Sunday, October 21, 2012

Quick Pictureless Update: Prague

Actual date of this event: 19-21 October

Luke and I have spent the past few days in Prague! I have been obsessed with visiting this city for years... since I saw the movie Chasing Liberty starring Mandy Moore. I had VERY VERY high expectations of this town. And for the most part, it turned exactly as I pictured it!

Since I am on my iPad, I am unable to post any pictures (or i havent figured it out yet), but you can get a few sneak peeks on Facebook or Instagram. If not, then you will just have to wait until I get back home for the full blog. Sorry :-(

Here are a few random things I have learned about Prague:

1.) there is A LOT and I mean A LOT of graffitti. It is everywhere! At first, I was very bothered by it, but I eventually got used to it and started to appreciate it, knowing that this country was run by a communist government just 20some years ago.

2.) the town in general is flat. The castle grounds are up on a hill, but not many other hilly streets.

3.) the town is very small. We practically knocked out 75% of the town on Friday.

4.) the architecture is outstanding. Beautiful. Amazing. Gorgeous. Just LOVELY!

5.) the language barrier is not as much of a problem as one would expect.

6.) drivers will stop so you can cross at a crosswalk even if there is no light.

7.) the beer to drink is Pilsner Urquell.

8.) it was foggy for 80% of our trip which was a major bummer. Wondering if Prague is always foggy?

9.) all of the streets and all of the sidewalks are cobblestone.

10.) it was colder than I expected... or accuweather told me it would be.

We loved this city and wish to come back when it is not foggy! We wish we were younger and could party late into the night because this would be a super fun place to do just that! Look for more about Prague in a few weeks! Tomorrow, we are headed to Munich! The land of Pretzels and Sausages and Beer and Beer and Beer! And Pretzels!

The Czech language is similar to Polish.
Czech currency is the Koruna (Crown). Currently, 1USD=19CZK


Thursday, October 18, 2012

The RealFeel

When Luke and I were told we would be moving to Scotland, there were two main things I was very excited about. 1.) I get to walk everywhere! and 2.) No more hot weather! I was absolutely done with the hot weather. The heat made it impossible to jog outside. I couldn't be outside for more than 1 minute without breaking a sweat. I was miserable. Maybe it was God's way of helping me cope with the adventure I had ahead of me. And according to wikipedia, the average temperature in Scotland in the winter is around 42 degrees. Thats not too bad!

With that being said, I have kept my mouth closed on "how cold it is outside". I remember the first cold morning, it was at the end of August, and it was about 40 outside. Luke went to leave for work in the morning, and came in saying, "its freezing!" and grabbed a beanie to wear to work. It was not that cold! Various times, we would be walking in the city, and Luke would put a beanie on because he was too cold and it was 50 outside. I kept telling myself and him to get used to it because it is going to get much worse. I was trying very hard to get my body used to the cold, so that I could be ready for winter. And I was NOT about to complain or make any comments about it being cold. I still remembered how miserable it felt to live in the Covington and Houston heat.

Then, comes our first gas bill. You see, our radiators run on gas that heats water. Our radiators come on twice a day, in the morning for a few hours and in the evening for a few hours. And when they are on, they run constantly. And its not good to turn them off completely because it damages them, so they must come on. Well our first gas bill was THROUGH THE ROOF. I mean, not once have we ever had an electric bill higher than this gas bill. Even when it was the hottest or the coldest outside in Covington when you have that AC or heater cranked. Most of you are very aware that Luke and I are cheap frugal, so we try to only use heat or electricity when we really need it. We usually had electric bills less than $100 - summer and winter.

Last week, when my parents were here, my mom was freezing in our house. I honestly did not think it was that cold. Maybe because I would be in the kitchen where the oven warmed up the room a bit or because I was doing laundry where the freshly dried clothes warmed me up. Not sure, but it was not that bad. Just put on some socks and long sleeves and your good to go!

So up until now, we haven't had weather that is too bad. Yes, occasionally, we will have the rainy yucky day. But for the most part, I have been pleasantly surprised. Why do people complain so much about Scotland weather? While Luke and I had visitors, we had some TERRIFIC weather! I truly feel that Scotland shows off when new people arrive though. For instance, it was beautiful outside the day that Luke and I arrived. And the same goes for the day that Julie arrived and also my mom and dad.

Then comes October 12, the day my parents leave. Its raining all day. Its windy. Its cold. I'm exhausted from showing our family a great time for two weeks. The weather begins to decline. I even skipped going to an AWA happy hour social event so I wouldn't have to leave the house.

Then comes October 15. The house is cold. I go for a jog and cannot feel my toes for half of my jog. Partly because it is cold outside, but mainly because that cold has shifted inside my home.

Then comes October 16. The house is beyond cold! I go to the gym, run some errands, and I'm shivering. I finally admit it, I am cold!

check out the RealFeel!

Then comes October 17.

I needed to run some errands for our upcoming trip and I had to walk because I was going to the city centre (impossible to park down there... for free). I bundled up with a hat and gloves and long sleeves and my wind-breaking rain jacket. Two pairs of socks, one tall, and also boots. After 15 minutes of speed walking, I began to sweat. OMG. I get back home and after eating my lunch finally decide to shower. Guess what? During my shower, I cant feel my hands because they are cold. Maybe the hot water had a reverse effect on them, I dont know.

What I have realized is that wikipedia's 42 degree average is deceiving. That 42 actually feels like 32. I experienced in on October 16.

Im nervous to know what winter will bring. I am nervous for what the worst will be. Im nervous for how high our gas bill will be. Im nervous that not only will it be cold, but it will be dark at 3:30pm. Im nervous for how high our gas bill will be!

To help me remember why I was excited to leave Covington, here is a list of cold weather pros and hot weather cons.

Cold: get to wear cute boots
Hot: must maintain pedicured feet

Cold: can always put more clothes on
Hot: can only take off so many clothes

Cold: don't need to dress nice because warmth is most important
Hot: must wear cute shirts and cute shorts and cute wedges

Cold: get to accessorize with cute scarves, ear warmers and hats
Hot: have to keep up with the latest trends in jewelry

Cold: can breathe while jogging outside
Hot: cannot jog outside

Cold: get to enjoy hot tea, hot chocolate and hot toddieduring the day
Hot: must drink ice water all day or you will get dehydrated

Cold: can shower and be fully ready in 30 min without breaking a sweat
Hot: showering and getting ready involves sweating which requires another shower

Cold: get to enjoy good company outside by a fire
Hot: must cram in doors in the AC with grumpy, sweaty company

Cold: wine warms you up
Hot: wine makes you feel hotter

Cold: can go grocery shopping before running other errands and nothing melts in the car
Hot: milk spoils 2 min after purchasing it from the store

Cold: ice cream never melts
Hot: ice cream is a form of soup

Cold: slippers!
Hot: must maintain pretty feet

Cold: wearing your hair down is comfortable
Hot: wearing your hair turns into a sponge for sweat

Cold: get to feel and act like a 'foody' at restaurants because you actually listen to the dinner specials just so you know what the soup of the day is
Hot: restaurant don't have soup

Cold: beer not cold? Stick it outside!
Hot: beer is never cold

Cold: no need to add ice to your water, it's freezing right out of the tap
Hot: adding water to a cup full of ice stays cold for 5 min, if that

still don't miss it!
In your opinion, what is the best part about cold weather and the worst part about hot weather?

In 30 degree weather, people don't put gloves and hats on their babies and children. Say what!!???


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Crathes Castle, Glenfiddich Distillery & our Goodbyes

Actual date of this event: 10 & 11 October

After a pretty big day traveling to St. Andrews with mom and dad, we decided to take it a bit easier on Wednesday. Since we did not go inside of Edinburgh Castle or Glamis castle, we decided we would visit Crathes Castle which is just 20 min away from my home.

We left around 11am allowing us to relax some in the morning. Again, it looked like we would have nice weather which was great because the castle grounds has a huge garden. Who wants to take a stroll through a garden in the rain? Not me.

Crathes Castle is part of the National Trust for Scotland of which I am a member allowing me to enter the castle and grounds for free. Yippee!! Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to take pictures inside the castle. Complete bummer, but I got PLENTY of pictures of the grounds and the beautiful flowers that were still in bloom.

tons of butterflies on these flowers!

Dad trying to figure out what the butterfly flowers are.
On the way home from the castle, we stopped at Drum to take a few pictures from the outside.

Thursday was my parents last day in Scotland, so what better to do than visit a Whisky Distillery?! For those of you who do not know, Scotch is Whisky without the 'e' meaning single malt. If it not single malt, then it is Whiskey with the 'e'. And in Scotland, you dont call it Scotch, you call it Whisky. Anyway, Scotland offers TONS of different distilleries to visit and tour. One of the most famous is Glenfiddich - pronounced GlenfiddiCK, not GlenfiddiCH, by the way. Even though I toured the distillery while Julie visited, I wanted my dad to tour one that he knew and that he could go home and brag about touring on his trip. No one back home is going to be impressed with, "I got to tour the Macallan distillery." Whoop-di-doo, says dad's co-workers. Visit this website to learn how to say various Whiskies.

We left around 9:30am since the distillery is about an hour and a half away. We stopped at Dean's Shortbread factory along the way to get some cookies (or biscuits as the British say) and view the makings of the shortbread. After a few days of great weather, it was no surprise that we experienced some rain during our trip. But when we arrived in Dufftown, the sun was peaking through the clouds, and we had great weather during our distillery tour!

After my dad and mom choked down the wee drams at Glenfiddich, we ate our lunch and headed back toward Aberdeen. We took a stop at Touched by Scotland so mom could look for a few souvenirs. Unfortunately, nothing in the store interested her (nor me), so we were back on our way. The store was a few miles out of the way, but not a big deal because mom and dad got to see what a "country road" looked like... wide enough for one car, but actually two ways. Hah! I dropped my folks off in the city centre of Aberdeen to look for souvenirs, but again no luck :-(

That evening, we took a drive to Lairhillock Inn to enjoy dinner for my parents last night. My mom finally got to taste the delicious dessert of Sticky Toffee Pudding in which I ended up eating it all myself and was way too full afterward. On Friday morning, my parents packed up their things, I took them to the airport, and we said our goodbyes. It was wonderful having them visit me. It was fun getting to show them around my new hometown and its surrounding areas. I am sure I wore them out... I heard dad slept on the plane ride home! I hope they enjoyed it just as much as me, and I hope they come back to visit me again next year!

Crathes Castle was inherited by the Burnett family years ago. Do you know any Burnett's? If so, they would be famous at the castle and can hang up their picture!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dunnottar & St. Andrews with Mom & Dad

Actual date of this event: 8 & 9 October

After a great weekend in Edinburgh with my mom, my dad and Julie, it was time for Julie to make her return back to Louisiana... to good ole Jennings. We had a blast hanging out just the two of us while Luke worked during the day. I may have worn her out a little bit on her visit, but it is something that must be done when there is so much to see! On Monday morning, bright dark and early, Luke took his mom to the airport for her 6:50am flight.

And then there were four. While one had to work.

Luckily it was going to be a nice day, so what else to do on a nice day when I have visitors? Can you guess it? Dunnottar Castle it is! OH. MY. GOODNESS! It was the PRETTIEST day for Dunnottar! It was sunny. It wasnt too windy. It wasnt cold. It definitely wasnt hot. Best. Day. Ever! This was my third time visiting the castle, so I dont mean to brag or anything, but I was pretty much a pro tour guide.

My mom and dad were a treat to take to the castle. Each room we went into, they were trying to figure out either, 1.) what the room was used for, 2.) how it got destroyed, 3.) why it was located in that area of the grounds, or 4.) where items in the room were placed. Okay, maybe my mom and dad are pros.

How did they cook in this kitchen??

Me, on the otherhand, could not take my finger off of the camera trigger. Again.

After leaving Dunnottar, we took a ride to Stonehaven to eat some fish and chips... because it is a must in Stonehaven. And I think I did my job for the day because I had BOTH mom and dad napping that afternoon!

On Tuesday, we made it a long day. Dad's one request while in Scotland, other than to drink some different beers at a variety of pubs, was to take a trip to St. Andrews to see the world's oldest golf course. We left around 10am after I explained to Dad how he was to help navigate me to the tiny town where Prince William and Princess Kate met.

I decided it was best to park at St. Andrews Links (golf course clubhouse) since it was free, and we would make a big circle around the town seeing all of the sites on the list. Here is what we did in our 3 mile loop:

1.) visited the St. Andrews Links (new) Clubhouse and its rooftop

2.) visited the famous Swilcan Bridge

3.) stopped to watch a few golfers tee-off on the 1st hole and finish their round on the 18th hole

4.) watched dad attempt to enter the "Members Only" clubhouse

5.) stopped for souvenirs at the British Golf Museum

6.) stopped in at St. James Catholic Church

7.) stopped at the Museum of the University of St. Andrews

8.) admired, from the outside, the St. Andrews Castle

9.) had a picnic on the Cathedral Ruins grounds where a seagull eyed my sandwich the whole time

10.) took plenty of pictures while visiting the St. Andrews Cathedral Ruins and Cemetery

11.) stopped for the most delicious ice cream I have EVER had at B. Jannettas

12.) took a stroll by the Holy Trinity Church

At around 3pm, it was about time for us to make our way back home. But not without making a quick stop first. Dad wanted to drive by Glamis Castle on the way home. Glamis is a teeny tiny town just a few miles off our route back home and has a very large castle. And that's about all their is in Glamis. This castle is not in ruins, and is actually the residence of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne. It has actually been their home for over 600 years. We knew we did not have enough time to go inside the castle, so we just planned to drive by. The castle is actually 0.9 miles off of the main road... thats right, the "driveway" is practically a mile long! A brochure told us that we would have to pay to even visit the grounds. When we entered the gates, no one was in the entry house, so we just kept going. And when we arrived at the castle in our vehicle, a man asked us if we wanted to see the castle. So, we played dumb and acted as if we knew nothing about how much it cost and when it closed. He kindly directed us to keep going which will take us to the exit. And the exit just so happened to go right in front of the castle again. We got plenty of pictures of the front which is probably the best aspect of the castle!

We arrived back home in Aberdeen around 5pm AFTER Luke had arrived home from work. I am not sure who worked harder that day... me or Luke?

Prince William and Princess Kate met while attending the University of St. Andrews.

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