Scotland- the land dreams are made of

Sally and I traveled to Scotland for five days, which I can honestly say was not nearly enough time to marvel at all this country has to offer. The weather, for the most part, was absolutely great and completely unexpected. Though we did have our fair share of rain, we also had the ever-elusive sun-shiny days too. We were very graciously put up by Mark’s niece, Lisa and her husband, Sean and they were like our own personal tour guides through Aberdeen.

When we first arrived, we weren’t sure what to expect, and what we got was just breathtaking. We saw everything from stone circles to the castle used in Braveheart where the crowned jewels of Scotland were hidden and extra hairy scottish cows. We went to the beaches. We played Wii and drank cider. We bonded with little Eli, the youngest Henkel and quite the ladies man, haha. A special thanks to the Henkels for putting us up, taking us out and showing us the towns!!

Our last night, we decided to stay in Edinburgh (apparently pronounced Edinborough) and we got a nice cozy (and by cozy I mean small and trashy) hostel to rest our tired little heads. We explored the town for a bit and saw a beautiful castle, took a stroll through the park and found some more cider. All in all the trip was great. Next time we have to stay longer and go further- you’ll see why when you look at the pictures.

Standing stones of Cullerlie- probably used for cremated burials. Burnt bones, charcoal and part of a flint knife were found in 1934.

The Bridge of Feugh, we saw four or five salmon trying to make their way up these rocks- it was very neat.

One of the castles we got to visit. This one had an interesting history and was very cool on the inside. We got to walk through the rooms and read about the different inhabitants.

View from the top of the castle.

This was in the gardens at that same castle. The garden was enormous and broken up into several smaller gardens.

Just some random thing you would totally expect to see in Scotland.

Eli playing in the water.

The same stream that Eli was playing in turns into an enormous river.

When we first saw Eli, and Sally first met him, he was super shy. By the end of the day, he scooted next to her in the car and fell asleep, so cute!

We had lunch in a quaint little town, Stonehaven, with Lisa and Sean at this great hotel on the water. These were some of the boats in the little harbor outside the hotel.

This is the castle that was used in Braveheart, all ruins. The crowned jewels of Scotland were also hidden here. Even though it was rainy, it was still beautiful to see.

Hairy Scottish cows!!

Aberdeen beach, when the tide is high.

On our last day in Aberdeen, Eli woke us up at 7 a.m., and Sean took us out to see the beaches and the port in Aberdeen.

A ship coming from the ocean to the port.

A statue in Edinburgh.

Last night in downtown Edinburgh.

Advertisements

I <3 Münster

Okay so even though it is 1:30 in the morning and I am leaving for Scotland in 8 hours, I am posting because a.) it has been far too long and b.) I can’t leave for another country without sharing the glory that is Münster. The town is so beautiful and I have had so much fun here!

I’ll first start by saying, “I rode a bike!!!!” As lame as that may sound to many of you, myself included (since I grew up riding a bike), it is a big accomplishment for me, as it took me a bit to get used to riding it. But now, we ride everywhere, to the store, to town, and even just to tour the city. Our bike tour consisted of a little more than two hours riding through a forest, but it was so beautiful. We were surrounded by trees and the weather was so perfect, we couldn’t have asked for a prettier day. But everyone rides bikes here, there are bike paths everywhere and the city makes it very easy for the cyclers (not like Texas…).

Other than that, I have visited castles and churches, shopped, had many dinner parties, went to an amazing club (not your normal bump-and-grind place), gone bowling and met some fantastic people. I have to give a shout out to my new friend Paddy too, a friend of Sally’s that has been entertaining me while Sally was at work (poor guy). We went bowling, where we ended up meeting some pretty funny kids, we walked the city, played board games all day and ate loads of food. He taught me how to say things like nappies, dodgey and queue. It was all good fun, and now, I will let the pictures say the rest!

Me on my bike!!

My room at Sally's flat.

Our walking tour to see the city and some churches. Left to right: Paddy, me and Sally.

The first church- I made this picture big so you could see the three cages. This is the story: During the Protestant Reformation, a group of Anabaptists followed a prophet to Munster and settled there, chasing off the Bishop who ruled the city. The group believed the world would end on one Easter Sunday in the 16th century. When it didn't, their prophet was killed in a fight. A new leader stepped forward and was crowned king. The new king ruled for only 18 months before his people got fed up and let the Bishop's men into the city walls. In the ensuing battle, the new king, his second-in-command and his executioner where tried, found guilty and tortured to death. Their bodies were hung in these cages on the spire as a message to anyone who would go against the bishop. The cages were protected during the war and rehung with light bulbs inside as a symbol that ideas cannot be bound by bars. It is a very beautiful, gothic looking building. Very creepy at night as Paddy and I found out.

Church number two.

Moat number one.

One of the statues was assaulted!

Castle and moat number two; very old school with a drawn bridge and everything.

I don't know why I'm smiling about this...

We locked her up too.

The walkway to castle number three. So, so beautiful!

The courtyard of the third castle, it was so big!

Bowling with Paddy- we had the whole place to ourselves because no one else was there. It was super old school but the ice cream was quite good.

These two random German kids just came up and started watching us and Paddy invited them to play. At first they said no, but when they saw how awful I was, they decided they could do it. I was so funny!

We went to the aasee, or lake, last weekend and they were having these canoe races, and at the end they went so fast, they lifted a parasailer. It was very cool stuff.

Off to Scotland in the morning, then Berlin, Barcelona, back to Dichtelbach and home. More posts to come soon!!

Sex, drugs and krokette

Amsterdam was amazing. And not so much for the reasons I know you are all rolling your eyes about. The city was beautiful and held activities for every kind of person, whether you wanted to do drugs and have sex or just plain sight see. From the get-go we could tell what the city was all about. Amsterdam is very proud of its abundance of naked women in windows and coffeeshops on every corner. However, for those of you not looking to see vagina and smoke the mary jane- fear not, you won’t be disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not steering you away from the “fun” as we had plenty of the don’t-tell-your -mom kind, but if you aren’t so into that I’m just saying you will still have a good time.

We saw everything from phallic statues to the small canals, Anne Frank’s house and house boats. We went to the coffeeshops, we ate really good food (the krokette to be specific) and we took an old boat down the canals. I’ve never been to Venice, but I bet Venice doesn’t have shit on Amsterdam. See for yourself.

We got to Amsterdam Friday night, the same day we got back from London.

They were everywhere- just like you imagined.

Funny story time: this is the red light district (at night). While we were walking through, I was carrying my big camera in my hands and I lost my lens cap a couple weeks ago- so we are walking down the red light district and this half-naked woman in the window thinks I am about to take a picture of her because my camera was facing her. Keep in mind we are in a huge crowd and my camera is down by my chest, not my face. So she gets pissed, closes her curtain as quick as possible and flips me off. News flash chick: Seeing your vagina in person is all the picture I need.

Could we compare this to a sperm bank in the U.S.? Haha

The city was gorgeous during the day.

These were just some guys dressed up like Freddy Krueger hanging out on the street. Can we say creepy?

Her house was to the left of the sign, you can see part of the door in the picture. The line to get in was all the way outside wrapped around the building and well down the street.

This was so cool- it was right in the middle of the city and you could take pictures on it. Tourists like me really dug the big sign.

This guy was crazy!! He was dressed in a decorated thong parked his act right between two restaurants- so the people eating had no choice but to stare at his ass. I do have to say, for an old guy, he was really in shape. And I apologize in advance for making you stare at his ass too.

This was a street performer- he was a bit crazy though we didn't get to see a whole lot of his show.

This was the coolest part of our trip- actually a professor told me we could find this boat club and they give canal rides for a "donation" but it doesn't technically cost anything (don't worry, we donated). But it is a non-profit organization that restores old boats for fun. Our driver's name was Ken and the boat was from the 1920's.

We took shelter in this church when it was raining. Our boat driver said it is the only church he knows of that is never open on a Sunday.

This is one of the tiny, tiny canals.

Ken told us that every year, the city pulls out more than 25,000 bicycles from the canals.

A lot of the houses in Amsterdam are literally falling over. I took the liberty of pointing it out for you to see.

This is a house-boat cat rescue housebooat. Ken said, "That's what you get when you put an old-lady in a houseboat."

This is the smallest house in Amsterdam. If you look really closely you can even see how far back it goes, it is so small!

Oh Amsterdam.

The Bloemenmarkt was so pretty- lots and lots of flowers!

The aforementioned phallic statue...

I hope I conveyed how amazing Amsterdam was through the photos, I know there are a lot of them, but it was a really fantastic city! In other news, I applied for a job at Stars and Stripes today, here in Europe- so everyone keep your fingers crossed for me!!

I’m in Muenster with Sally this week and will probably have a post soon about my time here, but look forward to seeing Scotland next week!!

Rain, rain go away

Last day in London

It rained a lot today. All day. We spent a long time at Greenwich Market- which was a really cool place filled with vendors selling antiques, cameras, jewelry, clothes and so much more. We also saw the London bridge and Batman and Robin at the airport.

This was a really cool camera vendor. He had picture frames made from old negative holders and beautiful old cameras. I was a little jealous.

The view from a random bridge/dock in Greenwich.

The London Tower Bridge- massive!

The architecture of this bridge was jaw-dropping.

The rainy view from the bridge.

Wet feet.

These bikes for rent were everywhere- I wanted to get one but we ran out of time.

As I said goodbye to London, I saw these goobers, Batman and Robin asleep on the airport floor. I think I heard something on NPR about a guy like this that dressed up as Batman on airplanes, I wonder if this is the same guy...

London was quite expensive and quite rainy, but I will miss it!

London- I dig you

Day two in London:

Day two was great!! We did the touristy things like watch the changing of the guard and see Big Ben. The one thing I wasn’t prepared for is how quickly the weather changes in London. One minute the sun was shining and the next I was standing in the city in my dress and the grey clouds took over the  sky, squeezing fat rain drops on my head and creating puddles for me to soak my shoes. Despite the rain- we trudged on and saw the city in all it’s glory.

English breakfast at DDK's- fried eggs, toast, sausage and bacon. Oh so good!

Carla, having her morning coffee.

Me, having my morning coffee white at DDK's.

The changing of the guard was unimpressive, I am sad to report. Maybe if I had actually seen the change and not just a bunch of fuzzy hat bands it would have been cooler.

Though the ceremony was boring, we met some really cool people in the crowd. This kid in particular looked up at Carla and I and mumbled "bonjour," so I said bonjour back and surprised him. We carried on a small conversation using as much French as I could pull out.

Oh, you know, I'm just leaning against the Queen of England's house. Too bad she's on holiday in Scotland- see ya next week!

We took a stroll through another park and I thought this couple was really cute.

The houses of Parliament.

Big Ben. Oh how I loved this clock. I could have admired it all day- it was just so damn beautiful. The prettiest "thing" I have seen next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Lunch today was the classic fish and chips. Yes, I ate fish. And I liked it too.

The list of stops for the tube.

Everyone loves Dexter- even the english!

London bridges falling down

Day One in London:

I am breaking my London posts into 3 different ones because I have so many pictures and so much to tell! I will start by saying the trip didn’t start sowell and I was worried I wouldn’t like London as much as I’d hoped, but as the first day progressed, so did my feelings toward the city.

We had to get up at 3:30 am and leave by 4 am to make it to the airport in time for our flight to London. We all know how much of a morning person I am (are you sensing the sarcasm?). Also, don’t get me started on the exchange rate for pounds- it makes me really depressed. But anyway, back to the trip- when we got to London, I had to go through where they look at your passport and let you in and let’s just say I almost didn’t make it out of the airport. I don’t know if it was the giant camera around my neck or if they could just smell my enthusiasm, but either way I must have been suspicious. The guy asked me questions for 20 minutes! Why are you here, how long have you been here, how much money do you have, how much did you bring, who is supporting you, when are you here til, why are you in London, what do you do for a living, who are you traveling with, etc… Then, when he went to stamp my passport, he acted like he didn’t want to and it was a huge hassle!! Well I’m sorry you have to do your job sir but I am not here to blow up your city! The people at the airport were quite rude as well. I was very disappointed and not looking forward to dealing with more of that mess.

Once we made it to the city, things turned around very quickly- our hotel was very close to our underground station and we were a five minute train ride away from the city center. We were walking distance from Buckingham Palace, Kensington Park and much more. From this point on I am going to tell you about day one in London through pictures because there are so many. No point in boring you with words when pictures say so much more!

This is our underground station: Victoria.

Breakfast on my first day consisted of fried eggs, beans, bacon, french fries and sausage. It was delicious! We ate at a little cafe called DDK's Cafe- it was so good we ended up eating there every morning!

Of course there were telephone booths all over London, just like you all thought!!

And in those telephone booths is a petite Indian beauty that can guarantee you pleasure.

This is what the streets of London look like.

This one's for you Mom. I have never seen one of these before, but there was a book machine at the airport. So clever!

The British get very mad when you don't stand on the right on the escalators. It's so that the people in a big hurry can pass you on the left.

We watched the sunset on the Serpentine River in Hyde Park. You can't describe the beauty.

This is the best muffin I have ever tasted in my life. It was so moist and delicious. The muffin had real raspberries baked in and white chocolate to compliment.

I had to have tea with my muffin because I was in London. I decided on strawberry-mango. Mhmmmmm

The view from where I'm sitting. Breathtaking.

These skateboarders were all over Hyde Park- they were so cool to watch!

Look left and look right is on every pedestrian street crossing, I'm guessing it's for the massive amounts of tourists that aren't familiar with the backward driving.

Advertising in the underground...

At almost every underground, as the tube approaches, stops and leaves, an english voice comes over the loud speaker and says "Mind the gap please, mind the gap please" about 7 times. After awhile it gets pretty funny.

It's not exit- it's way out.

To conclude the evening, Carla and I had dinner at an english pub and drank some pear cider. It was yummy.

Oberwesel und Luxembourg und lots and lots of food

Today was all about the food. I am about to explode as I sit here writing this- I will just say I have eaten way too much today. It all started in Oberwesel with a pizza from a bakery in a grocery store. I had one and had to have another, and then (because I can’t help myself) I got a danish too. Ugh!! I have been doing nothing but eating since I got here- so don’t be surprised when I come home about 500 pounds heavier.

In addition to eating, I explored Oberwesel, a town located on the Rhein river. The drive in is absolutely gorgeous. You basically drive down a big mountain-sized hill with twists and curves that peek out onto the river. The river itself is surrounded by these big green hills as well. The streets are very, very narrow and lined with cute little shops, hotels and bakeries. It was nice just to walk around and take it all in.

This was so cool. Someone just had their whole house painted like this.

We also went to Luxembourg today, a teeny, tiny country bordering Germany. We were only there a couple of hours and it was also very pretty. Everyone spoke French, so I tried to remember as much as I could, but it was hard with all the German stuck in my head!! We walked all around town and then in a park area along the Rhein. It turned into an impromptu photo shoot with Jason, but we had a lot of fun. Here are some of the pictures I took:

This is one of the main reasons we went to Luxembourg. Cheap cigarettes.

Finally, the night ended with food. I made an all-american meal for the Germans: my mom’s meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Mhmmm-Mhmmmm good!!

We leave for London in the morning, so look forward to more posts with our adventures there!! Tschuess!!