Saturday, April 27, 2013

Garmisch Partenkirchen, Innsbruck and Lindau

Just a quick note to those who regularly read this blog: Thanks! I really appreciate it, and I enjoy your reactions on Facebook and here very much. It is fun to share what I am seeing with you. :) 
We (Ruthiey, Hannah and her sister Grace and I) are now in Germany, we left the UK on the 23rd after seeing Les Miserables in London on the 22nd! Wow what an experience!
 I am very curious as to the color of this river in Garmisch Partenkirchen, which is a smallish town about 1 1/2 hours by train south of Munich, near the Austrian border. I felt that all my senses woke up after we left the cities and went out to this beautiful town. The smells of flowers and trees. The sights of sunshine everywhere, and all the bright colors. The sounds of flowing water, wind, the beautiful German language, and trains.
 This felt like a pretend backdrop to a film set, but it was all so real and beautiful. We joked that it would be funny if suddenly the backdrop fell away and we were in the Arizona desert. It is odd seeing snow on the Alps, but feeling so warm!
 We did a hike up to a restaurant with a neat over view of the valley of Garmisch Partenkirchen.
 We have been traveling a lot by train. I decided that may be my favorite way to travel, especially these trains with epic views of mountains and lakes.
 We went to Innsbruck, Austria for a day. That was really pretty as well, we shopped and watched some music being performed on the street and ate gelato.

 We have been on the train almost everyday since we arrived in Germany. Thankfully we figured out an amazing group ticket deal that allows us unlimited travel for all of us for the day!
 Of course in new countries there are new vending machines. I found this strange looking snack on one of our train trips.
 A mini pizza bun! After my initial reaction of "WHAT?", it actually tasted pretty good.
 We went to Lindau, Germany which is also near the border of Austria and also Switzerland. It is partly located on an island out on Lake Constance or Bodensee as it is called in German.
 These protective pair of parent swans were almost killing a couple of ducks who'd gotten too close by biting their necks and dragging them around. The hissing was horribly frightening to a child who was watching the attempted duck slaying.
This lighthouse in Lindau is the only lighthouse in Baveria, which is the largest state in Germany. It is finally tee-shirt weather for us!
 We tried to find some Bratwursts to eat in Lindau but we decided they were too expensive for us in that area and instead we tried an Asian place that was super cheap but had massive delicious portions of rice and noodles. Yummy! Also Germany eat a lot of bread so we weren't too sorry to take a break from bread and rolls!
I never would have thought I would've been enjoying Asian food in Germany. :) 
I will leave you with another view of Bodensee from the Island. :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

London and Oxford

We have been in London for the past week, touring and doing some of the many epic things that are possible in this amazing city. 
 going on yet another free tour, this one was fun, Buckingham Palace is in the background, this is after we watched the changing of the guard.
 Trafalgar Square, always full of people. The weather has been beautiful, sunny and warm. T-shirt weather finally! And we are hearing of blizzards back home, it makes us very thankful for the warmth!
The Thames
 Again, the Thames and the Parliament buildings and the Elizabeth tower that houses Big Ben (the bell)
 London is so huge and has so many things to do and see, I can't help but feel that we have only brushed the surface of what is possible.
 We went up into the sixth floor of the Tate Modern Museum to take photos of the city in the evening.
 This is like the free version of being in the London Eye, which is like a huge ferris wheel for good views of the city.
 We went walking along the river on one of our last nights in the city with Hannah's friend Dominic who was a very excellent host and also showed us around his city and helped us make good use of our time there. :) Thanks Dominic!
 He also took this photo of the four of us. Hannah's sister - Grace - is with us for 10 days total. She is second from the left.

We went to Oxford for a day and a night. And saw our friends from Canada again (we met up with them in Edinburgh Scotland for coffee one morning as we were passing out of the city), randomly we met them on the street again. It makes this world feel very small to meet people you know in another country!
 I went walking early in the morning along the Thames but a much smaller version than in London, lots of horses and cows and river boats. Oxford was not what I expected but it was really peaceful and beautiful.
 Riverboats again, I know we have this also along the Mississippi River. This just seems like such a relaxing and fun way to live life.
 I feel that life in a boat would ignite the imagination, but maybe it would just seem natural if you lived this way your whole life, I don't know. :)
 I met this snail, who I named Samuel Nottingham.
 Later on in the day, we went on another walk along the river again, ate lunch sitting on a wall overlooking this view. So beautiful.
It took Grace 3 hours to complete this intricate woodwork. :P No, but it took someone quite a while. It was a good break to spend a day in Oxford. Then we took the bus back to London and saw Les Miserables at Queens Theatre. We were so excited! It was a great performance and it was fun to get dressed up, ride the Tube and see a show in London. These are experiences I will never forget.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Edinburgh and St Andrews

We arrived in Edinburgh in the clouds again, the sunshine was left behind in Glasgow. :P We decided to hike up to Arthur's Seat to see a view of the city. 

 It was a bit hazy over the city, but really fun to get up high enough to see the sea in one direction and Edinburgh city in another and the countryside from yet another.
 This stone, which is the highest point, is maybe Arthur's actual seat. Who knows? I was just know I was smug to have arrived on top of it. :)
 A view from the hills, down at Hannah and Ruthiey admiring the epic scenery.
 A very friendly jogger offered to take several photos of us all.
 Then Hannah worked on her navigation skills and mapped us a route back to the city using this chart that neither me nor Ruthiey could read! It was very impressive. :P
 In the city, lots of really impressive buildings and bridges.
I liked these two pieces of artwork, they seem to have a similar theme. 
 Edinburgh is a very neat city. We only spent a few days there, but Scotland seems like it has so much more to offer in terms of hikes, coastal walks, islands, everything.

 Hannah and I went to St Andrews, a little university town where the game of golf was first played and the beach in Chariots of Fire (the opening scene, where they are running) is there as well.
 So of course we had to do some running shots on the beach. :P
 The ruins of the St Andrews castle, which is half as big as the St Andrews ruined Cathedral! I guess we can figure where their priorities lay.
The Cathedral. Apparently the people of St Andrews went and ransacked it after a powerful sermon from John Knox in a nearby church.  
 We spontaneously decided to go on a coastal walk, so this is St Andrews from way down the coast.
 Hannah forging ahead on the trail. We met an old guy and a young guy who together had started at the other end of the trail 4 hours ago and they still had an hour to get to St. Andrews, very impressive for the old guy especially!
 Unfortunately since it was spontaneous we didn't get to do very much of the trail and we headed back after about a hour.
One last view of St Andrews and the sea. I loved St Andrews, it felt somewhat familiar due to many viewings of Chariots of Fire, which me and Ruthiey rewatched last night and experienced it again in a whole new way as adults. (that was a favorite childhood film) We have crossed the border into England now and tomorrow we will be taking the bus all day to London.

Listening to: Vangelis Chariots of Fire theme

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Glasgow Sunshine

We flew in on Tuesday in the early morning, leaving Dublin in a fog and coming into bright beautiful sunshine in Glasgow. We went to George Square to eat our lunch from LIDL. which is like ALDI only better with fresh bakery items! yummy! 

I like Hannah's regal but somewhat confused expression in this picture. Also not sure what Ruthiey was doing, but she definitely was impressed by that seagull on the head of the statue in the background. 

 Outside St. Mungo's church, we found this great statue of David Livingstone and were reminded all over again that he was a Scotsman.

 and that he died in Africa. What an inspiring and amazing missionary he was!
I felt very small with all the historic buildings around us, there is so much history and oldness here that you just don't get in the States, it being such a young country.

We found the original Doctor Who police boxes, they really are this color. :) Our expressions don't match because I didn't get the memo we were posing for an Doctor Who tv show advertisement poster! Nice one Hannah. :D
 Our hostel room was on the 9th floor and the lift was mostly broken and only worked occasionally  so we got a serious work out going up the stairs, but when we reached our room this was the view that rewarded us. So worth it!
  I met this guy, William, in Princes Square, where he was selling styling service coupons to people passing by. I refused the coupons but we started talking and then ended up having a nice chat about life. I love chance meetings that end up brightening my day. :) He told me that the world should all be friends. Totally true.
From out of our hostel window again at dusk.