnitzel that evening and made lots of Tenacious D references to people eating my fucking schnitzel that apparently only I found funny.  Whatever.  I stand by my jokes.

Friday morning we visited the markets one last time, in order to buy all of the items we had been scoping out since we arrived before making our way back to the train station.  It was a bittersweet day, as reality sunk in that we would be heading back to the US the next day.  Our Christmas vacation was nearly over and we would have to return to the real world again.  A return to the real world meant in-depth conversations and tough decisions were going to be headed our way.  We promised each other that this wouldn’t be the last time we came to Europe to experience Christmas.  If anything, this was just the beginning.

 

Christmas in Europe Part Two: London Calling

After our initial travel debacle, the rest of the journey to London was uneventful.  It was a non-stop overnight flight, which meant attempting to sleep on an airplane.  We arrived in London at about noon on Thursday, December 14th.  While it wasn’t exactly warm, there was about a 30 degree difference between Minneapolis and London which felt quite nice.  We hopped on the Heathrow Express  to London and made our way toward our hotel in the Lambeth area of London.

Now, I work for a hotel, which is not without it perks.  That’s part of the reason why it’s so affordable for my husband and I to travel (especially internationally).  When we checked in to the hotel, the guest service rep casually mentioned that he had upgraded our room, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the amazing upgrade we received.

 

They upgraded us to a one-bedroom suite facing the Thames with a beautiful view of Westminster Abbey.  Had it been warmer than 40 degrees while we were there, I would have spent morning, noon and night out on the balcony admiring the scenery.

Lee and I learned long ago, that even though the jet lag can be absolutely miserable when you first get there, it’s best to power through and get on London time so that it doesn’t ruin the start of your trip.  With that idea in mind, we quickly got situated, showered and then went on our way taking in the sights.  We walked along south bank, past the London Eye toward the south bank Christmas market.  One of the things that surprised us was the amount of outdoor seating available in December.  Every restaurant along Gabriel’s Wharf had outdoor dining available, equipped with heaters and blankets.  And people were actually sitting outside!  We’re made of strong stuff in Minnesota, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone willing to eat dinner outside at 40 degrees.

We popped in for dinner at a little pizza place and relaxed for a bit before making our way back toward the hotel.  There’s a little boat located right outside the hotel that’s actually a bar, so we stopped in for a nightcap, before heading in for the night.

We managed to make it all the way to about 8 p.m. before we called it a day.  Not bad considering I got maybe an hour of sleep on the plane.  We hopped in bed with no real plans for the next day.  We’d wait to see where the day took us.

I woke up the next morning determined to accomplish what I had only recently realized was a dream of mine.  I was going to go for a morning run along the Thames.  Of course, (because it’s London), it was raining.  It rained every morning when I would get up to run, which meant I was relegated to the hotel fitness center.  Oh well.  Next time.

Another one of the perks of staying at my hotel properties is the complimentary breakfast each morning.  Each day, we received a full English Breakfast as well as anything we wanted to help ourselves to from the continental buffet.  The continental breakfast was more than plenty on its own!  Smoked meats and cheeses,  a variety of breakfast breads, fresh fruit, smoothies, porridge and of course a plethora of juices, teas and coffees.  After a quick breakfast, we were on our way.

We got a lot of walking in that first day!  From the hotel, we walked to Westminster Abbey, up to Trafalgar Square, then down through St. James Park, Green Park, to Hyde Park for the Winter Wonderland and then over to Harrod’s to do a little Christmas shopping.  I’ve put together this beautiful little map to show you our travels.

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After Harrod’s we stopped for a quick bite before heading back to the hotel.  We had very important business to attend to!  Our friends Charlie & Gareth were meeting us at the hotel, and would be spending the weekend in London with us.  Once we were reunited, we went and had an amazing Turkish meal at a terrible Turkish restaurant.  (Yes, you read that right; amazing food, shitshow of a restaurant).  We called it a relatively early night that night, as we had a big day ahead of us the next day.

Saturday we met for breakfast and then headed out to do some more shopping,  I only had a few things on the agenda for Saturday, but I was really excited about them!  I got tickets to Skygarden, which I was unable to get on our last visit.  Located on the 36th floor of a building nicknamed the Walkie Talkie, Sky Garden is exactly that:  A garden in the sky.  It had started to rain rather heavily at this point, so there wasn’t an option to enjoy the rooftop deck, but I would imagine, the views are even more breathtaking when you can enjoy them outside.

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That evening, we had tickets to a pop-up movie.  Each year, a company called Backyard Cinema hosts a pop-up movie theater in the middle of a Christmas Carnival.  I managed to find out about it through a Buzzfeed article and snagged tickets to see Love Actually as soon as they went on sale.

The video I saw on their website was cool and all, but it really didn’t do the experience justice.  We rolled up to the carnival and made our way to the movie theatre where we queued to get in.  We walked through a wardrobe stuffed with coats a la The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, walked down a magically lit path into a heated tent complete with a full bar and blankets at each seat.  It was such a wonderful experience; one that I definitely hope to do again!

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Sunday was a little more laid back as we had to leave London, but I can unequivocally state that we already can’t wait to go back.  Each time I visit, it gets that much harder to leave.  As much as I love the great state of Minnesota, if a job ever opened up for me over in England, I wouldn’t even hesitate.  That job would be mine.

We had a day and a half to relax with our friends before we were on to our next adventure:  the Christmas markets in Germany.  Neither of us had ever been, and neither one of us was quite prepared for the experience.

Christmas in Europe Part One: The Departure

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I had the best of intentions when it came to writing a blog post or two during our European vacation, but alas, I failed miserably.  The fact is, I was too excited to get each and every day started, didn’t make it back to the hotel until late and oftentimes I wasn’t exactly sober.  All in all, I’d say our Christmas vacation was a success, which is great, because it didn’t necessarily start out that way.

I have a habit of getting to the airport early, in order to avoid any issues or surprises that may pop up.  We started for the airport at about 5 p.m., anticipating that we would hit some nasty pockets during rush hour as we made our way to the airport halfway across town.  Traffic was surprisingly mild, however, and we ended up making it to the airport with about 4 hours to spare before our flight.  We got checked in and made our way to the security checkpoint, expecting to stand around for half an hour, as there never seems to be enough security lanes open when we fly.  Again, we made it up to security and through almost instantly.  What luck, right?  Well, that’s where our luck took a bit of a shit.

We’re on the other side of the security checkpoint gathering our things, when Lee realizes he doesn’t have his ticket or his passport anymore.  I immediately became super agitated, and here’s why:

  1.  I have very little patience
  2. Lee has a habit of forgetting things at an airport.

We’ve lost a phone and wallet(which were recovered), a camera, a computer (which was recovered) and most recently (as in, on this trip), an umbrella.  Granted, I myself am incredibly absent-minded in the mornings when I’m leaving for work, and if it weren’t for Lee going through a checklist with me every morning, I’d probably forget something everyday.  But if I forget my wallet, that just means I don’t eat lunch that day.  It doesn’t mean I’m in jeopardy of not being able to leave the country.  So, I become agitated, because I’m annoyed that this is happening again, but also, because if he can’t find his passport, neither of us are going on this trip.  I would never dream of leaving without him, but I also don’t want to be put in a situation where I have to make that decision.

We tear apart his carry-on, rifle through all of his pockets; it’s nowhere to be found.  We go through the stack of empty bins to make sure it hasn’t been left in one by mistake.  It’s not there.  At this point, we decide to get security involved.  Lee pulls a TSA employee aside and explains that he thinks he may have left his passport on the other side.  Lee can’t go and check himself of course, as he would have to way to get back through security, so he relies on the kindness of a stranger.  The stranger peeks his head over the partition, glances quickly, states that the passport is not there, and walks away.  Awesome.  Thanks, Brah.

Lee tries with another TSA agent who tells him to check the security desk.  It’s not there either.  We try to get another agent or two to give a shit about the fact that our trip is ruined if this doesn’t get sorted, before I finally decide to exit and re-enter the airport so I can scour the area myself.  I run through the terminal, to the exit, down the stairs and then up the escalator to the security area.  I approach an agent on that side of the wall and explain the situation.  She tells me that she hasn’t seen it, but she knows there’s another employee looking for it.  Finally!  Someone cares.

I wait in line for my turn to go through security, because of course, now it’s gotten a bit busier.  As I’m taking off my shoes to place them in the bin, I see Lee out of the corner of my eye, waving wildly.  He gives me a thumbs up, and I immediately relax a little.  I’m still really anxious about the whole ordeal, but at least we know that we can get on the plane.

I make my way through security again, only to be pulled aside this time for a good old-fashioned frisking.  Because, of course.

Lee ended up determining that in a very odd and (I’m assuming) incredibly rare, twist of fate, Lee’s passport and ticket managed to fall out of the bin as it was traveling down the belt, and fell in between the slats of the belt.  Lee was finally able to get an employee to look underneath the conveyor belt, and voila.  That’s where it was.

After a very stressful and anxious half-hour, we made our way to the Delta club lounge, where I made it my mission to drink enough vodka to forget the whole debacle even happened.  I didn’t exactly accomplish my mission, but after 4 vodka sodas I definitely cared a little bit less.

I chose to look at our security fiasco as a mere blip in what would be an otherwise perfect trip.  Everything, from that point on, would be exactly as we had imagined it would be, if not better.

And luckily, I was right.

 

 

Christmas in London

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Surprise!

I’m planning another London trip.

The idea came about when we were in London for Lee’s 40th birthday trip last November.  The Christmas decorations were going up for the season and I was awestruck.  Anyone that knows me knows that I am a little obsessed with Christmas.  From the music, to the decorations to the food and time with friends and family; I am enamored with all of it.  Being in London and walking through department stores like Harrod’s and Selfridges filled me with such childlike excitement that I knew I had to come back and experience Christmas at full tilt.  Thus, the plan for London Christmas Vacation 2K17 was born.

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Pictures from our London trip in November 2016

Our friends Charlie and Gareth, who live just outside of London, travel every year to Cologne, Germany right before Christmas to check out the Christmas markets.  Neither Lee or I have ever been to Germany so naturally, the idea of tagging along on their annual Christmas pilgrimage sounds like a dream come true.  We could travel out to London, meet up with them, travel to Germany, have an amazing time, and be home in time for Christmas with our families.

Given everything else we’re going through, it may seem like we’re overextending, but I feel like we need this.  As I’ve explained to those who know of our travel plans, if our IVF cycle works, this will be the last time we’ll have an opportunity to visit the UK for quite a while.  If our cycle doesn’t work, we’ll need something to look forward to.  I can’t think of anything more enjoyable than spending the holiday season in our favorite country with some of our favorite people.

And think about it:  If we are pregnant, it’ll be our bump’s first transatlantic vacation.  If I’m not, I can drown my sorrows in delicious UK whiskeys and ciders.  It’s a win/not quite a win, but somewhat bearable situation, really.

While we wait to see what’s going to happen over the course of the next 9 days, this will be the thing that keeps my thoughts otherwise engaged.  And if, for some reason, this round of IVF does not work, this will be what allows me to heal, recharge and come back ready to kick some infertility ass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Life

This week, I had the great fortune to spend 5 days “up north” (the Minnesotan colloquialism for vacation) with my husband and his family.  Lee’s immediate family as well as some of his extended have had an annual lake week tradition for the better part of 3 decades.  The week and the resort have changed a few times over the years as have some of the faces in attendance, but there’s still a pretty amazing turn out each year.  It’s probably the thing Lee looks forward to most; a week at the lake with his nearest and dearest.

The resort is located in Ottertail, Minnesota, about 3 hours northwest of our home in the Twin Cities.

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The area is filled with resorts and stunning lake homes.  Time seems to slow down in Ottertail, which is exactly what I needed this week.  Though I had planned to write this blog post while I was up there, I found myself apprehensive to even open my computer.  I knew that if I opened my computer, I would probably feel the need to check my work email.  There would be some email that would inevitably put me in a terrible mood and send me down a rabbit hole I would have a hard time climbing back out of.  As such, I didn’t check my work email until I arrived back at the office Thursday morning.  After all, I was on vacation.  Work could wait.

We were able to bring our dog, Omar on this vacation as well, as this resort allows dogs during the offseason.  Omar spent most of his time begging for food, (from us and other families at the resort) and napping in the sun.  All in all, I think it’s safe to say that he enjoyed himself.

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This year was a little bit different than years past, because Lee and I are abstaining from alcohol.  It wasn’t too bad, but I do have to say, the minute we finished unpacking, our first instinct was to make a cocktail.  Old habits die hard, I guess.  Instead of a cocktail, we opted for sparkling water and iced tea.  Don’t tell us we don’t know how to party.

Another thing that was different this year was our bedtime.  It’s amazing how much earlier you go to bed each night when you’re not up playing drinking games.  Early to bed meant early to rise and being an early riser,  I was able to watch the sun come up.  Absolutely breathtaking.

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The majority of our days were spent sitting lakeside, playing cards, bags, doing crosswords and listening to music.  Not a bad way to spend 5 days.  We’d venture in to town from time to time, but I found myself happiest and most at peace sitting on the water.  It made me so thankful for the beauty of my state.  Sometimes, I think  we get too busy with day to day monotony to stop and appreciate the beauty around us.  I was thankful to have time to do that this week.

It’s also crazy to think that by the time lake week comes around next year, we might have a newborn baby to bring with us.  As we drove home on Wednesday night, Lee and I talked about all the changes having a baby would bring to lake week.  For starters, we’ll probably have to give up our bedroom in the party cabin and get a cabin of our own.  We’ll also need two cars; we have a hard enough time fitting all of our stuff into one now!  Yes, many things will change over the course of the next year if we get our positive, but we welcome these changes with open arms.  And we know that if we’re lucky enough to have a baby to bring to the lake next year, between Lee’s parents, sisters, aunts, uncles & cousins, this baby will feel more love than anyone could possible imagine.

New York Getaway

Sorry, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.  I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with bated breath!

Lee and I just got back from an amazing New York City vacation.  It was the first time for both of us, and it’s safe to say that I fell in love.  From the food, to the culture to the beautiful architecture, I can see why NYC is such a draw for so many people.

Lee and I arrived last Wednesday and took a taxi to meet up with my cousin, Liz, at her workplace. She brought us to her office on the 45th floor.  The views did not disappoint.

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She works right off the High Line, which is essentially an old railroad line that has been turned in to a park.  It was an excellent way to walk around and get acclimated.  We dropped off our luggage and quickly got busy enjoying the city.

Once Liz was done with work, we went on a boat cruise around the city.  The cruise was a sweet gift from my aunts; an NYC experience to celebrate my recent college graduation.  The views were amazing!

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Not only was it amazing for me and Lee to see the city and some of the surrounding neighborhoods from the river, but it was also exciting watching Liz fall in love with the city all over again.

After the tour we traveled to Liz’s home in West Harlem.  She lives in a cute, quiet neighborhood; a surprisingly large one bedroom apartment on the first floor of a New York brownstone.  The neighborhood was perfect.  Far enough away from the NYC hustle and bustle, yet no more than a 10 minute train ride from the heart of the action.

Thursday morning we got up early to make the most of our first full day in the city.  We visited the 9/11 memorial and Freedom Tower.  It was absolutely breathtaking.

 

From there, we made our way to the Brooklyn Bridge.  The first part of the walk was rather annoying.  There were so many tourists!  I realize I am also a tourist, but I always walk with a purpose.  I walk fast and move out-of-the-way if I need to stop for any reason.  This allowed me to blend in fairly well on the sidewalks of NYC.  Once we made it past the initial horde, we were able to take some amazing pictures.

 

Once we made it to Brooklyn, we stopped at Grimaldi’s for their world-famous New York style pizza.  Lee considers himself to be quite the pizza connoisseur, so this was a must do.  Lee’s rating?  “Good”.

After Brooklyn we headed back into Manhattan to make our way through Central Park.  We were meeting Lee’s cousin, his wife and their son at Sheep Meadow for a glass of wine before heading out for dinner.  Central Park was beautiful.  We didn’t spend as much time in Central Park as I would have liked, but I get the feeling that no matter how many times we visit, I’ll never grow tired of all there is to do and see in the park.  Talk about a beautiful place for a picnic.

Image-5 Dinner that evening was at a Brooklyn restaurant called Marlow & Sons.  The food was amazing.  The passion was evident, not only in the dishes we were served, but in the knowledge and friendliness displayed by each employee that we interacted with.  I highly recommend if you’re ever in the area.

Friday & Saturday were miserably hot.  We spent time about half our time walking around and the other half searching for bars with air conditioning.  Any excuse to stop for an ice-cold beverage, am I right?

We spent Sunday morning packing up and taking one last walk through West Harlem before we headed home.  I can say without a doubt that I will visit New York again.  Hopefully sooner rather than later.  It was a great vacation; an unforgettable experience that will leave us with amazing memories.

Now Lee and I are home and reality is coming at us rather quickly.  We have a lot we need to get done by the end of the month in order to be eligible for IVF in September.  But at least, if only for a few days, we were able to forget all the uncertainty and stresses waiting for us at home.  And for that, I will cherish this trip for the rest of my life.