Wednesday, August 25, 2010

are we too old for pinatas?

Happy Birthday Roxanne!!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I don't know why I am writing about our vacation out of order, but we originally flew in to London. We had 2 1/2 days to run through everything we wanted to do there. And we weren't sure what we wanted to do, so we took a bus tour to get an overview of all that London had to offer.
We enjoyed London. We actually did figure out the underground pretty easily, again thanks Lezlee, for your instruction. We crammed a lot into 2 days. We spent several frustrating hours at a couple of wireless stores. We left 3 children behind in Arizona, one of which was in the middle of buying a home and needed advice and help, one of which was running our business in our absence, and one . . . well, she was just off having her own fun vacation on the beach with her girl scout troop. Anyway, it was imperative that we stay in contact with the girls. Our phone company gave us some very bad advice to wait until we got to Europe to activate the phone and internet service. We wasted so much time trying to get something done that we should have been able to do at home. We never ended up with a good phone system, and had to find a computer every evening to e-mail the girls, and catch up with our business clients. Rachel was amazing running the business and there really was very little business for us to have to deal with the whole time we were gone. Thank you Rachel - you are awesome! Fortunately we had computer access in almost every hotel and even had access to 'Skype' a couple of times.
Anyway - we saw the Prince Albert Monument, St Thomas Park, Buckingham Palace, the changing of the guard, a short river trip on the Thames, Big Ben, walked around Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, the National Portrait Gallery, Green Park, St James Park, Herrods for lunch, Victoria Theater to see "Billy Elliot"(loved it).
After we went to the theater, we decided to just go walking around town and see the night life. At nearly 1 am, we thought we better head back to the hotel clear across town (because we are cheap and searched for the cheapest hotel in all of England which of course was not convenient to the airport or any of the places we wanted to visit, but we saved a couple dollars which we spent many times over in subway costs, but that's beside the point. The point is, we saved a couple of dollars on a hotel room.) Anyway, we then realized the subway shuts down at 12:30 am. It was our last night and we had plenty of money on our subway card, but almost no cash. We spent the last of our money on late night ice cream cones because tomorrow we would need Euros and not Pounds so we spent every last little coin. So we are in downtown London at 1 am, with no money in our pockets, looking at the locked subway gates. We were worried for a bit and had to make some phone calls to figure out if there really was a late night bus (like there is in Harry Potter). Luckily there is, and the bus takes the same card as the subway and we arrived safely at the hotel at 2 am. Quite an adventure.
I thought the taxi "Supernanny" drives around in was some specialty car, but no - that is the regular taxi around town. Same with the red double decker buses. They are everywhere!
We saw the changing of the guard. It took quite an effort to take a picture that looked like this:Because we were taking many more pictures that looked like this:
There really were a lot of summer tourist crowds, but most places never really felt crowded.

food fight !!!!!

We interrupt the terribly long travel log to bring you the ridiculousness that was Melanie's birthday party last weekend. Melanie's had a dream for years of having a food fight. There was a minor incident at school (in which she was not involved) that ended up with the principal making all the 6th graders stand against the wall of the cafeteria for punishment. That was the start of a dream to make it a reality.
So for her birthday party this summer, she sent out invites that said in part:
Instead of presents, please bring a bowl/pot/quantity of messy food.
Guests will need to know:
Clothes will get messy. Please do not show up with high heels or a nice button up shirt.
A swimsuit is suggested for the water attraction after the food fight (you are NOT going to want to wear a bikini down this slide)
Music will be provided so please bust a move as you wish.
There will be snacks for hungry guests . . . then again if you want to snack on your ammo, be my guest.
A few kids got smart and brought goggles and shower caps.
Roxanne's boyfriend took the role of referee for the out-of-control teens. (good luck with that one!)
Even our photographer wasn't off limits.
But clearly, the birthday girl herself got it the worst!
Dave, the conquering hero, provided a fire hose to clean up the kids and hose down the food mess.
Let the Slip-n-Slide begin! Melanie had a minor injury going down the slide and had to rest and recoup in the mud for a short while. Sunday morning, she was still finding pudding and grass in her ears. Almost everyone followed the pattern - slide down the hill and stop at the end of the plastic. I don't know how Brennan got such momentum, but he ended out in center field every time he went down (yes, right over the sidewalk).
This one was called - "Hey Roxanne, let's go down the slide on our feet!"
A few bumps, scratches and bruises, but overall I think they went home in one piece. Surprisingly, they cleaned up good enough to get back into their parent's cars.
Happy Birthday, Melanie. This party definitely had "you" written all over it!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

the romantic road

Con and Vicki were reviewing some of our travel options with us and had some wonderful suggestions. One of which was renting a car and driving through Germany. Some of our friends thought we were crazy and we certainly would have been if we would have rented a car in London like we planned (that place is scary enough in the streets to even be a pedestrian). Anyway, we rented a car in the Netherlands, did a quick one day drive-by through Belgium - to get some Belgium waffles and chocolates, of course.
On a side note, I bought a beautiful box of divine and delectable gourmet chocolates to take home to the girls. I carried the box around with me with utmost care and caution, wrapping them tenderly in the center of my suitcase. When we got back home, I opened the box and it was a big square box of melted together goo! I tried to figure out where we went wrong then I realized we kept our luggage in the car on our hiking day. The heat didn't seem too bad to us, but apparently it was too much for a delicate little pile of Belgium chocolates. We all ate them anyway - just sliced it like a loaf of bread. I was surprised how yummy it was with all the flavors mushed together.
After that quick afternoon drive through Brussels and Antwerp we drove on to Germany. After a couple of days in Berlin, we drove south through the most gorgeous country you can imagine. We drove down the Romantic Road which its name, for no other reason, made me want to travel through that area. It is a highway that winds through gorgeous countryside and through old walled medieval cities like Rothenburg and Dinkelsbuhl, then on to Fussen at the end of the day.
These are gorgeous little towns with a big city walls around them. Here's Kasia on the wall walk. We walked quite a ways around the town until we figured we'd better get off the wall, and get to the center of town and get some lunch and do some shopping. (Notice a strong 'food' theme to this vacation?)

There was also some trails that went around the town on the outside of the walls - I wish we would have had more time to explore, there were some fabulous views and scenery.
The little shops in Rothenburg were adorable. There simply wasn't enough time or money for the shopping I wanted to do. The one thing I did buy was a heavy iron door knocker. It is shaped like a great big key. When we went through airport security, my suitcase went through the machines and I was asked if I had a key in my suitcase. I thought he asked if I had a key to open my suitcase. I told him about 3 times, I don't have a key, it is not locked. Then he asked more clearly - do you have a very large key in your suitcase? Then I finally remembered and opened it up and showed him. He picked it up and laughed - "What, you live in a castle or something??"
By the way Lezlee, you warned me about the crazy security measures we should be prepared for in the international airports. I've got to say after we left America, we had no problems or delays. We went through airports in London, the Netherlands, Austria and Paris then again in London and never so much as had to take our shoes off. You must have more of a terrorist look about you than I do.