Friday, November 30, 2018

A Flourish Of Flying Buttresses

Attracting an average of 20,000 people a day (7.3 million per year!), and currently, the tallest twin-spired church at 515 feet (157 meters) tall, Germany’s most visited landmark is the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom).

We caught the tail end of Sunday mass on the day we were there.  This is a view from the nave of the cathedral, looking toward the chancel. The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. They began construction on it in 1248, but stopped in 1473, leaving it unfinished. Construction started again in the 19th century and didn’t finish until 1880. It took 632 years (and many men) to get the job done!!

Although the church was hit with 14 aerial bombs during World War II and endured more than 70 firebomb hits, the building never collapsed; it remained standing as the rest of the city fell around it.  Repairs were done in 1956, and some of the poorer quality work was fixed in the 1990s.

The cathedral is often referred to as the "black church" because of its exterior color.  The dark grey, almost black exterior isn't painted, nor is it dirty.  The sandstone which most of the building is made from reacts with the sulphuric acid in rain, turning dark grey over time.  The sections that are newer/repaired appear whiter and lighter than the rest of the building but will also darken over time.

It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

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2017: The Chief Troll
2016: Look, Ma! No Hands!
2015: My Counter Floweth Over
2014: Breakfast Served All Day
2013: A Peek At Mission Learning
2012: Pretty Yung Ting 
2011: How To Get Kids To Eat Vegetables
2010: Back In The Saddle
2009: Logging Lots Of Miles
2008: Apples, Fudge And Homemade Jam
2007: Eddie Hick Runs Deep Friday
2006: If You Can’t Make It To France
2005: I’m Sleeping With Someone New

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Two Wheels And Two Horses

A bicycle and a Deux Chevaux in Holland at Zaanse Schans.

The Citroën 2CV (in French they call this car a "deux
chevaux" which literally means "two horses") is an air-cooled front-engine, front-wheel-drive economy car introduced at the 1948 Paris Mondial de l'Automobile and manufactured by Citroën for model years 1948–1990.

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2017: The Showplace Of The Nation
2016: Greatness, One Cup At A Time
2015: Table For Two, Table With View
2014: Ready For The Himalayas
2013: The Lady In 7A
2012: No, Not Harry Potter. GRACE Potter. 
2011: UPSide Down
2010: Gucci, Gucci, Gu
2009: Big Trucks + TV = Big Truck TV
2008: Insane In The Holiday Brain
2007: Umbrella-ella-ella-ella
2006: Dress Code
2005: And It Begins…

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Dinner In Paris

The train platform at the Amsterdam Centraal Station where we caught the high-speed train to Paris.

It's the first time I've ever taken a high-speed train.  The first time I've gone from one country to another on a train.  And the first time I've ever ridden so many hours or such a long distance on a train.  The ride from Amsterdam to Paris took three-and-a-half hours at 300 kilometers per hour (186 miles per hour).  Super efficient.  We got there just in time to check into our hotel and head out for dinner.

As a belated birthday gift, Marlaina and MacG upgraded our seats to first class.  Not only was it a great surprise, but it left me with an excellent impression of train travel.

We do fairly well picking upscale accommodations and travel when we can here in the United States, but I can tell you that traveling to Europe this time, in Business Class, was much better than our trip to Italy in coach.  And this train thing is new, too.  We are definitely getting used to the upgraded travel accommodations.

Good thing we're going back to work soon.  I have to start saving for our next trip!

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2017: Police Presence
2016: Just Roll With It
2015: When Working For Peanuts Pays Off 
2014: Making Magic With Dough
2013: I'm Sure He Was Delicious
2012: Drowning My Sorrows In Mountain Dew
2011: Red Hair At Night, Truckers Delight. Red Hair At Morning, Truckers Warning.

2010: Rok New York
2009: South Dakota Sky
2008: Nutty Friday
2007: It’s Not So Much Fun To Roll Out Your Best Sales Schpiel On A Mute
2006: Forced Happiness
2005: Firestarter

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Bonjour From Paris!

Ed and I leaning out the window of our hotel room in Paris, France.  We stayed at the Niepce Paris Hotel in the 14th Arrondissement.

From the Hilton website:  The Niepce is a boutique hotel inspired by photographic Art and by Janine Niepce's work, a French humanist photographer and a relative of photography’s inventor. Set across a row of 19th-century townhouses in Paris’ 14th arrondissement (district), our glamorous hotel is a 10-minute walk to the Gare Montparnasse train station and an easy stroll to the Montparnasse Tower observation deck, the Cartier foundation for contemporary art, and the Invalides monument.

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The Crossroads Of The World

2016: Literally, A Cat In A Hat
2015: Cured In Smithfield
2014: Happy Thanksgiving!
2013: Football Eyes In A Pear Head
2012: Snack Attack 
2011: Last Full Day Of Freedom
2010: Keyed Up
2009: The Ultimate Mrs.
2008: Happy Thanksgiving
2007: The Kind Of Contraction That Produces A Laugh, Not A Baby
2006: Wanderlust Officially Approved
2005: The Eye Of The Beholder

Monday, November 26, 2018

Just Do It

The Winged Victory of Samothrace sculpture at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.  The history of this sculpture is very interesting! It was a fantastic sight in person, perched on the landing at the top of the stairs. It was meant to be viewed from the right (as you’re facing it, and in this photo) because the carving is rougher on that side, meant to depict motion. 

Quoted snippets from Wikipedia:

“The Winged Victory of Samothrace, also called the Nike of Samothrace, is a marble Hellenistic sculpture of Nike (the Greek goddess of victory), that was created about the 2nd century BC. Since 1884, it has been prominently displayed at the Louvre and is one of the most celebrated sculptures in the world. H.W. Janson described it as "the greatest masterpiece of Hellenistic sculpture", and it is one of a small number of major Hellenistic statues surviving in the original, rather than Roman copies.”

“The work is notable for its convincing rendering of a pose where violent motion and sudden stillness meet, for its graceful balance and for the rendering of the figure's draped garments, compellingly depicted as if rippling in a strong sea breeze.” 

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Weekend In New York

2016: A Friendly Village
2015: Happy Thanksgiving!
2014: I'd Like A Parking Spot For Two Please
2013: I Desire A Snack Eaten Off An Owl Plate
2012: Pulpy Plumes
2011: Saturday Slow Down
2010: Let The Crazy Begin
2009: For Everything Thy Goodness Sends
2008: A Look On The Inside
2007: Free! Gratuito! Gratis! Ummm…No Charge!
2006: Life Giver vs. Indian Giver
2005: The Spaghetti Thanks You

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Open Top Touring

On one of the days we were in Paris, Ed and I decided to do the Open Tour Bus - known in most cities as the Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour.  It travels a route through the city and you can stay on the bus through the entire day or get off to explore at different points, getting back on when you're through with your sightseeing of that area.

Ed and I decided to stay on the entire route and see the city.  We only had a few days there and I really only had two must-sees on my list - the Mona Lisa at The Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower.  We decided we didn't need to go up in the Eiffel Tower, just wanted to be close enough to see it and take pictures, but we did want to see other attractions and neighborhoods in the city.
The Eiffel Tower from the Plaza Trocadéro.

The company offered three tour routes, passing by most of the best-known landmarks - the Arc de Triomphe, the Palais Garnier Opera House, the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and more.  The company provided us with a set of earbuds (ours to keep) and offered the tour in multiple languages.  We just picked a seat, plugged in, choose our language, and listened to the tour narration.  In spots where there wasn't something significant to point out, they played lovely French music.  It was a great experience.  
A view of the Arc de Triomphe from the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
The bus took us down the world-famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées, through the beautiful 7th Arrondissement neighborhood where the Eiffel Tower is located, and past the bouquinistes selling their wares along the Seine River.  We passed neighborhood cafes teeming with patrons sitting outside enjoying the weather, and saw pockets of the city we never would have never been able to cover on foot in our short visit.

It was a beautiful day - sunny and crisp - and although it did get significantly colder as we neared the late afternoon, it was still bearable.  Ed transitioned into his packable down hoodie, and I wrapped my scarf around my head to shield myself from the wind.
Even in the cold, it was a perfect day.  I couldn't imagine being on the top of a bus in the heat of summer, but the chilly Fall weather was ideal.  The day was glorious! 

Ed and I hopped off for lunch, walked through a cute little neighborhood before catching the bus at the next closest stop, and had a nice chat with a couple from New York while buying a pastry for our dessert. 
We're going to continue to take the open top bus tours in whatever cities offer them.  It's a great way to see what the city has to offer and having a one-day or multiple-day ticket, that allows you to get on and off when you want, makes the most of your time and makes it easy to map out a plan for more sightseeing.

This was a vacation win!

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A Warm Welcome

2016: Happy Thanksgiving!
2015: Remembering Italy
2014: We Are Not Government Issued
2013: A Railfan Mecca
2012: When I Was A Kid 
2011: Nuts About Thanksgiving
2010: On The Way To Turkey Day
2009: Winding Down For The Big Holiday
2008: Pssst! The Fish Are In The Water. Check The Water.
2007: Elphaba’s Long Lost Sister?
2006: What Boys (And One Girl) Do On Thanksgiving
2005: Cold Turkey

Friday, November 23, 2018

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Monday, November 19, 2018

Fueled By Beer, Wine, And French Baguettes

We are finally home from our trip.  We were gone for 29 days, 27 of them in Europe.  I'm exhausted.  I need a vacation from my vacation.  Actually, going back to work will require less daily effort than the vacation did.  I'll write about that in the future - all the walking (3-7 miles PER DAY!) and the 13 pounds I lost even with all the insane eating we did.

Ed, on the other hand, didn't seem to have enough physical activity on the trip and decided to do the 36th Annual El Tour de Tucson cycling event a few days after he returned home.  

He hadn't done any training, had barely touched his bicycle in months, and claimed the training he did in Europe - drinking beer in eight countries, enjoying cocktails nightly on the river cruise (15 of the 27 nights), walking across cobblestones, and clocking some last minute miles to accompany my short shopping trip to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul - was what got him ready for the 52-mile ride he signed up for.

He proudly wore his new bicycle jersey - representing Holland (windmill front and center) - that he bought in Amsterdam, a city with almost a million bicycles.  They have more bikes than people.

He did the ride with our neighbor, John.  They both said this year the ride was tough.  It was a slightly different course, and they both complained about one uphill stretch.  Halfway through Ed said his legs were really aching, but he pushed forward and came in about 2
0 minutes after John (who had a bit of a lead at the beginning of the ride).

I guess all the beer, wine, and French baguettes during training did Ed a world of good.


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2017: Cycling About Town
2016: Savoring Chip And JoJo
2015: Coastal Trees
2014: BuffaSNOW
2013: The White Dove Of The Desert
2012: A Beautiful Listen 
2011: The Music Of The Night
2010: There’s No Better Place On Earth
2009: Getting Tanked In Al-Nahar
2008: Bracing For A World Of Mouse Ears
2007: At Least He’s Up Front About It
2006: Aten HUT!!
2005: Be The Player

Friday, November 16, 2018

Bigger Luggage Required

Beautiful Turkish tea sets seen at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey.  If I bought everything I saw that I loved, I would have needed a bigger bag and more friends and family to give it to. 

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A Toy Story
2016: I Am One Of The Safe Ones
2015: The Birthplace Of The King
2014: A Whole Big Lot Of Love
2013: When A Pig Wraps Himself Around A Chicken Deliciousness Ensues
2012: Let The Stockpiling Begin 
2011: From The Island To The Desert
2010: The Town I Was Dying To See
2009: Gleaming Curve
2008: Color Me Casual
2007: Eddie Goes Running Friday
2006: Forever Yours
2005: Home Away From Home

Thursday, November 15, 2018

I Did Not See Any Monks

It was rainy, cold, and overcast on the day we visited Melk Abbey, the Benedictine Abbey that sits on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube River in Melk, Austria.

We weren't allowed to take any photos inside the abbey - you can see some on Google if you click here - but let me tell you right now...the pictures do not do it justice.

It's truly spectacular.

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From Freezer To Table In Less Than Eight Hours
2016: Blade Runner
2015: Goodnight 'Bama
2014: No Fear
2013: A Cozy Little Dinner With My Favorite Bird
2012: Western Winter Sky
2011: Men At Work
2010: Everyone Is NOT A Winner
2009: Text Me
2008: Going The Way Of Astatine*
2007: Picture Perfect Pilot
2006: Not Falling For Winter Yet
2005: I Miss You Already

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Filled With Wattle And Daub

Half-timbered houses in Miltenberg, Germany - these three are from the 15th and 16th century.  The oldest one in town was from 1313, the 14th century.

I haven't had much time to sit down and write in any detail, or give any historical information about all the places we've visited, so I've just been posting pictures and short snippets to keep you interested.

Now that I'm home, I'll put together posts with a few more details on the places I've already written about -  Istanbul, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Germany.

After that, I'll write about the last two places we visited, which wrapped up our European vacation - Amsterdam, Netherlands and Paris, France.

So come on back!

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No Flitting Taking Place

2016: We Do More Before 9 A.M. Than Most People Do All Day
2015: Grand And Important
2014: Winter Is A Table Set With Ice And Starlight
2013: The Romance Of The Road
2012: Celebrate With A Wild Desire
2011: Powerful Stuff
2010: Falling In Love With Ugly 
2009: A Love Like This Can Know No Death 
2008: Peace To This House
2007: The Sultan Of Love 
2006: It’s Even Better Than Arbor Day
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!