Kara’s visit

First some backstory:

I am a giant U2 fan. Yes, one of those people who waits in line for untold hours on concrete in the sun/rain/wind/etc. with other whack jobs like me, But that’s a post for another day. I recall a specific conversation with my friends Courtney and Michele in Chicago while we awaited the opening night of the 360° tour regarding opening act Snow Patrol. I said, “They’re the band that has that song on Grey’s Anatomy, right?” Basically, I knew nothing about them. All it took for Snow Patrol to win me over was their short (9 song) opening performance and I was hooked. Completely.

At about the same time Big D and I found out we might be moving to Germany, Snow Patrol announced they’d perform three giant concerts to end their tour. Without consulting a map, I bought tickets for the final show at Bellhouston Park in Glasgow, Scotland. I didn’t know if we’d actually live in Germany (or how far away Scotland is), but I knew I really wanted to attend that show.

And here’s the final puzzle piece: We lived in Korea for two years and though we invited everyone and anyone, my sister Kara was the only person who came to visit. She even learned to use chopsticks just for her trip, which is something I never mastered.

So, when we did indeed get Orders to move here, Kara immediately planned a visit. I combined the first part of her itinerary with the trip to Scotland and invited Jen to join us.

Memories of the trip are so special now, as none of us knew then that it was the final vacation Kara would take, nor that she would lose her battle with cancer and die just 14 short months later. (Here’s the part in this post where I say F you, cancer!)

Looking back now, its easy for me to see that she wasn’t herself then. Maybe she knew she was getting sicker? I wish I’d been more patient with her, especially now that I have the journal she kept during our time together. But, we had a great adventure and I know she enjoyed spending time together, laughing, and seeing a new part of the world.

me & Kara w/ a guard

We visited Edinburgh Castle on (The Duke of Edinburgh) Prince Phillip’s birthday, so we got to pose with guards who don’t always stand duty.

Calton Hill

Jen's new pajamas

Jen and I were still in the “getting to know you” phase, but when she realized she forgot to pack pajamas and I convinced her to buy this shirt, we were both sure everything was going to be just fine!

Mary, Queen of Scots chamber

Kara was THRILLED to visit Mary, Queen of Scots chamber. It was the true highlight of the trip for her.

Palace of Holyroodhouse Garden

We took a fun tour of Mary King’s Close, which was underground and therefore impossible to photograph, but I know that was another high point for Kara (and fun, though scary, for Jen and me.)

Edinburgh, Scotland

We took a hop on/hop off bus tour in Glasgow and saw things like a restored ship, the Glenlee, and the Glasgow Necropolis.

Glasgow Necropolis

The 2010 World Cup was underway and a we met a lot of fun people, including this German couple, in pubs on two different nights.

after Germany beat Australia

We were still trying to figure out football (soccer to us Amercians) and Kara sent this e-mail to our brother:

We watched the Uruguay – France game in a bar/restaurant in Glasgow.  Exchange between Elysia’s friend Jen and a local as Jen asked how matches are structured:

Local: Teams play one game three times.
Jen:  Wait, do they play each other once or three times?
Local:  Aye.

Luckily, we understand it now!

Kara, Big D, and I explored towns near ours in Germany during her visit, too:

Rheinfels Castle


And we attended a raucous World Cup Public Viewing:
World Cup party at Brita Arena

I’ll cover the Snow Patrol part of the trip in another post since this is long enough already. Meanwhile, more photos from Kara’s visit and our trip to Scotland are on Flickr.

Hug your friends and family! Tell them how much you love them!  And consider a tax deductible donation to the American Cancer Society, the Ocular Melanoma Foundation or the organization that provided frank information to our family when we needed it most, Livestrong.