Monday, July 28, 2014

Greece: An Introduction

Five years ago, Luke and I got married. I realized that year, in 2009, that it was also the year that my sister (Becca) and brother-in-law (BIL for future reference, Eric) would be celebrating their 5th anniversary. That meant that every five years the two of us would have a milestone anniversary. At that time, we decided that in five years, in 2014, we would take a trip together to celebrate our anniversaries. When Luke and I found out we would be moving to Europe, it was a no-brainer for that anniversary trip to be Greece. It was killer waiting so long to visit - the destination for beaches galore! We held out and the four of us met in Greece from June 4-13! Greece is practically everything anyone could want, except for the ability to flush toilet paper down the toilet. (True fact, y'all.) 
It was quite a bit of work to plan the trip since there were four people involved, and it is already difficult to satisfy the needs of just one person when it comes to Greece. Eric and I were in charge of planning the whole thing, and we did many many many back and forth emails and many many back and forth FB messages (the only ways we can communicate for free). We originally decided on visiting two islands and then also Athens. My one requirement was to visit Santorini, and spend no more than two nights in Athens. Eric was in charge of deciding the third island, and he chose Corfu. In the end, we decided to add in a third island, which happened to be Milos. For the majority of us, Milos ended up being our favorite island, and it also allowed us to experience a ferry which we would not have done otherwise. 
{Eric Goins Photo}
It was a busy busy trip, but at the same time, very relaxing. It is pretty difficult to describe our trip to Greece because I really felt like each place we went was so so different! 
Corfu was very green and lush and much larger than three nights worth. (read: here)
Athens was the big busy city which we all surprisingly enjoyed. (read: here, here, here)
Milos was relaxing and serene and exactly as I imagined a Greek island. (read: here, here, here)
Santorini had spectacular sunsets and was where we swam in a volcano. (read: here, here, here, here)
(If I had to pick fourth place to visit in Greece, it would probably be Rhodes, but Naxos would closely follow.)

It is going to be really difficult to sift through all 2,800 of our pictures - hopefully I can manage it in a decent amount of time so I can show and tell all about our days in Greece sooner rather than later.

Greek law states that bottled water cannot be more than 50 eurocents per half liter (very cheap!). When visiting in the summer, it is a necessity to carry water with you at all times.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hampton Court Palace in Surrey, UK

Actual date of this event: 1 June

Back in April when my friend Lauren visited, we went on a tour of the Tower of London. It was quite sad because she knew way more about English history than Luke and I. It was all because she had watched the television show, The Tudors, which goes through the life and wives of Henry VIII and how important his reign was to present day England. Luke and I decided to watch the whole series, and although at times we wanted some characters to "beheading" off the show, we enjoyed learning about some extremely important historical events in England. So, I am writing all of this because Luke and I visited Hampton Court Palace all because it was one of Henry VIII's masterpieces.
The Palace was initially built for Cardinal Thomas Wolesley, but when he received the traitor sentence, King Henry took full ownership. The King expanded the palace quite a bit during his reign creating a massive kitchen, court, and several apartments. It sits right on the River Thames, so back in the day, many arrived and departed by boat - and it is still possible to do this today.

It was a nice day outside, so Luke and I were excited to spend some time in the sun in the palace's lovely garden. Little did we know that the palace is massive, and we spent three hours just inside the castle! By the time we finished touring the castle, we were pretty tired from being on our feet for so long.

The palace tour came with a free audio guide. We listened to some of it, but I am so so glad we watched the television show because we were able to skip quite a bit. If we hadn't, I would have been quite confused with some of the people it was mentioning, and we would have spent days listening to it all! Funny though, each time Wolesly was mentioned, I pictured dinosaur man from Jurassic Park (Sam Neill) as that is who played him in the televsion show haha

{Tudor Family tree}

{King Henry VIII - this is not at all how he looks in the television show}

Since we were visiting on a Sunday, the chapel was closed at certain times - we missed visiting by literally one minute. Oh well. Hampton Court Palace eventually fell into the hands of King William III, who expanded the palace even more. Luke and I didn't give much care to King William's area because we were pretty much done with the palace by that time, and we wanted to enjoy the sun.
{this decor is all created by guns - it was very manly}

Finally, we got out in the sun and walked in the gardens for a bit.

There are a few special aspects to Hampton Court Palace's gardens. The first in the Grape Vine, which is said to be the largest in the world. One massive vine wrapped all around the ceiling/roof of a greenhouse. It was really difficult to take a picture.

The second neat thing in the gardens was the maze. We have visited several cities that have mazes, but Luke and I have never actually done one. When we got in, we sorta regretted the decision to attempt it, but it was part of our ticket, so no money goes to waste! We passed the same people over and over again and went down the same pathways over and over again. Eventually a group of us followed one another to the center which happened to be where the exit was. We win!

After the maze, we headed back home (two hours after we originally planned!). Luckily, the Palace was an easy train ride for us AND within the Oyster Card zones, so it didn't take us long to get back home. Both of us were quite zonked after a longer than expected day, but it was a really nice visit! We really need to do more London exploring...

The last British monarch to reside in the palace was George II (ruled 1760-1801).

NOTE: When Luke and I first moved to London, we stayed in a hotel directly across from the palace, but we had no clue it was there. We totally should have taken advantage of jogging in those beautiful gardens!

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