Islay

Brent turns the big 4-0 this year! To celebrate, he wanted to attend the Islay Whisky Festival in Scotland (known by locals as Feis Ile). We rented a large house near Kilchoman Distillery. The first half of the trip was us and another couple, Rory (a Scottish man himself) and Anna. The second half of the trip was strictly mancation. The trip was great fun. We were fortunate to have beautiful sunny weather, which made all the difference. We partook in lots of whisky activities, our favorite day being Sunday at Bruichladdich Distillery. This was a day to remember. Well,...

St Mawes

We’ve just returned from our second visit to Cornwall, this time to beautiful St. Mawes on the southeastern coast. The weather was very English. That is to say…partly sunny, partly cloudy, and very rainy. Still, we enjoyed a restorative “Cornish” weekend. (Everything in Cornwall comes proudly with the prefix “Cornish.” For example, “Cornish pasty” “Cornish cream tea” and “Cornish sardines”). For the most part, we spent the weekend dazzled by the beautiful Cornish sea views. On Saturday we arranged for a Cornish skipper, Mark, to take us over to the Pandora Inn, in Falmouth. The high speed ride on...

Cotswolds

We were more than ready to welcome 2016. Why not make a visit to the Cotswolds? One of the perks from our decision to plunk some retirement money into the new Cotswolds Distillery, is that we get our very own cask of whisky. This gave us a lovely excuse to revisit our favorite neck of the English woods. Brent got to personally hand-fill his cask while getting informed of the latest business developments from distillery owner Daniel (affectionately known by us as, “Daniel my brother” sung musically, a la Elton John). It was great fun to get another tour of the distillery (now as...

Cotswolds

Back again from the Cotswolds and we continue to be enchanted by this corner of England. Our favorite cottage in Ebrington has been sold (sigh) so unlike usual, we stayed in the Coln Valley this time. We stayed at a cottage charmingly situated in Winson, complete with a stream running through in the back yard. Dash loved racing outdoors every morning and evening to patrol the perimeter. Winson is a very secluded village with mostly holiday rentals. We really like this part of the Cotswolds – especially the villages connecting Coln Rogers and Coln St Aldwyns. They have all the...

Iceland

Just back from an epic weekend in Iceland! What’s in Iceland you ask? Beautiful scenery, delicious food, the purest water in the world, and elves (50% of Icelanders believe in them). What’s not in Iceland? Crime, Starbucks and McDonalds. Islanders are pretty proud of that and we would be too. Martin, our young and entrepreneurial tour guide, taught us about Iceland’s Nordic history. We were surprised to learn that Iceland was under Danish rule until 1918 and not formally a republic until 1944, coinciding with WW2. Martin amused us by describing Iceland’s homeland security: three coast guard ships (sitting...

Bordeaux

After four and half years living in Europe, we’ve been extremely blessed to have visited so many special places. One of the remaining spots on our ever-growing “must see” list was Bordeaux. Finally we made it there for a weekend in October. We stayed in the beautiful village of St. Emilion. Before arriving we wondered if there would be anywhere in town for wine tasting. Ha! The town consists of nothing but wine shops and caves. About 125 miles of tunnels, stocked with wine, extend under the town. Besides drinking Bordeaux, mostly one wonders the twisty cobbled lanes, samples macarons...

Hamburg

Last weekend we met our friends Dani and Hendrik in Germany’s modern port town, Hamburg. We certainly enjoyed Hamburg more in the company of our German friends, former locals who knew all the good spots to visit and who graciously acted as our personal translators. Much of Hamburg was leveled in WW2 so instead of charm, it has more of an industrial and edgy feel. We covered a lot of ground in two days, with plenty of refreshment stops sprinkled in along the way. We saw Hafencity, Europe’s largest urban development project, where modern apartment buildings have sprawled up alongside...

Babbacombe

This year we decided to escape Notting Hill Carnival weekend with a few relaxing days on the coast in Devon. We stayed in a lovely dog-friendly hotel, where we did not do much more than sleep in, gaze at the coast, and eat well (hake and steak). It’s funny how a day can fly by and the most you’ve accomplished is a little light reading, watching fishermen and checking in on the resident seal. We did try to coax Dash into the sea, but she was pretty scared of the big waves. One dog was downright unfailing in the...

Paris – French Open

We were lucky enough to get tickets to the French Open in Paris (known strictly as Roland Garros in France). We really enjoyed being at the tournament. The match was fun, and it was a very easy day logistically, always a welcome treat when traveling. We had Center Court seats for the Nadal vs. Thiem. How great to see the “King of Clay” doing what he does best. Watching Nadal live really gave us insight into his many “routines” – toweling off his face between each point, changing his shirt and meticulously refolding his Nike bandana between sets. His...

Mount Etna

From Taormina we did a day-trip to Mount Etna and Gambino Winery. Our driver, Danilo, was a funny young man. We nicknamed him Dani Cannoli. First, he took us to a small village on Mount Etna called Zafferano, which had to be rebuilt after one of the many devastating earthquakes in the region. Turns out Dani Cannoli’s grandfather was from this village and had to evacuate for a few years while the town was rebuilt. We said “bongiorno nonno” as we passed his former apartment and continued our drive on up the big volcano. Mount Etna is 3,300 meters and...

Taormina

From our restful break on “the island” we travelled to Taormina for the last stop on our Sicily tour. After climbing higher and higher up the cliffs, we finally reached Villa Ducale, where we were quickly won over by the views. (For a place with so many earthquakes they sure like to build into the cliffs). Walking from our hotel to town, we passed a small church called Madonna della Rocca, so called because it was built right into the rock and makes like a cave when you are inside it. We also past lovely views of the town,...

Aeolian Islands

From Terre di Himera we travelled east to Aeolian Islands. From the port area in Milazzo we travelled by hydrofoil to the island of Vulcano, where we were greeted by tufts of billowing, volcanic smoke. The next two days we nested at our island retreat practicing the art of relaxation. For the next 48 hours, whether from the room, pool or patio, we set our gaze out on the view: the deep blue water, the craggy island of Lipari across from us and volcano island of Stromboli off in the distance. Being that it was early on in the tourist...

Cefalu

For two nights we stayed at a working farm called Terre di Himera, owned by the lovely Maria and Fabrizio. Mostly they make there own olive oil, but they also grow fruit trees and crops and raise chickens. The highlight of staying at any agriculturismo is the food. At dinner especially, the food just kept coming and coming, all simply prepared with local ingredients. Like Maria said, “The less you manipulate the food the better it tastes if you start with good ingredients.” The artichoke carpaccio was one of Brent’s favorites. It goes without saying he also liked capping...

Siracusa

From Noto we headed to Siracusa. The first stop was a quick visit to the ancient Greek and Roman Theaters, where we marveled as always at the achievements of these two civilizations. We also visited the Orecchio di Dionisio (the ear of Dionysius), an ear shaped cave from which Dionysius (whoever he is) used to eavesdrop on his prisoners. The most amusing part for us was heading inside this enormously cavernous space with loads of animated Italian children on school field trip. What noise! From the ruins we moved on to the historical center of Syracuse, the charming island of...

Noto

The first stop on our Sicilian tour was Noto, a baroque town in southern Sicily that was rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1693. The town was quite lavish, built on a hill with very beautiful and uniform architecture. It was a nice place to ease into the trip. It is claimed that the best gelato in the world comes from Noto. Who knows but we did enjoy an excuse to make repeat visits to gelateria Cafe Sicilia. We also visited some of the more than forty churches in town. Seeing as there were never more than few thousand...

Chamonix

We just returned from a ski weekend in Chamonix, France with Brent’s coworkers Courtney, Colin and Dara. After a late arrival and hour-long car ride from Geneva Airport, we were thrilled to stumble upon a cozy, Alpine restaurant on Chamonix’s oldest rue. We were all so happy to at last be settled in the village and tucking into a delicious meal that we weren’t even fussed by the irritable French servers. Some things surprised us about skiing here. For one, it is a lot less expensive than skiing in the states. Here we are at one of the top five...

Bad Aibling

It was a beautiful day in Bavaria on Thursday. Brent and his coworker Hendrik were even able to eat lunch outside, enjoying massive Bavarian portions in the early spring sunshine. Katie spent a couple hours strolling the strasses of Munich. After some difficulty coordinating, Brent eventually found her, sipping a rossini on the plush, red couches of the Mandarin Oriental. It was finally the weekend and Brent was ready for a cocktail too. Later we walked to dinner at Restaurant Pfistermuhle where we were well looked after by a thickly accented waiter at our corner table nook for two....

Halong Bay

We brought in the New Year in beautiful Halong Bay. We were very fortunate. Often it is so smoggy (from Chinese pollution the Vietnamese say) that the views are not so great. But we had blue skies so were pleased. We went for a one-night cruise from Hanoi. The drive up was most frightening – what rules of the road there may be, they are not abided by. And on the way back we had the world’s slowest driver, who displayed road caution the likes of which not commonly seen around here. However, the cruise itself was great. From the...

Hanoi

What can we say about Hanoi except, what an assault on the senses! We spent one night by the Opera House in the French Quarter, where you can find some calm and wide boulevards. However, from our hotel in the Old Quarter, we were awed by what felt to us like chaos on the street. And we thought London was congested. What we found most remarkable is that everything takes place on the street (not in the homes which are generally tiny and overcrowded too). So you’re likely to see people cooking, playing checkers, making motorbike repairs, slurping soup,...

Hoi An

From Da Nang we moved on to the town of Hoi An, known for its tailors, lanterns and old world charm. Hoi An used to be a renowned trading port, and the influence of many countries can still be seen. You’ve got the Japanese Covered Bridge, the Chinese Assembly Halls and the Chinese merchant homes that have survived over two centuries. This was one of our favorite stops on the trip. We continued to just love Vietnamese cuisine, and one of our favorite restaurants of the trip was here in Hoi An. It was called Morning Glory, after the flower,...

Da Nang

After the craziness of HCMC, we hunkered down for four days of indulgence and relaxation at the beautiful Intercontinental Da Nang. The hotel is on a secluded and unspoiled bay of the Sun Peninsula. We felt truly pampered from the moment we arrived at this sprawling property. We took so many pictures! Was it feng shui? Something about the aesthetic of the hotel was so pleasing – brilliant use of color, open spaces, views and water features. The hotel describes itself as feeling “whimsical” and it truly did. There were dining tables that floated over water and on call buggy...

Mekong Delta

Continuing our exploration of southern Vietnam with Mr. Vu, today we did a day trip to the Mekong Delta. Mostly the day consisted of floating along the waterways of the mighty Mekong in a sampan (traditional, flat-bottom wooden boat). The Vietnamese call the Mekong the Nine Dragons River Delta because the estuaries look like nine dragons from above. The river looks brown and dirty because of the current but is rich in biodiversity. Life on the Mekong revolves around the river and the area is steeped in tradition. Fishing boats are brightly painted with dragon eyes for good luck...

Cu Chi Tunnels

Today we took a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels with our friendly guide Mr. Vu to learn more about the American War (what they call the Vietnam War). First thing upon arrival was to watch a Vietnamese propaganda film from the war era in which the Viet Cong are extolled as “American killer heroes” (a good number of them being young women). Afterward, Mr. Vu showed us a model of the network of tunnels and underground bunkers, which were used to covertly move supplies and as meeting places, hospitals and kitchens. Tunnel entrances were just big enough for...

Ho Chi Minh City

“One time, back in Nam…” That’s our preferred opener to any story about our visit to Vietnam. Have to say this trip was like no other we’ve been on. A lot of the time it felt like an assault on the senses but there were moments of serene calm too. Being in a developing country was so humbling. The people were gracious and kind, so pleased to have the tourism. Despite our recent history, they don’t hold a grudge against Americans (more about that on the Chu Chi Tunnels post). The food was every bit as delicious as we’d hoped,...

The Cotswolds

“It’s my early birthday…it’s my early bi-rth-day!” It was Katie’s early birthday, so we celebrated with a very relaxing weekend back in the Cotswolds. Not much to report from this visit except lots of down-time, walks in the country, excellent pub dinners and quality time with our poochy at one of our favorite holiday cottages. We stayed in Rosebank Cottage in Ebrington, where we stayed once before. Dash just loved being outside in the walled garden, free to sniff and explore at will until the sun went down. We loved the close proximity (one minute walk) to the Ebrington...

Stockholm

Just back from a quick (and costly!) weekend in Stockholm. Two nights was just the right amount of time to get a feel for the city and because it is so pricey we were pleased to keep it short and sweet. Even though we’re used to things being expensive in London, still the prices made our eyes water. The theme song of our trip was Foxxy Cleopatra’s “Hey, Goldmember.” That’s because Brent is rocking the United Airlines Goldmember status and we enjoyed all the perks of his distinction…airport lounge, priority boarding, etc. Our gold status continued as Starwood preferred...

North Norfolk

It’s August bank holiday time again, which means one thing in Notting Hill: Carnival (see post from August 31, 2010.) As our quiet neighborhood braces itself for one of the largest street festivals in the world, the locals can be found packing their bags and getting the hell out of dodge. We loaded up the boot of our favorite Zipcar and did the same. This time we went to north Norfolk (pronounced “Nor-fuk”). We continue to love our weekend escapes to the English countryside. Especially now that we have a dog, who so obviously enjoys our outdoor adventures.  The first...

Dubrovnik

More doberdans (hellos)! This time from Croatia. With over 1,000 islands there’s no doubt Croatia has countless beautiful spots, but Dubrovnik, on the southern end of the mainland, remains “the pearl of the Adriatic.” We were very taken by the charm of the Old Town: the Venetian architecture, the red tiled roofs and the traffic-free cobbled lanes that rise up steeply to the imposing wall that has surrounded and protected Dubrovnik for over 1,000 years. The cobbled streets are immaculate – cleaned every morning to a shine, and as tourists from London we really appreciated this detail. And while there...

Ljubljana

Ljubljana…you had me at dober dan (that’s “hello” the one word in Slovenian that we learned and got lots of mileage out of it). This tiny former Yugoslavian country packs a wallop. Some people were surprised that we opted to spend our Easter holiday weekend here, but it’s a little known gem. Okay our pictures won’t do it justice because Europe is currently enduring a never-ending winter, but it was really beautiful with fun loving and generous people. It feels like Austria in terms of landscape and architecture, but the people and food might make you think you’re in...

The Cotswolds

We just returned from another weekend in our favorite part of England, the Cotswolds. This time we rented a cottage in the tiny village of Ebrington. The cottage had a walled  garden that Dash loved, a wood-burning fireplace that Brent loved, and bags of chocolate-box, country character that Katie loved. In the heart of the village, less than a minute’s walk away, was the Ebrington Arms, a traditional 17th century pub with a snug atmosphere and award winning ales. This setup ticked all the boxes. We were thrilled that Katie’s brother Matt was able to join us from Oxford for...

Happisburgh

We were recently invited to join our favorite twenty Kiwis for a weekend in Norfolk. We stayed in a manor house in the small village of Happisburgh (which the English pronounce “Habsbro”).  The Happisburgh Manor is a seaside villa with the largest thatched roof in East Anglia and possibly in the UK. Set on ten acres, it is a modest home of eight bedrooms with basic amenities including a gym, sauna, heated pool, massage room, game room, study and most curiously….a disco. The property is for sale if anyone is interested. It was a great weekend, especially because Matt...

Salzburg

“The hills are aliiiiive with the sound of music…” That was the theme of our weekend jaunt to Salzburg. Our quick visit involved an extensive Sound of Music (SOM) tour, in which we got all sorts of interesting tidbits about the film and the real life von Trapp family. ”Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…” Some of the sights we saw were: the nunnery where Maria came from, the festival hall where the von Trapps sang before fleeing Austria, the two houses used to film the von Trapp family home (one for the front...

Colmar

Colmar is said to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. We’re in the Alsace region of France near the German border, and the villages here are as German as they are French (natives are bilingual). The historic beauty of Colmar was such that even during WWII, American and British military tried to avoid bombing it. Today most of the buildings date from the 1200s-1500s, and the town center is mainly pedestrian only. The area is perfect for exploring the Alsatian Route du Vin (Wine Road) and for simply relaxing and enjoying the beautiful half-timbered village ambiance. Speaking...

Cornwall

Every year during the August bank holiday thousands flock to our tidy little neighborhood for Europe’s largest street festival – the Notting Hill Carnival. Although it is largely peaceful, most locals leave town for the two-day party madness. We’ve learned to do the same. This year we wanted to go some place where we could bring our puppy and we still had never been to Cornwall, one of Britain’s most well-loved holiday destinations, so that became our planned escape. We stayed a week in an apartment overlooking the harbor in St. Ives, a fairly large fishing village with numerous beaches...

Santorini

For our 5-year anniversary we splurged on a relaxing holiday to Santorini, easy enough to get to in three hours from London on Easyjet. At the Santorini airport we had to wait for all the passengers to deplane so we could all then board a bus, which drove us all of 50 yards to the back door of the airport. Oh well. Times are tough in Greece so at least that gig keeps the bus driver employed. This trip was unique for us because instead of running ourselves ragged with sightseeing, we passed the majority of our time lounging by...

Munich

A weekend in Munich is a formula for happiness: Combine warm weather with beer gardens, add a dash of lederhausen and garnish with oversized pretzels. What’s not to love? Speaking of oversized pretzels, Germans nude sunbathing in the English Gardens?…nuff said. While the purpose of our visit was first and foremost for Brent to attend to some business, we managed to squeeze in a whole lot of leisure and laughs. Previous to any beer garden stops, Brent and co hosted a conference back at the hotel and Katie took a day trip to Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp and...

Berlin

Just returned from a sun (and allergen) filled weekend in Berlin, the capital of cool in Germany. We were thrilled with our hotel in the Prenzlauer Berg district – a leafy, family friendly neighborhood with tons of restaurants, cafes and bars. Also, this trip marks our third anniversary of being in a foreign country during the Champion’s League Final, so that’s been a fun little football streak for us. With only two days, we felt we tackled Berlin pretty well (though must admit we didn’t spend any time in West Berlin). Saturday was a long day of touring the major...

Roma

Last weekend we had the pleasure of a last minute Roman holiday with our cousins, Mitchell and Neil and their wives Natalie and Laura. It was great fun to have la famiglia together in Italy! It was a busy weekend in Rome. Saturday was St. Patrick’s Day – not as widely celebrated in Rome as in other countries, but still there were plenty of celebrants jamming the piazzas that evening. Campo de Fiori was particularly crowded as we made our way back from dinner in the Trastevere. Sunday was the Rome Marathon, and we enjoyed watching the race as we...

Edinburgh & Hadrian’s Wall

Brent had a business trip to Edinburgh so we took the opportunity to make a weekend out of it and to visit the northern edge of the Roman Empire – Hadrian’s Wall. In Edinburgh, Katie toured The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. Not only did Katie get to see where the Queen carries out her official duties (like making a knight of Sir Sean Connery) but also the bedchamber of Mary Queen of Scots, who lived in the palace during some of Scotland’s most dramatic history. However, the highlight of our night in Edinburgh was hanging...

Prague

We just returned from a bitterly cold but enjoyable weekend in Prague, or Praha as the Czechs call it (and sadly, that’s about the only Czech word we picked up while we were there). We had booked a two-day “historical” walking tour, and it was a good thing we did because it forced us to get out and about and see the sights despite the frigid temperatures. Our tour guide, Ivana, took us all around the Castle Quarter, Little Quarter, Old Town and New Town – the four major areas of current-day Prague, which in the past used to be...

Waiheke Island

From Rotorua, we headed further north toward Auckland. Bypassing the capital entirely, we hopped over to Waiheke Island,  a mere 30 minutes away by ferry. On Waiheke, we stayed with Steve’s parents at their island retreat. Waiheke is a gem. It’s wineries, beaches and olive groves draw everyone from millionaires to artsy types and despite it’s popularity, you still get that blood-pressure lowering, leave-all-your-cares-away island vibe. On Waiheke we enjoyed lots of tasty, home-cooked dinners and delicious local wines that Steve’s dad was pouring generously. The home-cooked meals were much appreciated by us, unfortunately our decision to bring home some...

Rotorua

After our Kaikoura Christmas, we concluded our stint in the South Island and headed back via ferry to New Zealand’s North Island. There we were met by our Kiwi friends Steve and Renee, who have been gracious enough be our hosts and tour guides for the remainder of our trip (not to mention they gifted us a new little companion for the trip, an All Blacks kiwi bird hereinafter known as KB). Our first stop was an evening at Renee’s family home in Raumati, where we enjoyed that famous Kiwi hospitality and a delicious lamb dinner. We also had the...

Kaikoura

From the wine country we set off for Kaikoura, a beach town on the east side of the South Island where we planned to go whale watching and celebrate our Kiwi Christmas. It was a scenic drive to Kaikoura and reminded us a lot of California (coincidentally, both have coastal roads called Highway 1). About 20 kilometers outside of town we pulled over for lunch at Nin’s Bin, an iconic beachside caravan known to be one of the best spots to eat for it’s fresh crayfish (aka lobster) and stunning views. We picked our crayfish victims and enjoyed a...

Marlborough

From New Zealand’s north island we made our way by ferry to the South Island. On the docket for the South Island: two days in Marlborough, New Zealand’s wine country, followed by two days at the beach. There were lovely views to be had on the ferry crossing, but – jetlag having it’s way with us – we slept through most of the three-hour journey. Our ferry had been delayed and we were afraid that the car rental agency where we had a car booked was going to be closed by the time we arrived. Indeed it was, and we...

Wellington

We were greeted by New Zealand with a beautiful afternoon in Wellington. “Windy Welly” it is known as, and rightly so. An interesting note about arriving into Wellington – we were floored when we exited the plane and people were waiting at the gate to greet their loved ones. Apparently this is allowed on domestic flights (we had connected from Auckland), but still – haven’t seen that for years. And with that, we knew we were in for a real nice stay here in New Zealand, where they’re just not too uptight. That afternoon we walked around Wellington for a...

Hong Kong

On the way to New Zealand we had a two-day stop over in Hong Kong. It was the first time to Asia for both of us, and we were excited to take the city by storm. Here are some of the highlights: -Taking the Peak Tram to Victoria Peak, the tallest hill on Hong Kong Island. Back in Victorian times, the peak was the best place to escape from the heat and became an exclusive getaway for the wealthy. The tram was constructed in the 1800s, and cut journey time up the hill to 8 minutes (previously 3 hours by...

Conwy

This is our favorite time of year to explore the UK.  There’s nothing like wearing yourself out sightseeing on a crisp, fall day, only to cap it off by a stop in at a welcoming village pub. Comfortably situated with pint in hand (half-pint in Katie’s case) we enjoy observing the locals and if lucky enough, maybe even toasting ourselves by a big-ole log fire. The autumn colors of the countryside make us particularly appreciative of the opportunity to commune with nature this time of year. With this in mind, we set off for a weekend visit to the...

The Cotswolds

Last weekend we headed back to one of our favorite corners of England, the Cotswolds. This time we stayed in Stow-on-the-Wold, with visits to many nearby villages – our favorites being: Burford, Bourton-on-the-Hill, Stanton, Snowshill, Bibury and the pocket-sized hamlets of the Coln Valley. Saturday we hiked around the villages of Kingham and Bledington. The public footpaths are great because they take you through private property, usually across pastures of grazing cattle or sheep and occasionally even through someone’s backyard. It was fun to see so many farm animals up close, although the sheep seemed to be a particularly curious...

Beaune

We’ve just enjoyed a long weekend soaking up lots of wine and beautiful scenery in France’s Burgundy area. We stayed with a winemaker in the pretty village of Beaune, in the heart of this famous wine region. It downpoured on our arrival, but by Saturday morning the sun was shining brilliantly, and we (and the grapes) were very happy. We enjoyed learning so much about Burgundy wines and visiting as many villages of the Cote d’Or as we could manage. We were surprised that the villages have remained so small and quiet, despite the fact that they produce some of...

Devon & Dorset

While we’re enjoying life in the big city, we felt it was high time for a relaxing weekend in the country. After a three-hour train ride on Friday evening, we were happily situated in southwestern England, in a county called Devon and just over the border from nearby Dorset. This area is known to be of “outstanding beauty” and has England’s only natural UNESCO World Heritage site, the Jurassic Coast. As the name implies, there are some really old rocks and fossils to be found here, which is rather fitting as there are also a substantial number of really old...

Speyside

Since we’re starting to appreciate the fine world of whiskies, we decided to take a weekend up to the Malt Whisky Trail in Speyside Scotland. We chose Speyside because we like the style of whiskies from this area, and also because this region of the Highlands is where half of all Scottish distilleries are located.  The region is known not only for its distilleries, but also for salmon fishing, hiking, and castles. The area was absolutely beautiful – rolling, vibrantly green hills dotted with sheep and highland cattle, and at this time of year the days are long – ...

Lake Como

After our travels to Budapest and Vienna, we can’t imagine a better way to finish off our vacation than by the beautiful Italian Lake Como.  There’s not much activity in these little Italian towns. It was all about slowing down…serious unwinding, stunning views and Italian food. We made Bellagio our home base but also made a jaunt over the water to the nearby town of Varenna. We liked Bellagio – plenty of sunny terraces for alfresco dining and aperitivos. About the only thing we did was take a water taxi tour of the lake. This was a great way to...

Vienna

From Budapest we made our way by train to Vienna. In Vienna we did lots of walking around “the ring” taking in all the grand palaces and museums, and the many parks and coffeehouses.  We love the Viennese cafe culture, and rose to the challenge of trying as many cafes as we could in three days (admittedly, we even made it to Starbucks on more than one occasion). Our favorite was the dark and smoky Cafe Hawelka, where we ordered brauners (strong coffees) and watched how one waiter flew about effortlessley to serve everyone. We got a lot of culture...

Budapest

Instead of sticking around London for the royal wedding we decided to take advantage of back-to-back four-day weekends and headed off for more European travels. First stop was Budapest (pronounced Budapesht we learned). It was the first time either of us had been to Eastern Europe (apparently a descriptor that is on the outs so pardon us). We had heard good things about Budapest and rightly so. It is a very pretty city (except for a handful of communist era buildings here and there), with lots to do and delicious food. They still use their own currency, the Hungarian...

Paris

The best part of living in London is our proximity to mainland Europe. Just two hours on the Chunnel and we’re high-browing it in the City of Light. This time it was a very short trip – only two days – but any visit to gay Paree is a treat. While Brent was busy saving lives, Katie visited a few sites and areas of town that were new to us. First stop was the Marmottan Museum to admire a little Impressionism (specifically Monets) in a beautiful old home on a quiet residential street. Then it was off for some people...

San Juan (Puerto Rico)

It was a long haul from London to Puerto Rico (12 hours flying time) made longer by the fact that we missed our connection and had to spend the night in Philadelphia. Air Force One was landing at the airport at the same time we (and many others) were supposed to, disrupting hundreds of people’s travel plans. We think Obama may have lost a few votes with that move. Needless to say, we were glad when we finally made it to the sea and sun. We were in Puerto Rico with Brent’s coworkers as part of his company’s sales reward...

Amsterdam

Canals, bikes and a laid back culture. What’s not to love about Amsterdam? We had an opportunity to revisit the city last weekend and enjoyed every minute of it. We stayed in our favorite area, the Jordaan, which is the perfect combo of neighborhoody and trendy with lots of great bars, cafes and boutiques. While Brent spent some time working, Katie took a day trip to Delft, a small Dutch town about an hour outside Amsterdam by train. Netherlands has to have one of the most efficient train systems in Europe so it’s very handy to get out and see...

Schladming

We just returned from a fabulous ski weekend in Schladming, a village in the Austrian Alps about an hour away from Salzburg. Schladming is perfectly situated at the base of four mountains with lifts to any of the mountains easily accessible from town. Brent skied the mountain called Planai. The village itself is small and quiet, but still has it’s own brewery (brewing up a fine lager known as Schladminger). While Brent was shredding the gnar, Katie hung out at Uncle Willy’s Hut, a cozy restaurant on the mountain. Austrian cuisine agreed with us and we enjoyed many a fine...

Rye

Just returned from one of our best weekends away yet! We were in Rye, and we were really fond of the village itself, plus we spent a sunny (but cold) day at the coast and ate like kings. But the icing on the cake was a fabulous celebrity encounter…one that could only be matched by meeting a royal (some would argue it beats meeting a royal). Any guesses? We’ll get to that. But first… When you’re in Rye you feel like you’ve stepped back in time…the narrow cobblestone lanes and the crooked, half-timbered homes…it was such a breath of fresh...

York

Last weekend we made our way up north to the medieval city of York. The city is probably best known for two things: it’s large, gothic cathedral called York Minster and a very well preserved 3-mile medieval wall that surrounds the town. The wall was first built by the Romans around 50 A.D. and was later added to by the Normans in 1066. We packed a lot into the weekend including an enjoyable walking tour given by a local volunteer and an evening at York Minster’s evensong (although by minute 45 it was getting a little long, not to mention...

Tomato Tomahto

Here’s a little entry we’d like to call “tomato tomahto.” I say tomato, you say tomahto I say dessert, you say puddings I say fries, you say chips I say chips, you say crisps I say niche, you say neesh I eat zucchini, you eat courgettes I keep a schedule, you keep a shedule I wear a sweater, you don a jumper I check my calendar, you check your diary I eat veges, you eat veg I say cilantro, you call it coriander I say custom, you say bespoke I say right away, you say straight away I follow sports, you follow sport I say things, you say bits and pieces Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto,...

Mom’s Visit

We were so happy when Katie’s mom decided to come out for a last minute visit. Unfortunately, Brent was in the States for work for most of Mary’s visit, but it was a wonderful and busy week full of mother-daughter QT. We went to a number of shows – “The Lion King” and “Jersey Boys” in the West End and “Cirque Du Soleil” at the beautiful Royal Albert Hall. We wondered if the British cast of Jersey Boys would be able to properly capture the Jersey accent and sure enough they did. We really enjoyed the shows and thought we...

The Cotswolds

We’ve been living in England for six months now and have been on a number of excursions outside of London. Although we’ve enjoyed all our getaways, we’ve been absolutely charmed by our latest…a visit to the Cotswolds, about an hour train ride west of London. People go to the Cotswolds to see the English countryside at it’s best….green pastures dotted with grazing sheep, cozy thatch-roofed homes and quaint villages that haven’t changed much in 300 years. Some villages in the Cotswolds can be very busy with tourists, but in the dead of winter, we enjoyed having the whole place to...

Oxford

Having done a day trip to Cambridge a couple months back, we were anxious to get to Oxford to see how it compared. Not surprising, there were a lot of similarities between the two. Besides the fact that both towns have distinguished universities founded about the same time, both have plenty of historic pubs and the opportunity for punting on the river. The universities themselves were also very similar – both comprised of individual colleges sprinkled throughout the town. We enjoyed a very informative (and cold) walking tour. Later we were quite pleased with a couple of stops at some...

Dublin

We had been interested in going to Dublin for a while and figuring we needed some new material for the blog, we decided to make a quick weekend visit. Unfortunately, our departure was delayed from Friday to Saturday on account of a shameful scam by Ryanair, but don’t get us started on that. Let’s just say we have sworn off that airline for good. Once in Dublin (or “Dooblin” as we like to call it in our best Irish brogue), we had a magnificent time. Dubliners are so friendly and chatty and this is quite different from Londoners who (to...

Whitstable & Canterbury

A relaxing weekend. A small seaside village. World famous oysters. Fresh sea air. And all this only one hour away from London? Sounded like a no brainer, so off we went for an overnight to a fishing harbor town called Whitstable. The town is said to be one of the few remaining traditional English towns, virtually free of chain restaurants (“virtually” because there are a couple in fact). But nevertheless, it has retained its charm and historic character and was a nice change from the bustling city. Many of the main streets of Whitstable are linked by cleverly named narrow...

Barcelona

This week Brent had a conference in Barcelona so we flew in early for a long weekend. The last time we were there it was rain, rain, rain, but lucky for us this time it was your ideal, warm, Spanish climate. Saturday and Sunday came and went fast…visiting our favorite tapas bars and strolling the streets. We sat for several hours at one of our favorite tapas spots at a table outside in a square called Placa de Santa Maria, gazing at a gothic church and drinking rose wine (and white wine, and red wine). Actually, we sat so...

Paris

Last weekend we took the Chunnel to Paris to meet up with some friends from San Francisco, Alli and Jake. It was a quick trip but it was great to be back in mainland Europe and in one of our favorite cities. We stayed in the Rue Cler neighborhood this time, near the Eiffel Tower. Rue Cler is quintessential French – a cobble-stoned street spilling over with specialty shops. You’ve got your butcher, your patisseries, your florists, your wine store, your fromageries, and so on. Hard to not be smitten. We were particularly happy to find that the city...

Bath

Just back from a weekend in Bath, a 90 minute train ride west of London. Bath is meant to be one of the nicest places in England and the entire town is considered a World Heritage site. Our B&B owners told us it is a year round tourist destination, second only to Venice for having more tourists than residents. We especially enjoyed a canal walk from Bath through the countryside to the nearby town of Bathampton, where we were told “in less than an hour” we would come upon a great pub. From minutes 30 to 80 of our...

Cambridge

Monday was a bank holiday here so we ventured off to Cambridge for our first official day trip from London. We went with London Walks so had a guided tour of the area. First stop was the Cambridge American Cemetery. Next we got to the town of Cambridge itself, which was just the right size for our full day visit. We didn’t know much about Cambridge University or British universities in general. We learned that Cambridge is actually made up of over 30 separate colleges, and we visited some of the most well known. Shocking to us was that tuition...

Edinburgh

Last weekend we were in Edinburgh during the Fringe festival (www.edfringe.com). Fringe is the largest art festival in the world and runs for three weeks in August. This made for a great, lively atmosphere in the historic capital – plenty of bustle, entertainment and beer gardens. The Royal Mile was packed with all sorts of people – both tourists and performers – especially lots of out-there, artsy folks. It’s a great opportunity to see all sorts of performances – comedians, bands, dance, theatre, etc. We caught one stand-up show of Scottish comedians, but between the heavy Scottish accent and...

Sercer’s Visit

It’s been a very busy weekend with our good friends the Sercers (aka the Griswalds) visiting us from North Carolina. It was Paul and Kelly’s first trip to London so we had a lot of touristy things to see…Big Ben & Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Tower of London and Borough Market, not to mention loads of walking with a few pub stops sprinkled in to wet our whistles. It was a banner weekend filled with lots of laughing (especially after we settled into a few steins at the legendary Tiroler Hut). This weekend was also the annual Notting Hill...

Fall Activities

This month kicked off with our first English Premier League soccer game at Craven Cottage, a friendly between Fulham and Bremen.  We are still deciding which English soccer team we want to adopt, but Fulham is looking like a strong contender. We like supporting the underdogs (Fulham has been around since the 1800s and their best league finish was 7th place in 2008 – take that Cubs fans!)  We also like watching Clint Dempsey, an American who has played on the team for several years now. Plus the stadium is real old-timey, not to mention easy to get to...

Getting Settled

After being in London for a few weeks, we had to make a trip back to the States (to Boston) to get our visas. It was the first time we had set foot on US land for a number of months. It felt good. Coincidentally, it was the 4th of July holiday weekend so there was definitely a feeling of patriotism about us. We partook in some great all American leisure including a b-ball game at Fenway and grilling out with friends on the 4th. Now we are settling into life in London. We were lucky to snag a great...

Brother Matt’s Visit

Can’t believe we live in London! The first week was a bit of an adjustment. Coming off our vacation, Brent had a lot on his plate his first week back at work. We’re also busy taking care of living details, visas and housing. Right now we are in corporate housing in the Bayswater/Notting Hill area of town. The best part about our first week here was already having our first visitor – brother Matt! It was nice for Katie to have her brother’s visit to look forward to. We spent a lot of time knocking around different neighborhoods: Notting Hill,...

Iguazu Falls

From Buenos Aires, we booked a last minute side-trip to Iguazu Falls. Being here in the low season worked out well for us because first of all we were able to pull this off last minute, and secondly we were the only ones on our tour and who doesn’t prefer having a private tour?? Also, being that it is winter here, we didn’t have to be too bugged by mosquitoes and the temperature was a pleasant 70 degrees (vs. over 100 with 100% humidity in the summer). The falls are between the Argentine and Brazilian borders. Since we didn’t have...

Buenos Aires

Over the last few days we have explored a few other neighborhoods of Buenos Aires.  On Sunday, we went to the oldest barrio in BA, San Telmo, which is a funky neighborhood that is known for its arts, antiques and tango. Every Sunday they close down the main street and all types of vendors and street performers are out. We were glad to catch San Telmo on a Sunday, at its liveliest with impromptu tango dancing and free dulce de leche tastings. We also went to La Boca neighborhood. This is a really unique neighborhood lined with colorful buildings and...

Buenos Aires

We have been in Buenos Aires for four days and are loving this city. Our original plan was to go to Vietnam for the last leg of our trip, and we were close to buying our plane tickets when we remembered that we needed visas. Since we were up in the hills of Umbria we couldn’t get the paperwork together. For several days, we went back and forth on where to go instead and finally settled upon Buenos Aires.  We bought our tickets and since we were leaving the following day we didn’t leave ourselves much time to plan,...

Rome

Just like Rome, this blog post wasn’t built in a day.  Since leaving Rome we have been busy.  We spent a few days in London so Brent could attend a work event and then we headed off to Buenos Aires for our first taste of South America! More on that later. Back to Rome….the two of us both agree that Rome is one of the best cities in the world.  The ruins, the history, the people, the energy, the food, the list goes on and on.  We love it all.  Since we have both been before and have seen many...

Umbria

Umbria has been good to us. We got a couple clear, sunny days at the agriturismo, perfect for lounging by the pool and reading. We had a tradition of starting happy hour off with a poolside bottle of monastic beer.  Having a drink in that peaceful setting will surely be among our favorite memories of the trip. Normally, we had the place to ourselves, but one afternoon an older, Italian couple that we had grown fond of came out there. Shortly after Brent got us a couple monastic beers from the restaurant, we noticed the man got up and left. Two minutes...

Umbria

For two days we have been staying at an agriturismo in Umbria, Italy. An agriturismo is a working farm that also has rooms for guests. Ours is a B&B that also has a restaurant. It is located about 10 miles outside of Assisi, perched on a peaceful hill with beautiful views of the Italian countryside. It has been a great place to slow down and enjoy the country, but getting situated here was a challenge. We took a train from Rome 30 minutes past our destination to Perugia because there were no rental cars in Assisi. We were bummed when...

Lisbon

Cable cars, steep hills, hidden staircases, and a Golden Gate Bridge….no, we’re not in San Francisco, we’re in Lisbon! We finally made it here after being stalled for two days due to volcanic ash, but we’re glad we stuck with the plan to visit Portugal…we’re loving it. Except for pickpocketers, Lisbon is a very safe city with little crime.  We’ve spent most of our time walking around the different neighborhoods. There are lots of big plazas, government buildings, and hotels in the lower part of the city. Surrounding this area, there are several big hills, which can be reached by...

Madrid

We finally found ourselves affected by the volcanic ash. Our plan was to train it from Sevilla to Madrid then fly from Madrid to Lisbon that same day. This would be our first experience flying EasyJet, the super discounted European airline. At the Madrid airport, we were told that all flights to Lisbon (and many other cities) were cancelled due to “volcanic disruption.”  We had no idea the ash was still affecting flights. Obviously we were disappointed. They couldn’t tell us when we would be able to get to Portugal, but they recommended we try again tomorrow on an evening...

Sevilla

Sevilla. We were hoping that the 8.5-hour train ride from Valencia would be worth it. It was. This is such a well-preserved, elegant, Spanish city. This was Katie’s favorite stop in Spain so far (even though she was sick for most of our stay). She knew she loved it when, having been there only fifteen minutes, we stumbled upon a group of men performing a traditional serenade to some ladies up in a balcony. From our double-decker bus tour, we spotted a classy hotel, which looked good enough to admire from the inside. We had previously noticed a lot of...

Valencia

We just wrapped up a two-day visit to Valencia. Coming from the bustle of Barcelona, it was a nice change of pace to be in a smaller city. We really liked the old center as well as a newer neighborhood where we had ourselves a little tapas crawl the first night. While we were never mistaken for being French, Belgian or Dutch, so far many people have taken Brent for a Spaniard. We think it’s because of the beard. We’re curious if people will still think he is Spanish when the beard goes to just mustache (aka, crumb catcher) in...

Barcelona

Time is really flying. We’re already leaving Barcelona for our next stop, Valencia. The Spanish way of life is easy to love…lazy mornings, afternoon tapas, siestas, more tapas, and 11:00 dinners. We think we’ve done a fairly good job of embracing it. Everyone who goes to Barcelona walks up and down the Ramblas, which is the main boulevard. We did this a few times (day and night), and while we enjoyed the people watching, it is apparent that this has become much more touristy over the years. We read, and it appears to be true, that a lot of fast...

Dordogne

Our final stop in France was the Dordogne region. We stayed in a village called Sarlat, which is one of many small villages in the area. Sarlat is the only village in France still lit by gas lamps at night, which was cool. Not only did we love the town, but we also loved our B&B. It was run by a British couple, who knew that guests would appreciate large rooms and bathrooms, English books, and complimentary drinks.  We sure did. We rented a car to visit the surrounding villages. Coming from Marseille, it was a welcome change that we...

Pont du Gard

Today we went to Pont du Gard and Chateauneuf du Pape.  Pont du Gard is a well preserved Roman aqueduct and one of the best surviving Roman ruins anywhere. We figured we’d need only an hour there, but we ended up spending a few hours because it was so impressive, not to mention it is located in a beautiful setting. We were both blown away that something like this could have been built 2,000 years ago. Sorry to get educational, but we were really impressed by what an engineering feat this must have been at the time, and we wanted...

Arles

Now this is living. We are in Arles – loving the town, food and hotel. We’ve given ourselves two days here. There is a lot more to this town than some of the others we’ve been to. Besides being a charming village, there are Roman ruins and incredible weekly markets. It was also the home of Van Gogh while he did some of his most well known pieces. The day we arrived, we went straight to the market. It was by far the most impressive market we’ve been to yet. Walking through the market, you really get the sense that...

Cassis

Yesterday we drove to Cassis, a charming little port village.  It took us 40 minutes to get there and only 45 minutes to park. We were there on a weekday during shoulder season, and it was packed.  We can’t imagine what it’s like during the summer.  Getting parked was a bit frustrating, but once we were there it was worth it. In Cassis is a row of restaurants and cafes along the Mediterranean port. Everyone sits back and enjoys watching the fisherman bring in the fresh catch of the day. Our plan was to have a late lunch (around 2:30)...

Aix-en-Provence

Today we are in Aix-en-Provence.  This is considered the cultural heart of Provence.  This is pretty much a town for walking around and window-shopping – easy to see in a day. We had a great French lunch of tartines with the local rosé. After lunch we were walking around the city and fortunately stumbled upon a café with wireless (a lot less common than we expected).  We spotted a great, authentic looking pizza stand with a line around the corner, so we’re planning to grab one for dinner tonight back at our place in Marseille. Our original plan was to...

Marseille

We’ve been in Provence a couple days now. We are staying in Marseille, the second largest city in France (after Paris). We were really looking forward to being here, but we’ve had a rough start so far. Our apartment isn’t exactly what we envisioned. It’s amazing what can be done with online pictures. Its quite “rustic” and we have friends (bugs). To make matters worse, there is no wifi, as advertised, which has put a damper on our blogging and skyping. It isn’t in the best neighborhood and is located up a very twisty and sloping road (like Lombard Street...

Paris

Unfortunately, there was a delay in posting this as we have not had access to internet from our current apartment. After our two day trips we decided to take it easy our last couple days in Paris. Our days consisted of sleeping in, long lunches at outdoor cafes, and leisurely walks searching out our next meal. It was pretty unique that we didn’t see any planes flying over Paris due to the volcanic ash. We’re lucky that between the ash and the train strike, we haven’t had any problems so far getting trains.  Some trains have been cancelled due to the...

Loire Valley

On Saturday we did a day trip to the Loire Valley. This is a region famous for its chateaus and wine.  Our tour guide, Simon, made it an exceptional experience. He was very informative, but also a lot of fun to spend the day with. The other person on our tour, was an incredible Aussie lady, Lynette, who was doing a two month tour of Europe by herself. Oh and by the way, she’s 70. She said she hadn’t been to New Zealand yet because she was saving that trip for when she is “too old to manage the 24-hour...

Normandy

Today we did a side trip to Normandy. This was an excursion we were really looking forward to, and it didn’t disappoint. We did a guided tour of Le Memorial Museum in Caen followed by visits to Gold Beach, Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery. We thought the American Cemetery was beautiful, and it seemed fitting that the cemetery overlooks Omaha Beach. One of the things that surprised us was the size of Omaha Beach – the beach itself was much wider (from the ocean to the bluffs) than we expected, and it stretched over four miles...

Paris

Bonjour. It’s our second day in Paris and we’ve already hit some of the main sites. Not something to brag about, but we did the Louvre in one hour, which might be a new record, even for us.  However, being that we are not art buffs, we only wanted to see a few pieces. Mostly we’ve done a lot of walking. We’ve explored a lot of the arrondissements and saw the Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe. After 2 weeks in B&Bs, we are happy to have an apartment. We like B&Bs, but it’s always nice to have your own space....

Amsterdam

Great news sports fans, Brent was able to watch the Masters at our B&B last night.  (A side note from Brent…I guess I shouldn’t complain but I watched on a non HD 13 inch TV.  I couldn’t tell where any approach shots landed or follow any putts.  Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to be able to watch, but we all should be thankful for the advances in TV technology over the last 5 years.) Moving on, tonight is our last night in Amsterdam, and tomorrow we head to Paris. Yesterday, we took a day trip to Keukenhof to...

Amsterdam

We’re here in Amsterdam, writing this from a canal-side café table. Brent is drinking a beer and just smoked a cuban. Katie is enjoying a cappuccino and a sweet, cinnamony slice of Dutch apple pie. Things are good. Yesterday we took in a little culture…the Van Gogh museum in the evening followed by a romantic stroll through the Red Light District (RLD). The RLD was even more shocking than we had prepared ourselves for…like going to Bourbon St. for the first time. We walked through the RLD just after dark, when it was primarily a tourist gawking event, but it’s...

Bruges

Today is our last full day in Bruges, but this is a city we would definitely like to revisit.  We had an active past couple days. We climbed the Bell Tower (all 366 steps of it), shopped the local market, took a brewery tour, took a canal tour, visited many chocolate stores, picnicked in a local park, and saw a Michelangelo. The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so mostly we have been walking the streets and taking in the scenery. We’ve also done our fair share of people watching. All will be right in the world if...

Bruges

Greetings from Bruges! We got into town Monday and are having a great time.  Getting here was a comedy of “almost” errors. Our train from Brussels was supposed to leave at 11:30 and arrive in Bruges at 12:30. We boarded the train that pulled up at 11:30 only to realize a few moments later it was going to Brussels airport (thanks to Katie asking the conductor). We got off and found out the Bruges train had arrived at a different platform. Along with 50 others, we rushed to the correct platform just in time to board the train. After 40...

Brussels

Happy Easter!  We are on day four of our trip and having a great time. We took a fun bike tour on day one, which gave us an overview of the main sites. Brussels is a beautiful city, and while it may be low on sites, it has a great atmosphere and friendly people. By far, the best part for us has been the food and drink: mussels, Belgian chocolates, waffles, croissants, espressos and of course great beer. We are staying in an ideal location at a B&B inside the Galerie de la Reine. Normally, it is very quiet, but...

Brussels

It was a long journey, but we finally made it. From SFO, it was a 10 hr flight to London.  We were happy to find that our 7 bags were waiting for us once we got through customs, so we loaded up a cart and headed to the taxi stand. After an hour long commute into London, we made it to a friend’s flat, where we planned to store 5 bags while we travel. You can imagine our disbelief when we were putting our bags in the storage room and came up one shy. We circled our steps a few...

Gear

Neither of us are “gearheads” but we did want to make sure we had solid equipment for our travels so we could keep a quality record of our trip. Below is a list of gear we are bringing. Computer: MacBook Camera: Canon Powershot Phone: iPhone Headphones: Bose noise canceling Music: iPod Touch GPS: Garmin Dakota

Packing

Instead of putting everything we own into storage, we are madly unloading our worldly belongings to family members and craiglists recipients. We won’t be able to take much with us oversees to our new home. Instead, we will be looking for a fully furnished apartment in London. In the meantime, this is what we are packing for our travels before we move: Katie:  (packing in an Eagle Creek 22″ carry-on, wheeled backpack) •Dark pants (2 – one for casual day use and one nicer for evenings out) •Long sleeve shirt (1) •Short sleeve shirts (4) •Thermal underwear pant/shirt (1) •Skirts (2-one lightweight for beach lounging,...

So Much To Do

We’re two weeks away from departure and feeling really good about our progress. Here’s what we’ve done so far: •Booked tickets from SFO to London •Mailed off income taxes (come on big money!) •Purchased 3-country Eurail passes •Booked accommodations for Brussels, Bruge, Amsterdam, Paris, Provence, Dordogne, and San Sebastian •Purchased luggage and clothes •Bought Katie’s noise-canceling headphones (Brent already has them) •Bought new camera (see “Gear”) •Sold both cars •Read many books in the name of research •Gave landlord one-month’s notice •Went to final doctor check-ups •Put all finances online and established automatic bill pay •Purchased Macbook (still learning how to use it) •Downloaded Skype and practiced using it with family members (so...