Thursday, September 30, 2010

Holy Moly, How High am I?

Sorry, I'm not a professional blogger so I have no clue how to rotate pictures. Yes, your guess is correct. This is the Eiffel Tower.
View from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

A really cool statue outside my hotel.

I spent a very short time in Paris. I stayed in the more industrial area of Paris and the only place I visited was the Eiffel Tower. I went all the way to the top, but did not fill it blowing in the wind. I guess that is because I didn't stick around long enough to feel anything. It was amazing and terrifying at the same time. It was amazifying. I ate at a really nice French restaurant with a few other co-workers who were in Paris to attend a trade show. The menu offered ox cheeks, pig intestines, and a baby calf's head. One in the group ordered the baby calf's head. It came with chunks of cheeks, tongue, eyes, and brains in a soupy mixture. I could not look in his direction during the meal. Luckily, this person had enough manners not to pull out the eyeball from his bowl to eat it. Because I did not see a lot in Paris, the most interesting was the fact that the Eiffel Tower has a souvenir shop and cafe on the second level. I bought t-shirts for both Madison and Mason at the shop. How cool is that?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Un Turista in Italia

Inside of the Vatican
Fountain centered in the area outside of the Vatican

The floor has been removed from the Colosseum (colosseo in Italian) to show you the underground rooms where the animals and gladiators were kept.

This was where I stayed in Rome - Hotel Shangri La Corsetti. It's not the best of hotels and English was not well spoken, but it was very close to the Metro.

I was misinformed by my fantasies of Rome. Have you watched "Letters to Juliet"? I watched it on my flight from the U.S. into Germany. I'm not sure where they were in Italy, but the scenes were filled with cobble stone streets, family vineyards, pleasantries, and romance. After fearing for my life as I drove from the airport to the hotel, I realized that the hotel website made the hotel look better than it appeared before me. I actually had a mini nervous breakdown. We later learned that most Italians do not speak Italian so we had a difficult time checking in and then settling down for dinner.

I spent a total of 4 days in Rome and by the second day my shock has worn off. What I didn't realize is that even though I was staying in the city part of Rome, the historically tourist attractions were just a few stops away on the Metro. I spent last Saturday on the hop on/hop off bus riding throughout these areas. Even when I was done seeing all that I wanted to see, I remained on the bus for a few drives on the route. Being on the top floor of the bus and letting the wind pass through my hair was so relaxing. Words will never describe how peaceful it was during the ride.

Outside of the Vatican City, I bought Morgan a beautiful necklace. The pendant was heart shaped and made of glass collected from Venice. Vatican City is actually not part of Rome. It's owned by the Church and those who stand guard of the Vatican are Swiss guards. Gotta love 'em Swiss...always neutral! I compared Vatican City and it's relationship to Rome to Washington D.C. and it's relationship with Maryland. Both areas are part of the area/state, but yet are considered separate entities.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Travels to Germany

As some of you may already know, I am traveling aboard until October 1 on business. I am currently in Germany and will be flying to Italy tomorrow evening. It is 2:05 a.m. on Wednesday, but I am unable to sleep. Even doing school work did not put me to sleep. So I figured this is has good as time as any to update everyone with pictures that I've take on my phone. I took some really good pictures of Germany on my camera, but then found out that my new laptop (not even a month old) doesn't have a SD card slot. Of course I can't complain too much because my laptop is for work, but why I couldn't get a SD card slot is beyond me. Going forward on this trip, I will remember to only use my blackberry to take all the pictures.This is the German word for off-ramp. Sound out the words carefully. How do you think it's pronounced?
I've fallen in love with this German beer. I hope it's available back in the States.

Not sure why I took this picture. At the time it looked like it would be a cool picture.
So some things I've learned about Germany:
1. No matter how well they speak English here, there are no English TV channels available.
2. The toilet flusher is not a handle on the side of the commode, but a button on top of it.
3. Drinks in a glass are served without ice.
4. Side parking is not in the street, but on the sidewalk.
5. BMWs and Mercedes are nothing fancy here; even the taxi's are a Mercedes brand.
6. Instead of a chocolate on your pillow in hotels, gummi bears are placed on your pillow.
7. My top speed on the autobahn was 190 KM. I would have tried to go faster, but the VW Golf rental peaked out at 190.
8. Germany really does have good beer.
9. Everything here is tiny and narrow (example - roads, elevators, parking spots, cars)
10. Germany caters to bikers and pedestrians. America finds them annoying because they are always in the way. Germany actually makes way for them.
11. You cannot proceed to turn right on a red light...big NO-NO!
12. Germans actually let those who are yielding in front of them.
13. Germans obey the road rule of not passing anyone on their right. If you want to pass, you must pass on the left.
14. On the autobahn, stay out of the fast lane if you don't plan on going fast. If not you will become road kill.
15. A manual transmission has the "reverse" to the left of 1st gear not below 5th.
16. Public bathrooms at a rest stop or gas station cost 50 cents in Euros to use.
17. Beer is served at McDonald's.
18. Driving on the autobahn takes an entire tank of gas for a VW Golf.
19. If it's 1:30, Germans say 13:30.
20. Coke is referred to as Cola.
21. A value added tax of 19% is added onto to just about everything.
22. Don't ask for your hamburger to be customized with certain condiments as it confuses the server and they no longer can understand what you want.
Funny, but stupid story - my boss and I stopped in Weisbaden to do some shopping. The good news is that I found Steve a beer stein. The bad news is that we didn't have EUROS on us to get ourselves out of the parking lot. We ended up going back to the store where I bought the beer stein and they exchanged US dollars for us. But before that we walked into a bank nearby to see if they can convert money for us. We walked up to some gentlemen on the phone who proceeded to speak to us in German. Me being a dummy said the first thing that came to my mouth, "We are Americans". We are Americans? I said it as if I were running towards the U.S. embassy for protection. At the point I was freaked out that we weren't going to be able to get the rental out of the paid parking lot. I actually pulled the American card.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Team, New Name

Bubbles is part of the U-11 traveling team for soccer and last Saturday was the official start of their Fall season. Instead of being a bandit, she is now a cyclone. Go cyclones! The girls still have a lot to practice as they seemed a little disoriented on the field. The great part is they scored a goal. The sad part is so did the other team; 7 or 8 times. I feel bad for these girls. We as parents teach the girls to be mindful of those around them, don't push, and don't act greedy with things. On the soccer field, the coaches teach the girls to block those around them, steal the ball, and don't let it go. Now wonder why they seemed confused on the field. It also doesn't help that they have a total of 3 or 4 coaches and they all have their own vocabulary when discussing moves. On top of all this chaos, there are the parents (like me) screaming for the girls to be aggressive. I can't help it!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Star Glazers

Star Glazers is located in Lancaster, PA and offers pottery painting. It's a nice place to go to relax and tap into your creative side. It's certainly not cheap, but nothing in this world is cheap anymore. However, it allowed the girls and I to get out and spend some quality time together. The girl's pottery should be ready in a week and I will post pictures of their finished pieces.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Enjoying our Labor Day

I hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day weekend. I can't say my weekend was 100% relaxing, but I don't think that really is impossible; for anyone. At least half of my house is clean. I'm hoping to accomplish the other half sometime this week. With my luck when I can get to the other half of my house, the half that was clean will be dirty...HAHAHA! Here are some photo's from the bike ride that Steve and I enjoyed on the Rail Trail/ NCR Trail. The trail name changes depending on if you are in MD or PA. I felt as if my neck was going to snap if I tried any harder to be at the same height level with Steve for the picture.

We ran into some friends on the trail. Are they roosters or hens? Seriously, this isn't a trick question. I don't know.

Overall, it was a nice bike ride. Even though Mason hates his bike seat, we put it to good use. It held our lunch and drinks.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Meet the Stone's Newest Arrival

Please welcome William Anton Stone to the world! He was delivered on September 3rd at 9:13 a.m. He weighed 7lbs 14 oz. and was 21 inches long.
Isn't he cutie patutie? The proud parents are my friends Carol and Thom Stone. This makes boy #2 for them and they couldn't be happier.
Enjoy reliving the nightmares of nightly crying fights, disgusting diapers, and tons of spit up.