Tim & Shannon's Euroblog

This is a blog of our 2006 trip to Europe. Hope you enjoy reading about our adventures!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

More Pics!!!

Go to www.shannonyoder.net/europe/pics.php for more pics!


P.S. Sorry about the poor quality of some of them; you can see them all in excellent quality when I get back!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Update 5/05/2006

Friday, May 26, 2006

Got up at 6:00 and got to the train station in plenty of time. Took the train to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower. I wasn't impressed with the €15 it cost to climb the tower. St. Peter's Basilica only cost €4 and it was much higher and prettier. I guess it's not every day that you get to do it. I also got ripped off on a pair of sunglasses. I had wanted a pair for a while and finally found a good pair that I liked. Later I saw them at another stand and asked the price. I could have bought them for less than half what I paid. So often everyone in the same area has about the same price, but not this time. It seems I never get a good deal. Then we headed back to the station and hopped on the next train to Florence. We had to reserve seats from there to Venice, so now I am sitting in the lounge at Florence waiting on the train.

We arrived in Venice pretty late at about 9:30. We had to walk across the bridge spanning the Grand Canal to get to the bus stop where we were to meet the private shuttle to take us to our place. We stayed at Camp Alba D’Oro outside of Venice. It was the only place we could find on short notice. We weren’t sure what to expect but the place was actually pretty cool. They have cabins and mini mobile homes they rent out as well as tents. The bus ride to the campground proved to be interesting. The bus was packed full of young kids and the bus driver played YMCA and other familiar songs, urging us Americanos to sing them like we know it. Reminded me of Jamaica!!
When we got there they had a live band jamming ‘90s American music. I had to wonder if we would get to sleep at all, but they quit by 11:00. We were able to get a bite to eat since we walked into the restaurant 30 seconds before closing time.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

First thing this morning was washing clothes. Then got on the internet to make reservations for the next step; Bern Switzerland. By the time we had all that straightened out; it was like 2:00 in the afternoon. Then we headed into Venice and walked around just looking at things. We did window shopping and I found a Giorgio Armani (very expensive Italian designer) store! I went inside to look around and felt out of place wearing a t-shirt. Everything is very neatly arranged and the sales people are all in suits and ties. I looked at an Armani t-shirt that I liked and asked the price. At €183 (about $228), I decided maybe not. We also walked past the Rolex store where watches were around €6,000.00. I decided to move on.
The main streets were crowded with tourists due to three cruise ships being docked there, so we walked through some of the back alleys to avoid the crowd and to look for bargain food. Shannon bought a block of fresh Parmesan cheese. Not cheap at €9, but very good. We ate at a small restaurant and I had Fettuccine Alf redo. We sat beside a couple from Canada and shared our experiences.
Next we found a gondolier and asked how much for a ride. €70 was the price. It was better than the €80 we were quoted earlier, but still too much. I offered him €60 and he accepted. So off we went for €30 apiece. I should’ve tried a lower offer, but we don’t get to do it very often. Think about how much money these guys make if they do 1 ride per hour times 8 hours. That would be €560 ($711) per day @ €70 per ride, and that’s being conservative. Then I got a t-shirt for a souvenir and we headed back to camp.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Got up early to catch the 7:52am train to Milan; connecting to Olten, then to Bern. It was a long trip, but we got to see a lot of beautiful scenery. We got there at 5:30pm and headed straight to our place. It was very nice and reasonable. The “free” internet ended up being one computer that seemed to always be in use and you had to pay to be able to connect your own computer. I paid so that I could upload some pictures for a change. We went out to eat with our roommate, and then watched some TV.

Monday, May 29, 2006

We woke up to rain this morning.  Went to pick up our rental car; a Toyota Corolla. No free upgrade to a BMW this time. Then we headed to Steffisburg to see the Reformed Church, which has a mural or the Ten Commandments on the wall and names of certain people around the edge, including Yost Yoder; the first known Yoder Anabaptist. Next we ate at a local restaurant and asked the waitress if she knew a place to stay for the night. She suggested we go to Thun which was a few miles down the road because the place in town wasn’t very nice. Then she came back and said maybe we could stay at her place, but she had to ask her husband first. She sadly told us they had other plans for the night and couldn’t have us. So we went to Thun and found a Best Western and a Holiday Inn there; way out of our price range. We went back to Steffisburg to ask the price there, but it was still twice as much as the place we were at in Bern. So we drove back there and booked a room for two more nights.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Nothing could have prepared me for what we would experience today. We headed out for a place where a house and barn are built underneath a cliff. We were told about it by Leroy Beachy and decided to check it out. We drove way out into the country where the roads zigzag up and down the mountains. We found the place where we had to park the car and walk the twenty minute hike through the woods to find the place. When we got out of the car I checked the outside temperature; 2° C (a little above freezing). We were not prepared for cold weather. We put on whatever we had to try to keep warm. It was also intermittently raining and snowing. We headed down the trail and saw some nice waterfalls along the way. We finally arrived at the place and checked it out. They have electric and telephone there, but no one was home. It is a very unique place. Then we went on down the trail looking for the other place on the sign, but ended up at a road and nothing indicated which way to go. So we headed back to the car.
Next we drove to the place where you’re supposed to walk back a trail to see Joderhubel (Yoder Hill) and hiked for a while, but weren’t sure that we found it because the trail we were on didn’t seem to match the one on the map. We did see some more awesome waterfalls and the trail tested our fitness out. After looking at more maps we decided that we could drive to the top of the hill. We stopped at a store along the way and got some snacks, then found our way to the top. No one was home so we took some pictures and left again, this time looking for a place that seems like the end of the world.
We stopped at the store again to ask directions, but I found out that Swiss German and Pennsylvania Dutch are quite different even though they have some similarities. We finally found a lady named Maria Gerber that knew English and she offered to have us follow her there. We did that and when we got to the end of the public road, she told us we would have to pay to be able to drive to the place, but that we were welcome to go in her car for free because she is a local. We accepted and I was glad we went with her because she was able to tell us a lot about the area. On the way back she stopped at her neighbor to get her shovel back. We got to see a Swiss dairy farm while they were milking. I was excited to see this because I grew up on a farm. With our new friend translating, we talked about the differences in farming in Switzerland verses in the States.
Then we went to Maria’s place for tea and snacks. We stopped in at the barn on the way in and met her husband Christian, who was also milking. He was to meet us in the house after chores. It was so neat to see the inside of a Swiss house. They had recently renovated the barn part of the house to add additional rooms. We chatted about the differences in our cultures, then said goodbye and drove back to Bern to our hotel. The Gerber’s have a guest house and we will have to remember that for next time.
I would say today we had more cultural experience than we have had the whole trip up till now.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

This morning we went to see the Bear Pits, and then returned our car to the rental place. Now we are on the train towards Salzburg, Austria and will probably head for Munich, Germany tomorrow.

Found our way to our hostel. Sorry, nothing exciting tonight. Just grabbed a bite to eat at the hostel’s restaurant, and then chatted with our roommates. Then we washed a load of clothes and threw them in the dryer for the night. Need to do another load in the morning.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Washed the rest of our clothes, and then said goodbye to our new friends. We took a group picture and exchanged email addresses. We went to Mozart’s birthplace, then to his residence. We finished the day by going up to the Festung Hohensalzburg castle, the largest completely preserved castle in all of Europe. Then we headed for the train station and were on our way to Munich, Germany. Autobahn, here we come!!

Friday, June 02, 2006

First thing in the morning was make reservations for a car rental for Saturday. Then we got on the train towards the Dachau Concentration Camp. Wow, I had a lot of thoughts go through my mind today. Sometimes you could’ve almost cried thinking about what the prisoners there had to go through; seeing the beds and how they went from each having a bunk to just having one large bunk so they could cram together head to foot to get more in. The camp was designed to hold 6,000, but at its peak they had over 60,000. Seeing the crematorium where they burned as many as 12 bodies at a time as fast as the furnaces could was disturbing. It was easy to develop bitterness toward the Germans and it’s no wonder they don’t like to talk about it. I could go on and on about all the horrible things that happened there, but that would take a while. In the evening we just ate supper, then went back to the hotel and crashed. I was so tired I fell asleep with my clothes on.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The day of driving the autobahn has arrived! With much enthusiasm, we went to pick up our rental car. We had no idea what we were getting, just the car class or size. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the clerk pulled the keys out and laid them on the counter. There it was; the unmistakable Mercedes logo! I was so excited I couldn’t wait to go see what it would look like. With visions of driving 150 MPH legally dancing in my mind, we entered the parking garage. To my dismay, it was not what I had imagined. It was some hybrid between a car and a small SUV. Oh well, I thought. It’s a Mercedes. Surely it will be fast anyway. Guess again. Here in Europe most cars are geared towards fuel efficiency, not towards performance. This one was definitely geared for efficiency. It had a seven speed tiptronic automatic; that was cool. But speed was something it lacked. Also, the autobahn was not quite what one would imagine. Yes there are unlimited speed zones, but just as you would get this thing maxed out they slam a 120 or even 80 Kph speed limit in your face. So you had to slow down again till the much awaited sign came again that showed the current speed limit with a slash through it meaning end of speed limit. As the cars around you pulled away, it left one a little frustrated. Ok, I will tell you what we achieved. Our maximum was 114 Mph, and that was downhill! How sad to think I traveled all the way to Germany to fulfill my need for speed, only to realize I’ve driven faster at home than our rental car could achieve. At least here it was legal. One thing I found interesting is most cars drive about 80 Mph with some hitting 100-110 at times with no speed limit. When there is a limit, they seem to obey it very well. At home we tend to always go 10-15 over, but they don’t. Maybe we should try it in the U.S.
Making use of our trip down the Autobahn, we drove to Neuschwanstein Castle and took a tour of it. It is the castle that King Ludwig II built. It looks like it came straight out of a fairytale, which is why it was the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle and is known the world over as the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Castle. Then we drove back to Munich to catch the night train to Amsterdam.

Sunday, June 06, 2006

After a scare last night thinking I lost our train ticket after boarding the train, we did find it had fallen behind the seat. Not having a ticket means a steep fine and the man checking tickets came around minutes after we found it. After that I slept pretty good on the train. We arrived in Amsterdam at about 9:10 am. We stored our luggage in the train station for a hefty price thinking we couldn’t check in till 2:00. We found our hotel and were able to get in right away. We took a nap since we were still tired from the trip.
Later we went back to get our luggage and brought it to the hotel, and then hunted down a Mexican restaurant since our books indicated that Dutch cuisine is not very good. Supposedly this place had free chips and salsa. When our bill came we found out that only the first basket is free. One thing we have learned in Europe is that nothing over here is free. You even have to search high and low to find restroom that’s free. It’s best to be on the alert and make use of every free restroom you find whether you need to go or not because if you don’t, you will have to pay when you have to go; sometimes as high as €0.70 or $0.90. In the evening we walked around looking for a place to get on the internet with our laptops to no avail. Next we walked the red light district, then hit the sack.

Monday, June 05, 2006

We got up too late and missed our free breakfast at the hotel so we found a place that advertised an English breakfast. We stopped in and had two eggs, toast, bacon, beans, and tomatoes (not meant for breakfast in my opinion). It was the first real breakfast since London and it was so good I didn’t really care about the cost. I had to think about the Dutchman’s buffet and how for like $9.00 you can eat all you can stuff yourself with, something totally unheard of over here. There aren’t even any refills on drinks here.
Then we decided to rent bikes since everyone in Amsterdam seems to have one and it seems to be the best way to get around town. We biked out into the countryside hoping to see tulip fields and windmills. We did see a windmill near the edge of town but no tulips. According to the map we would have had to bike much further than we felt like. It was fun, although tiring. Then we found the Hard Rock Café and ate there. It was so good compared to most of the food over here.
Tomorrow we are going to Brussels Belgium for one night, then on too Luxembourg for one night, then to Bayeux, France for one night to see the beeches of Normandy. Friday morning we will travel back to Paris, do some more shopping there then get on the Eurostar train to London in the evening. We will spend our last night there, then get our flight home at 11:55 am Saturday. I can’t believe the end is almost here already. The time has flown since we got here. I’m not sure if I will be ready for work on Monday or not. It will be here before I know it.
It’s now time to go find a place to get on the net so I can upload all these entries so people have something new to read.
I finally found a network to get on the internet but I am sitting outside in the cold to do it so I'm not gonna spend a lot of time doing it. I could pay €5.95 for 50 min. inside but this is free. :-)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Romantic Venice and Beautiful Switzerland

Hello from Switzerland! The scenery here is just incedible! We came in on the train Sunday from Venice, Italy. Mountains, tunnels, lakes, cows w/ cowbells, and more tunnels, all made for some totally awesome scenery! We're now in Bern, and we're going to rent a car today to go see a few places.
Venice was awesome too! It would have been nice to spend more time there, but we at least got a good taste of it. Unfortunatly, there were hoards of tourists there. (I think several cruise ships were in!) However, the narrow (and I MEAN narrow!) back alleys weren't so busy, so it was really nice to stroll through them.
Yes, we did take a gondola ride! That was awesome! OK, it was a little pricey at €30 a piece, but maybe we'll never get that chance again!
Well, it's time I get to bed (12:33 A.M. here!). Keep reading and commenting, and I'll try to keep posting, even though it's hard to find time!

See More Pics!

If you would like to see more pictures, go to my xanga site at www.xanga.com/gizmosancycles.
More coming later. I decided to put the pictures there so as to prevent clutter on here.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Update 5-27-2006

We haven't been able to get on the net for a while (at least not for free) so hang in there. We're ok and the place we stay at Sunday night has free internet so we will make use of that. Till then, here's something to read.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Today we got up after 9. No breakfast at this hostel so we fasted till noon. Looked for reservations in Venice, which is our next stop. No luck, need to check again later. Went to see the Coloseum, then ate some much needed food. Next we toured the Palantine Hill where Ceaser Augustus is thought to have lived. There are all kinds of ruins to marvell at and beautiful gardens to walk through, giving you a chance to rest in the shade. It's defineately warmer here than it was in London and Paris. There we had to wear sweatshirts every night, but don't need to here.
The next stop was the Pantheon. This building has a dome made of poured concrete that is the largest of it's kind and architects still wonder how it was erected 2000 years ago. In the center of the dome is a large hole that lets in light and was used as a sundial to tell time and dates. A large area of the floor is sloped and has drains to get rid of the water when it rains.
After that we walked to the Trevi Fountain, which was spectacular. Legend has it that a traveler who throws in a coin is ensured a speedy return to Rome. If he tosses in two coins, he will fall in love there. Too bad I didn't know about the latter when I was there :( :). Next we found a neat little place to eat that was in the Let's Go book that was reasonable. Then we hunted down a gelato (ice cream) shop that was recommended. We witnessed a shoplifting while on the way. We later saw police haul the woman away. The ice cream here is delicious; it seems like the Romans live on it and pizza since there are little shops everywhere that sell both at the same place. The only thing they need to work on is the serving size. Obviously they never heard of the Grocery Bag.
Then back to the hostel for the night. We've decided to stay another night in Rome, but we will have to go to yet another place for that night.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Said goodbye to our roommates as they went their ways. Moved our luggage to the other hostel, then stopped at a small shop and got a 1.5 liter of water, a Coke, and a large Kabob for €6.50. Was excited to find someplace cheap for a change. Then we headed for Vatican City and toured St. Peter's Basilica. Went to the top of the dome (over 500 stairs to the top). The views are awesome. I couldn't believe how high up it is. From inside looking down, the people on the floor are tiny. The stairway to the top gets very narrow towards the top and finally winds around so tight it's like walking aound a fence post. The way down didn't take near as long as then way up. The last section is sloped a little ways, then a step, and so on, as it winds around the tower. We ran down most of the way and it was hard to keep it under control. We wanted to see the Sistine Chapel, but it was closed today. So we are back at the hostel now. We need to get some more plans made for the next week and we leave for Pisa early tomorrow morning. We're going to have to get up at 6:30, I'm not sure if I can handle that. After Pisa, we head for Venice where we will be till Sunday. Then we plan to go to Switzerland.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Shannon's first pics post!

OK, so I finally did another post, and I finally posted some pics! Hey, this Europe thing keeps you busy! Even as I type this, it's 12:43 A.M. here! (Oops!) Alright, since you would have to scroll a mile in order to see all the pics I'm posting, I'm putting them on my web site, where I can spread them out a little (and thus reduce scrolling). Check out www.shannonyoder.net/europe/pics.htm.

More pics soon.

I will get more pictures on soon. I've learned it takes a lot of work and time. Each picture needs to be resized and the quality reduced to make it appropriate for posting. The smaller I make the file, the more I can post. We need to get out and see Rome right now though. Can't sit at the hostel posting pictures all day.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Finally an update!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Got up at 9:10. Last night our roommate was an oriental guy named Jerry. He was from L.A. if I remember correctly. He will be staying with us till Sunday when he flies home. We left hostel at 10:45 and went with Jerry to the Arc de Triumph. We marvelled at it's size and took pictures, then waited on Jerry's friend whom we were to meet there. We gave up and walked to the Louvre Museum, stoppin on the way to eat at a sidewalk stand. Had a crepe, a large diameter but very thin pancake with ham, cheese, and egg on it folded up like a soft taco. At the museum we met Jerry's friend and after talking to her; Shannon, Jerry, and I toured the museum while she went on her own due to different interests. Towards evening Shannon's camera died so we went back to the hostel to charge it. We had to wait forever on the train and the platform was completely packed. When the train rolled in we saw it was packed full also. I didn't think anybody would be able to get on, but everyone was tired of waiting. So they packed in even more. I was barely able to get in enough to let the doors close. At this point we felt like sardines, but at the next station we learned that people thought the train wasn't even full yet. They pushed and shoved their way in and by now it was so tight you could barely even move your arms. I've never seen a subway packed that hard, not even in New York. The air in there was not the best smelling and was very stuffy.
Later we went to the Eiffel Tower and went to the top. While we were waiting in line we met an older couple on their honeymoon. She was also celebrating her 50th birthday. Alao met a guy from N.C. named Jock. He is in Europe for 7 weeks through school. Anyway, the view from the top was spectacular! You can pretty much see the whole city from up there. We got on the last train of the day and got off a station ahead of ours to get a bite to eat. Then we wlked back to the hostel and got there about 1:30am. The power in the lobby was off as well as in our room and the ones next to us. It sounded like somebody plugged in a power converter in that shorted out, then took it to the lobby to try it there. We finally got them to check the breakers(they wouldn't let us) and they turned them back on so we could charge our stuff. Got to bed about 2:30. Yaaaaaawwwwwnnnn.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Got up a little after 9:00, not nearly enough sleep. Checked on a car rental for monday and reserved it. We will be driving to Hautefeuille to see the houses my boss Art Neuenschwander built when he lived there in the '70s. Next we went to the Notre Dame Cathedral, then ate lunch at the Cafe Leffe near the cathedral. It was our first French meal. Had steak covered in special sauce, fries, and a custard dessert covered in caramel sauce. Yum yum. Next we walked to the other side of the Notre Dame and found a place that exchanged money with no commision. It was the best exchange rate we found so far. Then we shopped for souveneirs and got some Paris t-shirts. Shannon thought he had to have one of those French hats. Then we went to see the Georges Pompidou center. The building is unique because it has the piping on the outside as well as an escalator going up the outside wall. The pipes are all painted certain colors based on their function. We watched some hilarious attempts at acting. One guy heads it up and uses people from the crowd as actors. Then he tries to get them to act out various scenes. In the end, the guy holds out his hat and the crowd gives him donations.
At sunset we went to the Eiffel tower again to take more pictures. We ended up trying our photographic skills to get some unique shots. Then back to the hostel to get to bed at a decent hour. 12:10 ended up being our decent hour.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Today we took a vacation from our vacation. Got up late, then gathered our dirty laundry and did some much needed washing. Spent the afternoon making plans for the next leg of our trip. We were planning on going to Turin to see The Shroud of Turin, but after finding out it won't be publicly displayed again till 2025, we decided we didn't have time to wait till then. So we are planning on going to Rome on a night train Monday night. We went to the station to make reservations, but the train we wanted was booked. They put us on a later train that has a changeover in Milan. Next we ate at a sidewalk cafe, had veal and something that was gross. Finnished it off with mousse au chocolat (straight from heaven). Then we went to Mont Martre, a place way up on a hill overlooking Paris. On our way there on the subway, I was holding the Lets Go book and a young couple from Pennsylvania guessed we were Americans because of it. They had been in Rome so they told us all about it and where to stay. We found out that Mont Martre is a pretty neat part of Paris. There are all kinds of places to eat and shop around there. Then we headed back to the hostel for the night.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Got up a little later than we wanted to. Went to get our rental car, but couldn't find the place for a while. We wanted to be at Hautefeuille by 11:00. When we finally found the place, the car we had reserved,(a VW Golf) was not available. She said they would give us an upgrade, perhaps a BMW 118, a Peugot ??, or maybe a Renault ??. Wait, did you say BMW??!!. We'll take it!! It ended up being a 4 door hatchback, almost brand new. It had a diesel engine and a six speed manual. To start it you insert the remote into a slot in the dash and push the start button. It cranks and starts by itself. Pretty cool, like Star Wars or something. Driving in France is pretty much the same as at home.
We got to Hautefeuille at about 12:55. They served us lunch (wich was very good) and told us all about how the French eat. Victor explained how what you eat determines what kind of wine you drink. They also brought out Coke for us (he called it "american wine"). Then they Damaris showed us around the place. It's a Mennonite run place that deals with handicapped people, sort of like the Ida Sue / Nick Amster Workshop in Wooster. They give them a place to live and work to earn their keep. They also have a bus that picks up people that don'tlive there. Then we went to see their church, which was on the way back to Paris.
When we got back to Paris, we had some extra time, so we made a number of laps around the Arc de Triumph. That was pretty neat because it was close to rush hour and there was lots of traffic going through. That made it a challenge. There are 12 roads coming into one huge roundabout there. You may have to make a couple of laps to work your way out so you can exit on the road you want. Next we drove past the Eiffel tower, then found a gas station to fill up before returning the car. This time it was much cheaper, €13.05($16.67 or $5.87 per gallon). Diesel fuel is cheaper (€1.21 per litre) and the car got better fuel mileage(35 MPG).
After returning the car, we went to the train station to wait on our train to Milan. We met two girls, one from Colorado ad the other from Montana. I gave the Colorado girl Norman's phone number because he loves to go there to hunt. Just kidding! When we got on the train we bunked with a young couple from San Fransisco on their honeymoon (it was a night train). Poor them, having to put up with two single guys in the same room. They were very nice people and told us about Amsterdam. It's nice meeting people who have been where you're going, you find out what to see and what to avoid. They shared their snacks with us which was nice since we hadn't had supper. Along the way the train suddenly screeched too a halt. Our neighbors had accidentally pulled the emergency stop and had to pay a penalty. We finally crashed close to midnight.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Woke up as the train pulled into the station. Got on the next train to Rome, but it got cancelled due to some problem. we had to get on another train and go to Bologna, then get on a train to Rome. We missed the Rome train because of the confusing way they display the trains on the screen. After talking to customer service, they put us on the next available train. By the time we get there, we might as well have taken a day train and saved the cost of the night train. Taking the night train saves you sightseeing time because you get there while you sleep, but we won't get there till 3:30.
I am on the train to Rome as I am typing these updates. I think we are pulling into the station now so I better quit.

Friday, May 19, 2006

We want comments!!

Hey people, we need some comments. Is anybody looking at this site?? If nobody comments it's not worth our while to post anything. Don't be shy. You can just say hi if you don't have anything else to say.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Buckingham Palace

The parade during the changing of the guards
The first view of France after coming out of the Chunnel

As I am typing today's and yesterday's entry, I am sitting in the Eurostar terminal waiting on our train. It was supposed to leave at 4:12 pm and it's currently 4:33. The monitor says it's expected to arrive at 4:45, so we have to wait........... Ok, now they're boarding, gotta go. It's 4:37 right now.
Back to my post. We're on the train now. They even have power outlets to power your laptop!

We got up this morning at 7:oo and left the hostel at about 7:45. We drove straight to London and went to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guards.
I couldn't believe how many people were there to watch. It was hard to see anything because of the crowd, but it was definately worth seeing. After that we went to find a gas station to fill up the car. After a wild goose chase looking for a station that my software claimed to exist, we finally found one and filled up. It cost £41.84 , or about $74 US. And you thought the price of gas in the USA was bad!! Then we rushed to return our car and pulled into the rental staion at 12:58. It was due back at 1:00!! Got there just in time! We put 337 miles on it. The car rental wasn't cheap, but the experiance was priceless!
Next we ate at Burger King (how original) in the train station, then checked in for the trip to Paris. It's now 5:16 and we are currently rolling towards Paris!! Can't wait to get there. We are to arrive at 8:35(1 hour time change), then we have to find our hostel for the night. Not sure if we will do anything in Paris tonight. Maybe we'll walk around and look at the lights.

A little bit ago I got the idea to hook up my GPS sensor on the train here. It took a while to lock onto the signal, but once it did it showed us going 168 mph!! We maxed out at 178 mph. Cool! Now we are in the chunnel (underneath the English Channel and I can't get reception anymore. It sure didn't take long to get from London to the shore at all.
Now we are out of the tunnel and are cruising at 185 mph! Every once in a while we meet an oncoming train and you can fell the train rock. Our combined speed would be 370 mph. Europe rocks! (I love speed).
We had an official top speed of 188.5 mph! 189 miles travelled in 1 hr. and 16 min. (The whole trip was further). Our train was 1 hr. & 10 min. late so they are offering a free one way ticket or ½ price on round trip ticket for one year. Too bad we already paid for the way back.

Now we are at our hostel. We are very tired from lugging our luggage since 1:00. Need to get something to eat and then get some sleep. It's currently 11:00 pm. Till next time, au revoir!

P.S. We will now be 6 hours ahead of Ohio time. Also, we learned that in London everything is priced about the same as in the states, because £1 = about $1.80, so a £4.99 value meal at Burger King actually costs about $8.98. £1 buys a 500ml (less than 20oz.)bottle of Coke actually costing us $1.80. I did notice that Coke & Pepsi taste better over here. Not sure why. On the bottles it says it has vegetable extracts in it. Maybe it's healthier too! They don't have Mountain Dew though. They don't know what they're missing.
I figure the higher prices are offset by them earning the same pounds per hour as we do dollars. It would work great for them to come to the states, everything would seem cheap to them.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Our rental car.


Today we got up a little earlier than we have been in the habit of. We ate breakfast at the hostel, then headed to the Waterloo underground station to pick up our Eurostar tickets for tomorrows trip to Paris, France. We got our tickets, then went across the street and rented a car. It was a Renault Clio, about the size of a Toyota Tercel. It had just enough room for both of us and our luggage. Driving in England proved to be quite an experiance. You drive on the left of the road, the steering's on the right, and you shift with your left hand (It was a manual). We started off for Stonehenge and atcually did pretty good at getting around. We took a wrong turn pretty directly, but I have GPS navigation on my laptop and the software immediately rerouted us to get us back on the right track. We drove right to Stonehenge after that. After we were done there, it started to rain. It was about 5:30 and we didn't know what we wanted to do or where we were going to sleep that night. We decided to head for Bath, where the Romans had some big baths? Our GPS said to head north and get on the freeway, but we decided to take the scenic route. It was so much fun driving through the english countryside. Saw some things most tourists probably wouldn't get to see. We drove past several places where signs warned, "Tank Crossing", with a picture of an army tank on it. When we got to Bath, we didn't know for sure where the place was, so we drove around looking for the information center. We finally found it(info center), but alas, it was closed. As we we sitting in the parking lot pondering what to do next, we realized we were parked right next to the Roman bath place! We jumped out to take a look, but alas, it was closed also. Oh well, a least we were there and saw the outside.
Next we decicded to drive to Bristol and see if we could find a place to sleep. As we were looking for a certain hotel, we saw a youth hostel sign. We found the hostel, only to find them booked for the night. They referred us to another place in town, wich was a challenge to find. The only indication of it's location was a small sign above the door and it was located in an alley. Sounds scary, but it wasn't too bad a place. Probably a 1 star rating. After we had a room, we drove to across the bridge into Wales, then turned around and drove back. we did this just so we can say we were in Wales. On the way, we had to detour around construction and I made a u-turn on a side street. Ater turning around, I headed back towards the main road and found myself headed for an oncoming truck. For a split second I was wondering why he was on the wrong side of the road, then I quickly remembered it was me that was out of place. I quickly jerked the car to the left and all was well. It wasn't really close, but we had a laugh!! :-0 Then we went back to our hostel and tried to get on the web via their wireless connection, but were unable to get it to work. I finally plugged into their wired network and was able to check my email. Then off to bed at about 12:20 am.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hello from London!

Well, it's time I put in my first post! We had a good flight to London. I was able to get some rest on the plane. The trip to from the airport to the hostel was a different story! It wasn't long until I was thinking how I could reduce the weight of my baggage! We finally made it though, and the hostel was great.
Monday afternoon we got tired and took a little rest. In the evening, we went to pick up our London Passes but didn't get there in time, so we walked around some. Tuesday we got the London Pass (which allows free entry to a number of sites in London), and we started visiting some of the sites. We went to the London Tower, the Tower Bridge Exhibition, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, and the Sherlock Holmes Museum. We had some fish and chips (chips are french fries), and then took a bus to the Houses of Parliament. We sat in on a debate of something in the House of Commons. After that we rode one of those double-decker busses! Then we did something dumb! We went all the way out to Heathrow airport to check on a rental car for the next day. Once we finally got there (fairly late), there were no agents there! At least we got some phone calls made! We finally got back to the hostel after midnight! Well, today hopefully we can rent a car for a reasonable price and drive out of London. I'd like to visit Stonehenge, which is west of here.
Well, my time is running out here, so I guess I'll go for now.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Our first day.

This is London's Victoria subway station, or the "tube" as they know it.

The view out our window.

Here we are in the beautiful city of London. We landed at approx. 8:00am local time, 3:00am EST. We're feeling kinda tired after a relatively short night of sleep on the plane. Everthing went pretty smoothly except for Shannon forgetting to empty his pockets at Cleveland, resulting in a pat down at security. No lethal weapons were found, however. :)
Here are some pics for now. I need to take some of us, but that will happen later. Not sure what we are doing tonight yet. We'll keep you posted. Signing off, -Tim

Friday, May 12, 2006

The first post!

Got home late from my last day at work for a while. I need to start packing (I'm a big procrastonator), but here I am typing away. Just thought I'd give people something to read since I've told a lot of people about this blog. We leave Cleveland at 7:20 pm on sunday flying nonstop to London Gatwick Airport. We arrive at 7:55 am monday local time, hopefully having been able to sleep most of the flight. I just got my new Bose Quietcomfort2 noise reduction headphones and can't wait to try them out on the flight. Our first 2 nights are reserved in London, them we will rent a car and drive who knows where. We will then stay wherever we end up for the night, returning to London the following day. Thurs. afternoon we have reservations on the Eurostar (the train that goes thru the chunnel) to go to Paris, wich is where we will spend the weekend. At some point we will rent a car again and drive around France. I want to go to Hautefeuille and see the houses my boss built when he lived there in the '70s. After that, I'm not sure where we will go. Shannon has most of the plans laid out and I'm sort of a tagalong. Can't wait to drive the Autobahn. :) I will think I died and went to speeding heaven!
I better stop now so I have something to write about later. To all those at KE, have fun working while I do whatever I feel like for a while. Later, -Tim