Thursday, December 31, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

To summarize, clarify, and otherwise conclude (updated)

France by far had the best food. Bread, lamb, bread, couscous, bread, crepes, baguettes, cheese, quiche, bread, steak, pizza, duck, bread...I don't think there is such a thing as bad, or even mediocre bread in France.

Switzerland gets the award for the most amazingly picturesque countryside.

London was the most entertaining. There was so much to do, see, watch. And the tour guides themselves were fantastic. All the tours we went on were more like performances than tours.

And to clear up any confusion...

1. This was our 3rd trip to Europe, but our first time to Switzerland and London. We have also been to Belgium, and Luxembourg.

2. Jacob served his mission in Belgium and France.

3. I do not speak French, but I can understand anywhere from 10%-90% of a conversation depending on the topic (I'm really good if food is being discussed), the speed of conversation, and how much Jacob is speaking (I understand his French the best). I was surprised how fast I started picking up phrases this trip.

4. It is because we drive this....

...and this beauty....

...and have a couple of wonderful grandparents...
...that we have been able to manage these international trips.

So we'd like to thank our old run down cars for hanging in there for a little bit longer, and my wonderful parents for making these trips possible.

oh...and the girls loved their vacation too. Theater, picnics, playing in the leaves, non stop attention from Grandma, and Grandpa...what's not to love.

And now it's time for me to stop living in the past...

Post posting addition:

I realized that I didn't post any pictures of the two of us here is our only evidence that we did in fact hang out together in Europe. Also, I forgot to mention that everyone we met was so nice. We, and by that I mean Jacob (remember I don't actually speak French), had a great time talking to all sorts of people...other tourists, restaurant owners, security guards...we met some fascinating people. Europeans, especially the French, seem get a bad rap for being rude to Americans, but we haven't found that to be the case. Aside from a fair number of American jokes from the tour guides in London, everyone was not only nice, but went out of their way to help us when we needed directions or any kind of help.

Last Night

We spent our last day in Europe shopping...we met a guy in the last little shop we were in who was very knowledgeable, well informed, friendly, and well connected...kind of reminded us a mafia guy. He was awesome. He gave us all sorts of advice, legal advice...he told us about hanging out at the motorcycle classic in South Dakota, and about his business in Florida selling beach wear to tourists. We bought a couple Eiffel Tower trinkets and some mugs from him.

After all of our shopping we were hungry for Moroccan food. This was the restaurant that our French Mafia friend suggested. We had couscous agneau, and a tagine. It was fantastic.

One last look of the Eiffel tower. We have taken this shot on all three of our trips.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Louvre.

Our favorite place to visit in Paris.
We were there for about 5 hours, until our feet were so tired and sore we just couldn't handle any more. This was our third trip to the Louvre, and I still don't think we've seen everything. One of my favorite things was seeing all the artists around sketching the sculptures.

The paintings are pretty unbelievable.

This whole room was paintings depicting a queens life.

The Mona Lisa paparazzi.
I found it ironic that we were standing in front of possibly the most famous piece of art in the world, and there was only one person actually looking at it. Everyone else is busy taking photos, or checking their camera to make sure they got a photo of the Mona Lisa. I wonder how many people get so caught up in getting their photo of the famous painting that they forget to actually experience being there in person. A good reminder to stop and smell the roses...or something like that.

Winged Victory.

The sculptures are our favorite.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Paris at Night

After our marathon touristing in London, we slowed our pace in Paris. We spent our days wandering around the Louvre and shopping, and spent our nights admiring the city of lights, and eating fabulous food.

Enjoying two of our favorite French foods (crepes, and paninis) in the rain. The food in France is fabulous. So delicious. Pain au Chocolate, Baguettes, cheese, chocolate, duck, lamb...not to mention the best ice cream ever (Belgian Chocolate) on the The Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

We were thoroughly impressed by the Europeans parallel parking skills.

Friday, November 20, 2009

London in 48 hours

So much to see, so little time.

Big Ben

Double Decker buses.

Supposedly, possibly the most visited site in London.

Westminster Abbey

In a park where we listened to an angry cafe customer argue with the manager over a sandwich that was stolen by a pigeon. Apparently, she didn't see the sign that said that the restaurant would not replace food stolen by pigeons.

The British Museum.

Greece wants their stuff back.

The tower of London.

Jack the Ripper walking tour.

We managed to find time to eat, occasionally.

British Museum, again.

St. Paul's Cathedral. Too bad you can't take pictures inside. It's pretty spectacular.

Tower Bridge.

The London Bridge experience included a haunted house...very spooky.

Pretty Awesome.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lake Geneva to London in 8 hours

As much as I like traveling, I'm not exactly a fan of the actual travel days.

Particularly when it involves trying to be on time for planes, trains, or buses.

It kind of stresses me out.

Having a car was awesome.

We had grown quite fond of the little Fiat.

We went where we wanted, when we wanted.

and next time we're planning to go where we want, when we want in this.

But now our rental time had come to an end.

And we had a deadline.

(No, really...this is serious business)

Our goal:

51 Shaftesbury Avenue
London, W1D 6BA, United Kingdom... 7:30 PM...

The execution:

Up at the crack of 9:00 AM (we opted for our cell phone alarm to wake us up. It seemed a little ridiculous to ask for a 9:00 AM wake up call).

Up. Packed. Ready.

Quick breakfast of granola and milk and chocolate (hopefully they don't charge for adding things to the mini bar fridge).

On the road by 11:00 AM.

Three hour drive to Basel, Switzerland.

Needed the extra time we allowed to for getting lost. (Got lost several times trying to find the airport and the rental car return. We did, however, learn two words in German...Ausfahrt "Exit", and Abfahrt "Departure").

Checked our bags...we were well under the weight limit...even with our 10 lbs of Swiss chocolate.

Security check point.


Luckily our flight was about 15 minutes late boarding.

In the air at 3:30.

2 hour flight to London, Stanstead.

Bought train tickets on the plane (very convenient).

Landed on time at 4:25...luckily we gained an hour.

To baggage claim (remember to walk left).

Customs. (how come customs agents are so unhappy?).

Out onto the train platform, quick bathroom stop (missed the 5:00 train by 2 minutes).

On the 5:15 train to London, Liverpool Street Station.

I love trains! It's the best way to travel.

45 minute train ride (met an awesome couple from New Zealand).

Liverpool Street Station is pretty awesome at rush hour (Wow...people are tall hear..and dress really well).

On the Underground to our hotel by 6:15 (Holy Cow!...people are tall here...and dress r
eally well!!).

Check into Citadines Apart'hotel at London Barbican at 6:30.

Quick change of clothes.

Back on the Tube at 6:50.

Transfer at King's Cross to the Piccadilly Line.

7:15- arrive at Piccadilly Circus.

Can't find Shaftsbury Avenue.

Ask a nice lady who doesn't know, but has a map.

Eventually find it via our GPS.

7:35 Arrive out of breath at the Queen's Theater for...

It was fantastic. exquisite.
ABSOLUTELY worth the rush.
(and we only had to wait 10 minutes to be seated).

11:00 PM dinner at a little Chinese place across the street from the Queen's Theater.
12:00AM wandered around Picadilly Circus for a little bit.
12:30 AM bought Cinnabon for dessert and headed back to our hotel.

The Underground at 1:00 AM

Saturday, November 14, 2009