Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tour de France 2010

Yes, I know it's only just January, but I couldn't be more excited for the Tour de France 2010!!! Turns out Stages 2 and 3 will be in Belgium, and will only be 1 hour from our house!!!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Kindle absolutely wonderful!!

For those new to the Kindle, it is the electronic reader produced by Amazon. You can buy all kinds of books, magazines, newspapers all to enjoy on your personal reader. We don't have access to a very good bookstore here, so we are really liking having access to almost any book we want. And here's the fantastic part, most books, even new releases that are only in hardback, are $10 or less! If you live in the states you can electronically download your purchases right to your Kindle free of charge, but here in Germany they would charge us $2 for each download. No worry, we can download the purcahse to our computer, and then transfer it to the Kindle through the USB cord. But, if you're sitting in an airport or on a beach somewhere and would like some new reading material, you can pay the fee and still have instant access!

So far we just have the one Kindle to share; we will see how long that lasts!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Life around here...

Life around here hasn't been to exciting lately. In fact, it has mostly revovled around my computer. Thrilling I know!

Reason one, I have started online training to teach online courses for UMUC-Europe! Actually, I'm pretty excited about this one!! I don't know which definate classes I may be teaching yet, but it looks like mostly entry level Biologies and A&P. My training course will take 5 weeks, so I should know more later.

Reason two, Phillip and I decided to get a Kindle with some of our Christmas money. But, since the Kindle hasn't arrived yet I decided to go ahead and download Kindle for PC to my computer. Now I can buy and receive books with the click of a mouse, very dangerous! I've bought 3 so far, and am almost finished reading one. I might need to slow down and actually save some for the Kindle!

For those interested in how the fridge is doing, its currently filled with some pretty healthy food. First 3 weeks have been going pretty good and Phillip and I are both starting to see some weight come off. It definately helps to keep us motivated! :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010


I figure there are lots of good reasons to start our new diet right now:

1. The start of a New Year and New Year Resolutions

2. My brother's wedding in 2 months

3. As part of #2, seeing lots of people for the first time in almost 9 months since we left

Or 4., which is probably the best reason of all...

We are completely out of food! Haha!! I particularly hate the part of a diet plan where they tell you to throw out all bad food. I always feel extremely guilty; who would throw out good food that costs good money!? But this time it's not the case! Might as well buy the right food from here on!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Paris Day 3, Versailles and The Louvre

On our last day in Paris we visited The Palace of Versailles and the Louvre.

The Palace of Versailles is about 40 minutes outside Paris. As you can tell, we were there pretty early. The palace opens at about 9am and we were there before opening to try to beat most the crowds and make the most of our day. It was surprisingly busy even then!

The gold leaf gates in the morning sunlight.

Palace of Versailles on the other side of the gate. It's huge, so impossible to get in a single picture.

Hall of Mirrors. My favorite!!

The Queen's bedroom. The King's bedroom looked almost the same, just not as feminine. Their bedrooms were surprisingly small! But the bedrooms were probably the most decorated rooms of the palace. And there is a gate between the bed and the rest of the room. It was really like this because people would come to watch the King and Queen wake up in the mornings.

Palace gardens. I'm sure these are even more gorgeous in the summer when all the plants are in bloom and the fountains are working. I would definitely go back just to see the gardens again.

The Louvre!! SO EXCITED!! The main entrance is through the glass pyramid, but we learned a very valuable trick, use the back door!! Even though we still spent almost 45 minutes in line just to get through security, the line through the front was even longer. And buy your ticket ahead of time or at one of the kiosks at the back door, even more time saved!

Sadly we were only at the Louvre for 3 hours. Seriously! Sacrilege!!! Our tour guide did teach us some tricks for finding many of the most popular pieces quickly, but there was little time for much else.

Venus de Milo

Winged Victory of Samothrace

Mona Lisa

The green dot is unfortunately in all of my pictures. It is the reflection of the exit sign off of the glass. Good thing for photoshop!

The crowds you have to fight to see the Mona Lisa!! Craziness! I'm actually pretty good at weaseling my way though this mess. I got to the front pretty quickly! But look at the lady in the wheel chair who got wheeled right to the front! know what I'm thinking!

Paris Pictures

are now posted to facebook!! Copy and paste the link to view!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Paris Day 2, Lots of Pictures!

Day 2 in Paris started out with a visit to the Eiffel Tower!!!! So fantastic!!! But not the lines, ugh, we stood in line for over 45 minutes and we already had tickets! This was the main bummer again, time limits. We had an hour and a half to visit the tower, but when you spend half of the time in line it really cuts down on the time you actually get to spend at the site. Ah well, how can you really complain when you are in Paris!!

We got to go up to the second level on the tower. Unfortunately the third level was closed due to the weather. It started snowing when we were standing on the tower! It was like we were in an actual snow globe! :)

Next we visited the Arc de Triomphe. It is quite beautiful with all of the carvings. And it's in the center of a 6 lane traffic circle, which our bus driver did navigate, craziness!!!

View from the carvings inside the Arc. Don't worry, to get to the arc there is an underground tunnel so you don't have to play frogger across 6 lanes of traffic to get there. But we did see people do it!

The Arc de Triomphe with the Eiffel Tower in the background!

The rest of the day we took a bus tour around the city and then that evening we had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. We're not that into this whole Hard Rock infatuation and probably would have preferred to do more exploring of French cuisine, but it was already planned with the tour company and it turned out to be a pretty good deal in the end.

That evening we took a short night-time bus tour of the city. Unfortunately our bus had broken down before dinner which messed up our time frame so our tour had to be cut short. But I did get this fantastic picture of the Champs Elysee with the Arc de Triomphe at the end!!! I have wanted this picture for a very long time. I actually had this same picture as a backdrop on my computer when I was in college! Now I have a picture of my very own!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Paris Day 1, New Years Eve!

This year we decided to spend New Years Eve in Paris with some of our friends from Ramstein: Drew, Rhiannon, Triven, and Christina (visiting Triven). We took a guided bus tour out of Ramstein that is run by a travel agency contracted out by the base. It was a very different from how Phillip and I have become accustomed to traveling, but with how crowded and expensive the city gets over this holiday, it was probably the best choice.

On our way to Paris we stopped at the Taittinger Champagnery in Reims. We learned all about how their champagnery came to be and how they make champagne. We then took a tour of their cellars and even got the opportunity to taste some of their champagne before we left. It was really interesting and a lot of fun! I even bought us a bottle to enjoy later!

When we arrived in Paris we went straight to Notre Dame Cathedral. It is so beautiful!! All the carvings, flying buttresses, stained glass windows; gorgeous! Our tour guide gave us an introduction to the cathedral while we were standing outside, and then we had time on our own to see the inside. This is probably the biggest difference between how guided tours work and how Phillip and I like to travel; they are all about the time limits! Phillip and I like to take our time and wander, but we were only allowed 1 hour. Not nearly enough time at all! However, we made it through the cathedral in time, and I especially enjoyed the beautiful rose windows.

Rose window from inside. It was a cloudy day, so the light was not as great to see them clearly, but they were still beautiful!

We then went to check into our hotel and get ready for our New Years celebration. To begin our evening we took a boat ride down the Seine River. It was really beautiful with everything lit up. The night was chilly, but not bad, so it was a pretty enjoyable time. I think it is one of my favorite things that we did on the whole trip. We got some great pictures of the Eiffel Tower too and watched it's light show at the top of the hour.

The Eiffel Tower while on our boat ride.

Drew and Rhiannon on the boat ride.

Next we had dinner reservations at a French Restaurant. It was a nice little restaurant that the tour company rented out for the evening. We enjoyed a 5 course French dinner: champagne aperitif, foie gras salad or seafood pastry, main course of duck or fish, brie cheese, and ice cream roll (similar to a baked Alaska), including wine, water, and bread! I ended up with the foie gras salad and duck while Phillip had the seafood pastry and duck. Gotta say, not a big fan of the foie gras, and I think it has a lot to do with me taking so many anatomy courses!! :) When you can identify liver based on anatomy class experience it loses its appeal! But the rest of the dinner was pretty good, it just took a really long time to eat!! I understand it is a French thing to have the long meals, where it is all about see and be seen, but our dinner lasted over 3 hours!

Inside our private French restaurant.

After the meal we headed outside to watch our tour guide set off fireworks and toast in the New Year! While Paris the city doesn't do much with fireworks displays, they allow its people to set off their own fireworks. The main gathering place in Paris on New Years Eve is the Champs Elysee so our tour company offered to take people over there if they liked, but our group decided to stay and watch the fireworks our tour guide would set off. We're actually very glad that we did because it sounded like the people got dropped off at the wrong spot, missed their ride back, and eventually had to walk back to the hotel! Instead, our group bought a nice bottle of champagne and we wished each other Bonne Annee in front of the restaurant as the clock struck midnight!

Drew opening our bottle of champagne for New Years.

A New Years kiss in front of our restaurant!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bonne Annee!!!

or Happy New Years in French! We just got home from spending New Years in Paris! We had a fantastic time! I will explain more later in a much longer post (that will need a lot more time), but I was excited to share a few pictures with you all!

On our boat ride on the Seine River on New Years Eve. This picture is a lot more clear on my computer, so I am hoping it turns out better when I get it printed.

Night-time picture on the Champs Elysee.

Standing on the Eiffel Tower!! It started snowing while we were up there!

Phillip standing in The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.

My picture in front of the Mona Lisa! Not the greatest picture, but its not easy to get a good one with the huge crowd. Note...Dad, when we take you to the Louvre, we are putting you in a wheel chair. They wheel those little people right to the front!