Friday, July 27, 2007

Two Old Friends

Drew and I visited Matt in Bonn, Germany two weekends ago. Matt's working in a lab at the University there and wanted us to come see his nice little town. So Drew and I hopped a train Friday after work to Cologne where Matt met us and got us to Bonn. We ate a fantastic dinner of pizza and then headed to Matt's home to catch up and drink a little wine : )

After a glorious morning of sleeping in, we finally got up around 10 and took a ferry down the Rhine to a cute little town at the foot of a 'hill.' I say hill b/c after climbing it, I felt like I'd hiked a mountain. Anyway, we went up this steep hill to see two castles. Halfway up was a gorgeous home built but I don't think it was always occupied. Then at the top were the ruins of another castle. What an accomplishment to make it to the top. The views were worth it! We made our way back down and explored the town a little. I had a brotwurst as a snack. yum : ) We took the ferry back. This was such a wonderful ride. It was pretty cheap round trip and so enjoyable. Back in Bonn, we walked around and explored some. Matt showed us Beethoven's birthplace. We had a wonderful, traditional German meal at a cute little place in a square. Then we had apple streudle for dessert. OMG...experiencing different countries' desserts has been the best part of my time here. We stopped in a little bar for some German beer. Drew and I usually don't like beer but this wheat beer was pretty good.

The next day, we slept in even later and packed up. Matt showed us where he worked (aww) and the gorgeous botanical gardens. Then we hopped a train to Cologne. We wandered there to find me the Hardrock. I am collecting workout shirts from my travels: Dublin, Berlin, Amsterdam, and now Cologne. It was so cool, they had the German spelling version also: Koln (with two dots over the o). So I bought that one : ) Yes, I will also buy one in Rome next week! On our wanderings, we saw a beer bike go by. That was hilarious. So then Drew and I had to leave Matt :'( But good news!! He decided to come visit us the next weekend (this past weekend). So it wasn't goodbye.

So the Thursday of last week, Drew did something he never does. He got sick :-/ He stayed home from work on Friday hoping to recover but alas, I had to break the bad news to Matt when I met him at the train station...Drew probably won't be going to Disney with us. Saturday morning, Drew got up and got ready but at the RER station, decided to go back home. So Matt, Emily, and I went to Disney without Drew. I was so sad! But the three of us had a great time!!! It was pretty much all the same rides but the park was smiler and neater. We rode Peter Pan, Pinnochio, It's a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Tours (my favorite-though this one was more painful), the haunted house , and the Mad Hatter's teacups. was just like being a kid : ) I love Peter Pan b/c you're in a flying ship and you look over London before you're taken to Neverland. Pinnochio is scary :-/ I LOVE It's a small world....that ride rocks. Pirates was so was more thrilling than I remembered with uphills and splashes. Star Tours is so awesome, but this one was a lot jerkier. The haunted mansion is so great. And Matt drove the teacups as crazy as dad used to! I kinda looked at the ground and waited for that one to be over. In addition to the classes, we rode Big Thunder Mountain, the run away mine train. This one was awesome because we went underground in the dark and most of the ride was on an island in the lake. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril was a sweet little roller coaster. Before getting on, I asked Emily and Matt if it went upside down cuz I didn't know what to do with my purse. They didn't think so. Of course, half way through was a loop. Haha. Something new was Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. THIS RIDE IS AWESOME. It's really silly and for kids, but we got to blast at the bad guys the whole ride. Emily dominated over me but it was great. And last but not least, Space Mountain. Except this was Mission 2. It was incredible. Roller coasters are a lot more enjoyable in the dark. We got off and I couldn't stop giggling...we did that ride again before leaving. We had a blast!!!! I was sad Drew wasn't there but he would've been miserable.

The next day though, Drew felt well enough to camp out on the Champs Elysees with us to see the end of the TdF. We got out there by 11 and parked along the barrier by the Mercedes Benz dealership across the street from Louis Vuitton. It rained off an on for a bit but was cleared up by one. Eventually Emily, Tara, Nanda, and Rick joined us, one by one. We were expecting the riders 4ish based on the tour website but they didn't arrive till 5ish.

I felt bad cuz Matt's train was 5:52 and he had to leave at 5:15 but at least he got to see a couple of laps. It was exhilirating to be there again. I saw the tour end in 2004 when Lance won his 6th, but this was just as awesome. The man in yellow was a Discovery guy so we still had plenty to cheer about. After the laps, we headed down the CE to try to find the podium. We were behind it but Drew got some amazing photos for me : )

Then we found a semi-good spot to see the team laps after. It was a long but great day!!!


bonn bonn


Tour de France 1

Tour de France 2

Family Snapshot

Mom and Dad visited!!!!!!!!!! I was so excited to have them here. Drew and I picked them up at the airport Sunday and helped them get to their hotel. Then we found a little restaurant to sit in and catch up. Monday, Drew and I had to work but M&D came to our apartment for dinner and to do some laundry since they'd been traveling for two weeks already. After dinner, we headed back to the Latin Quarter for a yummy crepe dessert. Wednesday we saw Harry Potter 5 on the Champs Elysees and then walked to the Arc de Triomphe for some night photos while eating, what else, a McFlurry : ) Thursday, M&D came back to our place for dinner and brought yummy dessert. Friday we got M&D into the Louvre for free with our year passes. We showed them all the highlights-Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Napoleon Apartments, Hamurabi's Code-and then took a nice walk along the Seine. It's been warming up a little but M&D saw a lot of rain here in Paris.

We had a full weekend of sightseeing and crowds. Saturday we headed to Versailles to see the palace and explore the grounds. I finally got to see Marie Antoinette's 'playground.' She had a peasant village built just for her to play in. It was so cute though. Then we headed back into Paris for dinner and Bastille Day fireworks. Along with 500,000+ other people, we packed into Champ de Mars by the Eiffel Tower to see the show. It was incredible...until it was time to go. The crowd dispersed in all directions to find the nearest open metro. I think Drew and I ended up walking half-way home!

Sunday, we took M&D up to Montmartre. Despite being 'attacked' by the bracelet guys (one actually TOUCHED me), they enjoyed Sacre Coeur but were not impressed with Moulin Rouge. "This is it!?" mom asked : ) Then we headed across the river to Les Invalides. I'd only seen Napoleon's tomb so it was fun to explore all the war museums. They have amazing exhibits. I was very impressed.

Monday, M&D came back to our place for one last dinner and load of laundry. We gave dad a little early bday present and stuck a match in a pastry for him :-P

And then, like they hadn't been here at all, they were gone. I can't believe their week flew by so fast :'(

beginning of week with M&D:



end of week with M&D:

Monday, June 25, 2007

In This Town

Drew and I visited Emily last weekend!!!! It was awesome. We arrived 10ish in Lyon so Friday night we kinda just sat around and caught up. Saturday was awesome though. We didn't sleep in too late and headed toward Old Lyon. We went in Cathedrale St. Jean and then went up Fourviere hill (the majority of my pictures with the cathedral and mini Eiffel Tower are up on Fourviere Hill). There is an amazing view of Lyon, which we enjoyed for several minutes before going into the Basilique Notre Dame. This church was beautiful! From floor to ceiling, there were mosaics. It was just lovely. When we entered, a group was up front singing so we sat and enjoyed the free concert before wandering around. Several photos later, we headed back down the hill, wandered Vieux (old) Lyon and found a wonderful lunch (kebabs). Then we walked through Place des Terreaux where the cool fountain, city hall, and fine arts museum were. After a time out for me to play in the little mini fountains, we headed back to Emily's to get sunscreen and take a potty break.

Refreshed, we took a long walk down the Rhone to Parc de la Tete d'Or (park of the gold head). The rumor behind this name is that a gold head of Jesus is buried somewhere in the park. We had a great time. We rented a little boat and Drew was our southern gentleman who rowed us around. I tried but it's definitely harder than it looks. I never had internal rhythm so I couldn't sync the oars...I suck. We had a leisurely row along the lake and then walked towards the rose gardens. Ready for some r&r, we headed inside and saw Shrek the Thirds : ) sooooooooooo cute. I was pleased. Even though Emily and I had consumed a whole thing of pringles and Drew a huge bag of gummy bears, we decided we were ready for dinner and headed back to Emily's part of town for dinner. Having seen signs in vieux Lyon for a fete du quartier (neighborhood party), we headed back to that area to see what was going ended up, not much. There were a bunch of little kids running around, there were two guys on stage trying to be funny, and a string of lights up to decorate the square. We stayed maybe twenty minutes. I think we all slept well that night.

Sunday, we were really slow to move. Finally dressed, we walked through Lyon's market. Drew and I aren't new to markets, we have to avoid ours Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Our narrow sidewalk is crowded with people selling unmentionables, beauty products, clothes, as well as the normal food/flower stands. Lyon's market, however, was FANTASTIC. Drew and I loved it. ONLY food and flowers, there were so many options. Drew and I ended up buying a sandwich, fruit, and dessert for lunch. We had to catch a 2 pm train so we headed back to Emily's to eat our treats and grab our stuff.

It was a wonderful weekend and we appreciate Emily putting up with us : )

music and lyon:

lyon again:

Music of the Night

June 21 was Fete de la Musique (Party/Holiday of the Music) in France. Launched back in 1982, the day of summer solstice, this event is a gathering of professional and amateur musicians. So pretty much, all over Paris, there was music in the streets.

Drew and I, along with our dear friend Casey visiting for the event, hung out in the Latin quarter most of the night. We heard a lot of good music, got some free ice cream, and had an awesome time. The drumline on Ile St Louis was pretty great too!

(the first 29...the rest are Lyon)

Monday, June 18, 2007



Drew and I took a 10pm bus from La Defense to Amsterdam. We arrived at 6 AM at Amstel Station on the edge of town. From there, we hit the ground running. We walked to our hotel, were somehow able to check in at 7 am, and went touring from there. Amsterdam is a lovely town at 8 am when not many people are out and about. The canals really romanticize and otherwise dirty city.

We started with the Anne Frank House because we were warned there are always lines...and of course as we walk up we get stuck behind an annoying group of (gasp) American tourists. Oh lord, there was this one mother that annoyed the junk out of me...makes me not want to have kids just so I couldn't possibly end up like that! Anyway...the AFH was incredible. Not awesome incredible like the chateaux of last week, but moving incredible. The rooms didn't feel that small but I guess after being stuck in them with 7 other people and not being able to move during the day, it'd get claustrophobic. They had lots of documents and items in each room and you could see on the wall where they marked Anne and Margot's heights as they grew. Each room had quotes from the diary too. It was just incredible. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go.

From there, Drew and I wandered to the Dam...the square with the Royal Palace and a national monument. At the time, there was a field set up for a soccer game. We saw a line for Madame Tussauds but I don't understand why people would pay money to see wax! We somehow found ourselves in the Red Light District trying to find Old Church. After a couple of embarrassing side streets, we found the church which was beautiful. It is the earliest parish church of Amsterdam. We wandered a couple of blocks over to de Waag, apparently the oldest building in Amsterdam and now a restaurant.

Exhausted, we figured out how to take the metro and headed towards Rembrandtplein... Rembrandt's Square. With a cool statue of Rembrandt and a 3D version of his famous "Night Watch" this was by far my favorite 'plein.' We decided for a bit of culture after that and went to the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum. In my photos, the Rijksmuseum is huge but they are obviously renovating so only 200 works are available to the public right now. I saw some gorgeous Vermeers (but my favorite is at The Hague) and Rembrandts. Van Gogh was a great museum just in the way it was organized. Each room represented a part of his life and explained where he was (he lived all over the Netherlands and France) and what was influencing his work. I really appreciated those aspects of the visit. The most famous pieces I recognized there were 'Sunflowers' and 'The Bedroom.'

Wandering around again, we came across a cute restaurant that we made reservations for hoping to fit in the Heineken Experience before the time. Of course, as we walked up to the H-E we saw 3 tour buses outside so we decided to do a canal tour instead, which was good because it started to rain. I'm glad we got to do a canal tour because we were able to cover so much more ground.

After dinner (yum), we just walked around taking in the sites. By nightfall, which isn't until 9, we were ready to head back to the hotel. Amsterdam is a gorgeous city. The canals and architecture are amazing. I'm so glad I finally got to come, but I admit, this isn't a city I'll feel the need to come back to.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Castle on a Cloud

This past Saturday, Drew and I went to the Loire Valley to see some castles. You can't spend a large amount of time in France and not see castles! So we got up uber-early and caught a 7:50 train to Tours (where I studied abroad 3 summers ago) to do some excursions in the area. Our 9-12:30 tour took us to Villandry and Azay le Rideau.

Villandry was amazing!!! Built in 1536 by a minister of finance, it is 3 stories tall with a 4 story tower overlooking its amazing gardens. There is a water garden, a maze, flowers, and herbs.

Azay le Rideau was just as awesome. It has an open staircase in the front (making it too cold for me) and is about 3 stories also. It doesn't have cultivated gardens, just an nice wilderness to wander around on.

We were back in Tours for about an hour and I showed Drew the cathedral and we wandered some. Then we headed back to the tourist office for our 1:45 tour which took us to Chambord and Cheverny.

After driving over an hour, we pulled into the impressive drive leading to Chambord. This castle is HUGE-over 400 rooms, 20 something stairways, and 4 stories. The main stairway is a cool double helix Da Vinci-created thing. It's confusing but fun. The place is just massive and was only built as a hunting lodge!!!!!!!!!!!! Can someone say waste of materials!?!?

Cheverny was more of a large mansion than castle but still lovely. The family still lives in part of the house. I loved the furnishings. The grounds were nice; there was a small garden and just a large park to walk around in. This castle also had 120+ hounds to visit but signs asked us not to 'excite' them.

We got back to Tours 7ish and ate dinner and had a lovely dessert. I showed Drew where I took classes and the cool square where we hung out. It was an overall great day!


Play the Game

Drew and I went to the French Open!!!! I know you must be wondering how in the world we got french open was pretty easy. At 5 pm everyday for the first 3 rounds, they resell tickets for seats that have been vacated for the day. Drew and I were going to get in line at 4 (haha) and see if we could get any...well we got to that side of town kind of early so we decided to check out Roland Garros at 2:30 just to see and there was already a small we decided to just start waiting...yes, we waited 2 and a half hours!! The time went pretty fast even though it was hot. So, by being at the front of the line, we were able to by 29 euro tickets for row one of stadium Philippe Chatrier (the main stadium) and see Nadal play. Now, I'm no expert at tennis (ask Drew how many times I asked what Nadal's name was) but I know a good thing when it happens to me. And this was a GOOD thing. Nadal pretty much dominated Montanes and won the match. He also ended up winning all of the French Open!!! This was definitely an amazing day!


in Philippe Chatrier

Philippe Chatrier Stadium