London. So big. So little time. We mainly came to London to meet up with my high school buddy, Brett, and his family. It’s been a lot of years but the giggles are all the same!
We took the kids to see the London Bridge. Of course the song was sung and aptly videotaped.
London bridge
After that we took the tube over to the London Eye, the world’s largest ferris wheel.
London eye
We figured this was the best way to see as much of London as possible. The views were great and it was nice and cozy in the sun-basked pod.
London skyline
We ended our visit with a fine Indian meal. It was so great to see Brett and meet Ali and Danielle. We thank them so much for making the trip down for the day to see us as well!

La Belle Paris


Our stay in Paris started with a trip to the Canadian embassy, which all worked out just fine. After that we went over to see the world famous Louvre museum.
Le Pyramide
A bit of trivia, there are 35,000 pieces of art in there. If you spent one minute in front of each piece, it would take you 4 months to see it all. Needless to say we saw a fraction of it, but it was impressive none-the-less.
I loved the sculputres:
The rest of the family was quite enamoured with the Ancient Egyptian displays. This stone tablet is very, very, very old.
There were a lot of nice sacophagus’ and even a real mummy. I think that was the girl’s favourite.
The next day we went up the Eiffel tower. A note of advice to any future-goers: It is cold and very windy up there in the winter. Even if it’s kind of nice lower down. Our stay at the top was brief but a nice view anyways.
Top of the tower
A different kind of perspective:
Eiffel tower
Family at the Eiffel tower
We took a boat trip along the Seine. The architecture is beautiful:
Paris architecture
And beautiful near-sunset views:
Paris skyline
The next day I went to pick up our passports and had a leisurely baguette while sitting on the Champs-Elysees. After that I strolled along the Seine on my way to the Musee d’Orsay. Tellement francais! The museum was beautiful and houses many famous impressionist works of art by some of my favourite painters; Van Gogh, Matisse, Monet, Gaugin, Degas, Seurat, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Rodin, amongst others. Simon hopes that I am inspired to create masterpieces of my own! We shall see…



After Cannes we took the train across the bottom of France, southwest towards Toulouse. A little farther south is the city of Tarbes, where Simon’s Australian cousin and his family live. Our first day was the epitomy of a beautiful spring day in France. We enjoyed a lovely midday meal outside with James, Caroline, Alais and little Julien.
Afterwards we enjoyed a walk to the park, the little cousins are having a great time together:



While we were in the French Riviera we took a short train ride to the principality of Monaco. We took a tour bus ride to see the sights, as it’s not very big at all.
We also took a boat ride across the harbour inbetween the old city and Monte Carlo:
Monaco harbour
Here is the castle entrance where Prince Albert II still lives:
Monaco castle
The Grand Casino in Monte Carlo:
But, for it’s size, the degree of opulence is off the charts. We had our most expensive meal so far; a Caprese salad, a chocolate crepe, a margherita pizza, 2 hot chocolates, a tea and a glass of wine, all for $75!! I figure it was a $50 view of the harbour! I guess with all the decadent and rich choices in the food department, this may come in handy for some:
Here’s how the big boys compete with their toys:
Big radar



So, on a trip that includes 10 countries, 9 languages (8 of which I don’t speak), and over 25,000 kms, there’s bound to be a bad day. The last 24 hours certainly fit that bill.
In the wee hours of the morning, as we finished packing our bags, it all looked idyllic.
We awoke to a snowstorm in Munich, only the second that winter. It slowed the driving down considerably and we were late getting to the train station. As Simon physically touched our train as it was about to pull away we were not on it. So much for the 500 km/hr non-stop trip to Paris. As we had a connecting flight to get later that day, we opted for the only other available option; a train with 3 connections. Seeing as we have 5 pieces of luggage, 2 small children and I cannot run or climb stairs quickly, this is a major undertaking. We were totally keen on being first out the door on the first stop; so keen that we got off one station TOO EARLY! We actually thought the train was 4 minutes ahead of schedule. Bad move…So there we were, stuck in somewhere Germany. Simon ran around the city centre and checked in 10 cafes, and no internet in sight. The DeutscheBahn ticket office could not guarantee seats on a French train so we were seemingly screwed. Simon did check in with a travel agent in his cafe search and found that we were near Frankfurt and maybe we could catch the 2pm plane to Paris.
A new city added to our list:
Frankfurt Hbf
Enthusiastically we booked the 2 necessary trains to get to Frankfurt Flughafen (airport). All was going well until the second train; it was delayed 25 minutes. By the time we arrived at the airport and took the shuttle bus to Terminal 2 it was too late to catch that plane. Foiled again! So we checked at the dodgy-looking ‘last minute flights’ desk, which looked to be funded by the Russian mafia, and they offered us a ‘deal’ worth $1500 CAD to fly to Paris for all of us. Well, we settled for losing a lesser amount of money and missing our Paris to Nice flight and got a train to Nice instead. I was pretty happy about taking the TGV to Paris then transferring by Metro to another train station then taking a night train in a sleeper cabin. It was a great ride to Paris, the Metro went off without a hitch and we tiredly boarded our night train to Nice. We slept soundly and it was a great sleep.
The next morning the train made it’s first stop at Toulon at about 6:30am. This stop woke me up so I quietly slipped out, gently closed the door and padded down the hallway as nature called. When I returned the door was open, as often happens on a moving train so I thought nothing of it. As I slipped into bed I noticed my purse had moved. I figured it fell off the end of my bed and I would get in upon daybreak. What ACTUALLY happened is that some opportunist seized the chance AND my bag and it was gone. Wallet, passports, i-pad, i-pod, all GONE. It was a sad realization. The rest of our day consisted of making the necessary phone calls, filing a report at the station and again after a 3 hour wait at the police station, which pretty much took up our day. We did have a few moments to take in the beauty of Nice and a nice creperie for lunch.
But all’s well that ends well. The girls were thrilled that we took a double-decker train to Cannes. We met our Romanian friend Gheorghe who has an apartment at the truly swanky Grand Hotel.
Grand Hotel
We took a lovely sunset walk on the promenade and dined on truffle foie gras, a special Alsatian dish of confit de canard aux pommes de terre and fine French wine. Magnifique!!

Playing Bavaria


Our friends in Munich have some lovely traditional Bavarian clothing. We took the opportunity to dress up just for fun! Prost!



Our ten days in Munich was really great. We had a great visit with our friends who had a lovely dog, Maya.
Maya and girls
What most of the world thinks of as German is, in fact, Bavarian. Leiderhosen, dirndls, beer halls, castles and painted alpine cottages, they are all to be found in Bavaria.
We visited the Neuschanstein castle, built by King Ludwig II, until his mysterious and untimely drowning in a nearby lake in 1886. Construction of the castle was halted upon his death, and it became a museum only 6 weeks later.
Today, still only 1/3 of the interior of the castle is finished and there was to be another taller tower in the castle as well. This castle is the one that Walt Disney got his inspiration for the Disneyland Sleeping Beauty castle.
Neuschwanstein towers
As many know, Munich is the centre of the Oktoberfest celebrations. This is a statue of the Queen of Bavaria, who overlooks the giant field when, for 3 weeks in October, 8,500,000 people gather to celebrate and drink beer. The field holds over 100,000 people at one time. There are many beer tents, and one has the capacity of 8,000 people, about the population of Revelstoke!
We did some touring around the central and oldest part of Munich as well. Here is the beautiful city hall.
Later in the day we visited the Hofbrauhaus, the official brewhouse of the King of Bavaria over 400 years ago. Many of the locals come dressed in the traditional Leiderhosen and hats adorned with tufts of the beard of a local goat.
Here is Simon with his one litre mug of beer!
I opted for the Weiss-beer, or white beer, which comes in a more managable size.
Yay for beer!
There was a guy’s stag going on at the table beside us and the girls charmed the table and got some of their party favours from them.
We took a night walk around the city centre after the brewhouse, watching the local nightlife and beautiful historic buildings lit up.
Hofbrauhaus outside
It was a big day for little girls.
Sleeping girl
It was my birthday this week, and My friend, Dana, made my favourite cake, a Black Forest cake. It was really yummy!
Black forest cake
Thanks to Norman and Dana for hosting us in their lovely house! We look forward to them visiting us in Canada!
Munich friends

Canada wins GOLD!!


We have arrived in Munich, Germany, to visit our friends Dana, Norman and their dog, Maya. Since we arrived on a weekend we took the opportunity to visit the mountain village of Garmisch. It’s less than an hours drive from Munich, especially when you take the German Autobahn!! Heading up to 240…
There just happened to be the Men’s Downhill World Championships happening there that day as well. The real bonus was that a Canadian, Erik Guay, WON!! Unfortunately we did not have Canadian flags but we were all yelling GO CANADA with great pride!
Erik wins!
Here he is arriving at the post-race medal ceremonies:
We also went up a cog railway and gondola to reach the highest point in Germany, the Zugspitze!
top of germany
Click on this photo for a larger image:

At the top you can take a short walk and end up in Austria.
Austrian gang
I fittingly enjoyed an apple strudel and a Gluwein:
And one of my favourite photo subjects with the Austrian alps behind:
It was a spectacular day for Canadians, including us!

Eastern Beauty


After Berlin we took the train to Prague. It was a lovely scenic ride along a river valley. Once in Prague our jaws dropped open at the sights. It was difficult not to take photos of absolutely everything. The intricate detail on the buildings was magnificent. I can now see why people rave about Old World architecture. Here are a few street scenes:
Far city view
Street scene
Beautiful building
This is the famous Wencelas Square, where thousands have gathered over the centuries, beginning with horse trading in the 13th century and continuing up to 1989 when Communism came to and end.
Wencelas Square
Wencelas Square and the National Museum
We went to the Prague Opera House to see the ballet Cinderella. The girls were captivated from start to finish. It was a lovely show and we felt very cultured in our box seats in such a grand theatre.
Opera house
Here we are on one of the most famous bridges in the world, the Karluv Most, with the Prague Castle in the background.
Charles bridge
The girls were very interested in this artist sketching a dog from a photo.
Charles bridge artist
The clock on the Old Town Hall and the Tyn church beyond.
Clock and Church
Old Town Square
St. Vitus Cathedral within the Palace grounds.
St. Vitus Cathedral
St. Vitus Cathedral
A few night shots:
Symphony building
National museum
As you can see, this city is steeped in history and art. We are very thankful to have had a chance to visit this place.
Charles bridge and Prague castle

East meets West


Our next stop was in Berlin to visit our friends that were our neighbours at the hospital in Huaihua. We started with a bus tour of the city, which covered all the pertinent landmarks. We passed by Checkpoint Charlie, the famous border crossing from the American territory to East Berlin. It also was the point where there was a standoff between Russia and the US, tank to tank, during the Berlin Crisis of 1961.
Checkpoint Charlie
We saw what is left of the Berlin Wall, and the ‘death strip’ which was adjacent, for those unlucky enough to try to flee. Beside that is an aptly named museum about the Gestapo, the Topography of Terror.
The Wall
Our next big sight was the Brandenburg Gate, built in 1791, and important entry to the city. It was commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia as a sign of peace.
Brandenburg Gate
We were lucky to have a visitor, all the way from Finland, who came with us on the tours and relived his childhood in Berlin. Thanks for the visit Ian! Here he is with the girls and their beautiful new dresses from Martina.
Ian and the girls
Emily lost her second tooth one morning at breakfast. The tooth fairy found her again. She now has some Thai baht and some Euros, we’ll have to hit a currency exchange at the end of this trip for her piggybank.
Lost Tooth
A big highlight for the girls was going to the forest near Martina and Lutz’s house to see the wild boar. Some are truly wild, but a little harder to find, and some are in an enclosure. They are eager to eat whatever is proferred, so spaghetti was the food du jour. There were also some bighorn-type sheep to feed too.
Wild boar
Feeding the boars
Feeding the sheep
Another kid-friendly activity was visiting ‘Legoland’, a whole building full of giant things built with lego. The big giraffe out front had over 350,000 pieces, someone must have had a LOT of patience to build these things. I like this shot of Maddie looking fierce.
Our final night we went out for ‘German Tapas’. We had a chance to try 9 or 10 different Berlin-style dishes. It was very delicious.
German Tapas
The girls made fast friends with the people at the neighbouring table, since they had their husky with them. Dogs are allowed almost everywhere it seems. What happens if you are in the shopping mall with your dog and he/she wants to lift their leg? So many questions…

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