So here are the last pictures probably until we get back to the US, but hey I am going out in style... 119 pictures WHATS UP. That took me forever. So they are in 2 slideshows and some of them get pretty mixed up, but here they are. Thank you all for following, and expect our Sydney pictures and Rugby pictures in about a week.
(sorry this slideshow does not have captions...due of a lack of time)
So our last week in Chillingham flew by! But we cannot complain because it was action packed and we really enjoyed each McMoment.
Monday we spent the morning and better half of the afternoon with Badger until he took off back up North with his little son Noah. The rest of Monday we just hung around the property and play what else....Frisbee golf!
Tuesday was another relaxing day on the property. We hung around outside in the fantastic weather and helped Todd set up the water pump that connected two of the far tanks to the house. I'm sure this lingo means very little to our city folk friends and family. Pretty much my brother owns what I calculated to be 24,000 gallons of water tanks. They let the tanks fill with rain water and use that for the house. Talk about self sustained!
Wednesday we had a leisure morning waiting for Todd to get done with some work in the office. But when he was finally done he had a pretty bad migraine. While we waited for him to sleep it off Em and I caught up on some reading. I finished Fear and Loathing a few weeks ago so I moved on to the Alchemist while Emlyn is reading Julie and Julia. She also finished my scarf this week which you will be seeing in the next slide show. I love it! I'm sure most of you are wondering how much use I will get out of a angora scarf in LA but I love it and will find some day to wear it.
After Todd's migraine wore off we took Rylan to the pool for some McSwimming lessons. I polished off what I could remember from my teaching days but Rylan was a bit distracted with all the commotion so we ended up just playing around, which he loved of course. After swimming we met up with Todd and Tipp's friend John and Emma to help them move some furniture into their newly remodeled home. So lovely.
Thursday was a day that I was dreading for weeks but ended up being one of my favorite days of the trip. We had been postponing the Mount Warning climb because of scheduling and my horse incident. Our initial plan was that Em, Todd and I would hike the Mountain and camp at the top. But since the condition of my back was getting worse by the day we decided to make it a day trip and include Tipp. We headed up the mountain at around ten am and arrived at the top at around ten minutes to twelve. I was very surprised because the night before I threw my back out just picking up some dishes. I was pleased with myself and the views were absolutely the best reward. I am not exactly a climbing pro but I will say that going up was much easier for me than coming down. I fell once and I was holding my bladder the last hour down. I can't complain though because it was a really lovely day.
When we returned home from the hike we had a bonfire with marshmallows and Corona. A little side not about Corona in Australia: Don't get it. I thought it tasted a little off and my suspicions were confirmed when I read that they bottled it in New Zealand. CHEATERS!! On top of that you would never guess what a 24 pack goes for. Want to guess? Try 60 BUCKS!!!
Friday morning we rose bright and early to make the morning bird feeding at the Currumbin Bird Sanctuary. I really enjoyed this day because I got to see all the famous Australian wildlife. Last time Em and I visited OZ we went to the barefoot bushman's park. At both parks you get the opportunity to be up close with my favorite, the kangaroos. I went so far as to fulfill an absurd but understandable request and touch the pouch of 2 of the Kangaroos. That evening Tipp had to go to a family event in Brisbane so Todd, Em and I did a round of Frisbee golf and chilled the rest of the evening with Bonnie. She brought over some delicious Thai food and we caught up on Dexter.
Today we packed Ry Kai in his moving bungalow aka a backpack that holds a kid and set off on our last hike of the trip. Springbrook is a national park that sits on top of a mountain about 1 hour drive from Todd and Tipps house. We hiked through lush Rain forest and several waterfalls to reach our rest spot by a water hole. We enjoyed the lovely weather and a yummy McPicnic. On our way home from Springbrook we stopped by the famous fudge shop to pick up some fudge for after dinner and an ice cream for the road. When we arrived back at the property Badger had finished moving Jocelyn's belongings into a storage shed so Em and I relaxed and played with Rylan in our room. Just now we put Rylan to sleep and Todd Em and I are going to watch as much Dexter as possible.
Tomorrow we leave early in the am to Brisbane to catch a movie with Badge and then off to the NRL game (Rugby). Monday morning we fly off to our last destination on the McTravel: SYDNEY!
Thank you all so much for taking the time to read through our travels. This summer hasbeen life changing for both Emlyn and I. We have learned so much about our family, our relationship with each other and most importantly ourselves. I am so eager to come home and begin my career in LA and for Em to go back to San Diego and finish up her last year at state. Thanks again!
Last Tuesday Emlyn and I went with Todd on his weekly delivery for his business. Most of his deliveries are along the Gold coast so after all the work we were able to head to Surfer's paradise to hang around the beach. While we were there we were able to see the Naked Nai'a. This is the boat that Todd traveled the world on for years. He sold it a few years ago to start buying property and begin his family. The last time Emlyn and I visited Australia we traveled the Barrier Reef for 3 weeks on the Nai'a. Good memories on that boat! After all the work and play we had an awesome lunch at a Belgian pub called the Pink Poodle!
Wednesday I took my shortest horse ride ever! I rode Todd's pony out of the first gate and everything was fine. He was trotting along and I was having a blast. But as soon as the second gate opened all hell broke loose. The details to my knowledge are sketchy and nobody else saw it but from what I remember the horse took off full speed going up a hill. I was tugging at the rein for him to slow down but I knew it wasn't going to work. As the horse took off faster my feet slipped out of the stirrups and I knew I was going to have to bail. It was just where and when I was going to do it that I had to decide. Everything in between the decision to bail and the precision landing is a blur. I just remember being on the ground in a great deal of pain wondering why the hell my head hurt so damn much! The best part about it is what my helmet looked like! Good thing I was wearing one!
The rest of that day Emlyn & I crashed on the couch and watched How I met your Mother.
Thursday we were supposed to climb Mount Warning and camp at the top because it was a full moon. But when I woke up I could hardly move my back and I still had a pretty harsh head ache. We decided to take it easy that day and go pick lemons up at Bonnie's property. She has an amazing view right at the top of a mountain that looks out on a huge valley. We sat and enjoyed really yummy veggie burgers and then picked lemons for her to sell in town. That evening we went back to Todd and Tipp's and had a huge bonfire. I must say I am becoming a pro at building bonfires. But my Tahoe girls already know that I build amazing fires!
The next day we headed down to Byron bay for the afternoon. Byron is the town where Tipp grew up so we met up with some of her friends for a delicious lunch at her friends cafe. After the lunch and a bit of window shopping we took a leisure walk up to the Byron Lighthouse. We had to cut the Byron day a bit short to head back in time for Badger's arrival!!
For those of you that don't know Badger (silly nickname huh!) is Tipp's younger brother. When Em and I were in Oz back in 2001 he was on the boat with us for most of the trip. Now, 8 years later he has a beautiful 2 year old son, Noah. Badge arrived in the evening with his girlfriend Liz and baby boy Noah. After we put the two boys to bed we played a game of Cranium ( My first time playing and I am obsessed!)
Saturday we were all invited to Ryan and Alyssa's house for a BBQ and ping pong. Ryan and Alyssa have 4 lovely little girls that immediately took a liking to me. For the entire afternoon I was the human jungle gym. In the evening after the BBQ Em and I busted out the plastic cup and taught the boys how to play beer pong. The best part was that the little girls were better at throwing the pong balls then the grown men!
Yesterday we went to Cram's farm for a BBQ and Frisbee. It was nice to finally play Frisbee where you didn't have to worry about them sinking in a creek or pond. At Cram's farm they have several BBQ pits and picnic tables spread out over acres of property. We scored the pit next to the playground so everyone including the kids had something to do.
My back is still doing some recovering but I am beginning to realize that I may have upset the same area that landed me in the hospital last summer. Everyone cross your fingers cause back problems at 23 is the LAST thing I need!!! Today marks the beginning of out last week in Chillingham! My how time flies. Next Monday we leave for Sydney. I will be sure to keep you all posted on our last weeks activities!
This slideshow contains pictures from a few different places: -At Bonnie's house picking lemons and having lunch -Out at the Byron lighthouse -Ryan's house for a BBQ and a little BEER PONG lesson from the American ladies
Lauren will have a blog up shortly explaining our last few days, enjoy!
1. It's August already! How in the hell did that happen already?!
2. EMLYN POSTED PICTURES! AMAZEBALLS!
We returned from Noosa Heads yesterday in the late afternoon. The ride back was a bit over 3.5 hours, Rylan's longest "road trip" to date. So as you can well imagine we has to employee our imaginations to keep him busy when he woke from his nap. after singing "Old McDonald" for the 50th time I had to come up with some new lyrics. So of course the song turned into "Old McGovern" and the farm ended up being an ark because that dude had every animal known to man on it!
Noosa was a good time. Best compared it is kind of like La Jolla or any other upscale beach town in California. The main drag was made up of little surf shops and restaurants. We walked the beach a few times and played in the sand and surf with little Ry Kai. On Saturday we spent the morning and the better half of the afternoon at the market scanning for Ugg's for Em and I and a new fanny pack for dad. None of which we found. In the evening we returned to the beach for a stroll and an ice cream.
We spent Sunday packing the car up and figuring out the best way to tow a dingy that Russ (Tiffany's dad) gave to Tiffany and Todd. Since Tipp could see Emlyn and I were getting bored she dropped us in town for an hour and a half where we sat and enjoyed a little breakfast in the Winter SUN! Yes, it's Winter here and I was burning up in my hoodie at 10 am.
Upon our return home yesterday, Todd and I took a bike ride to the front of the property to give Phoebe a good run. the rest of the evening we took it easy just lounging around and watching Dexter. Emlyn finally got all of us to sit and watch the first two episodes. I am still uncertain about it, mostly because Dexter bares a striking resemblance to an unmentionable in my life and it kind of freaks my shit out!
Today was a full day for Tipp and I! I felt like a real grown up for the first time!! In the morning Tipp and I went to look at a house for her mom. Which we just found out they accepted her offer! So congrats to Jocelyn because it is a really beautiful place.
After that we headed to the grocery store and then visited a few of her friend who are remodeling their houses. It's so funny from my perspective to watch women in their thirties trifle over what shower head goes best in their bathrooms and if the drains in the upstairs bathrooms match those in the downstairs. People my age are lucky if the two couches in the living room match let alone that there are even two couches in the living room. When we got back from our day out we washed the two cars. This is a bit difficult to describe but the best way is that the creek runs through the road so we just parked the car on the creek and washed the cars with the water running by. SO MUCH FUN! I washed the dog while I was at it!
At the moment Todd just finished giving Rylan his bath, Em and Tipp are making dinner. When Rylan did his routine naked run out of the bathroom I blasted the music and he and I had an awesome dance off!
Ok check this out!! Expect more pics really soon! I want to get more from Todd's camera, but it is currently in Rylan's room where he is napping, and frankly it is just not worth it. So here is just a bit for now.
So golfing was AWESOME! We played the back 9 holes of a beautiful course just outside of Chillingham. Started at around 2:30 and finished putting the 9th hole with the last trace of sunlight. Emlyn and Todd were severely defeated by Ryan (Todd's friend) and I! We finished the game off with two rounds of beer in the lodge. I will defiantly be playing more golf when I head back to LA.
Yesterday we went into to town to buy Todd's first ever horse saddle and run a few other errants. Later in the afternoon Em, Todd and I took a hike up through the natural bridge. Really beautiful area and time for some Mcbonding! After the hike we stopped by the park for a frisbee session and avocado picking. We managed to get 12 avocados from one tree, saving us a grand total of 8 dollars!
This morning we feed the cows their weekly molasses treat and packed for Noosa Head ( The town where Tiffany's dad lives). When we were here back in 2001 we stayed in Noosa for a few days so I am looking forward to returning. Cute little beach town with some awesome markets. Which means time to keep my eyes peeled for Dad's new fanny pack and possibly bomb deals on Ugg boots!
I just wanted to let you all know that I have FINALLY gotten a slideshow onto the McTravel page! If you notice it is over to the left under our McPic. I will be adding as we get more, and I will just put them with this slideshow. Enjoy!
So I never thought that as a 22 year old lady ready to take on the town that I would be falling asleep by 10 pm on my second go around in Australia. But when you factor in the 18 month old bundle of joy and the strenuous activity on the property it is no wonder.
Sunday, Todd and Tiffany had lessons with the horses from 9 am to 4 pm so Em and I took on our first babysitting duty since high school. Everything was fine. Took Rylan out to the jungle gym, had a good play outside, then a play inside and then...suddenly...all HELL broke loose. We tried to put him down for a nap and he wouldn't have it. He cried endlessly. We couldn't get him to stop for what seemed like hours. He would calm down and then wound up again. We love the little guy to death but when 4 pm rolled around we could not have been happier. That evening Em and I passed out around ohhh 8 pm!
The next day we woke up bright and early to plant avocado trees and collect horse poop. Still exhausted from the day before we took the rest of the afternoon easy. But in the early evening around 4 pm Emlyn, Todd, Rylan and I decided to play a round of Frisbee gold around the property. I had never played before but have decided it is my new favorite thing! By the end of the night I was covered in mud and blood! yeah, blood because I am still getting the hang of jumping over the barb wire fences. Upon our return to the house Bonnie had arrived with my favorite: THAI FOOD!! For some reason, her idea of Thai for 5 people ended up being about 15 containers of food. For the first time in my life I went back for thirds and then fourths! So fat and happy by the end of the night I ended up doing something I never thought I would ever do. Brace yourselves...I WATCHED HARRY POTTER! Gross I know. But I actually enjoyed it and tonight we are watching the next film.
Yesterday Em and I went into town with Tiffany to look at a home that Jocelyn (Tiffany's mom) is looking at buying. After that we headed into the downtown to do some errants and look for postcards, which they seem to have none of out here. When we got back to the house we had planned on hiking Mount Warning but Todd's work when a little longer than expected so instead we chilled around the house. I was actually cool with it cause it allowed for me to catch up on my book and hang with the dog in the afternoon sun. When Todd was finished with work he needed a wind down and what better way than with a round of Frisbee golf.
The first "hole" goes right over the creek in front of the house. This is cool for aesthetics and such but not for the fact that Todd's awesome Frisbees SINK! I throw my Frisbee straight for the hole, catching some awesome wind, only for it to plummet right into 4 feet deep of cold, dirty water. The next 25 minutes (this being a McGovern standard, to evaluate every possible solution) we made every attempt at retrieving the Frisbee without having to enter the freezing water. Finally I gave in, stripped down to my chonies and jumped in. Gross and cold, but knowing me you know I wouldn't have it any other way!
That brings us to today. We are taking it easy this morning. Tiffany took Rylan to a Mommy and me play date and Todd is upstairs working in the office. Emlyn and I are making every attempt to load the videos from my new camera and Phoebe (The dog) is lounging in the sun. At 2 pm we are heading over to meet with some of Todd's friends for a round of golf. Real golf, not Frisbee so I will let you know how I do!
Welcome back to our McTravels. After a wonderful 3 weeks in Sacramento and then back down to LA for a fun filled weekend, Emlyn and I boarded our flight to the land of OZ. I will say that for the first time in my life I was having a wicked case of flight anxiety. With a few crashes this summer and as sad as it sounds my obsession with LOST, I was fighting racing thoughts the few days before take off. As we arrived at LAX at 9:30 the anxiety was subsiding and the excitement was kicking in. This soon changed when we realized that our 11:30 pm flight was postponed until 1 am!! I called mom to help ease my nerves, she tried her hardest but I still wigged out. Might I suggest that if you are planning on boarding a flight with 300 people don't begin crying frantically in the terminal!
The most insane part about it was that it ended up being the best flight of my LIFE! I was seated by the emergency exit! Hella leg room! And Qantas had the genius idea of making the in flight entertainment ON DEMAND! I had movies, CDs and games all at my will! If it had not been a night flight I could have played the whole 13 hours.
Upon landing we went through customs and were our the door of Brisbane int'l within 30 minutes. Todd (Our brother) had said he would pick us up there in "the van". Sure enough he pulls up in what was a white version of the DARHMA vans (If you don't watch LOST by now you either need to get the DVD or stop reading this blog)
We stopped by a great organic bakery and then took the 1.5 hour drive to Chillingham. This place is amazing! I never thought I would see my bother with 24 cattle, 4 horses, a dog, a cat and the cutest little boy EVER! Not to mention a totally hot wife with a sexy aussie accent!
Their awesome house sits on 37 ares of beautiful landscape. Since it is winter here right now everything is green and lush. Rylan (our nephew) has it made growing up here!
We are now closing our third day down under with a yummy home cook pasta dish and a movie! Yesterday we visited the beach and walked around Murwillumbah, the local town next to Chillingham. Today we played frisbee in the park and then headed back to the best bon fire EVER!!
I will keep updating more frequently to avoid these long winded posts and as soon as possible will get some photos and videos up!
Well here we are back from London. I am beyond exhausted. It was a really fun experience for both of us. We did not push ourselves as hard in London as we did in Paris. We were able to use the underground and the double deckers with our day pass, so we hopped on at every opportunity. Since our Paris bike tour was such a FANTASTIC experience we decided to go with the same company in London. Although the tour was not as advanced as the Paris tour we still were able to see the main sites such as Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abby. If I had to make one comparison between London and Paris it would be that Paris has an epic history and London's history is inspired and hilarious. those people were crazy about their punishment for crime!
The food in London was exactly what I expected. Salty, heavy and by the end exhausting. I don't know how the Brit's are not as fat as the American's with their diet. By the last day we were pretty much stuck on sandwiches. Pret was a nice sandwich shop that was on just about every corner. I think we ate there three out of the four days.
If you go to London SEE A PLAY!! More so SEE AVENUE Q! That show was hilarious from beginning to end. I am a huge theater fan, let alone musical theater so it was really a treat! Not only that but since we are students (I still have my ID and I'm going to abuse it till I am old enough for the senior discount) we got 39 pound seats for 20 pounds! Such a bargain!
Our accommodations were beyond amazing. We have distant relative that own a cozy bed and breakfast just outside central London. We were able to stay there the first two nights. On our third night we were supposed to stay with Emlyn's fraternity "brother" but decided against it seeing as he lived an hour away from central London and we wanted to spend our last day site seeing. I think this might have bothered her friend but we really appreciated his time will us during the first couple of days. This decision did leave us homeless at 7pm so we began to frantically wonder the city in search of boarding. The fluster was quickly eased by a pint of cider and the decision to book a 42 pound hotel based on some pictures off a website. When we arrive at the station we realized our hotel was smack dab in the middle of NOTTING HILL!! This is not to mention the fact that we charmed the pants off the clerk who in return booked us in the room with a park view! Good ol' McGovern smile :)
London is like the LA of Europe. The fashion, music and culture has a bit of the same feel. I felt the people were much more friendly then in Paris. I am going to make my best efforts to return for the Summer 2012 olympics with Marissa. It has been an ongoing dream of ours to volunteer at the summer olympics ever since 2004. We need to make it finally happen! 2012 is our year I can feel it!
Sorry this post is so wacked out in format but I am going off pure memory and lack of sleep. I think my jet lag for the return trip kicked in last night. I tossed and turned till 5:30 am!!! Maybe even past that because it began to get light outside and the birds started to chirp!! Do not know what my deal is. I have had an amazing time here in Europe and really do cherish all the memories.
On Thursday we board the plane at noon and arrive in LA around 6:45 PM. We will spend a few days schlepping around LA to the beach and such. Then Sunday we head to San Diego to move Emlyn into her new apartment and celebrate her 21st birthday! From there I drive back up to Sacramento just in time for a wild 4th of July celebration! Really looking forward to seeing all my Sac friends and continuing a great summer!
Stay tuned for the Australia part of the blog, beginning around July 20th! Thanks for following!
I know we are terrible at this whole blog thing but you will have to bear with us because we are having such a wonderful time!!
Leaving Paris on Saturday afternoon kind of broke my heart. Yes, I was extremely exhausted and ready to return to Belgium to a home cooked meal but I really left a piece of myself in that city. I felt at home in Paris. I don't speak a lick of French and trust me, with the way I destroy the accent, I didn't even try. But I really felt at home in that city. It is so alive and just as magical as I ever imagined it to be. Unlike Los Angeles (Don't get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE LA!!) Paris is spot on exactly the way it is portrayed in films.
On Wednesday we took the Thalys train from Brussels to Paris. This was not how we would have normally traveled because it took half the time at probably double the cost. But thanks to Annemie we were able to leave Belgium at 9:30 and be in Paris before noon!! Upon our arrival we took the metro directly to our hostel in Montmartre. For those of you that don't know, Montmartre is the neighborhood of Paris where Amelie was filmed. It is also where the Moulin Rouge is located. Although it is a bit outside the vicinity of the main attractions, I really enjoyed the true bohemian feel of the area. From the first evening we spotted a local bar around the corner from our hostel that we ended up returning to the following 2 evenings.
The first day we were there it rained. No, understatement. It poured. In fact, all of the clouds in Europe realized Emlyn and I were in Paris and had a huge party over the city. The best part about this is that we had a 4 hour bike tour planned in the evening. We crossed our fingers all day that it would let up by 7 pm. As we finished the last bites of our dinner at 6:30 is suddenly stopped. We were so excited as we rushed to the North leg of the Eiffel tower. Only to find that at exactly 7 pm the clouds unzipped their pants and broke the seal. I mean seriously. We stood there laughing at the absurdity of the situation. The guide said that we had the option to cancel or postpone the tour. But being the adventure seeking idiots that we are, we chose the remain and see where the evening took us.
I will leave it there as it is 1:15am and we leave for London at 8 am. I will pick up where I left off. Since pictures were Emlyn's commitment, I will leave it to you all to harass her for them. Goodnight and I love you all :)
Emlyn mentioned that I would fill in some of the gaps she left open.. So here goes:
Amsterdam was truly fantastic. from the moment we stepped off the train and out of the station I thought it was going to be very difficult to find my friend Collin. He was coming in from London and us from Belgium. My worries were settled when I heard a familiar voice:
From there we hopped on a tram straight to our first ever hostel. It was great having Collin with us. He had been to Amsterdam a few months ago for ten days so he was a pro. The weather was amazing the first two day. This of course allowing me to catch some ray in Vondel Park!
The Van Gogh was something that if I have the opportunity I could verbally describe from the first to the third floor in detail to each of our McBlog `Followers`. Until last week I can say that I did not appreciate art outside of photography. It had never spoken to me before. But the opportunity to stand 3 feet in front of the original Starry Night was breathtaking. The love and emotion that I felt from these paintings was comparable to nothing I had ever seen.
I think what I liked best about the city of Amsterdam were the stark contrasts. From the rich culture, history and museums to the seedy Red light district and the smoke filled coffee shops. If you ever find yourself in the Red light district after 10 PM bring your Ipod, crank up your favorite playlist and walk past the windows filled with some of the loveliest (and less fortunate) ladies of the night. It’s an experience.
Oh yeah and for Me Lady Marissa, yes I did listen to pimpin´ all over the world just for you! Me misses you so much
On our last day we woke up to freezing (cali freezing so probably 65 degrees) weather. Just as we boarded the tram to the train station and said our goodbyes to Collin it began to rain. Perfect timing. In less than 3 hours we were back in Leuven with Annemie. My aunt is one of the warmest human beings you will ever meet and on top of that she insists on creating an atmosphere to match her personality. The first evening her and our uncle Marco, another remarkably warm soul, took us to their friend’s restaurant in the city.
Coming from serving in a corporate run restaurant this experience was a real treat. We sat for two and a half hours (Imagine that DG crew! How the efff would we turn tables like that?!?!?) and dined on a three course meal that was prepared AND served by the same person. Why you ask? Oh, because the one server they had for the evening called in sick!! You can really tell when a meal is prepared with love like this one was. Yummy :)
The next day Annemie took us around Leuven. She showed us some of the spots her and our mom used to hang out. Such a cool feeling to be in the same place my mom was at my age. We enjoyed a delicious lunch on the terrace filled market place and then off to a cafe for a Belgian hot chocolate. In the evening Annemie and Marco prepared a delicious Tuscan inspired vegetarian dish. After dinner, while Marco stayed behind to do the dishes (such a gentlemen) Annemie took Emlyn and I on a walk. It was cut short by my fascination with the cows grazing in a field. I immediately hopped the fence and approached them to the best of my farm animal knowledge. I must have looked like a caveman approaching a Toyota Prius. Upon our return to the house we watched a fantastic British film (Swimming Pool) and then when everyone else was fast asleep at 1 am I watched Across the Universe. Hey, I have to fit it all in somewhere!
Yesterday we took a 1 hour car ride to the much anticipated Brugge (Flemish spelling). Brugge was a bit like the novel Da Vinci Code or the films Slumdog Millionaire and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. You had to have seen or read them before you heard the hype. While I was extremely fascinated by the historical buildings and AMAZING churches, I guess you could say I was expecting a little more. I think I will be criticized for this statement, but please be gentle. It is just an opinion and I am entitled to it :)Also a quick note for those of you that don´t know Slumdog was my favorite film last year. Wasn`t bashing it at all.
We left Brugge a little after 5 pm to Lokeren where our cousin Hanne and Aunt Hilde live. Here we have been able to do some relaxing and catching up. Since we see our family in Europe so little it has become customary to pull out the albums from past visits. This time we took it all the way back to 1986 when my Oma came to visit for my birth. I hope I look as hot as my mom did when she was pregnant with me!!
One thing I can say about the trip as a whole is that is isn´t what most American youth have or will ever experience. In the first week Emlyn and I became frustrated with the trip. The lack of planning, money escaping our already empty hands and missing out on what was happening back in California without us. The combination of these elements among a few other (hormones) are all things that typical American youth will go through. But something that I did not realize until last week is that a trip to Europe is something very different for us. For us coming to Europe is coming home. Our family is here. A part of our culture that is unfortunately seldom tapped into is here. To be able to walk the streets and eat in the shops my mom did at my age is something that I cannot describe. After I came to this realization it seems as though everything changed.
Tomorrow afternoon we go back to Tienen to stay with our Oma and Opa. We will hang out and do some reading for our trip to PARIS on Wednesday!!! So excited! We will also add some picture from the past week tomorrow evening. Until then, take care and keep checking the blog next week as I have decided to bring my laptop...Just don´t tell Vinz or Hubert.
Note: That last sentence was for our followers whole watch LOST...just like watching an episode of LOST if you don´t understand a political, pop culture or religious reference GO LOOK IT UP :)
Well here we are safe and sound backinBelgium. Now in Leuven with our Aunt Annemie and Uncle Marco, we are enjoying the "cozy isolation" of their beautiful home in the country. It is not really in the country, but it feels like it with the river next to it and the cows grazing next door. This is such a beautiful, green country with somany new things to see.
Well, now more about Amsterdam!
The first day we arrived and very very easily met up with Lauren's friend, and ourroommateforthe week, Collin. We hopped on the tram through allthe hustle bustle with our GIGANTIC suitcase and made our way to the hostel. Of course Lauren likes topack like an LA chic girl, sowe were lugging around this full duffle bag for only a couple days of travel. Yes, people were staring. So we made it to the hostel, named The Flying Pig in uptown, right next to Vandel Park which we saw from our bedroom window and very near the museums. We were planning on moving to the downtown hostel, but after such a great night in ourroom we decided to stay. Turns out, we had to get switched rooms since we did not have a reservation, and we ended up with a dugeon upstairs with a window that didn't open, a drippy gross common toilet with a flooded floor, and a roommate that snored as if he were dying. Good thing we only slept there. But why worry about the romm, we are in AMSTERDAM! The next day we went to the Van Gogh Museum and it was truely spectacular. I mentioned to Dad that it was a really wonderful geeling getting to see each of the real brushstrokes he once made. It made me very excited for the rest of the museums on our trip. We spent the whole night walking all through the cityand viewing the canals. I could not get enough of them. We spent such a great deal of time just walking and soaking in the city. The way I really wanted to experience it. One day we went into the grocery store and bought cheese, wine, chocolate, salamie, and from a bakery a fresh baguette and we went and spent several hours in Vandel Park. So relaxing, so serene, and so perfect. One thing that was really funny was the bikes, they really do have the righ of way there because seriously they are crazy! I wanted really badly to rent one and have a go at it myself but Lauren and Collin were to afraid so it did not happen. Next time :) Collin was also a great travel buddy being an Amsterdam traveler already. He was a good help for us on our first trip out and lots of fun to be with!
Overall I had an overwhelmingly AWESOME experience. I hope to go back again one day soon!
So tommorow we are off to Brugges with Annemie and Marco and it is something I have been excited about for a while! After we will go to visit our Aunt Hilde for two nights and then soon on Wednesday OFF TO PARIS!!!! 4 days and 3 nights, and quickly followed a couple days later by 4 days and 3 nights in LONDON! We are both excited, anxious, relaxed, and ready for more adventure.
Always with much love, Emlyn
ps: there is so much more, maybe I will let Lauren fill in the gaps after she is done lounging and watching Across the Universe...it's what she does.
Lauren and I arrived in Amsterdam today!! Words can not describe this city it is amazing! Bikes everywhere, crazy drivers, beautiful buildings, amazing CANALS, delicious frites (fries), and so so so much more. We have had a very very long day of walking and are off to bed soon. I just wanted to come on very quickly to say that we are doing well and are safe and warm in our hostel - The Flying Pig (Uptown). There is a much more lengthy blog to come, but for now we relax. Also the internet is terrible here so...it is difficult. That is all for now!
I might be the most contagious person to ever grace this green earth! At this moment, Emlyn lies in her bed upstairs barley clinging to life. I, again sit in the office, this time listening to Opa play the Saxophone. Wait, maybe that's Oma.
Last night Koen came over around 8 pm and we hung out until about midnight. It was so much fun catching up! He has not changed a bit. He said the same of us, only that we grew taller...It was strange to not have to whisper after Oma & Opa went to sleep. I am so accustomed to being at home in Granite Bay where my mom hears a spider crawling on the marble floor or if I arrive from the bars any later than 11 pm my only way in is through the doggie door!! Hey, at least I still fit!
This morning I woke up around 8:30 because our younger cousin Karen came over for the day. She wanted Emlyn and I to take her shopping. Hmmmm. Shopping in Tienen?! We went around to the "boutiques" and drug stores, the extent of shopping Tienen. We finished with a drink on one of many terraces that fill the town square. Since Emlyn was not feeling well she stuck with a Fanta. As for me...well...I'm in freakin' Belgium! Beer please! 11 am in Belgium is 5 pm somewhere else in the world right?!
The weather is slowly getting better so Emlyn, Karen and I sat out in the front yard and bathed in the sun...true Cali style :)
I think now since everyone else is occupied with other things I will go to the park and film! This evening we are going to Koen's house to play Texas Hold 'em...Since I don't play poker I am just going to hang out, take photos and drink some Vino!!
After passing out at 9 pm, Emlyn and I rose from our coma to eat another delicious breakfast. Now Emlyn is in the shower and I am sitting in the office relaxing and listening to Opa play the piano. He is amazing!
I still have a pretty horrible cough and rumor is I may have passed it along in the States...oooops! I am trying to play down this sickness so that Oma isn't convinced I have Swine Flu.
Annemie is taking the train to Tienen and will arrive around noon. We will spend the afternoon with her and then in the evening we will see our friend Koen!!
Keep it McReal! (This is getting Mcout of control!)
Dunkin Doughnuts in DC, they doughnuts sucked!! But the coffee was yummers.
On the way back from the aiport, nice and sunny.
The view from our mom's childhood bedroom window. Raining!!!
I apologize in advance for any spelling errors, these keyboards are NUTS!!
Lauren and I have arrived safe and sound in Tienen at Opa and Oma's house. We told the man at customs that our mom is from Belgium, and he gave us a warm "welcome home!". We felt great after coming off the plane, or so we thought. Throughout the day we have each nodded off several times trying to fight the jet lag. We are doing our best, but will probably both be in bed by 9.
It was the makings of a beautiful sunny day here in Belgium, but we all know that tends not to last and by mid afternoon it was raining outside. We do not mind though, Belgium is as beautiful and green as ever.
We have already enjoyed 3 yummy meals of bread and nutella, chicken and potoatoes, and bread and strawberries. I CAN'T GET ENOUGH BREAD! Today we saw four of our younger cousins and one aunt and uncle, and tomorrow we see another aunt. It is very exciting to be reunited with our family.