across the pond
we took the red eye from phoenix and landed at JFK a little after 5am, just in time to watch the sunrise. we were finally home! it felt good to sit on our own couch, shuffle around on our own floor, and pass out in our own bed. we gave ourselves just over a week between our road trip and eurotrip to relax, plan, and re-energize. it also meant i was home for my birthday! alex took me out to a nice lunch at gotham, and i threw a last-minute happy hour to celebrate with friends, beer pong, and the most ginormous platter of nachos i’ve ever seen. i can only imagine what kinds of adventures and new experiences 28 will bring.
for the european chapter of our pretirement – and probably the next few after that, too – alex and i are foregoing the rolly-bag route and only taking backpacks. being that i usually overpack and try to plan for every possible situation, it was a tall order. but thanks to the magic of ebags (google them – they’re life-changing), we were able to do it quite neatly. i was very impressed with us! as we headed to the airport, i looked forward to experiencing what it’d be like having the next two months of our lives strapped to our backs. we were so excited that the overseas portion of our pretirement was finally starting. we were off to europe!
after a short layover in manchester we made it to dublin on saturday afternoon, where we’d be spending the night before heading to london to stay with family. we checked into our hostel, then got a bite to eat and quick nap in before we headed back out. we wandered over to a well-manicured park called st. stephen’s green and enjoyed a cigarillo. by the time we’d finished it was getting dark, so we did what every other dubliner was doing – we threw back a few pints. when in rome, right? for the next few hours we hopped from pub to pub in and around the temple bar area. a saturday night in dublin feels like new year’s eve. everyone was going nuts, and it wasn’t even 10pm yet! nothing like a good game of people-watching, fresh guinness in hand. we managed to make it until midnight, hoping to jumpstart our body clocks and get them adjusted.
the next morning we flew to london. after maneuvering our way to the city via the airport bus, the tube, and a bit of walking, we ended up at my cousin's flat in queen’s park. we arrived just in time for the notting hill carnival, which is the biggest celebration of its kind in the UK. that monday was a holiday for everyone too, so we checked out the carnival with joi, paul, and their adorable 3-year-old son kai. we ate tons of caribbean food, checked out the dancers and their elaborate costumes in the parade, and made our way through the crowds of half-drunk people…before it was even 1pm. afterwards, alex and i went for a bike ride near the city center, along the thames river, and over the tower bridge. it was a gorgeous day out, and you could tell all the locals were trying to squeeze as much fun as they could out of their bank holiday.
the next day we accidentally overslept until 11:45am. oops. blame it on the jet lag! the good thing is that we've both already been to london, so we bypassed the touristy stuff and spent our time wandering around town and pretending like we lived there instead. we rode the tube over to east london and did some exploring around victoria park, hackney, and shoreditch – kind of like london’s version of williamsburg – before venturing towards notting hill and walking back to the flat. on the morning of our last full day, joi, paul, and kai left for lake como to attend a wedding. it was tough saying goodbye to kai…we had gotten to the point where he gave me cuddles and didn’t wipe away my kisses! hopefully the next time we see him won’t be when he’s too old fo r that stuff. we spent the rest of the day catching up with our friends and old coworkers in the city, including otaso, anni, and daniel. it’s always nice to see familiar faces in foreign places. then it was back to the flat to pack, do laundry (european washing machines don’t make it easy), and get a little trip-planning done. the next morning, we were amsterdam-bound!
// eurotrip to date: 3 flights, 2 countries