Easter Weekend in Berlin

Sean and I flew out to meet his parents and cousins for Easter in Berlin…well, for football in Berlin that just happened to be the same weekend as Easter. England was playing Germany in a friendly on Saturday night, so we arrived Friday afternoon and made a weekend out of it.

Upon arrival, we did what any good tourist in Germany should do and got straight to the sausages and steins at Hofbrau Berlin. As touristy as it is, I have loved every Hofbrauhaus I’ve been to – you’re guaranteed great beer, pure entertainment, and a real beer hall experience.

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Afterwards, we got a bit too overexcited and continued with the drinking at a hostel bar nearby. After a few pints and one jaeger bomb (that’s one jaeger bomb too many, by the way) we stumbled home to get some rest before exploring Berlin the next day.

Oh – what great exploring we did on Saturday! It consisted of sleeping until about noon, busing across town to pick up our tickets for the match, busing back to take a nap, and then heading out to get food before the match. I’m proud to say I held myself pretty well, but Sean was not in the best form so we laid low and pushed all of our tourism to Sunday.

The match itself was by far the best part of the weekend. We were all fully rested and back to ourselves by then and the atmosphere was phenomenal. Throw in an amazing comeback that brought England down 2-0 to win 3-2 and you’ve got the best evening ever! Everybody has been saying I’ve peaked too soon witnessing the best England match I’ll probably ever see this soon in my England supporting career. But oh well, it was worth it!

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On Sunday, we tried to cram in as much of Berlin as possible. Since I had been before, I led the group to all of the sites I knew, including Brandenburger Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, Museum Island, East Side Gallery (the wall), and…Burgermeister – the best attraction of all! After stuffing our faces with burgers and walking a bit more of the wall, we headed back for a quick drink. Sean and I wanted to go to the top of the TV Tower before leaving, so we headed up to see all of Berlin and then headed back down to retrieve our bags and get to the airport.

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[I love the contrast in this picture – on the right, modern, financial, gray Berlin; on the left, historic and beautiful red roofs]

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Berlin is a great city with a mix of new and old, traditional and alternative, incredible history and a young up and coming crowd. Seeing it all from up above was a great way to end the trip that gave us such a great weekend! However, reaching the bottom of the tower was the moment things started to go downhill, leading to quite an eventful night trying to get home. There will be a whole separate post on the misery we experienced flying in and out of Berlin this past weekend, so keep an eye out!

Unfortunately East Side Gallery was mostly fenced off, but a snuck some pictures through the fence, which is why they are so close up:

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Ski Weekend in Zermatt

Last weekend, Sean and I headed out to Zermatt for a long weekend with my brother, my sister-in-law Sarah, and our friends Sara and Hope. We had been trying to plan a trip to Zermatt with my brother and Sarah for awhile and suddenly, we all had a weekend that worked! Hope was immediately interested and then Sara made a last minute decision to join and booked a flight from NYC out to London for the week to join us for the weekend.

We had so much fun! The skiing was hard – I don’t know what I would have done without the week of practice in Colorado because I was struggling even with it. The conditions honestly weren’t the best, but the weather was perfect and it was too beautiful to complain about.

We arrived on Thursday evening and made the drive out to Tasch, where Sean’s family flat is. The sun set at the beginning of the drive, so we didn’t get all of the views of Lake Geneva we had hoped for, and an accident caused traffic pretty much the entire way, but we made it to Zermatt in one piece around 10pm, ate some pizza, and then went to bed. 

[The view from the flat – you’ll probably see this picture every time I go to Zermatt!]

On Friday, it was just me, Sara, and Sean to start out. We admitted defeat to exhaustion and started the day rather late. We only had time for crepes in town before going back to Tasch to meet Hope and rent our skis. Once everyone was settled, we headed back into Zermatt to visit the Matterhorn Museum and do some window shopping. I absolutely love the village feel of Zermatt and could walk around for hours without any purpose and still enjoy myself.

 
  

[At the Matterhorn Museum, this is the rope that snapped during the first climb that caused four deaths and major controversy for the survivors]


The Matterhorn Museum had a weird setup, but was also extremely informative. After browsing around and having some fun with the interactive games, we went to the Brown Cow Pub to grab a bite to eat.We spent a couple of hours there with beers, wings, and delicious burgers before heading back to the flat for more beers and a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity.

 
  
My brother and Sarah were due to arrive late that night, and after some train delays and a bus trip, they finally made it! We all headed to bed, ready to get up for our first day of skiing the next morning.

We woke up early to get on the first shuttle to Zermatt. Though still half asleep, we headed up the mountain on the Gornergrat Express and got straight to the skiing. Mike and Sarah got a later start to the day since they got in so late the night before, but met up with us right before lunch. I had been feeling ill all morning and ended up calling it an early day with Hope after lunch. The skiing was a lot of fun and I really didn’t want it to end, but the two of us both agreed that we were better off calling it a day and going back out the next day (she was exhausted, I was feeling miserable).


  
  
When we were all back from skiing and showered, we headed back into Zermatt for dinner at Cafe du Pont. I had been previously with Sean’s family and think I will probably go every time I set foot in Zermatt. We had escargot to start and delicious fondue as our meal. We were all in heaven during the meal and in food comas by the end of it. We headed back to the flat with the intention of playing a board game, but all passed out before 10:00!


  

The next day, we got on the first shuttle again, but headed up a different part of the mountain with the intention of skiing into Italy. When we got to the top, though, Italy was literally covered by a cloud! Change of plans – we stayed in Switzerland, but stayed on that side of the mountain. Our group had some interested experiences with a T-Bar (wipeout), a spontaneous cloud causing low visibility (where is everybody?), and a really steep and slippery part of one piste (mental breakdown). I considered calling it a day early, but decided to stay out and am very happy I did! Sarah, Hope, and I decided to split off from the more experienced skiers and ended the day on an easier piste which was so enjoyable!

When we were finished with skiing, we stayed up at the top of the mountain for apres ski at the ICE Bar. We sat outside in the sun and I honestly could have convinced myself I was at the beach! The view was incredible, the company was incredible, and I couldn’t have asked for a better end to the ski trip!


  
  
  
  
We cooked a massive dinner at the flat that night while playing Settlers of Catan and then Cards Against Humanity. There was a small bout of panic when we ran out of wine and beer, but we continued to have fun regardless (yay, family!). The next morning required an early start in order to get into Geneva in time for our flights.

I’m really starting to enjoy skiing more and more as I get back into it. Of course, I still have my ups and downs, discourage myself, and have to listen to Mike tell me that he’s better than me all the time, but I’m really looking forward to more and more skiing. It’s tricky because you can’t really keep it up all year, but I’m hoping that yearly ski trips will be enough to keep me going! I also love being in the mountains – the mountainside restaurants, apres ski atmosphere, little shops, fresh mountain air. I see many many more ski trips in the future – just don’t expect to see me on any black diamonds anytime soon!


[I couldn’t stop capturing the beauty of Switzerland, even on our way out!]

London Sky Garden

The Sky Garden/Sky Pod Bar in London is probably one of my favorite “sky high” bars that I’ve been to yet. It’s a little oasis in the middle of the City of London and a nice little break from the crowds and transport and business going on below.

Located in the Walkie Talkie Building (20 Fenchurch St), the Sky Garden is literally that…a public garden in the sky. It’s free to enter, so long as you book a time, and can be visited just to enjoy the gardens, or to enjoy drinks, or even to have dinner at one of the restaurants. I’ve always been only for drinks. Of course, you pay the price of having drinks in the sky, but they are delicious – and beautiful! They also have fantastic cheese and meat platters, so don’t be afraid to arrive with an appetite.

I visited for the first time with my friend Lucy back in the summer and took Sara, Hope, and Sean when Sara was in town last week. They were completely different experiences! In the summer, of course, it was still relatively light outside and you could see everything. This time, it was dark – the city was lit up and beautiful, but it made it hard for us to get pictures. I also have yet to go before the balcony closes in the evening (in my opinion it closes a bit too early, but I understand the concern!) so I feel like I haven’t gotten the full experience.

I highly recommend the Sky Garden for anyone visiting London! Now that it’s been open for a bit, it’s even possible to make a reservation the same day for some last minute plans. My goal is to go back in the daytime next time so I can actually go outside…hopefully when it is warmer as well! I promise better pictures then, but until then, here is a look at my most recent trip….

  [Aren’t the drinks just beautiful?]

    [Glaring eyes is the price you pay for trying to get the whole group in a picture]

      [A blurry (but still beautiful) through-the-window shot of Tower Bridge]

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When Friends Visit

I have a love-hate relationship with having friends come visit London. I love pretty much everything about it: reuniting my friends, showing them my favorite places in London, traveling, etc. But it really stresses me out. I think it’s all part of the wanting everyone to be having a good time always thing. Working from home, I can be around my friends, but can’t really go and do anything with them, so I kind of have to send them off on their own during the day and then meet up with them in the evening.

We also have a very, very small flat. This means that air mattress is a way to go, and I must say…it isn’t a comfy air mattress.

However, despite all of this, I am always inviting friends to come stay. We’ve developed a bit of a routine for when friends/family visit that guarantees they see more than just the touristy stuff. As I mentioned, I ship my friends off into London during the day with decent directions on how to get places and my personal recommendations. Then, when everyone is free, we go for the following:

  • Fish & Chips – We used to pick up fish and chips from Moxie’s in Clapham South and bring it home to our friends. Now that we’ve moved, our go to is Kerbisher & Malt on Abbeville Road. Craft beers + delicious fish (& scampi!) + an overload of chips = heaven on earth.IMG_0001.JPG

 

  • Our Local Pub – Sunday roast, Wednesday burger night, any day drinks – it’s the perfect opportunity to show our friends a *real* London pub.  

 

  • A Swanky Bar – There are so many that I want to try! Rooftops, sky high bars, pop ups. I usually drag my friends to something I’ve never even been to, but sometimes I go for a repeat.  

 

  • Cook at Home – Save money. Eat in pajamas. Show off our new cooking skills. Drink wine. Play Cards Against Humanity. Everyone wins on the nights when we just can’t be bothered to do anything.IMG_5193

 

  • Afternoon Tea – If we have a free weekend day, this is probably my favorite thing to do with visiting friends. It’s extremely British and so good for a girls day out!IMG_4001.JPG

 

  • Ticketed Event – There is ALWAYS something going on in London. From Cocktail Week (Marisa’s visit) to pop up experiences to musicals and plays, there are endless things to do that provide a great London experience without all of the tourist queues.IMG_0020

 

  • Weekend Away – I try to travel with every friend who visits. After all, they’re coming all the way across the ocean, so it’s worth seeing more than just London! This started when Sara visited last year after I first moved here and we went to Nice. Then, Marisa visited and we hit Marseille. We choose a cheap and relatively quick place so we can make the most of it and just go!IMG_1568

This list has changed a bit, but after Sara’s (second) visit this past week, I think this is the best of the combinations. It’s nice to have a little routine that we can tailor to each friend who visits. Next I need to figure out the perfect three day itinerary for sending my friends off to explore London on their own.

Who wants to be my next visitor?

Skiing in Steamboat

I spent all of last week in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, for a ski trip and – oh, boy! – I am definitely still recovering. I don’t think I’ve skied that much ever – 3 full days and 2 half days – but it was so much fun!

Here’s the thing about me and skiing:

Pretty much everyone knows this story by now, but for those of you who don’t: I broke my arm skiing when I was ten. It was quite dramatic, but then again I was at that age. We were skiing our last run of the day and for some reason I thought I stood a chance at beating my brother down. I tried to go down the whole mountain making as few turns as possible to gain speed…I was going very fast and hit a patch of ice. The rest is a fall and crying and pain. They had to give me a temporary cast of bubble wrap and cardboard so we could drive the 1.5 hours to the nearest hospital and I was in a little cast for what felt like forever.

Since then, I never got back to the level of skiing I was at. When I was younger, I was so confident and absolutely loved it. As I grew up, I didn’t ski nearly as much and had a huge mental block when I actually went. With Sean in my life, though, I feel the need to get back into it – and I really actually want to.

 [I obviously need to get back into skiing to keep up with this stud!]

In terms of progress, this trip was amazing! We took a half day lesson our first day there and Sean took up skiing for the first time, so we were able to stick together on the mountain (as annoyed I was at the fact that he was immediately better than me…stupid naturals!). By the end of the trip, and after a few highs and lows, I felt more confident on skis, stopped caring about steepness (I still don’t like ice, though), and left Colorado excited about skiing as opposed to scared. There was one moment where I just about gave up on skiing permanently and asked for a ride down the mountain with ski patrol (low visibility in the middle of a snowstorm at the top of a really steep trail I hadn’t skied yet), but I pushed through and made it down…and it ended up being our best day out on the slopes!

  

[At the time of my panic attack, the visibility was probably half of this and we were on a harder run…believe me, I would not have been taking pictures at that point!]

 

Steamboat is an adorable little town – we would wake up early and spend the days skiing, stopping for lunch on the mountain before skiing it all off, then head back for dinner, ending the night with drinks and board games at the house. We went downtown for a couple of dinners and even turned a whole afternoon into a date night with just the two of us – shopping downtown, a trip to the Old Town Hot Springs, happy hour at the Old Town pub, and then dinner at Mahogany Ridge Grill. After visiting both Aspen and Zermatt, I have come to realize that I absolutely love mountain towns and this was no exception!

  
  

[Necessary relaxation after a long day of skiing]

 

[The Old Town Hot Springs were such a nice break from the mountains – so warm in the water, but so refreshing to still be in the cool Colorado air!]

We are heading to Zermatt next weekend with my brother and his wife, and our friends Sara and Hope. I’m so excited to visit Zermatt again, but also itching to get back in skis and keep this high going!  Follow us on Instagram for live updates!

 

March 2016 Bucket List

There’s something that I absolutely love about March. It brings back memories of spring breaks and the first traces of warm weather. It has the cosiness of the winter with some sun and warmth to force you outside on the weekends onto rooftops and into gardens. It’s just a perfect month!

This March brings some big travel plans – Zermatt, York, and Berlin three weekends in a row before heading back to America for a good chunk of time at the start of April! Therefore, I’ve decided to dedicate this month’s bucket list to some travel goals.

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  1. Visit an old church
  2. Go to a museum I haven’t been to before
  3. Try a new local food
  4. Take more pictures with myself in them
  5. Capture an incredible view
  6. Take a travel video
  7. Do a walking tour
  8. Bring back a souvenir
  9. Go to a locals bar/pub
  10. Meet someone new

Here’s to warm weather, fantastic travels, and great company in March.

P.S. Can you believe it’s already March? 2016 is FLYING by!

Recap: February 2016 Bucket List

Wow – it’s amazing what you can squeeze into the shortest month of the year, especially considering I didn’t do anything special with the extra day (yay Leap years!). Between the Super Bowl and our ski trip to Colorado, this ended up being such an incredible month.

This year is honestly flying by. I was recently going through upcoming weekends with a friend and before I knew it I was into April! It’s terrifying to watch the year fly but, but as I look over the things I have planned for the coming months, I am even more excited to see what 2016 has in store for me!

Here is a quick snippet of all I’ve accomplished this month:

  1. Make a homemade pizza (using our Vitamix to make the dough)
  2. Eat at a neighborhood restaurant we haven’t been to yet
  3. Ski a full day in Colorado – 3 full days and 2 half days! I never expected to ski that much, but had so much fun and feel more confident on skis than I ever have since breaking my arm over ten years ago! I’m so excited to head to Zermatt in March and keep it going. 
  4. Walk at least 2,000 steps every day (hard when working from home!)
  5. Learn how to make poached eggs – not in a mug – I’ll admit that they didn’t turn out as great as I wanted them to, but I still feel accomplished. I have a couple more YouTube videos lined up so I can really perfect the art of poached eggs. 
  6. Finish two books
  7. Write 20 blog posts
  8. Go on a girls’ night out – It was more of a girls brunch out, but it was so nice to reunite with my high school friends as soon as I got back from Colorado. I absolutely love catching up with them, and brunch makes it even more of an experience. Plus, it was a warm sunny day – who could complain?! 
  9. Complete our at home filing system
  10. Visit a museum or exhibit in London – I visited the Vogue100 exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery and absolutely loved it! I have been meaning to write up a full review and just haven’t gotten around to it, but there is one on the way! 

March, I am so ready for you!