This is the road just past the Valley of Fire visitor center.
Video Sunday: Marching Band in LegoLand
I haven’t posted a video in a while since the 1st one I posted so here is a fun one from our travels.
We may not have kids but I am a big kid at heart and am a huge LEGO fan (or AFOLs – Adult Fans of LEGOs – as we call ourselves). I had always wanted to visit LegoLand and we had the opportunity to finally go to their California park (an hour outside of San Diego) in the fall of 2001. This is a short video of the “marching band” made entirely of LEGOs in front of a LEGO White House that can be found in Miniland USA.
TTT: June 7th, 1996
On this day we are making our way to my friend Bjoern’s place in Western Germany. We met while he was a grad student at Texas A&M and he was hosting us for a week or so at his apartment.
Ack! (as Bill the Cat would say). The day started off badly – we should’ve taken it as a warning. At 5:30 AM a very loud radio alarm goes off. Then, a verbal fight ensues in some other apartment. The stifling heat &noise kept us up. We take our time, though, thinking we would catch a 10:30 AM train to Koln from Le Gare du Nord.
Upon arriving, we find out that train would not arrive in Koln till around 4 PM and that it would be a TGV, thereby costing us more. We also find out that we would have to pay to go through Belgium. Dave & I wanted to use our EuroPasses but neither of us had a pass through Belgium.
After being sent to another line, we make the decision to go on straight to Bochum [where Bjoern lived]. Yes, they have a ticket straight there that arrives at 10:56 PM! Yikes. It left at 4:34 PM. It was only 10:30 AM.
O.K. So there we were. We were prisoners because of our luggage and had really no choice but to suffer in the un-air conditioned train station for 6 hours. Then be on a train for another 6 1/2 hours. Don’t break out the violin yet. Our train time finally arrives and we get on, I ask Dave to ask and make sure we could get on the wagon we had chosen and with only 13 minutes to spare, we find out that we still needed a ticket through Belgium!
Dave hurries off to the ticket booth, I begin to panic thinking that after 6 hours of waiting, we would miss our train. With 2 minutes to spare, Dave runs back fuming and tells me we can buy it while on the train. Ack!
We jump on and comment on how nice the seats are. Getting comfortable, we show our EuroPasses and proceed to purchase those damn tickets [for Belgium]. In the process, we also find out that we were in 1st class. Oops. She [the train conductor checking tickets] just told us to change at the 1st station.
Thinking we had actually found some luck, we begin to notice the lack of A/C. Hmm…
Changing over to 2nd class seemed to be our change in luck as well. We had a cabin to ourselves and we met a German girl (Melanie) who had been living in Miami and was now going home to Essens (the stop right before Bochum).
We finally arrive (half an hour late) and Bjoern is waiting. We drop our luggage off at Bjoern’s & go into the center for some beer. We all have dark “alt” and fill our stomachs with a bratwurst which Bjoern claims is the best anywhere.
Come home [Bjoern’s apartment] exhausted and fall asleep quicker than ever.
Visiting World UNESCO Sites
I came across the World UNESCO Sites list and was surprised to see I had seen a few of the sites. I still have so much more of the world to see and I know I need to go further East but it’s cool to see I have visited some of the less exotic locales:
Palace and Gardens of Schonbrunn
Historic Centre of Vienna [IG Photo]
Belize – Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System [PHOTOS]
Cuba – Old Havana and its Fortification System [PHOTOS]
Dominica – Morne Trois Pitons National Park
France – Paris, Banks of the Seine [PHOTOS]
Germany – Cologne Cathedral
Guatemala (I’ve been to all 3)
Tikal National Park
Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua
Hungary – Budapest [PHOTOS]
Historic Center of Florence
Mexico – Historic Centre of Oaxaca [PHOTOS]
Spain (I spent the summer of 1994 touring Spain)
Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzin, Granada
Historic Centre of Cordoba
Monastery and Site of the Escorial, Madrid
Works of Antoni Gaudi
Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias
Old Town of Avila with its Extra-Muros Churches
Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct
Historic City of Toledo
Cathedral, Alcazar and Archivo de Indias in Seville
Old City of Salamanca
Tower of London
Edinburgh [IG Photo]
Statue of Liberty [IG Photo]
Glacier Bay [PHOTOS}
San Antonio Missions
So many more amazing places to see – look forward to adding to this list in my lifetime!
TTT: June 6th, 1996
My first full day in Paris!
Wearily wake up and get our butts moving. Get supplies for lunch (mayo, cheese, ham, bread, juice) plus get stamps (successfully!) and take subway to Le Tour Eiffel where we plan to meet Marianne [D’s friend]. Because of a subway strike (yes, another strike), it took a bit longer.
Too cheap to pay for the privilege of walking up the stairs, we contented ourselves with walking underneath. Had a picnic lunch on the lawn (Parc de Champ de Mars) and rested an hour before making our way to Le Palais Royal and its gardens. Walked across Le Pont des Arts (where the river splits) towards L’Ecole des Beaux Arts and ended up at a cafe along St. Germain.
Note –> we found out later why the coffee was so expensive (34 Ff). We had picked Cafe Fleure, a cafe that has inspired writers [such] as Sartre. *
[To] celebrate our days in Paris,we buy a bottle of cheap champagne, meet up with Marianne again at the Georges V Metro on Le Champs-Elysee and guzzle it down under L’Arc de Triomphe!
* Fact-checking this and I had the cafe spelled wrong, it was Cafe de Flore, and Sartre did not go there but other famous intellectuals did.
TTT: June 5th, 1996
This is my journal entry from the 5th day of our trip. We had already landed in London, taken the Chunnel Train from London to Paris, visited Sacre-Coeur and stayed a couple of days in Palis, a small village an hour and half southeast of Paris where my travel mate’s aunt, uncle & cousin lived.
Palis to Paris
Took train from Troyes to Gare du Est, Paris. Come in the middle of a protest march. The electrical workers are demonstrating against the raising of rates tomorrow as well as the idea of privatization [see pic below].
Took Metro to Chatelet and walked to Notre Dame. Walked alongside the river towards Le Louvre. Walked through L’Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and relaxed in the shade in les Jardin des Tuileries.
Walked to the Obelisk and La Place de la Concorde and then made it to a Metro and found our way back to Le Gare du Est. Couldn’t get a hold of Olivier and began to panic – we had no place to go!
We took our luggage (because of terrorist problems, station lockers closed up!) out of consignment and lugged it back to the train station. Our plan was to call Olivier and/or Dave’s friend Marianne every 15 minutes till we found someone.
Upon a 2nd try, we did find Olivier & our moods instantly lifted. We jumped back on our subway and made our way to 28 rue de Chazelles via le Courcelles subway.
Olivier graciously took us in (after mistakenly going to the ‘2nd’ – he lives on the 3rd – our 4th) and we had dinner,where I finally met his fiancee, Lawrence.
Got cleaned up and prepared to meet David’s friend Marianne and her friends at the steps of the Bastille Opera House at 11 PM. Upon arriving, I noticed Stephan G. at the steps! [French grad student I had know in college] He was also meeting a friend but he was late so we decided to have him meet up up at a local bar, His friend, Michael, turned out to be another INTS major [my college major] from Texas A&M. We hung out at a couple of bars and just to show how people know people, here is a quick diagram…
Libby (Dallas) <-> Alison (Dallas) <-> Katell (France) <-> Marianne (Boston U) <-> Dave (I knew him from high school) <-> ME -> Stephane (A&M) AND Michael (A&M)
TTT: Summer of 1996 Itinerary
On my initial Time Travel Tuesday entry, I told you guys about my epic 1996 post-graduation summer through Europe. Before I start posting some of my old journal entries, I thought I’d share with you my itinerary on that trip.
I hand wrote the list of dates & cities below in my journal and even hand drew that map of Europe at the end of this post.
As you can see, I saw a LOT of Western Europe in those two months! I even made you guys a handy dandy interactive map!
June 1: Houston (IAH) –> London, UK (Gatwick)
June 2: London
June 3: London –> via Chunnel –> Paris –> Palis, France
June 4: Palis
June 5: Palis –> Paris
June 6: Paris
June 7: Paris –> Bochum, Germany
June 8: Bochum & Koln, Germany
June 9: Bochum & Dusseldorf, Germany
June 10: Bochum
June 11: Bochum & Munster, Germany
June 12: Bochum –> Verona, Italy (12 1/2 hour train ride!)
June 13: Verona
June 14: Verona –> Firenze, Italy
June 15: Firenze –> Innsbruck, Austria
June 16: Innsbruck
June 17: Innsbruck –> Munchen, Germany
June 18: Munchen & Dachau, Germany
June 19: Munchen
June 20: Munchen –> Stuttgart, Germany
June 21: Stuttgart
June 22: Stuttgart –> Fribourg/Rossens, Switzerland
June 23: Rossens & Avenche, Murten, Switzerland
June 24: Rossens & Bern, Switzerland
June 25: Rossens –> Paris
June 26 – July 1: Paris
July 2: Paris –> Poitiers, France
July 3: Poitiers
July 4: Poitiers –> Bordeaux, France
July 5: Bordeaux
July 6: Bordeaux –> Madrid, Spain
July 7 – 9: Madrid
July 10: Madrid –> Valencia, Spain
July 11: Valencia
July 12: Valencia –> Barcelona, Spain
July 13 – 14: Barcelona –> Fribourg, Switzerland (overnight train)
July 14: Rossens, Veytaux & Montreaux, Switzerland
July 15: Rossens, The Swiss Alps – Zermatt, Gornergrat – & Sion, Switzerland
July 16: Sion –> Baden, Switzerland
July 17: Baden & Lucerne, Switzerland
July 18: Baden & Zurich, Switzerland
July 19: Baden –> Paris
July 20: Paris –> London, UK
July 21 – 26 –> London
July 27: London –> Edinburgh, Scotland
July 28: Edinburgh
July 29: Edinburgh –> London
July 30: London
July 31: London –> HOME!! (Houston, Texas)
Revisiting a list from July 2003
Wow! While cleaning up this blog to convert it to a travel blog, I came across this post from 13 years ago listing locations I wanted to visit in my lifetime. Thrilled to see I’ve made some headway – and even visited some locations a few times.
If I have visited a location, I’ve added a link to the pictures too!
Within the USA
Las Vegas[PHOTOS] Chicago[PHOTOS] Vermont during the fallon one of the foliage road tours [PHOTOS]
- Skiing either in Colorado or New Mexico (I’ve never skied)
- Santa Fe, New Mexico
- The Southern East coast (i.e Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia)
Alaskan cruise (this is planned for our 10-year wedding anniversary)(we actually went for our 15th anniversary) [PHOTOS]
- Puerto Rico
- More of Northern California including a hot-air balloon ride over one of the wine regions.
- Basque region in Spain during the cider house tours
- Somewhere in Asia, don’t know where yet and depends on political climate
- Australia/New Zealand
- Canada – Quebec,
Montreal, Lake Louis, Nova Scotia [PHOTOS]
- Ireland &
- Denmark – Legoland and Eskesen (the floaty pen factory) (does it partially count if I visited Legoland in San Diego instead?)
- Eastern Europe including Warsaw, Prague,
- Southern Italy (already saw Northern Italy)
- Guatemala – so I can take Kenny since I’ve already been
- Costa Rica
- Buenos Aires, Argentina
Passporting since 1979…
I have had a passport ever since I can remember and was surprised to find out when I was in a study abroad prep class in college that most of my classmates had never had one. I assumed everyone had one, even if they didn’t travel!
I still have almost all of my past passports:
- 1979-1984: I was 5 years old!
- 1989-1995: Sadly, I am missing this one!
- 1994-2004: I’m finally over 18 so the renewal period changed from 5 to 10 years – also, read more to find out why it was green…
- And my current one that is good till 2024.
Regarding the green covered passport, I recently saw an article about passport covers colors and it reminded me that I was fortunate in my passport renewal timing a few years ago and had a special commemorative edition passport…
According to Wikipedia, the “Green covers were again issued from April 1993, until March 1994, and included a special one-page tribute to Benjamin Franklin in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the United States Consular Service.”
BONUS PHOTO: My four older passport photos (I hate my current one so I did not include it) – me at 5, 10, 20 and 30!
Pretty neat, I thought!
So do YOU have a passport and if so, when did you first get one?
Video Sunday: Girls Steel Drum Band
I don’t take too many videos when I travel but I have a handful so I thought I’d share them individually at the beginning of the month or so on what I’ll start calling “Video Sunday“.
You can view them all over here if you want to see more and can’t wait…
The first featured video is from our July 2010 trip to Caye Caulker, Belize. We were visiting during LobsterFest and I videoed this group of talented young schoolgirls playing the steel drums. The band was called Pannerific. Don’t you just love the sound of steel drums?