Saturday, July 31, 2010

Westminster Abbey and The Globe!

Our first stop of the day was at Westminster Abbey. This place is absolutely amazing! I have no idea how they have buried so many important people in such a small place but I have heard that many are buried standing upright in their graves. We found some famous graves that we were hoping to see, such as Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell (the father of modern geology), and too many kings and queens to keep track of. We also saw the coronoation throne. It is currently being restored. I fear it is because they are anticipating the passing of Queen Elizabeth and will need to use it for Charles. This is me in front of the main doors.

Later that evening we went to the Globe Theater and watched the Shakespeare play, King Henry VIII. I should say I watched HALF of the play. After spending all day on my feet I could not stand any more during the play (we had purchased the standing entrance and had no place to sit). The first half was great though! Man, I love this picture of me! That's Mike and Megan behind me.

After the play was over we headed back to the hotels. Isn't this a lovely view of St. Paul's Cathedral?

And for those that know me and my love for all things Princess Diana...she was married at St. Paul's Cathedral!
More tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day ? - Ode to Harry Potter...

For those that don't know, I am a fan of Harry Potter. I'm not the type of fan that memorizes lines or dresses up like the characters (although I have been known to stand in the lines to get my new book at the midnight release where I also made magic wands out of sticks and glitter). So when I went to London I had to go find Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station because that's where Harry Potter gets on the Hogwart's Express, the steam train that takes the students to Hogwarts. Here I am making my way into Platform 9 3/ luggage is already through the wall!

Below is a picture of where they filmed Diagon Alley. Diagon Alley is where Hagrid first takes Harry to buy all of his required items for school, including his wand, his books, and of course his owl, Hedgwig. We looked for the bar they filmed The Leaky Cauldron in but could not find it. *sigh* Would have loved to have gone for a butter beer.

Finally, trying to get into the Ministry of Magic. You have to enter this phone booth and dial the secret number (spells MAGIC on the keypad) while holding the phone in the air. The Ministry of Magic operator will come on and ask who you are trying to see. I was heading in to see Percy Weasley.

Great fun on this little side jaunt. Will share more tomorrow!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 5 - My Favorite Castle!

Back to one of my most favorite places on Earth. I have visited Bodiam Castle the last three times I've been to England. It is a magnificent Medieval castle in East Sussex that was built during the 14th century. It has four beautiful rounded turrets on each corner, a moat, and drawbridge. Enjoy the pictures...

Love, love, LOVE it here! More tomorrow...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Europe Day 3 & 4

Got busy this week with preparing my manuscript and didn't get a chance to update my blog. Sorry about that!

So day three was a travel day where we made our way from Dover to Farthingstone. My good friend Rhiannon was getting married and I was so excited to be invited. The day we arrived was the day of the hen party and all of the girls (including Mike) got baby blue cowboy hats with tiaras on them along with a sash that said "Rhiannon's Hen Party". It was great fun as we started the event at a local salon where there were manicures, pedicures, and massages. Here's me in my hat!

Rhiannon's parents home is absolutely lovely and they have a magnificent garden in the backyard. I tried to take many pictures of it. It has a multitude of vegetables growing, including tomatoes, potatoes, leeks, garlic, and peas. I realized I'd never seen a potato or garlic growing before.

Day four was the wedding. It was held in this tiny church in the village of Farthingstone (180 people, one church, and one pub). The wedding was absolutely beautiful. The bride and groom both looked magnificent and so very happy. Here's a great picture of us! It's one of my favorite photos from the entire trip.

That's all for today...more tomorrow, including a visit to one of my most favorite places on earth!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Europe Day 2 1/2 and 3: Dinner on the Seine & The Louvre!

I decided to take one of the dinner cruises along the Seine. I had heard they were fabulous and I was not disappointed. For one person I was given a full bottle of champagne, a full bottle of white wine (my choice), appetizers, dinner, dessert and the cruise. I loved the cruise and although expensive would highly recommend it to everyone.

The next morning we headed to the Louvre! I love this picture of me in front of the famous pyramid and fountain.

How could you go to the Louvre and not see the Mona Lisa?? There she is, right behind me in the photo. The Louvre is huge. I think it would take at least 3-4 days to go through and see everything. There really is that much stuff there. I also saw the Venus de Milo...absolutely stunningly beautiful!

More tomorrow!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Europe Day Two: The Chunnel & Paris!

We decided that we'd take the Chunnel to get to France rather than taking a ferry because it was a bit faster. The Chunnel is really an interesting ride. You pull your car into a two-level train (think double decker bus kind of thing) with 4 cars per train car. They then seal you into your train car but you can get out and walk around. The ride takes about 35 minutes and you actually ride below the waters of the English Channel to Calais, France. Here's a look at what it looks like inside your sealed train car.

Once we got to France it took about 4.5 hours to get to Paris because the A1 (the major highway to Paris) was closed in Calais for road work. I thought we'd never get there but we finally did. Mike drove around the Arc de Triomphe and I swore we were all going to die! European drivers are insane!! Here's a view from the top of the Eiffel Tower. The green area in the photo had been set up so that people could watch the World Cup on a huge TV screen. When a goal was scored the crowd erupted in cheers!

And here's a good picture of me in front of the Eiffel Tower. This one is going on my travel wall.

The Eiffel Tower is huge!! It is much larger than I expected. It takes two elevators to get to the top. The first elevator goes at an angle up one of the legs. The second elevator goes straight up the center part of the tower. It was kind of scary going up, in fact, I couldn't look out as we were going up but once we got to the top and out of the elevator I was fine.
More tomorrow...

Friday, July 09, 2010

Europe Day One: The White Cliffs of Dover!!

I returned just the other day from spending 15 glorious days in England and France. All together there were 953 pictures taken. I'm so happy to share a few of them with you here. First off, let me introduce you to the cast of characters that I hung out with. This first picture is overlooking the English Channel. We are staring at the White Cliffs of Dover with the channel in the background. From left to right we have: Will, his new wife Megan, Mike, and me. Will is my office buddy and is studying blastoids. Megan is a planetary type meaning she studies stuff in outer space...I feel stupid right now because I am not sure what her research is on but I'm thinking either Mars or asteroids. Mike is a minerals kind of guy. He is doing wacky experiments with olivine and dolomite. And then there's me...studying my little edrioasteroids and trying to understand their paleoecology.

Here we have Dover Castle. This castle was used as a safeguard against those who would come in from the sea. It is an amazingly beautiful place inside. It was up on the hill behind our B&B. I visited this castle many years ago on one of my first visits to England.

And here's me, standing at the base of the White Cliffs. Now, for those that don't know what the cliffs are made of, think teeny-tiny-itty-bitty fossils. Yes, fossils! These guys that make up the chalk are so small that you have to use one of those special SEM microscopes to see what they look like. The number of these fossils that it took to make the cliffs is just astronomical. I can't even imagine what the number would look like.

The cliffs were truly amazing and I took some samples for my collection. I also happen to love this picture of me. Mike took it and I think he did a great job! It's so good, in fact, that it's one that I printed out to add to my travel wall.
More tomorrow!!