Monday, March 23, 2009

Travel in April and May

With our recent trip to London, our travel season is in full swing. We have quite a few trips planned between now and the end of the year and cannot wait to see all of these new places! 2009 is the year of Italy as we have two lengthy trips planned there. I'm spending about an hour a day on Italian lessons and am hopeful that I'll be speaking more Italian than English when we're in Italy. For inquiring minds....yes, I've basically given up on Danish. Jeg taler engelk og spansk og lidt dansk.

We have several trips planned in April and May, so if anyone has suggestions on must-see places or pubs and cafes, let me know.

  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Skane province, Sweden
  • Amalfi Coast, Italy
  • Rome, Italy
  • Paris, France
  • London, England

A presto! Ciao!

More from London

Here's our 4-day Itinerary in London. It’s really two full days in London with a travel day on each end.

Day 1 – We flew into Stansted Airport, which is just north of London and took a 50 minute ride on the Stansted Express train to the Liverpool Street Station. The Stansted Express train was very convenient and the price was right (about $30USD/person round trip). The train has probably seen better days, but the cars were clean and smelled fresh and the seats were comfortable. The Liverpool Station was about a 10 minute taxi ride from our hotel. We quickly checked in and after checking our watches it was midnight local time and 1am Denmark time.

Day 2 – We are Americans, so as per our stereotype, we’re up early and ready to go. As a side note, we are usually the first ones at an early morning sight and we are asked…or it’s stated…Americans? This was our first trip to London, so we packed in as much sightseeing as possible. We walked from the hotel to St. Paul’s Cathedral, which is absolutely amazing. The interior frescos and beautiful and very ornate. Too bad we couldn't take pictures inside! Our next stop was the Tube to get our 1 day pass for the underground (about $7USD). One of the workers said to Chuck, “How do you like Chicago?” I guess our Midwestern accent hasn’t changed with our year in Denmark!

We rode the Tube to the Tower of London, toured the grounds, saw the Crown Jewels, and then headed back on the Tube to take the Original Sightseeing Tour (about $25USD). Here’s a separate post about the bus tour. We ate lunch at The Texas Embassy, which had some amazing salsa and chicken tortilla soup. Chuck’s comment when he took a bite of the salsa was, “Mmmm, tastes like we’re back in the US.” We hopped on the Tube to make our way to Warr’s Harley Davidson Shop to get our BIL a birthday present. Then, back to the Tube (District Line) and the Tower Hill station. It was already 4:00, so walked over the Tower Bridge and back to the hotel to drop off some of our loot. Our last ‘tourist’ sight for the day was the Tate Modern Museum. Later that evening we had dinner at the Great Wall Restaurant near the hotel, which was good, but nothing spectacular.

Day 3 – We were up early and walked over toward the Tower Bridge for the 9:30 tour. We were stopped just short of crossing the river by a film crew. They were clearing the Tower Bridge so a helicopter could film some shots for the Sherlock Holmes movie. Cool. We toured the Tower Bridge and the Engine Room (how could an engineer pass up the engine room?!?!?).

We had a little time before the St. Paddy’s Day Parade at noon, so we decided to see the changing of the guard at 11:30 at Buckingham Palace. This, was not an original idea, as we arrived at 10:30 and there was no way we were going to get any closer than the roundabout. But, now we know what to do for the June visit. The weather was beautiful; sunny with a slight breeze. I’m so accustomed to gray skies that I forgot the sunscreen for Chuck…you see where this is headed. Ooops. He has a nice ‘flushed’ pink look. The next stop, was the Parade, which started on the north side of Green Park. The parade was little dull, so we decided to head to Harrod’s, shop a bit, and have lunch at the pizzeria, which has amazing bruchetta. Harrod’s is complete and utter sensory overload with way too many people wandering around. After being surrounded by all of London in Harrod’s, it was time for a little seclusion. Ahhh, our London Eye champagne flight with just six people…..perfect. We ended the day with dinner overlooking the London Tower at Strada.

Day 4 – It was going to be a long day. Chuck managed to get sick…food poisoning from his dinner at Strada. 3am was way too early for the wakeup call, the 4:10am Stansted Express train was just crazy, and the 6:40am flight back to Denmark was just poor planning on my part. I won’t make that mistake again. Chuck's bout with food poisoning lasted a good 96 hours. Yuck!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Birthday weekend in London, England

What a way to spend my thirty-something birthday! Living in Europe makes celebrating birthdays sooo much fun because within a few hours you can be in just about any fabulous city...with, of course, an amazing husband *blush*.

I refer to Chuck's birthday as Chuck-fest because we seem to celebrate for weeks and I tease that we celebrate my birthday for a day, maybe two. Well, this year was definitely Holly-fest with the celebration starting on Monday, March 9th with flowers and champagne...and the celebrating just got better as the week progressed.

We just returned from my birthday weekend in London. In a word (or two) Fab.u.lous. The weekend highlights...

  • Dinner at Strada overlooking the Tower Bridge
  • Champagne flight on the London Eye
  • Strolling along the Thames with Chuck
  • Watching a helicopter crew film scenes for the Sherlock Holmes movie
  • The Crown Jewels at the Tower of London
  • The Tower Bridge
  • Harrod's
  • Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
The weekend flew by. We are returning in early June to take in some more sights because we basically did a quick drive-by of the central and western attractions such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Hyde Park, St. James's Park, Marble Arch, etc. We're also going to do a day trip to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Oxford (or Baths).

The slideshow is posted.

The Original Sightseeing Tour in London, England

Yes, I am a fan of the Hop on Hop Off bus tours in European cities. The 2-hour tour was perfect to get a good lay of the land. We took the HoHo Original London Sightseeing Tour (Yellow route), but there is also a Red route and a Blue route. The fee of about $25 (discounted using the London Pass) or about $30USD gets you admission on all three routes (within a 24 hour period) and the City Cruises river cruise. The Yellow route has a live commentator, the Red route has headsets so you can listen to the commentary in a variety of languages, and the Blue route is the museum route. The commentary was minimal and I didn’t find it as informative as in other cities (NB: Berlin has the best HoHo commentary, Vienna is also very good).

Sights on the Yellow route: Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Parliamentary Buildings, Buckingham Palace (need to get off to take pictures), London Tower, Tower of London, London Eye, Hyde Park, Marble Arch, Green Park.

The HoHo in London wasn’t as good as in other cities and it is very difficult to take pictures of the sights; however it is a good way to familiarize yourself with the sights and plan out which ones deserve a personal visit.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Spring Forward...not so fast...3 more weeks in DK

The US 'springs forward' and observes Daylight Savings Time this weekend (March 8). In Denmark, we don't 'spring forward' until March 29.

For the next few weeks, the time difference will be 6 hours. When it is noon in the midwest, it will be 6pm in Denmark.

Note: I'm not going to 'fix' the clocks on the right hand side of the blog; just know that they will be a tad off for the next several weeks.