Life in London

Fascinating tales about my life on the way to and living in London

Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 in review (Jan - Sept anyway)

Well, as promised - 2009 in review! I already did a review of the last 3 months being back home in my last post, so I am only going to cover my time in Europe this time. As a side note, I had a lovely Christmas and it was very white!

2009 once again saw me in 12 different European countries (kind of in order, I think): England, Switzerland, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France, Czech Republic, Monaco, Italy (for about 30 minutes!), Belgium and Germany. I'm pretty proud of myself because I exceeded last year's record of 11 European countries in less time and with only a few repeats! So, here they are all linked up, with a few extras thrown in for fun. For more details and pictures, check out my Facebook albums for each trip.

January - skiing in Switzerland

February - London snow storm

March - move to a new flat in SW London

April - Easter trip to the Cotswolds, day trip to Dover

May - day trip to South Downs Way, Poland - Krakow and Warsaw

June - 3 weeks at home in Denver :)
July - Paris for the Tour de France, 10 days in Scandinavia - Sweden, Norway, Denmark

August - day trip to Canterbury

September - Prague, Alsace, French Riviera, Monaco, Brugge, Munich, saying goodbye to London, Tara's wedding

I think this will be the final post in my "Life in London" blog. I hope everyone has enjoyed it! I might miss blogging, so stay tuned....maybe I will pop up somewhere else in blog land!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Farewell Tour

WARNING: I have just discovered how to put links in my blog (thanks to Mom's help - when did she get more tech savvy than me??) so there are more links than might normally be necessary in this post!!

I've been feeling for a little while that this blog is not really complete yet. I haven't let you know about my last (big) trip in Europe!! But first let me update you on more recent happenings. Then, I'll cover what I call my "farewell tour". Hopefully before the end of the year I'll do a 2009 in review like I did last year and then this blog will be officially dead. But I'll leave it up and running if you'd like to peruse past photos sometime...

So I moved back to Denver in September. I can't believe it's already been 3 months! My return to the States started with a trip to San Diego for my beautiful cousin Tara's wedding. You can check out the pro photos here. (My camera broke on the last destination of my farewell tour...) Needless to say, it was a gorgeous day, a gorgeous wedding and I thoroughly enjoyed spending my first days back on US soil celebrating with my family.

Then it was right to Denver and right back to work the next day! I am working at a company called Liberty Global, which is the second largest cable TV company in the world. I work in the tax planning department which basically means I help the company make wise decisions tax-wise on pending acquisitions of companies, sales of companies and other restructuring within our company. We have only foreign operations, so what I do on a day to day basis is very similar to things I was doing in London. I work with two guys in my small sub-group and our whole tax department is closer to 15 people which is a great size. I am enjoying working in "industry" as opposed to public accounting and getting to know a new company is a welcome challenge.

I have attended some sporting events, even a Monday Night Football game courtesy of my new company. :) One thing I missed in London was American sports (if you recall, I went to the NFL in London last year) so I'm thankful I've already been able to get to some pretty big games. Ben and I keep busy with lots of remodeling going on, including the biggest project of the whole house: the kitchen! Much of the rest of the house is coming together and is drastically different than even 6 months ago when I last visited!

Overall, I'd say my life is pretty much "normal" and I've adjusted back very very quickly. I do have some pretty painful moments of missing London and my amazing friends there. But we have all been good about keeping in touch through email and Facebook and one of the perks of my new job is a high possibility of European travel. So as soon as I get pegged for one of those trips, I'm taking some extra vacation days and visiting everyone!!

I'm looking forward to a pretty peaceful Christmas season, with only Ben's and my immediate family in town. Even so, there is still plenty to do, particularly in this last week before the big day! I've always enjoyed these "quieter" Christmases without the hustle and bustle of out of town guests because there is more time to focus on the real reason for the season.

OK, the real focus of this post, none of the boring "life since Europe" stuff! My summer was pretty slow on the travel front, minus my big Scandinavian trip and a quick weekend in Paris. Oh, and 3 weeks in Denver. But anyway, relatively slow I guess. When I decided to move home, I also knew I wanted to take a big trip to tick a few more destinations off of my wish-list. So I set up an itinerary, bought Ben a ticket to London, made oodles of arrangements for flights, hotels, trains, cars, etc and then we were off! I am proud of my arrangements and organization for this trip, especially the prices I found considering how quickly I planned it. Guess it just goes to show some of the sweet skills I learned in London. :)

Our first stop was Prague, Czech Republic. This is a very popular desination for tourists and for very good reason. We loved the winding, narrow streets; the huge central square with churches, shops, food and an astronomical clock; the bridges over the river; the sprawling castle grounds and so many other things! We were both exhausted so spent a lot of time relaxing amongst our sightseeing. One day we even took a day trip to visit a church decorated entirely in bones of people killed during the Black Death!

Due to some airline going out of business (how rude), we had to do some last minute scrambling which included heading back to London for just one night. Not so bad in the grand scheme of things. Our next stop was in north east France, a region called the Alsace. It's a wine region nestled right up against some beautiful hills on one side and the German border on the other. The architecture of each village was amazing and we also enjoyed touring an old castle, originally built in the 1200s!!

Then we flew to southern France, hoping for a beautiful beach getaway in the French Riviera. However, due to high winds and not just a little rain, those dreams were a bit crushed. But we cruised around in the hills of the area (more like cliffs along the coast), explored in Monaco and around the Monte Carlo casino and even took a little side trip into Italy for a couple hours! The wealth in the whole area was pretty astounding, as evidenced by the cars in Monaco and homes all along the coast. It was a nice time and I'm glad I can say I went, but it was definitely a low point in our trip overall.

Next stop: Brugge, Belgium. Now before we went here, Ben was a bit unhappy about the fact that a) we were only going for 24 hours and b) he had never heard of Brugge and barely heard of Belgium. But it turned out to be fantastic and we wanted to stay way longer! Brugge is a small city about an hour north of Brussels. We flew up to Brussels and then boarded a train for the short ride. We thoroughly enjoyed wandering the streets of Brugge, snacking on Belgian waffles and frites (french fries, which the Belgians insist they invented). We ate 2 dinners because the food was so good there! We couldn't get enough of it and I definitely think this maybe somewhere we visit again. :)

Thankfully the trip just kept getting better when we headed to our last stop: Munich, Germany. I had made plans for this leg of the trip way back in February with my closest friends. I had no idea at the time that it would turn out to be a farewell trip or that this would be my last time to see them in a very long time. But, it all worked out and here we were all together in Germany! We had a fabulous weekend and I wouldn't trade my friends for the world. The highlight was staying in a very fancy hotel right by the train station where we were able to relax after a couple weeks of what felt like being constantly on the move.

The sad part about Munich is this is the city where my trusty camera broke. I've had the camera since right before I moved and ironically it died on my last trip. I had to rely on others for pictures which was also a great thing because there were others to rely on!

Ben went on to Zurich with my friend Brandi. (For pics of Zurich from October 2008, check this post out.) I returned to London for a couple days to wrap up loose ends at work, finish some packing and say some final good byes. Ben joined me for one more day in London and then we headed back late in September. I would say the farewell tour was a success and while there are still some hot spots on my list that I haven't gotten to yet, but I definitely was able to cover off some of the major ones and end my European adventure in style.

Monday, August 10, 2009


For those of you who don't know (or haven't heard from my mother), I've decided to move back to Denver! I have taken a job at a company in Denver doing tax planning and structuring work and am excited to move into this new phase. I'll be leaving London in late September, but only after I take a 2 week trip to some spots I have not been yet. :) After that, I'll head to my cousin's wedding in San Diego, then home to Denver for a day before I begin my new job. After I'm settled, I'll have to post my farewell trip photos and probably say farewell to the blog as my life will take on a much more mundane aspect I think... Thanks to everyone for following along with my adventures and encouraging me with sweet comments!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Le Tour de France

Last weekend I took the train to Paris with some friends to watch the last leg of the Tour de France. It was such a cool experience to be standing on the sidewalk, watching the racers whizz by on their way to the finish!

Notice Lance Armstrong right in the middle of this photo - black socks and shoes, blue uniform!

Friday, July 24, 2009


In a drastic contrast to Oslo, I LOVED Copenhagen! The city was bright and friendly, had amazing architecture and such a fun vibe. It helped that the weather was gorgeous and I got to take a free canal boat ride all around the city. The buildings are painted all different colors and are well-kept. I have to rank Copenahgen as one of my top 2 favorite cities in Europe so far (tied with Krakow)!!

Norway - Voss, Geiranger, Oslo

I have to admit that I find it harder and harder to blog since I post so many of my pictures to Facebook. I'm guessing that some of you out there aren't on FB or aren't my friend, so I do feel that I need to keep this up! However, if you notice the quality of my posts falling off from last year's, the reason is probably because I've already been messing with pictures I post here for close to 2 weeks and am getting a bit tired of it. :)

We traveled all over southern Norway it seemed! There aren't a lot of big highways, so I spent a lot of the time feeeling ill as the bus wound around curvy roads and up and down steep hills. We saw so much water, so many mountains and so many trees. The countryside was undeniably beautiful. The scenery was so dramatic and shocking at times to see the steep cliffs and water falls jutting right up from the sea-level fjords! There was quite a lot of rain and chilly weather, but that didn't really dampen our spirits too much.

We spent some time in some smaller places like Elverum, Voss and Geiranger before heading to Oslo. We went white water rafting in Voss, rode a train through the mountains and took a cruise down a fjord in Geiranger. We had to have a few ferry crossings as weel. Prices on everything are very high in Norway, even on gas which is interesting since most of Norway's riches come from oil!

I wasn't terribly impressed with Oslo (I think this might be the first time I've said this about my travels). It seemed very industrial and cold, but somehow was voted the 6th most livable city in the world, or something similar. There is lots of public art, most of a modern nature. Um...I don't have much else to say really! I'm sure there are nice things about Oslo and I was initially disappointed that we only had one day there. But in the end, I was happy to be making progress towards Copenhagen again.

Oh - almost forgot my favorite part of the trip! Bobsledding in Lillehammer!! We went down the actual 1994 Olympic bobsled track in a bobsled with wheels attached. We experience 4Gs of force and were going 100 km/hr. It felt like a super awesome roller coaster to me and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute (OK, second really since the ride was only 67 secs long!). I'd love to visit again in the winter and try it on ICE! :)


After a bit of a delay, here is my official Stockholm post. Unfortunately, I rarely had internet after Stockholm so wasn't able to keep up to date as I wanted. Plus I was having too much fun enjoying the very light nights and getting to know my new friends!

Stockholm is a beautiful city with lots more history than I imagined. Like I said before, it is a great combination of old and new and has a very active feel to it. I spent two days there, wandering around, eating moose burgers, shopping and checking out the changing of the guard. Here are a few pictures from those days.