Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Let's go waaay back

I've been cleaning up the pictures on my laptop and came across these pix.

This one is from February 1994 when I was studying in Guadalajara, Mexico. Anna (pictured) and Teresa, exchange students from Sweden and I went to Barra de Navidad for a long weekend getaway. This is the place where we went body surfing and I seriously thought I was going to drown. I got caught up in a tumbling wave and kept hitting my head on the sandy ocean floor. I think this pix was taken a few hours later...notice the Dos XX beer.

This picture is from August 1997 in Hell, Grand Cayman, BVI. This was our first big trip to the Caribbean. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency and took a catamaran out to Stingray City.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tiptoe through the tulips at the Keukenhof

One of our side trips to Amsterdam was a visit to the Keukenhof, which is about a 70 acre botanical garden...featuring bulb flowers. The gardens were filled with tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and amaryllis. We spent about 3 hours strolling down the paths, taking pictures, and of course it wouldn't be a trip without a quick tumble for me. It was actually a quick catch myself down on one knee kind of thing. Oh well. I've never been graceful, but this nice lady from Spain asked me if I was ok (in Spanish, of course); so I did get to use my Spanish in the Netherlands.

Enjoy the pictures.

Homes in Amsterdam

On our canal tour, we learned something quite interesting about homes located in Amsterdam. If you look in the picture above, you'll see a hook at the very top of the house. When many of the homes were built, taxes were assessed based upon the street frontage. So, many homes are very narrow and quite tall, which leads to narrow stairwells. Getting furniture up into the house...imagine the top floor...lots of steps...would be a daunting and near impossible task. So, you hook up a rope to the hook and hoist your furniture up and in through a window. Cool.

According to Leza, our tour guide, the Dutch also use it to string up their drunk husbands...the real flying Dutchman! ba-dump-bump.


The answer to the previous Where in the World are We is.....Amsterdam. Here are the highlights from our long weekend and don't forget to check out the slideshows.

Friday - We were up at the crack of dawn (4am) to make the 5.5 hour drive to Amsterdam. Our first stop was Alkmaar, which is known for its cheese. Cheese...mmmm cheese. We had a tosti, which is kind of like a grilled cheese, but not as greasy. Souveniers from Alkmaar included 3 rounds of gouda (garlic, plain, herb). We headed south through Haarlem, then on to Lissel and the Keukenhof. Tulips galore! I'll have a separate post about the Keukenhof. A quick check in at the hotel, a little exploring, and then off for a 2 hour canal tour. It's always interesting to take a local tour in a new city. The tour guide *usually* makes for a fun time!

Saturday - The forecast called for 50% chance of showers. However, we were lucky enough that we didn't need our umbrellas; although we packed them, just in case. We were up early (unbeknownst to us Amsterdam does not get up until about 10am!) and walked to the floating flower market and then to Anne Frankhuis. I stood in line for about an hour and Chuck headed to a nearby church belltower to climb the steps and get some nice aerial pictures of the city. Fortunately for all the people behind me in line, I got to let them pass me until Chuck returned! Other stops included a return trip to the flower market where I bought 50 tulips for 10 Euro ($15USD) and 20 tulip bulbs for 5 Euro ($7.50USD); a little window shopping through the Fashion District; viewing over 200 Van Gogh paintings at the Van Gogh museum; and then dinner at a quaint Chinese restaurant. The Dutch aren't known for their food and we did try to find something a little more 'local'; however Amsterdam is filled with Hard Rock Cafe's/McDonalds/Burger King/Gauchos Steakhouse, so finding a non-chain restaurant was no easy feat.

Sunday - We knew we had a long trip ahead of us, so we were on the road by 9am. Most of the trip was on Germany's autobahn. The open road of no speed limits...and some folks do travel quite fast! We bought a Garmin nuvi 270 with US and European maps, so finding our way around Europe is turning out to be easier than I thought it would be...although the Garmin lady's voice is a bit annoying after awhile. After a few stops for gas...trust me, gas is CHEAP in the US...we were back in DK. Our car is diesel, which is a tad cheaper than gasoline, but we're paying about $10 a gallon.

Enjoy the pictures.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Where in the world are we?

Here are some clues. The answer and pictures will be posted later.

  • There are about 1 million people living here and over 170 different nationalities
  • The city is home to about 700,000 bicycles, about 80,000 of which are reported stolen each year
  • A scene in Ocean's 12 was filmed along the canals
  • There are over 60 miles of canals here, with over 1500 bridges
  • The canals are about 9 feet deep, with 1-2 feet of 'disposed' bicycles...luckily they dredge the canals every year!
  • Nearby attractions include ancient Roman ruins, a town dedicated to cheese, a 70 acre botanical garden
  • It is quickly becoming one of the most expensive cities to live in
  • Prostitution is a career for some women (they pay taxes!)...and they have a specific 'District' that they work in
  • You can 'tip-toe' through acres and acres of fields of my favorite flower

Any guesses?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Life in DK

I'm adjusting to my new life in Danmark. There are a few things I need to get used to...or just change the way I do things.

  • Drinking luke warm water - I don't think anyone uses ice cubes. I wonder if I can buy an ice cube tray?
  • Not drinking diet pepsi - way too expensive
  • The cheese smells - it tastes good, just smelly
  • Learn Danish...quickly!
  • It's light out late in the evening and early in the morning - I'll need to buy some sleep shades
  • Television shows are pretty old - Murder She Wrote, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, Melrose Place, 90210, need I say more?
  • Everything is expensive - maybe I just won't look at the price anymore!?!?

On the upside,

  • Chuck can bike to work; it's only 6km
  • It's 20 steps to the bakery, 40 steps to the grocery store, 50 steps to the post office
  • 15 minute drive to Germany
  • Lots of travel opportunties
  • We have a sauna and a solarium (tanning bed)
  • I got beautiful flowers (blomster) on Monday (mandag)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Four Things

This email is circulating, so I thought I would post my answers here, too. Feel free to post yours. Four things about me that you may or may not have known, in no particular order.

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Fifth Hand on the Paper Machines at Fort Howard / Fort James / Georgia Pacific / Koch
2. Counter worker at Thompson Meats
3. Assistant to the Director at Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement
4. Neighborhood Services Director at the City of Janesville

(currently, a housepet as my mom says...so no job, just hanging out in DK)

Four Movies I Have Watched More than Once:
1. Goonies
2. The Holiday
3. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
4. On Golden Pond

Four Cars that I Have Driven:
1. Geo Storm
2. Volkswagon Jetta
3. Toyota Solara convertible
4. Toyota Highlander

Four Places I Have Lived (other than where I live now, which is Denmark!!):
1. Minneapolis, Minnesota
2. Rockford, Illinois
3. Janesville, Wisconsin
4. Roscoe, Illinois

Four Shows That I Watch:
1. Grey's Anatomy
2. Private Practice
3. Reruns of That 70's show
4. Two and a half men

Four Places I Have Been:
1. Base of a glacier outside Anchorage, Alaska
2. Hell (a town in Grand Cayman, British Virgin Islands)
3. Ancient Aztec and Maya ruins in Mexico
4. Sailing on the Rumbaba in St. Thomas, USVI

Four of My Favorite Foods:
1. Chicken Enchiladas
2. Turkey Chili
3. Fuji Apples
4. Tomatoes off the vine

These are all foods that are not readily available in Denmark :(

Four places I'd rather be right now (not in any order)
1. Honestly, no place. Too many places to see in Europe. But, if I have to pick some...
2. The beach, under a cabana, with a cabana boy to wait on me.
3. Sleeping, I'm still not on a regular schedule!
4. Shopping

Four things I Am Looking Forward To This Year: (2008)
1. Traveling Europe
2. Visits from friends and family; hint, hint, hint
3. The arrival of a new niece or nephew
4. Warm weather

Book Review - Welcome to the Great Mysterious

My friend Stacey introduced me to books by author Lorna Landvik. I recently read Welcome to the Great Mysterious. Another great book; I think I read the whole thing in an evening! Here's a brief synopsis. Geneva Jordan is a broadway star and receives a call from her twin sister Ann, in Deep Lake, Minnesota. Geneva agrees to watch Rich, her 13 year old nephew and godson who has Down's Syndrome. Her sister Ann and husband Riley take a much needed and first ever vacation away from Rich, a month in Italy. Geneva leaves the bright lights of Manhattan for a different kind of role and realizes that life doesn't always follow the best of scripts. As the author writes "an unexpected tragedy forever changes the lives of those she has come to care about, forcing her to redefine herown role as well."

Relaxing, Reading, Rays (sun rays, that is, not sting rays)

So, Where in the World was I? Cancun, Mexico (pictures are posted). A quick trip to Cancun is always a welcomed change. I needed a little sun to recharge the batteries before heading to Denmark. Part of me is a little worried about not getting my much-needed daily dose of Vitamin D while in DK. The weather was a perfect 85 degrees and sunny with a few lofty clouds rolling by every once in a while, and a nice breeze, too!

I've been to Cancun about 6 or 7 times, so I didn't do any of the typical tourist things like Chichen Itza (which is my favorite Maya ruin), Tulum, Xel-ha, Xcaret, Cozumel, etc. It was just a quick get away that included morning walks, reading, lounging, practicing my Spanish and also doing a French lesson each day. Before we head to Paris, I have to be able to speak a little French. So, the goal has been set!

I read quite a few books while on vacation, three of them are worthy of the blog. I also made my hour long trek on a ruta (local bus) to Sam's club and Wal-mart. I usually don't seek out these stores, but cheap Tequila and Rum and my favorite box of Bubbaloo were on the souvenier list.

The Choice by Nicholas Sparks was great! I've never read any of his books before, but I now have a list of some of his other works to read. The storyline centers around Travis Parker, who has everything; a great job, great friends, a house on the water, and has traveled the world. Enter Gabby Holland, his new neighbor. After a weekend of boating the journey begins. The question that persists is how far would you go to keep the hope of love alive?

I also read two books by Mary Higgins Clark, a mystery-type novelist. A Stranger is Watching and The Cradle will Fall.

The author's synopis of A Stranger is Watching: Ronald Thompson knows he never killed Nina Peterson...yet in two days the state of Connecticut will take his life, having found him guilty via due process of law. But Thompson's death will not stop the pain and anger of Nina's husband, Steve.

The author's synopsis of The Cradle will Fall: A minor road accident landed county prosecutor Katie DeMaio in Westlake Hospital. That night, from her window, she thought she saw a man load a woman's body into the trunk of a car...or was it just a sleeping pill-induced nightmare?

After a quick trip to Cancun, I was in Chicago for about 24 hours, then back on a plane for Denmark. My tan is starting to fade, so I may just have to figure out how the solarium (tanning bed) works in the house!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hej from Danmark

Greetings from Denmark, or Danmark as it is locally written.

No, my previous Where in the World am I, is not Danmark. I'll post the answer and pictures soon.

My flight to Copenhagen was great. I checked in at O'Hare and asked if there were any upgrades available. Low and behold, I got upgraded to Biz class for free. The seats recline almost 180 degrees, so sleeping was actually pretty comfortable. I was completely content with Economy Extra, but hey, Biz class is always an added bonus! I'm always a little amused when I fly into our little town. For those of you that plan to visit, I won't spoil the fun.

We are just about settled in and I have several 'lists'. I'm sure that doesn't surprise you! We'll see how much I can accomplish today. Chuck peddled off to work this morning and was settled in within 15 minutes. I wonder if he hooked up with the bike-pool group or not.

For my local government friends....the sanitation workers walk into my garage and pick up my garbage on Monday mornings. Talk about Service.....that's what the extra tax dollars get you!

Time for my Danish lesson.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Where in the world am I?

Here is a picture and some clues.

  • Pristine landscaping, crashing waves, white sandy beaches
  • A planned tourist location ‘created’ in the 1960s
  • I did research for my undergraduate thesis (Romancing the Maya) here; well, I did some research and lots of tomando el sol (taking in the sun)
  • I can always take a quick trip here; it’s my chicken soup, err tequila, for the soul
  • Hola Paco. Donde esta Plaza Kukalcan y Mercado 28?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Makin' sushi

Jesse was diligently preparing sushi for dinner and managed to slice open his finger. So, he was done with the kitchen prep. As we mended Jesse's finger with the ever trusty superglue (and debated whether a not a trip to Urgent Care or the ER was necessary) Dad quickly stepped in and took orders, I mean direction, from Jesse. Check out his skills.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Am I a Doormat?

I just finished reading My Life as a Doormat: In Three Acts by Renee Gutteridge. It’s a cute fiction book, but definitely peanuts. It’s a quick read, about 4 hours total. It was suggested that I read it…hmmm, I wonder why? The main character, Leah, is signed up to attend conflict resolution classes by her boyfriend. She likes to have everything in her life in order and predictable; she likes compromise and is the first to apologize, even if it’s not her fault; she’s always there to help out and can’t say no. It’s amazing how you can read a book and find aspects of your life that are mirrored in fiction or maybe subconsciously it’s just a deep ‘wanting’ to place your life in fiction.

Who's the Designated Driver???

Chuck and I went to Napa a few weeks ago with my brother and his friend Meg. I was still on some medication from my month long myriad of illnesses, so as the three amigos sipped, slurped, and slurred their way through the Russian River Vally, Napa, and Sonoma, I carefully snaked the hybrid through bends and curves, secretly hoping they would get car sick (just kidding on the car sick part).

The answer to the previous Where in the World are we Roamin’ is Wine Country, California. The slideshow is posted. Here are the highlights:

Saturday – A terrible snowstorm in Milwaukee grounded our plane for 3 hours; however we were in San Francisco by 2:30, so it was ok. Jesse and Meg picked us up at 3:00 and we were on our way to the Silverado Resort in Napa, with a quick pit stop at the Golden Gate Bridge to take a few photos of The Bridge and Alcatraz.

Sunday – For $20 a person, the crew tasted at 14-16 wineries. There were over 100 to choose from, so the driver set the course and we hit quite a few. My favorite was Hops Kiln, which was a cool looking building, had great fresh baked bread, and the perfect view for our afternoon lunch.

Monday – At the recommendation of my friend Jen and her relatives in Napa, we went to Sterling, Twomey and had lunch at Taylor’s Refresher in St. Helena. Mmm, sweet potato fries and spicy tomato soup. We also visited V. Sattui, Ehlers, St. Clements, Rutherford, a huge castle near Sterling, and too many more to list. Beringer will always be my favorite winery in this region. Even though I wasn’t ‘tasting’ I did purchase the chocolate merlot sauce, which was quite tasty on angel food cake with fresh berries.

Tuesday – I spent the morning at the Silverado Spa, a little early birthday present from Chuck. 3 hours of pampering was just what I needed! We headed into Napa to the Market and got some great olive oil and balsamic vinegar that I cannot wait to use once I’m in Denmark. Of all the wineries we went to (I’d guess at least 30 in 2.5 days) only one was truly rude and that was the Silverado, located off the Silverado Trail.

Wednesday – We headed to San Francisco to fly out. This time we took the Bay Bridge route and were amazed to see how many people do NOT carpool to work. If they did, they could easily zoom past the bumper to bumper parking lot of cars and even zoom through the toll without having to pay! That would be incentive enough for me…no tolls!