Friday, March 27, 2009

European Vacation

For a lovely video of my entire trip overseas with Ryan ...

click HERE

it'll blow your mind.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Brugge, Belgium

sunday afternoon we flew out of vienna headed towards belgium.  nothing too exciting happened.  we did manage, however, to secure the last row of seats on the airplane.  

it was a tight fit -

we landed in brussels and then had to take a train to brugge.  while it wasn't a long train ride it did prove to be tiring.  i was fortunate, however, to be traveling with two wonderful companions.  

aren't they lovely?

that's one handsome couple :)

once we got to brugge and checked into our hotel all pains were forgotten.  brugge is incredibly beautiful.  

since we didn't get in til way past 6 we ventured down to the market square hoping to find a restaurant.

we ended up at a lovely brasserie.  

the food was absolutely amazing. 

in the morning we set out to explore the town.  it was actually very small but packed tight with lots to see.

we hit the belfry first - it's that large 13th-century building to the left

for the bargain price of 8 euros they let you climb the 366 stairs to the top.

it's worth it for the view:

this is us after climbing back down and once our breathing returned to normal

we were mighty pleased with ourselves.

after that we hit the canal tour - it's just a nice little boat ride that takes you through the canals of the city

this is the couple that followed us everywhere we went in brugge.

they weren't just creepy.  they were european creepy.

brugge fun fact:  in 1488 the people of brugge executed somebody important from austria -- this important austrian person had a swan in his coat of arms -- so the court of austria punished brugge by damning swans to their lakes and canals for eternity.

and they say ever since that execution swans have populated brugge year round.

man those austrians are rough.

more pics:

we, of course, hit the belgian chocolate shops

and ate our fair share of the demon candy

we hit the local brewery, de halve maan 

we sampled the frothy brew

and then ate some beer soup

absolutely delicious.

more sight seeing.  the chapel of the holy blood

brugge fun facts:  the church contains the relic of the holy blood.  it is blood preserved by joseph when he washed the dead body of jesus.  the relic was brought to brugge and has not been opened since.  

below is michelangelo's madonna.  it's a marble statue

brugge fun fact:  this is thought to be the only piece of michelangelo's that left Italy in his lifetime.

and now ..

fun with modern art 

starring ryan hamilton

see the big square in brugge with the funky modern sculpture

watch as our hero drinks from said statue

up next:

amsterdam ....

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

Holiday Road

so my journey began wednesday afternoon.  i left LAX at 4pm and 14.5 hours later i arrived in vienna.

sunrise over the atlantic ocean just before we flew over ireland.

thursday was my first night in vienna and ryan and lindsey took me to the ambassador's house for a cooking class by the ambassador's chef.

that's him - surprisingly young and very entertaining!

he taught us how to make pumpkin soup, kaiserschmarrn (warning:  it has hot fruit in it), and stuffed croissants.  and in case you're wondering, that's butter he's holding.  he told us to never make pumpkin soup with anything but butter.

this is ryan demonstrating a proper viennese greeting

i made that up.  he's just being stupid.

cooking class in action:

rolling the croissants.  we were very, very good at this.

a good chef knows it's important to taste test: 

yes even ryan did some of the prepping.  i, however, did not.  i felt it was best for my classmates and for myself if i stayed away from the large, sharp, knives.  i was, after all, severely jet lagged.

and while everything was cooking ryan and i went to go explore the ambassador's house.
it was a rather large house with lots of rooms.  

we found a fancy bathroom:

a sitting room

the grand foyer

the official guide to the ambassador's remotes and tv

our best find, however, was this:

the grand piano.  the same piano the ambassador uses to entertain dignitaries from all over the world!  ryan and i were so amazed at the find we sat down and tried to imagine we were the ones entertaining these worldly leaders:

once everything was ready, we set the table in the ambassador's dining room 

check out the official seal on the dishes.

and ate our fancy food.  

everything was good except for the kaiserschmarrn.  i just can't deal with hot fruit.  it's a sweet cake with rum soaked raisins in it and a caramel, sugar coating.  and though it sounds like a dessert it's actually a main dish.   

we all had a great time and i got to meet some of the people ryan and lindsey know so that was fun.

friday was our first day around the city.  

we went to the royal family's summer palace:

this is the front of the main entrance to the house but it spans FOREVER.

the "back yard" so to speak:

they even have their own zoo off to the right.  

close up of the fountain

the statues were beautiful

and so anatomically correct

we did, however, encounter some rain and hail.  but don't worry, it was just enough to completely soak us.

after the palace we went to hundertwasserhaus which was completely cool.

the architect, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, apparently believes that nature and architecture should exist as one.  that's why you see trees growing out of the windows.

fountain in front of the building.  you can also see that the ground is uneven.  there are hills in the walkways around the building.  that's how it is inside too.  very strange indeed.

we ended our day with me trying to figure out how to NOT come in last place in mario kart. 

so far it's not working.

auf Wiedersehen!