we’re (almost) back!

July 17, 2008 at 7:08 am | Posted in bulgaria, london | 1 Comment

by sandra.

frank and i are flying home today from london and we are VERY excited.  there’s something about traveling in a second-world country for three weeks that makes you appreciate the small things, such as:

-family and friends.

-everyone speaking and writing english.

-our comfy bed with lots of pillows and blankets.

-showers with walls/curtain so that they don’t spray water all over the bathroom.

-cooking our own food.

-starbucks.

-sequoia trees.

-fred meyer.

-portland beer, cheddar cheese, thai food, and sushi.

-free washing machine and dryer.

-order and consistency (right, george?).

-air conditioning.

-being able to drive with cheap gas.

Ugly Americans

July 16, 2008 at 5:12 pm | Posted in adventures, bulgaria, london, rants | 2 Comments

By Frank

Americans suck. Really. Everywhere we go. If there is a loud, obnoxious group of people snorting, laughing, screaming, talking about inane matters, talking about partying until they throw up or pass out, well they are probably Americans. Ugly, loud, annoying Americans ruining our reputation abroad.

It happened on our first visit to London a month ago; we were at the Tower of London cafe and some middle aged southern women were making such a raucous that they had everyone’s attention, including ours, especially since they were at the table right next to us. Older Brittish ladies all the way across the massive hall were shaking their heads in disdain.

In a small museum village’s cafe in Bulgaria, we encountered an American woman, her kid, a Bulgarian woman and her kid who had lived in Florida. Loud. Obnoxious. Attracting attention.

And just now at a pub on the River Thames we had the misfortune of having young Texans, who had just graduated from college, sit down in the table next to us. Talking about getting wasted. Talking big and loud. Embarrassing. Annoying.

If you travel abroad, think about how others percieve you. If everyone is staring at you at a cafe or restaurant, it might be a clue that you are being obnoxious.

Cut it out.

london: the next 3 days

June 26, 2008 at 7:33 am | Posted in adventures, london | Leave a comment

by sandra.

after moving to a new hotel (which was somewhat larger and featured strange pictures on the wall), frank and i took the tube to the tower hill stop.  we spent most of the day exploring the tower of london, which has served as a palace, residence, and jail throughout london’s history.  the highlights were seeing the infamous ravens (which are quite large and quick), going on a beefeater tour, and seeing the graffiti of past inhabitants of the jail.

creepy photo which hung over our bed: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2612089291/in/photostream/

two of the ravens: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2612928150/

the next day we visited the natural history museum which features a cutting of one of the large sequioas at sequioa national park.  frank was excited to see this cutting because he has given tours on its stump and has seen the other cutting at a museum in new york.  unfortunately the remainder of the museum was not that great and can hardly be remembered because we were so hot and sweaty most of the time.

the sequoia cutting: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2612920134/in/photostream/

later that night we met up with a bulgarian friend of frank’s, takvor.  takvor and his wife had helped frank manuever the trains to sofia when frank was very sick and new to bulgaria.  they had hung out many times when frank lived in bulgaria.  takvor lives in bristol now (near the west coast of england) and luckily just happened to be in london that saturday.  takvor had brought another bulgarian with him, a nice guy who had only been in england for 2 weeks.  thus, his english was a bit shaky and he spent most of the night just sitting quietly and smiling (much like i have been doing in bulgaria).  we were later joined by 2 more bulgarians and a londoner, and then later 2 more bulgarians.  we had a lot of fun with those guys drinking at a pub, then driving erratically through london, and then hanging out at a underground bar in some unknown (to us) part of london, apparently called “shepard’s bush.”   it was a nice preview of the friendly and welcoming nature of bulgarians for me.

london is VERY humid and thus my hair is VERY frizzy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2612921490/in/photostream/

me, takvor (in the red shirt), the londoner (blonde hair), the bulgarians: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2612924466/in/photostream/

we spent most of sunday at the british museum, a museum that puts any other history museum to shame.  it’s enormous and features artifacts from metsopotamia, ancient greece and rome, egypt, assyria, and i’m probably leaving out a few cultures.  we especially enjoyed seeing the rosetta stone, mosaics, and mummies.  our favorite room is called the enlightenment room — it looks like the museum did when it first opened in the 1790’s (i think) and features wooden bookcases lining the walls and artifacts categorized just how they would have been at that time.  beautiful!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2612092625/in/photostream/

my husband, the american.

June 23, 2008 at 7:08 pm | Posted in adventures, london | 3 Comments

by sandra.

this being our first trip together, it has been fun for frank and i to observe one another’s reactions to a new country. today he laughed as i looked open-mouthed out the window as our taxi drove us to our hostel in sofia. previously, though, i got to giggle as his exclamations nearly shouted as we explored london.

a few examples –

-oh my gosh, we’re in london!

-i can’t believe we paid seven dollars for rice!

-those guys are speaking british over there!

-i can’t believe we just paid seven dollars for a beer!

-oh my gosh, we’re driving on the wrong side of the road!

-do i look like an american

London: The first two point five days

June 20, 2008 at 6:54 pm | Posted in adventures, london | Leave a comment

By Frank

After a very long flight, Sandra and I have touched down in London. The first two days have been hectic.  We arrived at rush hour and then struggled to find our way a quarter of a mile to our hotel. The first night, we simply strolled around our neighborhood and I visited my first English pub. I had a tasty bitter and some shepherd’s pie. It was a bit of a shock coming off the Underground at Victoria Station.

Perhaps the most shocking thing is the price of things. While a Starbucks mocha is £3, that’s 6 bucks. I’d write the dollar sign, but there isn’t one on this British keyboard. The @ is also where the ” should be and the return key is off. At any rate, the prices are crazy. Stupid government ruining our money. Soon, it’ll be monopoly money.

The second day, we visited Parliament and Big Ben and saw the outside of the Westminster Abbey. We would’ve gone it, but with the exchange, it would have cost $40 each. Here are some photos from that area:

London side streetLondon side street

Big Ben and Parliament

We walked across the river Thames and past the London Eye, which we also passed up due to the cost. We couldn’t resist seeing a play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, though. We saw the Merry Wives of Windsor, and it was simply amazing. We could have stood for $10 each (I finally found the $ on the keyboard), but choose to sit for $40. The play was funny and the singing enjoyable.

 The Globe

After the play, we took the Millennium Bridge across the river to St. Paul’s cathedral, a massive church, where we listened to the choir and gazed in amazement.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

 We walked all the way across London back to Victoria, stopping along the way at Buckingham palace. We walked over 5 miles and were beat!

Today, we visited the Tower of London. It’s an amazing castle dating back to the 11th century to William the Conqueror’s time. We saw the crown jewels and the largest diamond in the world! We spent maybe 5 hours there and walked around and around and around. We were beat on our tube ride home!

Tower of London


Tower Ravens


Pooped on the Tube!

Tomorrow and Sunday we will visit FREE (thankfully) museums like the British National Gallery and the British Museum (which has King Tut). Look for more photos!

It’s been cold and rainy here on the first day of summer. It’s hard to believe we’ll be in Bulgaria on Monday where it will be in the upper 80s!

Check back for more!
 

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