When you are travelling to fantastic far away places you constantly think, 'I should blog about this'. BUT it is really hard to actually do so. While travelling you are cramming so much into every second of every day that you rarely have a moment to sit in front of a computer. Mad props to those that make time to do so - you probably don't get a ton of sleep and I would be a total pain to travel with if I did that... So here I am a month after our epic NYC, Baltic and Iceland adventure ended trying to play catch up.
Leading up to and after this trip so many people, friends and strangers, asked 'why?'. Why are you going to Lithuania??? Well my first response is 'why not?' as I think it is really fun to travel to unexpected places. I've been to a few other random places, such as Oman (but that is a whole other conversation). The REAL answer to why Lithuania is because my brother Jon decided to get married there. Since our family loves to travel, I'm sure he wasn't worried about us unanimously answering 'YES'. Yet is was really amazing that not only Kyle and I and my parents signed up for this Lithuanian wedding thing, but so did my brother Nick and my sister-in-law Jacki with my two little nieces as well as my grandparents and my cousin. It suddenly became a family affair and I had to constantly remind myself that we were all in Europe together - the first time I had even traveled with family since we returned from living in the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) in 2000. I would literally pinch myself when we were walking through a town square or eating in a medieval cellar.
Wait, why again did Jon want to get married in Lithuania? Well my sister in law just so happens to be Lithuania. When enough of us family and plenty of his friends said 'YES', this whole Lithuanian-wedding-thing became a reality. It was pretty exciting to plan a trip to Eastern Europe as I had only travelled Western Europe. It was also fun to know that both Kyle and I would get to explore our roots to a certain extent - I have Lithuanian and Polish blood and he has substantial Ukrainian ancestry.
Kyle and I love to travel, that is pretty clear, but we also work a lot at this point in our lives and decided to buy a house and fill it with cats, chickens, & a dog so travelling as often and as long as we used to isn't as easy. For this trip we saved up all our vacation time so we could touch down in as many places as possible. In 18 days we hopped from San Diego - NYC - Lithuania - Latvia - Estonia - Finland - Iceland - back to San Diego.
This first post touches on some of the fun we had in NYC before our European adventure. Kyle flew out there a few days before me and, Kyle being Kyle, quickly made friends with a Swedish guy and they travelled all around the city on bikes. I took a red eye there and arrived early Sunday morning and we spent the first day exploring Brooklyn. A sudden epic thunderstorm swept in (I LOVE THUNDERSTORMS) and we got completely soaked. There is nothing more exciting than running through city streets and getting soaked in warm rain. We would duck into different places along the way - a market, furniture shops & a meatball shop for a snack & cocktails - before we ended up at Brooklyn Bowl. Bowling seems like the best activity to do on a rainy day in a new city. But I must say, bowling in wet socks isn't the most enjoyable... The other reason why we chose to spend the evening there is to witness the Billy Joel cover band concert and nothing is more quintessential New York than Billy Joel.
New York City is always a whirlwind and the photos below highlight the rest of that 52 hour whirl-wind-ness. Mostly we walked (a lot), ate (a lot), and touched on some NYC landmarks.
Coffee shops in NYC are unparalleled. Every. Single. One.
Visiting 9/11 memorial - last time we were here it was still under construction. An emotional morning spent here.
Afternoon at Chelsea Market -where we filled our bellies with Korean ramen & more coffee
Walking the Highline - probably my favorite time wandering this city
Some NYC jazz was a 'must' on Kyle's list
Morning walking around Columbia University
Rainy, quiet walk in Central Park
Enjoy MOMA in the late afternoon and you'll get some alone time with the masters
Celebrating miles and miles of walking NYC in the rain with some ridiculously expensive cocktails at Salon de Ning atop The Peninsula Hotel.
Stay tuned for the European leg of our adventure...