Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Guatemala for beginners : Antigua de Guatemala and onwards

Living in Austin is a very happy thing, and I am crazily lucky that I am able to visit family in London and the Cayman Islands so regularly. But my feet have been itching to visit new places for a while - so with Central America on our doorstep (and my appetite for it whetted after my 2011 visit to Nicaragua with CAFOD to film this little treat ... ) we consulted some lovely friends in the travel industry who assured us that if volcanoes and history and hiking were our headline items then Guatemala was not to be missed.

For J's first foray out of Europe and North America (a trip across the Bosphoros in Istanbul to spend half an hour in Asia definitely doesn't count!) we wanted to make sure we were meticulously organised  - so we called in the experts and planned a jam packed 8 days fitting in as many different things as possible.

Guatemala City is less than two hours flights from Houston. Perfect. We set off bright and early on a Friday morning flight and were whisked off by our driver an hour out of the capital to be installed in our Antigua Hotel in time for lunch.

We barely had time to knock back a welcome cocktail and take in the views before the lovely David was knocking on our door to lead us on a walking tour of the city.

And what a city it is. The former Spanish Colonial capital of the then 'Kingdom of Guatemala' it is bursting with well preserved colonial baroque architecture overlooked by three volcanoes. Laid out in a grid system it's easy to navigate and a perfect size to walk around.

And the clouds cleared to blue skies as our guide, who had grown up in Antigua, led us on a higgledy piggledy tour of both the guidebook hot spots and the places he personally loved - all the while pouring out a comprehensive history of the area. Quite overwhelmingly beautiful.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

A New Orleans Thanksgiving

Being a not-American I am a little baffled by thanksgiving - I love turkey, and I love eating - but celebrating it ourselves would seem hollow and, although we had a super relaxed and delicious friends-giving last year - I can't help but feel like a giant phoney even talking about it like its a real thing for a Brit. So when some of our favourite fellow Austinites (and fellow overseas transplants) suggested we road trip to New Orleans, to be thankful for Beignets on Bourbon street, we jumped at the chance.

Five of us, bleary eyed and bed-headed, departed early enough on thanksgiving morning for it to still be dark. We drove East towards Louisiana in the dawn, stopping to stock up on caffeine and tacos en route and arriving in our Apartment just off canal street in plenty of time to explore before supper.

Last time we came this way I was driving and so didn't manage to quite appreciate how glorious the spanish moss is hanging from the cedar trees as we drove over the raised highway.


Friday, 28 August 2015

Prisoners of Chillon - and aspiring residents of Montreaux

Montreaux is like a movie set. We arrived in to our lake view hotel, dumped our bags and set off on foot to walk the water front gardens and explore.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

From the Mountains to the Shore

Waking up to blue skies and this view makes it easy to leap out of bed (nothing to do with the promise of Reblochon for breakfast...)

After scarfing down industrial quantities of cheese - and more croissants than I care to remember - we set off up the mountain behind the chalet to get our blood pumping and take in the views from the peak.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Annecy and St Jean Sixt.

A trip back home for a wedding and a hen party was long enough to whet my appetite for more time East of the Atlantic so, after a month back in Texas with my nose to the grindstone finishing off the last of the school year, we dropped off the dog with friends for seven long weeks and returned back to Europe for a Summer full of (yet more) weddings, catching up, parties and some weekend trips further afield

Wanting some quality time with my parents we planned a four day trip to the French-Swiss Border.  Planning to meet a family friend at the airport in Geneva for a night in her beautiful St Jean Sixt Chalet before leaving for a road trip round Lac Leman / Lake Geneva.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Well I'll be Dam'ed... 36 hours in Amsterdam

Everyone in the world is getting married this year so life is a constant round of hen parties and weddings. But some of them are worth 5000 mile commutes for and Jess definitely qualifies. I've managed to engineer myself on to the right side of the atlantic for the engagement drinks and the hen do - and I could not be a more excited bridesmaid.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Somerset Celebrations - Wedding season begins in the West Country

My short trip across the Atlantic was mainly for the purpose of a road trip down to the West Country to celebrate the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends Tom in Sunny Somerset. Despite British weather being notoriously unpredictable in April - the sun shone, the Somerset sand stone glowed 

and they were led from the village church to their perfect garden party reception by a hairy suited fiddler. 

Have you ever seen such a magic cake? And the blooming magnolia trees inside the marquee were glorious.

We sipped champagne to 'Stomping dave'

Laughed until we cried at the much-too-close-too-the-bone speeches 

And slipped off in to the night to make the long trip back to Surrey before sunrise.

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