Category Archives: Travel

I’ve Missed You Too

I’ve had a pretty prolonged and unexpected absence from the blog. Sometimes, that just happens with me. But other times, such as this, there is an explanation. And this time, I think it’s kind of fun and exciting!

After much consideration over the past year, many late night deliberations with Mike, and weepy phone calls with my mother and best friend, I have decided to take my career in a new direction. I went into the field of health and health care partly because it interested me but most because I really wanted to help people. I have learned a ton in the last three years working in the policy arena, but I was ready to explore a career that brought me in closer contact with actual people. After researching, soul-searching, and finally taking a big leap of faith, I put in applications to get my Masters in Social Work… and wouldn’t you know it, I got in.

So this was my big, long-winded lead into a big announcement… I am going back to school! Starting full-time in August, and for the next two years, I will be pursuing my MSW at Catholic University here in DC. I’m so excited about this I can’t even tell you. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner! The program at Catholic is the perfect fit for my interests while still allowing me to continue my life here in DC with Mike and the kitties.

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I would be remiss not to mention how unbelievably supportive Mike has been through this whole process. I am one lucky gal to have a partner / future husband who supports my dreams and ambitions.

So basically, the last couple weeks have been CRAZY with making decisions, gathering paperwork, finishing out other commitments. And then… I took a break. We went to my parents’ house in North Carolina for Memorial Day Weekend (where I understand we were possibly the only people on the Eastern Sea Board with decent MDW weather) and now I blogging to you from Sunny California! (If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram – which you totally should – you already know this is where I am because I can’t stop taking pictures).

I had some days off and Mike had to take a business trip to the LA area. I bought a plane ticket and tagged along. I have never been to California before so I thought I couldn’t pass up this chance! It’s been amazeballs so far.

Anyways, I’m gonna log off now and get ready to head down to Newport Beach for dinner with Mike and a college friend of mine who lives in the area. Just wanted to pop in, say hello, tell you my news, and let you know that I missed you!! I promise to resume regular blogging again starting… RIGHT NOW 🙂

Questions for you guys:

  • What did you do for MDW? Anything else fun you did that I missed??
  • Any social workers or MSW students out there?? Show yourselves!
  • Favorite place in California? 
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Scenes from Saturday and (Part of) Sunday

If the past two days are any indication of the holiday ahead, I am one lucky girl 🙂 Mike and I arrived at his parents’ house outside Charlottesville late on Friday evening for an amazingly full but also relaxing weekend. Instead of writing a full recap (which would take way too long and I’ve got cookies in the oven and a fire going right now), here are some scenes from the weekend.

Saturday 8 mile run. It was windy as hell but I loved it 🙂
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Been using my new Aeropress coffee maker EVERY day. The coffee it makes is AH-mazing.

And of course, topping it off with egg nog.

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Mike’s mom spoils us with delicious veggie scrambles from their beautiful garden… and pickles!

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Decorating the Tosto family Christmas tree!

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Curled up on the couch reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with Little Mac at my feet

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Attending the Rapunzel’s Christmas Party

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Where we watched Mike’s mom perform as a member of the Charlottesville Albemarle Flute Ensemble!

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Sunday afternoon watching the Charlottesville Municipal Band perform in town (Mike’s mom on the flute and his brother on the tuba!)

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Finishing up last minute Christmas shopping on the mall. And I bought this SWEET hat that is shaped like a koala bear. I am obsessed with it.

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Swung by the DoubleTree Hotel to check out the gingerbread house village. Amy, this made me think of you!

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Fig and Mike wrapped some last minute gifts.

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And now I’m enjoying a hot cup of kukicha tea and getting ready for a night in with a fire, cookies, some presents, and maybe even a movie 🙂

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Catching Up

Helloooo boys and girls 🙂 I’m sure you’ve all been as busy as us this week preparing for the impending holidays! I have a pretty strict (READ: anal) approach to leaving for a vacation. My food purchasing / meal planning is like a science, complete with a complete refrigerator clean out the night before we leave. Today’s lunch features my classic “use it all up” salad, where I basically dump every leftover in the refrigerator on top of a bed of lettuce and call it a day. Today’s lunch includes romaine lettuce, yellow bell pepper, shredded carrot, cucumber, chopped celery, cherry tomato, chick peas, diced ham, and blue cheese… helloooo nurse. If only I had ANY sort of appetite this week 😦 ho hum. I also have to make a meticulous packing list / take my time or else I will most definitely forget something (I one time packed for an entire weekend in NYC with no bra… not a single bra).

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We are traveling with the kitties this week too so we had to start mentally preparing them to get in the carriers. Little Mac is very intuitive, so if he senses we’re about to travel, he’ll just hide under the bed. Therefore, we have to get the carrier out days in advance and then snatch him when  he is least expecting it. Fig has a carrier, but I also have a leash for him. Little Mac will hide under the bed, but once you pick him up, he basically submits to going into the carrier (he cries a lot though and it’s really sad). Fig, on the other hand, will fight you until the end. I actually cannot get him in the carrier alone. The last time I tried to put him in by myself, he drew blood. By the end, he was crying in the carrier, and I was sitting on the floor of my living room crying and bleeding from my hands. I decided to give the leash a try. He doesn’t walk on the leash, but he does let me pick him up and carry him to the car. I use the leash just as a back up in case he jumps out of my arms.

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All in all… Christmas presents are wrapped, bags are packed, the refrigerator is empty of any perishable food, and Operation Trick the Kitties is well underway. Hopefully tonight goes smoothly (pray for us).

On the sickness front… the week started out abysmal and is ending on a relatively positive note! Mike was the worst I’ve seen him yet on Monday and Tuesday. It was truly heartbreaking to see someone who I love so much in so much pain. Luckily, he went to see his primary care physician on Tuesday afternoon and got a pretty aggressive course of steroids to help with his symptoms (he had such a bad sore throat / swollen tonsils and glands that the poor guy could barely eat, swallow, or sleep!) After only a couple days, he is like a different person! He’s still not 100% and is being careful to rest, hydrate, and get enough to eat. All in all… a lot of R&R at the POTR household this week.

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I was on the verge of a total meltdown earlier this week about my potentially getting sick too (you remember by very dramatic Marathon Musings). I freaked out and went to an urgent care center near my office on Monday at lunch. Luckily, I got an awesome nurse practitioner (I fully support NPs… see them ALL the time and they are amazing) who is ALSO a marathon runner. She did oblige my request to give me a mono test, which, as of Monday, was negative. However, she cautioned me that this didn’t necessarily mean I wasn’t getting mono. She urged me to just relax and try to stay as healthy as possible. I’ve had no appetite this week, and I’ve actually been a little nauseous too. I’ve still been eating relatively normally (me? not eat? surely you jest) but I’m not really enjoying it (except last night we went out for pizza… I enjoyed that very much). I’ve also been pretty tired, so I’ve been budgeting in a little extra sleep every night (I normally sleep 7 hrs per night, this week I’ve been getting more like 8 – 10) I talked to her a lot about training for the marathon and she was very reassuring. Mike read this article that suggested that if you get a mono diagnosis, you shouldn’t run for 10 weeks! This had me TOTALLY freaking out. The NP suggested that I take it easy this week, to not put too much stress on my body. I’ve run some but not as much as my schedule called for. My muscles have been VERY fatigued (on Tuesday evening, I felt like I had just run a half marathon, not a 5 mile marathon tempo run) so I’ve been doing my best to listen to my body. I’m hoping that taking a little rest this week will allow me to come back to normal next week or the week after. She reminded me that I still have PLENTY of time, and encouraged me not to freak out just yet. Sometimes you just need a professional to say these things to you 🙂

Before I sign off… Mike and I exchanged Christmas presents last night! We like to do this privately before we join our families for the holidays. I got Mike this awesome plaque from the Philly Marathon with his finish line photo and his name / time, and I am making him a scrapbook with all of his race numbers. Right now we just have them piled in a drawer. I thought this would be a better way to store them / remember all of the races! Finally, I got him this SWEET camping chair with a footrest. Last year at Bonnaroo, some other people had one and we were all about it.

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Mike came up big for me this year too … because he is wonderful and thoughtful and amazing. I LOVE coffee (as I mentioned earlier this week) and I wanted a french press to make better coffee at home. Well, Mike put on his researchers hat and did me one better! He got me a hand grinder for beans (and a bag of Starbucks Christmas blend whole bean coffee) and this AWESOME Aero Coffee Press. Apparently it’s even better than a french press and makes amazing quality coffee. I cannot wait to use it. I’m tempted to bring it with me for the holidays 🙂

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Gifts or no gifts… I am the luckiest girl in the world to have Mike 🙂 But I LOVED this gift. It’s very me and I can’t wait to enjoy it. I’m going to bring my laptop with me on vacation, but I doubt I’ll be daily blogging. I am hoping to check in a couple times, but we’ll see how it goes 🙂 I am looking forward to some serious R&R, and quality family time.

If I don’t talk to you… MERRY CHRISTMAS! Or if you don’t celebrate Christmas… it’s a great day to go skiing!

Run to Recover in NYC

Many people (most of them related to me) thought it was pretty stupid that I went to New York City last weekend. I don’t blame them for having that opinion, but I could not be happier with my decision to go. At the time, we did think the marathon was going to happen. We learned while on the bus to NYC (thank you Twitter) that it was not happening. I’m really not interested in discussing the politics of that decision here. The situation in New York and New Jersey is extremely upsetting. But I will only say this – In times of disaster, sometimes people just need someone to blame. I understand that desire to look for blame. But I was really disappointed to see so many negative comments and statements made towards the people who were going to run the marathon. I think that was just misplaced aggression. Times like these can, unfortunately, bring out the worst in some and that always makes me very sad.

That being said, in trying times such as these, even though I often feel disappointment in how some react, I am always equally if not more blown away by the resilient and enduring nature of the human spirit. I lived through 9/11 in New York / New Jersey. This storm has brought horrible destruction to these areas, but I have never doubted for one moment that they will emerge on the other end of the trial stronger than ever. So I went to New York with a heart full of faith and trust… and I had a blast.

One of the best parts of the weekend was getting to participate in the Run to Recover in Central Park. On Sunday morning, Mike and I walked over to Central Park to join thousands of other runners doing loops of Central Park. Some people were out there legitimately running a marathon (that would be over 4 loops of the park… woof). I have to give these folks SO much credit. If my marathon had been cancelled in the spring, I definitely would’ve just cried and ate ice cream. People were donating clothes, running to raise money for relief charities, and also getting out there and achieving a goal they set for themselves in the face of extreme opposition. I also want to say a big thank you to the people who came out to cheer in the park. That was by far the coolest experience of my life (never have I ever had thousands of people cheering for me during a training run).

I actually had an amazing run, which was just the icing on the cake. I was so pumped up by the crowds and all the inspirational people around me I ended up moving really quickly! At one point I looked at my Garmin and I was doing 8:30 min / miles! That is not something I do. People were also giving me a lot of shout outs for my shirt (which is, let’s be honest, amazing). Thank you New York for an amazing weekend. And for once again reaffirming for me that we are all stronger than an obstacle.

So like I said above, I’m not interesting in discussing the politics of Sandy, the NYC Marathon, or anything like that so unfortunately I will moderate / delete any comments I decide I do not want on my blog. I really try to keep this as a positive and constructive space where I share my life. Let’s leave the negativity behind and come together to support those in NYC and NJ who need our help. If you are interested in opportunities to help out in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy I’ve included just a couple links below:

– Support this Staten Island based running blogger whose family lost their home and all their belongings by donating or helping them rebuild

Support the ING New York Marathon and New York Road Runners Race to Recover

Call Me Crazy

I’m going to New York City this weekend.

That’s right… you heard me. Tomorrow afternoon I am getting on Bolt Bus (that I have been assured is actually operating) and I am going to New York City to see my friends. I haven’t been able to get myself together for a trip to New York in over two years, and I’ll be damned if Sandy is going to stop me. Both people who are housing us this weekend have power and water (they live on the Upper East and Upper West sides, thankfully not downtown) so with a little elbow grease, I think we’re gonna pull this off.

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Here’s how I plan to make this happen:

1. Prepare for a long bus trip. It is unclear what kind of traffic we are looking at so even though the bus is scheduled to take about 4 hours, it could be a lot more. Preparations will include dinner / snacks / drinks (potentially alcoholic hehe) and books / movies to watch. Luckily, Mike and I will be together so we have company!

2. Get ready to walk. It is very possible that we will spend a lot of the weekend walking places since the subway is running on very limited service. No worries for me though… since I’m piling on the miles this month anyway. I’m bringing comfy shoes / clothes and packing in a backpack. Urban hiking at its finest.

3. Embrace the situation. I’m going for one reason and one reason only… to see my friends. My life (like most people’s) is BUSY and there are few weekends where this trip is possible. In the words of Tim Gunn… I’m gonna make it work.

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The NYC marathon is running (so we won’t be the only people crazy enough to go into New York) and I’m gonna be there with bells on, hanging out and catching up with my friends.

Bring your worst New York… I’m coming for you!

A Summer in Summation

We’re not doing Friday Favorites this week. I lost my iPhone on the cruise (wahhhhhhhhhhh) and then I got an insurance replacement but of course it’s a piece of crap refurbished phone so I hate it and I’ve kind of been avoiding it. Therefore, I didn’t take any pictures of my “favorite happenings” of the week this week. Let me think of a few of my favorite moments of the past week right now: Mike and I went whitewater river tubing in Harper’s Ferry, WV for our one-year anniversary on Saturday. Then we went out for pizza at Pete’s New Haven Apizza (the site of our very first date actually… and he let me order a WHITE PIZZA woot woot). Then he gave me this 🙂 (ok I lied, I took one picture this week… but the lighting isn’t good b/c my apartment is like a cave.

Woohoo my very own motorcycle jacket!!!! And it’s awesome because it is purple / pink with a sparkly design on the shoulder. He even got the size right… good for you honey! Now I really wanna go for a ride.

I digress… other favorite moments of the week: I ate Carvel Ice Cream Cake which is absolutely the best ice cream cake available and my friend Bryan and I ALMOST won a cornhole tournament at our company picnic yesterday. We lost in the championship game… womp womp. Anyways, that’s it. I’m really, really looking forward to this holiday weekend because Mike and I are visiting his family in Charlottesville!! I cannot wait to get out of the city and enjoy some sun, fresh air, and lake water.

It’s Labor Day though which means that another summer has come to an end (I know the season isn’t technically over, but I run my seasons more on a monthly basis meaning June, July, August are summer and then September, October and November are Fall). So today’s post is a summer in summation!

Here are my favorite things I did this summer, and the posts that go along with them 🙂

Bonnaroo Day 1, Bonnaroo Day 2, Bonnaroo Day 3

Hiking w/ Mike 

Father’s Day

One Year Anniversary with Mike

My trip to Europe: Post 1, Post 2, Post 3

Trail Running

A Day at the Beach

Now I’m setting my sights on the Fall and thinking about the exciting things that will be happening this season! Monday, there’s another seasonal checklist coming your way so stay tuned and HAPPY LABOR DAY WEEKEND!!! Here’s a picture of Fig just to keep you going…

Vacation Favorites

I know I know I promised I would be back on Monday with all kinds of updates on my trip but I’ve been dealing with some serious jet lag this week, compounded by the need to get back to work after two (glorious) weeks off, and I am covered head to toe in an allergy rash (oh yeah… sexy stuff I know). My goal today is to find an allergist and get an emergency appointment! Anyways, about my vacation! I honestly can’t even say enough about this trip. I lack the words to describe what an amazing life experience it was… and so much fun! I could literally spend the next month blogging about this trip but I HIGHLY doubt anyone is actually interested in that. So here is a one post recap of my absolute favorite moments / events of the trip. (I also finally got pictures up on Facebook today. So if we’re friends… go there for more info if you want it!).

Spending a night in Tivoli Gardens and the G Man showcasing flowers at The Botanical Garden at Rosenborg Palace in Copenhagen

Dancing on deck as we sail away from Copenhagen!

The G Man posing at the Vigeland Sculpture Garden in Oslo, Norway

Traipsing around the Danish countryside in Aarhus… by bus, steam train, and foot!

The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

Leisurely day at sea with pool time and trivia sessions

General family silliness in Rakvere, Estonia. Sword fighting and vodka tastings

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, drinking 7 bottles of vodka with 15 other people and one guide on the “Fun Tour” of Russia, sunset on the water, and wandering the extensive gardens of Peterhof Palace

Climbing to the top of Temppeliaukio Kirkko (The Rock Church) in Helsinki, playing with horses at a horse breeding farm specializing in Finnish Warmbloods, and wandering the cobblestone streets of Porvoo eating toffee.

Freezing my patooty off in the Ice Bar at the Nordic Sea Hotel in Stockholm (The very first permanent ice bar!)

Relaxing final day at sea. Enjoying sun and unusually warm weather by the pool and watching Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows on the outdoor movie screen

Allow me to take one self-indulgent moment just to say thank you to my family for this once in a lifetime experience. I was so surprised how many people on the trip were astounded that we all still traveled together even though Doug and I are adults. I think it speaks volumes of the depth of our connection to one another. We aren’t perfect and we certainly have our moments, but I am thankful every single day for my family and this trip created memories that will last a lifetime.

Now vacation is over (sad face) but I am glad to be home to my baby Fig and of course Mike (I missed both of them SO MUCH). There is a still a bit of summer left here in DC so I am hoping to squeeze all the remaining juice out of this season before heading into what I think will be a really exciting Fall. Lots of exciting things on the horizon so stay tuned 🙂

 

 

 

Taking a little break…

Hey party people!! Here’s the deal! I’m currently connected to satellite internet on the cruise ship but it’s really slow (too slow to upload any pictures or do any real blogging) and honestly I’m busy busy busy enjoying my vacation. I didn’t get all my posts pre-scheduled for this week so I think there are a couple but I’m not totally sure. Basically… POTR is taking a little break and I’ll be back next week 🙂 Until then!

Friday Favorites

It will come as no surprise that this week’s Friday Favorites will feature all pictures from my couple days spent in Copenhagen. These are just a collection of my favorite “fun shots”. Hope you guys are enjoying the posts while I am away! I was able to sneak in one post about the trip yesterday but I’m on the cruise ship no so we’ll see how that changes! Love and hugs!!


“MySpace” style self-portrait at the top of the spire of the Church of our Savior (I was all by myself and I wanted photo evidence that I climbed all the way to the top!!)

Copenhagen is considered one of the most “bike-friendly” cities in the world… and people seem to know it! Apparently 1 in 3 people in Copenhagen travel by bike. This is a bike rack outside a metro station… ridiculous. They don’t even always lock them up either!! Obviously this is not DC.

My mom and I enjoying a delicious locally brewed Danish beer at dinner.

My dad and I tried the traditional “Shooting Star” at lunch. This dish includes boiled / breaded herring on a slice of bread with shrimp, asparagus, and caviar. It was… AWESOME.

Walking along the river one afternoon we found this weird trampolines! Obviously my mom and I wasted no time getting on them and taking many silly pictures. That Danish boy doesn’t look that pleased but we had a BLAST.

Week in Workouts: Thankfully I have been able to stay really on track and I feel great about it. My weekend got really crazy before we left on Sunday evening so by the time we landed on Monday morning I was DYING for a workout. Only complication has been all the treadmills measure km/hour and all the weights are in kilograms. I really struggle with the metric system so it’s been kind of trial and error 🙂

Friday 8/3:

  • 60 Minute Spinning Class

Saturday 8/4:

  • Rest Day

Sunday 8/5:

  • Rest Day

Monday 8/6:

  • 8K Treadmill Workout (that is approximately 4.98 miles)

Tuesday 8/7:

  • 20 Minutes Inclined Walking on Treadmill
  • 30 Minutes Total Body Strength Training w/ Weight Machines / Free Weights
  • 10 Minutes Elliptical

Wednesday 8/8:

  • Speed Workout (referenced in a post earlier this week)

Thursday 8/9:

  • 20 Minutes Inclined Walking on Treadmill
  • 30 Minutes Total Body Circuit Workout w/ high intensity cardio intervals
  • 10 Minutes Stair Master

Denmark Days

Hooray for wireless in our hotel rooms here in Copenhagen!! I was a little nervous because I COMPLETELY forgot that I would need an adapter for all my chargers while we were in Denmark (the cruise ship should be fine because it is an American cruise line). Luckily I snagged one from the concierge at the hotel and I’m writing during a little break in our day. We spent all day out and about and came back for a little rest before spending the evening / night in Tivoli Gardens.

So far all I can say about Copenhagen is WOW. Sometimes it feels like a city of opposites because on one hand our hotel is amazingly modern (you have to put your room key in a scanner to work the lights / electricity in your hotel room… hello Green), but on the other the city is packed with beautiful old architecture. I have loved just walking around and taking in all the sights (and eating the FOOD!)

We flew overnight from DC and arrived here in Copenhagen at 7:15 am local time. Everyone was pretty wrecked from not getting much sleep but for me the key to beating jet lag is not napping. So when we checked into the hotel and everyone went to lay down I used that time to grab a workout. It gave me all the energy I needed for the day ahead!

To start our sightseeing off, we bought tickets to the Hop On / Hop Off bus tour. They are embarrassing and touristy but they are a GREAT way to see the highlights of a city so haters go ahead and hate! We rode through a couple stops including a brief photo stop to see the Little Mermaid sculpture, but we hopped off the bus at Nyhavn, which is kind of a harbor front area. It is packed with outdoor dining and old fashion sailboats. Here we grabbed a bite to eat for lunch and walked around a bit before getting back on the bus.


The Little Mermaid statue / Nyhavn

We got off again at The Church of Our Savior, where I climbed all the way to the top of the spire! The views of the city were unbelievable and it was quite a workout to get up all those steps (my calves are actually kind of sore today… embarrassing). We toured around a bit more before heading back to the hotel for a pre-dinner nap. We ate dinner at the great Danish restaurant pretty close to our hotel. We learned the hard way though that the portions of certain dishes are very large. We ordered way too much food and no one could finish! We wised up going forward though.

View from the outside stairs at the top of the Church of our Savior / A massive portion of food at dinner

On our second day, I got up nice and early and got my workout in before meeting the family for breakfast. We walked over to Amelinborg Palace for the changing of the Royal Danish Guard. It was really fun and unlike the guards at Buckingham Palace some of the guards would actually smile or look at you for pictures which was fun (I saw one of them even messing with a group of tourists and then smiling… so cute!). A rain storm came through so we ducked into a little restaurant for a beer and a small lunch. I got an egg and tomato Smorrebrod, which totally hit the spot! We walked around a bunch, so much that we needed to come back and take a little rest!


Across the River from the Opera House / Changing of the Guard / Egg & Tomato Sandwich

Anyways, glad I got to share a little of my vacation so far with you! I’ll hopefully be back again soon 🙂

Sweet spire on top of the Stock Exchange (according to the recording on our hop on / hop off bus tour the design is three dragons on at the bottom with their tails intertwined, sick)