Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Athens...what's to come....

We've been busy. If only blogger and the hotel internet would allow me to upload pictures. Here's what you can expect (and more) in the coming days.

  • Poseidon in Cape Sounion
  • Acropolis and the Parthenon
  • Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
  • The red line, blue line and green line
  • Riots, rioters, riot gear and tourists
  • Stray dogs

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Gl├Ždelig Jul fra Danmark (Merry Christmas from Denmark)!

Christmas Markets (and tourist stuff) in Dresden, Germany

At the recommendation of a friend, we decided to go to Dresden, Germany for the weekend. We had never been to a Christmas Market, so the one in Dresden would be our first encounter with masses of bratwurst-eating, mulled wine-drinking, all around happy Germans.

We ate, drank, shopped, wondered, toured…and Lincoln was the only one to get a present from Dresden. One of the stands was filled with all these 2” letters on wheels (I should have taken a pic), so I pieced together a L-I-N-C-O-L-N train. Now, the task of figuring out how to mail it to the US.
We also did the normal tourist stuff. Here are the highlights and the slideshow:

  • Church of our Lady (Frauenkirche) - The Church was destroyed by the allied fire bombing during WWII. With the use of private funding the Church was rebuilt ($200 million) and dedicated in 2005. It's a pretty impressive structure with various levels of balconies (we assume for concerts). We rode the elevator/climbed the stairs to the cuppola and had a wonderful view of the city.
  • Zwinger - The complex was built in the early 1700s in the baroque style. Even in the light drizzle it was a pretty neat place. I'm sure it's gorgeous during the summer months when the courtyard is filled with flowers; however the green sculpted lawn was still a sight for mid-December!
  • Christmas Market - We went to two smaller markets in early December and this was our first experience at a larger market. At night, we were shoulder to shoulder walking up and down the aisles, but a return trip during the day was perfect to do a little shopping.

Next stop....Athens, Greece.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Water Bridge near Magdeburg, Germany

On the return drive from Dresden, Germany we decided to find the Magdeburg Water Bridge. I printed out the directions using Google, but they were from the north and not the south and I didn't have a map handy so I couldn't easily figure out how to get there. I did have street names, so I used Garmin to plug in the street name in Magdeburg. Well, we ended up on the correct street near the Elbe River in downtown Magdeburg. Hmmm, not right. Over an hour later and using Garmin as a map, scrolling around to find a place where rivers intersect and we finally arrive at the Water Bridge, which is actually in the small village of Hohenwarth.

The water bridge connects two shipping canals (bridging east and west) over the Elbe River, which runs north and south. Here are the stats and the slideshow.

  • Over a half billion Euro: The cost
  • 918 meters: The overall length (690m over land and 228 m over water)
  • 34 meters: The trough width
  • 4.25 meters: The depth of the water
  • 68,000 cubic meters: The amount of concrete used
  • 24,000 metric tons: The amount of steel used
Unfortunately, the tourist area isn't completed so we were unable to take an aerial picture. I'm assuming the tourist area will include some sort of lookout tower. Here's a 'borrowed' picture from the internet.
Pretty cool. So the email chains that went around with the engineering marvel are True!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Flensburg, Germany

I headed south of the border to Cancun, Mexico last week. This week, we went south of the border to Flensburg, Germany.

I know, there is a stark difference between the two countries. We stayed at the Tulip Inn just off the pedestrian street. While it wasn't the best hotel we have ever stayed at, it was basic, acceptable and served the purpose.

We spent a few hours at the art museum and natural history musem. The art museum had some nice pieces by Max Liebermann and also some great pieces of furniture from the 1800s. The pedestrian area had stands where you could buy candy, gifts, roasted nuts, and the ever famous hot spiced wine, glogg, hot buttered rum, and I think I saw some hot chocolate.

We also took a quick trip to a little series of shops near Aabenraa in Denmark with some friends. It was an interesting trip there. I kept thinking about the song, "over the river and through the woods to grandma's house we go." The road was wide enough for a car and a quarter and at sometimes just one car. I wondered what would happen if we met another car. Does one car take the muddy ditch and hope they can get out? Do both cars slow and vere off the road a bit? Does one car back up (just kidding)?

Pictures are posted. They aren't the greatest...Chuck had the camera!

Up next: Dresden, Germany & Athens, Greece (yes, I know there are riots going on)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Long weekend in Cancun, Mexico

My sister Kasey and I headed south of the border for an extended weekend in sunny and warm Cancun, Mexico. I was in the US for about 2 weeks and decided to end my 16 day stay in the US with an additional 6 days in Cancun. It wasn't my usual vacation taking in the sights and touring the area. Rather, it was all about rest and relaxation and we all know that Kasey deserved a little time away!

We didn't go to the ancient Maya ruins of Chichen Itza or Tulum (we did that in 2000). We didn't go to ecoparks Xel-ha or Xcaret in the Riviera Maya (we did that in 2000). We didn't take the ferry over to Cozumel and Isla Mujeres (we did that in 2000). BTW, Kasey and I were in Cancun for 4 weeks in 2000 while I did research for a project.

In 2008, we weren't the usual tourists. We went for morning and evening walks, went shopping, took in some sun, read books, learned sign language, had margaritas and sea breezes, and relaxed.

Yes, you read that right, we learned (a little) sign language. It's been shown as an effective way to communicate with young children, so we're learning sign language. Even though I'm 4000 miles away from Lincoln, I now know about 80 new signs.

We also people-watched and this time around we had so much fun people-watching. Really, there were some pretty interesting folks roaming around Cancun! We saw...

  • a baseball player get married (still trying to figure out his name)
  • a 12 year old hit on an adorable little 10 year old named Clemintine
  • three old ladies (in their 80s/90s) don plastic shower caps as they lounged by the pool
  • way too many men (and women) in teeny tiny swimsuits; some people just shouldn't be allowed to wear speedos and thongs...lordy, lordy

Pictures of the beach will be posted soon.

Trip to the US

I just returned from a 3+ week trip to the other side of the pond. I spent the first few days visiting friends around Chicago and then just over a week hanging out with my nephew Lincoln, my sister and parents, and ended the trip with 6 days in Cancun with my sister. What fun!

Poor Chuck was back in Denmark working while I was taking on the role of Professional Traveler. There should really be such a job and I think I'd be fabulous at it!

Snow, snow and more snow. I definitely do not miss snow and on my trip to the US, I did get to experience several snowy days and the crazy midwest drivers. Why is it that even though they've been driving in snowy weather their whole lives, they still completely forget what it means to drive in the snow? People, people, people.

In 16 days, I...

  • drove over 2000 miles on the rental car
  • went to 11 cities in 3 states
  • shopped and shopped some more
  • bought gifts for me and Chuck
  • purchased things for people back in DK
  • saw lots of friends and family
  • took over 150 pictures of little Lincoln
  • was on 7 different flights (yuck!)
Now I'm back in Denmark and I must admit, the darkness was a bit shocking this morning.