Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lovin Life in London

Over the fourth of July we spent a week in London and had such an enjoyable time. We not only had beautiful weather but were able to have my sister Laura with us, which was an added bonus.

Here we are in front of the London Tower.

Laura was such a huge help as she carried Tristan a good portion of the time.

Here we are in front of Saint Paul's Cathedral.

We had such uncharacteristically beautiful weather (for London), that unfortunately all of our pictures involve Paul squinting. Here we are in front of Buckingham Palace waiting for the changing of the guard.

Big Ben looking through the lovely Holland Park.

We naively thought getting to Buckingham Palace 45 minutes prior to the changing of the guard would suffice. To our surprise the grounds were filled with hundreds of people who must have been waiting for hours in order to get the perfect seat. say the least there were lots of people and it was difficult to see all of the ceremony (because they do it behind the palace gates where no one is allowed in). Despite not seeing everything in its fullness, we enjoyed all of the pomp and circumstance (which there was plenty of-the ceremony lasted over an hour).

London was filled with several lovely parks where we enjoyed lunches on the grass as well as the occasional break from sight seeing (our feet were begging for a break by the end of the day).

Here we are in front of the very impressive Westminster Abby. Despite the outside looking very ordinary, the inside was the most amazing collection of tombs and memorials to famous Kings, Queens, Poets and notable British socialites. It really was very impressive and definitely worth seeing.

One afternoon Laura and I enjoyed perusing through the amazing British Museum.

I was amazed at the amount of Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek (just to name a few) artifacts that this amazing museum had in its possession. It even made me a little sad to see all of these precious items so far from their homes. After all wouldn't it be more impressive to see all of these Sphinxs in Egypt or to see the Parthenon in its entirety in Athens? I sure thought so (I kept thinking about how disappointing it must be to go to some of these historic places and to find very little left because everything had been taken to the British Museum). Despite my sadness I did enjoy this incredible Museum.

Here Paul is in front of Center Court at Wimbledon (one of the most premiere Tennis venues in the world). After being in London for days and feeling as though we had seen and done all that we had intended to, we thought we'd try our hand at getting into Wimbledon. This afternoon proved to be particularly exciting as we were able to get in on the day the men were playing in the semi-finals.

Here Paul is eating strawberries and cream...

and I'm enjoying a scone with clotted cream (after all the hype I was definitely NOT disappointed-it was oh so yummy!) and strawberry jam.

This day really was so much fun. Not only did we enjoy delicious food, beautiful weather and a world class competition-but Tristan and I were interviewed by the BBC (what a hoot that was-too bad I didn't know anyone watching) as well as us being able to do a little celebrity sighting (sitting next to us in the cafe where we were eating was none other than British actor Clive Owen).

Our last day in London we took the train to Cambridge. Here's a picture that I had to include, as I had never seen cricket played. Here's a whole team playing in their traditional white uniforms.

Cambridge was such a charming little town and perfect for a relaxing day to just take in the sights. After enjoying fish and chips at a local pub we made our way to the 800 year old campus (where greats such as Sir Isaac Newton and Lord Kelvin attended).

Through out the town you can see tourists being guided around the charming water ways by youth (I wondered if these were students trying to earn some extra income during the summer) by punting -or maneuvering these British gondolas.

Cambridge was quaint and fortunately for us not overrun by street performers. This talented (and very flexible ) man was the only performer I saw. Paul and I agreed that he was probably the most talented performer we had seen in all of our travels, as he played with proficiency from inside this trash can.

Our relaxing day in Cambridge was the perfect end to our time in London. I was so glad we were able to go and so glad we could share this experience with my sister Laura.

Since getting back from London, Laura has continued to spoil me as she helps with Tristan and gives me a welcome break from the monotony of daily life. We have been able to do several day trips (Hardenburg Castle, Heidelberg and its castle, Burg Eltz) and have a handful of trips planned for the future. It really is nice being able to have her here, and wish we were here long enough to host more of our loved ones.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Nothing nicer than Normandy

Here's a few pictures from a recent trip we took to Normandy (I'm a little behind on the posts, but I'm working on getting caught up). Paul and I had both wanted to visit the D-day beaches and thought no better time than right after the most recent anniversary (June 6th). We got there late enough to miss the crowds, but early enough to get wonderful weather.

On the way to Normandy we took the scenic route (rural Normandy) instead of going through Paris, and boy was I glad. Not only did we avoid crazy traffic, but we were able to drive through quaint French towns with beautiful chateaus and wild flowers growing alongside grazing horses.

After the most beautiful drive through the northern countryside we stopped for an afternoon in the coastal town of Etretat. This town is located on the Alabaster Coast and known for its beautiful beach with rock formations that resemble wading elephants. I have to say that this little town was my favorite part of Normandy.

This town had a breathtaking coast and a little town that reminded me somewhat of Cape Cod. Etretat is definitely worth the trip (it's about 1.5 hours from Bayoux and the D-day beaches).

The following Pictures are of Omaha Beach and the American Military Cemetery there.

Here Paul and Tristan take a walk on the beach (this day there was a very low tide).

As this beautiful cemetery overlooks the historic beach a sense of reverence is almost tangible there.

Saint Mere Eglise, the rally point for numerous allied paratroopers celebrates the arrival of their liberators (65 years ago) with an annual parade and numerous shops filled with British, U.S. and Canadian flags and memorabilia. If you look closely, they still have a parachute hanging on the town cathedral where an American airborne soldier landed so many years ago.

Bayeux is a sleepy city filled with quiet streets and picturesque livestock.

Throughout Normandy we were surprised to see American flags flying alongside the French. In a Bayeux grocery store a large banner hung and said "Welcome to our liberators!". I was so surprised that after 65 years their expression of gratitude seamed just as strong as ever.

As I said previously, Bayeux seamed quiet and almost sleepy. As we walked some of the streets they reminded me of the oh so charming movie "Chocolate".

Here's a few pictures to show you what life's been like here at home in Germany. Tristan has a sweet tooth as you can see here. Any chance he can get, Tristan will try to get the syrup from the fridge and sneak a sip.

This is how I found him (below) after returning from the kitchen. He obviously was done with lunch, and wanted no more of his high chair.

This is his "This bib is strangling me!" look.

Here you can see the happy guy in one of his favorite places-the office.

Tristan giggles with delight as he practically runs up the stairs to get to the computer.

Summer means strawberry picking for us, and here's a few pictures of our latest experience here in Germany.

Tristan enjoyed being able to eat as many strawberries as he could get his little patties on, and I enjoyed how happy he was. What a fun day for all of us!

Tristan made a friend with a sweet local girl (take notice of her particularly nice clothing-we of course wore our grubbiest clothes for picking this juicy fruit but the Germans wore nice clothing and picked somewhat cautiously).

Here's Tristan playing dress up with Pauls clothes.