European Adventures with Shelley: London and Countryside

For years, one of my dearest friends, Shelley, and I have always wanted to go on an adventure to the UK. And this year, we finally did it.

After a few months of planning, we arrived in London at approximately 6am. Knowing that we couldn’t fall asleep for fear of jet-lag, we dropped off our luggage at our hotel and immediately headed for Abbey Road.

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Unfortunately, it was under a little construction but we still crossed it in Beatles’ fashion.

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Afterwards, we felt royal and headed to Buckingham Palace, Westminster, and Big Ben. We decided to journey into Westminster because, well, if I get married, it would probably be here. But it was also incredibly cool to see where many royals along with Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, and Laurence Olivier were all laid to rest.

As the day continued on, we found our way to a pub for lunch before visiting Trafalgar Square. And Shelley needed her first European Guinness.

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We randomly wondered into the National Gallery and found ourselves surrounded by Rembrandts, Monets, and da Vincis. Fun Fact: We saw the second version of the “Virgin on the Rocks” pained by da Vinci in London and the first version later in Paris. He made two. Crazy right?

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Soon, we needed to head to the interactive show: Alice’s Adventures Underground. I need to preface that, at this point, we’d been up for nearly 36 hours so we were delirious, confused, and not exactly sure what was happening. Now throw us into an “Alice in Wonderland” type environment and life was a struggle. A group of about 30 of us were herded from room to room, interacting with characters from Alice in Wonderland.

After the show ended, we headed to our hotel for some much needed sleep. After checking in…oh wait, just kidding. At 11pm, upon attempting to check-in, we realized that we were at the wrong hotel. Yes. The WRONG hotel. So we hauled our luggage a quarter of a mile to the correct hotel. Yes, Alice, we had our own above-ground adventure.

Regardless, we got some much needed sleep because the next day, we headed for the countryside.

We started in Windsor, England, visiting my future home, Windsor Castle.

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We even got to see the changing of the guard.

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Soon, we headed to Lacock where we ate lunch and took some time to explore. This place is special because several films have been made here. Think Harry Potter (his parent’s house in the movie below), Downton Abbey, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

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There was also the Church of St Cyriac where the first photograph was ever taken.

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After Lacock, we headed for Bath. We didn’t spend too much time here, but enough time for us to grab a famous bath bun and enjoy a beer. Oh! And Jane Austen spent some time in Bath so that was cool. AND the first letter ever mailed was from Bath to London.

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Finally, we ended the day at Stonehenge.

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This thing is over 5,000 years old. Each of these rocks weigh tons, yall. It’s crazy. Essentially, historians believe this was a place of healing and where people would make regular pilgrimages.

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Anyway, we ended the evening back in London where we only had one more day in town plus a trip to Paris ahead of us. Ready or not, the adventure continues…in the next blog post.

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Maui or Bust

Momma Higg celebrated her birthday in March. Her gift from Poppa Higg? A trip to Hawaii. Fortunately, I benefitted from Poppa Higg’s hatred of the beach and was asked to accompany Momma Higg.

My charge for tagging along? Use my incredible travel agent skills (otherwise known as Google and Pinterest) to plan the trip. The only direction I was given was to stay in Maui. So that’s where I started.

We chose the West Coast of Maui, on Kaanapali Beach near the old town of Lahaina. The Royal Lahaina looked good to me because it had beach access. And it didn’t look like a Motel 6. And it was a big fat guess. Thank goodness it was a winner.

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Funny thing about Hawaii is that there’s a 5 hour time difference. Meaning, when it was 9:30am in Texas…it was 4:30am in Maui. By 8:30pm, I was toast. I’d wake up at 5:30am, go on a run, and bring fresh coffee and a muffin to the room to be eaten on our patio overlooking a golf course and the waves.

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Nearly every day, Momma Higg and I set out to be beach bums by 8am. By mid-afternoon, we were exploring the Whaler’s Village or Front Street in Lahaina.

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One evening, we went to a Luau at the hotel, “The Myths of Maui.” I had never been to a Luau before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Momma Higg was slightly disappointed that there was only one “fire dance.” I’ll try better next time.

One day, we took a quick plane ride to Ouahu to visit the Pearl Harbor and USS Ariozona Memorial in Honolulu. I’ve always been fascinated by WWII—all the bravery and love men and women showed to fight evil–so, naturally, I soaked up every minute at the memorial. Afterwards, we ate at Restaurant 604. Well, first we walked a half-mile in the wrong direction and finally Lyfted 100 yards in the right direction to the restaurant. The service was horrible. The food wasn’t terrible. Beer also makes food taste better.

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Being a beach bum was easier than I thought. Finishing two books and running into the ocean to take pictures of sea turtles kept me more occupied than I imagined.

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I think Momma Higg has decided that Maui will be an annual girls trip. Or maybe I’m trying to convince her.

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Stay tuned for the next beach babes’ vacay.

Boston Tea Party for Three

My love for Boston started when some family friends, Brandon and Julie, were living outside of the city after medical school. We were invited to visit one fall and I’ve been in love ever since. I’m not sure if it was the crisp breeze, autumn colors, or the amazing company that fascinated me, but regardless, I’m in love.

Last October, a few girlfriends and I were itching to take a trip when it hit us: Let’s go to Boston! I was thrilled to nominate myself as the tour guide (history is kind of my thing).

We dropped off our luggage in our Beacon Hill apartment and began our adventure in the North End.

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Naturally, we couldn’t say no to Mike’s Pastry, either. Calories DON’T count on vacation. It’s a scientific fact.

The next morning, Emily and I made it a point to find the Boston Marathon finish line on our morning run.

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Soon after, we began adventure on the Freedom Trail. I had created a “Skimm’d” version that included trivia questions of the historical sites to keep my friends entertained. For example:

At King’s Chapel and Burying ground

Why is Mary Clinton (buried here) famous?

  • She is related to Bill Clinton
  • She is related to Donald Trump
  • She was the first woman to step off the Mayflower
  • She was the first woman to make the chocolate chip cookie

How many kids did Paul Revere have?

  • 4
  • 8
  • 12
  • 16 There wasn’t much to do back then. 

Below: (The State House, Kristen and Em being dramatic outside of the Boston Latin School Site, Benjamin Franklin Statue, Old South Meeting House, The Green Dragon TAvern (our lunch stop), Paul Revere Statue, view from the Bunker Hill Monument, and Boston Harbor)

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We ended the day by visiting Harpoon Brewery and then grabbing drinks at the Top of the Hub. Newsflash: When it’s rainy/foggy, you can’t see anything at the top of the Prudential Center.

On our third day, we headed to Cambridge to walk through Harvard and then Fenway.

We ended the day by watching the Aggie football game with the local A&M club.

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Then enjoying a beer at Cheers. Because how can you not?

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Our final full day was spent driving up the coast to Portland, Maine. We visited the Shipyard Brewery (yes, breweries are a theme), ate a lobster roll, and shopped around town. We visited in October so pumpkin beers were running rampant. Shipyard starting serving their pumpkin ale with a sugar/cinnamon rim and it was actually delicious.

We could leave Maine without visiting a lighthouse.

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As we left Maine, we stopped by Smuttynose Brewery in New Hampshire because, why not?

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We ended the evening in Salem, Massachusettes. We were visiting close to Halloween so we had no choice but to go on a ghost tour. We saw a jail where Harry Houdini escape, the location of the first long-distance phone call a la Alexander Graham Bell, a few locations where Hocus Pocus was filmed, and even saw a ghost! Ok, maybe we didn’t see a ghost, but I had to throw that in there.

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Overall, the trip was successful but way too short. Our next adventure will be in Florida and Georgia in the fall so stay tuned.