Wednesday, September 27, 2006

London, England with Viv

The weekend of September 22-24th I fly to London to spend some quality time with Viv!

I meet Viv at the airport made our way to her new home in the east of London, Forest Gate. When you walk into her place you would swear you were back in Kingston. I found it quite funny, in the picture below you can see Viv standing in here living room amongst all her teaching stuff.

My first night there Viv and I got an early sleep so that we could get a good start in the morning to see some sites and such. The picture below was taken at the train stop near Viv's house. The train ride into central London is about 20 mins, which wasn't bad at all!

Our first stop was the Piccadilly Square! A must for a trip to London. It was bustling with people and brought me right back to the first time I went to London with my Dad when I was in highschool. In the picture with me is Laura, Viv's housemate. She is also from Canada but teaches at a different school then Viv. She was really nice and I think her and Viv are going to really enjoy their time in London together.

After Piccadilly Square the three of us made our way towards Covent Gardens by foot and stopped at the shops on our way. Laura was looking for a pair of school shoes and managed to find just the perfect pair, but in London there is quite a choice! We also stopped in at H&M and Viv bought a great coat for fall. Although Viv and I have discussed and decided that she has an addiction to both coats and bags :) We decided that being in London wasn't going to make the situation better!!

And the main event of the day.....

By now I am sure many of you think I am obsessed... and you are correct! But I now have followers!! Check out their bags! Viv even bought more then did! But then again I have been to three LUSH stores since I have been in Germany :) In the store after a product demo I even heard Viv say "Where have you been all my life!" It's official Viv is now a Lushie!! :) Welcome to the club Viv, I am sure Laura will be the next to join.

After a great day of shopping, we decided to go to one of those discount theatre ticket booths to see if there were any cheap tickets for one of the many shows currently showing in London (Dirty Dancing, Guys and Dolls with Patrick Swayzy, Mary Poppins, The Producers, Avenue Q, Stomp, Wicked and many more) We ended up getting main floor tickets for the show The Producers. So the three of us got all dolled up and headed out on for a Night out at the theatre, London Style. It has official become a tradition that every time I am in London I see a play. The first time I saw Chicago, then then next time I went with my Mom and Dad to see the Lion King and now I saw The Producers! I have even bought the tickets from the same place every time at Leicester Square!

After a great night in the city of London, Viv and I decided to have a relaxing walk along the tames river and get a nice breakfast on Sunday. We ate breakfast/lunch at one of the oldest pubs in London. Supposable Shakespeare once rented a room there! Our walked ended up being a little longer then expected and the restaurant didn't end up opening until noon so we had a great carvery lunch with Yorkshire pudding!

After a great hardy meal Viv and I took to the streets again to see more of the city. As we made out way to Trafalgar Square we passed by a little piece of home, the Canadian Embassy. I still think it has one of the best location of any embassy in London, its right beside Trafalgar square and if you get the right angle on your camera you can get the Canadian flag in your picture as well as a lion from Trafalgar square :)

This is me sitting at the same lion I sat near on my first trip to London and the same lion my near when he was in London during the war. Things really come full circle!!

Here is another little piece of Canada!! The menu resembled something very close to Shoeless Joe's.
Sunday in total was quite eventful. During our walk along the tames Viv and I encountered hundreds of people running in Gorilla suits. Turns out it is an annual event for charity where people dress in gorilla suits and collect money.

Also, when Viv and I walked through Leicester Square the movie "Hoodwinked" was being premiered and the theatre was all blocked off with reporters waiting for the stars to arrive :) I thought it was pretty cool although Viv and I didn't wait for the stars to appear since there was so much to still see on London!!

The right at the end of the day after we had a drink in Covent Gardens, we realized that a whole section of the market had been evacuated and wrapped with police tape... When we asked the officer what had happened he very bluntly said it was an electrical failure... Although he could barely look us in the eye when he said it... It seems weird that you would evacuate people out of a public square for an electrical failure..

Well, all in all my weekend in London was just fabulous! Couldn't ask for a better weekend with one of my closest friends! Viv thanks for a great time! Enjoy yourself, I know you are going to be a Londoner in no time!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Heaven from a Bakery

Okay I have found my favourite thing to buy at a bakery!!! Chocolate Banana... but not just any chocolate banana.

This banana is placed on a soft vanilla cookie with marshmallow fluff and cheery jam and then the whole thing is dipped in a hard chocolate coating!!!

It's the best sweet I have eaten in a long time, I am eating one each day until I leave Germany!!

Sorry I don't have a picture to show you but I ate it all already :)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Venice, Italy with Mandy

So my trip to Venice, Italy began on September 15th on a HLX flight at 4:30pm. During my flight I experienced more turbulence than prefer but I landed safely in Venice 50 mins later to be greeted by Mandy who had arrived a few hours earlier. While Mandy waited for me to arrive she met a fellow traveler in the airport who was from Newmarket, Ontario and also knew people Mandy knew from Bermuda!! It's a small world out there!

Mandy and I started our trip with a bus ride to the island of Venice then took the last Waterbus to the Rialto Bridge. This was the last waterbus due to a worker strike!

Here is Mandy and I aboard the waterbus. Neither if us saw much of the sights since we spent most of our trip chatting away and catching up since I think it has been over a year since we have seen eachother!

Despite the cloudy weather Mandy and I made our way to our hotel, Albergo San Samuele located near Campo Stefeno in the San Polo area without having any rain :) We had our first meal at Campo Santa Margherita, the student area of town. I had some delicious prosciutto pizza and we shared some local white wine. We ended the night with a drink from the local hangout and some delicious gelato. In Venetian fashion, Mandy and I managed to get lost trying to return to our hotel... Those streets can be very confusing!!

On Saturday, Mandy and I took to the streets and saw the sights, San Marco, Rialto Bridge and Gucci! Although we couldn't start our day without a great cup of cappacino and a couple of panini's.

In the spirit of reliving a Toronto Zoo moment, Mandy thought she would buy some pigeon food at San Marcos... Neither Mandy or I lasted more then 10 secs before Mandy forced the food back into the vendor's hand and run as far away as she could in the other direction leaving me with a pigeon on my head...

Here is my poor attempt to take a picture of myself with a pigeon on my shoulder. :)

Although later in the day the pigeon's would get their revenge by brisking Mandy with poop... Thank goodness for the near by Canadians who offered Mandy a baby wipe. What was crazy is that these Canadians were from Newmarket, Ontario!! And even attended Sacred Heart Highschool! Once again another reminder that it is a small world! (I guess Disney was right...)

Now below is a picture of Mandy and I in Ecopt in the Italian area of the Nations... Oh no I am sorry... This is Mandy and I in Venice at San Marco near the canal!! It's crazy how similar it feels to Ecopt at the Nations exhibit!! Mandy and I just needed to talk a picture of us here :)

Now I thought it would be fun if I tried to find the LUSH store in Venice given it's one of the hardest areas to find anything. So Mandy and I walked around with no luck. We had almost given up and started to head towards Rialto Bridge when it hit me like a lightning bolt in my nose!! I turned to Mandy and yelled out "Mandy! I smell LUSH!!" I smelt the LUSH store!! I knew we were close, so Mandy and I followed our noses turning left and right until the store revealed itself within the market stores by the Rialto bridge!! Inside the store I bought a chunk of Banana Moon soap (going to be discontinued in North America), creamy candy bath melt (which the SA told me they only had in Italy... Which is not true but it"s one of my favourites), a pot of the Brazened Honey facial mask and a Karma massage bar (Now I have never seen or heard of this before, it looks just like the discontinued gold glitter Karma bath melt but much bigger!!) and she also gave me a sample of what she said was a hair conditioner.. It's a small solid chunk of white and it smells lemony so I think it Lemslip body butter.

Overall this weekend has been memorable! Something I am so lucky to have shared with my cousin Mandy! Thanks Mandy for a great trip, we will have to meet up soon. Where to next??

Oh and I flew home in a pink T.Mobile plane! Great way to end a fantastic trip :)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Discovering Ulm...

On Saturday September 9th, my two friends, Tina and Griet took to the roads to drive to Ulm for the day. Ulm is located east of Stuttgart between Stuttgart and Munich. Ulm is located just off the Danube and is full of little shops, cafes and lots of big stores.

In the picture below is the famous church that is one of the tallest in the south of Germany. From the picture you can tell what a beautiful day it was :)

That is Griet and I in front of the church in the city square. We are smiling because this was before we had climbed all the way to the top....

This is the view from halfway up the climb of the church, I thought I would take pictures since at that point I wasn't sure if I was going to make it to the top...

We made it!!!! It was this tiny little circle on top that was full of people.

Now is this not the coolest chair ever!! It was located in a book store chain much like Chapters. I have decided to engineer my own chair just like this when I get home :) I think I need one in my office, what do you think?

Well, Tina, Griet and I ended the day with a nice Italian dinner with a glass of Presecco and homemade tiramisu (I need to embrace my inner Italian and make this at home!) All in all it was a great day, I would highly recommend this town. I would love to go back to do some shopping :)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Bueren Spa Thermal Springs

On Friday September 8th, my friend Tina and I decided we needed a relax afternoon after a long of work. We drove about 20 mins from Deizisau to a town just outside Plochingen called Bueren. In this town is a thermal spring by the name of Bueren Thermal Spring.. pretty creative eh?

In this complex there is lots of different baths with different temperature water. There are two inside, one which as exercise classes. Then there are three outside. The pools outside has a surreal view of the rolling hills and ruins of an old castle.

The complex also has a "Grotto". It's a fake cave with different hot rooms, salt rooms and therapeutic showers. Outside, there are these cold canals that are suppose to promote good circulation when you walk through them... Think the polar bear dip cold.

This is the castle that you can see from the springs. It is the Hohenneuffen castle.
This is me at at the castle pointing right at the thermal spring below : )
The hill which the castle is on is a well known point for paragliders. There are at least 5 or 6 of them that you could watch while you relax in the bath :)
After a long soak in the thermal baths, Tina and I relaxed at the top of Hohenneuffen Castle. I am drinking an Austrian herbal lemonade called "Almdudler", it was really good!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Well, this is a little bit out of sequence but I really wanted to share the pictures from the first town I visited in Germany, other than my immediate area (ie. Deizisau, Esslingen and Stuttgart)

On Sunday August 20th my two colleagues Elke and Harald took me for a drive to Rothenburg. It was about 45min to an hour to get to the town from Deizisau. Rothenburg is a small town that is completely surrounded by a wall that was built during medieval times. The town has been restored to make you feel like you are walking through an old German medieval town.

The buildings you see in the pictures below are typical of the south Germany, Bavaria region. This area is well known to tourist so as we walked the town there was a group of about 150 Japanese tourist, it is this reason why the locals refer to Rothenburg as "Little Tokyo" :)

All in all I did really enjoy this town, its a nice place to just walk and enjoy the old architecture. There is also a huge Christmas Market which is open year round and sells traditional German Christmas decorations : )

Monday, September 04, 2006

Irish Takeover

This past Saturday I decided to venture out on my own and take some time downtown Stuttgart to take some pictures of the sights and mingle with the native folk... Well little did I know that this Saturday was the date for the Ireland vs. Germany football game in Stuttgart!! Wow, It was just like the world cup! There were people all over the main square, where the large screen was located. The streets were filled with crazy Irishmen!!! All I could hear was English amongst the sea of green! You couldn't even find a German fan, it was all Irish!!

But I did manage to get some great pictures and its always nice to be amongst the football crowd : )

The Irish Take Over!

Brings a whole new meaning to the "Public Fountain"...

Crazy Irishmen visiting the Wine Festival :)

The Green Irish Sea...

My German Home

So, I had a request to post more pictures of where I am living. I hadn't realized that I had only post pictures of things around my place but no pictures of my place : )

So here it is...

This is the front of my place. The name says it all... "HOTEL". The full name of the place I am living at is Hotel Carle, it took me quite some time to figure out that this "HOTEL" was the place where I was staying.

Now this is the front door to my place. Since I am renting an apartment within the hotel, I have a separate entrance which I share with the laundry room. After being here for over a month I have never once seen anyone else use this door.

This is me sitting inside my apartment. Yes... When I say "my apartment" I mean this is my whole apartment in this picture. It is a bachelor apartment. The door in the back opens up to the bathroom with a stand up shower.

Now below is some more pictures of the houses and such around my place. The houses here are just fascinating. I love how they mix the old with the new.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Smart Tower

On the way to my office building from the airport on my very first day I saw something that I felt was sent from some higher force...

Okay maybe that statement is a little overboard but anyone who knows me well, can probably imagine my reaction when I saw this wonderful super sized SMART car vending machine!!! I felt that I needed to share this with all of you out there. I specifically drove to this dealership so that I could take a picture to cherish forever :)

This large tower had fortwos (that's the model I have), forfours and roadsters inside. I would of loved to be the engineer who was assigned this project!