A Little Taste of the Cotswolds in Castle Combe

20180823_160248You can never go wrong with narrow streets, quaint houses, cafes, and great pubs.  Castle Combe – a veritable Shire –  did not disappoint.

20180823_154604

20180823_155042

Logistically, it is not the easiest place to get to, but we managed.  If I were to visit again, I would probably rent a car.  Still, there are bus connections most days of the week – you just really have to watch out for the times because they are infrequent.

20180823_154046

20180823_151853

20180823_150138

20180823_151058

If you are looking for excitement, you won’t find it here – but that’s okay.  It is enough just to be, to wander the cobbled side roads and wooded paths, enjoy the mossy green surroundings, and perhaps stop for a great pub meal or two and a cream tea.

20180823_151848

Bath

20180821_165113

Of all the places we visited on our trip to England, I think Bath was my favorite.  The stunning architecture and scenery took my breath away from the moment we stepped off the train.

20180821_151027

20180821_160229

We started off with a lovely afternoon tea at the Jane Austen House.  I felt like a fanciful Mrs. Darcy as I not-so-elegantly stuffed scones with clotted cream into my face (yum!)

20180821_162054

After our spot of tea, my sister and I went to the Thermae Bath Spa to soak in the thermal waters that initially drew the Romans into the area when the city was founded.  Talk about a perfect day!

20180821_171610

20180821_164603

20180821_165038

20180821_164848

We watched the sun fade along the water, walked by the abbey, and did a little souvenir shopping before catching the train back to our place in Bristol.

20180821_144430

20180821_165205

Bristol, U.K.

20180820_155815.jpg

After exploring London for a few days, my husband, sister, and I decided to base ourselves out of Bristol so that we could explore more of the English countryside.  While it’s a great base to see places such as Bath or Stonehenge, Bristol in and of itself is a very cool city worth a visit.

20180820_155328.jpg

I am a huge fan of street art and Bristol has it in spades.  Home to the famous street artist and political activist, Banksy, the street art scene there has exploded in recent years.

20180820_155245.jpg

20180820_154647.jpg

20180820_155518.jpg

20180820_155701.jpg

In addition to a cool street art scene, there is a big demand in Bristol for people to shop local; as such, there is no shortage of unique shops and restaurants to discover.

20180820_160135.jpg

Words to live by!

 

London

20180817_161836-EFFECTSAs a self-proclaimed Potterhead, London has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember.  How it took me this long to get there, I have no idea, but I was lucky enough to finally make it happen and even luckier to have my sister along for the ride.

20180817_185538

We stayed in the adorable neighborhood of Hackney – highly recommend!

This was her first big international trip and I was so excited to share the experience.  We hit the ground running after she landed with all of the main tourist sites and started the next day with a very cool (and very nerdy) Harry Potter walking tour, where we got to see various film locations and the parts of London that inspired some of the magical locations as well (shout out to the real-life Diagon Alley!).

20180819_150640.jpg

20180818_145852

The street that inspired Diagon Alley!

20180818_150608

…and Knockturn Alley!

I had really hoped to catch a show while in London, but alas – the two shows I wanted to see most were sold out.  I still grabbed photos of the venues, if somewhat bitterly.

20180819_145053.jpg

20180818_162433.jpg

We met up with a good friend and former colleague for some drinks at a super cool roof top bar, indulged in Cornish pasties, wandered through as many neighborhoods and parks as we could manage, and shopped until we dropped (I don’t think I will ever see a bookstore that tops Foyles!  They really had everything!)

20180818_161801.jpg

20180818_200319.jpg

20180819_161325.jpg

It was a really great start to an awesome adventure.

IMG-20180823-WA0005.jpg

A Trusty Travel Companion

dsc_0176I’ll never forget my first trip abroad.  I had just turned 18, and although I had wanted to get out and see the world my entire life, I really had no clue what to expect.  I packed a huge suitcase full of ridiculous outfits that were hardly suitable for any of our plans and two travel journals (in which to chronicle my adventures in broken French and Spanish).  To be honest, I didn’t love that trip.  I was culture shocked by the overly forward French men, didn’t love the people in my group, and realized very quickly that carefully structured group tours  were not my jam.  Still, I learned a lot of unexpected lessons on that trip and my thirst for travel remained intact.

Fast forward to now, and I am still learning and growing with each trip we take.  One thing that has definitely improved is my packing skills.  I still would not consider myself an expert, but I’ve gotten better and better at knowing what to take along and what to leave behind.  This year especially, I’ve stumbled onto one handy little item that has been a life saver on multiple trips now:  the blanket scarf.

dsc_0095

These babies go for 10 lira (roughly $2.50) on the streets of Istanbul and are worth every penny (kuruş?).  I initially bought one because I was freezing one afternoon in Kadıköy and they looked really warm (which they are).  However, I’ve discovered that these bargain accessories are so much more than what meets the eye.

First of all, they’re great for plane rides.  We’ve been on many red eye flights, most of which have not provided blankets…and even when they do, they usually pale in comparison to my blanket scarves.  They are generally pretty water-resistant, so they have been great as makeshift towels or covers to protect things from getting wet in the rain.  I even used one to protect my 3rd degree sunburn from the heat in the Maldives.  Rain, shine,  or snow, these cheap rectangles of fabric have become my best friends.

dsc_0082

What strange things do you swear by on your travels?  I’d love to hear.

2016

DSCF3943

January

DSCF4059 (1)

February

DSC_0196

March

DSC_0452[1]

April

DSC_0740

May

DSC_0083 (2)

June

DSC_0021

July

DSC_0131

August

dsc_0152

September

dsc_0231

October

dsc_0173

November

dsc_0159

December

What an incredible year I’ve had!  Looking back at each month made me realize how unbelievable it’s all been.  It also made me realize how quickly time is going by.  How has it already been another year?  How?

Here’s to hoping for an amazing 2017 for us all!

Home is relative

20161009_133125.jpgIt changes all the time.

For example, this morning I was living in your arms.

By afternoon, I had taken up residence in cobbled streets beneath the sunlight.

Only the universe knows where I will stake my claim tomorrow.

20161116_123849.jpg