We left Denver, and headed to Detroit. Oh what fun. At least the trip is split up a bit, right? Otherwise, I might have lost my mind more than I did. ;) Anyways, we had a short (hour and a half) layover, and... we were off! It was fun, I had no idea we got free alcohol on international flights, we learned that lesson, and so used that lesson for our advantage. Hee. Dear lord... What a freaking long flight. Thought about going crazy... almost did. Watched "Finding Neverland"... Johnny Depp helped quite a bit. So did listening to Spencer. I got a splitter for him, Danielle and I were both in a musical bliss.
Got into London at about 10 AM London time. This is 3 AM Denver time. Did we sleep on the plane? Nah... not at ALL. Heh. Ah well. C'est la vie. Made our way from London Gatwick to Victoria Station (eventually), and checked our bags so we wouldn't have to carry them around all day. Smart idea, trust me. Went to Kennsington, ended up at Harrod's. <3 Walked around, basked in the glory of all the shopping, restraunts, food markets, and everything else you can possibly image for a while, and ended up sitting down and having a nice meal. I had Quiche. Ahem. Anyhow... Made it back to Victoria station, got our crap, and then had to go to London Luton. Why did I schedule to take a flight again that night? Oh yeah... I am nuts. So, we get to Luton, check in, finally board (no seat assignments, just grab one, kinda cool), and off we go... to Paris!). We land in Paris, gain another hour... oh good, I was hoping for another one of those. We get off the plane, wait for a bus, realise the chick didn't understand where we wanted to go, got a cab, he got lost... but he did have ABBA, Dancing Queen, playing when we got in, so all was forgiven. Didn't get to the hotel until... midnight or so... shit, next day!
FINALLY got to the hotel, checked in, walked around, unsuccessfully looked for food, gave up and had powerbars and stuff from the minibar in the room, and the ended up having the cute guy at the front desk come up because our shower SUCKED and someone tightened the switch thing that apparently Europeans need to have, well ever country is different, this was a knob, and finally he got it after trying, leaving and coming back for "one last attempt." I think we went to bed at 3. Lets see that was... like 33 hours awake or something like that? We were DEAD. We slept for a while. We got up, walked around went to a little cafe, had a cheese thing for brunch. It was, unique. Ah well, interesting. Ended up seeing Notre Dame, Saint Germaine Du Pres, Louvre, Tour Eifel, and the Arc du Triumphe. I think I butchered some of that. Ah well... you get the point. SOOOOOOOOO windy, and therefore cold. Brrr. I still feel it I think. For dinner we went to a restraunt on the Champes des Lyses called George V. Had Escargot and everything. Woo. It was our last night in Paris, had to do it up. Saw the Moulin Rouge too!!! Everyone was really nice too. Then we went back to the hotel... had to get to the airport EARLY.
Checked out of the hotel, got our shuttle thing that was arranged and went to the airport. Got on the plane at Charles de Gaulle, and took in back to London Luton. From Luton we found our way to the long ass train ride we needed to take to Wales. Seriously... it takes like 4 hours. Anyhow... we got on the train a lot sooner than we thought, and off we went. The countryside on the way to Wales is soooooooooooooooo pretty. Sheep, green, lush rolling hills... purdy. We were in awe. Anyhow, so we got to Carmarthen, and then this guy haggled for a cab for us... it was funny. But, we ended up using the service 2 more times, so it was good for them. We finally got to our chalet, and it was lovely. Overlooking the water... two bedroom, two bath. We ended up getting there just in time for this welcome thing, so we went to the clubhouse, and they had drinks and stuff... it was nice. We ended up eating in the bar. Then, back up to the rooms... unpacked (finally) watched some tv, and then BED! Hee.
Slept in. Late. Twas lovely. Had all day in Wales. Went down to a castle near us. Damn, Wales is hilly. At least near us was. Whew! Walked around town, looked in the shops, ate in town, and then bought food to "stock" the kitchen. Got enough for dinners and breakfasts for the most part... nice money saver. Almost killed Danielle walking up the hill with the stuff she had to carry though... since I can only carry so much. I felt BAD. So then we took a nap, made dinner... watched local television, and just relaxed.
Got up early. Got a cab that took up to Carmarthen. From there, we took the train to Cardiff. Checked in at Cardiff, and the we were off to Dublin! It was nice, because most of our crap was in the chalet. Hee. So, we arrived in Dublin, at about 2. Got to the city center and saw the Dublin castle, St. Patrick's cathedral, and of course, went to the Guiness Storehouse. We had lunch in this old bank. It was very cool... and it is very true, Guiness tastes VERY different there. No bitter aftertaste. Anyways, walked around Dublin for a while, and then had to be back at the airport because we had an 8 pm flight to Edinburgh. So, off to Scotland we went! Got on THAT flight, ended up in Scotland a bit early, caught the bus right around the corner from our hotel, walked there, checked in, and then walked around. Unfortunately, it was too late to eat, so we walked from our hotel up the Royal Mile to the Ediburgh Castle, which I think is more beautiful at night. It is so spectacular. I was just floored. So we spent time there, and then walked back... taking in the oldness (which is now a word, hee) of the city, and then went back to the room.
You guessed it, EARLY flight! Damn early. Had to be at the airport at like 6:15ish, so we checked out, got the bus, got to the airport. Checked in, ate a Scottish breakfast, and then got out flight. Got to Dublin, changed through, got our flight back to Wales, went to Cardiff. This time took a bus back to the city we were staying in a walked up to our condo place... cheaper, and we were in no rush. We were pooped, so we napped, got up ate dinner, watched tv, and hung out.
Another day in Wales. We just hung out, walked around. Napped... packed. Lazy day. Danielle went and took cool pictures at this old cemetary. I didn't go, but I have the pics. Very neat.
Got up, checked out. Took the cab to the train station. Took the train back into London. What a freaking beautiful trip. That countryside is so lovely. Tried Strongbow on the train. Dry Apple Cider. Alcohol included. Yum. Hooked. Ahhhh. Want some now. No, focus. Got to london. BACK to Victoria station, walked FOREVER to our hotel. It was sweltering. I dont think the air ever worked. It was MISERABLE. Anyhow. Took a Jack the Ripper tour that evening. 3+ hours, walking around Whitehall seeing places where he killed hearing stories about the murders. Actually leaning on a bench where a body was found. Fun! Then, I ate fish and chips. Because, everyone knows that is what you do after hearing about brutal unsolved murders, right?
Crappy night's sleepy... so hot. Immediately ask brother to cancel other two nights at this hotel for later in the trip and rebook them at the Comfort Inn down the street. Get up, check out of hotel... take train to London Stansted. Check in for Amsterdam! Squee! Ahem. Got to Amsterdam. Caught a cab... A Mercedes people. Loved it. Got horribly lost, cabbie got frustrated.
Ah well... what can you do? FINALLY found the boat... got on, got an upgraded room (which was nice). Hung out, looked around. Captain's meet and greet with free champagne that evening. Our captain was 28. No shit. I was amused. Wonderful dinner that evening. The passengers were an older crowd, so we hung out with the staff. Hee.
Had breakfast. Found out, vaguely, from our waiter where to get a tattoo in Amsterdam. Went with the group to see a Windmill, the Flowermarkets (so pretty!), and the canal cruise. Got to a diamond place where they went to do a tour, found our cruise manager, and said SEE YA! Left there, asked the various "coffee houses" if ya know what I mean (I swear I got a contact high being in them) where the tattoo place was, finally found it. Waited forever for the tattoo guy to show up, and yay! Got a tattoo of a cat on my left calf. I will post pics. Of course, they parlor was in the red light district. Went through one of the alleys, saw the girls for all the guys here who told me I had to, and then went in search of Absinthe. Found it! :) Bought a bottle. Strong! Didnt hallucinate. Ah well. Its all good. Got back to the boat by way of taxi after walking and walking and then getting tired. Then after Danielle got out of the cab, the cabbie tried to get me to leave with him. Uh ick. He kept asking how much time I had before we left and if I want to go and stuff. He liked my tongue ring. Yuck. Dinnertime, we set off for Germany!
In the morning we were in Dusseldorf. Our cruise mananger showed us around a bit, and we were set free to walk around. We walked around and then ate at a true German restraunt. No English at all. Homemade Saurkraut. So good. After lunch we had to be back on the ship. We departed for Cologne. We arrived just after dinner. We ended up walking around a bit and then waited for the staff to get off work at 11. We went by the cathedral (which is HUGE) and then met up with everyone else at a bar. After THAT bar closed we went another bar. We paid for nothing... it was fun. After we left there, the store next door was closed, but they randomly gave up champagne (I dunno why), and then we got the staff food, and got back at 3:07 (the maitre'd pointed it out as a joke the next morning). We were TIRED.
It was SOOOOO nasty this morning, which was sad, because I really wanted to get pictures of the cathedral. But, we looked outside, and said... uh, no. So, we slept through breakfast. Hee. Then, the ship left for Koblenz. It was cool.. in Koblenz, someone was "parked" in our spot, so we got to "park" on th Moselle river. In Koblenz, we skipped out on the tour, and met up with a friend from high school who drove an hour from the US Air Force base. It was SOOOO cool! I hadn't seen him in 8 years. So, I showed him the ship, and then we walked around, and met up with a friend of his. They ate dinner and we all talked. Unfortunately, he couldn't stay long, he had to be at work at 5:30 in the morning... so, Danielle and I walked around, and met up with the staff again. We went to a bar and hung out. I didnt stay that long. I walked back with one of the staff guys who wanted to get back, and she stayed out with our waited (who she liked). I guess they had fun... apparently our cruise manager is amusing after hours.
OMG, so we were urged to be on the deck all morning/afternoon while we left Koblenz on the way to Rudesheim so that we could see like 20 castles on the Rhein Gorge. Believe me, they are so pretty. But when it is rainy, windy, and COLD... it is a lot to ask. So I went up with most of the people and we were looking at the castles and taking pictures, while John, the cruise manager, described each castle. I was soaked, and FREEZING. Seriously, still cold. Anyhow, one by one, people would go down and watch from windows, goto their rooms, take naps, etc. There were so few of us up there. Some people would come up when he would annouce a castle was approaching, but after a while, even they stopped coming. At one point, I turned around and looked at him in the wheelhouse (the bridge) and he mimed "I'm so warm, you're so cold"... Ass. He came out and asked why I didn't go in, I told him that once I did, I wouldn't come back out. Which was true. By the end, I was the ONLY person out there looking at castles. I felt like a well educated ass. Who was VERY cold. Meh. Then, we got to Rudesheim. I just wanted to nap. But I wanted to see the city. So, we went via mini-train to the city, skipped the tour (of course ;)) and walked around, and bought wine. I got a Riesling that Danielle and I drank and a Eiswine that Chris and I have. Woo! Then, I thawed. I think. It was funny, the option tonight was to go eat at a dinner in the city. Danielle and I declined because it was $50 a person. So we were two of like 25 people on board. OMG, they were all so drunk when they came back!!!!! I went to the bar on the ship and hung out until I was one of three people there. Me, another passenger (who turned out to roomn next door, and John, the cruise manager). He kept buying us drinks. I kept drinking them. It was fun. :) We hung out until like 2 AM... then he walked us to our rooms (where we found out we were neighbors) and we went to bed.
We arrived in Speyer, and then took a bus to Heidelberg. We went through the castle, saw a MASSIVE barrel, and then walked the town. I got my dad a stein. Apparently Heidelberg is the place to go. :) After Heidelberg, we went to the ship for lunch, and then we were supposed to walk around Speyer (yes, another tour) which we weren't going to do. My ankle was SOOOO swollen, that I decided to skip Speyer all together, and just elevate and rest it. Danielle went and took pics of the cathedral (which again, I have, and they are cool). So, I told John the only way I could see Strasbourg the next day would be to not go around Speyer, he agreed it was a good choice.
Strasbourg. Back in France. I missed speaking a language I pretended to know. It is truly a pretty city. I took a cruise around the city, and got to the center. Walked around a bit, and then had to take buses back. Unfortunately, due to 3 locks on the Rhein being worked on, we had to leave earlier than usual to get to Basel so people could get to their flights on time. Some people left in Strasbourg. Anyhow. We have to go through 12 locks to go from Strasbourg to Basel. It has to raise the ship 435 feet or something like that. So, we hung out on the ship (obviously) and put off packing as long as possible. Danielle and I hung out with John in the bar for a while. Then, she disappeared. We were joking around with the bartender and stuff, finally, it was bedtime. John and I compared room size (his is smaller, and his is on top of the engine, soooooo loud when you go over the locks). Then he kissed me cheeks (European style) and said "We had better end it, before we got it trouble." Hee. Cute. I made an older man think that. Lol. I went back to the room and took a shower, and while I was in there, Danielle came in and thought I was in John's room. Silly girl. Packed and ready to go, we went to bed.
We had to be out of our room by 9, so we got up, ate breakfast, checked out, put our luggage in a safe place, and went and walked around Basel. Finally, my ankle started to hurt, so I came back to the ship, and the next cruise (which was departing back the other way that evening) was starting to get passengers. So... Danielle went off to walk around, and I spend 3 hours teaching John how to use his computer. So didn't know the easiest shortcuts. Probably doesn't remember them. Ah well. He bought me a thank you coke. It was nice. He gave me his card with his address, phone number, and email addy in The Netherlands (right outside Amsterdam) and said if I want to visit on the off season, I could. Fun! Finally, Danielle and I said goodbye, caught the tram to the train station, and made our way to Chris's sister's house. Since she was out of town, we had the map, found it, found the hidden key, and then took a nap. After that, we ate, watched movies and went to bed.
We got up REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLY late, and it was raining, so we watched tv all day. Finally, in the evening, the family arrived! I was soooo excited to see them. Of course I was excited to see everyone I knew, but I was excited to see the new addition, Briana. SO cute! The kids had to go tp bed shortly after arriving, because they were back at school after being on spring break the next day, but Briana and Lisa and Mike stayed up with us talking ( well, Briana didn't obviously) until past 11.
We spent the day with Lisa, the baby, and Ryan (who is 4). Mike had to work, and the older 2 had school. In Switzerland, the kids come home everyday for lunch, so we saw them then, and then after school as well. We went driving and saw the towns around theirs, and then some Buffalo (originally from the US of course). It was a nice relaxing day. Our flight wasnt until 10, so it was nice to just have the day to spend with them. So, back to London once more! To London Luton to be more exact. I hated leaving the kids and the family. I love them :( Got to the new hotel after accidently passing it and having some guy come out and yell at us asking if we needed somewhere to stay. We didn't answer so he tried again in another language. Hmmm. New hotel SOOOOO much better. Woo!
Went to the London Apple store. My dad wanted me to. Two floors. He got excited. I dunno. The we went past Big Ben and Parliment... went into Westminster Abbey. Sooooo pretty. Wish you could take pictures. I would still be there. Unbelieveable. Drank coffee on dead people. Ate lunch too. Hmmm... Then, off to the London Dungeon! Freaking cool! Mazes, boat rides, people jumping out at you, and all while you learn about London's history. It is sweeeeeet. Left there, went back to the room, put some purple semi-permanent streaks in my hair, and red/pink in Danielle's, then off to the pub. Had dinner, and more Cider... mmmmm. Bed :(
Checked out of hotel. Took the Gatwick express to the airport. Checked in. Boarded, we weren't together. She was behind me. I slept pretty much the entire thing. The played Ocean's 12. Haven't seen it, would have watched it, but this massive head was in front of me. Played Lemony Snicket. Love that movie. Slept. Got to MN... so happy to get off the damn plane. ALMOST got on a damn flight 5 hours before ours. ALMOST. Stuck in MN for 7 hours. Not happy about that. Sat at a mini-Chili's... had Margarita... ate. Felt better. Napped on the floor. Classy. ;) FINALLY got on the flight. Got home, took Danielle home. Still the 27th... the 28th for me, but the 27th here. Got home, got to my kitties!!!! They became magnets. <3
Thanks for reading. It took like 3 hours to write at work between calls. I found my cider, Strongbow, sold here. Bought it. Love it. *pets* Am so going back. Want to go back tomorrow. *pouts*