Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and is enjoying all the great sales going on. Everything Scrappn is having a HUGE sale with everything 55% off so be sure to check that out. Some other sales I'm also excited about sales at Apple and Bubbly Shnooks, so check them out too.

I also have two challenges that are up, so please check these out:

Scrap Mojo's challenge is due on this coming Sunday, November 30th. The challenge is to scrap a statement and include ink on your project. I scrapped photos from my trip to Europe and made a Mastercard statement. We hope to see lots of participation!

Dan and I just recently celebrated our 4th anniversary so I have a new page to add to his album that I started for him last year. This is for the new Say It In Scrap challenge: use "These are the days" as inspiration for a page or project. I had a lot of fun using some older product. This challenge is due in 4 weeks.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Killarney, Tipperary & London

I left off in Killarney, Ireland so lets continue on my journey...

I woke to find it raining in Killarney and not much could be done in the National Park when it is pouring. I booked the cheapest bus tour for the Ring of Kerry. I chatted with everyone on the bus since I was starting to feel lonely. I met two families from Brooklyn, two Australian medical students, and some very friendly people from various other places. My favorite stop was in the town of Sneem where I had delicious vanilla and cherry swirl ice cream. I looked around during my 15 minutes and came across these really cool rock-like teepee's. I enjoyed seeing Torc Waterfalls in the National park and hanging out with my new Australian friends, Luke & Toby. I convinced them to stay in the hostel that night so we could hire bikes and ride through the park the next day. I found some great Jane Austen books in the second hand bookstore and bought dinner from the grocery store. Met Joel & Natasja from New Zealand and Holland in the hostel that night. We had an absolute blast watching Borat & White Castle in the common room with a bunch of people. I caught up on my travel journal and showed Luke how I like to include ticket stubs and other fun things from my trip in my journal. He got so inspired he started stapling a bunch of stuff into his own journal.

The two Aussies and I convinced the bike rental guy to give us a deal since it was raining. We rode to Ross Castle, Muckross Abbey, and around Muckross Lake. It was fun riding in and out rain storms. I wore pants that dried quickly so I only had to worry about my shoes and socks that got wet. It was totally worth it to see lots of waterfalls and tons of greenery. I loved Killarney National Park so much that I extended my stay another night. Joel, Natasja & I talked a lot that night about photography. My favorite part of the night was when he said "there were heaps of sheep." For some reason that was just hilarious to me. I don't use the word "heaps" very often and my imagination is great. Of course I was picturing big heaps of sheep.

The next day I took a 3 hour train to Tipperary town. I was curious to see Tipperary because my mom's side of the family is from that area, and they have a great genealogy center there. I had a funny old cab driver that lectured me on traveling by myself. I loved that he said "it was a pleasure having you ride in my cab, Miss San Francisco." They are so polite and helpful in Ireland!

I arrived at the genealogy center to find that they had closed early because one person quit and the other was out sick. Also, I found that there isn't much to do in Tipperary without a car. Hmm. What to do? I arranged for a bus to take me to the Rock of Cashel the next morning and spent some time arranging my accommodations in London. When I arrived at my B&B, I was told that there were 3 places to eat dinner and not much else to do. Tipperary town is so small I was not worried about getting lost. I found St. Mary's church and took a bunch of photos in the cemetery. I could only find 2 of the 3 places to eat, one of which was closing, so I ate at the Italian restaurant. Needing some comfort food, I ordered a Hawaiian pizza and was surprised to find corn on it. I got back to my room just a little after 7ish. No problem, I'll journal and read some! Then my pen exploded on my white comforter. The B&B owner assured me that the accident wasn't a problem. Right as I was about to pass out, Bridget Jones Diary came on. I was so thrilled to see a familiar movie on the TV.

Thursday morning I walked to the genealogy center to find that there was a long waiting list and that it would be cheaper to conduct the search from home. I found this hilarious since my whole trip to Tipperary was to learn more about my family. I caught the bus, which was really a van, to Cashel, where I looked around the Rock of Cashel -- a totally cool place filled with history, a ton of wind, and heaps of rain. I think I waited about 2 hours in total for the rain to calm down and for a tour in English. They offered me a German tour since I had my "Hamburg Meine Stadt" backpack on... I remember that they really wanted to emphasize that its not a rock, but that the establishment is built on a big mountain or "rock," and that it's not a castle nor has it been one since before 1101. The architecture was amazing there. I saw St. Patrick's cross and some neat Celtic crosses. After, I grabbed a bowl of Potato & Leek soup to warm up before heading back to my B&B and then to the train station to Cork.

I was not impressed with the hostel that I stayed at, in Cork. I spent at least an hour watching a documentary on dolphins in the kitchen for lack of a better place to sit. This was the first place I stayed that didn't have a sitting room. The next morning, I decided to relax at a cheap Internet cafe to catch up with the world before my flight to London. I took the tube to my hostel, the Palmer's Lodge and settled in while waiting. Jenna took me to her house and introduced me to her sweet British family and then cooked me dinner. I was quite surprised to come back at 12am to find all but one of my 7 roommates asleep in bed on a Friday night!

Jenna and her roommate Michelle (the second) met me at the Tower of London on Saturday morning. There was work being done on the tube so I had some weird transfers and got a little disoriented but managed to figure it out quickly. We started off by taking a "Beefeater" Yeoman Warders tour. We laughed so much at the really corny jokes. After the tour, we went straight to see the Crown jewels. There was barely a line. We went on the moving walkway twice to get a look from both sides. Jenna said she wasn't impressed because the jewels looked cloudy. I cracked up! We stopped in a cafe for a quick bite and Jenna purchased the worst pea soup ever. She kept trying to get me to return her food but I wouldn't since she's a big girl. I really wanted to watch her do it, but she didn't. She just kept adding salt and pepper until it was bearable. We laughed so much it hurt. We spent the rest of the afternoon looking through the White Tower and walking along the East wall. We had to see the bloody tower and finally left over 4 hours later. Jenna & Her room mate Michelle in front of the Tower of London: We bought a sim card for my phone and checked out a huge store called Sainsbury's which reminded me of Target. I watched my first British TV show while snacking and hanging out at Jenna's. I was even more surprised to find most of the girls in my dorm asleep at 11pm on a Saturday night!

Jenna had been running around like a crazy person and requested a sleep-in-day. We met up and did laundry while I tried to make reservations for the following weekend in Brugge. My phone decided to use up all the minutes I'd bought the night before so Jenna and I went back to the phone company. We spent a lot of time waiting and did not get any help. I did not want to feel like I had lost a day, so we took the tube to the Millennium Bridge. One of the tube employees asked us if we needed directions, but we didn't since Jenna lives there. He asked where we were from and we responded with "San Francisco" in unison. Then he told us that he sang in a bar in San Francisco one time. We thought he was going to name the song, but he burst into the chorus of “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. Jenna and I were happily surprised since we love Neil Diamond. He sang about 5 songs while having a line of people waiting for his assistance. What a character!

We continued on and walked across the bridge as the sun set. We took a few photos and explored around the London Bridge area. Don't get it mixed up with Tower Bridge or you'll get a look from the locals. We ate a quick dinner around Covent Garden before heading back to Jenna's hood. Her house mom, Maxine, had mentioned a cool pub with an incredible view earlier that day. We took a bus and couldn't find it anywhere in Alexandria Palace. We got so lost, but found an awesome shopping mall and two different movie theaters. Jenna was thrilled. I decided that I had to ask the liquor store owner what "off-license" meant, since he had a sign outside. It turns out that it means they don't serve alcohol; you can only purchase it there. I was hoping for a much better explanation. On my walk back home, I saw a wild fox crossing the street. Imagine that-in London!

I woke early on Monday morning to a text message, from my phone company announcing that I ran out of minutes, again! I decided to change companies and went straight to Oxford Street. What a cool place to shop! Then Jenna met me, during her school break at Trafalgar Square and we spent a few hours walking through the National Gallery. It was an incredible museum. I was most excited to see Botticelli's painting of Venus & Mars, which happens to be one of my MOST favorite paintings of all times. We also saw Da Vinci's Virgin of the Rocks, more of Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Turner, Ingres, Monet, Seurat, Cezanne, and Van Gogh.

Jenna headed back to school and I walked over Westminster Bridge, past Big Ben and the Parliament. I was super excited to see Westminster Abbey after having read the description of it in one of Dan Brown's books. I had imagined it to be several levels by his description. I was amazed that there was so many tombs in one place. The ceiling of the Henry VIII's Lady Chapel was beautifully ornate. Sadly, no photos are allowed inside. I tried to get into the Parliament since Jenna had just been on a field trip that morning, but it was a two-hour wait, so I passed. I took a hop on/off bus tour through the city and loved my bus commentator. I stayed on until his shift ended at 5pm. On a whim, I went to see if I could buy tickets to see Phantom of the Opera for that night. They were sold out of the cheapest tickets and I was sad. Then the guy at the booth sold me better tickets for the same price!!! I ran back to my hostel for a quick dinner of fish & chips before heading back for a night at the opera.It was fantastic, more than I ever could have imagined. I loved being able to see the opera since I've had the entire soundtrack memorized for over 10 years. My mom loved the soundtrack so much that she played it on repeat... I spent a bit of time trying to decide if the actor playing Raul was cute or not. I couldn't make up my mind since the rent-o-binoculars were cheaply made. I was so excited that I called Jenna to gush about it and she kept asking if we were going to hang out. I was confused since it was really late and she already knew that we would see each other the next day. It turned out that she had been sleeping and was sleep talking on her cell phone with me.

Tuesday morning I picked up Eurostar tickets for Friday and then decided that I had to go to Platform 9 & 3/4 since I was so close to King's Cross. Then I caught the tube to Green Park to race to the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. I was not impressed with the exterior of the palace and spent the majority of my time watching all of the tourists in one location. I only stayed for 10 minutes before taking the tube to the British Museum. The bamboo gardens out in front reminded me of my mom's gardens back home. I was thoroughly tired and hungry so I stopped in their cafe for a quick bite. Then I spent 2 hours looking at a bunch of old stuff; including the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, a stone chopper from Tanzania (just a sharpened rock), and an Easter Island head. I was so inspired by the museum building that I spent most of my time taking pictures.I took the tube to St. Paul's Cathedral and waited outside for Jenna to meet me. I waited about 45 minutes. She arrived right as the clock struck 4pm, when no more people were admitted into St. Paul's. :( We searched for some food and walked around Fleet and Strand streets. We were fully convinced we walked through a time warp when we discovered a side alleyway with men dressed up in old fashioned clothes and wearing white wigs, while driving an old Rolls Royce. Apparently, we found, Middle Temple, the lawyer section of London. There were lots of pretty gardens and old buildings. We grabbed some take out Thai and chowed down in a park near the Thames before catching the tube. I am a huge Beatles fan, so Jenna & I had the brilliant idea to take pictures at Abbey Road. It was dark and raining by the time we arrived, but cars were very patient with us and the other gawking tourists. We headed back to the Palmer's Lodge for some inexpensive, but delicious hot chocolate in the sitting room. I packed and researched Paris before heading to bed.

Thanks for reading this far! Will continue on soon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Print sale!

Just a quick post to point out that prices have been slashed on prints in my etsy shop! Please stop by and take a peek. :D

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Happy Anniversary Dan! Today Dan & I are celebrating our 4th anniversary of dating. Its kinda hard to believe its been that long. I didn't have much time to plan out something special like I usually do but Mr. Dan had plenty of time. I was really surprised this morning by lots of sweet photos and music. I think we're off to have dinner, dessert, and merriment.
One last thing before I head out. Say It In Scrap's Challenge #12 is up. Use the phrase "The Games We Play" as inspiration for a page or project. Here is my take on it. Hope to see your spin over on the blog!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Switzerland to Ireland

Made it back home safely after a 10.5 hour flight. Had enough time to vote at the polls and then crash. Super jet lagged. I've been sleeping a lot these past couple days. I have over 10,000 photos to go through and I'm learning Lightroom 2 at the same time. Onto the fun part of the post. My last real post left off at the beginning of my trip in Switzerland. By far that has been my favorite country.

I stayed in Luzern for two nights. Monday morning I walked to Lake Luzern and people watched. Then I walked across the famous Kapellbruecke or Chapel Bridge (burnt down in 1993) and roamed around the town. I have to say my favorite memories are always free. I love purposely getting lost in small shopping alleyways and just having a good time. I happened to find a bead store while I was walking around!!!

I seemed to have misplaced my flip flops so I went in search to replace them. Flip flops aren't big in Switzerland. I shouldn't be surprised... Went to the Gletschergarten which was totally cool. It was a big glacier garden that had the history of it and some other neat things. I couldn't stop thinking about how much my mom would have loved it and that it reminded me a lot of Yosemite and how it was created in the same way. Had the crappiest stay in a budget hotel. My neighbors had a party in the hall until 3:30am and then started doing dishes around 6am.

I left Luzern for a tiny town called Muerren. It's near Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen for anyone who knows where that is. I took a train and there was something wrong with the tracks so I had to catch a bus to go over the pass. It was the most beautiful drive of my life. I kept wanting to take pictures but the reflections off of the windows made it hard. From there I took another train and then a cable car (they call them funiculars) up to Muerren. I have discovered that I have a fear of heights, so I was really excited and scared at the same time. Made it up to the top safely and shot a video during the ride. Took yet another train and made it to my beautiful hotel, the Alpin Palace. I got a sweet deal since it was in between seasons. People go hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.

I heard a lot of cow bells when I arrived. I've never heard them so I thought they were church bells at first. Then I saw the bells on the cows and they are huge! Took a nice long walk through the tiny town and did a bit of grocery shopping. Nutella is my biggest addiction since I have been in Europe and I am so glad I can find it back in the states. Lunch is my main meal to dine out. The lunch menu is cheaper and you don't feel lonely when traveling on your own.

I decided it would be nice to go to the hotel's hot tub and unwind a bit. I always bring a towel with me to the pool and always find out that they already have them there. So I didn't bother. And then I couldn't find any towels once I got there. I asked some nice people in the hot tub if they had seen any and they said no. They told me that there were these large red, body blow dryers that the Swiss use after showering. That was an experience. I think it took me about a half hour! I will always bring a towel from now on, especially when its in such a cold location.

In the morning, I went to the Tourist Information across the street to find out what they suggest I do with my day. I hiked down the mountain 2.6 km to the sweet town of Gimmelwald. Met some nice people along the way and saw plenty more cows. Took the funicular down to Stechelberg and then walked what felt like forever, to Trummelbach Falls. Ten waterfalls inside the mountains of Europe: insanely loud, wet, dark, and slippery, but totally worth it. Had the most incredible views when I stood outside of them. The scary part was taking the mountain lift up to the top. Continued walking all the way back to Lauterbrunnen (6km) to enjoy a hot bowl of soup with another gorgeous view. I was exhausted from my hike that started at 11am and ended at 4pm! Made friends with the Swiss rail ticket people and spent over an hour trying to work out how I could ride a train from Switzerland to the UK in a day. Picked flying.

Jenna wanted to go to Ireland so we picked Dublin. Not knowing it was one of the most expensive places to go in all of Europe. Flew out of Geneva airport and arrived a few hours before Jenna. Checked into our hotel, the Regency Hotel, and found I had one of the oldest rooms in a building! The pretty photos of renovated rooms cost $45 more per night. Saved money in the old room. I was so excited to see Jenna at the airport. I had been so tired on the ride to the hotel the first time that I hadn't noticed that they were driving on the left side of the road! I couldn't stop talking to Jenna and asking her a billion questions. Its weird going an entire month without seeing family!

Dublin was colder than Switzerland. It rained a bit and we saw a lot of things that you expect to see in a big city. Lots of street performers, gypsies, and men dressed in Native American garb and playing music. HUH? Something we are used to in SF and neighboring areas but we thought it odd considering they were in downtown Dublin. Took a hop on/off bus tour around the city. Those things rock when everything is so spread out. Took a tour of Kilmainham Gaol. Lots of potato famine history there. I urge you to click that link! People purposely committed crimes to get into jail so they could be guaranteed a meal. Smart thinking. Ran to see the Book of Kells in Trinity College. It is a really cool book that is written in Latin around 800 AD. I planned it so we arrived 15 minutes before last admission so we got in for free! Everything else closed around the same time. Jenna & I walked around Temple Bar for a while in the little shops and then settled on the Vat Bar for dinner.

Woke up really early and took the bus to O'Connell Street. We grabbed some breakfast and then arrived over 20 minutes early at the Tourist Information. We took a tour bus to Newgrange to see the 5000 year old passageway tombs. It was really cool that we got to go inside and see the megalithic art. Then we went to Monasterboice where we stood in the rain for 30 minutes and listened to the most detailed description of celtic crosses and the stories they tell. The driver was really cool and told us Irish fables for over an hour on the drive back to Dublin. Very fun times! Grabbed dinner in O'Neill's- corned beef and potatoes naturally.

Our last day in Dublin, we went to the Guinness Storehouse Factory. I have to admit that I was slightly dissappointed since it felt like a theme park with a lot of props and video footage. It was a self-guided "tour" through 7 floors of Guinness. Cool for someone not expecting an actual factory. I did really enjoy the panoramic views out from the gravity bar at the top. Jenna and I caught a bus back to the Dublin airport and I said good bye to her. She flew back to London and I took the train from Dublin to Killarney. Arrived at my hostel very late at night. To be continued...

Monday, November 3, 2008

On My Way Home

Looking forward to seeing everyone back home. Our flight leaves in the am. Sad to be leaving but have promised myself I'll make it back someday. Really looking forward to sharing lots of photos, travel tips, and stories! Brace yourselves-I'm feeling inspired! Cant wait to catch up with all of you. Call me up or send me a message. <3

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