Saturday, December 25, 2010

Twas the Night Before Christmas

And we were celebrating our first wedding anniversary - although, and I mean this in the most positive way, it feels more like our 25th. How lucky are we to marry at this point in life when we don't have to worry about starting a family or building our careers? Nonetheless, we have faced our share of typical life challenges in these 12 months: planning a wedding, living together, buying a house, moving, moving to the other side of the world, changing jobs, leaving a job, selling a house (still trying!), learning to live together in a new country, parenting from afar, etc.  And that's why it feels like 25 years! We have come to depend on each other so significantly to meet each of these challenges and have learned how reliable each of us is (very), what our individual strengths are (Mark=money management; MB=flexibility), and our strengths as a couple (sense of humor, patience). 

Do you want the dirty laundry version of our life together? I clean the apartment the day before Mark comes home. Dishes pile up in the sink, there's so much dust I can have a conversation with it, and the towels walk themselves to the washing machine. When Mark is home, I abandon all pretense of a schedule or purpose and spend every moment possible with him. I stop eating salads and drinking eight glasses of water and start eating Ruffles while imbibing in an extra glass of wine. Sleep in, watch movies, lollygag around on the couch, napping at 2 in the afternoon - his days off are my days off!

Anyway, we went to the Conrad Hilton. This hotel is a 5 minute walk from our apartment but a 15 minute cab ride because of road direction/location. Mark used Hilton Honor points and they upgraded us to the Executive Floors meaning, complimentary tea (as in scones, tea, etc.), complimentary evening cocktails, and complimentary buffet breakfast. Our room was beautiful and looked out at Victoria Peak.  There were terry cloth bathrobes plus regular cotton robes, tv in the bathroom, a separate bathtub/shower, lots of scrumptious toiletries and the turn down service included fresh ice, and slippers laid out on a towel on each side of the bed. This is the view from our room. You can see our apartment building-

At the bottom of this picture you see a small pink building. Look to the left of it and you see an "orange" building and to the right of that building is our building - it looks like more glass than building. Our back two bedrooms face the Peak, but our living room/master bedroom face north. We can see Hopewell Center from our living room - as you can in this picture - its the very tall, round building on the left hand side. I think I told you our grocery store (Taste) is in the bottom of this building and the post office is just on the other side of it.

On the right-hand side of this picture is a water-treatment plant and above that, tennis courts.

This next picture is to the right of this scene and directly out our hotel window.

So, look carefully in the lower left corner of this picture and you will see the the tennis courts again (part of them) and a small section of paved road. It is this road we climb up to Bowen Road to walk/run on the path. Admittedly I haven't done this since we moved to this apartment as we have a workout room with treadmills, elliptical, bike and rowing machine. However, the weather is perfect for running outside and Mr. Mark gave me a sports watch (to time runs) for Christmas, so no more excuses for not running outside! 

This is the view from the Executive floor lounge. We sipped our tea, ate scones with clotted cream and jam, read our paper and generally "huff, huff...stiff upper lip, don't you know"ed ourselves through the afternoon. Very relaxing and I felt very pampered. In the picture below, Markie is enjoying his afternoon paper. Behind him you see a man leaning forward in his chair. He was part of a four person party (he and his wife met up with another couple for some holiday cheer). Both couples have several homes around the globe (London, Australia, Santa Barbara) and spent some time discussing where they should end up in the future. Tut-tut, more tea, please, Jeeves.

We went back to our room only to discover the following goodies:

*  A gingerbread house with assorted cookies and nuts (it came home with us)
*  Fruit platter (also came home with us)
*  4 chocolate truffles (delicious)

Later that evening, housekeeping stopped by with a complimentary bottle of champagne (came home with us) and plate of canapes (the one thing we left behind) to help us celebrate our one year of wedded bliss.

We headed to dinner in the lower level of the hotel - the well-known, Golden Leaf restaurant. It was so beautiful inside - lots of gold leafed wallpaper, plush carpeting, thick white table clothes, and the kind of lighting that feels romantic and intimate but doesn't make you squint to see the menu.  We decided to be bold in our appetizer choice and conservative in our dinner choice. What you see below is our appetizer - layered pig's ear. All I can say is, at least we tried it. Dinner (roast duck with plum sauce and sweet/sour pork with fried rice) was much more palatable and to our liking. :)

After dinner, we strolled around the hotel and enjoyed all the commotion. Lots of people come to Hong Kong to shop and as the stores are open on Christmas here, its a popular destination over the holiday. Because of the previous British rule, there are lots of British traditions still present, including wearing hats, blowing horns and use of Christmas "poppers."  Everything felt so festive and happy! It helped take our minds off the fact that our own families were 7,000 miles away and 12 hours behind our celebration.

And, here we are - the happy couple, in front of the hotel Christmas tree made up of teddy bears of all sizes:

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