Sunday, January 13, 2008

Best of 2007 Photos Slide Show

To go along with our 2007 year in review we went through all of our photos and found 44 of our favorites for the year. Originally we hadn't planned on choosing that many for the best of collection but there were so many good photos that captured so many memorable events we didn't have a much choice.

Take a look and let us know if you have a favorite of the bunch. We commented each photo so while you watch the show click on the picture to see the description.

Full Slide Show

Photo Set

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

2007 What a Ride - Year in Review

It has been a whirlwind year for us that started in Kentucky, moving to England, having visited Ireland, Tanzania, France, Italy, ending with a new years bang in Scotland.

We have traveled too many miles to count and we are enjoying our time abroad. I know I know, our carbon footprint is huge. Anyway, we've had the good fortune to spend each of our birthdays on new continent and in different country. I have to say it is incredible to see the sights and sounds from all over the world! So in sum, we want to highlight a few of our most memorable moments from the year.

At the top of the list has to be the trip to Tanzania. Possibly a once-in-a-lifetime trip thanks to my good buddy Sameer, who's wedding we were honored to be a part of.

One of the first days that comes to mind was in Zanzibar at the local outdoor food market. Our tour guide took us around the cornucopia of new and exotic fruits, veg and meats which was overwhelming. Venders and buyers were everywhere selling everything you can image. It was madness and a long way from Kroger.

And how could we forget the animals of Tanzania and how spectacular they were? Watching the lions hunting with such raw power, the giraffes eating high up in the trees, the massive elephants lumbering along, hippos swimming in their own stinky water and gazelles gracefully dashing in the grasslands. It was truly the most amazing experience to date.

Moving on to Europe, we couldn't leave out our journey to Ireland, which was our first real European trip. Missing our connecting flight, having to hop on a train instead to meet up with Mary and Chris. Oh, and not to mention our train car having an electrical fire/smoke en route?! Ireland was a beautiful place to visit - breathtaking. Sheep anyone...

How about the long flight after watching our poor cats board the plane on there way to England? Then the joy of welcoming them to the flat.

Ah, Paris. There is not much to say except that it is the city you expect it to be - beautiful, romantic and alive. Next time we go, we promise to learn some French beforehand!

Another good day was when Steph found an extra ticket to an Arsenal Champions League football match that allowed me to attend. To top it off, Arsenal won 7 – 0.

Then, Thanksgiving day in London with the family, but without turkey and dressing. That family visit was capped by a fun, albeit rainy, weekend in Venice.

Honorable mention goes to riding the Zorb which was an adrenaline fun-filled 45 seconds. And let the record show that we recommended it before the Today Show!

What a ride!

Finally to look ahead to 2008. Some of the trips we are planning include visits to Switzerland, Amsterdam, Rome for Easter, an Italian cooking class and wine tours in Tuscany and then to Germany. If you can believe it that just gets us to June! Plus, we have many friends and family who are planning to visit this coming year. We can't wait to see everybody and hopefully share some of these fabulous travel experiences with them.

2008 promises to be even better so stay tuned...

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Now to Celebrate Hogmanay

By the time we arrived, Edinburgh was already decked out for the Hogmanay celebration with Princes Street closed to traffic and workers everywhere finishing the last minute touches. There was a massive stage at the foot of the castle with a few other minor stages on surrounding streets. There were also a lot of carnival rides decorating the city center.

For us the festivities began on the night of the 30th. Georges Street was closed for a street party full of singing, dancing and other performing arts. One of the most amusing was a pair of non-talking, costumed hairdressers who were making creative masterpieces of peoples' hair. They would silently point to someone in the crowd to come on stage. Then they underwent a hair transformation, most resembling Dr. Seuss styled hair, complete with color spray, hair glitter, pipe cleaners and an assortment of plastic dinosaurs that were wired into the hair.

One impressive style included someones hair turning in to the red and green dinosaur that killed Seinfeld's "Newman" character (remember, when he was running away with the dino DNA, and this little dino looked innocent until he flipped up his bright red and green collar and started hissing?!) Yes, this guy's long hair was transformed into this dino! And topped with a little plastic figurine of the same dino for effect (in case you didn't recognise it!). I tried to get on stage but I am guessing my hair was too short as these styles were mile high and outrageous!

New Years Eve was no less exciting. The street was packed and as it got closer to time you were essentially a sardine on the street! Initially we planned to make our way over to the stage where the Red Hot Chili Pipers were playing. Yes, bag pipe rock! Don't believe me check out this video. Unfortunately navigating the crowd took longer than expected so we just got in to a good position to watch the fireworks.

Amazingly, there was no big announcement or countdown...we heard the crowd start a half-hearted countdown around 5 seconds before - and then the castle went up in a glitter of fireworks! The show was nice but short. And like most public celebrations, the crowd dispersed to the bars, clubs and pubs fairly quickly.

As large as the celebration seemed, we found out that about 100K people attend Hogmanay whereas about 1 million attend NYC! Regardless of the relative size of the event, we had a blast and it was a great way to welcome in the new year and celebrate being another year wiser.

Celebration In Edinburgh

After a whirlwind trip to the US for Christmas we flew back to London, lugged our suitcases full of gifts home, greeted the cats, took a much needed nap (I know it's bad for jet lag but it couldn't be helped), spent the evening unpacking and repacking and flew out the next morning at 7 am. Between the overnight flight back to the UK and the short nights sleep it was a quick few days.

The trip to Edinburgh was marked by two occasions, my birthday and New Years Eve, also known as Hogmanay in Scotland.

The first thing that strikes you about Edinburgh is the castle sitting up on the hill. A dominating presence overlooking the rather historic but modern and hip city. Standing on Princes Street all you want to do is gaze and take pictures of it. It has such old world charm and is still in impressive form. In its day you just know it was a formidable challenge for any opposition standing down below. "Go on lads, try and take that castle..."

After checking into Rick's our boutique hotel and dropping off our luggage we headed toward the castle to start sightseeing. One time saving note for future travellers, if you are in city center wanting to visit the castle just start walking up the hill. Don't try and find a bus that will take you close because they do not take you that close from there as one driver thankfully pointed out. Its only a 5 min walk albeit up the hill.

From the castle you are struck by a great view from the top. Even though parts date back to the 9th century most of its structures date from 16th century forward except for one chapel from the 12th century. Keeping with our celebration theme we watched the new years fireworks display being set up on the tour.

Check out Josh in the castle and with another huge cannon called Mons Meg.

Afterwards we started a conversation with a Scottish whiskey salesman when I was looking at a bottle of whiskey as old as we are (1980!). He pointed out the Whiskey Bible (rating book for the world's whiskeys) and he was telling us one was highly rated. Josh flipped through quickly and found that KY bourbon Woodford Reserve was the same high rating. Proud of our KY heritage, we thanked him and moved on.

Leading up to the castle is The Royal Mile lined with interesting shops and pubs (AKA - tourist traps). Anyone for a kilt?

We tried to visit The Royal Yacht Britannia. Its located on the outskirts of the city at the Ocean Terminal so after a bus ride there it had already closed due to it being new years eve. Instead we had a nice lunch for my birthday where we got the lovely picture above.

So much for sightseeing - its time for the next celebration, Hogmanay...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

I know its a day late but Happy New Year everyone! We are back from Edinburgh, Scotland and had a rockin' New Years eve. The Hogmanay celebrations were worth the trip!

We celebrated Steph's birthday in style and she had a blast.

Best wishes to all in 2008. It's going to be another great year!