Greetings from Cardiff, Wales!
Here I am again, in my home base... The good ole United Kingdom! It's a good thing I'm such an anglophile... I feel like I've been here longer than I have in LA this year! I'm pretty lucky that I have several places here where I could "hang my hat", so to speak... A place in London, a place in Edinburgh, and a place in Cardiff.
It was always my plan to come back here for the holidays though... I wanted to be surrounded by friends and people I love for Christmas, instead of a random hostel somewhere in the world. I'm sure I would have found a way to make it fun even then, but Christmas is and always will be special to me... and I think I'll always want to surround myself with friends or family during this time of the year.
|Tottenham Court Road|
After my stint in Israel, I flew back to London and spent a week with my friend, Lea. It was great to see London all decked out with lights, especially at night. I mean it's already such a beautiful and diverting city to begin with... and showering all that with Christmas spirit just brought the beauty to a whole other level.
I checked out their Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park with a few of my friends...
|London Winter Wonderland|
Though, I have to admit... I might have enjoyed the walk through Hyde Park to get to Winter Wonderland better than I did Winter Wonderland. The Fall colors are BEAUTIFUL...
|Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park|
|The BEAUTIFUL Edinburgh Castle|
I went to visit my friends in Edinburgh for a couple days on a whim. I took the night bus (a 9 hour journey) on a Monday night, got there Tuesday morning, then took the night bus back to London on Wednesday night. It cost me about 15 pounds each way... It would have just been 7 pounds if I had booked earlier. It was short --- but seeing that Edinburgh is one of my favorite places in the world -- it was totally worth it!
They had a Christmas Market right by Princess Street in front of the Edinburgh Castle. It was absolutely beautiful... I honestly could have just sat there, in front of the carousel, for the entire two days I was there. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I LOVE SCOTLAND!!!
I took a day trip to Brighton to visit two fabulous ladies I met in Santorini, Manisha and Laura. I hadn't really been to Brighton before, but heard really good things about it. It's such a cute seaside town with a pier, and a ton of cute little shops and sweet cafe's... It's so colorful and quaint... It's one of those little towns where you can just walk and get lost and find your way again... I love it. It was a pleasant surprise, discovering this hidden gem... and I've already made plans to go back and meet up with my friends again!
|Manisha, Myself and Laura|
CARDIFF and WEST WALES
|Trinity, Abby, Tristan, Kit and Me - after picking out our Christmas Tree, whom we named, Louis.|
Now, I'm here in Cardiff... staying with Abby and Kit (aka Mom and Dad) for the duration of the Holidays. It really feels like this has been my home this year, because --- if my life were like the TV show, FRIENDS, Abby and Kit are like the Monica and Chandler of the group... The "glue" that holds everyone together! My other friends, Chris, Ramya, Lea and Bel who all live in London, and Simon and Venice who both live here in Cardiff, all sort of just gravitate towards Cardiff, to "go home to Mom and Dads" for special occasions. It'll be great to have everyone all together for either Christmas or New Year's...
|A complete group photo of "The Fam" from this Summer|
Some of us have already hung out... We checked out the Winter Wonderland in Cardiff... I saw my first ever REINDEER and it was so magical, I almost cried! (FULL DISCLOSURE: Up until recently, I didn't think reindeer existed. I thought they were as fictional as Santa Clause was.)
And my girlfriends and I have had the chance to go on a proper night out... It's been a while since I got dressed up. It feels sooo good to be a girl again! Not that I ever wasn't... but you know what I mean.
|Abby, Me and Lea|
Mostly though, I've just been at home, helping Abby take care of the baby, Tristan... (I'm a way better babysitter now, by the way)... Been doing a little cooking for them too - which is GREAT, because I get to showcase the stuff I've learned from Italy, Greece and Israel. I've been walking around their neighborhood a lot, enjoying the autumn foliage. Life in Cardiff is so relaxed and quiet. It's a complete contrast to what I've been used to in LA. I do really appreciate the solemnity of being here though. The air is different. It's cleaner, and it smells good. There's no smog, and there's just something about being surrounded by a natural environment.
|This is my everyday life. Walking the dog, and the baby down this path. Pretty isn't it?|
One day, I'll be able to find a place where there's a good balance of both. Right now I'm enjoying the different discoveries... :)
We'll be headed to Kit's mom's house in West Wales over the weekend, and that's where we'll be staying for Christmas, and I'm assuming New Years also. It should be amazing... we've been planning the menu for our entire stay there for weeks (months, for Abby)... The presents have been wrapped, the stockings all hung by the fireplace.. The tree (a real one), lit up... Seriously, the only thing that I could EVER EVER wish for is... SNOW. Please... Please give me snow... It doesn't even have to be on Christmas day... I just want SNOW, please... The kind of snow that makes everything pretty... I would love to be able to experience waking up to see fresh powder outside my window.
But seriously, I've had such a magnificent year... possibly the best of my life so far... so if it doesn't happen, I guess it won't be so bad. There's always next year... :)
And I shall leave you with that for now.
Have a GREAT Christmas, everyone!!!