I mentioned a while back wanting to get one necessary item per month until our Europe trip to keep things under control but also have something to look forward to. I actually got this in November, but I’ll count it … Continue reading
Although it’s been two months since I last posted about our adventure with passports, these happy little books came in under two weeks! We were so pleasantly surprised. They made everything suddenly seem so much more real. And soon. And exciting. 168 days! … Continue reading
A momomentous event has occurred in our journey to Europe 2014 …
*pause for effect*
… we finally applied for our passports!
J’s never had a passport, but I already had one from when I went to Jamaica in 2008, and from 2010 when I went on a trip my college put together to Greece and Rome. However, a slight change has occurred in my passport information; namely, my name! (Get it?)
I’ve had the forms filled out for months (available here if anyone’s interested), but they’ve been sitting in a drawer until we finally got our passport photos taken, which we never got around to doing — meaning, I was never sitting around at home with nothing to do until I suddenly came to the realization that my hair and makeup looked awesome so I should go get my picture taken that would live on, unchanged, for 10 years, to be viewed by many stern airline employees and curious acquaintances Yeah, for some reason, that moment hadn’t happened yet.
If one wants to be technical, we could have taken our own photos. We are photographers, after all. But, I mean, have you seen the requirement list?
- In color
- Printed on photo quality paper
- 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) in size
- Sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (between 25 and 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head. View the Photo Composition Template for more size requirement details.
- Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
- Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background
- Taken in full-face view directly facing the camera
- With a neutral facial expression and both eyes open
- It goes on (oh yes, there’s more)
Yeah, I didn’t really want to tackle that baby. I’m scared enough of government offices when I have all the right paperwork. I didn’t want to invoke any more wrath than necessary with my amateur passport photo. I really want to know if someone has come in and showed them their bathroom mirror selfies to see if that would work. I’d love to be a fly on that wall.
BUT, the day arrived. I had the morning off and J had the day off, and we were already getting ready to go get our FREE CFA BREAKFAST (!!) biscuits, so we thought we might as well get our photos done too. Even better, Walgreens is currently running a $2 off passport photo promotion, making them $9.99 apiece, and you get two prints each (which turned out to be helpful. Details to come). I can’t find the link to it on Walgreens’ website, but when we got ours the cashier said it was running through the end of the month. Wouldn’t hurt to ask.
So we got our portraits. I didn’t quite imagine it would be a $99 point-and-shoot camera in front of a white window shade, but, hey, he’s the expert. I had Jon check my hair and makeup, then took my place. The employee told me my ears had to be visible. K, hair behind the ears. Not my favorite, but whatever. Then he told me all my hair had to be off my shoulders. So, hair behind my ears and pushed back. I narrowly escaped a ponytail. SO glad I curled it this morning. Neverless, they turned out okay, and it’s actually making me consider a haircut. Didn’t look half bad. The photos were ready in about 10 minutes, which was great. And we’re PRETTY sure he smoothed out our skin, because my makeup ain’t that good.
We got our photos and went home, but realized we still had some time before I went to work and decided we should try to go ahead and apply for the passports themselves. I assumed we would have to apply downtown (doesn’t every important thing have to be applied for downtown?), but found out the post office could take the application if it wasn’t a rush job. So I gathered our birth certificates, marriage certificate, social security cards (turned out we didn’t need those, believe it or not), drivers’ licenses, my former passport, our photos, and our applications. Is there anything more terrifying than carrying all of that around together? Hey, world, you want to steal my identity? Here it is! Like a good little proactive girl, I signed my application where it said to, and then told J to sign his. He signed, then looked his application over, and read off to me the big bold letters, “DO NOT SIGN UNTIL TOLD TO BY AGENT.” Awesome. Turns out renewals have different procedures than first-timers. And of course, like the good little proactive girl I am, I had already stapled his photo to that application (hence the two photos. Well done, Walgreens). So, I typed out the application again, printed, did NOT have him sign, grabbed his second photo, and off we went. Walked in to the post office and promptly saw the “Passport applications only seen by appointment” sign. Awesome. We waited in line anyway just in case, and one of the sweetest, most helpful government employees I’ve ever worked with came out, said she would let us do it anyway so long as the line stayed manageable, which we were TOTALLY okay with. She looked over our applications, pointed out some small errors, told us what fees to expect, and got us right in. The passport agent was efficient and helpful, and answered all our questions. We were in and out in about 15-20 minutes. Perfect conclusion to what could have been a really frustrating experience.
Moral of the story? Read the fine print, and be grateful for helpful people.
To be technical, I may not have needed to renew my passport, since I’ve only had it for 5 years. I had been told that I could bring along my marriage certificate to prove my name change, but I was a little terrified of having different names on my documents. I couldn’t help but imagine Jon and I being pulled away from each other in a strange airport by foreign speaking security guards claiming I was a spy, shoving me into a black car and dumping me in an underground prison, never to be heard from again.
That’s probably not exactly how it would go down, but, hey, I watch BBC drama. It’s how I view European life.
Here’s an action shot!
Most of my travel posts will be about our 2014 Europe trip, but today I wanted to talk about a place a little closer to home.
While Disney World will always and forever be the most magical place on earth to me, my husband and I also have passes to Busch Gardens/SeaWorld and this last weekend we took an impulsive trip to SeaWorld to celebrate my husband winning a competition he was in.
We have never really considered getting Disney World passes because they run about $500 each. We’d love to have them at least once before we move our of Florida, but until we do, the Busch Gardens & SeaWorld annual pass is much more affordable, and through J’s work, we get significant discounts off the full price.
J loves Busch Gardens because it has several roller coasters, including Sheikra, an intense freefall ride that makes my stomach roll over, drop, jump, and then roll over again. I refuse to ever ride it again. I do love the animal exhibits though — you get a zoo and a theme park in the same place!
But of the two parks, without a doubt I prefer SeaWorld. I love the dolphin and killer whale shows so much — I could seriously sit and watch every show they play all day. But if I did, I would miss other amazing things — like feeding dolphins, like we did on this last trip. We were too mesmerized to take pictures (and too cheap to buy the ones the photographer took) but it was incredible. I have now fed and petted a dolphin. Check that off the bucket list.
We also got the souvenir cups that both parks offer, that once you pay the initial $6 for the cup, every refill is only 99 cents (not including J’s discount). It pays for itself SO quickly if you have passes. They also have the amazing new Coke machines that have every flavor combination you can imagine. I recommend raspberry lemonade.
Last December, we also went to SeaWorld’s Christmas party (no extra charge!) and it was great. They had a Polar Express ride, hot chocolate, ice skating show (my weakness), a Christmas killer whale show, and a Christmas tree light show. I have a thing about Christmas — the thing being that it’s my favorite holiday and I look forward to it every year starting December 26th. Nothing can top Disney’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but this one was delightful as well!
Anyway — if you’re in the Tampa/Orlando area and can’t afford a Disney pass, consider a Busch/SeaWorld pass! Especially if you have a friend who works there who can get you a discount. 😉
The first city we’re going to on our Europe trip is London! LONDON. I’m wondering what I will think when I get there, because my main impressions of London thus far have been from Jane Austen movies and have convinced me that London is filled with Mr. Darcys and Janes and balls and Pemberleys (okay, that was in Derbyshire, but you get the drift). It’s probably modernized slightly since the 1800s, but secretly, I hope not.
This is the British Museum. Well, I guess it has modernized a little. This will be our first stop in London.
And then we will visit Chartwell, the Churchill estate. I’m so excited about this. Museums and exhibits are fascinating to me, but homes — that’s where history comes alive to me. I love how different people love history for different reasons. My advisor at college had an antique table in his office and he said he loved it because he loved examining it and figuring out how it was built. I looked at it and I imagined how many different families had sat at it, used it, the memories that had happened there. I am very people – oriented in my love of history, so homes are my favorite. That’s why I got married in front of one!
So here’s a few things Jon and I are going to see on our first day in London! Let me know if you’ve been there! What would you like to see in London?
I’m behind this week! I missed posting yesterday completely and am very late today. This week is crazy for me, as my husband is in musical rehearsals every day after work, and we only have one car between us. Fortunately, his rehearsals are at my workplace (college campus), but that doesn’t solve the problem of getting me home. So, my limited time at home is spent doing dishes, laundry, food prep, sleep, getting ready for work, repeat. Wish me luck!
Here’s my brief Travel Tuesday:
As silly as this seems, one of the first things I’m trying to plan out for our 11-day tour is what shoes I’ll be wearing. Here are my qualifications:
1) Comfortable. Yes, I am 23 going on 60, but I’ve walked across New York in bad shoes and it hurt. A lot.
2) Cute. I may be 23 going on 60, but I’m still 23, and, let’s be real guys, I’m not wearing tennis shoes in Paris.
3) Compact. I’m seriously planning on taking 1, maybe 2 pairs total, and I want my suitcase to be as small as possible.
4) Classic. (It’s the closest ‘C’ word I could get to neutral, okay?) I want something simple that will look good with everything.
5) Cheap. ‘Nuff said.
So begins my journey. I’ve got 9 months to find them. And I believe I may have one option already in my closet. My scrunch flats from Payless are the most comfortable, neutral, versatile shoes I’ve ever bought. My only concern is I may have worn them out by May, because I wear them at least every other day. If they go on clearance, I’m buying them all!
I love them so.
So, they are my first option right now, but I’m going to keep on the hunt! I’m considering Toms as well.
What are you favorite comfy-cute shoes?
I’m so excited to post the first of many posts that will focus on — travel! That’s right, folks, J-Wick and I will be headed overseas in May 2014. In the interest of not sounding snooty, it is only because of some very, very fortunate financial circumstances and generosity that we were able to even consider this trip. We are so grateful for this opportunity, and we know that it may be once in a lifetime, so we’re going to enjoy it. We’ve always heard that we should travel while we’re young, and we’re so blessed that we will be able to!
Let’s start with this beautiful little schedule:
Day 1: Start Tour
Day 2: Hello London!
- British Museum visit
- Churchill Estate at Chartwell visit
Day 3: London Landmarks
- London Guided Sightseeing Tour
- Buckingham Palace
- Big Ben
- Houses of Parliament
- Westminster Abbey
- Tower Bridge
- Hyde Park
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Cabinet War Rooms with Churchill Museum visit
- Imperial War Museum visit
- Travel to Portsmouth
- Overnight ferry to St. Malo
Day 4: St. Malo
- Mont-St-Michel Monastery guided visit
- Travel to Sainte Mere-Eglise via Carentan
- Sainte Mere-Eglise – Tour Director-led city walk
Day 5: Normandy–Paris
- Point du Hoc
- Utah Beach
- Omaha Beach
- American Cemetery visit
- Travel back to Paris
- Eiffel Tower Ascent
Day 6: Paris Landmarks
- Louvre visit
- Notre Dame Cathedral visit
- Left Bank Tour Director-led walking tour
- Tour Director-led Sightseeing Tour of Montmartre
- Visit Sacré Coeur
Day 7: Paris–Brussels
- Group-arranged worship
- Travel to Brussels (via Compiegne)
- Armistice Museum visit
- Langemark German Cemetery visit
- Brussels Tour Director-led Sightseeing Tour
- Grand Place, Manneken Pis
Day 8: Brussels–Luxembourg
- Travel to Bastogne
- Bastogne Historical Center visit
- Travel to Luxembourg
- American Cemetery/Patton’s grave visit
- Luxembourg City Tour Director-led city walk
Day 9: Luxembourg–Munich
- Train to Munich
- Dachau Concentration Camp & Memorial visit
Day 10: Salzburg Excursion
- Eagle’s Nest Excursion
- Salzburg City Walk
- Dinner in Salzburg
Day 11: End Tour
J is already apologizing for the fact that he will be completely focused (ha, get it?) on photography for most of the trip and I’ll rarely see him. But, we are travelling with many dear friends so I’m sure I’ll find someone to walk with.
I plan to post interesting sites we will see, tips for travel, packing ideas, and, of course, travel-ready style! I’m so excited for this series of posts. It’ll give me something to focus on so I don’t get too impatient for May to get here! I have a countdown in the sidebar.
Happy Tuesday dears! Where has been your favorite vacation so far? Where is your dream vacation?
P.S. – This is the Eagle’s Nest. Wow.