Friday, February 28, 2014

And on the last day… We "Rested"

Enjoying our last day in Dublin, we took it easy. Of course, breakfast began at the Queen of Tarts, a fabulous restaurant that is right at the bottom of the stairs. Mmm, the food is SO good!
 Then we took a stroll around the Temple Bar neighborhood. We might have stopped in a couple pubs.

 Enjoyed a great lunch too!
This saying (below) pretty much sums up my experience in Dublin

AND we are still smiling' after 5 days! That's the best part!
I'm tired

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A FANTASTIC Day..Sun, Site, Fun…AND Guinness!

 We began our day in our favorite little restaurant (pictures tomorrow) that offered a fantastic breakfast, tea and delightful surroundings. The sun was out in full force today and we made the most of it. We walked through St. Stephen's park, which is a gorgeous, peaceful place in the middle of Dublin (think Central Park in NYC). It was beautiful green and flowers were just starting to sprout. It was a good "Foretaste of the Feast to come" I am forever hopeful that Spring WILL arrive in MN..sometime.
 This chap was interesting. He was feeding the birds, including the one sitting on his arm. When we started talking pictures, he asked (in a very American accent) for 1 Euro for the homeless. We weren't sure if he meant himself, the birds or the homeless in general. He said he had just returned the pigeon in his arms after nursing it back from bad health. Great photo op---and what's a Euro (About $1.38 actually!)
 St. Patrick's Cathedral. Oh my. It was very very very cool. Beautiful architecture, wonderful windows, and we had the Luck of the Irish as there weren't many people there, the sun was just right for pictures and it was wonderful to just sit and reflect.
 A majority of the day was spent at the Guinness Storeroom (museum). Now I really don't like Guinness, but when in Rome… However, in Dublin, the Guinness is FANTASTIC!! We learned a lot about the brewery, and one of my colleagues even took a "Class" on how to pour the perfect pint. It was delightful…and the beer wasn't bad either.
This is the view of Dublin from the top floor of the museum. It was surrounded by windows and quite a lovely spot. We also had the BEST Irish stew. (made with Guinness as the secret ingredient of course). 

Yes what a memory!

As we walked home tonight, we walked by a young man begging for money sitting on the street. It's quite chilly here (well, not MN cold, but cold enough for a coat, etc). I didn't give him money but as I am writing this, I am haunted by his face. I generally don't give to beggars because I do believe there are programs for people who need help and that the money is going for something other than their well-being. But this kid's gonna be in my mind for a while. Tomorrow, I will give to someone that I see on the street. It won't help this kid, but maybe it'll help someone else.

10.000 Irish Steps

 We walked and walked and walked and walked yesterday through Dublin. We saw this place where a famous revolution started in 1916 *excuse my ignorance, I wasn't sure what it was, but it was very important to one of my traveling partners, her heritage is Irish. Then we went to Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells-a fascinating old OLD version of the first four Gospels (no photos allowed), then toured this old Library (see below). Very very cool. Then of course we toured the gift show below. Only tasteful cultural souvenirs purchased of course.

Tried to get my traveling companions to see this, but they weren't up for it. But it did make me giggle. I like the Irish people, they are very Very nice. And it's a perfect time to travel here as the crowds aren't everywhere.

 BUT I did see this Lepricaun so I felt much better. There are loads and loads of souvenirs that honor stereotypes which is nice, but we were on a hunt to find the Belleek, which is Irish stoneware that a couple of us collect. It actually took some time, but we managed to find a store that had it (and other fine things)
We went back and forth across this bridge a couple times in our quest to find the perfect souvenirs. We might have stopped at a few pubs during the day too. It was certainly a day of soaking up Irish Culture!

Two more full days of my great trip of a lifetime. In many respects, it's time to come home. I miss my man, my dog, my house, waking up in the same bed! I don't miss the cold (heard about the "next storm". I love traveling, and seeing new places, meeting new people, etc. But all good things must come to an end…until the next trip!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Aye, I've got me Lucky Charms!

This rainbow must be saying "Welcome to Ireland Nadine we've been waiting for you". I LOVE it here. It reminds me of England, but yet it's totally different. Of course I've only been here 12 hours, but it seems really cool.

Travelling this part of the journey with two friends from AIS Kuwait who flew in during their National Days break. So far we're just getting our feet wet in the pubs but I can tell that will be a major part of our touring. We're staying in a really cute apartment on one of the main streets. Perfect...
 We set off on a journey to find St Patrick's cathedral, but golly Gee there were at least five churches that we saw that could have been THE one! Love the architecture, the presence, the designs.
 Just a friendly reminder that the traffic comes at you from the OPPOSITE direction! And very fast!

As mentioned earlier, there are lots of pubs here. I have decided that I will ask each bartender what I should drink and see if I can come up with a winner. I was surprised to discover that there are many American beers served here. (Yuck)

My friend MJ outside St Patrick's (yes we found it but there were Vesper services so we'll be back tomorrow)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Amsterdam in 36 hours

Stopping in Amsterdam for 1 1/2 days to see friends. I really enjoy the city and especially enjoyed the opportunity to see it through their eyes. We visited here as a family in 2010, but it's good to see it again. Here's a couple of the photos that try to show what my 2nd impressions are.
 Crossing the channel to get into the city, there was this large Russian submarine. My friend says it could be Das Boot (ha), but it's interesting to see a big sub literally in the middle of the harbor. Certainly it's a conversation piece.
 We are so backwards in the US--(except my husband who faithfully rides his lil bike to school). We don't use enough bicycle power. Here's just one random bicycle parking lot. I almost got hit a couple times and was warned more than once to "stay off the bike path". I even got "honked (tinkled?) at by a bicyclist with his little bell. Seriously, I really applaud the Dutch for their healthier attitudes/practices.
 This is on top of a boat. Love the use of green glass to make Christmas trees. At least I think that's what they are!
 Went into the Tulip museum and saw these lovely Amaryllis' growing. Oh spring can't get here soon enough, especially for my Minnesota peeps. I took the picture below to remind everyone that spring is coming… (say it again and you'll believe it!) Spring IS coming soon.
 When we were in Amsterdam a couple years ago, this fabulous place (the Rejksmuseum) was closed. It was great to get a chance to see it. This popular painting of Rembrandt's (The Night Watch) was one of the highlights.
 Along with the very cool Harry Potter-like library. 
 I saw this a couple times--decorating the bicycle handles with flowers. I'm not sure if it's to remind you what your bike looks like when parked with hundreds of others, or if it's another reminder of spring. Either way, it made me smile.

Off to Ireland tomorrow! Slowly making my way home. 
Oh the fantasy will have to come to an end I know.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

All on a Saturday in Berlin

Disco Fever is alive and well in Berlin! It was such a beautiful day, I couldn't help but do a little Happy Dance on the street.
 There are flowers beginning to poke their head out of the ground here, which is a site for sore eyes. I took this picture for all my beloved people in Minnesota enduring yet ANOTHER snow storm.
 Being with Pooja AND Dennis is such a delight. How I remember both of them fondly as they were exchange students in PR in the late 90s. And now they are grown up people, living and working and succeeding. But they are still delightful folks. We're not squinting because the sun is so bright, we're squinting because their FUTURE is so bright ! (that's my story…)
 Some unknown top of a random church. How awful is that? Seriously, I have no idea what this is, but the site of such a beautiful building against the lovely blue sky made me want to take the photo. I can tell you that it's by the Calvinist Reformed Church (the French one) which was a very interesting experience. There wasn't any English translation (other than two sheets of paper which weren't very informative). So I enjoyed listening to whatever Dennis read as interesting AND just looking with out knowing what I was seeing. Sometimes one needs those little reminders that English isn't the only language spoken. It sorta makes me use the rest of my senses to figure things out.
 However, I found this one fascinating. The church was bombed and shot at several times during the War. Below is a description of a specific day and then there is a hymnal with the bullet hole and the actual bullet on top. It was a eerie site.
 This is Humbolt University, which Dennis says is THE Place for study in Berlin. In front of this, we saw a group of students demonstrating. As we walked closer (it was a peaceful demonstration), we learned that it was a group of students from Venezuala demonstrating the treatment of fellow students there. I guess it's quite horrific. A young lady approached and told us that all they wanted to do was spread awareness of the atrocities that are happening there. It was my first demonstration!!
Leaving Berlin will be hard  I have enjoyed the break, the complete mellowness of just
chillin' with Dennis and seeing Pooja. It was like a little bit of home. Just what I needed. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Visiting Germany…special moments

Being in Germany this week was just what I needed after traveling through Israel. On a practicality note, it's really nice to be staying with people and not having the extra hotel expense and food costs. On the same thought, only emotional, it's really great to be re-connecting with people that I treasure in my life. And thirdly, it's just good to take a brain break--- I don't have to figure out where I'm going, what I'm doing.
Having said that, please don't think I didn't like traveling through Israel with my daughter. It truly was the Once in a Lifetime opportunity in many ways.
But I think myself rather smart to have planned this week in the middle of my three week adventure.
Enough said…
Here's two photos that make me smile
 When I stayed at D and K's house, I looked out my window the first morning and felt entirely safe to have Spiderman watching out for me. This speaks directly to D's sense of humor. Oh also--- his internet name is "homeland security". Gotta love it (hope this doesn't get him in trouble….!!!)
Me and my German son… we took this in his garden before we went out exploring. I think it just says "content". At least I know I feel content when visiting with him.

…and me without my Camera

I did it again. Decided that I didn't need to take my camera when we went out to explore Berlin. And of course I saw things that I wanted to record. So I'm stealing images directly from Google with all apologies and appreciation.

Just a few representational shots of Berlin. I love the graffiti, the attempts to integrate the old with the new, the art, the way things look. It's good to be back visiting again.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The BEST part about traveling

…is getting to see people that you haven't seen in a while. Loved catching up with Dietmar and Katrin Bethge (Exchange student 1987)  Today I saw Pooja Merchant, exchange student from 1999. Currently staying with our German son Dennis from 1998 in Berlin, Germany. Life is GOOD… damn good!

"I am so glad I had the opportunity to be in this place" (translation)

Returning to the Koln (Cologne) Cathedral: a dream for the past 11 years. When our family first visited here in 2003, I was so awestruck I couldn't find the words. That was before I had the opportunity to travel to many other Cathedrals and before I had read Ken Folliet books detailing the building of cathedrals. But it's still a beautiful and amazing space.

 The detail in the whole building is what is such an unbelievable site. It just seems to go on and on and on (which it does). The back of the building is as intricate as the front (this is the back by the way)
 Inside there are carvings, stained glass windows, burial tombs, mosaics, etc. The one above is St Christopher, the patron saint of travelers.
 When I view a space like this and see the intricate windows, it makes me feel especially sick about the fact that there are wars and places like this are bombed. Fortunately there wasn't much damage to this place. There is a window that was damaged and they've replaced it with the modern look of multi color glass pieces. (no photo here). It's sad to see, but the guide book said it was because there wasn't any records of how the window looked. *Sigh
 My beautiful traveling companion, Godsister Marion. Our family is so blessed to have her in our lives.
This is a piece of "art" that we saw at the Ludwig Museum, a modern art space that has some truly "head scratching" pieces (as in "THIS is art?") But this plaque, found outside, states my new Life Motto "I am so glad I had the opportunity to be in this place". I could say that about so many places we've ventured to, but it seemed particularly appropriate here as it's the second time I got to stand in Koln.

The traveling blues has begun to set in, as I suspected they might. I'm over the half way mark of the trip and maybe (just maybe) I am getting homesick. Or else it's something I ate ;-). However, I've got three more stops to go on my wayfaring so I'll just suck it up and carry on. Besides, reports from home are that the weather CERTAINLY isn't something I want to go running back to at any moment.

I am thankful for the opportunity to travel and will not complain because I have the opportunity to have the adventures that most people only dream of. There… Attitude Adjustment Complete!!

Next Stop: Berlin, German son Dennis and hopefully friend Pooja (another PR foreign exchange student ) Lucky me lucky me!!