Archive for Europe

Last stop Edinburgh, Scotland

Posted in Scotland, traveling with tags , on April 21, 2008 by erin

I’m getting bored of my trip ramblings but I thought I should finish up so I can look back and read and remember. So here we are the last few days of the trip……

The train ride from London to Edinburgh was beautiful with views of quaint English villages, lush green pastures, a few peeks at the rocky shore of the North Sea and even a lighthouse. We arrived in Edinburgh on Easter Sunday so just about everything was closed except bars and depressing cafes. Since we really hadn’t eaten anything substantial all day we chose to eat at the depressing café. Complete with homeless people and those who probably didn’t have family to spend Easter with.

The next day was warm and sunny and we ventured to the Royal Mile and the Edinburgh Castle. For those of you who have never heard of the Royal Mile it is the popular name for the succession of streets from the main thoroughfare of Edinburgh’s Old Town. And as the name suggested the Royal Mile is approx. one Scottish Mile long (what the heck is one Scottish Mile?) and runs between the Edinburgh Castle at the top down to Holyrood Abbey- a ruined Augustinian Abby (rood mean cross “Holy Cross”). The Edinburgh Castle dates from the early 12th century and around the 1300 was inhabited by my ancestor Robert I, King of Scots aka Robert the Bruce who was known as one of Scotland’s greatest kings, as well as one of the most famous warriors of his generation and he helped lead Scotland to independence.

That day we ate lunch at The Elephant House. The Elephant House bills itself as “The Birthplace of Harry Potter”, because this is where the author J.K. Rowling often “mulled over a coffee writing her first Harry Potter novel while her baby napped.” They have a nice view of Edinburgh Castle out the back window. The castle is said to have inspired some of her story.Our last day in Europe was met with wind and driving rain but we set out anyway to view the Royal Yacht Britannia which is moored as an exhibition shop at the Ocean Terminal, Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland. It was much smaller than I thought a Royal Yacht would be but it was built in the 50’s so maybe back then it was considered large. Britannia logged over a million nautical miles. The Yacht was designed to be converted into a hospital ship in the time of war but this never happened. During her career as the Royal Yacht she conveyed the Queen, other members of the Royal Family and various dignitaries on around 700 foreign visits. The Prince of Wales and Diana took a honeymoon cruise aboard Britannia in 1981. She also evacuated over 1,000 refugees from the civil war in Aden in 1986.

All in all it was a good trip and I am so glad we mustered up the courage to travel with an infant. I’m done with planes and traveling for 25 hours straight for a while so next year we are staying state side because there is so much to see in our very own country!

 

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And oh yeah we went to London

Posted in London, traveling with tags , on April 16, 2008 by erin

I thought I should post about the last 6 days of our trip because if I don’t do it soon it will be gone from my brain and I can’t just leave you all hanging and saying “when is she going to tell me about the final days of her trip? I’m just sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation.”
Okay, you might not be saying this to yourself but please don’t tell me.

The next stop in our whirl wind tour of Europe was London. Getting to London from Northern France proved a difficult task. We had two options. Option One: two hour train ride BACK to Paris and then another 4 hour train ride to London (through the Chunnel) sounds interesting. Option Two: Ride a HUGE ferry across the English Channel to Portsmouth, England and then take a 2 hour train ride into London. We chose option two and it turned out to be the perfect choice. This ferry was the largest boat I have been on in my 30 years of life. Now, I have never been on a cruise and I imagine those ships would put this one to shame but I was pretty pleased with this ferry. There were 11 floors, a game room, bar, two movie theatres, a restaurant, free motion sickness meds (and yes I had to take them) and plenty of room for Petunia to crawl around. And in 6 hours we arrived on land only to board a train that in two hours delivered us to Waterloo Station in London. By the time we reach our apartment we had been traveling for 13 hours and everyone was exhausted!

We only had two days in London not near enough time to see all the amazing sights and museums! On top of that Petunia got a whopper of a cold so we only went sightseeing part of each day and the weather was just what you would imagine for London weather foggy, rainy, windy and cold not optimal weather for an infant with a cold.

The first day we took a stroll through the streets of London and we passed Top Shop! Then we ventured onto Big Ben and Westminster Abby and the Houses of Parliament. The second day we saw the Royal Palace and then onto the very important sight of Harrods. I keep thinking I need to get back to London someday to see everything we missed but in reality there are so many other places I want to see London might just have to wait awhile.

The following day we rode a train 5 hours north to Edinburgh……. (to be continued)

**Air France finally came through for us! They are paying the full price of the stroller plus an extra $100.00 because my husband was such a pain in their ass and called them everyday. Here’s to persistence.

Normandy

Posted in France, Normandy, traveling with tags , on April 5, 2008 by erin

Here’s a little more about our trip across the pond: I was sad to leave Paris. That city is enchanting, it draws you in and makes you fall in love and never want to leave. But our time in Paris did quickly come to an end and we headed north via train to Cean in the Provence of Normandy. Once in Cean we had to pick up our rental car. And then began what I call our circus act. Seriously, our family could put any clown posse to test with our skills of piling 7 people and all our luggage in a minivan. You would think minivan should have plenty of room for all of us but that thinking would be wrong. I quickly learned anything in Europe is about half the size of the American equivalent and that goes for minivans (and strollers, we brought our SUV stroller). We were packed in like sardines and had luggage surrounding us and even on top of most plus the stroller sticking out the window (the driver and Petunia were the only ones not to be covered in a mountain of luggage). Oh, and try installing a car seat when the instructions are in French. That only took an hour! Everyone was quite happy to know our B&B was only 20km away but with round abouts and not knowing where the heck we were going at times that 20km felt like hours and two of the 7 get rather car sick, one of those is me. I actually threw up on a bus ride in Italy last year (those crazy Italian drivers and curvy roads didn’t mix well with my stomach and the fact I was 6 months pregnant and ate pizza before boarding probably didn’t help either). Eventually we made it to our destination and dropped off our luggage, whew!

Personally, I was not looking forward to this part of the trip. I am not a history buff and even worse for me is war history but you know what I actually enjoyed our time there. Not only were the battle fields and beaches very interesting I learned something. The landscape in northern France is just what you would see in a movie. Beautiful and green with quaint French cottages made from stone and lacy white curtains hanging in the windows. It was quiet and peaceful especially after being in the noisy city of Paris where you could hear cars and sirens at all hours of the night. We stayed in this amazing B&B owned and operated by a very gracious French woman. We found out her husband had recently died and she discovered running the B&B by herself was too daunting a task so she had sold her property and was heading south in the next few months.

We spent some time at The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. This is a WWII cemetery and memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, that honors American Soldiers who died in Europe during WWII. The cemetery is located on a cliff overlooking Omaha Beach (one of the landing beaches of the Normandy Invasion) and the English Channel. It covers 172 acres, and contains the remains of 9,387 American military dead, most of whom were killed during the invasion of Normandy and ensuing military operations in WWII. The graves face westward, towards the United States all marked by white crosses.

We also toured Omaha Beach and found bunkers the Nazi’s used for protection from Americans who were storming the beach and an area where there are huge craters left by bombs. It was a pretty amazing site to see.

Our last night in Normandy was celebrated with a home cooked French meal from our B&B host and it was heaven. My explanation won’t do the meal justice. Of course there were copious amounts of wine flowing the entire evening and it was so relaxing with a fire and beautiful French music. We started with a tart of sorts with a French cheese local to Normandy and apples baked inside. It was wrapped in a very flaky crust and placed atop of greens (also from Normandy). The second course was chicken breast smothered in a creamy sauce and basmati rice which was followed by two very interesting types of cheese and bread (I was so full at this point I really couldn’t fit much more in, but somehow I found room). Dessert was short cake topped with a berry sauce and served with a side of creamy, custard-y rice pudding. I am not a foodie so my description lacks luster but let me assure after a week of pizza and sandwiches this meal was a highlight!

The next morning we boarded a ferry to Portsmouth, England.

 

Parle vous huh?

Posted in Paris, traveling with tags , on March 23, 2008 by erin

French is such a pretty language. They all sound so happy when they speak. My two years of French isn’t really cutting it. I get a word here or there. Piscine*a swimming pool. Bibliothèque*a library. And yeah, that’s about it. Oh, well of course Merci and Bonjour.

Today started with two kids getting stuck in an elevator. On Easter Sunday. Great. Glad one of them was not mine.

After we got the kids out of the elevator, thanks to a very nice french man, we did a bunch of touristy things. Traveling with another family we are not always free to do exactly what we want. We hit the Eiffel Tower again in hopes of better weather. It was a beautiful sunny and windy day but a little chilly. Unfortunately for us we couldn’t make it to the top with Petunia.

I’m finding that I prefer to peruse the streets of a city instead spending all my time with a thousand other tourists. I enjoy peaking at sites like the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysées but not stick around for too long, take the token photo and get out of there. Man there are a lot of tourists here. Of course the Champs was the big event for my husband who is a cyclist and any cyclist is a huge Tour de France fan.

We have found the metro system here is very confusing and huge and getting a stroller in and out takes two people. The metro here is much cleaner than Rome.

Oh and baguette, check
croissant, check
more crepes, check
cappuccino, check

Next we venture to Normandy and then onto London. I hope we will still have computer access in London. If not from our place, an Internet cafe. It will be interesting traveling in a foreign country that speaks the same language. Petunia is enjoying the French formula and diapers. Oh, and still waking from 10 to 1. And me, not really sleeping. My time clock is still messed up but really, why do I need sleep? I’m in Paris.

Paris Day Two

Posted in Paris, traveling with tags , on March 22, 2008 by erin

I love this city. I love that we were entirely lost the fist day wandering the streets until we found our little apartment. Our place is in the first arrondissements pretty much the heart of the city. Very close to the Louvre. The second day we start to recognize some land marks around our place and visit some little french bistros and by the end of the day we have scouted out a market for fresh pasta, one for bread, one for fruit and veggies and another for diapers, wipes and other necessary baby items. We of course stopped by a crape stand which I hope to visit again and again. Petunia LOVED the crapes, and loved might be an understatement. We made it to the Louvre, holy cow is that place huge. Another understatement. It took several hours to finally reach the Mona Lisa, which is really small, I thought the painting would be much larger. All in all a great day aside from the once again 10pm to 1am waking for Petunia, this time we learned though. We got up and played with her until she was sleepy again.

Paris

Posted in Paris, traveling with tags , on March 21, 2008 by erin

I’m writting from Paris, still can’t believe I’m here. Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to go to Paris. It’s beautiful and cold and wet and frenchy. So far we have been to the Eiffel Towel but it was so cold rainy and windy we will venture to the top another day. We also went to Notre Dame the most visited site in Paris. Completely awesome beautiful French Gothic Architecture. Petunia is doing great considering her time clock is screwed up. We did have the 11pm to 2am wakeup and why can’t I play right now session. Then we all slept in till 10am. Schedule schmedule.

We had a bit of a rough start with our stroller. I debated about bringing our bugaboo or purchasing a 20 dollar stroller. Turns out the second option would have been the right choice. Our stroller was completely destroyed, bent to hell. Stupid Air France. A nice sum of cash down the drain. Good news is Air France is going to caugh up the cash for a new one and it is mostly useable for this trip. And now we don’t have to worry about anything else happening to it.

Tomorrow we are tackeling The Louvre and the Champs Ellysées and Arc de Triomphe.

The Big Adventure

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on March 18, 2008 by erin

Like the title says engaging in risky, dangerous and uncertain experiences and living to blog about it. I’m nervous, my palms are sweaty and my heart is beating a thousand miles an hour. It might be the 12 cups of coffee I just drank and the fact that I didn’t sleep well or it could be our trip is RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER. Yikes! I’m so nervous but excited too. I just realized we will be in Paris on our 7 year anniversary. How romantic.

I will miss all my blogging buddies. Forgive my blog for going dormant for a while and forgive me for not commenting on all your fabulous blogs. We usually scout out some internet cafés while overseas and we might have a computer in the places we are staying so I will post some traveling updates and maybe even get a chance to read your blog. I will be back soon to enlighten you about sports or bikes and other silly but yet VERY necessary stuff. Bon Voyage!