Monday, June 24, 2013

It's London Baby!

We're in London now, baby!  Back at a station called King's Cross...  let's all sing the Pet Shop Boys now!

I really loved London!  It was everything I ever thought it would be!

Don't I look happy with my Phoebes?

I do love a man in uniform!

The Prime Minister wasn't taking my calls

And yes, the bell is called Big Ben and not the tower, but let's go with it OK?

The London Eye was fabulous, sorry Marcia, no grey skies this day!

And this is not the London Bridge as some think but the Tower Bridge.  And it was fabulous!  Grey skies came in, Marcia!

Let's have a pint and some fish & chips

Sir Thomas More is one of my favorite saints.  Here's his name at a memorial for martyrs.

The streets were extremely clean, so I had to take this photo

Cab anyone?

Had to find a red phone booth!

And just as red are the royal mail post boxes

Architecture everywhere was amazing!!!  The second photo of Westminster Abbey is the background for my iPad right now.

Considering we just came from South Africa, this seemed appropriate.  I'm so sorry to hear he is extremely unwell.  Very amazing man.   

View from the Eye.  It was a grey sky day.

Window shopping on Bond Street.  Thankfully, it was closed.  I didn't need any shoe-venirs.

Had to go to Borough Market on a Saturday morning before we had to go to the airport to go home.

A carb lovers paradise!

Bridget Jones did not come out of her flat.  Maybe she was lucky and moved out to marry Mark Darcy....

Two of my favorite moments with Phoebe - first dancing with the guy outside the one souvenir shop.

The next was almost immediately following with some guys that were acting like they were statues.  She gave them a pound or two (I think? Can't remember).  This is what ensued....

The trip was so lovely, but it also feels so long ago.  So much has happened still since we've returned and I need to update you on so much.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Moving on to the Paris Part of Trip

We flew out of Johannesburg for London and took the Eurostar train to Paris.  It was a beautiful way to see the Paris countryside on our way to the huge city.  On the train, we were provided with a delicious lunch that has given us lots of ideas for future dishes to make and wine, of course!  I don't think a day went by that I didn't have at least one glass of wine!  It was everywhere!

We will definitely learn more French before we attempt to go back to Paris or anywhere else in France. We took the subway to get from the train station to our hotel instead of taking a taxi.  We had to change trains two times, but had no problems.  It was very interesting taking the subway in an unfamiliar city in another language.

Everything was so beautiful!  The language, the buildings, the food!  We had an amazing time.  The streets are very hard to navigate in Paris though.  Very windy-twisty as I would call them.  There was no grid-pattern to the streets I am used to like in Philadelphia or most of Manhattan.  I don't think any of the streets ever ran parallel to another, LOL.

The other interesting piece of the trip was the first night we were there, there were riots on the Champs Elysees.  The Paris Saint-Germain soccer club won their first championship in 19 years and they started a parade for the team, but cut it short due to fan craziness and then the fans got even crazier.  We stayed away from the Champs Elysees that first night, except for one part at the end of the evening we needed to be on part of it to get back to our hotel.  We saw a small white car do a 180-degree spin on the street.  Then they turned back around and kept going.  Immediately, a police car was chasing them. Interesting times!  That night we did go to a restaurant where they knew very little English at all and we sat next to a table of eight Americans who were trying to get away from the rioting area of the city.  It was very cool, sitting there, googling French words from the TV on at the restaurant to find out that 30 people were injured and 21 arrested, and talking to these other Americans about where they were from.

Here's some of the cool pics!

Taking the train to Paris from London St. Pancras International train station.  I also kept singing "King's Cross" from the Pet Shop Boys in my head after being at that station.

Here is the view of the train station in London before we left

Lunch on the train:  cold stuffed pork, couscous salad with mango and nuts, roasted eggplant and peppers and wine!!!

France countryside from train view

Flares going off one of the bridges over the river from the riots

Going to see the Eiffel Tower - taken by Phoebe

Phoebe's turn

Daytime view of the Eiffel Tower

I fell in love with this dress.  I didn't get it though.  Need to look it up and see how much it is!

The architecture was amazing!

We went to the Rodin Museum - we have one in Philly too that is excellent!  Wanted to compare.  Especially since the Louvre was closed the day we had (Tuesday) free to go to museums.

Here was the back of the house at the Rodin Museum.  They were getting ready for an event.  I'm sure it was an amazing event!

Flowers from the garden there

Here was the front of the house

Phoebe eating a pastry and hot chocolate at at coffee shop

We went out for a nice dinner that night.  Here we are all dressed up in our finest!

And the next day, we took the train back to London.  Here's the train station in Paris.

Next up, the London leg of the trip!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Trip to South Africa

I'm finally getting a little bit of time this Father's Day to reflect on the trip to South Africa.  It really was amazing!  My favorite part of the trip was seeing my dear friend, Marcia, and her family.  They are such lovely people and we spent a beautiful day at the Lion and Rhino Nature Reserve checking out the animals and had a Mother's Day lunch.  Malva pudding has become one of my favorite desserts, right behind creme brûlée.  And Marcia is so right that it tastes best with the creme on top warm.  I think I ate malva pudding at every place that served it.  Kind of like my love for fish and chips.  I usually love to try it everywhere it is on the menu and mentally compare where I think it is the best.  I think Phoebe was really missing her brothers that day.  She was playing a lot with their twins, having races and showing them different things.  She is really good with kids, but then again she may not look like it, but she still is a kid, LOL.

My second favorite thing about South Africa was Table Mountain.  The views are truly breathtaking there.  It was a shame I was there with my school class walking around by myself and that Tom and Phoebe were not with me.  I did send them there the next day when I was doing the last day of school things.  That was the day of drama I mentioned before.  Turns out everyone has started forming teams for the fall term when we have to work on a final project that will be due in May.  I found out that morning that people were forming teams and that no one had talked to me about it, which kind of left me feeling like the last person picked in gym class.  My feelings were extremely hurt.  I'm afraid to ask why I was not approached to help make up a team, but I think it's because not too many people know me well.  I'm usually too busy trying to balance the kids, work and school.  I think my team for the summer semester is liking me, I'm really pushing myself to do well and be more outspoken.  I was not a big fan of the team I had last term, as the only person I don't like in the class of 30 people was on that team.  He's much more impatient with getting moving on things, when I like to sit back and think a bit before diving in.

After this post, I have a lot to say about the rest of the trip to Paris and London with Tom and Phoebe.  We had so much fun!  On to the South Africa pictures!  First Joburg with Marcia driving me from the other side of the car!

The lions about to eat

Malva pudding! Yum!!!

Beautiful Marcia with her sweet boy on Mother's Day!

Phoebe watching the hippo

These two look cozy!

This giraffe did like Phoebe's hair.  Thought it was a snack!

New friends!

I was so happy to see Marcia and her family that day!!!  Can you see how tired I was from the trip though???

Our handsome men!  Hope they are both having a great Father's Day today!

More love for the Mommy!

Me and most of my crew on Mother's Day!

We had exhausted the kids at that point!  Hope they slept well that night....

Views from Table Mountain

These are from when Tom took Phoebe to Table Mountain.  Cool pic of Phoebe, eh?

Here's a view of the Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. 

I have so much blog posting to catch up on!  I have posts about Paris and London, coming back to school for me, things going on with the kids, the foods I've been cooking lately (the kitchen is where I get my crafty on!) and just enjoying the summer.