Hi there everyone,
We got back last night from a whirlwind Spring Break to England, Paris, and Santa Barbara. We’re a little tired but it was heaps of fun! We’ll try to keep this short so that you read it all
Our pictures perhaps tell a better story, so make sure to check them all out in our photo gallery – a picture is worth a thousand words after all!
We arrived in London on Thursday at lunchtime after a 10 hour flight from SFO – at least it was direct – and headed straight to Keiren’s place in Chalk Farm. It was great to see him, and he generously gave up his room to us. After a quick freshen up, we cracked a bottle of bubbly to celebrate our arrival with Keiren, and his room mate Bianca. After that it was off to lunch and a beautiful walk around Primrose Hill, Regents Park and St John’s Wood. We were joined by Georgia, Dad’s god daughter, and James Spalding, an old friend from Singapore, so it was great to see them. London had decided to turn on the sunshine for us, so it was beautiful walking around.
Thursday evening Keiren headed to bed (he works from 3am-11am!!) while we headed to a local gastro-pub called the Engineer for a yummy dinner and a catchup with friends from Sydney (Xummy, Huy, Shaun, Liz and James) as well as my cousin Andrew, and his girlfriend Josie. It was a great evening, although Jacs and I faded fast and headed home for a relatively early night.
On Friday morning, Jacs and I headed into town to do the touristy thing We walked around Regent St, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, down to Trafalgar Square, and then hopped on the tube back to Primrose Hill for lunch with Keiren, and Craig and Julia Buchanan – relatives of ours. Keiren had booked us in at a cute little Greek place and we had a lovely time catching up and enjoying the sunshine. After lunch we headed for a walk up to Hampstead, an area just beyond Chalk Farm which was really pretty, before having a quick rest and a cider at Keiren’s. The day had flown by, and it was time to head out for dinner and drinks with friends of ours near Marble Arch. It was a great turnout with about 20 friends (from Singapore, Sydney, and Santa Barbara) all coming along. We had such a fun night (Nat – thanks so much again for organising dinner and everyone else for coming ) Keiren even joined us for the evening which meant that he had been up for 24 hours by the time we got home!
Saturday morning it was time to head to the Midlands. The three of us picked up our rental car and headed to the Spalding’s House in Gloucestershire (with a minor hiccup since the freeway exit to their house was closed and we didn’t have a phone!). Duncan and James were still in London, but we had a wonderful (and huge!) lunch with Linda and Steve. After lunch we were back on the road to Milwich to stay with Auntie Elaine and Uncle Richard. We stayed with them for 2 nights and had such a great time catching up with them, as well as my Cousin Peter and his fiancee Kay, and their little daughter Isla May who is incredibly cute. We also got to hang out with Grandma Lila who we haven’t seen for years. In May, Grandma turns 90 and Peter and Kay get married so seeing them was the reason for the trip. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see Melissa and her husband Ben as she happened to have her baby, Jack, while we were there so obviously couldn’t come to Milwich. Congrats to both of them!!
On Monday morning, Jacs and I headed back to London (Keiren had left by train Sunday afternoon to get to work!) and met Keiren for lunch, and then went for a wander around Kensington, had a picnic in the park, then walked around Chelsea and ended up at Big Ben. Keiren then headed home for some rest while Jacs and I went for a yummy pub dinner in Soho (I still hadn’t had a pie), followed by drinks at a cool bar called Cottons in Camden. We got back to Keiren’s place and had some drinks with his room mate Bianca and another friend Mary, before getting a few hours rest – we had to get up at 5am for our train to Paris!
Oh Paris, how we love thee! Ben’s handed the blog over to me as I planned dour Paris adventure. We had two short days to reunite with Paris. When we arrived off the Eurostar we checked into the hotel and went for a stroll straight away. For Ben’s birthday, Mom treated us to an lovely stay at the Hotel de Lille which is ideally located right next to the river in between the Musee D’Orsay and the St. Germain district. We walked and walked and walked all day on Tuesday – seriously everywhere. From the Marais to the Arc de Triomphe and everywhere in between. It was amazing. The weather was beautiful too – we couldn’t have asked for anything more. That night we hit the Barrio Latino for dinner. After strolling from our hotel through the streets for nearly an hour we settled on a traditional French dinner of three courses – a bit of escargot, French Onion soup, and Beef Bourgonign. Since it was Ben’s birthday ‘down under’ we went all out and even had dessert I wore the newest addition to my wardrobe – a gorgeous sequined cardigan that Keiren gave me for my birthday
We were exhausted after dinner so after dinner we hit the hay. We woke up early the next morning (BEN’S BIRTHDAY!!!!) After a birthday breakfast of Pain au Chocolate we headed out for a jam packed day. First stop the Eiffel Tower. Since one of the lifts is broken I couldn’t get tickets online, so decided we’d just beat the crowds by getting there a bit earlier than everyone else. It paid off. I’d never been to the top and although it was a bit foggy, it was gorgeous and we had a great time. To head back we hopped on the Velib bikes which were great fun. We biked from one side of the city to the next and back again. For lunch we headed to Ile St. Louis (which as Keiren suggested to us, was so sweet) with a birthday picnic of freshly baked baguette, a beautiful French Gruyere, a bit of Fig jam, some salami and of course some celebratory Lambrusco. Happy Birthday Ben! After a delicious, relaxing picnic in the sun, we strolled back to the Jardin Tuileries where we spent the afternoon soaking up the sun on the grass in front of the Louvre.
For Ben’s birthday dinner we headed to the Marais. After a few cocktails at a few different bars along the way, Ben was really craving Italian food so we popped into an Italian pizzeria where we sat outside and watched the world go by while indulging in some thin crust heaven. We couldn’t leave Paris without a crepe, so believe it or not, after dinner on our stroll back to the hotel we stopped for a Nutella crepe (it was his birthday afterall!!) That final stroll through the city and along the river was so much fun. We took some amazing night shots, so definitely check them out.
The next morning we were up bright and early to catch the Metro to the airport in time for our flight. Au revoir, Paris. We miss you!!!! Back to you Benjamin!
After getting back home at about 8pm, we unpacked and had a nice early night and a good rest – we were exhausted from the trip. The following morning, we woke up early because of the jetlag, but had a slow morning before getting on the road to Santa Barbara at 9.30. We were heading there for Amy (a friend from Singapore that lives in LA) and Greg’s wedding on Saturday afternoon. Coincidentally however, Saturday was also a triathlon at UCSB in memory of a girl, Kendra, who was hit by a car in training while Jacs was on the team. A lot of Jacs’ old team mates were down in SB to take part so it was great to see all of them – Jacs is convincing me to take part next year.
By the time we got to Santa Barbara it was 3pm, so we checked in to our hotel in Montecito and went for a nice run along the beach. We then decided to go for a stroll along State St (downtown SB), and have a happy hour drink Jacs’ tri friends were having a pasta dinner pre-race so we went and joined them for the evening which was fun!
Saturday morning we headed out to Isla Vista (where UCSB is) for a run along the cliffs and a surf at Sands, the beach there. We also went and watched the triathlon and supported Jacs’ friends. Before long it was time to head to grab a quick bite to eat before getting ready for the wedding. Jacs’ cousin Tally happened to be in town so we met her for lunch, and then headed back to the hotel.
The wedding ceremony was beautiful – it was in a gorgeous spanish style church in the hills, and Amy looked great. After the ceremony we had 2 hours till the reception, so we popped in to town for a glass of wine with Jacs’ friends at a new winery tasting room, Municipal Wines, which was delicious so we bought a bottle. We looked a little out of place in our fancy outfits
The reception was at the Valley Club of Montecito and no expense had been spared! It was an awesome evening (despite the fact that unfortunately it was raining!). There was a fun band, dancing, delicious food, and lots of drinks for all (which contributed to the dancing )! There were a couple of people from school in Singapore that I didn’t know were coming, but other than that we didn’t know many people. Nevertheless, it turned out that we all had a lot of connections in common since most of the families had been expats in Singapore.
In a funny coincidence, the wallpaper at the reception was by the same designer as the wall paper at Jacs’ parents house where they have all of their family photos taken – they call it ‘prom wall’. We had to get a photo!
Sunday morning was a beautiful sunny day, and to my delight a big swell had come in. I got up early and headed to Rincon, a world famous break, for some AWESOME waves. I was super excited to be able to surf and spend some time at the beach! After the surf, i headed to the hotel, and we had a gentle morning wandering around town enjoying the sunshine before doing the drive back to Berkeley.
After all of that we’re both back at work/school! We need another break!
Ben and Jacs