Category Archives: travel

London, Part 2

Continuing our visit to London, we left Windsor and went to Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew and walked the beautiful grounds.

After a break at the hotel, we took advantage of the beautiful weather and strolled Kensington Gardens & Hyde Park.

The next morning we had breakfast across from Embassy Row in Kensington Gardens, then took the Kensington Palace tour. Following this, we made our way to Westminster Pier to catch a river cruise on Thames, which wound its way past The Eye, Globe Theater, the Tower Bridge, and on to Greenwich.

With the great weather, Greenwich Park was full of people playing and relaxing in the grass. We made our way up the hill and took our turns straddling the Prime Meridian and then walking through the Flamsteed House. While there I make my second observatory visit on this trip (first being The Round Tower in Copenhagen), and see the Great Equatorial Telescope at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.


the business end of the 38″ Great Equatorial Telescope in Greenwich

Continue reading

Advertisements

London, Part 1

The last stop on our visit to Europe was London. The flight from Copenhagen was fine, except for our checked bag which decided to take an extra ½ day to get there. We weren’t worried about it, but the umbrella inside it would have been nice to have on the one day of drizzle in our entire time in London!

Our hotel was across from Hyde Park, between Paddington Station and Notting Hill, not far from Kensington Gardens. It took us a bit to find our way to the Underground (“Mind the gap!”) from the Paddington Express from Heathrow, but we found the Underground very manageable, particularly with our reloadable Oyster Cards. After getting situated in our hotel room, we walked a bit and then had a quiet Italian meal at De Amicis.

On our rainy day, we made our way over to the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square, followed by the British Museum. We had a great lunch at the Museum Tavern (a “proper” pub), then wrapped up the day walking around Buckingham Palace grounds and St. James Park.


the Museum Tavern, our table at the end of the bar


Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace

Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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

Continue reading

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.