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Well, we’re back from our whirlwind European vacation and I’ve finally gotten a minute (or two) to relax and peruse through our pictures…which got me thinking – why not share some of our lovely photos and experiences with you?! 🙂

So here I am, sitting and waiting for our reception to creep up on us – just as our wedding did – and while I know I want it to come, I also don’t want it to be over!  So, instead, I’ll reminisce about our honeymoon and entertain you all as well!!

As you may (or may not) know, we started out in Edinburgh, Scotland – made a jump to St. Andrews to say our “I Do’s”, then headed south to London and Paris. 

We. Enjoyed. Every. Minute.

There was truly not a time where we did not have fun…enjoy ourselves…laugh…smile…

Being in a totally foreign location with the love of your life does things to you!  Neil and I have been together for seven years.  Surely, you’d think that in seven years we would know nearly everything about each other.  But when you’re running around in a place where you know no one, where everyone knows you’re a tourist, where – at times – you don’t know the language, you learn new things.  You learn to figure out things when you’re under insurmountable stress.  You learn that maybe you should have spent the extra $100 a night for a hotel room.  You learn that if you just take a minute to talk to the locals, they could cause you to almost lose your head in laughter.  You learn that hole-in-the-wall restaurants are usually the best restaurants…and worth a second visit!  But the coolest part about visiting a totally foreign location for the first time together is that you learn that just as much as you love each other, you also love new places.  And that’s what Neil and I found.  Between all the locations, St. Andrews – and Scotland in general – was our absolute favorite.  Sure, we’re biased…we did exchange our vows in that location…but I’m sure we’re not the only ones to agree that Scotland was utterly ::amazing::

We spent the first night of our excursion to Europe on a plane…a plane not much bigger than one you would take to Florida.  And it wouldn’t have been a complete trip without Neil first getting in a fight with the lady sitting next to him.  Okay, let me back up and set the scene for you.  We board our plane in Newark bound for Edinburgh.  Mind you, we’re boarding the plane a whopping 90 minutes late…but that’s neither here nor there.  We get on board and we’re in a row of three: me next to the window, Neil in the middle, and a nice young gentleman in the aisle.  As they are closing the doors, the nice young gentleman realizes that the row next to us is nearly empty.  Only one person is seated there and oddly enough – it’s his friend!  So he scoots on over and Neil and I are thrilled!  We have an extra seat and now we can really sprawl out and relax.  Oh, but wait, what is this?!  Big Bertha?!  Coming to sit by us?!  Yes. Yes, it is.  A large woman – no far from the size of an old opera singer – comes and sits in that seat.  Which prompts this conversation:

Neil: “Are you going to sit there…the whole trip?”

Lady: “Yes.  The flight attendant said we could sit wherever.”

Neil (as ol’ opera lady is talking with someone she “knows” a couple rows up): “Looks like there’s a seat up there with your friend, why don’t you sit with her?”

Lady: “Oh, I don’t know anyone on this flight.”

Neil: “Um…you’re talking to that lady, clearly you know her.”

Lady: “Nope, I don’t know anyone.”

Neil: “So you’re sitting there the whole time.”

Lady: “Yup.”

Neil: “Okay, well, I have bladder problems so you’ll have to get up a lot.”

Lady: “Oh, grow up!”

Neil: “Oh, no, it’s fine.  I don’t mind getting up every five minutes.”

Okay…yes, my husband (fiance at the time!) likes to argue with middle-aged women – who have nothing better to do than argue with 20-something year old guys.  Cool, opera lady, cool!  So in the end, no, Neil didn’t get up every  five minutes, but we did switch seats – and since I’m such an amazing fiance (now wife!!) – Neil got the window and was able to relax!

Upon arriving in Edinburgh (pronounced: Edin-brah), we were absolute ecstatic!  The weather was far surpassing our expectations and the people were friendly and helpful.  We boarded our double-decker bus…

…headed straight to the top and found a seat.  And, as you can imagine, we took a bajillion pictures in the first 5 minutes simply because we were just so totally amazed!

You can’t tell from the picture…but I’m wearing my super cool Bride-Suit!! 🙂

Cute homes…with cute little yards lined the streets of Edinburgh…

…castle like homes on every corner…

…and upon our arrival to the city center, we were greeted by Scott Monument – in honor of Sir Walter Scott.

It was such a beautiful and majestic medieval structure.  So intricate and gorgeous.   Despite the fact we were absolutely exhausted, Neil and I decided to head out on the town and do some walking around.  We got into Edinburgh around 10am and our parents weren’t going to be in until about noon or 1pm, so we knew we had time to kill.  Plus, our rooms weren’t ready yet, so why not?!  We walked and walked until we stumbled upon a quaint little church on the corner…St. John’s.  We took a peek inside and it was just beautiful…

With stained glass on every window, it was absolutely breathtaking!  It was built in the 1800s (so it’s a modern building – by Scottish standards!) and each of the pews had a different hand-engraved cross at the entrance.  It was amazing. 

After an exhausting day of shopping around the shops and seeing sights, we decided to take a rest in the park…which was just the cutest little park ever!  And they had ice cream – so I took full advantage of that!!

Oddly enough, as we were walking back to the hotel to see if the rest of the family had arrived, we ran into Dave and Troy!  They took us up to the rooms where we took (much needed) showers and got ready for the night. 

We really knew nothing about Edinburgh, so we decided for dinner…we’d just walk around until we found something that looked good!  Little did we know that as we were walking around, we were going to stumble onto a whole new area of Edinburgh that we had no idea existed!!!  The area we had been in was very modern and consisted mainly of high-end mall-type shops.  This new part – on the other hand – was just our calling!!  Tourist shop after tourist shop after tourist shop!!!  A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

So remember that amazing Scottish weather I was talking about?!  Well, the “Scottish weather” part was true.  Like Wendy told me, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait 10 minutes and it’ll change.”  Well, in the hour and a half we were eating dinner, our beautiful weather changed…to tsunami like weather!  Which caused us to be quite the tourists in our Scotland flag umbrellas and Scotland flag ponchos!!

Neil and I took a break from the rain for a quick little photo op!  Right behind us is an adorable little courtyard – they were everywhere!

Needless to say, after a big day of travelling and sightseeing – Neil and I were pooped!  We laid down to watch TV at about 8pm, I woke up at 11pm and headed back to my parent’s room where I crashed until the morning.  Mom and Dad woke up early to head to church while Dave, Ellen, Troy, Neil and I went out on the town to see what we could see!  And boy did we see a lot!!

We saw Edinburgh from the top of Scott Monument…

…and I stole a kiss in the process…

…we squeezed our way back down the monument…and were glad we worked hard to take off those extra five pounds…

…we took a peek around our first (of many) castles…and felt like true royalty!…

The massive-ness of these structures in Scotland were amazing.  To think – all of this was built in a time where there were no cranes…they were no bulldozers…there was NOTHING of modern science available to assist the workers!!  And wow…what a drop off!!!  Talk about intimidating!

The intricate work in the Great Hall Dining Room just took your breath away!

Lots and LOTS of swords!!!  All which lined several rooms of the Castle.

Yes!!  I used a REAL British telephone booth – and I really had to use it, too!!

After Edinburgh Castle, it was off to dinner and then finally St. Andrews!!!!  More to come on that special topic! 🙂

The search has begun for guest hotels!!  We haven’t exactly set a price point, but we’re looking at several options (and several price ranges) for our guests to choose from.  So far, we have about 14 people confirmed for attendance, but there are still several responses yet to be returned.  We’re extremely surprised at the number, especially this early in the game, but we’d like to get some accommodations nailed down so when the time comes, everyone coming will have a few options.  Take a look, and let me know what you think…

The Best Western Scores Hotel…it’s not at all what you think of when you think of Best Western, but it’s nice nonetheless.  We’ve heard good things about this hotel from people who have traveled to St. Andrews.  And my new trusty companion, TripAdvisor has a traveler rating of 3.5 (thanks, Am!!)

Exterior of The Scores Hotel

Exterior of The Scores Hotel

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Next is the Macdonald Rusacks Hotel.  We looked at this hotel during our initial search of a reception venue and we were definitely impressed.  I would suggest that this hotel is about one notch down from The Old Course Hotel.  They are self-described as “a sand wedge from the 18th hole”.  The accommodations are much more expensive as compared to The Scores Hotel, but they deal more with luxury than efficiency!

Entrance to the Macdonald Rusacks Hotel

Entrance to the Macdonald Rusacks Hotel

Macdonald Rusacks Hotel Exterior

Macdonald Rusacks Hotel Exterior

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Some more economical options include two different Ogston’s Hotels: North Street and PilmourWendy describes them as “quite a lively place” so it may be an option for the younger crowd.  Both of these hotels have mixed reviews from TripAdvisor, but like I said, it’s more economical – and when you’re saving money, you really can’t complain!!

Exterior of Ogston's on North Street

Exterior of Ogston's on North Street

Exterior of Ogston's on Pilmour

Exterior of Ogston's on Pilmour