We’re going to England/Scotland in August. Touring the Scottish Highlands by Car. Here’s our car ride:
We’re going to England/Scotland in August. Touring the Scottish Highlands by Car. Here’s our car ride:
Here are a couple of random observations that I gathered throughout Europe.
So I had an interesting thought this morning…
The dow went down 777 yesterday which was 7% (truly 6.98%, but everywhere is rounding up) after the house didn’t pass the bill for a 700 billion bailout/rescue.
I noticed that there are a lot of 7s.
Think it means anything?
We arrived at JFK a little less than an hour ago. Seven hour flight from London Hethrow Airport this morning to JFK. Got to watch a few movies and stretch out in the comfy Business Elite seats during the time. Around 4 hours from now we get to board a flight to Ohio, and then a flight after that to Vegas. We arrive back in Vegas at 10:14pm Vegas time. Which means I’ll probably get home around 1:30am or so. Quite a long day.
Last couple of days we spent in London. I must say that the Metro in London is quite easy to use and navigate. We ended up getting some Oyster cards loaded with 10 pounds each. So easy to use. It has a RFID chip in it and you just scan as you go in and out and it dings your balance. We were able to ride the tube in London two and a half days throughout the day for 10 pounds each. Coming home this morning I had to put 1 pound 30p on each of our cards (to get it up to 2 pounds) to get the balance so we’d be able to get in.
Last night we went and saw Wicked. Wow. I can say that Wicked was awesome. Really awesome. I was worried because of the girl they had playing Elphaba. She was rather new, but she delivered. Boy, did she deliver. There were a few rows of English and German students in front of us. We continually had to “shush” three german kids in front of us, chatting up some British girls in front of them. Sammi, finally had to go get an usher, who shushed them once, but it didnt last. At intermission we found their teacher, after which they turned tail and ran to the other side of the theater with the girls so we had a peaceful second half of the show.
The night before we saw Billy Elliott. It was awesome. It’s coming to Broadway this October and I think it’ll be quite the show to see. They have a bunch of child actors and they are quite talented. I highly recommend that everybody should see it. Wicked, however, was our favorite. I’m still in utter amazement. The accents really didnt get in the way for us in Wicked, and the singing was a tad different than the soundtrack which I’m quite familiar with. I couldn’t help but sing along to myself on certain songs.. I also found myself tapping the beat on “The Wizard and I”.
We also saw the Houses of Parliament, and climbed to the tip top of St. Pauls Cathedral. We tried watching the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, but it was cancelled due to rain. We also went to the Tower of London where I got to participate in a reenactment that happened in the 12th century and we also saw the Crown Jewels. We toured around Buckingham Palace Tuesday as well as walked around Trafalgar Square and Oxford Circus.
London was fun but EXPENSIVE.
Overall the trip was rather enjoyable. My feet are sore and blistered. I should’ve brought my running shoes for walking around in instead of what I brought. Silly me. I saved a bit of the different coinage for my collections.. Euros, Swiss Francs, Great Britain Pounds.
So there you have it. I’ll upload some of the best pictures to http://cbl.us over the next few days.
We spent three days in Rome. It was the highlight of our trip. Sammi got plenty of boots for cheap, and it seemed to be the least expensive city to buy stuff and do stuff in. We had a couple of tours of the middle of Rome and the Vatican, ate tons of Gelato, did the Scavi tour and had a blast.
Our night train left Saturday at 6:36pm and arrived in Paris around 9:15am. We spent the day in Paris looking at the sights. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame (we even went in for part of Mass), and the Champs-Elysées. Paris was our least favorite part of the trip so far.
We woke up this morning (Monday) and took the 10:15am Eurostar train to London via the Chunnel. We had to wait 30 minutes outside of the entrance of the Chunnel for it to clear for us to go in, thanks to the recent fire.
We’re in London, and going to see Wicked and Billy Elliott shows over the next two days. We’re also going to Buckingham Palace and Houses of Parliament on scheduled trips. Hopefully, we’ll see the Changing of the Guard tomorrow morning.
Cheers from London.
As Randy pointed out in a previous comment, the Chunnel tunnel had a fire.. well one of the tunnels caught on fire. Shut the whole thing down for a day or so. Looks like they are open again according to Eurostar website, but only 12 trains a day instead of 20. Since we’ll be traveling from Paris to London I think things will be fine. We’ll probably get our tickets next Sunday when we arrive in Paris. We’ll also have time to wait for the next train since it’s not “pressing” that we get there on time. Just on the same day.
Depending on how Paris goes, we’ll probably take off for the train station around 1pm or 2pm in the afternoon. Ideally getting into London by 4pm. Hope it goes well.
So today was our last day in Switzerland. It was a rather breathtaking one.
We woke up around 8:15 or so and went and got breakfast. All the clouds were gone. Yeah! So we packed up our bags after breakfast and showering and caught a train from Interlaken West to Interlaken Ost to get the train tickets for the Jungfraujoch trip (see previous post).
We first had to get a locker..but they only accept Swiss Franks, and the money I had was two 5.00 pieces and a single 1.00 piece. The machine didnt take 5.00 pieces even though it costs 5.00. So Sammi tries to go get change, but the lady doesnt give change. So I go back and buy a 1.00 post card and give her a 5.00 and she gives me 4.00 back. We use that and hte 1.00 I had and try and lock our luggage up. Unfortunately, the locker malfunctioned and it didnt lock. so we lost that 5.00. I found other lockers that accepted a 5.00 piece so we moved to those and locked it up.
Then we stood in line for our tickets. It costs like $110/ea for the round trip. We leave on a train and climb up the mountain. We get off the train and try to get on the next train, but it’s full. As we walk around I notice I dont have our passes anymore. Efffff.. we walk around where were to find them, but they are nowhere to be found, probably on the original train. so we go into the lady at the train station and explain the situation. Luckily I had the receipt from the transaction, but she said usually I’d have to buy a new ticket. Anyway, she writes me one up after talking to someone down the hill and reading the information off to them.
We go to the top of europe after changing trains again.. so by now we’ve been on three sets of trains to get to the top. fun. We visited the ice palace, the cool observatory and walked out onto a little plateau and froze our butts off. Lots of video and pictures were had. I even almost biffed it on the ice. At least I didn’t fall down like some lady did. Yeah, we caught her fall on camera. After freezing outside we then ate there and it cost like $50 for the two of us. Sammi didnt eat her brawtworst so I ate some of it.
Came back down the mountain and stopped in Grindenwald for a few.. then back to Interlaken Ost and we stopped at a supermarket and loaded up on chocolate and other goodies. Then sammi and I walked the mile back to Interlaken West station looking for souvenirs..and a bag for our goods. Then we took a train from Interlaken West back to Ost and got our luggage out of the lockers and then caught the Inter-City train back to Bern. It’s an hour from Bern to Interlaken. Now we are here waiting in the Bern Train station “waiting room” for our 11:04pm train. Currently it is 8:45pm.
So long Switzerland. It’s been fun with your Swiss Franks and everybody speaking french and german and english.
Day 4 was spent entirely in Germany. We slept in (in Frankfurt) and took a train to Rüdesheim. A few stops before Rüdesheim there were a bunch of people that got off. I figured it was for a futbol match since a lot of them were singing and wearing their fancy team colors. Seemed like fun for those that were drinking and able to sing out-of-tune. Finally we made it to Rüdesheim and started walking around the shops near the dock. What a touristy place. There were tons of people doing exactly what we were doing. We eventually stumbled upon this little shop where the shop-owner spoke “little english”. They had some nice hand crafted things. I ended up buying some things to ship back to America. Got a good deal too, I think. I can’t really explain what it is here for fear of ruining Christmas.
We eventually found our way onto the KD boat. It only cost us 3 Euros (for tax) for the whole ride because we had our Eurail passes. Not a bad deal. So we took the Rhine river tour. We sailed downstream until Koblenz, passing a number of quaint villages and towns on either side. The boat made stops all along picking up people and dropping people off. We stayed on the boat until Koblenz, where the ride came to a stop. We had the video camera out and my camera, of course, taking pictures of the beautiful and majestic castles as they adorned the slopes of the Rhine valleys. Lots of Japanese tourists were on our boat ride. Most of them piled up on top in the rear with us.. until the wind started blowing then most went down below deck. We stuck it out for about 3/4 of the way, until the sun was going down, and finally went down into the cabin. The tour on the Rhine was about 4 hours long or so. Eventually in Koblenz we caught the bus to the train station and finally a train back to Frankfurt.
Day 5 was mostly a travel day and exploring Interlaken. We woke up and left our hotel in Frankfurt and caught the 10am ICE train to Basel SBB. That’s the swiss side of Basel for the trains. We caught the connecting train off to Interlaken. Total travel time was about 5 hours in train. Arrived in Interlaken and found our Hotel rather close to Interlaken West train station. Fairly nice room, but no free wireless internet in the rooms, I had to go down and pay 5 swiss francs to use wireless for 24 hours. I think that you can use it longer since they just give you the WPA password. I doubt they change it everyday. Plus, how do they know when my 24 hours are up?
So anyway, we walked around Interlaken this afternoon and checked out the shops. Things here sure are expensive. It’s a tourist trap, that’s for sure. 1 USD = 1.12 Swiss Franc. We found some sweet marble sets made out of wood. They’re about $125 USD here, I sent a message to Leslie and she checked online and in the states they’re about $199. Sheesh. Not sure if I’d like them that much, but they sure are fun.
Check them out here. There are a bunch of sets you can add on to the original. Awesome, I know.
It was a bit cloudy this afternoon so there isnt much we can see of the mountains behind us. Hopefully, tomorrow the sun will drive the clouds away and we’ll take the train up to the top of Jungfraujoch and if not we’ll go hit up Mt. Pilatus at Lucerne (Luzern). I want to hit Jungrfraujoch one day and Pilatus the other day. We’ll probably spend Wednesday evening in Bern waiting for our midnight train to Rome. We have a night train so we can (hopefully) sleep and not waste a day traveling by train. I plan on stocking up on Swiss Chocolate and other things in Bern since things are soo expensive here in Interlaken.
We arrived in Amsterdam Schipol Airport around 10am local time. It was a rather uneventful flight. At JFK we had an hour between our connecting flights so I wanted to go into the Crown Room, since we could because of our tickets. Turns out it is just a big fancy lounge with free drinks, and food. The wireless Internet in there was TMobile and wasn’t free, but there were some workstation areas that might have had a free direct-connect hookup that was, not sure. We spent maybe 5 minutes in there because our flight was starting to board.
Once in Amsterdam and past customs, we got our Eurail passes validated and off we went to catch a train to Amsterdam Centraal. Once there, we stored our luggage and started poking around town. We took an hour-long canal boat tour and saw some of the sights from the canal. It was kind of fun to see the history of the locks and canals. After the canal boat tour we started walking through town, checking different things out and eventually made our way through the pouring rain to the museum square. We went inside of the Van Gogh museum and took a gander at three floors of paintings. Van Gogh was only on the first and second floors. Some of his earlier stuff was really quite dark. I think I’ve had my fill for art for the whole trip now. After the museum we started back to the Centraal Station to catch a train to Haarlem. We had to cross a bunch of canals on the way, went through China town and eventually caught a train to Haarlem.
Haarlem is a little town about 15 minutes outside of Amsterdam. It’s less touristy. We finally checked in around 5pm or so..once we got to the room we crashed, having been up since 8am the previous day. I would have liked to have gotten dinner around 8 or 9, but Sammi was too tired, so back to bed until 7am. Go jet-lag.
Day 2 in Haarlem was a rainy one. We went up to the tourism office and got some maps of Haarlem and surrounding villages. We started walking around Haarlem courtesy of our new map, and went into the big church in the middle of town. Did that for an hour, then, walked along the canal to the rebuilt windmill.. saw a wedding group getting their pictures in front of that, and after getting some pictures of the windmill we continued north to the station. We took an Intercity train out to Zandvoort out by the ocean. Once we got there it was windy and rainy. We pushed our way to the seashore and saw the North Sea. Once we saw it and documented the fact, we turned around and made our way to the center.. Sammi stopped at a bunch of stores looking for boots and other things. Eventually after wandering around the center of town and freezing our behinds off, we made it back to the station to catch the next train to Haarlem. Once in Haarlem we went back to the room for relaxing time, and eventually went out to dinner.
Day 3 in The Netherlands was still rainy. We had breakfast, walked around the market in the middle of Haarlem as well as walked around the center of Haarlem checking out the shops and people. We eventually checked-out and went to Amsterdam waiting for our 12:34pm train to Frankfurt. We dropped off the luggage and walked the streets doing some souvenir shopping. I called home and asked Leslie what her kids shoe sizes were. It was 3am in Utah when I called. Heh. We found a place that was selling candy, quite like that which they had back in Spain so we loaded up. We eventually caught the train and traveled through some amazing countryside into Germany and Frankfurt. Sammi had the video camera recording at times. Cologne was a fun area too.
Today (day 4) we’re going to catch the train to Rüdesheim and get on a boat and tour the Rhine. It’s not cloudy today from what we can tell, so hopefully it’ll be a good day for some touring and castle watching.
Cheers from Germany!
So I’m sitting here in the McCarran Airport.. waiting for Gate D41 to open up and let us board our first of two flights to Europe.
Fun things I have noticed so far: