Saturday, January 23, 2010

Christmas in Vienna - part deux!

We went to Vienna for Christmas with some friends and had an excellent time!

Here we are at one of the Christmas markets eating sausage and drinking Gluwine.

Later we walked over to this awesome grocery store - Julius Meinl.

But they call themselves a Coffee Roaster.  Whatever.  It was incredible.  All these gourmet food items just calling out to us, to eat, drink, and be merry!

And of course there were pigs.  I never new how much Europeans loved pigs.  It's funny, and they're everywhere.

We were in Vienna for a few days and while we were there we were invited to dinner at our friends, friends house.  It was really nice.

And of course while we were in Vienna we went to the Schonbrunn palace.  This is my favorite sight seeing place in Austria.  So far.

While we were there Sammy practiced his artistic photo taking practices.  Which turn out pretty good!

And here is my artistic photo.  One day I'm going to have to take classes.

And here is my love muffin.  We were both freezing our buts off!  This is the first time we actually had snow during our Christmas holidays in 5 years of chasing the snow!

The Hotel Sacher - they are suppose to have excellent coffee and cakes.  FYI - this is more of a tourist trap.  It took us 3 trips to Austria to finally get here and we really didn't miss much.  Cafe Central is MUCH, MUCH better.

During our Vienna adventures we went to a monastery outside the city.  Yasuyo and Graham took us because they make wine.  Very good wine.

Here is the Monastery in the back ground from outside.  And my artsy rendition of the photo.  I just hit the Sepia button! Ha ha ha!  But it looks better than it did in color.

Before we left Vienna we had dinner one more time at Karin's.  It was a mini wok night where everyone cooked their own stir fry in a mini wok in the middle of the table.  We loved it and are thinking of getting a set for ourselves.

Next stop...Budapest where I was sick as a dog!

Friday, January 15, 2010


On to Brussels - The train trip to Brussels was O.K. - but the lugging of the luggage was not.  No one would help us put it on and off the train.  And there isn't anywhere to put the fricken luggage one you get on the train.  Not well thought out.  Anyway...our hotel was attached to the train station which was great.

When we walked in the hotel lobby had a exhibition of tea/coffee cups.  I thought it was pretty neat.

The next day when we went sight seeing Shonda navigated.  Which was good because I am useless when it comes to following a map.

We liked this statue - Shonda said it reminder her of two best friends traveling.  Us.

The park had a lot of statues and features.  This was all before breakfast, which we generally didn't roll out of the hotel to have until about 11:30. The concierge was mortified at the times we took our meals.  I thought we took a picture in the breakfast place he recommended - but I can't find one so I guess not.

We took a day trip to Bruges.  It's a really nice town with canals and old architecture.  But of course my battery died when we arrived and I didn't have my spare.  The only photos I got were of the Cathedral we went to (we even attended a service which was really nice).

I think this is the church organ.  And I got a photo of a fountain in one of the squares.

I still can't believe how good this turned out.  I literally did a point and shoot and, if I do say so myself, it looks awesome.  I need to take some photography courses maybe I could get more like this if a actually knew what I was doing.

The next day the concierge gave us the name of this restaurant for lunch - again he was a bit disgusted with us because we were asking at the ungodly hour of 3:00.  Little did he know that not only was this lunch but it was breakfast too.

And as you can see from both my photo and...

Shonda's the atmosphere, food and drink were very good.  And of course the company was superb.

After eating we were walking around to see some of the sights when we came across this candy store.  They really like their peeing boy statue and replicate it everywhere.

Here is the real one and here is one in the Belgium beer bar we went to:

And here are the Italians in the beer bar that were chatting us up.

None of them spoke English fluently. One of them knew a bit of English and most of them could speak Spanish and some French.  So between our bad Spanish, their bad English and the bit of French we both knew we could communicate.  A little.

Breakfast the next morning - neither one of us was 100% after the wine, brandy, and beer the night before.  But boy did we have fun...


My friend Shonda came out from Houston to met me in Europe to help me celebrate a milestone birthday.  And while we were in Amsterdam a good friend of mine from London, Samara, came over to meet us.  Needless to say, we all had a blast.

Here are some photos of Amsterdam decorated for Christmas - I took these as Shonda and I were walking back to our hotel after dinner and drinks with Samara.

Walking around we saw a lot of interesting signs and statues but this door below was one of my favorites.

It took me a minute to figure out this was someone's front door - and once I did I had to shoot a photo.

The next day we went to see a heritage town, it was cute and it was the first time I'd seen windmills in Holland.

Then I saw this:

And it was so stereotypical Dutch that I couldn't believe it!  Windmills and bicycles.  I'm not sure it if was decor or if this was really someone's bike they just happened to park here - but I thought it was cute.

The three of us getting ready to leave the little town.

Me and Shonda after dinner and drinks one night.

Samara making us dinner at her place.

This was a really nice tea & dessert place... of course I had coffee!

That night we met Samara's boyfriend at a hole in the wall place in Amsterdam that served brandy.

They fill the glasses so high that only surface tension keeps the brandy in the glass and you have to take your first sip off the bar.

The bartender's name was Hans and he was a sweetie.  Needless to say we were feeling good by the end of the night.

After Amsterdam Shonda and I continued our trip onto Brussels.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Turkey for my Birthday!

We went to Istanbul for my birthday and had a great time.

When we arrived it was raining and we saw a rainbow...

We stayed at the W which was a really nice hotel - we loved the room.

I do love a nice hotel...I've never really been a youth hostel kind of girl!

We went to the Grand Bazar.

And had lunch at the Kepenski for my birthday...yes I'm feeling good!

We saw the Hagia Sophia and the blue mosque. The fist photo below is the Hagia Sophia, the second is the Blue Mosque.

Hagia Sophia

Blue Mosque - it was a beautiful day.

We also took a boat trip down the Bosphorus.

It was fun but we were glad to get off the boat.  It was a little bumpy.

Glengarry - Scotland

Our next stop on our Scotland trip was Glengarry castle - we love this place! This was our room.

This is a view from our room:

The food was excellent and we love the library which had a fireplace.  We spent an entire day just relaxing in front of the fire while it was raining. One day we took a drive to the Isle of Skye and visited Dunvegan Castle which had incredible grounds.  This is a photo of Sammy in the walled garden.

Here's a photo of me walking around the grounds - I couldn't believe how big this plant was.  Sammy took a photo of me next to it so we could see the scale.

On the way back from the Isle of Skye I had to have a photo of the purple heather which seemed to be everywhere making the hills look like they were a soft velvet.

And we saw a rainbow right before we arrived back at the manor...

Beautiful end to a beautiful day!