Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Few more Europe Photos

So here are a few more photos of our journey!

These first ones are all at a bombed out abbey in Cherbourg

In front of the Mona Lisa Eating croissants in Cherbourg
In front of Ann Hathaways cottage in Stratford Having tea in Stratford
Chocolate on the ferry
The traitors gate at the Tower of London....Elizabeth the first entered here when imprisoned by her sister Mary (Bloody Mary)
The engraving on the monument to Latimer and Ridley

Pub where C.S. Lewis and the Inklings met
The courtyard outside Christ's Church College

This video is rather is end of the ceremony of the changing of the guard at Windsor....notice how the one guard is awkwardly tries to put away the folder behind the other guard.

2010 Trip to Europe (France)

So we took a ferry, which was more like a cruise ship, across the english channel to Cherbourg where Doug and Nicole live. It took about 5 hours, but it is was very enjoyable, we got to watch the sun set into the ocean.

In the couple weeks that followed we visited a ton of things in northern the Normandy region.

Of course we also ate our body weight in croissants and baguettes! Doug and Nicole live in a furnished home that sits on beautiful wooded property and overlooks the channel, I spent a great amount of time at their dining room table enjoying the view.

The whole town looks like it is from a WWII video game, (I guess b/c it is used for them as Cherbourg was close to ground zero during the Normandy invasion) It is all stone fact there is village after village of stone homes and buildings. (pix below)I just want to drive around and take pictures of them. One of Nicole's friends who has lived there her whole life once remarked to Nicole that she heard in America that homes are built out of "sticks"...she told Nicole she would never want to live in one of those!! How funny!!

We visited:

The American beaches, Omaha and Utah...Omaha has the famous cemetery and memorial. It is actually American soil. We learned all about the invasion and the involvement of England, and the French was really cool.

Pont du Hoc...this was a beach that was invaded by army rangers, and they have left it as it was, including the huge artillery holes and barbed wire. Amazing!! (pix below)

Etretas...huge white cliffs. of spires and double timbered buildings (think tudor) This is where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake and where Monet painted his cathedrals (pix below)

St. Michel...a huge fortified city/island with an abbey on the top. Looks like something out of a movie. You actually climb the winding cobblestone roads to the top. There are shops all the way up...loved it because you feel like you are stepping back in time to the medieval period. (2 pix below)

Loire Valley...Nicole and I took a girls trip to the Loire valley which is south west of Paris to visit the chateaus (2 pix below)...these are where the kings and queens of france lived during the Renaissance. They are over the top gorgeous...there are probably about 20 of them along the river valley, but we only visited 3. We stayed at an authentic french bed and breakfast out in the middle of the country. We actually were given old fashioned keys that got us into the home and our room. Beyond quaint!!

At the end of our time all of us, minus David, went and spent the last weekend in Paris. We were concerned about the greves (strikes) going on, but in France they are very orderly. In Paris we did all the usual stuff...I think the girls liked the Eiffel Tower the best...they went all the way to the top. I finally got to go to the Rodin museum (it was closed last time when David and I went).
The girls and I took a train back to London and then flew home from there...fortunately it all was very easy. Cherbourg
Above...Omaha Beach
Above...Notre Dame in Rouen...yes, it seems all french cities have a notre dame
Above...view from the top of the Eiffel Tower
Above...view out Nicole's window of the English Channel
Above...Pont du HocAbove and below...St. Michel

Driving through the cherbourg area

Chanting in the abbey that is at the top of St Michel

A wall of chocolate in the grocery store...yes, the french take their chocolate seriously!!

Approaching the Eiffel Tower...

2010 Trip to Europe (England)

Ok, so I am not going to write about every day in Europe...If you want to see lots of pictures, log onto facebook :) It is so much easier to deal with fb than to blog...for me anyways. We went the last week of Sept and returned mid October...since my kids have a 2 week fall break, they only missed 3 days of school...worked out fabulous!

A few bits and pieces...I spent 3 weeks there with the girls and David could only spend 2, because of work. We went to England for the first week and then down the France to stay with Doug and Nicole. Highly recommend England...especially the time of year we went. It was a little rainy but not too cold and there were hardly any tourists!! So we could totally take our time seeing all the sights, with no lines.

We learned a ton about English history before we went (didn't want to repeat the same mistake what we made when we went to France last time...not understanding what we were looking at!!) And more while we were there. American history makes a lot more sense when understood in the context of English history, I might add.

Everything in England costs money...even the it gets pretty expensive really quick.

BTW we spent a night in NY on the way out and back...will always try do this in the future, as it seriously helps with jet lag and grouchy-ness.

In England we saw (not in order):

Buckingham Palace (just the outside...the park/gardens are beautiful)

Windsor Castle (could not take photos inside...saw the changing of the guard, actually is pseudo-cool, it kind of felt hokey...although lots of britian seems hokey!)

Stratford upon Avon (super quaint town...but the sights weren't worth the $)
Tower of London (crown jewels were pretty cool and standing in the site of where lots of people were beheaded was pretty crazy)

Tower Bridge (this is the one you probably think of when you hear "london bridge" bridge is plain and ugly, this one is the tall beautiful one)

St. Pauls Cathedral (went to evensong and heard the boys choir! The best way to see it and then it is free :)...again was not allowed to take any photos...I don't get it, it is not that way in France, just England....go figure!!

Westminster favorite! We went at the end of our time in London, perfect, so after we understood the history we could appreciate it. The history there is insane...been there since 960 AD...ALL the kings and queens have been crowned there, and many of them are buried there, along with a hoard of other famous peeps, such as Chaucer, Darwin, Dickens, fact Messiah was first performed there...the whole thing made me overwhelmed and emotional!! But go when there are no crowds, otherwise it would be difficult to enjoy.

Oxford...a personal pilgrimage of sorts. I wanted to see the pub where C.S. Lewis hung out. Which we did...the food looked typical yucky english, so we didn't eat there, but went to the very seats that he and Tolkien and the others hung out for years and wrote many of their books. Super cool for me. We also saw where Latimer and Ridley were burned at the stake, and on a lighter note...Christ's Church (college) the great hall where Harry Potter was filmed. Oxford was beautiful, but it felt too touristy for a college time I go to England I want to see Cambridge which is supposed to have less of a tourist feel.

We also, of course, saw Big Ben, Parliament, rode a double decker bus, and took our pictures in red phone booths...which, by the way, can be functional...We also ate lots of fish and chips (note: old cool looking pubs serve yucky slimy fish and mushy peas...where as new, not as cool looking pubs, serve yummy fish and chips and fresh vegetables :) And we rode the Tube (the underground) everywhere....everything is very spread out!!

Another note, take trains when traveling outside London, buses may be cheaper, but they are a slow nightmare!

Christ's Church College...the hall that was used in Harry Potter

Above...Windsor Castle

One of the girls favorite things in England was the British voice on the Tube reminding you to "mind the gap" here is Abigail's rendition of it!!
Once while we were waiting for the Tube there was an announcment over the loudspeaker at the station telling everyone that the train was delayed due to "a man under the train"...what the heck??!!...they would never be that blunt in the US... We were all pretty aghast and then Abigail says..."well, I guess he didn't Mind the Gap" that was actually pretty funny...

Oh...and Hannah wanted me to post one with her too :)