Welcome back to another monthly recap! February was a fairly busy month, with lots of fun adventures, but also with lots of work (as always). Here’s what I got up to last month!
Where I Went
York, Malham, Skipton (United Kingdom)
Vilnius, Grutas, Siauliai (Lithuania)
Lithuania! This was my first trip to Lithuania and I was completely blown away. The country is amazing, with so much to do and see, tons of history, and was fairly cheap to top it off! I was based in the capital, Vilnius, for my four days, and made day trips to Grutas Park and the Hill of Crosses. But I feel like I barely scratched the surface of this country! I already want to go back and explore more.
Finally visiting the Hill of Crosses. I have a list of “must-see” destinations that are more than just a bucket list. They kind of grow into an obsession, and I dream about what it will be like to stand in that spot. The Hill of Crosses was one of those places. Seeing it, walking around the crosses, hearing them whistle and jingle in the wind… it was just magical. The Hill of Crosses became a national symbol of resistance and identity during the Soviet era, despite the authorities bulldozing the site several times. It was an honor to visit such a moving and important place. I definitely recommend it if visiting Lithuania!
Having so much fun in Grutas Park. I had heard about Grutas Park, a sculpture park of old Soviet statues in Lithuania, a few years ago and decided that I absolutely had to go. As someone who is deeply fascinated by Russisan (and Soviet) history and culture, I had such a blast at Grutas Park. I took tons of photos with the various statues, learned so much about the Lithuanian SSR leaders, saw an exceptional version of a Soviet polling station, and sang along to one of my favorite Soviet songs that was blasting from the loudspeakers. It was so interesting and so much fun!
1000 followers on Instagram!!! I can barely believe it, but I hit my first big milestone on the ‘gram just a few days ago with 1000 followers! For someone who didn’t know how to use a smartphone, let alone build up a social media account, I consider this a huge accomplishment. I seriously love using Instagram and think it’s a great platform. Follow me on Instagram here!
Amazing weekend in the Yorkshire Dales. My first visit to the Yorkshire Dales was amazing! This national park is one of Yorkshire’s claims to fame, and with good reason. I spent a day hiking in Malham (in Malhamdale) and the scenery was spectacular. I also saw so much snow it was unreal! I’ve never experienced a real snowfall in England, so it was very exciting. I also spent a day in Skipton, which was really nice and a great location for getting to the Dales by public transportation. All in all, I can’t wait to go back and see more of the Dales, hopefully in summer!
Valentine’s Day. I’m not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day, but this one was a big one—after nearly 3 years together, Adam and I got to spend our first Valentine’s Day together in the same country! Even though we said no presents, Adam showed up at my work to surprise me with flowers. We had a great meal at our favorite Italian restaurant in York and just in general, it was really nice to be together. After missing Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays, and other big events, I was so happy to just go out to dinner and be in the same country.
I started working out again. Woohoo, exercise! In the last year or so, I’ve really struggled to find a good work out routine. A big part of this is the fact that my job(s) require me to be on my feet, and those long days can be really hard physically. Normally I’m too tired from constantly walking and being on my feet at work to even consider exercising when I get home, but I’m making a concerted effort now to work out once or twice a week to get me back in the swing of things. I’ve barely worked out since I’ve moved to England (literally maybe 10 times in 4.5 months) so it’s an important accomplishment for me. Exercise has always been one of my biggest stress reliefs, and it feels so good to be getting back into it!
I got my very own contactless debit card. Debit cards are very different in the UK (and the rest of the world), and the US is seriously so far behind it hurts. Nearly everywhere I’ve been in Europe uses chip-and-pin for their debit cards, so you insert your card into a card reader and then put your pin in, instead of swiping and signing for it (which isn’t secure at all since no one checks signatures anyway). But things are even more advanced in the UK—they have contactless cards, so all you have to do is tap it to the card reader and it does it automatically! It only works for small purchases (£30 or less) but it’s so quick and convenient. And with my new bank account from last month (which I also got £100 for switching this month!), I got my own contactless debit card that I can use!
Cutting my hand at work and going to the emergency room for the first time. I’ve never been to the hospital or emergency room ever—I’ve never broken a bone, gotten stitches, had a sprain or fracture, nothing. I’ve been very lucky. Unfortunately, that streak ended when I cut my hand (two fingers) badly at work while I was cutting lemons, blood spurted everywhere, and I had to go to the emergency room. I waited for over 2.5 hours until I finally got seen, and I had glue stitches (not real stitches) on my fingers, which hurt like a motherfucker.
My fingers still throb a bit, and it’s hard to do much since my fingers are bandaged (typing this is really difficult!). But everything was free, and my work even paid for a taxi for me to get to the hospital and back home again! Even though I had to wait for ages, I am so appreciative of the NHS (the UK’s nationalized healthcare system). I just walked out of the emergency room without checking out, without paying any money, nothing. That part was really nice. (You can read about my first experience with the NHS here.)
More stress/anxiety about work/jobs. I mentioned this in my last monthly post, but I’ve been under a lot of stress concerning work and jobs and all that kind of stuff. Again, I can’t say too much here publicly. But I’ve been feeling for the past few months that I’m at a major crossroads in my life, and I don’t really know where I’m going. This is taking on a bit of a panic, as I need to start figuring out my plans for any summer travel in the next few weeks, and feel like I have a lot of big decisions looming ahead. Hopefully everything will work out in the end, and if things don’t happen, they just weren’t meant to be.
Accidentially hitchhiking in Lithuania. This sounds really scary and horrifying, but it wasn’t. Still, it was a very panicked 15 minute car ride for me. Adam and I had been at the Hill of Crosses, and were waiting for a bus at 4:00pm to take us back to Siauliai, where we’d get a train back to Vilnius. Even though two different people gave us information with this 4:00 bus on it, it wasn’t marked on the actual bus stop. By 4:30pm we were losing hope that this bus was coming, it was really cold, and it looked like we would miss the trains at 5:30pm back to Vilnius, and have to wait for the last train or bus (which wouldn’t get us back until past 10:00pm).
So when an older man pulled over next to the bus stop and offered us a ride, I trusted my gut (and Adam) and got in. Hitchhiking/getting rides from strangers is something I would NEVER do if I was traveling solo, and I don’t recommend it. But I knew that hitchhiking like that is quite common in that part of the world, and there were two of us (and I was with a man) and only one older guy in the car. So we got in, made a bit of small talk since the man spoke a little English, and then he dropped us off at the train station for free. It was really nice of him and there was nothing scary about it! But I didn’t like it all that much, and was really panicky about it, so that’s why it’s going under the “worst moments” part of the recap.
Posts From the Month
I haven’t posted at all since I left for Lithuania—oops! Here’s all my posts from the month:
Top 3 on Instagram
I’ve already talked about how I hit 1000 followers on Instagram—which is a seriously huge milestone for me! These were my most popular photos from the month, but I have a feeling my Lithuania posts (especially my Hill of Crosses photo) would have had better numbers if I hadn’t posted them just a few days ago. There are actually 4 photos here, as the last two are tied for the same number of likes!
Wouldn’t mind going back to the blue skies and sunny days in Croatia! 😍☀ . . . . . #croatia #dubrovnik #dubrovnikoldtown #dubrovnikcablecar #crostagram #hrvatska #croatia_photography #lovecroatia #discovercroatia #croatiafulloflife #dubrovnikonmymind #croatia_instagram #unlimitedcroatia #balkans #balkan #ig_balkan #europe #easterneurope #topeuropephoto #ig_europe #visiteurope #beautifuldestinations #natgeotravelpic #lonelyplanet #lpfanphoto #bbctravel #passionpassport #amazingtravelbeauty #travel #wanderlust
Peterborough Cathedral looks just as stunning at night! 😍⛪ . Latest blog post is up–my first monthly recap post! Head over to the blog and check out what I got up to in January! Link in bio 😊 . . . . . #peterborough #peterboroughcathedral #visitpeterborough #cathedral #history #cambridgeshire #cambridgeshirephotographer #england #greatbritain #unitedkingdom #visitbritain #visitengland #photosofbritain #photosofengland #OMGB #lovegreatbritain #brilliantbritain #capturingbritain #YesBDE #explore_britain #loves_britain #ukpotd #britishsnaps #amazingtravelbeauty #natgeotravelpic #lpfanphoto #bbctravel #passionpassport #travelblog #travelblogger
Happy Valentine’s Day! 💕 . One of my favorite memories of a romantic place is in Venice, on a gondola ride around the canals at sunset, on the last night of (what ended up being) a month-long honeymoon with my travel-partner-turned-husband! 😍 Definitely a moment I won’t forget! ❤ . Have you ever visited any romantic places?! . . . . #venice #venezia #veniceitaly #venicelife #visitvenice #igers_veneto #igersvenezia #veneziagram #ig_venice #lovesveneto #venetogram #vivoveneto #gondola #canal #italy #italia #topitalyofficial #top_italia_photo #ig_italy #igersitalia #topeuropephoto #europe #ig_europe #beautifuldestinations #natgeotravelpic #lonelyplanet #lpfanphoto #bbctravel #passionpassport #amazingtravelbeauty
My first day in Krakow over New Year’s, and I was treated to this sunset! 😍 . New blog post is live, all about Krakow and why this Polish city is a great gateway city for traveling further East in Europe! Link in bio 😊 . . . . . #krakow #kraków #poland #polska #krakowlove #typ_krakow #krakowplaces #igerskrakow #sunset #sunsets #igerspoland #polandbeautiful #visitpoland #visitkrakow #polandsights #polandphotos #europe #ig_europe #topeuropephoto #bbctravel #natgeotravelpic #lpfanphoto #beautifuldestinations #passionpassport #amazingtravelbeauty #travel #wanderlust #travelblog #travelblogger #travelblogging
Coming Up in March
I’ll be in the UK for the whole month of March! But I do have two weekend trips to look forward to, one to London with Adam’s family (including a big classical music concert at Royal Albert Hall—thanks to the mum-in-law!!) and one to the Peak District again! I loved my time in the Peak District in November, and am so excited to explore a new area. I’m hoping to daytrip somewhere in Yorkshire for at least a day this month as well (pending work schedules). I also have my first wedding anniversary to look forward to on March 10th, so lots of exciting things!
What was your February like? Any exciting plans for March? Share in the comments!