Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

One of my New Years resolutions is to dust off my Flashback Friday updates.  There was a lot of dust to clear since I haven’t done a Flashback Friday since 2009!  As I was catching up with friends currently living in Germany, we discussed all the wonderful places to visit in Europe. I highly recommended they visit Mariánské Lázně and Karlovy Lázně which are two Czech spa towns within an easy drive from Grafenwöhr. Mariánské Lázně is only a 40 minute drive. Both towns are also a wonderful day trip from Prague.  Please forgive my photos in this post, they’re from the early 2000s and before I got a digital camera. All these photos are (gasp) scanned.

Mariánské Lázně (Marienbad) is truly beautiful any time of year but springtime is my favorite. There are several parks with pretty flowers which I enjoyed strolling through and letting Logan run around. The main Colonnade is a cast iron construction with a wooden ceiling and a Singing Fountain. From April to October, the fountain dances every odd hour beginning at 7am. There’s a famous composition playing during the display. If you happen to be there during the evening, lights are added enhancing the water show.  Click here for a Singing Fountain schedule of music compositions.

In these spa towns, there are mineral springs, containing carbon dioxide and mineral salts. Drinking the mineral water is said to have medicinal effects ~ people have been partaking in mineral springs water since the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans.  Personally I couldn’t get past my one sip of the water.  But I did enjoy the spa wafers ~ be sure to try them while you’re there.

“Spa treatments” didn’t start in Central Europe until 18th Century and Mariánské Lázně is one of the youngest of spa towns.  The town celebrated it’s 200 year anniversary in 2008.

Whenever we would visit, we enjoyed all the various fountains around town:

Marianske Lanske Logan at Fountain in Marienbad

Karlovy Lázně (Karlsbad) is the more famous spa town, as well as the largest, in the Czech Republic. It’s a charming town which lies in a lush green valley where the River Teplá and River Ohře (Eger) converge. Meandering through town is the best way to see it. The town has impressive Colonnades which you can walk through and drink the healing waters.The earliest mention of the treatments in Karlovy Lázně comes when, at the end of the 14th century, Charles IV submersed his ill legs in one of the mineral springs.


Sampling the mineral water

Sampling the mineral water

Thermal Hotel

Logan walking along the River Teplá

John and Logan along river Teplá

The view from the top of the hill is impressive not to mention the fun of riding the funicular train to the top:

View of Karlovy Vary

View of Karlovy Vary

Top of venicular Venicular

Be sure to have lunch or dinner at the GrandHotel Pupp.  It’s very elegant with fantastic customer service.  The hotel was a location site in the movie Last Holiday and it also appears in the James Bond film Casino Royale  (the one with yummy Daniel Craig) although in the film it’s referred to as Hotel Splendide in Montenegro.

Granhotel Pupp

We took most of our visitors to Karlovy Lázně and got a photo of them on the steps near the center of town.

Jamie, Tricia, and Kayla on the steps

On the steps KV Frank and Phyllis

On the Steps KV Karla and Scott

On the steps in Karlovy Vary  John and PattiBetty and John on the steps

Makes me smile just remembering those wonderful visits!

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I’ve got a good excuse for not being on facebook for a week ~ Heidi and Colin came to visit. Heidi is a good friend who I met when I moved to Germany in 2001.  Her son, Colin is 8 years old (soon to be 9) which I find hard to believe since it seems like yesterday we were visiting the Weiden Klinikum and he was one day old.

I’m very impressed how both of them dealt with the six hour time difference and jet-lag with no problem at all.  Heidi is an intrepid traveler and is passing on this wonderful trait to Colin.  Logan was in charge of making sure they felt welcomed to her room (she camped in our room for the week):

And in case they didn’t remember the time back in Texas

Hampton Court was on the schedule for Monday but since the landlord called and stated the window repairman would be coming to fix a window which has been broken since we moved in (and is very unsightly), Heidi and Colin ventured off to Hampton Court on their own.  Turns out, the repairman cancelled around 11.  I was bummed since I wanted to spend the day with my friends and I haven’t been to Hampton Court yet.

On Tuesday, we went on a “behind the scenes” tour of St Paul’s Cathedral.  I was a little disappointed as I was lead to believe we’d be going to the top of the dome (or at least higher than usual).  They even warned us about the 400 plus stairs and I wore my running shoes which I’m loathed to do in this fashion conscious group/town.  I was anticipating great views. It was not to be.  Our tour guide was informative and gushed when she spoke of Christopher Wren, the builder of the Cathedral.  I think she has a bit of a crush on him but I didn’t come away feeling I’d learned much about the history of the Cathedral that I didn’t already know (which isn’t much).  I’ll be going back for another tour soon.  There’s so much to see there and we didn’t scratch the surface.  Photos aren’t allowed in the Cathedral but you can check out beautiful photos on their website by clicking here.

After St Pauls. we walked over to the Tate Modern which is, hmmm how to I say this…. very modern.  After going through several of the exhibit rooms, Heidi and I gave each other “the look”  which we both knew meant let’s get the heck out of here.  Thankfully, Heidi and I have very similar tastes/tolerances.  Once we left the Tate Modern, we walked over the Millenium Bridge (for walkers only) to the tube station. Here’s Heidi and Colin on the bridge with the Cathedral Dome in the background.

On Wednesday, we thought Colin (being the 8 year old boy that he is) would enjoy the Guard Museum and the National Army Museum.  I hadn’t even thought of going prior to their visit since there’s so many other museums to see but I’m glad I did. I would highly recommend both of them.  The Guard museum is small enough to go through in about an hour and the Army museum is about an hour and a half or so.  And there’s a really nice gift shop at the Army Museum.

Wednesday evening, Logan and Colin stayed at the flat while John, Heidi and I went to an event with a few friends from John’s class.  It was an “American” themed evening with dinner at The Diner  (My dinner was good/Heidi’s a little too rare)

and then it was off to Rock of Ages which we really enjoyed. Although all the performers were spot on, my favorite is Simon Lipkin who plays Lonny the narrator.  He could easily interact with the audience and then drop right back in line with the story.  Very talented and can really rock the mullet hairstyle. The show is a little raunchy and a lot burlesque so if you’re in any way prudish I suggest you don’t go but if you want a good laugh and want to rock to the 80s music, give it a try.  I haven’t seen the film version but can’t imagine I’d like it  ~  it’s the live performance that made this so much fun.

After a late night at the theater, we got up at 0’dark thirty to catch the 8:30 train from Paddington station to Bath Spa.  Again no photos but this time it’s because I forgot to bring my camera.  Will have to rely on Heidi to send me her photos.  Speaking of cameras, Colin accidentally left his camera on the back of the stall door hook at the Roman Baths Museum and he/Heidi didn’t realize it until we were on the train to London.  Thankfully an honest soul turned it in to Lost Property!  Good karma for him/her.  Colin has some interesting photos on the camera and was relieved it’s not gone forever.

Bath is a World Heritage Site and truly a beautiful town.  I had fun just walking around the town spying a couple of locations I’ve seen in films such as “Persuasion” and “Vanity Fair.”  Unfortunately,  it was started to rain as we got off the train and it was VERY windy.  I lost another umbrella to the wind ~ this makes my third since moving here.  Guess that means I shouldn’t buy the cheap umbrellas and go for sturdiness.

For me, the highlight of the visit was the Roman Bath Museum ~ the self guided audio tour is interesting and the kid version was fun too. Colin clued me in when to listen to the kids version if there was something particularly funny or something “gross” like the killing of a sacrificial goat.  Sometimes it’s interesting to see life through the eyes of an 8 year old boy or, at least, try to figure out what they find entertaining.

Bath is also having their Christmas Market now.  Although Heidi and I are spoiled by having been to so many German Christmas Markets (they are the best!), we both enjoyed wandering the streets looking at all the vendors.  The vendors were selling quality items.

I’ll be going back to Bath soon with John and Logan. It’s easy to see why Bath is listed as a must see on all the travel guides and has been the number one city suggested by our British friends.

Yesterday (their last day) came way too quickly ~ they went to Hamleys (the FAO Schwartz of London) in the morning and then we went to the Wallace Collection for a student led tour.  The students were from St Vincents and are between the ages of 8 to 13.  I was impressed at their presentation of selected collection pieces.  Colin even got to try on a knight’s helmet.

For our final dinner, we went to our favorite neighborhood restaurant on the corner called “Gettis”  We’re always treated so well when we go there and this time was no exception.  The waiter picked up right away that Colin is a “meat only” kind of guy and so the waiter teased him for the entire meal that he was bringing “vegetables” for him.

…and Colin declared Getti pizza better than Pizza Express.

… and then we said farewell until next time.  Heidi and Colin stayed at a Heathrow hotel on Friday night so they wouldn’t have to get up any earlier than necessary.  Smart traveler!

Missing them lots ~ the flat is way too quiet!

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