Category Archives: Travel

Berlin 21 May, 2014

 

We slept in until 7 as yesterday was really an active day. (Dale writing) I walked to the store on the corner for breakfast goodies. It was again a rather warm day. We went off with Mark, Liz and Claire on a walking tour. Well, we took the U-Bahn to various places, starting at Checkpoint Charlie. It looked much like it had, but the actual checkpoint had a different trailer – much like the original 60′s version. They had “American” MPs there, but they were Germans in American uniforms, charging people to have photos taken with them. That ticked me off. There were probably many who thought they really were American MPs. The haircuts and the shoes were dead giveaways, not to mention their inability to speak English.SAM_4676

 

Sign at the old Checkpoint
Sign at the old Checkpoint

We walked on to a “Topography of Terror” display which displayed the history of Nazis in Germany.

Wall of Terror
Wall of Terror

It was really hot and sunny, so we took Claire in her stroller and walked to a shady place and waited for Mark and Liz. There was also a museum there and a long stretch of the Berlin wall. We walked on to an old guard tower, and we couldn’t tell if it was in the original place or not since all signs of the old wall have been removed.

East Berlin Tower
East Berlin Tower

We walked on to the Potsdammer Platz and there was a guy with a speaker going on about politics – bottom line, if we don’t go back to the old politics of Germany, we are doomed.

A bit of the wall
A bit of the wall with Mark, Liz and Claire

We walked to the Holocaust Museum. It wasn’t open the last time we were in Berlin ten years ago.

Holacast Memorial
Holocaust Memorial

We were then near the Brandenburg Gate where we walked around a bit.

Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate

We were entertained by an organ grinder. We visited the Museum Island, spending time in the Pergamon, my favorite.SAM_4699

Pergomon
Pergamon
Istar Gate
Istar Gate
Mark and Liz in Pergamon
Mark and Liz in Pergamon

After visiting the Museum, Claire needed a little break, so she got on at the nearest area with grass.

Claire
Claire

We had Doner Kebabs for dinner and Janet enjoyed a vegetarian one.

Berlin Doner
Berlin Doner

We also visited the Nickolai Viertel and saw the Rottes Rathaus and the Berliner Dom.

Berliner Dom
Berliner Dom
Dom
Dom

It was a long ride home on the subway but we were really tired, again.

Travel day to Copenhagen, 17 May, 2014

It’s sad when your hotel has a good breakfast and you have to leave before you can get a bite. Usually breakfast is not served in hotels until after six a.m. We got up just after four and got ready to go. We ate the food we had gathered the day before and then were on our way to the airport via public transportation, so easy, we thought. First to the bus stop. We thought it rather strange that taxis were all lined up at the bus stop. When we got there we realized why, the first bus to the terminal didn’t come until six-nineteen, too late for us. We started off our day with a brisk walk to the train terminal. It was only fifteen minutes away and since we knew exactly where we had to go there we were okay with a little change of plans. Which all worked according to plan. The most disconcerting thing was it felt later just because the sun rises so early in the north it feels later in the day. Before we knew it we were on our bus to the airport. The airport is a forty minute bus ride from the city. When we got there we tried to spend all of our Swedish money but ended up with ten kroner, about a dollar fifty.

We had to check into the airport at kiosks. We thought we had figured it out until we went to check our luggage and found we needed luggage tags that printed after our boarding passes. We went back to the machine we used and someone had thoughtfully put them on top of the machine for us. We figured out how to put them on our bags and checked them in and headed to our gate. The flight was short. I loved looking down at the beautiful farmland we flew over. All beverages except coffee, tea and water cost money. But since it was a short flight we were okay.

After we landed we headed to baggage claim, found our suitcases, and then went straight out to the central part of the terminal to find the TI. Copenhagen was a very busy airport. I found a place to sit while Dale figured out if we wanted to get a Copenhagen card. We decided that we loved having the tourist card in other places, so he got back in line to procure the card. It was fun for me to just sit and watch people. One of the things I saw was a man on a delivery scooter, yes, I did. A scooter behind and a huge square box in front on wheels that he carefully scooted through the foot traffic. It was a very busy airport, new and lovely.  We wanted to get the Copenhagen card first thing because they become your transportation tickets, as well as tickets to all the tourist sites.

The metro was conveniently located within the airport, just a short walk away. There was some construction on the line so there was a bit where there was a stop, get out, wait for another train and then head on towards the city. When we got to our stop we did what we always do, we got lost, but some friendly Swedish visitors in town for the weekend helped us find our hotel, Cab Inn. We dropped off our bags and found our way into the city. We walked around and found some street food and ate while we listened to the buskers and then we walked around and saw some of the old town. We found a Lego store and went in and looked around. I thought it was unique, but I found out later that we have them in the USA, probably one in Seattle somewhere.  By that time we were close to the University of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen Cathedral.

City Square on a beautiful day
City Square on a beautiful day
Old Town.
Old Town.
Lego Store
Lego Store

Copenhagen, being a harbor city, has a lot of waterways, and this is always a fun way to get to know the city. So we hopped on a boat and took a city tour. It was great, we went under many low bridges, our tour guide reminding us to sit down.

Boat tour - canal
Boat tour – canal
Opera House
Opera House
Little Mermaid
Little Mermaid

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Narrow Canal
Narrow Canal
Mind your head
Mind your head

We tried to find the Danish Resistance Museum, but sadly, it had been torched by arsons. At least we found an ice cream stand close by.

We headed towards Tivoli on very full buses and got there on the exact opposite side of the park from the entrance. We had a very long walk to get to the ticket kiosk.

Tivoli is a large amusement park in the middle of Copenhagen. The piece of land where it is located is quite large, but not as large as an amusement park of this kind would be in the USA. They conserved space by having many of the rides go over other attractions. The only really open areas in the park were where the famous and eponymous fountain and gardens were at the very center. We were not planning on going on any rides so we just walked around looking at the gardens and rides. The park is open until midnight and we think they do fireworks after dark, whenever that is. It is very clean throughout the park, much cleaner than the city streets. One of the interesting things we saw was a cup return. When you buy a beverage you receive it in a returnable cup. They have automats where you can return the cup for the equivalent of a dollar. That would be enough of an incentive for most people I think. Plus if you found cups in the area you might be motivated to pick them up for a dollar, I would!

Tivoli Park
Tivoli Park
Tivoli Fountain
Tivoli Fountain
In Tivoli Park
In Tivoli Park

We left for our hotel, very tired and found our room. Tiny, but clean and it had all we needed to sleep, which is what they advertise.

We noticed that Denmark, above Sweden, Finland and Estonia have the most cyclists on the road. There are huge bike parks close to the metro. Bike parks at businesses are even covered. We also noticed that in Denmark some bikes have a big delivery cart on the front. These carts often had children sitting in them. We also saw them filled with adults and dogs. Due to all the walking and biking we saw very few people who were overweight. You don’t use a car to go places in Copenhagen, you use public transportation which involves a lot of walking. We also noticed a lot of litter in the city, this is different from our last visit to Copenhagen where there was very little litter.

Bilke Path
Bike Path

Thursday May 15 Stockholm, Sweden

We got up and showered and ate the breakfast foods we brought with us, packed our suitcases and got ready to disembark. We were expecting there to be a TI at the ferry terminal, there was but it was only open on weekends. We wandered around a bit and tried to ask questions of the totally unhelpful employees at the ferry terminal. We left to try to find transportation into the city but we  got lost and couldn’t find what we wanted. We finally found a bus going in our direction but he couldn’t take money and told us we could take our chances and ride without a ticket (no thanks). Dale went back into the terminal to try to find where to buy tickets while I sat with the suitcases at the bus stop. Another bus passed us up while he was searching. He had to walk in the other direction to a Metro Station to buy tickets, but finally came back tickets in hand. Finally we were on the bus, in the right direction, with seats. We got off at our stop and after a false start headed down the street to our hotel. We left our luggage and found out where we could buy a Stockholm card and we were off.

Our first stop had to be the highly acclaimed (and rightly so) Vasa Museum. The Vasa was a Swedish warship that sunk because it was top-heavy an hour after it left the dock. It was on the bottom of the harbor for over three hundred years before it was discovered and brought to the surface. Not only is the ship amazing the story of how it sunk and how it was brought up again was amazing. We spent a lot of time looking at the ship and all the displays. This was one museum where Dale didn’t mind me reading all the displays. He was as enthralled by the story as I was. At lunch we decided to try the museum cafeteria and we struck gold. I had an amazing bowl of carrot ginger soup with a rye roll and salad and Dale had an open faced sandwich with shrimp that was so good he had another one.  After lunch we spent some time looking at the displays and then headed out.

Beautiful Museum adjacent to the Vasa Museum
Beautiful Museum adjacent to the Vasa Museum
The amazing Vasa batle ship
The amazing Vasa battle ship
Details on the Vasa
Details on the Vasa

We got lost again but finally found where the harbor tour boats left from. We had our Stockholm card and were standing in line when we realized we probably needed to get actual tickets so I stood in line and Dale rushed to the ticket kiosk to get the tickets at the last minute. I was almost at the turnstile when he returned.

The tour was the Royal Canal Boat Tour and toured the Djurgarden canal. We passed by many historic buildings and gardens and of course lots of saunas. There was narration via headsets.

On the waters in Stockholm
On the waters in Stockholm
Stockholm by water
Stockholm by water

When we got off we walked towards the palace and went inside to see the fabulous crown jewels. It was close to closing time at this point so we walked back towards the front of the palace and then into the old town.

The Royal Palace - Stiockholm
The Royal Palace – Stockholm
Old Town Stockholm
Old Town Stockholm
Old Town Stockholm
Old Town Stockholm

We were close to our hotel so we went home by foot. We were tired and decided just to eat in the restaurant that was attached to the hotel, which was Asian and was quite good. While we were eating a bus stopped in front of the hotel and about 25 people dressed in flight crew uniforms got out and checked into the hotel. It looked like two different flight crews from some Asian based airlines. They came into a separate room in the restaurant and had their food served to them family style.

We had a really great room in this hotel with high ceilings and a nice bathroom. Our windows opened out onto an inner courtyard so we could have our windows open and it was quiet. Mark and Liz had just started their vacation at this point and we skyped with Mark that evening.

Tallinn, Estonia an old city with a wall. Days three and four.

We like walled cities, especially old walled cities. We were excited to explore this old walled city, which was new to us.  Since we had upgraded our rooms, which included free use of the gym Dale got up and used the gym that morning before we went down to breakfast on the second floor. We were happy to see that the breakfast was certainly worth the upgrade. They had muesli, they also had oatmeal. They also had typical European breakfast foods, breads, cheese, cold meats. They had yogurt, fruit, eggs of all types including soft and hard boiled plus omlets to order. It was much better than we expected. The oatmeal was soupy enough that I didn’t need to add milk to it. Since I was getting a cold I was glad that we could start off the day with an easily procured breakfast.

We talked to the concierge and got an idea of what to do that day. After purchasing our Tallinn cards at the hotel, we started off with a mini-bus tour of the city. The bus met us at the hotel at ten-fifteen. There were only three other people on the tour which was great. We went to a bunch of sites around the city including the area where the royal residences were. The place that was the most interesting to me was the song festival grounds. They have a big national song festival every five years. This is what helped the people retain their nationalism during the many years of occupation by other countries. It is a great story. We had watched the video about it before we came on the trip.

Here we are at the singing grounds, it was cold. The amphitheater holds 30,000 people. Every five years a festival is held here. The next one is this year in July. All 30,000 sing together for one hour.

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The weather was getting kind of bad when we stopped the bus part of the tour and started the walking part of the tour inside the walls of the old town. I had a rain jacket on with a hood which kept me dry but I was so cold. When I got cold my nose would be completely stuffed up so I couldn’t breath. We would go in somewhere and I would start to warm up a bit and I could breath again.  After the tour ended we walked around the old town and looked in some of the shops and found a place to eat dinner. It wasn’t all that good, but at least it was expensive. We walked back to the hotel in the rain. We were tired, cold, wet and footsore, but we were still enjoying ourselves.

Views in old town. The first is St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.  Then view from the high point in old town. An open square in old town.

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We really wanted to save our feet the next day so the concierge suggested that we ride the hop on hop off bus.  We wanted to go to the open air museum which was outside of the town and the hop on hop off bus was the easiest way to get there. She told us that we would have to pay ten euros to ride the bus. We checked out of the hotel and put our luggage into the locked luggage room while we toured. We walked to the bus stop which was just outside the city wall and showed them our Tallinn card and to our surprise we didn’t have to pay for the bus at all.

The open air museum. I love the thatched roofs.

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Luckily for us it was a much nicer day, cold but with blue skies. The bus took us out to the museum and we noticed that buses came only once an hour so we would have to pay attention to the time so we wouldn’t miss the bus. We got the audio guides which came free with our Tallinn card as well as entrance to the museum.

We loved the museum, there were some of the displays that had people in period dress doing typical work. One of the most interesting was the women who were working with fibers. They had wool, but I think they also grow flax in this area. They told us about using natural dyes and had bags of things that they use to dye the wool. If they wanted to make something dark blue they had to use indigo which was imported. The woman there assumed that it was imported from the USA because that is where denim comes from. I had to tell her that indigo dye comes from tropical plants and that denim cloth was first produced in Nime, France. It was originally called serge de Nime and was shortened to denim. She told how they produced a lighter shade of blue by mixing indigo with urine. It made a lovely sky blue color which would stink if it got wet. We walked all over the museum and went into several exhibits. Another interesting one was the school. The teacher’s accommodations were part of the school house. They had it set up with period furnishings. It was really fun. They also had a store that was set up with things to sell. We bought some local chocolate there that featured wrappings that were from an earlier part of the twentieth century.

We were getting really tired and decided that we didn’t want to miss the bus so we headed back to the entrance where we shopped in the little souvenir shop as we waited for our bus back to the hotel. We knew we were done for the day. We could have seen a lot more if we had bicycles to ride between the displays. The bus took us around to the rest of the sites which we viewed from the comfort of our seats. When we got off the bus we walked towards the hotel and then found a Stockmans where we bought food for our late lunch and then dinner and breakfast on the ferry we would be taking to Stockholm that night. We sat in some comfortable chairs at the hotel while we waited a bit until it was time to take a taxi to the ferry terminal.

Since we weren’t going to the buffet on the ship checking in was easy and fast. We boarded a the ship, it felt like you were going on a cruise, they even had photographers at the beginning of the gangway. The boat had a band that was playing Brazilian music as we boarded, at least that was what was advertised. We took the elevator to deck nine and found our room in the middle section the ship.  As soon as we sailed away we checked out the supermarket where they sold cigarettes, booze and chocolate. I was looking for travel packets of tissues because of my dripping nose but, alas, they didn’t have them in a small pack just packs of twenty or so.  We hooked onto the ships WiFi  and checked out our email etc. I was so tired that I could hardly walk. We went back to our room and ate some of our food.  I changed and lay down. I didn’t intend on falling asleep right then but I did. I woke up at one and then again at four and was awake for good. I got to watch as we sailed through the Swedish archipelago. I didn’t want Dale to miss it so I woke him up so he could see. I knew he would thank me for it. We took quite a few pictures, it was very beautiful. We were surrounded by many islands some large enough to be inhabited, but many were just big rocks in the water.  We showered and had breakfast and Dale and I went out on deck. It was cold outside and we were hanging out with the smokers so we came back in. We got some more snacks in the supermarket and then came back into our rooms.

Janet looking at the Swedish archipelago from our ferry room.

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Some of the thousands of islands as we approached Stockholm.

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We loved Estonia, it’s a shame that I got sick and that it rained, I’m sure we would have done more things there. Estonian people refer to anything from their country as Estii. Estii food and Estii handcrafts etc. I would like to visit Estonia again someday and see some of the countryside.  I would also love to walk around the old town again when it is warmer and not raining.

What I did on my vacation.

Dale and I have decided that we will post about our recent trip to Europe in the family blog. You can ignore it if you aren’t interested or you can hang on every word if you want.

The best part about an upcoming vacation is anticipating all the fun you will have. The worst part is the beginning of the trip. Leaving the house, wondering if you forgot anything, and then there is the actual travel part. Traveling to Europe by plane stinks. Your first impressions are always marred by the fact that you are extremely tired, a bit rumpled, hungry and confused. It didn’t help that we flew into the worst airport that I have ever flown into, Charles de Gaulle. Since I haven’t flown into every airport I can’t say it is the worst in the world. We haven’t had many good experiences here. It’s a shame, because when we were flying home from that same airport I could see the Eiffel Tower from the airplane.

The beginning of the trip was smooth. Carolyn and Ri arrived to go with us so we wouldn’t have to park at the airport for 2.5 weeks. The drive was great and we were let off right at the front of the airport terminal which makes the beginning so much easier. We got through security easily due to our TSA pre-check. We got on the plane, in the middle seating, but at least one aisle seat. Since we checked our bags through we had only small bags to worry about. Dale had ordered special meals for me.  We tried to sleep, but it wasn’t really our sleeping time so we just sat in a stupor as the trip neared the end in Paris. When we got off the plane we boarded a bus and took a rather long and twisted route through what appeared to be a warehouse district. We went through immigration and then we had to go through security again to get to our next flight to Helsinki.  We moved slowly towards the security with a mass of other people. TSA pre-check doesn’t mean anything outside of the USA.  We got on our flight and made it to our destination and because of Dale’s help we were able to find the bus to our hotel. The one interesting thing I noticed on the way to town was the road construction along the way. They use a lot of wood, it made it look like they were building a boat instead of roads. The bus let us out in front of the train station and we walked to our hotel which was conveniently located on the other side of the train station. The other thing I noticed were women in Finland like to color their hair in odd colors. We saw a lot of pastel hues and that ugly red that is so common in Europe. We even saw some with various pastel shades in patches.

The worst part of any trip to Europe is trying to get over the jet-lag as quickly as you can so it doesn’t ruin much of the trip. I think jet-lag is really bad for young children ages three to ten and old people like me. We went to bed when we were so tired that we couldn’t stay awake any longer and of course I woke up at one a.m. and couldn’t go back to  sleep.

This is the train station in Helsinki, right by our hotel.

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I may have enough to read.

I have downloaded eight books to my kindle. I learned how to use hoopla which is a service that our library supports which allows me to download audiobooks onto my phone. I have downloaded five audiobooks from there. I don’t plan on taking any print books with me. I usually read a lot while we are on vacation. I hope I have enough books because I can’t read in Finnish, Swedish, Danish or German.

I discovered today that audiobooks put me to sleep when I’m tired. I do want to sleep on the airplane, so that is good. I guess that it doesn’t really matter what I’m listening to if all I want is to fall asleep. The big problem is I’ll probably be tired for the whole trip. My sleep will be disrupted at the beginning and I don’t know if I’ll get my sleeping groove back before we come home.  Even though I may get through all the books that I’m taking I doubt if I’ll be able to tell you anything about them after I’ve read them.

Two Digit Midgets

Out of the blue on Thursday, the phone rang and it was an elder from the mission office.  He asked me which airport we want to fly to.  Wait, we still have over 3 months!  He told me that they book early so that they can save money. 

The young elder said that we were due to fly out on the 7th of July.  I said, “actually, the 6th”, but who would argue over a day (probably your mom).  I also told him that it would be great if we could fly a few days earlier so that we could be home by the 4th of July weekend.  I wrote an email to the mission president telling him of our desire.  We haven’t heard back.  Perhaps he is laughing at the request. 

Regardless of this, even if we fly on the 6th, today leaves us with 100 days.  Tomorrow, we will be in double digits.  Not trunky though, although last night Janet mentioned that she really was homesick.  I’m worried that I’ll get bored when I’m home and that I’ll put on a necktie each day, even to take out the trash. 

Love you guys.

Victoria Trip

Not having had enough Canada, I traveled with my roommates John and Michael, along with our friends Ivy and Leslie last weekend.  Our destination: Victoria.  We enjoyed our stay there, and I particularly enjoyed the legislative building.  Even with water spraying out of my head.


While walking around Government Street, we happened to run into Darth Fiddler.  I gave him a tip.




And of course, what trip to Canada is complete without getting donuts at Tim Horton’s.  Ivy was happy to get her Timbits.




John, Leslie and I made a stop by Craigdarroch castle, a manor formerly owned by an affluent family in B.C.  It was a neat place.


Here’s our crew on the way back.


Overall, it was a fun and enjoyable trip.  The whole collection of photos is available here.

Photos galore!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an entry here, so here’s a lot of photos. First up, the procession of the species, which was just as fun as usual.  Lots of great new costume ideas, plus the return of a few favorites from previous parades (and the new humpback whale added to the jumping dolphins was pretty cool).

Procession of the Species 2008

Next, I took a long bike ride on Saturday, May 17.  It was a goregeous day so I made a north Lake Washington Loop (meaning I cut it off at I-90 instead of going all the way to the south end of the lake).  The first batch of photos up through downtown Seattle also cover my bike commute to work.

May 17 Bike Adventure

And finally, I went with Dale and John to Vancouver B.C. last weekend.  It was a fun weekend, and I got a lot of great photos.

Vancouver 2008

B.C. Pics

Some pictures from our trip this weekend up to Canada. We visisted Vancouver, including a trip up to Whistler (where most of the snow events in the 2010 Winter Olympics will be held).

Memories of Expo 86

I think this might be the only structure from Expo 86 still standing.

Skiing slopes at Whistler

Some of the skiing slopes in Whistler. I think this might be the beginner area.

Mountain bike lift

Ah, so mountain bikers are too lazy to actually bike up the mountain. I see.

Mountains of British Columbia

There were many gorgeous views of the mountains.

Blue mountains

This may be one of the favorite pictures I have ever taken.

And now for some silly pictures…

Come on, give us a kiss

“Come on, give grandma a kiss.”

Undesirable nicknames

You do not want to pull his finger.

Odd pose

After I took this pictures of Mark and John, I thought… “Hey, this looks like an album cover pose!”

So, after a little photoshopping (and a random band name and album name courtesy of the Random Band Name generator), we have this…

Album cover