Monthly Archives: August 2008

Cork County, Ireland Music Video

I made this video because we took so many beautiful pictures of Ireland that I couldn’t fit all of them in the blog plus adding music always helps with the emotion of it all. The music is by an Irish guitarist/singer named Luka Bloom that I really enjoy. I hope you enjoy it all too.

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Categories: County Cork, County Cork, Ireland, Ireland, Video Tours | 2 Comments

Cork, Ireland – August 18-20, 2008: DAY TWO, Blarney Castle

Cork Patch

Cork Patch

Day Two in Cork, Ireland started with us sleeping in a bit late and then repacking our bags to prepare for our early departure the next morning. We knew today would be a full day and by the time we got back to the hostel packing wouldn’t really be our first priority.

Repacking The Bags At Sheila's Hostel

Repacking The Bags At Sheila's Hostel

After that job was satisfied we set off for some good ole breakfast and then to catch the 224 bus from Merchants Quay at one o’clock to Blarney Castle. We found a nice little café on one of the side streets in the City Center of Cork and ordered a lovely croissant with egg and spinach, a side salad, and, for me, a café mocha. The café had all these posters and various things like the sugar packets with saying on them that were just the typical dry Irish sense of humor. Things like ‘use as a really small pillow’ or ‘directions: put in coffee and shut up’ on the sugar packets. Or ‘Hi, my name is Larry and I’ll be your plate today’ on the plate that we were eating off of and then there were some that the humor went right over our heads and still perplex me today.

Sugar Packets With A Sense Of Humor

Sugar Packets With A Sense Of Humor

After lunch we headed to the bus station to get our tickets to Blarney. At 1 p.m. on the nose the bus was there and we were boarding and away we went. We were informed that the ride would be about 25 minutes and soon discovered that the majority of that was just getting out of the city.

Upon arriving in Blarney we were told by the bus driver to head up the street and we would see the entrance to Blarney Castle and we did. At the entrance there was a little café and Matt and I both decided that we could use some artificial energy in the form of a cappuccino. Fearing the thought of Matt having a whole one to him self we decided one shared between the two of us was best. I ordered a cappuccino with Irish Cream flavor and was told by the perfect Irish specimen behind the counter that they were all out of Irish Cream. I asked how that was possible, that must be against the law in Ireland. He smiled sweetly and I asked what they did have and we settled on a hazelnut cappuccino and Matt and I headed to the entrance of the castle.

Through the entrance I checked out the souvenir shop and picked up two patches, one of the Irish flag and one of the Cork flag to put on my computer case along with my other patches of the world.

Matt with Cappuccino in Front of Blarney Castle

Matt with Cappuccino in Front of Blarney Castle

Me in Front Of Blarney Castle

Me in Front Of Blarney Castle (Hey, Where's the Cappuccino?)

Once the castle came into view we started taking pictures of the beautiful castle set against the beautiful Irish background. Of course in both pictures you can see Matt and I clutching our coveted hazelnut cappuccino, the magic elixir. We even had one gentleman ask if we would like him to take a picture of the two of us so that people would know that we actually came there together. The picture is below.

Me and Matt, Blarney Castle

Me and Matt, Blarney Castle

For those of you who always wonder why I say that Matt can’t have chocolate or caffeine of any sort I give you the two following pictures. The first one is before Matt had a sip. The second one is after Matt had a sip. Shortly after these pictures I took the cappuccino away from Matt and made him run up and down the steps of the castle until the caffeine wore off.

Before Caffeine...

Before Caffeine...

...After Caffeine!

...After Caffeine!

Then we headed down the trail to the castle. Along the way there is a little stream that follows the path and Matt and I noticed that people had been throwing coins into the stream apparently making wishes. Any where there was water there were coins in the water. We started plotting ways to come back after dark and scoop enough coinage up to pay for that damn taxi ride to the airport in Germany (see Scotland blog for explanation).

Coins in the Stream

Coins in the Stream

Matt walking towards Blarney Castle

Matt walking towards Blarney Castle

Once we got to the entrance of the castle itself we decided to go the path of least resistance which was to go to the right instead of the left towards the gate of the castle and investigate Badger’s Cave.

Badgers Cave

Badgers Cave

Apparently when Lord Cromwell’s General Lord Broghill besieged the castle the occupants escaped through Badger’s Cave where there were tunnels that lead to Cork, Kerry, and other places.

Matt in Badger's Cave

Matt in Badger's Cave

Me Leaving Badger's Cave

Me Leaving Badger's Cave

We then followed the little trail outside the Cave around through a little wooded area up some rock stairs that eventually brought us in to the back of the castle.

Matt in the Castle's Backyard

Matt in the Castle's Backyard

Matt with a View From The Castle Backyard

Matt with a View From The Castle Backyard

It's a Long Way Down...but Really Pretty

It's a Long Way Down...but Really Pretty.

Me at the Castle Wall

Me at the Castle Wall

They must have been really short back then...

They must have been really short back then...

As we walked around the castle trying assess the technicalities involved with actually kissing the Blarney stone (Matt and I are both height challenged so it is not a small thing to contemplate) we took more photos.

Me Next To Front Gate of Castle...

Me Near Front Gate of Castle...

Yes, I am Squinting. It was Sunny Out ALL DAY!

Yes, I am Squinting. It was Sunny Out ALL DAY!

And more pictures…

Can You Guess Where I Am??? Sort Of Like 'Where's Waldo' But Easier!

Can You Guess Where I Am??? Sort Of Like 'Where's Waldo' But Easier

Okay, Now It Gets Tougher...Where's Matt?

Okay, Now It Gets Tougher...Where's Matt??

But finally we decided to take a deep breath and practice our ‘Cool Moss’ routine (for all you Tony people out there) and suck it up and just do it. Inside the castle we found the first room to be the Earl’s Bedchamber and a note stating that Winston Churchill had kissed the Blarney Stone and see where it got him.

Winston Churchill Was Here!

Winston Churchill Was Here!

So it was settled, we would kiss the Blarney Stone and we would start climbing now.

Here It Goes...

Here It Goes...

Really...I Am Going Right Now!

Really...I Am Going Right Now!

And climb…

Next Set Of Stairs...These Aren't The Scary Ones.

Next Set Of Stairs...These Aren't The Scary Ones.

A bit of the way up I had to have a talk with myself to convince me to continue up the steep, small, and claustrophobic staircases. Several people, mostly adults, were coming down the wrong way because their talk with themselves hadn’t gone too well. I vowed to make it to the top. After all what would Tony think if I didn’t do it??

Enjoying The View While Having Some Internal Dialogue

Enjoying The View While Having Some Internal Dialogue

I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I’ve walked on fire many times, ate fire, and broke a board with my bare hand. How could this be more difficult than those things?? As I continued up those damn stairs I kept asking myself ‘why is it so important to kiss that damn stone?’ and secondly, ‘Why on God’s Earth had I decided to drink not one but two cups of highly caffeinated beverages this morning? Did I really feel I would need something artificial to get my heart racing today of all days??’ Sometimes my actions baffle even me.

At every turn there were people coming back down the one way spiral stairs after losing their battle with them selves and wanting nothing more than to touch their feet to the solid earth below and at every turn I wanted nothing more than to follow them – no, let’s be honest here I really wanted to cling to them with my eyes closed and scream ‘Take me with you please!’ but I knew if I didn’t do this it would be one of those things that I had wished I had done.

So I continued upwards praying all the way with Matt right behind me. I had to keep calling to him to make sure he was there with me because I wasn’t about to even look behind me until it was absolutely necessary for me to come back down. Every time he said ‘I am here’ and it gave me the confidence to keep going up (not to mention if I turned around I probably won’t be able to get past him with out a fight).

As you can see there are no pictures of this spiral ascension hell (just as there are none of the decent either) as I was not about to pause for a pretty blog picture! I have my boundaries when it comes to journalism and this was one of them.

At the top I was relieved and stressed. Now that I was actually up here I HAVE TO kiss that damn Blarney Stone!! There walking around the top of the castle were the people that had climbed those stairs in front of me. Some had already kissed the stone and were just admiring the view (Crazy people! Don’t they know how high we are off the ground?? Some wonderfully experienced person in front of me on the stairs felt it helpful to tell us all that there are over 300 spiraling stairs to get to the top! Thank you very much!!)

Others were patiently awaiting their turn to kiss that famous stone that gives you eloquence of speech and that Irish ability to Blarney. After all some really famous people have apparently kiss the Blarney Stone among them Winston Churchill, President Bill Clinton, and the Glasgow Comedian Billy Connolly. They had all survived and done fairly well for themselves hadn’t they?

People Kissing The Blarney Stone...View From Below Using Zoom Lens

People Kissing The Blarney Stone...View From Below Using Zoom Lens

So when it was my turn to kiss the stone I thought I might go to the back of the line like I did the first time I attempted to walk on fire but the kindly Irish man who makes sure you don’t fall on your head to an untimely death below coaxed me on and finally with a little good will from all I gave in and went with it.

I sat down with my back to the stone and the drop below (there are bars there to prevent people from dropping straight through and down but that really wasn’t much of a comfort to me honestly). The gentleman leaned me back and assured me that he had a good grip on me and he wouldn’t let go. Then he instructed me on how to hold the bars behind me for leverage. I then instructed myself not to try to look down or it would all be over with and I complied. I just looked at the stone wall now in front of me (albeit upside down though still in front of me) and nearly freaked when the nice Irish gentleman pushed me further back so my lips could actually touch the wall.

As my lips finally touched the cold, slightly moistened wall (it had been raining earlier) I tried not to think of the hygiene issue of it all. Perhaps I should have brought some hand sanitizer with me? Well, too late now!

Before I knew it I was being helped back up by the Irish gentleman who was now my bestest friend for not letting me fall through the grates. Now it was Matt’s turn.

Matt stepped up like a trooper. He said later that he felt if I did it he could do it. So without hesitation he did as instructed and my bestest Irish gentleman friend became Matt’s bestest friend immediately too.

Matt leaned back and grabbed the bars and pulled himself to the Blarney Stone to kiss it. Just as he kissed he let go of one hand and waved to me while he simultaneously kissed the Stone. With that he pulled himself up with the assistance of the our bestest Irish gentleman (I guess I should have asked him his name…probably would have been nice to do).

Matt and I kissed each other in celebration of pushing ourselves past our comfort zone once again (as if moving to Europe wasn’t enough for one month) and faced the task ahead of getting down off this really high building!!

Yes, We're All The Way Up There!

Yes, We're All The Way Up There!

We waited until there was a long enough gap between the last person to go down those damn stairs and us and headed down with the intention of not stopping until we reached the ground and that’s exactly what we did. No photos, no sight seeing, just straight down in the fastest way imaginable without falling down the stairs.

At the bottom we realized that neither of us had the foresight in our adrenaline and caffeine surging brains to take any pictures of each other kissing that damn stone!! Now we were left with the option of climbing back up there and doing it again for the sake of the blog and a souvenir of the event or just remembering it as it was in our heads.

After much deliberation…oh okay, not much really…about a millisecond…we decided we were okay with having no photos and it would take an act of Congress to get us to do that again today!!

Relieved at our reaching a consensus in such a timely manner we headed off to enjoy the rest of the grounds and the beautiful Irish sunshine (really it was sunny all day)!

Me Relaxing After The Blarney Stone Ordeal

Me Relaxing After The Blarney Stone Ordeal

First we came upon this really cool looking tree and decided it would make a nice picture.

My New Abode...

My New Abode...

Just down the trail from the tree we came upon Blarney House. This is a castle in itself and is currently home to someone who drives a BMW among other things. Nice little weekend getaway, wouldn’t you say?

Me Infront Of My New Abode...Who's Going To Tell The Owners?

Me Infront Of My New Abode...Who's Going To Tell The Owners??

I decided that was my new house and started imagining what it would be like to live there with these grounds. The rest of the day wondering around I kept thinking about being the owner of this magnificent place.

Lime Kiln

Lime Kiln

Just down the path we came across the old Lime Kiln. I have to admit that I am not really sure what a Lime Kiln is but Matt and I thought it might have to do with making the bricks, etcetera that the building on the property were made of.

Closer View of Lime Kiln

Closer View of Lime Kiln

Me Enjoying The View On The Lime Kiln

Me Enjoying The View From The Lime Kiln

Continuing down the path we came across an old guard shed and Matt having just scaled the stairs of Blarney Castle and kissing the stone felt good enough to put on his rock wall shoes and scaled the outside of the guard shed.

Rock Climber Extraordinaire...

Rock Climber Extraordinaire...

I decided to keep my feel firmly planted on the ground and just pose in the doorway…

Standing Guard...

Standing Guard...

Wandering on around every turn we kept finding even more beautiful landscapes. This is the Ireland I’ve always hear about and I was so happy to be here and just drink it in.

There He Goes Climbing Again...Must Be The Cappuccino

There He Goes Climbing Again...Must Be The Cappuccino

Such Cool Looking Trees...

Such Cool Looking Trees...

What a Beautiful Scene...I Could Sit Here All Day

What a Beautiful Scene...I Could Sit Here All Day

Does It Get Any Greener And More Beautiful Than This?

Does It Get Any Greener And More Beautiful Than This?

We found a nice wooden walk way across the water where there was a beautiful waterfall. A nice lady asked if we would like her to take a photo of us together with the waterfall. We, of course, said ‘Yes’.

Me And Matt With Waterfall

Me And Matt With Waterfall

Afterwards while admiring the view and take pictures we met another friend. This one was black and white and came bearing a lovely specimen of a stick in his mouth.

Our New Found Furry Friend

Our New Found Furry Friend

He eyed us casually and then when he figured he’d found a sucker in the both of us he dropped that stick at Matt’s feet and stared at him with intensity, tail wagging.

Bringing The Stick To Matt

Bringing The Stick To Matt

Waiting For The Stick To Fly

Waiting For The Stick To Fly

After Matt obliged our new found, furry friend picked up the stick, looked at me and dropped it at my feet. I, of course, not wanting to disappoint him picked up the stick and after trying to psyche him out a bit threw it for him to fetch.

I could only imagine what it was like for this dog living on this beautiful land with virtually an unlimited amount of new playmates strolling in and out of his backyard on a daily basis. I wonder how many people who have been there before bring him a treat or two as well. I know if I go to Blarney Castle again I might just have a biscuit or two in my pocket for my fetching little friend.

Then it was on to more beautiful Irish landscapes….

I Love This Picture!

I Love This Picture!

I Could Live Right Here!!

I Could Live Right Here!!

Matt Chilling Out

Matt Chilling Out

Then we followed this pathway that led us to a pasture where there were cows in the fields. It was beautiful.

Look!! Cows!!

Look!! Cows!!

Me With My Cow Friends

Me With My Cow Friends

And it was then that I noticed this beautiful mommy cow feeding her little baby calf. How incredibly beautiful!! Man, I love cows! Look at the beauty in that mommy cows eyes. Absolutely beautiful and such peaceful animals too.

Mommy and Baby Cow

Mommy and Baby Cow

Mommy and Baby Cow

Mommy and Baby Cow

We could have stayed here forever but it was closing time and our bus would be coming shortly. So we headed out the Castle entrance and back in to the little village of Blarney to find something to eat (it turned out to be a smoothie) and headed to the bus stop for our ride back to Cork City Center and the Hostel to get ready for our Thai dinner with Doug in Douglas Village.

Before we left Blarney though I had to challenge the authorities a bit….

Taking On The Garda...Or Not.

Taking On The Garda...Or Not.

Oh okay…it wasn’t so much challenge the authorities as it was pose with the Garda car when no one was looking…quite the rebel, aren’t I?

That night we enjoyed a lovely Thai dinner in Douglas Village and then headed back to the hostel for a few hours sleep. Then it was back to the airport for our German Wings flight back to Koeln, Germany.

One other thing that I found interesting about Ireland is that all of the signs are written in English and Gaelic. Now I’ve known that Gaelic was one of the official languages of Ireland but I never realized that it was so widespread. I found myself wondering whether there were that many people that actually spoke Gaelic to warrant the signs or whether it was just to keep the tradition of it all alive. If any of you have any insight on that I would love to hear it.

Sign On Bus To Cork

Sign On Bus To Cork

Signs In Cork City Center

Signs In Cork City Center

Stay tuned for some videos coming up of more pictures. We took so many beautiful pictures of Ireland that it was impossible to put them all in this blog. So I’ll be making some videos with music, etcetera for your viewing enjoyment.

Until then Matt and I send our love to you all…

Categories: County Cork, Ireland | Leave a comment

Cork, Ireland – August 18-20, 2008: DAY ONE

Cork, Ireland – August 18-20, 2008: DAY ONE

On Our Way To Ireland

On Our Way To Ireland

Our Ryanair flight to Ireland was comfortable and on time this time (as opposed to the one leaving Germany) and as usual, not one to be a great chatty travel companion, Matt was asleep as soon as they started the engines and barely lifted off the ground.

Me and My Traveling Companion

Me and My Traveling Companion

Not one to let a photo opportunity pass me by I decided to document what it’s like to travel with Matt on an airplane by taking photos much to the amusement of the lady across the aisle from us. He didn’t even flinch when they came around with the snack cart either. That should say something. I mean what man doesn’t wake up when there’s food involved?

First Glance At Ireland

First Glance At Ireland

A few minutes before landing the clouds parted just enough to give us a view of Ireland below us and then the view made way for clouds and rain as we landed. At last I would be visiting the place where my mother’s family came from…County Cork, Ireland. Unfortunately not much is known about our family when they were in Ireland but I wanted to feel the vibes of my Irish side in person and at last that was about to happen.

Ahh...Ireland

Ahh...Ireland

After landing we got our luggage and headed to the airport connection to Sheila’s Hostel in downtown Cork where we were staying. We were let off at the bus stop and told to walk to the next corner, York Street, and turn left and that Sheila’s was at the end of the street.

Matt Up The Hill To The Hostel

Matt Up The Hill To The Hostel

Turning on to York Street we were faced with a steep incline of a street that reminded us of the streets of San Francisco except this time we had baggage!! We both took a deep breath and hiked up the hill leg muscles screaming the whole way.

Sheila's Hostel, Cork, Ireland

Sheila's Hostel, Cork, Ireland

As we came to the top of the hill we saw Sheila’s right to the right of us in all its blue glory. At last we had arrived and the hard part was over. Leaving on Wednesday would be all down hill. Checking in they greeted us with lovely Irish hospitality and informed us our room was 305 and it was a private room as we had requested.

Taking our room key we headed to our home for the next two days and discovered that 305 was on the third floor (actually forth by American standards) and there was no lift (that’s elevator for those of you who don’t know). So we took a deep breath picked up our bags and hiked the steep stairs to our room.

Father Mathew Statue on St. Patrick Street, Cork City

Father Mathew Statue on St. Patrick Street, Cork City

After a bit of a rest we realized that we were really hungry and needed to find a nice place to eat soon. So we headed out down the hill and across the bridge on St. Patrick’s Street to the City Center where our bus driver said we would find tons of places to eat down the little alleyways and that all were good. We finally decided on a little hole in the wall place where we were told by several older Irish regulars who were coming out that it was the best place to eat. Upon entering the restaurant on the second floor the smells that greeted us told me that we were not lead astray. I felt like I was home in my mom’s house and she was making dinner. It was so perfectly a home cooked meal and we loved every bite of it.

Matt on the bridge Cork City, Ireland

Matt on the bridge Cork City, Ireland

View from the bridge, Cork City

View from the bridge, Cork City

More Views From The Bridge

More Views From The Bridge

After being brought back to regular energy levels by the wonderful food we set out to have a look around Cork City for a bit. The city is not really inspiring by any stretch of the imagination but that’s expected considering that it’s been really a port city where they built ships and such and you can see in the pictures above that there are still ships in the harbor there.

St. Patrick's Street Towards Sheila's Hostel

St. Patrick's Street Towards Sheila's Hostel

After a bit of a look around in the City Center we decided to head back to the hostel in order to get ready to meet a chiropractor in Douglas Village which is a little village about 15 minutes away from the City Center.

Trinity Presbyterian Church

Trinity Presbyterian Church

On the way back to the hostel we detoured to see Trinity Presbyterian Church which is an old church whose steeple is viewable from our room at the hostel. It’s a nice old church with that historical charm that us Americans find so endearing.

York Inn on York Street, Cork

York Inn on York Street, Cork

Then it was back up that San Francisco hill to clean up and get ready for our meeting with Doug in Douglas Village.

Once ready the receptionist told us the quickest way to get there is by taxi and she called a cab for us as we waited outside for him to come.

Matt Outside Sheila's Hostel Waiting For Taxi

Matt Outside Sheila's Hostel Waiting For Taxi

The cab driver was a really nice gentleman who kindly asked us to put on our seat belts as it was the law in Ireland. He also stated that a seat belt is a peculiar thing because it’s too late to reach for it when you really need it. He later informed us as we waited at the stop light that the motorcycle Garda (police) next to us had the job of checking that everyone in the vehicle had his or her seat belt on. We watched in awe as he made no effort to hide the fact that he was checking everyone’s seat belt in the car next to him as well as inside our cab. The cab driver also mentioned that the one that doesn’t wear the seat belt is the one who actually gets the ticket in Ireland so it’s financially feasible to keep it on as well.

Arriving in Douglas Village Matt and I looked around and got a good feeling for the Village. We found Doug’s Chiropractic practice easily enough and went in to meet him. Doug is a Canadian Chiropractor who has been living in Ireland for about nine years and he built his practice from scratch about seven years ago and is now looking to sell it.

I can not state more strongly how beautiful and perfect he made his practice. Everything from the system he uses (WLP for those chiropractors out there) to the aesthetics of the place…the lighting, the soft music, the smells, the materials used in the office (woods and stones, very earthy things) made this a place of comfort and refuge from the work day or dreary weather outside. It was absolutely amazing in my opinion. Very well done, unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures because it was a kind of a business type meeting and I didn’t think it appropriate.

Doug himself is an amazing, goal oriented, Tony Robbins type of person who believes that if you are going to do something you should do it as perfectly as you can and constantly work on making it better. So why, you might ask, is he selling this masterpiece that by the way is really successful? Well, he’s done what a lot of amazing, goal oriented, Tony Robbins type of people do when they go full tilt for so long….they burn out.

He wants time to pursue other things in his life for a while like maybe having a relationship and children and pursuing a course of Music Production and travel more. We tried to talk him out of selling his baby and think about the other possibilities that might let him do all that stuff without giving up his masterpiece. He said for now he will continue to look for a buyer but if he changes his mind he’ll let us know.

After our meeting with Doug we all agreed that we would meet the next night at the Thai restaurant below his practice around 8 p.m. and off we went in a cab back to the hostel.

Murphy's and Bulmers at the Pub

Murphy's and Bulmer's At The Pub

When we arrived back in Cork City Center Matt and I decided we would stop in at a local pub for a pint of something and to soak in the essence of Ireland. I had a Murphy’s which is the Cork equivalent of Guinness. Guinness is brewed in Dublin and Murphy’s is brewed in Cork so of course I had to try the local brew. Quite tasty and satisfying I must say. Matt opted for a pint of Bulmer’s which is an Irish Cider brewed from apples. It’s really tasty…like drinking fizzy apple juice with a kick.

After that we headed up the hill and the four flights of stairs to our private room at the hostel for a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow we were going to Blarney Castle and we must be rested.

Stay tuned for our trip to Blarney Castle.

Categories: County Cork, Ireland | Leave a comment

Tour of Our Apartment In Koeln, Germany

I was supposed to edit the end of this so Matt wasn’t even remotely in it but my editing software wasn’t co-operating so don’t let him know. (If you are Matt reading this then I am sure it was an error of the blog site that this video is on here 🙂

Categories: Germany, Germany, Koeln/Cologne, Koeln/Cologne, Video Tours | 1 Comment

Glasgow, Scotland (August 13-18, 2008)

DAY ONE

Matt and I headed to Glasgow, Scotland on Wednesday, August 13th to check out a chiropractic organization there and attend one of their chiropractic seminars. We headed out early on Wednesday morning to get to the train station in Koeln, Germany early so that we would get to Dusseldorf Airport in early and thus be able to relax and not be rushed but alas our efforts we’re in vain.

We got to the Haupbahnhof in Koeln early and enjoyed a nice Starbuck’s coffee and a snack and then easily caught the train for the half hour ride to Dusseldorf airport. Upon arriving at Dusseldorf airport we marveled at the fact that we had about an hour and half to just relax and await our flight to Glasgow but we noticed that the airline Ryan Air wasn’t listed on the airport billboard.

I went to information and asked which terminal Ryan Air left out of and the lady told me ‘Oh no, you’re at the wrong airport. Go to the booth for the train tickets and get a ticket to Dusseldorf Weeze airport’. A bit disappointed and concerned about missing our flight because it’s the only one to Glasgow that day we went to the train ticket countered and told them that we were sold a wrong ticket to the wrong airport. He apologized and told us that it would take 2 ½ hours by train to get to the other airport and that we won’t make it on our flight if we did that. We would have to take a cab to the other airport and that would take us about 45 minutes and about 80 Euros (about $120)!! Not delighted that it would be a really close call getting to the airport in time and that our cheap airline tickets just became a bit more expensive we went downstairs to get a cab.

We communicated to the cab driver as best we could that we needed to go to Dusseldorf Weeze airport (he didn’t speak a word of English) and when we inquired about how much it would cost us to get there he responded by saying he didn’t speak any English. Warning, warning!! But we got in any way as we had no choice. By now we were both livid and trying to figure out how big Dusseldorf was that it had two airports so far away from each other.

When we arrived at the really small airport called Dusseldorf Weeze we found that it cost us 150 Euros (about $225)!! We were not amused to say the least! Next time we fly out of Koeln/Bonn airport and just pay the extra money on the airline tickets and be done with it. **(We later found out that Dusseldorf Weeze airport is on the boarder of Belgium and the Netherlands!! Why Dusseldorf is even in the airport name is beyond me!!)

In the airport we discovered that the only airlines that leaves out of there is Ryan Air and the organization of that airport is atrocious to say the least. The on time airline by the way did not leave ‘on time’ from that airport but honestly I don’t blame the airlines I blame the way the airport is run. But I digress!!

We finally get seated on the plane and we have a nice flight and land at Glasgow’s Prestwick airport with no problems. After going through passport control and getting our Scottish stamp in our passport we meet up with a gentleman named Matt from Glasgow Chiropractic who showed us around the city and showed us one of their practices on the way into town. Then he took us to the apartment where we were going to be staying for the next few days. It is an apartment owned by one of the chiropractors who is trying to rent it. It was furnished and really nice in a really old building on the top of a hill that had wood floors that squeaked and nearly floor to ceiling windows (and the ceilings were about 12 feet high) with great views of Glasgow below.

Kitchen of apartment in Glasgow

Kitchen of apartment in Glasgow

Ceiling and lights in apartment in Glasgow

Ceiling and lights in apartment in Glasgow

Cool Built in Shelves in Glasgow Apartment

Cool Built in Shelves in Glasgow Apartment

One of Two Fireplaces in Apartment

One of Two Fireplaces in Apartment

View of Living Room and Dining Area of Apartment

View of Living Room and Dining Area of Apartment

Bedroom in Apartment

Bedroom in Apartment

After settling in a bit we took Matt’s advice and headed off to have some dinner at a place down the road but first we needed to purchase an umbrella as it was raining quite nicely.

Me, The Rain, And Our New Brolly (It Means 'Umbrella' For All You Non-Anglophiles)

Me, The Rain, And Our New Brolly (It Means 'Umbrella' for all of you Non-Anglophiles)

At the restaurant we ordered a two plates of Fish and Chips and water (we were saving our beer drinking for the pub down the block that was also recommended called Uisce Beatha). While sitting there we noticed that there was an internet café called I-Café across the street and I had heard that it was a nice place to get free internet. All you had to do was purchase something and you could use their wireless internet. We would check that out in the morning.

Our Local Scottish Pub,

Our Local Scottish Pub, Uisce Beatha

After our nice traditional dinner we headed over to Uisce Beatha (don’t ask how to pronounce it because after asking several people in the pub we were still confused…it sounded like Ishcabar but I can’t say really) for a few pints. After only about two minutes we were joined by a regular who introduced himself as Tony and he began chatting with us about where we were from, etcetera.

How To Catch A Haggis

Next another regular named Bob came over and started chatting with us and telling us jokes and just making us laugh. We got on the subject of Haggis and my restraint in wanting to try it and he told us what haggis is.

Bob told us that Haggis is an animal that lives in the Highlands and it has six legs. Three of the legs are long and on the downward slope of the hill and three of the legs are short and on the upward slope of the hill. Because of that the Haggis can not walk up and down the mountain. It can only go around and around the mountain at the same level. Bob said this was key in actually catching them because what you did was once you spotted the six-legged tracks of the Haggis you hid in the bushes with a burlap sack and when the Haggis comes around the mountain you jump in front of it and it runs right into the sack and that, Bob insists, is how you catch the Haggis.

Bob said it was so funny to tell foreigners this because if they have no idea what Haggis is they will sit there wide-eyed and say ‘REALLY!!’ It gives the locals a laugh anyway.

Seriously though Bob stated that Haggis is really mostly oatmeal and spices and only a little bit of the icky bits of meat that we hear about. He said it tastes really good and that he has it regularly and he feels that we probably eat worse things when we have a hamburger at McDonalds. I told him maybe I’d get the nerve up to try a bit before I left.

Bob Tells Us a Story about the Man and the Bull

After his haggis explanation Bob started telling us a joke about a man who had heard of this rare meal that they serve in Spain. The man flies to Spain and goes to this restaurant that he heard was world-renown for serving this meal.

He has heard that this meal of bull testicles are said to boost a man’s libido due to the high testosterone in the bull when it is killed during a bull fight. He is told that once you eat this meal you can go from one brothel to the next all over Spain and never run out of libido. The man thinks ‘I’ll have some of that!’

When he inquires about the special meal he is told that they only serve the freshest ingredients and that the next time they will be serving it is the following Sunday and he will have to come back then. The man says ‘Okay’ and the owners of the restaurant put his name down on the list.

The following Sunday the man goes back to the restaurant and he is seated at a table and brought his meal. It’s a big plate of leafy greens with two small pieces of meat on top. The man eats the meal and enjoys it. When the owners ask him how he enjoyed it the man said ‘It’s was really good but I must admit that the portion of meat was really small’. With that the owners of the restaurant said ‘Yes, well, sometimes the bull wins!’ We had a great chuckle with that one!

After having a local Black and Tan ale and a pint of Guinness (one of my favorites) Bob and Tony told us of a great place to have late night fish and chips and that the regulars all headed there after a few pints. So despite the fact that we had already had fish and chips for dinner Matt and I headed to the shop because…well…we were hungry and it was late. We order a portion of fish and chips with vinegar and salt and headed home to our apartment to enjoy them while looking at the beautiful view of Glasgow University lit up at night.

One of the things that we really thought was interesting in the apartment was a nice deep tub and the choice of lighting in there. You had the option to have regular lights on in there or you could choose option number two which were blue lights in the bathroom. We got a kick out of that and we’re constantly asked by the chiropractors how we liked the blue lights. 🙂

Normal Lights

Bathroom Option Number One: Normal Lights

Blue Lights (You're Jealous Aren't You?)

Bathroom Option Number Two: Blue Lights (You're Jealous, Aren't You?)

DAY TWO

Kelvingrove Park from The Apartment Window

Kelvingrove Park from The Apartment Window

On Thursday we woke up to a beautiful Scottish summer day (grey but not raining) J and walked to the I-Café for breakfast and some internet. We had a nice Scottish breakfast of fried eggs, beans, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, and toast and I had a Café Mocha.

The I-Café is a lovely little place with couches scattered around in intimate little groupings on two levels, the ground floor and then there is a nice little loft area. We opted for the loft area this morning and while listening to the lovely music playing we ate and enjoyed our free internet connection. I blogged while Matt checked his email and surfed the internet.

Me and The Lions

On The Way To I-Cafe: Me and The Lions

Me and Some Really Important Dude!

On The Way To I-Cafe: Me and Some Really Important Dude!

Me On The Bridge

On The Way To I-Cafe: Me On The Bridge

Admiring The View

On The Way To I-Cafe: Admiring The View

At noon we were picked up at the apartment by Matt from the chiropractic company to look at some of the other practices they have in town after we all had lunch at a nice restaurant in town. I had a nice smoked salmon on salad and Matt was daring enough to have the Haggis fritters and something else which I can’t remember. I got the nerve to try a taste of the Haggis and it actually was pretty tasty but I couldn’t justify eating anymore considering that I don’t really eat meat to begin with.

After lunch we looked at two of the main practices in the city center of Glasgow and then chatted with the head guy, Clayton, at the main office.

View From Main Office To Buchannan Street Below

View From Main Office To Buchannan Street Below

That night we had dinner at the I-Café and blogged some more. Then we were off to the pub again for a pint. When we entered we saw our friend Tony and he informed us that now we were regulars because we had come two nights in a row.

View of Street and Kelvingrove Park From The Apartment Window

View of Street and Kelvingrove Park From The Apartment Window

View of A Cute Little Mini Cooper From The Apartment Window

View of A Cute Little Mini Cooper From The Apartment Window

View From The Apartment

View From The Apartment

DAY THREE

Day three started out with another breakfast at I-Café but this time with a Smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich on brown bread and a Café Mocha Flake which is a Café Mocha (coffee) with a Flake candy bar on top. It’s decadent but really tasty. A Flake Bar is a really light, thin chocolate bar that literally melts in your mouth when you bite into it. Really yummy!

When walking back to the apartment through Kelvingrove Park we saw this bird that we’ve never seen before. It was black, white, and blue and they were all over the park. We still don’t really know what kind of bird they are so if any of you that are reading this know what it is please post it for us all to see. 🙂 (My British Informant, a.k.a. Clive, has informed me that these birds are called Magpies and they are very common in the U.K. You see, this isn’t just a blog. It’s an education! 🙂 )

Black, White, and Blue Bird in Kelvingrove Park

Black, White, and Blue Bird (a.k.a. Magpie) in Kelvingrove Park

I did some more work on my blog trying to catch up on last weekend’s Swiss wedding and then we headed out for the day ahead of us.

After dropping off our computers at the apartment Matt and I hailed a cab and went into the city center but when the cab driver turned down the street we needed to go down to get where we wanted to go the traffic was stopped. So he told us if we wanted to get out and walk the last two blocks we were nearly where we needed to be. We thanked him and got out and walked down the block to see what the hold up in traffic was.

It turned out that when we got to the corner the traffic was stopped because a bagpipe and drum band fully decked out in their kilts and all were just marching down the road. It was perfect timing for us and I go this great video footage of it all too. Check it out.

After that we headed to Buchanan Street and St. Vincent Street where we were to meet Matt of the chiropractic company at the head office. We first stopped in a sporting goods store though to pick me up a wind and rain jacket as I was a bit chilled without something of that sort.

At one o’clock we met with Matt at the head office and we all headed to the golf club that they were members at in Loch Lomond. It was beautiful to see and to my surprise the golf course was right next to the Youth Hostel that Clive and I stayed at 12 years ago when I visited the U.K. for the first time. The Youth Hostel is actually a castle and it’s great to stay in. I recommend it to anyone who is passing through Loch Lomond.

At the Loch Lomond golf club we all got comfy and order lunch and drinks. I ordered a salmon and haddock fish cake and a cider called Magners which is an Irish cider and quite tasty. Cider is an alcoholic beverage made of apples. It’s quite tasty and doesn’t really contain a lot of alcohol so it’s nice.

After lunch the guys from the chiropractic practice left Matt and I in the capable hands of one of their girlfriends so they could go play a game of golf. The plan was that we would chat and take a nice walk to Loch Lomond and then when we were ready head back to Glasgow with the girlfriend (I forgot her name and if she reads this I am sorry I forgot your name. please forgive me). She is a lovely woman originally from Australia as are most of them in this organization and we all had a great chat and enjoyed ourselves.

However by the time we decided to take a walk we realized it was late and she had guests coming and needed to get home. On the way out in the car she pointed to the Loch and some other sites that we might have seen had we all not been chatting away. It was a really nice afternoon though.

Field Marshall Earl Roberts Of Kandahar Pretoria and Waterford

Field Marshall Earl Roberts Of Kandahar Pretoria and Waterford

Glasgow Humor

Glasgow Humor

Walking through Kelvingrove Park we found this statue of another apparently really important dude on his horse but when we looked really closely we found a little Glasgow humor. Someone had put a toy dog head on the statue where you could barely see it but, of course, I did. The last time I was in Glasgow about 12 years ago I took a similar picture of another important guy on a horse and he had an orange road cone on his head for a hat! Must be some kind of running theme in Glasgow. 🙂

Back home at the apartment Matt and I headed to our local place the I-Café for dinner and more blogging. By the time we got done there we were tired and headed to bed. No pub for us tonight.

DAY FOUR

Saturday started out with a nice Scottish breakfast again of fried eggs, beans, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes and brown bread and for me a Café Mocchiato and more blogging at the I-Café.

After breakfast we went back to the apartment to shower and get ready for the long day ahead of us. We were to attend a seminar put on by the Glasgow Chiropractic organization at the Radisson Hotel on Argyle Street in the City Center.

Matt & I At the Raddison Glasgow Before The Seminar

Matt & I At the Raddison Glasgow Before The Seminar

The seminar was really good and though not as dynamic a speaker at Tony Robbins the message was similar and very inspiring. We also got a chance to meet more of the chiropractors that work for Glasgow Chiropractic which was nice. They all seem really nice and I later found out that at least half of them all went to see Tony Robbins in London this year together and they loved it.

After the seminar we all had drinks and dinner at a local restaurant and just chatted and got to know each other. Everyone was really nice and excited to hear that I crew for Tony Robbins from time to time. They all wanted me to put in the word that they have a big group that wants to go to UPW in London again if Tony would come back there. They had heard that he wasn’t coming back to London any more and we’re hoping that that wasn’t true. They all loved Tony and the UPW experience!

After that we were driven back to the apartment and Matt and I went to sleep.

DAY FIVE

Sunday morning Matt had to get up early to attend a nine a.m. seminar for just chiropractors so I slept in a bit and enjoy the lounging around time.

View of The Apartment Building

View of The Apartment Building

At around ten a.m. I got dressed and headed down to what I now consider my spot…the I-Café for breakfast, café mocha and my free internet for blogging! J After posting the final day of our Switzerland adventure from last week I headed back to the apartment for a nice shower and to start writing this blog for posting hopefully later this evening.

In the afternoon the sun came out nice and bright and I thought I should take advantage of it. So I headed off to Glasgow City Center. I decided to walk it and found it an easy walk. In the City Center there were Bagpipers on many corners practicing their instruments and making a bit of pocket change.

I found a nice café called the Willow Tea Room and had a nice lunch of Smoked Salmon on Scottish Oat Crackers with a nice salad. Then I decided to be decadent and have a desert of meringue with berries and cream. Then I was off to window shop a bit more.

Around 4:50 p.m. I started my journey back to the apartment and Matt walked in a few minutes after me.

For dinner we headed back to the restaurant we visited on the first night and had a nice fish and chips dinner then we headed to the Scottish pub that we were now regulars at.

Above is a video of Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow that we took just to show you what a beautiful place it is. If you listen closely you can hear a bagpipe that was practicing under a tree just out of our camera shot.

When we arrived at the pub we found three of the chiropractors from the company Matt was seeing at the bar. After saying ‘hello’ one of the chiropractors, Hooman, took my hand and lead me to a room with a closed door. Inside we found a candle lit room surrounded by musicians. One would be chosen to sing a song and the others would join in and then after wards the one that sang would pick someone else in the room to go next. The songs they sang were everything from Scottish folk songs to songs written by the singer to Roger Miller’s ‘King of the Road’ which everyone joined in singing.

It was a great night and one that epitomizes what I think enjoying music should be, a round table of musicians having fun, singing, and enjoying each other’s company and musical expertise. I may have to start one of these groups myself once we get settled somewhere. 🙂

One of the gentlemen playing guitar and singing was my favorite as he was playing finger style mostly and his voice was so smooth and confident and his guitar had such a beautiful sound that I felt I had to have it. When he was putting it away at the end of his night I notice the headstock said ‘Moon’. So, of course, when I got back to the apartment I had to look it up. I found that it is a guitar that is handmade in Glasgow, Scotland and that many famous musicians play one. I have requested that they send me a price list and a catalogue of all their guitars and they said they would do it ASAP. The website is: http://www.moonguitars.co.uk/ for anyone who would like to check them out.

Over all it was a perfect ending to a lovely stay in Glasgow. If it weren’t for the fact that we had to get up early in the morning for our flight to Cork, Ireland I think we would have stayed until all the musicians went home but alas we must go.

Sunset Behind Glasgow University

Sunset Behind Glasgow University

Stay tuned for our adventures in Cork, Ireland next. Until then Matt and I send our love.

Categories: Glasgow, Scotland | Leave a comment

Falling In Love In Switzerland – Day 04: Jurg and Zurich

Interesting Photo of Hot Air Balloon and Jet Passing Each Other From Our Hotel Window In Bern

Interesting Photo of Hot Air Balloon and Jet Passing Each Other From Our Hotel Window In Bern

On Sunday morning Matt and I packed up our stuff, said ‘goodbye’ to our hotel room with the view of the Alps and headed to the train station for an hour ride to Zurich to meet with our friend, Jurg, for a few hours.

We arrived at Zurich Haupbahnhof (German for train station) about an hour and a half before Jurg was to arrive. We stepped outside of the train station to get a look at Zurich and take some pictures. We had our luggage in tow so didn’t really want to go too far from the train station so we stayed around a block or two radius.

Zurich Haupbahnhof (aka The Rail Station)

Zurich Haupbahnhof (aka The Rail Station)

Me In Zurich Across From Rail Station

Me In Zurich Across From Rail Station

Zurich City Street

Zurich City Street

Then after awhile Matt and I decided that we would go back to the train station and have lunch at a placed called Nord Sea which has all kinds of seafood at really reasonable prices and wait eagerly for Jurg’s train to arrive.

Waiting For Jurg At Zurich Haupbahnhof

Waiting For Jurg At Zurich Haupbahnhof

At about 12:30 Matt spotted Jurg’s towering frame in the crowd and ran to find him. We all hugged and kissed and decided to go to the café near by and chat over a cappuccino for a bit.

Jurg and Matt In The Orient?

Jurg and Matt In The Orient?

Together Again

Together Again

Over our drinks Jurg stated that he had found out the names of all the chiropractors in Switzerland and had written up a letter in German with a resume/CV for Matt to send out in order to find out if there were any openings in Switzerland. Jurg had 202 letters and resumes/CV’s that we needed to put together, put in envelopes and mail in the few short hours we all had together. So we finished our drinks and headed to purchase the 200 envelopes that we needed and then set out for the post office which is open on Sundays in Zurich. Pretty cool, ehh.

Jurg and I In The Orient??

Jurg and I In The Orient??

Jurg & I (Who's That Chick Over My Shoulder?)

Jurg & I (Who Is That Chick Over My Shoulder?)

At the post office Jurg showed us his impressive handy work and we set out to put all the packets together. Matt signed the letters, I put the letter together with the resume/CV and folded it neatly in half and Jurg stuffed it all into the envelopes and Matt and Jurg took turns putting stamps on them all. (I wished I would have thought to take pictures of us doing this because it was pretty impressive and let’s face it, it would have been a great picture for a blog!!)

Matt & I In Zurich

Matt & I In Zurich

Several people approached Jurg thinking he worked for the Post Office because we had set up a nice little operation in the back corner of the building. J Near our little letter mailing campaign center there was what I assume was a homeless man who didn’t seem to be all there. He kept muttering things in German and then chuckling to himself and at first it made me a bit nervous mostly because I didn’t know what he was saying but when I looked up Jurg smiled at me and motioned with his head to the guy and said ‘this guy’s funny’ and then I knew it was fine.

Before starting Jurg estimated that it would take us about an hour to do it all and we managed to get it all done in about 45 minutes! What team work!!

Great Picture of Matt & Jurg

Great Picture of Matt & Jurg

The Boys in Zurich

The Boys in Zurich

After our work was successfully completed we headed back towards the train station to look for some photo opportunities and to catch our respective trains. It was a short visit with each other especially since it had been at least two years if not more since we last all met but Matt and I were thrilled to get to spend some time with Jurg and we were really touched that he would do so much work for us without us even asking him to do it. Hopefully one of those letters will net a successful opportunity for Matt in Switzerland and we’ll be able to visit more frequently with Jurg, Simona & Bruno. We love them all dearly and really miss when we are not able to see them regularly.

Little Boat Enjoying The Sunshine

Little Boat Enjoying The Sunshine

A View of Zurich

A View of Zurich

So at 4:02 p.m. Matt and I boarded our five hour train ride to Koeln, Germany enjoying the warm fuzzies that our visit had given us and reflecting on the great times and great friends we have in Switzerland. We look forward to spending time with them all again really soon.

Stay tuned for our report from Glasgow, Scotland next. Until then Matt and I send our love to you all!

Categories: Bern, Zurich | Leave a comment

Falling in Love in Switzerland: Day Three

Falling in Love in Switzerland, Day 03

On Day Three of our visit to Switzerland we were blessed with bright sunshine and most of the day to explore the city of Bern by foot. Simona and Bruno invited us to a BBQ at their house around 4 p.m. so that left the whole day practically to walk, take photos, and enjoy the beautiful summer day.

First of all I need to tell you that Matt and I love Switzerland and in particular Bern. It is the best city by far that we’ve ever been to. I’ve been there four times now and Matt five and every time we find ourselves in awe of how beautiful Switzerland is and how happy the people seem to be.

Beautiful View From Bridge

Beautiful View From Bridge

The first thing you might notice about Bern is that at every corner and statue there is usual reference to bears. The Bern flag has a bear on it and there are statues everywhere of bears. So you might be asking ‘What’s with the bears?’ well, to quote the guide book that I had it says ‘The city’s current emblem, a bear, first appeared in 1224. According to legend it was named after the first animal that the Duke (Duke Berchtold V. von Zahringen, who commissioned the city to be built on a peninsula which would offer natural protection on three sides) caught while hunting as the city was being built’ and since then the bear has been the symbol of Bern. There is also a Bear Pit in Bern with several real bears in residence and you can check them out and watching them playing, eating, etcetera. It’s pretty cool.

Da Bears...

Da Bears...

More Bears...

More Bears...

Me Loving Da Bears

Me Loving Da Bears

Another interesting thing is for those of you who have been to New Bern, North Carolina (I have, I have…) you will notice the same bear is the symbol of that town as well. This is because New Bern, North Carolina is the sister city of Bern, Switzerland! Pretty cool, ehh? Now you have learned something from this blog of mine and I feel my duty is done.

Ogre Eating Children Fountain

Ogre Eating Children Fountain

Now the picture above is one of the hundreds of fountains you will find in Bern alone. Switzerland has fountains galore but this particular fountain I found intriguing. I heard about this fountain through a book I read a few months back and although I have been to Bern at least four times I had never taken notice of this one but after reading that book I had to find it for myself. It turns out it was not hard to find at all. We took the number nine tram from our hotel to the Zyteglogge stop and there it was right in front of us. I find this fountain to be the most intriguing so far because it’s an Ogre who is eating little children. The author of the book I read suggested that it might have been a story that was told to children years ago like ‘if you don’t eat your broccoli or go to bed on time the Ogre will get you’. How brutal! But I have to admit it’s my favorite so far.

Another Swiss Fountain

Another Swiss Fountain

Beautiful Fountain with a Beautiful View in the Background

Beautiful Fountain with a Beautiful View in the Background

Another really interesting thing about these fountains is that you can drink from every one of them. All over Switzerland you will find fountains of all shapes and sizes, some are ornate and others are just spigots flowing with water but all of them provide the cleanest, purest water that you can get. It’s the same water that runs through all the household taps in Switzerland and the source is the same…the Alps. The Swiss pride themselves on having the cleanest drinking water. As you walk through any city it is not uncommon to see people filling their water bottles up in the fountains or splashing their faces to cool off right there in front of you. The mere fact that you can do that absolutely makes my heart flutter with joy! Every city should boost such clean water!

Dam Under Restaurant

Dam Under Restaurant

Matt In Front Of Dam

Matt In Front Of Dam

Every where you go in Bern (or Switzerland for that matter) there is water flowing. All of this water plays an essential role in Switzerland because 50% or more of the energy in Switzerland is gotten from Hydropower. There are dams that are controlled to keep the towns from flooding with water from the melting snow from the Alps and this power is harnessed to power the country with electricity. How green is that??? I love it!!

Watching Over The City

Watching Over The City

Someone's Watching Me

Someone's Watching Me

Another really amazing thing is that in Bern just about anywhere you are if you look up there’s someone, something, somewhere looking down at you. The details on the old buildings are great and they are everywhere.

Roof Top Garden

Roof Top Garden

Now if you want to go from the top of Bern and look down you’ll find the river flowing quite powerfully through the town but another thing you will probably notice is that many of the rooftops have grass and greenery covering the top of the buildings. I don’t know for sure why this is done but my guess would be that it not only offers a nice view for people looking down but it also probably provides insulation to the building as well. I know a lot of buildings lose a lot of energy through the roof tops as heat leaks out in the winter and cool air leaks out in the summer. So I would assume (and you know what they say about assuming??) that it has some sort of energy conservation reason behind it. Another thing about this that I could see being a reason is that the more greenery in a city the more you balance any pollution that is being put out by cars, etcetera. Knowing that the Swiss are incredibly into being ‘green’ and really care about their health I would think that this could possibly be a reason as well.

Playing In The Fountain

Playing In The Fountain

As Matt and I walked around Bern on this nice, warm, sunny summer day we came across the plaza in front of the Bank of Switzerland where there are fountains built in to the ground. Now a few hours earlier there were no signs of these fountains that shoot off randomly in the air and instead there was a farmers market on that very spot but now children and adults alike were in their swimsuits (and some were fully dressed but wet and enjoying the fountains anyway) frolicking around in the fountain trying to guess the randomness of where the next shot of water was coming from. What great fun!!

So Swiss...

So Swiss...

Love Those Flowerboxes...

Love Those Flower Boxes...

Matt and I continued to walk around mumbling ‘Beautiful’ at every turn while taking pictures of everything that caught our eye including the above ‘typical Swiss scenes’.

After roaming around for about four hours we headed back to the hotel room to await Simona who was going to pick us up for the BBQ at her and Bruno’s house.

Playing Chess In The Park

Playing Chess In The Park

Beautiful Church

Beautiful Church

The BBQ….Swiss Style

At the BBQ Matt and I had the best time. I don’t think either of us has laughed so much in a long time. First of all there were people there from the United States (a.k.a. Matt and I), The Czech Republic (Simona’s family and friends), Germany, and Switzerland (Bruno) so there were challenges in communications because the American’s (a.k.a. Matt and I) didn’t know German or Czech or Swiss German (a totally different form of German that is unwritten. It is learned through speaking it even though in school the Swiss learn ‘High’ German which is what they speak in Germany). The Swiss (a.k.a. Bruno) knew German and English but no Czech and among the Czech people half knew English as well and half only spoke Czech!

Sunflowers and Bee

Sunflowers and Bee

Simona had to constantly translate between the German and the Czech and the Czech and the English and the English and the Swiss German and back again. Fortunately for her she had the help of her friend, Pavel, from Czech Republic who helped her translate between English and Czech and back again.

But despite the language differences (and in some instances, because of them) we all laughed and joked and told stories galore and Matt and I couldn’t believe just how much fun we had at that BBQ which just goes to show you that there really is no language barrier. We all laugh at the same types of things and enjoy the company of friendly, intelligent, happy people no matter what the nationality.

Me By The River in Bern

Me By The River in Bern

Pavel and His Bad Karma

One of the things that had us rolling in tears and left our faces hurting was Simona’s friend, Pavel, explaining why he feels his Karma is bad. Pavel explained that the property that he owns in Czech Republic used to be his grandfather’s property and his grandfather used to get upset by the fact that moles used to destroy his property and garden. So his grandfather used to sit there with a garden tool (now known among us all as the ‘Mole Whacking Tool’) and wait for hours for one of those nasty, garden destroying moles to pop up his ugly head and then he would…well, whack the mole.

Now years after his grandfather (now known as the ‘Mole Whacker’) has passed on Pavel said that he feels like the moles are angry at him and that his karma is damaged because of the deeds of his grandfather. Simona suggested that he sit in the field and apologize to the ‘Whacked Mole’s Souls’ and maybe he would get some reprieve and his karma might be cleansed. Pavel said he would give it a go because there’s nothing worse then being haunted by the souls of murdered moles.

Now the story in itself was hysterical but what made it even better were the expressions and the intensity with which Pavel told his sad story and then after he had us all laughing so hard we were crying he would immediately turn around to the Czech speaking people and re-tell the entire story in Czech with the same passion and intensity and expressions that you couldn’t help but laugh so hard your face and sides hurt. It was a really great time and Pavel was really entertaining and fun to listen to.

Simona and I Trying To Avoid The Paparazzi

Simona and I Trying To Avoid The Paparazzi

So Swiss...

So Swiss...

The food at the BBQ was excellent as well. Bruno used his culinary expertise to stir up a chicken and seafood Spanish rice meal made on the grill. How he was able to balance all those little pieces of rice on the wires on the grill is beyond me….oh, okay, actually he had this great frying pan thing that balanced on top of the coals and created the perfect cooking surface. The meal was great and accompanied by home made Sangria made by Bruno himself. Then we followed it up with left over desserts from the wedding the day before. Yummy!!

Farms in Back Of Simona and Bruno's House

Farms in Back Of Simona and Bruno's House

Around ten p.m. Bruno set off some fireworks in the backyard with the Swiss farms in the background and we all headed back to our respective abodes for a good nights’ rest.

Me In Simona and Bruno's Backyard

Me In Simona and Bruno's Backyard

** I don’t have many pictures of the BBQ because although I brought my camera I didn’t take one picture because I was having so much fun I didn’t think about using it. I guess if I am going to do this blogging thing right I am going to have to learn to document the events in pictures a little better. J

Stay tuned for Day 04 of our Swiss adventures which will take us to see our other great friend, Jurg, in Zurich.

Categories: Bern, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Falling In Love In Switzerland – Day Two: The Wedding Day

The Guest Eagerly Awaiting The Ceremony

The Guest Eagerly Awaiting The Ceremony

After being picked up at our hotel by two friends of Bruno’s, the groom, we headed to the location of the wedding ceremony and festivities on Bieler Lake, Switzerland. At approximately two o’clock the ceremony began outside on the back lawn of the Hotel J.J. Rousseau overlooking Bieler Lake underneath a huge weeping willow tree under the watchful eye of Buddha.

**One thing I have to mention here is that although this wedding ceremony was done primarily in German it had to be translated by Simona into English and Czech for all the guests to understand because Bruno and most of the guest were either Swiss or German; several guest such as Matt and I are English speaking; and Simona and her family are from the Czech Republic. Simona did a tremendous job at preparing a handout of the entire ceremony in English and Czech for those of us who didn’t speak German and the rest of the night she translated everything from German into English and then into Czech. She was absolutely incredible! **

The ceremony was overseen by a woman named Elizabeth and in her opening comments she stated that ‘Simona and Bruno have both been married and blessed with loving relationships. They are very grateful to now receive a second chance. They have learned a lot and they have realized how important it is to shoulder the responsibility for one’s own happiness’. I loved how this statement honored their past relationships while laying the ground for the new relationship with each other by stating that happiness was in their own hands. What an empowering and loving statement.

Elizabeth then read the Philosophy of Love by Brandon Bays which Simona and Bruno feel very connected to and asked her to share with everyone.

Philosophy of Love

Love freely! With an open heart and an open hand

You must treat love as if it is a delicate bird,

That comes to delight you by sitting in the palm of your hand.

You cannot close your fist,

For you will smother and kill it with too tight a grasp.

Love demands trust.

You must set your bird free to soar,

And if it doesn’t come back it was never yours.

But if the bird returns to you,

Than you are blessed by it for yet one more day –

For nothing belongs to us, nothing is owned by us.

Love is free to soar on the wings of freedom with no strings attached.

You can’t own love.

You can only bask in it, rest in it, be graced and blessed in it.

We’re in this love and this love is so huge it contains all of life.

Love with an open heart and an open hand without holding and neediness.

No ownership can abide in true love, for love cannot be won, earned, owned or required.

To love is to surrender completely to this moment.

Love simply is.

Simona Telling Bruno What She Admires About Him

Simona Telling Bruno What She Admires About Him

After that Simona and Bruno expressed to each other what they treasured and loved in each other. They expressed things like that fact that they loved and accepted each other unconditionally they way they were; that they respected and listened with an open heart; that they are always there when they need each other; that they have so much fun and make each other laugh; that they are so happy and positive most of the time; that they can be free when they are with each other; that they share dreams and goals for their future; and the one that got laughs was when Bruno stated that he was so grateful that Simona forgives him when he comes home in the evening having used up his 2000 daily words. J and many more things that were just so beautiful.

Bruno Returning The Sentiment

Bruno Returning The Sentiment

We then listened to the song by Deva Premal called ‘Until I was loved by you’ and asked to think of our loved ones and let them know how much we love and appreciate them.

The Loving Couple

The Loving Couple

When it came to the part that couples usually exchange vows to each other Simona and Bruno stated that they didn’t want to promise each other anything but instead they wished to express their deepest prayers and wishes for their journey together. Their wishes went like this:

I Wish To…

  • Walk hand in hand with you without losing my own way.
  • Accept you with all my heart without giving myself up.
  • Bask with you in the ocean of love, without sinking into it.
  • Radiate love and warmth without burning you.
  • Be passionate fire without choking you.
  • Be close to you without holding you too tight.
  • Respect you and your needs without forgetting mine.
  • Take self responsibility and learn to love my weaknesses without projecting them on you.
  • Accept and love you as you are without wanting to change you.
  • Appreciate and be grateful for your love without obligations.
  • Listen and talk openly with you without judging you.
  • Be honest and live in confidence with you without having to think about what I can say.
  • Take time to spend unforgettable moments with you without giving up my family and friends.
  • Give you a lot without expecting anything back.
  • Hold you and wipe your tears without you feeling exposed.
  • Cuddle tenderly and desire your body without making it a habit.
  • Live magical moments with you without taking them for granted.
  • Surprise you and make you laugh without you expecting it.

I really loved this exchange for many reasons the main one being that in life there really are no promises. Life is unpredictable and situations change and promising someone, anyone, something to remain the same for eternity is unrealistic because life is constantly changing. What you can to is promise to give someone respect, love, compassion, and freedom to be who they really are with you and in this way you are setting yourself up for a life with that person full of all those things and more. I thought this exchange was beautiful and definitely one to model should Matt and I take the next step in the future.

In The Center Of The Circle For The Ring Blessing

In The Center Of The Circle For The Ring Blessing

After expressing their deepest prayers and wishes the guests were instructed to make a circle around the Bride and Groom. The women circled the Bride and the men circled the Groom and in that circle we all went around and expressed what they meant to each of us. It was a really emotional circle (at least it was for the women though we all suspect the men just gave each other high fives and moved on J) and it was a really great gift to the Bride and Groom to feel all that love on their special day coming from everyone there.

Bruno Places The Ring On Simona's Finger

Bruno Places The Ring On Simona

Misa Places The Ring On Bruno's Finger

Misa Places The Ring On Bruno

I Do, I Do, Let's Kiss!

I Do, I Do, Let's Kiss

Admiring Their New Spouse

Admiring Their New Spouse

Then the rings were passed around to all the guest to bless by expressing their wishes for the Bride and Groom and then Simona and Bruno exchanged rings and said ‘I Do!’ and the little flower girl showered the couple with flower petals.

The Flower Girl Does An Outstanding Job

The Flower Girl Does An Outstanding Job

Shower of Flowers

Shower of Flowers

Job Well Done

Job Well Done

And the Bride and Groom were wrapped with a flower garland to signify their union.

Wrapped In Flowers and Love

Wrapped In Flowers and Love

The guest were then invited to partake in Champagne and some Aperitifs while listening to some lovely music. After a bit Bruno gave us instructions to grab a helium filled heart shaped balloon in the hall and a piece of paper and write our deepest wishes for ourselves on the paper.

Me and Petra Waiting To Release Our Wishes

Me and Petra Waiting To Release Our Wishes

After a bit everyone had finished and was waiting for further instructions. The Groom then stated that we were going to all release the balloons together so that our intentions were given to the Universe. After a countdown from ten to one (in English too) we all released our intentions in to the breezy, Swiss air.

Get Ready...Get Set...

Get Ready...Get Set...

Go!!

Go!!

Up, Up, And Away

Up, Up, And Away

After more drinks, aperitifs and music we were led to a boat and had a lovely ride on Bieler Lake for about an hour. The rains decided to make an appearance by that time but we didn’t care because they had left the ceremony dry and we were all happy.

Simona Chatting With Her Mom and Dad (Her Sister Is In The Background)

Simona Chatting With Her Mom and Dad (Her Sister Is In The Background)

Petra Enjoying The Boat Ride

Petra Enjoying The Boat Ride

Petra and Matt Catching Up And Enjoying The Ride

Petra and Matt Catching Up And Enjoying The Ride

The rain only lasted a little while and then created a beautiful rainbow to top the whole ceremony off.

Ahhh....Switzerland!!

Ahhh....Switzerland!!

And Matt was a stud as usual…

Studly Against A Blue Swiss Sky

Studly Against A Blue Swiss Sky

Matt and I loved catching up with friends from Florida while enjoying the view from the boat…

Petra Taking Time To Smell The Roses

Petra Taking Time To Smell The Roses

After we returned to shore we were given presents from Bruno and Simona as we were getting off the boat. They were heart shaped Gratitude stones to remind us of all the gifts, love and friendship in our lives and to remind us of how grateful the Bride and Groom were for the loving support and magical moments they spend with us on their special day.

On the shore the Bride threw the bouquet and congratulated the lucky woman who caught it.

Simona Eyes The Crowd

Simona Eyes The Crowd

Simona Congratulates The Next Bride

Simona Congratulates The Next Bride

While the Groom tried desperately to figure out what just happened….

What Just Happened?

What Just Happened?

Nah…just kidding. It was a great photo and I had to use it. J Then the music, food, and dancing began…

And They Danced...

And They Danced...

And Simona’s friend, Pavel, from Czech Republic attempted to levitate a wine glass using only a string, a wine glass, and a lovely merlot…

White Shirt...Red Wine...Piece of String???

White Shirt...Red Wine...Piece of String???

And there were more photos with friends from Florida….

Me and Petra

Me and Petra

And photos of Matt and I….

Matt and I

Matt and I

And more dancing by the happy couple….

And then a few hours later another rainbow appeared outside over the lake as dusk approached. All the guests wanted to know who Simona and Bruno knew that they were able to have not one but two rainbows in one day on their Wedding Day on the lucky date of 08/08/08.

At The End Of The Rainbow There Is Love...

At The End Of The Rainbow There Is Love...

And then it was back to the dining hall for more food and deserts (and oh my God! Are Swiss deserts good!) and, of course, more dancing…

Me and Jackie Getting Down...sort of..

Me and Jackie Getting Down...sort of..

Dancing and Posing For The Paparazzi

Dancing and Posing For The Paparazzi

And then in the wee hours of the morning we all slowly headed back to our hotels and homes to dream about the perfect day we had just witnessed and the two beautiful people that we have the privilege of knowing.

It was a wonderful day full of fun, new friends, old friends, food, music, magic moments, love, gratitude, and laughter. What more could anyone want in a day?

Stay tuned for Day Three…

Categories: Bern, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Falling In Love In Switzerland (Day One)

Falling In Love In Switzerland (Day One)

Thursday Matt and I boarded an ICE train (German high speed train) in Koeln to head towards Bern, Switzerland to attend the wedding of our close friends, Simona and Bruno. We were very excited to finally be on our way there for many, many reasons. One reason being, well, hell it’s a wedding!! Who doesn’t get excited by a wedding?? Especially when it’s a close friend’s wedding AND you get to be with those close friends AND you get to see other close friends in Switzerland AND…well hell….IT’S SWITZERLAND PEOPLE!!

So we cozied into our comfy seats on the ICE train and sat back and enjoyed the smooth, quiet, fast, five hour ride while napping, taking in the beautiful country side views and listening to our I-Pods.

Beautiful Switzerland

Beautiful Switzerland

More Beautiful Switzerland

More Beautiful Switzerland

Upon arrival at the train station my chic flick, frequent coffee shop companion, very close friend AND bride, Simona, was standing at the platform waiting to greet us. After lots of big hugs and kisses that were long overdue for all of us (although we did see each other three weeks ago in Koeln when she surprised me by accompanying Matt to the airport to pick me up when I arrived in Germany but in my opinion you can never get enough hugs and kisses from the people you love) we made a quick stop to pick up some last minute things for the wedding the next day and then headed to the hotel where Matt and I were staying.

Our Hotel in Bern The Ibis Expo

Our Hotel in Bern The Ibis Expo

The Ibis Expo hotel in Bern is really conveniently located at the end of the number 9 tram line that takes you right into the center of Bern in only about five stops (5 minutes maximum). It is a budget hotel but is really clean and has everything you need to enjoy your stay. The quality of the hotel was exceptional in my opinion and the view from our room was of the Alps looking over the National Equestrian Center right behind the hotel.

The View of the Alps From Our Hotel Room

The View of the Alps From Our Hotel Room

Another Great View of the Mountains and the Equestrian Center

Another Great View of the Mountains and the Equestrian Center

After our check in we went to the restaurant next door to have a meal and Simona filled us in on everything we needed to know about how to get around Bern in her absence as she was going to be a bit busy the next few day what with getting married, entertaining friends and family and shuttling people back and forth to and from the airports, train stations, etcetera. After instruction us on by whom and where we were going to be picked up the following afternoon for the big event Simona headed out to await her family’s arrival.

Road Weary But Happy To Be In Bern Again!

Road Weary But Happy To Be In Bern Again!

Matt and I lounged in the restaurant for awhile afterwards finishing our meal and trying to decide what we would like to do next. It was raining out and we were really tired but we decided that we would take a little nap upstairs and then head to the city center for a little bit to see what was happening there.

View From Hotel Restaurant

View From Hotel Restaurant

Matt Relaxing After a Big Meal

Matt Relaxing After a Big Meal

Bern center was bustling due to a Busker Festival that was happening for the next few days so there were musicians of all types on the streets singing and playing their hearts out for the eager crowds. People were having dinner in the outside cafes under umbrellas and enjoying themselves despite the rain that was coming down quite steadily. Matt and I kept putting the intention out in the universe for a dry day the following day so it would not challenge the outdoor ceremony and festivities to come on Simona and Bruno’s big day.

Because of the rain neither Matt nor I wanted to take out our cameras to take pictures so we just scouted out things that we would come back to on Saturday for photos. After about an hour we decided to return to our room in order to get a good night’s rest for the long day ahead of us.

Beautiful Sunset Over The Alps

Beautiful Sunset Over The Alps

When we returned to our room we took a few more pictures from our hotel window of the view including a great photo of the sunset reflecting on the snow peaked Alps. What a beautiful country!!

Another Great View From Our Hotel Window

Another Great View From Our Hotel Window

Stay tuned for Day Two of ‘Falling In Love In Switzerland’

Another View

Another View

Bern, Switzerland

Bern, Switzerland

Bern, Switzerland From Our Room

Bern, Switzerland From Our Room

Categories: Bern, Germany, Koeln/Cologne, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Eindhoven/Venlo, The Neatherlands

Sunday Matt and I decided to take a ride with Allen to the Netherlands. Allen was going to Amsterdam to see a chiropractor there about an opportunity and Matt had been invited to Eindhoven by another chiropractor to check out an opportunity there. It was an opportunity to see the Netherlands so we said ‘Let’s Go!’

We arrived in Eindhoven and met with the chiropractor there who was less than impressive. After an hour with him we left to head to the train station to return back to Koeln. On the way we met a woman at the bus station who was really nice and helpful and told us the bus would take us directly to the train station no problem.

We asked her about Eindhoven and she said that there really isn’t much that happens there and it isn’t really the prettiest of The Netherlands Cities. We had to agree. Matt and I found that our impression of the Netherlands based on this visit was that it was very gray (not just the weather but the houses were all one color which was…well…gray!). We found it to be very depressing even though it was a sunny day.

We chatted with several people there in our hour and a half stay and the one thing we have to say about the people of the Netherlands is that everyone was really friendly and helpful and smiling. It was really refreshing.

We grabbed a Snickers and a KitKat bar and jumped on our train back to Koeln. We didn’t take any pictures of our stay in Eindhoven because we really didn’t see anything that we felt was inspiring to us.

Upon returning to Koeln and after Allen returned from Amsterdam he told us that Amsterdam and several other cities in The Netherlands were really nice and not to write off the whole country because of our experience. So Matt and I promised that we would visit Amsterdam to give it another try.

Until next time Matt and I send our love to you all! 🙂

Categories: Eindhoven, Venlo | 2 Comments

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