Wednesday, 20 April 2011


I am packing... once again.
We won't leave for America until mid-May, but we have to store most of our things at our friend's house while we travel. 
I am certainly one of the slowest packers ever because I like to slowly go through old memories as I put things away and reminisce as I read journal entries, flip through collected brochures, sort loose papers, etc.
I am just slow.
As I started packing the books I brought over to London I picked up one of my favorites.
It is called "She...", it was a gift from my dear friend Chelsea Lynn. She gave this book to me a few nights before Christian and I left for England. Every time I read it I think of her and the person I want to be. 
This book describes a determined, passionate, loving, curious, accepting, positive, strong, faithful woman. And those are characteristics I want to have.   
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

She crossed borders 
recklessly, refusing to recognize limits, 
saying 'bonjour' and 'buon giorno' as though she owned both France and Italy
and the day itself.
Celebrate her joie de vivre.

She designed a life she LOVED.
Celebrate her Joy.

She decided to start living the life she'd imagined.
Celebrate her Freedom.

She turned her can'ts into cans,
and her dreams
into plans.
Celebrate her Goals.

She saw every ending as a new beginning.
Celebrate her Resiliency.

She colored her thoughts
with only the brightest hues.
Celebrate her Optimism.

She remained true to herself.
Celebrate her Authenticity.

She realized that she was missing
a great deal
by being sensible.
Celebrate her Spirit. 

Many thanks to Chelsea for passing along such an inspiring and wonderful book. You are the greatest!

3rd Stop... Marrakesh!

From Geneva we jetted over to Africa! We went to Marrakesh, Morocco. It was literally a whole new world in Morocco! Here's a list of my "tops":
1- Paradise by the pool!! We arrived in Marrakesh around 7:30 a.m. and by the time we got settled at our hotel it was close to 9:30 a.m. I am sure you can guess what 5 girls did immediately upon arrival... jumped in our swimsuits and headed to the pool! 
2- Luxurious life with amazing service. I don't think I have ever experienced the life I did while in Marrakesh. We spent a lot of our time lounging at the pool and with that came the poolside service... which I can't even begin to express how attentive they were.
3- Crazy cab drivers and infinite mopeds... everywhere! I will never forget my initial worry as we crammed 5 of us into our first cab ride from the airport. I feared not only for my life, but for every other person on the road. They had ZERO organization on the roads there. People curve all over the roads, mopeds zip past barely making the cut in front of the next car. I don't think anyone could pay me enough money to be willing to drive anything in Morocco.
4- Bargain... bargain... and bargain some more. We would bargain for everything we bought. After each purchase I would calculate what the "saved" amount was into American dollars and it was always a SMALL sum. I just had to laugh that I had bargained something that was 60 dirham down to 40 dirham... a difference of about $2.
5- The Square. Our first night we went out to "The Square". Words can't even describe how chaotic and crazy it was. We had people coming at us from all angles with henna, monkeys, snakes, etc. all trying to sell something to us. That first night a man with a monkey grabbed Chelsea's wrist trying to make her hold it and I about LOST it! I was a bit terrified at first but then we just learned if you don't want what they are selling don't talk to them or else they will pursue you to no end.
6- Endless Market. The main market in the Square was a never-ending maze, or so it seemed. It was crazy to go in shop after shop checking out all of the Moroccan treasures. We loved the piles of various spices, loads of Moroccan shoes, jewelry, platters, lamps, vases, rugs, etc. It is a shame that we only had our backpacks to carry our purchases back home.
7- Summer sun and high heat! I LOVED the flawless weather we had while in Marrakesh! The sun was always out and the temperatures were always around mid-80's. We walked around the markets and dirt roads for quite some time and loved every minute soaking up the sun.
8- I rode a CAMEL!!! Yes, we rode camel's in the dessert. Camel's truly are amazing animals. Our guide just let them walk in a line and if the leader went astray all he had to was verbally direct it and it would listen. I was amazed. We also had a little baby camel tagging along because it's mother was in the line up... sometimes the baby would run off from the group and if we got too far ahead of the baby, the mom camel would just start yelling/making camel noises and then the baby would come running back to the group. If you ever get the chance to ride a camel, don't miss it! It was one of my most memorable experiences.
9- Arabian Nights. We went to a legit Arabian nights dinner! We went to a restaurant called the Jad Mahal. The atmosphere was amazing! Half-way through our meal the music was turned up really loud and then all of these women came out dancing with silver platters on top of their heads with lit candles and they were dancing all over! Shortly after the fire dancers, came the belly dancers! We all wanted to take belly dancing classes after seeing them dance. It was quite the experience.
10- Airport Strike. We arrived at the airport to find 100's of people lined up everywhere. As we were trying to find our airline counter the crowd starting chanting and singing... we had no idea what was going on. Soon after the celebrations we found out that there was a strike at the airport and no one had been working for the previous 6 hours. That meant no planes had left for a few hours pushing our flight back 3 hours, no big deal. We still found ways to entertain ourselves and enjoy our last few hours in Morocco though. Emily had to hide here purse due to the strict Ryan Air rules... so she went for the "prego" look. hahaha. It looked so real and gave all of us a good laugh! All I can say is, I am SO proud and grateful to be an American! 
Here are a few extra pics from the trip:
Lunch by the pool.
In front of the mosque. 
Leaving the market after a long day of bargaining.
Shopping... one of our talents.
The Mosque.
After our dinner at the Jad Mahal.
The amazing ricotta chocolate cheesecake. Emily is sad because she didn't eat any of it due to her no sweets restricitions... this is a self-imposed restriction. I am proud of her for being so healthy!
Le Meridian Hotel.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

2nd Stop... Geneva

After a few lovely days in Paris we jumped on another train and headed to Swissland.
I will share my top ten things from Geneva...
1- Seeing Chelsea's life... I got to see where one of my best and dearest friends lived and worked.
2- We had the privilege of staying with a wonderful family right in the heart of the city. They were so welcoming and wonderful!
3- Meeting the darling kids! I loved every single minute with those kiddos. If you can't tell, I love kids and I have missed my nieces and nephews so much since being in London. It was just fun to be around darling and energetic kids again.
4- Geneva is a beautiful city with a much quieter atmosphere than Paris or London, which we thoroughly enjoyed after our busy days in Paris.
5- Lake Geneva is amazing! The apartment we stayed in was about 5 minutes from the lake. I love being near water!
6- We had evening workouts along the lake. Our workouts included a run around the lake, lunges, steps and dips. It was the most enjoyable workout that I've had in a long time... hello, working out in a beautiful setting with 4 of your besties! It was a cake walk working out in those circumstances.
7- I had my very first experience eating fondue while in Geneva. It was at a quaint little restaurant set at the top of a hill in the city center. I couldn't have asked for a better setting to try my first fondue!
8- I loved seeing the Jet d'Eau, this is the infamous water fountain that is set in the lake and shoots nearly 500 feet in the air.
9- We got to spend a few afternoons at the botanical garden and other neighboring parks. They were absolutely beautiful! The parks in Europe are definitely one of my favorite things about this part of the world... they are always huge and so elaborate!

10- Last but not least- the CHOCOLATE. It was everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE! The chocolate section at the grocery store was so big and AMAZING. I found my new favorite treat, Ferrero Raffaello. This amazing creation consists of white chocolate, almonds and coconut. They are heavenly! I just looked online and it looks like they are available at Walgreen's... so if someone in America stumbles upon these, please let me know. 

Monday, 18 April 2011

1st Stop... Paris!

Three of my best friends arrived in London on March 25th. It was the beginning of an amazing adventure! We went to many different places and saw so much that I don't even know where to begin as I want to share the adventures we had.
 I will begin with our first stop, 
1- The Eiffel Tower: This landmark is just as amazing as I had imagined it to be. Day or night it was quite the sight to see. I will never forget the first moment I saw it... we rounded the corner from the tube station and there it was brilliantly lit up in the dark sky. I screamed I was so excited to see it! Then the "sparkle" came on about 20 minutes after arriving there and it was so mesmerizing watching it with my dear friends. The only thing that could have made the experience better would have been to have the love of my life by my side. Fortunately, we will be going to Paris again in a few weeks with my family so we will get that chance to see it together. 
2- The Louvre: I don't think you could see every piece of art even if you had a month to tour it every day. It was humongous and amazing! Mona Lisa is small, but it was still so amazing to see a piece of art that was painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the 16th-century. Simply amazing. The entire museum is full of amazing-ness.
3- Crepes along the Seine River: Sadly, Chelsea was the one taking this picture, but she led us to the BEST crepe stand in Paris and we enjoyed eating our crepes as we walked along the river. It was perfect!

4- View of Paris: On the left is the view from Chelsea's favorite lamp post in Paris. It was a great spot to admire the city. This was Chelsea's 5th time going to Paris... she knew everything.
 5- Sacre-Coeur: On the right is the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur. It was an amazing church at the top of a beautiful hill overlooking Paris.

6- The Shurtleff's: The lovely lady sitting in the fourth seat on the right is Sister Shurtleff. She and her husband were amazing hosts and took nine of us young adults into their home and made us feel so welcome.
7- Angelina's: On our last day in Paris with this crew we went to Angelina's. Angelina's is an cafe just off the Champs Elysees. The food, desserts and hot chocolate were all delicious. The hot chocolate is famous because it is Oprah's favorite. The WHITE hot chocolate is simply divine. 

8- Classy Parisian Girls Night Out: After a long day of sight-seeing we went out for a nice French meal. Above, we are just hanging out at the Hilton before dinner (thank you Papa Metts for arranging our hotel).  We went to an amazing restaurant that had delicious food, but did not quite understand that Americans can drink more than 2 tablespoons of water per meal. It was quite amusing that I had to ask for water approximately seven times throughout dinner. haha! We had a lovely time!
9- French Onion Soup in France: I may have gained a stone or so while in Paris... everything was so delicious! One of my favorites was my French onion soup though! 

 10-Laughing, Acting, Dancing, Twirling, Jumping, Posing... you name it and we did on the Champs Elysees. Our last evening was full of some of my favorite moments from the trip. It was just 5 of us girls, after saying farewell to our new friend Jeannie, living a dream on a wonderful night in Paris.