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(Rested & Recovered)

overcast 20 °C
View Europe: August 2007 on tracebc's travel map.

As some of you know, the bout of ecoli at the end of the trip hindered my updates on here.

In the penultimate evening in the UK, we did end up seeing Wicked, which was worth it.

The last day in the UK was great...up to a point, that is. We went to Warwick Castle and the sun emerged along the way. Warwick Castle is a perfect spot for a family day - there are medieval displays and demonstrations throughout the day (think jousting, archery, falcons, trebuchet, etc.), and is very picturesque.
The Peacock Garden is just that - a large population of peacocks lounging around a sunny, manicured garden.

From there we went to Shakespeare's birthplace along the Avon. Very touristy, but I did manage to get some Macbeth finger puppets (doesn't everyone want these?) and a wonderful mug inscribed with a variety of Shakespearean insults (doesn't everyone want this as well?). This is Shakespeare's home growing up. They figure this was his bedroom window.

We stopped at a pub for lunch, and visited with a very curious horse with attitude in the field beside the pub.

Then we went to Oxford and visited Christchurch College.
The dining hall there was the inspiration for the dining hall in the Harry Potter movies. We were fortunate to be able to go into the secret gardens as (a) students were on holiday, and (b) the flood damage had finally been repaired. Our tour guide said that one month prior, the college was surrounded with over a foot of water. The real Alice (from Alice in Wonderland) used to peek into the gardens from a keyhole, but she was never allowed in. Her father was some sort of professor, as was Lewis Carroll; the latter based his characters on people in Oxford College and around Oxford. Here is the door Alice peeked through:

On the way home, I got sick, which made the next 24 hours, including the plane ride, rather not so pleasant. However, I'm now home, and can share some other pictures that I was unable to upload before. Here they are:

Chillon Castle:
This is the dungeon that Byron visited, then wrote his famous poem: "The Prisoner of Chillon."

Berne (or Bern):
One member of our tour group asked, "Are those really birdhouses up there?" to which Darrin, his mom, and I could hardly hide our giggles. They're chimneys.

A group of matching houses.

Along the highway from Berne to Lucerne

Trummelbach Waterfalls:
The falls inside the mountain were unphotographable due to low light and no tripod.

The covered bridge in Lucerne. There are pictures painted in panels amongst the eaves of the bridge (and, apparently, even nicer ones in the other covered bridge that I didn't visit)...along with millions of spiderwebs!

A nice shot of Lake Lucerne

I loved the clouds in this shot!

This is a detail of the most beautiful stained glass window I've ever seen, in St. Vitus' Cathedral, Prague Castle. It was done by Alfons Mucha, the Czech Art Nouveau painter, in the 1930's. OK, so it's not old stained glass...but it's beautiful! (Go to this site for a larger version: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Mucha_window_in_St_Vitus.JPG)

The view from our hotel window at night.

Statues on the Charles Bridge, surrounding Prague Castle in the background.

Saint Wenceslas (not actually a king!) is Prague's patron saint; you find his statue everywhere. This is a particularly nice one; in this shot, he is looking at Prague Castle.

An early morning shot across the river from the Charles Bridge.

Details of some Prague buildings.

The Fisherman's Bastion. This area of Budapest was nice.

A statue and tower at the Fisherman's Bastion.

A nice shot of the fireworks on August 20, the main holiday of Hungary - St. Stephen's Day. We chose to skip going to St. Stephen's Basilica at 5:00 to view the mummified hand of St. Stephen that was going to be paraded around the grounds for his special day.

Another nice fireworks shot.

The bell - Big Ben - is silent right now, as he is being fixed.

Not the best picture because of the weather, but this is one of the views from the London Eye.

That's it!!!

Posted by tracebc 14:18 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

London, Day Two

(or is it three?)

rain 15 °C
View Europe: August 2007 on tracebc's travel map.

Well, the weather here is still wet! It apparently has been all summer. We did have a reprieve when we went on the London Eye - it was cloudy, but still an experience. You could have done it, Mom, as it goes so slow that, unless you look directly down, you don't feel like you're moving. Just really high. In a glass bubble. That's all. I waved at the queen, but she's rumoured not to be home. After the Eye, I left Darrin and his mom as they did not want to spend hours at the British Museum and the National Gallery. They were going to try to join the crowds at Buckingham Palace instead (and also buy tickets for Wicked tonight) (and probably shop some more).

Avenue Q was stupid. It's an obscene parody of Sesame Street, with people moving the puppets on stage. Don't bother with it! Luckily, the tickets were half price.

The British Museum has changed its exhibits since we were there last. The Rosetta Stone, for instance, is in a major doorway and has crowds of people all around it. It was still interesting to go through it and admire all the Greek, Roman, & Egyptian things. There were tonnes of "Don't Touch" signs around, but I still managed a quick handshake with an Egyptian statue. It was warm...others, I guess, had done the same. The museum is still free, although they suggest a donation amount..."to keep it free."

The National Gallery (also "free") had a (not free) display of Rembrandts (and other Dutch painters) that was worth paying for. After that, I wandered through the rest of the (free) exhibits and revisited the Monets.

So long as Darrin managed to get tickets for Wicked, that's where we'll be tonight. Don't worry...I'm only going out alone during daylight, and I must successfully blend in with the locals (unlike everywhere else I've been) as several people asked me for directions today. I was able to help one of the three.

I'm now on my third 2MB photo card. Which means I've taken about 1000 pictures already. Who's up for seeing them all in a digital slide show next week?!!! It'll be free, but I'll suggest a donation of $10, to keep it free. (So long as I get my computer back.)

I shall go and hang out at the hotel room (which, come to think of it, reminds me a little of Fawlty Towers, except the "hired help" is Russian, instead of Spanish) and read (I conveniently timed the finishing of the book I brought with the purchase of my new book from Foyles, so have started that one) and perhaps watch something from a selection of eight - yes, a whole eight! - English television stations! Four of them are NEWS!!! After this trip, where CNN or BBC World was the only English station in the majority of hotels we've been in, I am never watching CNN again. Not that I did before, anyways, mind you.

I have nine minutes left (I like this 30 minutes for one pound thing...on an English keyboard!), so I should be signing off. I think I might be back before Dad has his appointment. Wouldn't it have been easier for them to have called you?! Darrin, by the way, had Dr. Belle when he was a baby because his feet were all twisty and he needed to wear one of those metal bars attached to his shoes. His mom told me.


Posted by tracebc 07:53 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (2)


aah...finally English keyboard, English signs,...

rain 15 °C
View Europe: August 2007 on tracebc's travel map.

I am sure glad to be out of Budapest! I think the people that suggest that Budapest is perhaps prettier than Prague must have been on some serious drugs. I would not recommend travelling there for any reason. There were a couple of nice buildings, but they were few and far between. The weather was lousy, too...during the days it was unbearably hot; during the nights, it was unbearably thundery. This led to some nasty headaches. The fireworks our last evening were impressive, though. They followed a severe natural fireworks display (thunderstorm), and spanned the entire horizon from our little itty bitty hotel window. They were then followed by more thunder which delightfully lasted until our plane the next morning was supposed to take off, leading to a delay in takeoff. Luckily, it only added a half hour to our time. As per air conditioning, our room DID have it, if you can call a three-speed fan air conditioning.

I should go away more often, Mom, as you seem to be winning lots while I'm away. And Theresa, I am ignoring all mention of the "S" word.

Now we're in London! We had fish and chips near our hotel for dinner and then took a quick walk through Hyde Park. Our hotel appears to be a converted apartment and is full of corridors and staircases. There is a lift, but as we are on a 1/2 floor between the main floor and the first floor, we can't take it. Our three beds are lined up in a row like the beds in Goldilocks...except they're all too hard!!! At least it's quiet, mind you, as our last few hotels have been on very loud thoroughfares.

This morning we did a tour of London with a tour guide that, surprisingly (!) had a very dry British sense of humour. I think we were the only ones laughing at his wit and wisdom in the entire bus. I also bought myself a book at Foyles today. The weather's not great. After the stinking heat of Budapest (literally stinky!), the wet, windy weather is a bit of a shock to the system. I think tomorrow the weather is supposed to improve slightly. This evening, we are going to a musical that we got half price tickets for - Avenue Q, as The Lion King and Wicked do not sell half price tickets, and they didn't want to go see The Lady in Black.

There's no internet at our hotel, but I can get 30 minutes cheap at an internet cafe about two blocks from our hotel (I am currently sitting beside a display of teddy bears wearing London sweaters).

Tomorrow we are going to ride the London Eye (I'm hoping the weather will improve!), and I am going to go to the British Museum for as long as I can. The next day is our Cotswolds trip.

I'll write again tomorrow or Friday.


Posted by tracebc 07:09 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (4)


not so pretty...internet crappy

sunny 32 °C
View Europe: August 2007 on tracebc's travel map.

We arrived in Budapest yesterday. It reminds me of downtown Vancouver or Seattle...dirty, dingy, dusty. NOT my favourite city! Nice to hear from you, Theresa! And mom and dad of course.

I am in a McDonald's right now. they have the cheapest internet. Today we went on a city tour. A little more impressed with Budapest than my first impression, but still not my favourite city.

i've tried to typethis message three times, so hopefully this one will go through!

It's hot as Vegas in August here, but there's no aircon anywhere! Tomorrow's a holiday, so everything will be closed. There will also be a loud airshow along the Danube (we've seen and heard the previews) and fireworks that we will be able to see from our (tiny!) window...we think. We will be no where near the river. This is Hungay's biggest holiday.

I should go, though. To make sure this works!

Have fun, hope the rain stops for the PNE (although on the one English station we get - BBC World - they say it will rain forthe next few days), and see you in less than a week!

No more messages until London Tuesday or Wednesday.


Posted by tracebc 11:22 Archived in Hungary Comments (4)


last entry for a few days

semi-overcast -1 °C

As the internet sucks here, this is it until at least Budapest.

Thanks for doing the keys...I'm psychic, that's all! (No...I checked my email & noticed one from Lynne.)

Prague is beautiful. We go on a 6 hour tour tomorrow.



Posted by tracebc 11:36 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (4)

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