Showing posts with label European travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label European travel. Show all posts

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Roadtrip recap - Romantic Road

We had another set of visitors- Lynnea and Erik arrived on May 17. We picked them up at the airport in Amsterdam, then drove back to Maastricht via Rotterdam (to see cool buildings) and Kinderdyk (windmills). They hung around Maastricht and Aachen for a few days while we worked. One evening we headed to Drie Landen Point, which is the intersection of The Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. There is a really fun labyrinth with fountains that we chased each other around in. Thursday we left for our trip. The first leg was about 8 hours of driving along the Romantic Road in Germany. We stopped in Warzburg, Rothenberg, and Augsburg for some sightseeing.

Lynnea unsuccessfully trying to videotape me:

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Mario jumping on a mushroom in Super Mario Bros 2. Or me in Rotterdam.

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Lynnea and Erik in zero of the 3 countries.... at Drie Landen Point. There are lines on the ground dividing the countries. Photobucket

Self explanatory, no?

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Don't I look like Vanna White? Pink porsche in Rothenberg.

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Schneeballen, a famous delicacy in Rothenberg, are made from flour, water, sugar and toppings. As it turned out, Schneeballen do not taste good. At all. Photobucket

Chastity belt in a Rothenberg shop. Is there really a market for rich virgins?

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More entries to come, it was a long trip with a full car!

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

One week, many kilometers

From Paris to Tel Aviv.

Toasters in Paris

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Laundry detergent in Tel Aviv

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Last weekend Nick and I drove to Paris to pick up his mom. We had a nice weekend with some relaxing and a few touristy things, like the Opera...

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Saturday we had dinner with Nick's mom, her friend Susan, and Romain, who is Nick's stepdad's cousin's son. Got that? When I was a student in Paris, he and I used to meet every Thursday for lunch- seven years flew by! As a group we wandered to the Eiffel Tower.

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Nick's mom had a walker. When she stopped to spend time buying souvenirs, I sat in it while we waited. Nick insisted on taking a photo, and he covered my legs and said "now you look just like Franklin Roosevelt!" Here is a picture of me laughing and looking like Franklin Roosevelt.

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Then I went to Israel.... just a few days for work, so no Nick pictures. Beach near the port of Tel Aviv (Mediterranean Sea).

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Church

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Watch out for the humping road! It just doesn't take no for an answer.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Stockholm

We just got back from Stockholm! Finally a timely post. So, Stockholm.... a bunch of islands, a bunch of vintage stores, chocolate, super expensive alcohol (11 EUR for a tiny drink!), cool design. We spent a lot of time walking and walking and walking and paying and paying and paying! I noticed a lot of independent stores closing down and that was pretty sad to see. My apologies, at the end of these posting binges, I get lazy with my diction. Islands:

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May Day marching- "Socialism is the only answer!" Glad that's cleared up! Photobucket

Vintage:

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Chocolate:

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Design Passion interior design exhibit:

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It was a little chilly, but overall great weather... especially considering winters are about 18 hrs of darkness. To this end, the Swedes celebrate "Walpurgis Night" a big bonfire at Skansen to celebrate spring. Skansen is a big attraction with old Swedish houses, historical references, and animals. There were some adorable baby goats that held our attention for awhile:

goats

It was very crowded of course, and fun- a choir sang, and a famous Swedish author gave a nice speech in Swedish, and an odd old man walked up to the author and gave him something and yelled at him and was scolded by security. And then they lit the bonfire! The crowd:

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The bonfire:

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The end!

Spain!

Another posting binge! Let's start with Spain. Vegetarians and animal rights activists may want to skip this one. Nick and I headed to Madrid and Barcelona at the end of March for vacation. We did not have any expectations other than relaxation, but we both fell in love with Madrid. The weather was perfection, the city was relaxed and not too full of tourists. The people were incredibly kind and unpretentious. And they didn't speak English in many cases, which was actually great. I'm ok not being rewarded for our linguistic laziness- hand motions, the few Spanish words I know, and some flexibility do just fine. We did the "typical" Spanish things- watched flamenco dancing and a bullfight, ate tapas, drank Sangria, etc.

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We also went rowing in a park- Engineer Nick couldn't figure out how to row, how to move the oars to steer, etc. We each took ownership for an oar, but due to "one of us," we kept going in circles. When I tried to explain the steering to him, he said "maybe you're just not strong enough for us to be in sync." But in fact, he just had no idea what he was doing, and the "maybe you're just not strong enough" comment was the source of great embarrassment and laughter as his ego dissipated.

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After Madrid, we headed to Barcelona on an overnight train. Boo hiss, we "slept" with our suitcases at our feet in a small room with 6 bunks. Barcelona was always touted as better than Madrid, but for us that didn't ring true. It was touristy and beachy, with very narrow streets- though luckily for me not as narrow as those in Venice. We found a lot of amazing food, drinks, shopping, markets.

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And we both enjoyed exploring Gaudi masterpieces like Park Guell.

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We also (accidentally) went to a fun exhibit about tourism, is it escapist?, plans for Dubai world, etc. etc. It was too cold for the beach, so we spent most of our time eating and drinking. One such place, which doesn't have a name, serves bottles of pink Cava (like pink champagne but better!) for only 2 Euro. Amazing deal! The only catch is that you need to buy sandwiches there- about 2-3 Euros each. It's touristy, but very alcohol and "deal" fueled fun- we met a girl from California who now lives in Barcelona, and her Belgian friends who coincidentally live about 10 min from us.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Catching up

Well, apparently the novelty of blogging has worn off, and I am more attached to blogging with pictures that allow me to slack off on the writing. However, here goes: We went to the US for Christmas. It went very quickly, and in a way felt like no time had passed. I noticed that my normal Caribou drink (Lite White Berry, half raspberry) tasted like pure sugar, the free ice water tasted too cold, and the portion sizes were overwhelming. Other than those expected deviations, it was business as usual. We spent New Year's Eve in Maastricht on the Hogebrug (a bridge). It was fun to watch the fireworks, though the show had a much different feel to it- people all over were lighting their own fireworks, even on the crowded bridge. The show was amateur, dangerous, and from all directions. In 2009, we have visited Brussels for no reason whatsoever, Brugge for the Ice Magic festival, Amsterdam for a concert, and will head to Paris for Valentine's day. The funniest thing we've seen in 2009 is a Dutch teenager who drove an old, very large tractor to McDonalds in the middle of nowhere. The whole restaurant laughed as we watched him climb up, pull out of his parking space and drive away. I will try to put some pictures up later, since my descriptions are woefully shallow.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Birthday Extravaganza!

As another of Erica's birthdays winds up, I thought I would post a little about what we did this year.
After all, this is the 10th birthday I have spent with her, although not all of them we have been together.

An idea was proposed to me when I was on the Amsterdam Mike's Bike tour with Carrie and Sara. As I was riding near the tour guide, he was asking all about me, and what I was doing living in The Netherlands. We chatted it up a bit, and he gave me a must see place. "You should totally take your wife here!" I think is the way he put it (with his sweet flock of seagulls haircut). So I kept the idea in mind, and actually decided to go through with it.

It was actually a lot easier than I expected. We were to take a short trip to the Belgian border city of Spa. It is here that the original "spa" concept was developed, and offered a weekend away from markets, bikes, and the pets!

I booked us a junior suite at the Radisson Hotel attached to Thermes De Spa (our point of interest).
This included dinner for the night and entrance for one of our days at the spa.

We arrived around 14:30, and just in time for Erica's Shiatsu massage. I was waiting for my foot reflexology massage followed by my Shiatsu massage. Both of us had never had a shiatsu before, and when the little woman started walking on my feet and placing a foot in my armpit and pulling I was in for quite the surprise, but we both really enjoyed them. The rest of the time was spent in the natural spring water pools, both indoors and out. So even though the temperature was 0, we were in 31 degree water, and enjoying it! We headed back to the room and enjoyed our nice 3 hour dinner. You have to get used to that over here!

We slept in Sunday morning, before heading back to the Thermes for a second day of pampering. We each had a facial scheduled for 13:30. I thought it kind of girlish until she began working on me. I have to admit, the woman actually brought tears to my eyes, and I wondered how I was to relax through this. I survived and came out with a beautiful, smooth, and moisturized face. Erica looked beautiful as always, and still had her lympthatic drainage massage to come. Before though, we headed back out to the outdoor spring and it was seriously snowing as we were swimming. It was quite a mindblower to swim as it was snowing and not be a bit cold. I enjoyed it some more as Erica went to her final massage.

Once finished we headed back to Maastricht, and back to real life... work on Monday.

Happy Birthday Erica!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Magermilch

Whew, finally caught up with pictures from the last couple of months! And now for a bit about our normal life. When Nick works late in the distribution center, I often head over to Aachen, Germany (10 min away from work) to visit the nearest Starbucks for a taste of Americana. I'm slowly learning important German words: eingang, ausfahrt, magermilch. Entrance, exit, skim milk. I order my Starbucks drink in English, and usually, I'm kindly accommodated. But since I know certain words like "skim" are a little tricky for non-native speakers, I usually accompany my request for skim milk with some hand gestures, and say I want "magermilch." Today worked up the courage to confirm that I was pronouncing "magermilch" correctly. I was informed that "yes, but nobody uses those words. We just say low fat (fettarm) or no fat (magermilch.)" I've learned about 3 German words, and I managed to pick one that nobody uses! We just got back from the Christmas market which opened there. I will remember my camera next time, there were a lot of fun things. Mulled wine, and reibekuchen, and brats, and cotton candy, and apple licorice ropes. Reibekuchen- huge vat of grease, add mashed up potato mix, deep fry, flip over, add bacon. Then it gets unhealthy- the guy takes a freaking ladle, and pours more grease on top of the greasy bacon potato stuff.

Oktoberfest

Better late than never, part 2. Nick and I drove to Munich for Oktoberfest the first weekend in October. It was the final weekend of the festival, since it actually begins in September. I will not go into the explanation of why it's not called Septemberfest since wikipedia has already done a fine job. Munich is about a 6 hour drive, and I am a little disappointed we went the fast route instead of traveling along the "romantic road" which is apparently a famous route. We concluded that a 6 hour drive for an overpriced beer was about all we could handle. We arrived on Saturday evening and went walking about the Theresienweise.

subway oktfest

subway

beer

Since it was just the two of us, we couldn't get a reservation, and there was no room for us. No beer. Can you believe it's possible to go beerless?! I nibbled on a pretzel while we unsuccessfully waited in line for a tent. (We did end up with a beer after wandering away from the fest to a local restaurant.)

pretzel

We walked around a bit and saw some photoworthy things: Tmobile's German branding, Oktoberfest costumes on sale, and a musical performance for a baby.

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dresses

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We headed over to the BMW museum, which was supposed to be open late. No museum. Can you believe our guidebook lied to us?! The next morning, which happened to be the last day, we struck gold in the Hippodrome tent. I was also stoked to ride the swings above the fest.

starflyer1

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hippodrom

We were early enough to snag a table, and ended up seated next to a local guy named Fernando. Fernando was all alone, so we decided to be his friend. We had a nice time chatting with him, sharing pretzels, and drinking beer.

fernando

We were a little sad to leave after only two hours, but needed to go meet up for a bike tour. The bike tour was just ok. We saw a little place in the park that is famous for.... surfing!

munchensurfing

The tourguide spent quite a bit of time hitting on the college age ladies in the group and it got a little annoying. His general MO was the following: I'm so worldly and interesting because I live in Munich. Man, it's tough holding down a relationship, nobody will follow me around the world to do interesting things like hit on girls who join the bike tour. Wanna try and tame me? I wonder if he has a dryer. Wanna know a secret, ladies? One of the most exotic things about living in Europe? Line drying in a country that gets rain 300 days a year.

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Once upon a time,

Nick and I visited Paris and Amsterdam with 4 nice ladies. Carrie, Sara, Jessica, and Jaime were kind enough to fly over a weeklong visit at the end of September. Better late than never with regard to the blogging... We had a nice time showing them around, letting them loose upon the shops, and showing them the fries and waffles. Here's us, obvious location

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Us in the Tuileries Gardens, near our hotel

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Carrie and Sara near Montmartre, with a talented gentleman

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Venice

Our last three days were spent in Venice. Venice was a little like Disneyland- very crowded with visitors and expensive food. The streets are very narrow, and maps are nearly useless. Each time we found our hotel instead of a dead end canal, it was a happy accident. Walking around Venice, I did not feel romantic. I felt a little claustrophobic and always lost (hence, pissy and impatient), half expecting to see David Bowie as the Goblin King. But, Venice of course does have a unique beauty, so we're glad to have seen it.

Venice street

Venice

Smiley Doorbell:

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On top of the Duomo:

Duomo Venice

We also went to the island of Murano, which is famous for its glass:

Murano

Murano boat



...and that's all folks! Nick and I are back in Maastricht now. Our car liked Italy so much it couldn't leave!