Less than 24 hours until the grand European adventure.  I am nervous and excited . . . but I am ready to go.  I have successfully packed enough belongings into a carry on to last me 10 days (and yes I will be wearing things more than once . . . I’m so not above that).  I have learned my travel skills from the master Rick Steves.  He is a big believer in simple travel, which sometimes means sacrificing looking stylish and modern . . . but realistically . . . I wasn’t looking to hang out with Prince Harry or Pippa Middleton on this trip, so looking stylish is not a high priority.  I have packed a couple of scarves to jazz up my solid colored t-shirts, that’s about as crazy as I’ve gotten!  I hardly consider my 10 days one carry-on bag an accomplishment after I did the same for a 21 day trip.  This was a breeze!

I probably won’t keep up with the blog while I’m gone . . . internet isn’t free and I’m going to focus on being in London!  I will definitely be updating things upon my return.  I cannot believe it will be September when I get back!  Time for football and sweatshirts.  Woot!


one week.

My European adventure begins in 7 days.  YIKES!  This trip has creeped up on me quickly, but I am ready for it . . . and by ready, I mean we have virtually no plans, and are prepared to fly by the seat of our pants.

As this is my second European adventure, I feel like a somewhat seasoned veteran . . . plus there is no language barrier . . . just really awesome accents.  It should be a relatively smooth trip (cross the fingers) since we’ve decided to set-up a home base in London for 9 nights.  We won’t have to deal with multiple hostels/hotels and running around city to city.  I have decided to travel with the mindset that I will go back someday, so there is no reason to cram in a gazillion things into your one itinerary.  This trip is solely to see England . . . we’re not even venturing to Scotland or Wales.  I’ll just save that for another day!  I can’t wait to leisurely walk through Hyde Park, grab a beer at a pub, and enjoy high tea.  No matter how many famous churches or museums I see, I really think it’s those everyday experiences that are my favorite part of traveling.

My latest Europe trip had me thinking about my previous experience and how much has changed since I took that trip 3 years ago.  I actually went back to my travel journal and read day by day my thoughts and feelings over the nearly 20 days I was gone.  It was an interesting look at the person I was at 21 . . . scared, complacent, and lacking any confidence.  Basically I was accompanying my ex-boyfriend on a trip . . . I did not have much say in what we did or where we went . . . and I just let him get away with that!   Hindsight is always 20/20, but when someone writes in their journal “we had good times and ugly times,” about their travel partner . . . one could probably deduct that there wasn’t going to be a fairy-tale ending.  Although, ironically, this story does have a happy ending . . . the past three years, I’ve put myself first, and I’m better for it!  I know I never would have had the confidence or drive to take this trip even a year ago.  Maybe this is the great epiphany than comes at 25?  I love the quarter-life crisis.

Bottom line . . . this is my trip.  I cannot wait!

In other news, I’m sure everyone is on pins and needles waiting for the results of my road-trip weekend with TJ.  Good news, we still like each other.  It was a LONG trip, but fun to spend 4 whole days with him and meet more of his friends.  I also enjoyed our mini-vacation to Louisville.  We went on the Louisville Slugger factory tour, the Jim Beam distillery tour, and hit up the KY State Fair (NOT as good as the Iowa State Fair . . . duh).  This was all great, but I think maybe my favorite part of the weekend was hanging out with TJ back in Iowa on Monday night.  He made a delicious supper on the grill, we sat on the deck. enjoyed the great outdoors, and just talked.

Off to bed.   Only two more days of work!

life update.

For once my lack of blogging is related to living life versus living work.  it has been a whirlwind of a few weeks.

The month started out quite frustrating.  I was scheduled to have a week of vacation, but then felt guilted by my manager to work during my PTO (yes I realize that I am giving far too much to my career).  I was VERY upset by this . . . which was primarily the result of fatigue resulting from eight months of straight work.  This was all very frustrating and difficult to process, but a small miracle did save me.  Someone in the firm was actually looking out for my well-being!  The partner on my job knows how frustrated/tired I have been, and he really understood that I NEEDED this vacation for my sanity.  He called me up on Monday and told me that they were making changes to my schedule to allow me to take that vacation at a later date, and then on Wednesday he explicitly told me to walk out of the audit room at 2PM and to not look back.  I followed directions.  When you boss says leave . . . you listen and never look back.  So I actually got two days of vacation that week, which is better than zero!

That weekend I had a mini vacation planned to go to my roommates wedding in Minnesota.  I headed up to the Twin Cities with my friends J&M early (and I mean EARLY . . . aka 5AM) Friday morning.  We did some hard-core MoA shopping, which resulted in the purchase of these lovely Sperry Topsiders.  I had some self-control on my spending!  We shopped until we dropped around 4:00, and headed to check-in at the motel.  I conveniently napped until my wonderful date (yes TJ), arrived.  We enjoyed a wonderful weekend together (ah yes . . . and a wonderful wedding).  Among the highlights:  my first Twins game at Target Field, the lovely weather, late night chats on the golf course, salmon dinner, flying with TJ, and just loving life.  It was fantastic.  The weekend ended with TJ dropping me off at the airport for my trip to Orlando for training.  I didn’t want to leave.

Training in Orlando was . . . training.  I tried to learn what I could and enjoy time away from the office with my co-workers.  One night I participated in a focus group related to women at the firm, and felt like I actually made valid comments that might be considered by senior leadership.  I also enjoyed plenty of free wine and good conversation.

I made it back home safely from Orlando late last week . . . enjoyed another day of PTO . . . had another wedding (sounds like déjà vu right?!?).  There were a couple of awesome surprises in there too, including a visit on Saturday from one of my VERY bestest friends J, who is moving across the country.  We enjoyed good conversation and some Red Mango (delicious)!  I also enjoyed a spontaneous trip to visit TJ.  I was not expecting to see him at all this weekend, and I made the “short” drive to visit.  It was worth it.  He grilled me an amazing “lupper” (lunch/supper) which included steak, corn, and some amazing stuffed mushroom things.  We then went boating on the lake.  I was convinced to go tubing, and consequently I am SORE today.  I can’t remember the last time I tubed (probably 10 years ago with Dr. Burt) . . . but it was actually kind of fun.  The weather was gorgeous . . . and it ended up to be a surprisingly perfect Sunday.  I generally dislike surprises, but this spontaneous fun is something I can enjoy.  

For those wondering . . . TJ and I have not had the “DTR” and I am not really planning to . . . maybe the pros and cons of a “DTR” will be another blog post.  For now I am just enjoying life as it is.

P.S.  Third wedding in a row this weekend.  This is one of TJ’s friends . . . big road trip!