Category Archives: travel

Wonderful Copenhagen

I couldn’t help but reference the classic musical number that we used to sing in grade school; now we saw what all the fuss was about.

Our train left Sweden and crossed into Copenhagen before lunch. We exited the train station right across the street from Tivoli Park, and after picking up our Copenhagen Card, we made our way over to our hotel near the water on Sankt Annæ Plads.

We picked up some ready-to-go food from a shop and had a picnic on a bench in King’s Garden, then admired the wide array of paintings on display in the National Gallery of Denmark.

We took the round about route to our hotel, swinging by the Little Mermaid statue (of course), and also happening upon the Sakura Festival (Japanese cherry blossoms) right nearby, where all the Yoshino Cherry trees were in full bloom — not all that much later than the tree in front of our house back home.


the little mermaid

More than one of my family told me that I should contact Hartwig and Barbara before our trip and let them know we would be in Copenhagen (Hartwig is an older brother of an exchange student from Germany who stayed with my family about the time I left for my first job out of college). He and his wife replied that they would love to invite us over for dinner, so we caught our breath back at the hotel until the time he would pick us up and drive us to their nice home just to the north. They served a wonderful meal, and we spent hours visiting, until we pointed out that it was getting late and tomorrow was a work day — not for us! They were excellent ambassadors for their country, and we were glad we could meet them.
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Sweden, Part 2: Family!

As we got to the west side of Trelleborg and drove to the golf course clubhouse, waiting inside to meet us were nine cousins and spouses, plus two more who joined us later!


family!

Mo and I were pleasantly surprised (and a bit overwhelmed) and I think Kerstin was as well. Our cousin Ulf had apparently spread the word; in addition to the great turnout, the golf course even had the US flag flying out front for us alongside the Swedish flag! We got acquainted over a pleasant buffet meal and worked on learning everyone’s names.
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Sweden, Part 1: Skåne

First destination on our European trip was to the home of my ancestors, southern Sweden. To get there, we picked up Scandinavian Airlines in Newark, NJ on our way to Copenhagen. By far, the biggest hurdle to our trip was the transatlantic flights. While the food was good and there were plenty of entertainment options, the optimum goal is to get sleep on the way there, and that really wasn’t happening much.

It was great to see familiar faces at the airport, with cousin Kerstin and Lennart picking us up and taking us across the border and on to their lake home near Hässleholm, Sweden. They had a very nice guest suite built above their garage that was our home base while there. While we tried to adapt to the new timezone, we took a little day trip to see some local sights. We first saw their wonderful decorative old Church of Mary in Brönnestad, then had an enjoyable time with Kerstin’s mother Hulda (with coffee and some delightful sweets). Following our visit, our first stop was Trollenäs Slott (“slott” being Swedish for “castle”, one of the words I learned), and the second, Hovdala Slott, was aborted due to rain turning to light hail — this was our only interruption to pleasantly cool weather while we were there. As it was we needed a nap and time to visit more anyway. And our big surprise was tomorrow.


Trollenäs Slott

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International Traveler

Five years ago, we were pleased to host my cousin Kerstin’s family from Sweden for a few days.  Since then, they have been (rightly) asking when we would reciprocate and visit them.  This year, Mo and I decided the time was right, and we began our planning.

At the time we contacted Kerstin, we had been planning on flying in to Stockholm, but she recommended we instead fly to Copenhagen, which is much closer to them — only about an hour away.  Given that, we decided to schedule in a couple days to spend in Copenhagen as well.  And lastly, Mo wanted to return to London, which she had been to many years ago.  This was my first trip to Europe, so it all sounded great to me.  We even made a reservation for Mo’s birthday meal when we would be in London.

We got each other large travel backpacks, and with these and a small suitcase we were hoping to travel as light as possible.  We also found a good international power adapter.  Mo had researched our trip fairly well, and we knew ahead of time what discount passes to pick up and had a strong list of sights to try to see.  I also made sure to load up a flash drive with a slew of family tree info and photos to bring along.

Prior to leaving, I had more than one in my family tell me to contact Hartwig and his wife Barbara in Copenhagen and try to visit with them while there.  In addition, I realized I had a college buddy living in London, and worked at possibly getting together with him while we were there, too.  You know it’s becoming a smaller world when you know of someone in each foreign country!

On April 25th, we left for Europe by way of a SAS connection in Newark.  Next:  Sweden

Island Life

Wanting to take a small break from the winter, Mo and I returned to our favorite sunny getaway — Ft. Myers, FL, and specifically Sanibel Island. We’d visited Sanibel (and Captiva) several times on our trips to Florida, but this was our first time staying on the Island proper. We spent four nights on Sanibel, staying at the West Wind Inn.

We visited with many interesting folks around the pool, several who have come back year after year for over twenty years. The shells were there, but seemed to be a couple yards out from shore whenever we walked the beach, and no jellyfish visible anywhere this time around. Temperatures were between 50s and 70s with no rain, so we couldn’t have asked for more in that regard. Our first two evenings we dined with Sandy, my recently retired boss of twenty years, and her husband Rich, who I also worked with. Retirement seems to agree with them (and why wouldn’t it??)


first sunset on Sanibel

With the weather so nice, besides spending time on the beach and poolside, we took several excursions to the various hiking trails on the island. We enjoyed a nice morning walk along Sanibel River in the SCCF Nature Center‘s collection of trails, seeing a few waterfowl, turtles, and fish, but generally just soaking up the peaceful walk. One highlight was a bald eagle taking off parallel with us about 15 yards out in the clearing alongside the path — the sound of its wings was impressive.

Our second hike was at Ding Darling Bailey Tract, which was more exposed than the Nature Center’s trails but included a lot of open water, which lead to more sightings of waterfowl (and gators). We saw several of the larger bird varieties here: Wood Storks, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, and their lesser brethren like Common Gallinule, Blue Heron, and American White Ibis.

We later returned to both locations to hike other trails that we hadn’t gotten to the previous time. We learned that the first hikers on the trail in the morning have the responsibility of clearing any spider webs :/


Great Blue Heron drying itself at Bailey Tract

On our return to the airport, Mo allowed me a few minutes to wander around Hammond Stadium and “breathe in a little MN Twins baseball” while there, since she inexplicably scheduled this vacation before spring training began. There were a handful of people at the ticket office, and groundskeepers doing their thing. I wandered into the team store by the front entrance and had a nice visit with the employee there…and grabbed a handful of pocket schedules.


Hammond Stadium, home of the Minnesota Twins Spring Training

Not sure when we return to Ft. Myers, but it’s always a good time there.

South By Southwest

Due to my unforeseen “clerical error”, last month I realized that I would come up one leg short of the requirements for qualifying for Southwest’s A-List for the next year. This left just over one month (and a busy one) to try schedule a quick flight, and hopefully an inexpensive one.

Having A-List status is a real boon for our vacation trips, as it allows me to board earlier and store overhead bags as well as save a neighboring seat for Mo. Besides that bonus miles, it also avoids the hassle of logging in 24-hrs in advance to reserve a line position. Unfortunately, our vacation trips this year had been purchased using frequent flier points, which is why I came up short in the first place.

SWA had a brief sale going on, and the cheapest flight I was able to identify at the least inconvenient time was a roundtrip flight Saturday Dec. 2nd from here to Wichita, KS, returning by way of…Las Vegas?!

The morning of the flight, I pocketed a free parking coupon to use at the airport, a free drink coupon for on the plane, and filled with Christmas cards, Christmas newsletter, Christmas stamps, and return address stamps — I was resolved to use this forced exile as a time to get all my holiday cards written and mailed.

Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport in Wichita is a nice, quiet little airport — it made for a peaceful locale for lunch, and a counterpoint to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

I enjoyed quite a few excellent vistas with the deserts of southern US passing by my window.


Utah/Arizona border near Tower Butte and Antelope Island

After the turnaround in Vegas, I returned home in the evening with all my Christmas cards completed, along the way probably picking up the cold that I’m only now getting rid of. :/ An A-List cold, though.

A Bit Of The Mid Atlantic States

When the “save the date” arrived for Greg & Tiffany’s wedding, Mo and I sat down and worked out a vacation trip around it in which we could leisurely visit several locations for the first time.

Our trip started on the end of September with Niagara Falls. We could easily see the mist drifting up from Horseshoe Falls in the distance as we landed in Buffalo. Mo had our first stop though for lunch at Sophia’s Restaurant, a Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives-featured restaurant in Buffalo.

After getting settled into our hotel, we walked over to Niagara Falls State Park and made our way over to the American Falls. As we got closer, we could see the Niagara River picking up speed around Goat Island. It was a real eye-opener as we reached the US side of the river and saw what all the rush was about.


Mo poses with American Falls

While the view was outstanding, it was pretty obvious why everyone says to see the falls from the Canadian side — the American side is closer (you’re right on top of American Falls!) but the other side of the river gives a better panorama of all the falls.

After a leisurely stroll across from the falls, we drove further into Canada to the southern shore of Lake Ontario, where we had a nice lunch at Lake House Restaurant overlooking the lake, with the tall buildings of Toronto visible across the lake at the horizon. We then travelled south into Twenty Valley and bought some homemade fudge, and sampled wines from Cave Spring Winery.


American Falls and Horseshoe Falls from the Canadian side

Leaving Niagara Falls, we took the NY Thruway to Syracuse and then northward to Lake Placid. The trees were changing, and there were lots of burgundy and deep orange and red colors, but not so much yellows — maybe we were spoiled by the Aspens of Colorado.

We were also spoiled by the lower elevations compared to Colorado. We hiked several trails while in the Adirondacks, but the most taxing was the 1/5th mile climb from the parking lot to the top of the Whiteface Mountain — a combination of stairs and large rocks. The temps at the top were just a bit above freezing, but the view was outstanding, with Lake Champlain visible to the east and the skyline of Burlington, VT and Montreal visible at the horizon.


Lake Placid from the top of Whiteface Mountain

Just two hours away is Fair Haven, VT, home to several of Mo’s immigrant ancestors. This was a great excuse to visit Vermont for the first time for both of us. We had a chance to hang with the locals as we lunched at The Wooden Soldier, then made our way over to St. Mary’s cemetery, where after a little searching we found the grave markers of Edmund and Mary Pinders, James and Catherine Morgan, and Patrick and Ellen Sloan, who are Mo’s g-g-g-grandparents, g-g-grandparents, and g-g-grandparents, respectively, all originally from Ireland.


Edmund and Mary Pinders’ grave marker

On our route back to Lake Placid we passed Fort Ticonderoga, and we stopped at Swedish Hill Winery, where we made my life more difficult by picking up two more bottles to pack for the flight home (plus a wine glass).

Following our stay at Lake Placid, we spent one night in Lancaster, PA, and the next morning on our way to pick up K at the Philadelphia airport we had a pleasant drive on roads shared with several Amish horse buggies.

This was the first time in Delaware for all three of us, and the wedding and reception at Thousand Acre Farm were beautiful. We enjoyed catching up with the Morgans and with others we’d met a few years back, and our time with them went by much too fast.


the wedding couple with some additional Morgans and tagalongs

(btw, the three wine bottles arrived home unscathed)