Monday, August 14, 2006

Whirlwind day in Paris

We parked at Euro Disney and rode the RER (train) into Paris. Amanda and Lori were trying to figure out which stop we all needed to get off at. We can definetly recommend parking your car purchasing an all day pass and taking the trains (RER and Metro) to get around the city. Our first stop was the Louvre. It was really surreal to come up out of the dark, dank underground train station to smack dab in the middle of centuries old buildings. The first "building" picture is the entrance corridor that leads to the Louvre. The pthers are of the buildings we were greated with when we emerged from the underground transportation system.

The Louvre part deux

This is the famous glass pyramid in front of the Louvre.

The buildings that make up the courtyard and compound of buildings that make up the Louvre.

Pictures of different statues inside the Louvre.

The work room at the museum.

Brandon did a nose dive (took a nap) at the little cafe we stopped at outside of the Notre Dame cathedral to get a drink and use the restroom. We had the sterotypical snooty French waiter.

After we woke Brandon up from his little nap we had him take our picture at the little cafe. If you look closely you can see Brandon's reflection in the window glass.

Napoleon's arc

This is the Arc de Triomphe. It was commisioned by Napoleol and built in 1806. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is underneath the arc and represents the one million and five hundred thousand men that died during WWI. The picture of the tunnel is how you get from the side of the street where we took the photo with the red bus in it to underneath the arc.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Eiffel tower, mini cars and buildings

Pictures of the Eiffel tower.

Glen and Brandon LOVE mini's and smart cars and they were in great abundance everywhere that we went in both Germany and France. The little black mini was parked in front of a cafe near the tower. We aren't sure who it belonged to but we were very glad that it was there to look at. The same goes for the little smart car.

Over by the Notre Dame cathedral we took pictures of the buildings that are right on the Seine River. The funny thing was that a lot of the buildings are not square, they appear to be leaning and they are built one right on top of the other. We saw quite a few roof top gardens. Lori would have loved to have been able to go see them but we were in a hurry and I'm sure that they were privately owned.

Notre Dame, narrow streets, and sleept train passengers

These are pictures of the Notre Dame cathedral. We were able to walk throught the cathedral for free and look at the stained glass and amazing architecture and stone work. The figures carved into the front and around the outside of the perimeter are VERY detailed. The one figure on the left in the picture of the four stone figures standing together is standing on what appears to be a king. We aren't sure what that's all about but I'm sure that is significant to the period.

Below are the pictures that we took of the extremly narrow streets that are located near the cathedral. Some of them have shops further down in the alley. The one with the scooter shows just how narrow some of the streets are.

On the way home on the RER (the train system we rode from Disneyland Paris into the city and back) everyone was tired. Brandon and Amanda fell asleep and only woke up when the train jerked to a stop.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Headline News - Boo gets sick, sees German Dr.

Brandon started feeling sick the first day we were here. We had hoped it was just jet lag or climate change but by day two he was not feeling well at all, so Lorieann found a German Dr. that was located in the little village we are staying in and could see him that morning. The people at the medical office were very nice and lucky for us, they were able to speak English very well. They wrote us a prescription for some antibiotics that we could pick up next door at the pharmacy. At the pharmacy they told us that they didn,t have the antibiotics there but could order it and it would be there by 3:00. Lori and Lorieann went back to the pharmicy at 3:00 and were told that it was accidentally taken to another pharmacy but they could get it back to their pharmacy by 6:00 that evening so Lorieann and I went back at 6:00 and it was there. It was a good thing that we took him to the Dr. because that night when Lori took his temp. it was 103.9 so we gave him some Tylenol and had him take a warm shower which helped bring it down to 98.7 but he still felt pretty rough today so we let him sleep for most of the day. Below is a picture of Brandon on the exam table in the Dr.s office and Lori sitting beside him. Brandon didn,t feel much like smiling.

We went to Kaiserlautern today to run errands with Stephen, Lorieann and Joshua and saw this really neat building (pictured below). We also saw a fort that was just sitting smack dab in the middle of a bustling city.

If you look in the upper middle of the picture you can see the skyscraper which was located less than a block behind the fort that was built several centuries ago. It's strange to see the old and new so close together.

50 CENTS for a potty breack. By the fort was this public restroom that you pay 50 Euro cents for. The doors at the front open up like an elevator and the bathroom is just on the other side of the doors. Once the doors close you have like 20 minutes to ....uhm.. take care of business, if you know what I mean. There is music playing the whole time and when your done all of the handwashing, water, soap, and dryer are activated by sensors that turn them on when it senses your hand under the appropriate appliance. So you don't have to touch anything. It was also very clean, as is almost everything we have seen so far.

We also walked down a shopping area that doesn't allow vehicles, only pedestrians. There were shops on both sides and it was fairly crowded but interesting none the less with all the new little shops mixed in with street vendors and fruit stands. We had a lady approach us and say some not so nice things about the military to us, I guess because she heard us speaking English to each other. Guess you can't please everyone but she was rather rude and cursed several times. The incident really stood out because our interaction with the German people so far has been very welcoming and warm. They really are amazingly nice people and we refuse to let one person ruin our perception of an entire countries population. I just hope that people of other nationalities that visit/reside in the U.S. can do the same.

The rest of the day was spent running errands and visiting a German toy store and grocery. We had Bratwurst and some little pork steaks on hard rolls that were amazing. We also gorged ourselves on some plum tarts and a type of filled cake that they called beesting. (I know that's probably not how you spell it). Branson seems to be feeling a little better, which is a good thing since we are going to spend the day in Paris tomorrow.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

1565 Castle Burg Nanstein in der Sickingenstadt Landstuhi

We had our first German adventure yesterday. My sister, her husband and all the kids went to the castle near their house. The earliest date that we saw on the actual castle itself was 1565. The photo on the bottom of the page shows the town, Landstuhl, below the castle. The castle sits up on a hill apparently for defense purposes.

The picture to the left is of a fountain that is located near the front inside of the castle walls. People have been throwing euros into it so of course the kids were all trying to figure out exactly how they could boost each other up into the fountain to hit the jackpot. Of course this was nipped in the bud quickly.

The picture below and to the left is just inside the tourist entrance on what we assume is the back of the castle. The block layers building the castle were probably glad to see all of the existing stone that they could just build around instead of having to bild it all up with blocks. The picture of the cavern is underneath the castle. We had the kids stand in the middle to give some perspective to just how big it was. There were holes at the top of the cavern that were either for ventilation or "pooping" according to which kid you asked.

To the left is a picture of what the kids were guessing/hoping was the "torture chamber". In the picture are from left to right Stephen, Amanda, Lorieann, and Glen. It was really dark in there but luckily the flash on the camera made it look like daylight. The picture below is of the back side of the castle were you go in to pay your entrance fees to the grounds. There is also a little open air cafe sitting to the right of this that we didn't take a picture of.

The archway that Glen, Brandon and Lori are standing under has a keystone that has the date 1565 carved into it. What was funny is that before Stephen took the picture of us he had to move several bright blue trash bags from behind us to keep them out of the picture since they didn't look like they belonged in a castle at all.