Friday, April 5, 2013

#300: Travel Adventures Abroad


First off, this blog post commemorates my
300'th post [WOW]
so I want to 
- THANK YOU ALL -
for visiting what has come to be
a [public] online diary of sorts,
and continued to read while I learn and figure out
 what the heck I am doing. :)
I've never been a private person,
I've always had a natural inclination to share
 - albeit often a little too much
so blogging feels like an organic space for me. 
I'm aware this often puts me in a vulnerable spot -
but I'm okay with that as long as there is always
 integrity and honesty in what I share.
I'm not a robot, I'm human.
I'm not perfect, this post may contain typos or
grammatically incorrect verbiage, and in fact-
I hope it does. 

I'm cognizant of the fact I don't always post in a timely manner,
 write for a broad audience, or have the most riveting content -
 often it's meanderings of my mind (try and keep up)
quotes, recipes, D.I.Y projects, reviews on makeup/products/services
and anything I feel like discussing really.

So I am in great appreciation to those who 
continually come back, leave their thoughts, 
promote my posts or just visit occasionally. 
I don't know who you all are -
but 'DIARY OF A SWEET LITTLE BLONDE'
formerly titled, 'TODAY WAS A FAIRYTALE'
has had over 25,000 visitors,
and as large as the Yarmosh clan is - 
we're nowhere near 25K strong...
so people [outside of my family] are reading!

Thank you all for hanging in there
throughout the evolution of this blog
and I strongly encourage you to
leave your thoughts and comments
so I can interact with you more.
In fact, I'm currently working on a way
to make that a little bit easier for you, but until then -
please use the section provided
 at the bottom of my posts.

Ok, enough of that administrative 'stuff'.
Lets get to the real meat of this post -- my travels abroad!
So you all know I recently returned from some international travel
and I wanted to share some thoughts about my 
traveling adventures with you. 

For one, this trip was special to me because I paid for it myself.
While I don't expect a round of applause for growing up,
becoming more independent, or no longer falling within the
  'financially unstable leech' category,
I DO expect an interwebs pat on the back.
 It feels more meaningful when the luggage you are carrying,
the plane ticket you hand the flight attendant, the hotels you check into,
and all the tourist attractions you visit
 are all paid for with your [own] hard earned money. 
While I've been lucky enough to travel abroad many times
before this, this marks only the second trip in my adult life that
I've paid for all by myself.
That may not sound like a monumental accomplishment to anyone else,
 but it's something I am proud of and feels like growth to me.
I'm a BIG [little] GIRL! :)
This trip wasn't cheap (close to 4K)
and tookme nearly a year of saving
(I'm not a millionaire...YET!)
but it was worth every penny.
I can't put a (metaphorical) price tag on travel...
it's THAT important to me.
Call me an old soul, but I'd much rather drop $400
on a monthly trip payment then blow it
  drinking or gambling over the weekend. 

Secondly, this trip was also very special to me because
I got to spend it with my partner in crime...my mother!
Traveling is one of my very favorite things to do
and it's so much sweeter when you get to make lifelong 
memories that are sacred because they are shared by you both.
I never take time for granted - we both won't be around forever
so I really cherish time with my Mother.
Forget being my travel buddy, she is my best friend
and these traveling adventures have taken
 'bonding time' to a whole new level.
This is the second A.C.I.S trip Mom and I have gone on
together and I think we enjoy it so much because 
even though we are both out of school, we have an unquenchable
thirst for knowledge, language, and culture
 that not everyone understands.
It's like 'Professional Development' for the aging traveler.
I hope traveling never becomes mundane because 
the very second it becomes lackluster in nature,
I'll bury my passport and wait for the feeling to pass.
Everyone leaving the country for travel should feel lucky.
Travel [to me] is a privilege.

This quote sums it up nicely: 
"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." 
— Augustine of Hippo

Lastly, I loved this trip because it marked some new,
unchartered territory for me and I ADORE getting 
new stamps added to my passport in customs [!]
It's so worth that line and awful wait. :)
This trip we did a lot of moving.
5 hotels in 10 days.
I visited:
1.Dublin, Ireland
2. Wales
3. the Lake District
(Lake Grasmere specificially)
4. Edinburgh, Scotland
5. York
and last but not least 6. London, England.
Entitled 'Kingdom by the Sea' Tour,
we were ALL OVER THE BLOODY UNITED KINGDOM.

While it was blissfully exhausting,
it was also one of the coldest VACATIONS I've ever experienced.
I say that because when you think vacation
in the Northeast, you think:
WARM. TROPICAL. EXOTIC. DRINKS WITH UMBRELLAS.
Feel me?
I kid you not, this trip I had to buy winter apparel
because nothing could prepare you for the 'unprecedented cold spells'
the U.K was experiencing
(and that's literally what they called it -
 that's not me being dramatic).

We had to buy hats. We had to buy scarves. We had to buy gloves.
We had to buy coats for crying out loud
(most of us thought Spring would bring milder temperatures
 for the trip and only brought light jackets)
I mean, it was literally insane.
News reports we watched on the local weather channels
in our hotels said livestock had to be pulled out
of snowdrifts (it's lambing season, those poor babies!)
and emergency funds were being allocated to farmers
struggling to protect their livestock (aka livelihood)
from the elements.
Like, what in the world?
Nearly, April!
I mean, if we wanted to be in the tundra
 we would have gone to Russia for heaven's sake!

Beyond the blistering cold,
it was a wonderful trip.
I am obsessed with our tour guide Stan Pretty -
a lovely English gentleman
who I insist is responsible for my personal happiness
throughout these trips.
He's just the jolliest, sweetest, wittiest, most energetic
74-year-old I've ever met.
He had us walking halfway around the world,
at an ungodly pace -Mom will tell you, she couldn't keep up!
up early and out to all hours of the night,
and makes the Energizer Bunny look lazy!
I swear, that man is going to live forever! :)

There he is right there, my little English bloke!
On the bright side, the U.K has a very dark, damp, and MOIST
climate and it only rained ONCE THE ENTIRE TRIP
...the day we arrived!
My last trip to London 2 years ago, it rained nearly every day!
According to Mom's stats (I can't verify her source)
it rains 60% of the time in the U.K
so I like to think we beat the odds!!! :)
The caveat to this is that it SNOWED
just about every day, ha ha.
(Seriously.)
Hey, I'll take snow over rain ANY day.
Snow makes everything it touches more beautiful
(like mountaintops and trees)
Rain...not so much.
(Have you seen my wet poodle look?)
Not cute.

While I thoroughly enjoyed all the cities we visited
and they each had an individual charm of their own,
Edinburgh was definitely my favorite city if I had to pick!
It had this old-world charm about it
with rustic, original stone buildings,
streets with a quaint feel to them,
and the whole city is just bubbling with character.
In fact, little side story:
a group of girls and I were wandering
around Prince Street shopping during some personal time
and we were stopped by the Travel Channel
who was doing a segment on Edinburgh apparently.
We all held this sign and shouted:
"WELCOME TO EDINBURGH!"
followed by signing release forms and the whole bit.
We were told we would be featured on the channel
and to check the F.B page of Travel Channel for UK
in 8 weeks, where they would post the clip of us.
Of course the DQ in me went around bragging to
everyone the rest of the day
that we're international superstars
and that we were on our way to being FAMOUS.

Of course I did.

I'm closing out this post with a few pictures
from each of the cities I visited.
The rest of my 325 photos will be up on Facebook shortly.

[Sorry if we're not friends and you have no access to take a peak,
you can blame it on the SICKO who sent my father
 inappropriate content after getting his information off Facebook.
Now I keep my Facebook "friend" list on a short leash
because apparently, you never really know
who your "friends" are.

Dublin, Ireland: Saint Stephen's Green Park. ONLY DAY IT RAINED ON OUR TRIP! :)
Posing with a Leprechaun, right below good old Molly Malone.
A famously decorated Georgian door in Dublin.
Exploring the streets of Dublin: Fresh flowers line the sidewalks.
Visiting the Famous Book of Kells @ Trinity College.
Brief Stopover in Wales: Via Irish Ferries
Welsh Store in Wales: Longest Name Ever.
Touring the Lake District: Lake Grasmere - Home of Poet William Wordsworth
Our hotel: Daffodil Hotel by the Lake.
Snow-covered mountains in the Lake District - Poor sheep! 
Touring the town: Visit to William Wordsworth's Grave
The black sheep of the family, ha ha! :)
Stopover at Hadrian's Wall - 80 miles of fortified brick wall during the time of the Romans.
Just amazing!
Border to Scotland: Snowing like crazy!
Our Scottish tour guide: Complete with Kilt! :)
Edinburgh Castle - Unlike anything you've ever seen! 
Top of the castle - so high above the town!
New York Girls - Posing in front of Edinburgh Castle 
Famous Coffee shop 'Elephant House' - where J.K Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books!
Showing off our Scottish Kilts
Stopover in York: Visit to York Minster!
Afternoon Tea at Famous Betty's Tea House: Noon Tea, Sammies, and Scones
Mom and I inside York Minster
Exploring York!
Dinner at Hotel 53: York
Hampton Court Palace: Home of King Henry VIII
Big Ben: London, England
London: The London Eye
Buckingham Palace: Business Residence of the Queen
The Queen, herself.
St. Paul's Cathedral: London, England 
Absorbing the culture ;)
 Signing out,
The Queen ;)

NEXT UP:  Snack Attack: Healthy Snacks, 'Skinny Girl' Friendly



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