the people who know my husband know one thing about him.
The guy cannot keep a secret.

Or, as he qualifies, he doesn't like keeping fun secrets. Like when he proposed to me, nearly all of my friends, his coworkers, random people on the street, knew about it before I did. It was pretty astonishing I didn't know. 

When I came home this week and he told me that he could no longer keep my Christmas present a secret, I wasn't too surprised. He's been dropping hints about it for months and telling me I can't get him anything big. So of course I'm curious but I like surprises and I don't mind waiting for them. 

So he attacks me with the box, trying to thrust it into my hands.
"Open it! Open it!" he says.
I am backing away. 
"No no no! I want to wait! I don't want to open the gift." I tell him over and over. 
He finally told me it was "time sensitive."
I open it and inside is a neck pillow...
but beneath it is a printout and in little font it tells me that at the end of March, he and I are going to London via Icelandair.  For 15 days. 

We are going to Europe. 

I can not even tell you how excited I am. Emoticons and this blog post just don't do it justice.  
And living in Seattle where everything is barely older than 100 years old (and even that's hard to find), going to a place where art, history and people have been living for centuries... oh my nerdy, history-lovin' heart can hardly take it. 

The best part is that nothing is planned. Just the plane ride in and the plane ride home. Otherwise-- blank slate. Which is why I am asking for advice. 

Obviously, obviously, we are going into France, just because, well I freakin' love France and need to go there again. 
But I need to know: Scotland or Ireland? Belgium? Belgium chocolate, beer and waffles? Switzerland? Is Italy too far? 
Where are the best parts of London? (I'm kind of overwhelmed by London.) 
What are cheap things, great things, must-dos?

I do know the few things I am going to do:
- go the marche aux puces (the largest flea market in Paris)
- buy myself pain au chocolat and a cafe au lait and people watch from a sidewalk cafe. 
- go to westminister abbey 
- drink beer in an ancient, ancient pub
- try and spot the royals walking the streets
- pretend I'm in a Jane Austin movie in the English countryside
but I need details, and suggestions. So help?

paris. I will see you soon.
xo, erika 


  1. Oh so exciting! I full-heartedly support reenacting Jane Austen. The scene from Pride and Prejudice (the movie) where Keira Knightley is Titanic posing at the edge of a cliff on the lonely, empty moor... gahhhh if I could only do that once, my life would be fulfilled.

  2. how fun!!!!! what an incredible christmas present, erika!

  3. hmmmm let me see if I can remember anything. First off stay away from the red light districts and their outer regions especially at night but that is kinda a duh. I loved the Notting Hill neighborhood in London when I visited but that was 11.5 years ago so....... if I can remember anything else I'll let you know but my memory is very fuzzy.
    And let me say you married a winner there!

  4. This sounds like a blast. Having lived in London for the past 3 years (currently back in the US for 1ish and then to return), I can say without a doubt that it's the best city in the world. I love it. You'll love it.

    First off, order your Travelcards (passes for public transport) before you go. (See here - http://visitorshop.tfl.gov.uk/ - the visitor ones are prettier than the ones you get at a tube station, too!) They'll send them to the US and it'll save you having to worry about having £ at Heathrow to buy a ticket into town. If you're staying near Paddington, the Heathrow Express is worth the splurge, but otherwise, just take the tube. It's not expensive, you can use your Travelcard, and you'll get to see a bit of London on your way from the airport! Never take a cab from the airport. It's stupidly expensive and takes longer than public transport. The tube and buses around London are easy peasy.

    If you go to Westminster Abbey try to take the Verger tour. (The Vergers are the non-priests who help run the abbey). This costs a few £ extra, and it's not always offered, but it's amazing and you get to go to a few places otherwise off limits to the general public.

    St. Paul's Cathedral also is fabulous. The Whispering Gallery is fascinating.

    The museums in London are almost all FREE. You'll love the Victoria & Albert without a doubt. Full of design and prettiness from around the world from centuries and centuries. They usually have a great temporary exhibit going on at any given time as well (which is paid, but totally worth it).

    Great museums:
    - V&A
    - Science Museum
    - Natural History Museum
    - National Gallery
    - National Portrait Gallery
    - The British Museum
    - The Museum of Childhood
    - The Museum of London

    Go to Liberty. Go to Selfridge's. If you feel like you must, go to Harrod's, but I really don't like it much. I think Selfridge's is far more fun. Go to Brown's too for the nothing-but-high fashion stuff if you like.

    There are so so many little daytrips you can take from London. When my folks came over, we took a day tour (to Bath, Stonehenge, & Salisbury Cathedral) with the Evan Evans company and it was really one of the best little tours I've ever been on. Otherwise, you can get on a train and go to a lot of places quite easily. If you plan ahead you can save a bunch on rail tickets by buying ahead. I recommend "www.thetrainline.com"

    Things further afield are great too. I LOVE Edinburgh. It's a 4-5 hour train trip from King's Cross station and it'll probably be cold and rainy that time of year, but I expect you're used to that sort of weather! :p It's a beautiful city and well worth the travel if you've got a few days to do it.

    I hope this is useful to you and I'm happy to help if you have any more London questions. HAVE FUN!!

  5. I'm so jealous!!! I hardly remember my trip, but I know I enjoyed Edinburgh, and Wales was so cute and quaint! There was some town there that they called a 'book town' or something because over half the stores there were used book stores!! It's so dreamy!! Have fun planning everything :)

  6. what a guy! you are a lucky lady. so excited for you!! eeek!

  7. so exciting!!! that's a fantastic Christmas present :) Way to go, Evan! I would go to Ireland. I just loved visiting a few years ago!

  8. YAY! This just made my morning :) You MUST go to Venice if you can. It's up north so shouldn't take you too long. Ride a gondola and feed the pigeons. And eat LOTS of gelato!

  9. #1~my husband is the exact same way at christmas!
    #2~That is SO extremely romantic
    #3~ YAY, Europe!! YAY, YAY!!! 100 times YAY!

  10. Love this. What an amazing hubby you have!!!! Here is my advice: do a bus tour in London to get the lay of the city and there are free museums which are great. I didn't do tour of London which I totally regret so don't make that mistake.

    I would say Ireland. I Love it there but my parents love Scotland so just pick what is most convenient. My moms favorite city is St. Andrews in Scotland and if you go to Ireland pic am area (I love the south west. Skip Dublin) and rent a car to make it more manageable. And I honestly loved Brussels it is an unbelievably beautiful city. I would also say Italy may be too much to fit in. But I am a take it slow and really enjoy a city traveler. Not a go to every place you can whirlwind traveler so it really just depends on your style. But Rome alone is like a 4 day city if you really want to see it.

    My favorite parts of Europe are the smaller cities not the big touristy ones so I would pick a couple big cities and then explore the smaller ones the rest of the time.

  11. ohmygoodness!!! Your husband is amazing!! What a fantastic gift!! (If this is what I was gifting someone I don't think I would be able to keep it a secret either!!) :)
    Send me a postcard!! ;)

  12. Thats so awesome!!
    When I was in London I really enjoyed going to the Tower of London. Very impressive & LOTS of history. And the crown jewels too, of course!

  13. Oh my freakin goodness! Way to go Evan and yay for you Erika! Love it! :) Jon's not good at keeping surprises either - we literally just had a similar scene take place last night...but my present wasn't a trip to Europe! haha I wish it was though! Have so much fun planning! :)

  14. I know nothing about London, but congrats! What an awesome gift! I do have some family there that I would love to go visit someday.

  15. SO AWESOME! I studied in London last spring so I might have some tips for you!
    Take the tube for everything. It's cheap and easy to understand. The usual places to go are the museums, Piccadilly, Oxford Street, Southbank, and Westminster. But also check out Ye Old Cheshire Cheese Pub (supposedly the oldest pub in London), tea at the National Gallery, and Ben's Cookies (OMG). As far as staying somewhere, try and be walking distance to places, or near a good tube stop with lots of lines (we were by the Baker Street one).

    Wales is awesome, Ireland is too but go to the country, and Edinburgh was my FAVORITE place besides London. So jealous of your travels! You'll have a great time :)

  16. You can't blame him for ruining that surprise! You've got some planning to do. HOW FUN!

  17. Dude, best present ever! What an awesome hubby you have!

    And I am the same way, if I get someone a good present they NEED to have it IMMEDIATELY.

  18. greatest present of alllll time!

    i vote ireland all the way! it's the most beautiful place i've ever been. i spent 4 days in the western countryside, and i wanted to live there forever.

  19. Best Christmas Gift EVER! Lucky!

    Sadly, I have no recommendations for you, as I have never been to Europe. But I'm sure whatever you do, it will be the greatest!

  20. Yay!! Y'all will have so much fun!!

  21. Since you asked, here is my advice on Europe. 15 days sounds like a long time but if you are traveling from city to city every few days it will go by in a whirlwind. Do Paris. Do London. You could maybe add one more place and not feel rushed around like your on National Lampoon's or something. Use the city as your base and take a few day trips to places an hour or so away in each local. Maybe it is just me but I hate packing everything into my suitcase and being on the move all the time. I like to make myself at home when I'm on vacation and get to know a place like it is a friend.

  22. shut your mouth!!! have so much fun, im so jealous!!!

  23. Definitely Belgium! It's easy to visit south part of the country and go straight to Netherlands, because it's so close. I recommend to visit countries that are not so popular (like France, Italy, UK - of course those are also great). Belgium, Netherlands, small Luxembourg, Poland or Czech Republic - those are the killers, although travelling can be a little time-consuming.


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