October 13, 2009

Today I Am a Tourist

The last week in September our fabulous friends CH & MH came to visit. Since there are about a million touristy things to do here we had to pick a couple. A castle was an absolute must so I chatted up some of my ex-pat friends about which one we should try and they all agreed that Conwy Castle (in Wales) was the best. So here they are headed up the top of the first tower.

This is the view from the top of the wall surrounding the city and heading towards the castle.

From the tallest of the towers you can look down to see most of the rooms in the castle. This is by far the best-kept castle I've seen since I've been here. You can climb up most of the towers and almost all the rooms are still intact (minus the wooden beams).

After visiting the castle we went to the town of Llandudo to have genuine fish & chips and admire the Welsh coast.

Chester has a beautiful cathedral that I had yet to visit even though I walk past it all the time. You get a free audio tour and it tells all about the history of the cathedral and the city of Chester. It is one of the few previously Catholic cathedrals to have survived the reign of Henry VIII and his reformation of the church. It is now a protestant church and you can still worship there at any time with full services on Sundays.

I didn't get to hear the organ being played the day we were there but you can buy recordings in the gift shop. It's a pretty magnificent structure, my picture doesn't quite do it justice.

This is the clock tower in the middle of town. It was erected in honor of Queen Victoria's 60th year on the throne. It is the 2nd most photographed clock in England under Big Ben.
Foregate Street is the main street through Chester and where the majority of the shops are. Everything from quirky little boutiques to hand-crafted toys and barbershops galore. Amist the quaintness you will also find a Starbucks, a Gap and the obligatory McDonald's.
I've seen so many wonderful things already, but there is still so much more of Chester that I have yet to see, the Roman amphitheatre and gardens, walking the wall all the way around and taking a boat tour down the River Dee. I'm excited to get to continue to explore this wonderful city and country.

October 6, 2009

Birthday Adventure

Now that it's been almost a month since my fabulous birthday trip, I figured I'd better get some pictures up. For my big 3-0 MDH planned a surprise trip to Monte Carlo, Monocco. One of the most beautiful places on Earth!
This is the view from our 9th floor hotel room. Because MDH has spent so much time at the hotel in London, he is a gold member with the Starwood Hotel chain and we got upgraded to a beach view suite instead of the city view room we originally booked. Woohoo!
This is our hotel and private beach (the only one in Monocco!) from the paddle boat we rented.
Peanut and Princess by a landmark written in French. My French is a little rusty since the last time I used it I was 16, so I'm not sure what it says...something in honor of Prince Albert I in 1913.
We figured since we were so close to the ocean we should be taking advantage of the fresh seafood and ordered a seafood pizza, thinking it would be maybe shrimp, scallops, white fish and clams...out of the shell. Imagine our surprise when we opened the box and saw clams and mussels atop our pizza, shell and all! After shucking the shellfish it actually turned out to be a really delicious pizza =)
My fabulous hubby and me outside the Museum which had a really neat ballet exhibit with costumes from around the world dating back to the 1700's. I couldn't read every detail, but I think I got the gist.
Monte Carlo was hosting a volleyball tournament with teams from Brazil, Canada, Croatia, France, Italy, Slovania, Sweden and the US. The final match was between France and the US. France won but we got to take our pictures with the US girls, Jenelle Koester and Saralyn Smith, wearing their silver medals.
After a great weekend we went back to Nice, France to catch our plane home. Monocco marks the 4th country we've visited since moving here. What an adventure!