Tuesday, March 31, 2009
After picking up some cough stuff, Madeline and I went back to the flat while Jeff explored on his own. We spent the day hanging out, watching movies, coloring, and yes.....NAPPING! Madeline (and Mama-Dirtyfoot) needed this down day. When David and Carolyn got back from work, it was after 7pm. We didn't want to have Carolyn and Jeff feel obligated to dine with a 3 yr old again so we encouraged them to head out for an evening by themselves while the three of us grabbed a bite to eat at a restaurant around to corner from us. I feel funny saying we ate German food because we *are* in Germany, but this was very German. After dinner, Madeline went straight to bed and then when Carolyn and Jeff got back we sat around in our flat gabbing. Tomorrow, as long as Madeline doesn't get any worse, we plan on heading out to sightsee with Jeff again while David and Carolyn work.
Monday, March 30, 2009
I just have to say that I walked my butt off! I missed David, not only because he is my hubbie, but also because he is a walking encyclopedia. It would've been nice to get some insight as to some of the things I was looking at. Yet, Jeff was a nice companion and a huge help (and great sport) with Madeline. On the walk, we passed this nice monument. I had no idea what it was but after the fact David told me that he thinks it is a Victory Column to commemorate the defeat of Napoleon. (The first photo on top is of Madeline and me sitting on a part of the Column.)
After at a ton of walking we decided to cheat a bit to shorten our trip to the Brandenburg Gate by catching one of those bike trolleys. It was a nice break for my feet and Madeline thought it was pretty nifty. The trolley's biker was able to point out some things but with his thick German accent it was very hard to understand him. Here Madeline and I are just on the other side of the Gate (former East Berlin). Below, we are standing in front of the Brandenburg Gate.....or as David pointed out, where 20 years ago we would've been shot for standing there. At this point, the only thing that gave evidence of the Berlin Wall ever existing was a small brick path in the road that followed the path of the Wall.
Once in the former East Berlin, we did a tiny bit of souvenir shopping. We continued walking down the main road that began at the gate and came across the Berliner Dome (Berlin Cathedral). The Cathedral just kind of crept up on you as you exited a clearing in the streetscape. The sudden massive building that popped up in front of me was breathtaking. Luckily were were able to take some photos inside so I have included a few below. Also, you were able to climb the dome as David and I did in London (interior only). This time, I was brave enough to not only climb the 267 stairs but also go outside with Madeline. The exterior was well secured and Madeline behaved nicely.
Exterior of Berliner Dome
Interior of Berliner Dome (Main Altar)
Looking up into the Dome
On the Dome (The Tower in the background is the Berliner Fernsehturm, a television tower.
After leaving the Berliner Dome, I let Madeline run around in some green space outside. I included some video but I left it to post at the very bottom of this blog entry. Excuse the video as I was being stupid while trying to operate the video function of my camera.
We headed back up to Brandenberg Gate and visited a Holocaust Memorial. The Memorial occupies 205,000 square feet of space near the Brandenberg Gate.
Afterward, Jeff, Madeline and I were so far away from our flats that we ended up catching a taxi back. We reconnected with David and Carolyn and headed out to a true German resturant. The food was gut-bustin' meat and potato-type food and the German beer was flowin' Below is a photo of David and Jeff and our gut-bustin' meal. Don't the guys look so proud of their meat?? (I didn't actually just type that last question, did I?) Anyway, it is way past my bedtime here.....must rest up for another day of sightseeing.
Here's the video....
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The flight from London to Berlin was uneventful....a *good* thing, of course! Madeline was extremely well behaved....yeah! The thing that struck me as we were starting to land in Berlin was the Soviet style architecture. At the airport, we met back up with David's co-worker, Carolyn, and her husband, Jeff, who were traveling to Munich and other parts of Germany while we were in London. It was a treat trying to find a taxi large enough to hold the 5 of us along with all of our luggage - but we did. We found our way to our flat. So far, I am not so impressed with Berlin but I think the fact that it is much more eastern has something to do with it. I will try to reserve my complete judgment, however, because we haven't really seen much of Berlin at all. I will give you a better idea of things during the next week.
Our location of the Berlin flat seems in more of a residential area rather than a tourist area but I also don't completely have my bearings either. We are at least right across from a subway station. The flat situation is actually great. It is sort of like an adjoining room situation in a hotel but instead it is adjoining flats. David and I have a two bedroom flat and Carolyn and Jeff have an adjoining one bedroom flat. After the five of us went out to dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant (Madeline's good behavior from earlier in the day had worn off by this time). We came back, put Madeline to bed and were able to open up the adjoining door and socialize with Carolyn and Jeff.
Tomorrow, Carolyn and David will be off to their trade show early in the AM. While they are working, Jeff, Madeline and I will explore Berlin. The nice thing is that David and Carolyn were in Berlin in September so they were already able to see much of the city's major sites and therefore they won't be missing out on what Madeline and I will do during the day.
Other than the morning's stop at the London Bridge we really didn't do any other sight seeing. So, I will leave you of some photo's of the flat in Berlin. By the way, the Internet here was hit or miss when we first arrived. It seems as though the problem has been solved but if, by chance, you do not get my daily post, it is probably due to internet issues.
Mama & Papa's room
Living Room (The door in the center is the adjoining room to Carolyn & Jeff's Flat)
Saturday, March 28, 2009
In the time we did have today, David, Madeline and I tried to make the most of our time. We had a list of five things we wanted to try to squeeze in today. The first stop today was on the Tube again to St. Paul's Cathedral. This too is a very beautiful church, however, I think Westminster Abbey was a bit more impressive. Although we weren't supposed to take pictures inside, I sneaked a couple. For the pop culture fans, this church is the one where Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married. The dome of the Cathedral was breath-taking. The photos do not do it justice. In the exterior photo of the dome, you can sort of see the various "layers" of the dome. These "layers" is approximately where the church's various observation areas are located. On the interior, you can climb up to various observation decks (actually there is also one on the outside as well). The three of us climbed up for a view. In the dome photo, you can sort of see the rail of where we were in the dome. The rail can be seen just above the arch. The climb up was a work-out in itself. Yes, stairs....spiral, round and round. It sounded like a good idea from the ground but you really have no concept of how high you actually were. I think David and I both had a death gripe on Madeline's hands. Any thought of going any higher was completely forgotten about. However, if Madeline were a little older we probably would've trekked to the other two higher decks (one of which was outside). The third, highest deck at the top of the dome was closed for repair.
Back on the Tube. We tried to search out the Temple Church. For those of you that have read the DaVinci Code (or saw the movie) like David and I have, you will know that the characters, made a mad dash through parts of Paris and London on their quest. We were able to see the Temple Bar Memorial (the bronze griffin) but were not able to get to Temple Church. The streets surrounding this church almost form a gated community. The public normally would have access to this area, however many law offices are in this area (because of its proximity to the courts). The gates were closed due to G-20 protesters. We did, however, take a picture of the the Royal Courts of Justice that were located across the street from where we tried to go.
Back on the Tube again. David is a big fan of British television. Quite honestly, I just don't find Brit-coms funny. David can be rolling on the floor laughing while I don't even crack a smile. He also likes the Sci-Fi stuff such as Dr. Who. So, a tour book said there was a BBC Shop. We figured that would be a good place for David to pick up a souvenir. No luck, the store was closed (not for the day, but out of business). Oh well....back on the Tube again.
Growing up a Beatles fan, (Although the Beatles were before my time, my older brothers gave me no choice in the music department) how could you go to England and not do something related to the Beatles? The three of us rode the Tube to see the famous cross walk from the cover of the Abbey Road album. When we exited the Tube, there was a small coffee shop that sold all types of Beatles gifts too. We asked for directions and they told us to walk to the third stop light. You knew that you arrived because (a) it was just outside of the Abbey Road Studios (see photo above) where the Beatles recorded the album, but (b) there was a small group of tourists there that were trying to snap pictures and recreate the album cover photo. The funny thing, that you cannot tell from this picture is that the intersection is actually a fairly busy intersection. Every time there was a small break in traffic tourists would jump out into the cross walk. I can't even imagine what a pain in the butt it would be if you lived in that neighborhood and had to drive past there often. I tried to get David to have someone take a picture of the three of us but he didn't want to do that because it was a busy intersection....although he told me to take Maddie with me....hmmm???? Anyway, even though the photo wasn't an exact recreation of the famous Fab Four's photo, the "Fab Two" had to suffice. However, if you click of the photo of Madeline and me in the crosswalk it will enlarge and you will be able to see that I decided to portray Paul McCartney. Yes, I am barefoot and it is about 40 degrees out and raining.
Back to the Tube. We still wanted to get to the Tower of London but ran out of time. We still needed to get some dinner before David headed out for his evening meeting. The plan is (not sure how well it will work, but it is a plan nonetheless) to get up early tomorrow and head to the Tower of London before our afternoon flight out of London.
Friday, March 27, 2009
The first stop on our route today was back to Westminster Abbey. This was our first “heavenly” experience. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed. Yet, if you have a spare moment, check out some online photos of Westminster Abbey by clicking here. The grandeur, architecture and history of this place are remarkable. Walking through the Abbey is a jaw dropping experience. The beauty was stunning. The highlights of the
After Westminster Abbey we hopped back on the subway to
Madeline’s behavior for the day was even more improved since yesterday. Any meltdown behavior was simply due to being over tired or hungry. It was *totally* time to grab dinner; thankfully we had bought Madeline a souvenir which she was thrilled to play with as we waited for our food. We ate at an Italian restaurant. The food was excellent!!! David had some type of ravioli, I had linguine with garlic, mushrooms, bacon (it was more like a ham) and Madeline had lasagna. Our second heavenly experience was the dessert!!!! The dessert was called “sticky toffee pudding” and David and I agree that this was no doubt the best dessert we *ever* had!!!
After dinner, we took a quick stroll around the corner to walk by the Ben Franklin House. Benjamin Franklin lived in
Back on the subway to
Back on the train to the Hard Rock Café. We just made a quick stop there to pick up another souvenir. Back on the train again….next stop, our home away from home. Poor Madeline, we didn’t get back until 10:30pm! Yes, she fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
This morning, David finished up with his work obligations early in the day so we were able to do a bit of sightseeing. This first picture of Mama and Madeline was taken at a sundial in a small park area outside of our flat. We next jumped on the Tube (subway) to head in the direction of some of
With all the elaborate architecture, Madeline must’ve thought we were in a village of castles. We took a walk through St. James’s Park. On the other side, we came upon Churchill’s Museum and Cabinet War Rooms. Although Madeline was now tantrum free, and pretty much stayed that way for the rest of the day, we were not willing to press our luck and head inside…..just not a very exciting place for a kid. Mama-Dirtyfoot wasn’t too disappointed but David is a history buff so I know that is something he would’ve loved to see.
From there we walked over to see
Next we walked across the
Finally we walked quite a distance along the River Thames. We ended up getting dinner at a little place that overlooked the river. In fact, we could see
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
We had a 7am wake-up call. David and I did as much as possible in getting ready so that Madeline would sleep as long as possible. Regardless we still had to wake her which we dreaded because she had so little sleep. We pretty much flew to the airport…..in a manual car with the steering wheel on the wrong side and driving on the left side of the road. Great driving skills, David! I can’t even imagine how difficult that has to be to get used to because you have to even think just walking across the street (keep in mind, oncoming curb-side traffic would be coming from the opposite direction too!) We dropped the rental car off and ran to the airport (we thought our flight was earlier than it actually was). This in itself was a sight to see!! Keep in mind that each of us has a suitcase (although Maddie’s is mini-sized) and each of us also has a carry-on. This wouldn’t normally be a problem except Madeline is too small to carry her own stuff. Add to this the fact that somewhere in Europe, one of the wheels to one of the larger suitcases fell off. We could have been our own sitcom episode today! Luckily, or flight wasn’t until 11:10am, not 9:55am like we originally thought. This at least gave us time for a leisurely breakfast.
We flew BMI air. Their flight attendants have the goofiest hats! I must say that plane was pretty darn creaky too! The flight should’ve only been 50 minutes but due to high hinds, we circled London, Heathrow airport for about a half-hour before finally landing. Not fun!! In the midst of the circling, Madeline decided to become monster-child. Mama and Papa are not happy. Finally, we get our bearings in the airport to have to hop the Tube (subway) to our flat (near London’s tower bridge). Again, if it were just the two of us navigating all this it would be no problem but doing this with a grumpy 3 year old, 3 suitcases (one with a broken wheel), 3 carry-ons and by this time 3 hungry tummies was not fun. Oh, I need to mention that the Tube ride was an additional 40 minutes (with a train transfer with all this luggage)
We finally got to our flat which is very small but quite nice (better than a hotel room). Basically we dumped all our stuff and hit the streets to find an early dinner. We stopped at a family-friendly pub. David had a chicken sandwich, Madeline had fish & chips while I, the most daring of the group, had a lamb & mint burger. On the walk back to the flat we decided to stop at a small store (about a 5 min walk from the flat) for a few essential food items to have in the flat. At this point Madeline once again decided to hit the wall. Okay, I know we have been running her ragged but we hit the limit with giving leeway. Basically, Madeline was dragged out of the store by Mama and back to the flat (luckily I remembered my way) while David finished up in the store and met us back at the flat. Oh yeah, and Madeline was in time out until David got back. We are beginning to wonder who’s bright idea it was to do the European tour with a three year old. We did, however get back to the flat early enough and Madeline is sleeping at a somewhat decent time so we are hoping tomorrow will be a better day. At this point, David is still unsure what time his meetings are tomorrow but we are hoping that by the time David is done with his business that Madeline will be rested enough to do some touring of London.
Oh….and one other traumatic thing for today, the flat’s internet can’t be connected to at this time. Long story…..but now that Madeline is sleeping David and I are taking turns going to the pub next door to the flat which has free Wi-Fi. So, if I don’t get a chance to post again you’ll know why. We will be here for four nights. We are flying to Berlin on Sunday……wish us luck!!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
We headed out for a bite to eat at a small café. Madeline, being over tired, was in major meltdown mode. We actually had to give her a time out in the restaurant. The server (who I think may have also been the owner) was kind enough to bring out a Barbie and, fittingly enough, a Bratz doll (what was I thinking to leave the hotel with out my bag of tricks?!?!) The Bratz doll was missing her feet so we decided to call her “Peg”. Madeline got much better after a bite to eat and was extremely excited to ride on a bus.
We had to make a stop for David to get an international cell phone for business purposes. In a one block area there were about 5 mobile phone stores. One of the store’s names was O2 and their advertisement had tons of yellow rubber duckies which Madeline thought was pretty cool. The mobile phone stuff took forever so Madeline and I strolled some neighboring stores while waiting for David. First souvenir….Madeline found a bright pink rubber duck with green shamrocks and a leprechaun hat. Okay…..whatever. I also bought a pen for my purse to have handy for the next restaurant.
We then got on a double-decker tour bus that stopped at all the major sites of the city. You can get off and on the bus at any of the stops. I highly recommend something like this if you plan to visit a city for only a short period of time. Like I side, it goes to all the highlights but also has a tour guide explaining what you are looking at as you drive around. As I previously mentioned, we had a late start to our day but then the tour busses only ran until 6:30pm. We really only had enough time to hop of the bus twice. So were did we go?
Temple Bar district is like an entertainment district. We strolled through there, and passed by the actual “Temple Bar” where they were filming for a Guinness 250 year anniversary commercial. We took a photo of the outside because we figured that if the commercial got to the States we could say that we were there as it was being filmed. We also stopped to browse at a gift shop….tantrum #2 of the day. All I have to say about her tantrums lately is Holy Crap!
We hit a restaurant for dinner. Thank God Madeline was well behaved, although the pen I bought was very much put to use during our wait. I do have to say that everyone we have encountered here in
Tomorrow we are back to the airport on a plane to