Saturday, July 29, 2006

Paris Day 5

This was our last day in Paris, and probably one of the best. We decided to catch the train out to see the Cite Science Center. It is a terrific place, with a lot of something for everyone. Admission: depends how much you want to see inside. Going through the area geared towards kids, on similar scale to COSI, 15 Euros for the 4 of us.

We spent a good deal of time inside the center, but noticed a lot of activity out back. Behind the center is a cool water garden with a huge reflective geode (theatre inside).

There is a big dragon slide at the edge of the canal. You climb up about 30 feet through its rib cage and come out its mouth. Notice how small the person looks sliding down this thing! Admission: Free

On the other side of the canal is a sprawling public park.

And what Paris park would be complete without a carousel? I turned on the fast exposure for my Canon and got this terrific shot of my wife and the kids as they rode by. If you look closely, you'll see that there is an upper deck to this ride. Admission: 1 Euro

Paris - Day 4

Eiffel Tower - from the second platform. It was way too busy to wait for lift to the very top.

Pony ride in the park

Eglis du Dome - I guess Napoleon is burried here?

Rodin's Garden - Son standing at the "Gates of Hell". Boy, get away from there!

Jarden Antlantique - Metro Rooftop garden

One of our books about Paris noted what to see from various train stops. At this one, there is a park built on top of a train station. It has raised walk ways and tucked away places. At certain parts you can look down through the ground and see the trains.

The kids enjoyed themselves at this park for a while before we set off for dinner.

We ate at Hippopotamus, and then, very full and very tired, headed back to our room.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Paris: Day 3

We slept until 10, had a lazy breakfast at the hotel hotel. Made it to the train station at noon. Took train to Chatelet Les Halles station, which lets out at an underground mall in the center of the city. In this mall, as with many places in Europe, you must pay to use the toilets. In this case there is a man with remote control opening and shutting doors after you pay him. At least when the restrooms must be paid for, they are typically clean!

The center of the mall opens up to the sky, it was pretty neat! When you come up to street level, you see these terrific gardens and a huge cathedral (St Eustache) at one end.

This park has a couple of play grounds tucked in. I let my kids play in one for about an hour while Megan browsed around. There was a huge sand box, water fountain, play equipment, etc. It was really cool watching these 4-6 year olds try to play together and realizing they had no clue how to communicate with words.

After this we started walking Paris ...mmmm banana crepes. We walked around chappel of saints, house of justice, Notre Dame ...mmm ice cream/gelatos.

We noticed an area called the Beach, down by the river. Evidently the city wanted to give people a reason to stay in the city on the weekends rather than going to a real beach. They trucked in tons of sand, and set up free umbrellas and reclined chairs. You could bring your own towel if you wish, or just sit in the sand. There were even shower stations to clean off!

What a great use of the waterfront! There were so many people walking up and down it. There was garden area, that many people took advantage of the misters to cool off.

For the pre-teens, there was this great obstacle course...all this for free. They had ballroom dance lessons (once again, outdoor dance floor), food vendors, street performers, and more.

We made our way down the river to the Louvre court. When we walked in I could here this opera singer and was just overwhelmed. I felt shivers and my eyes welling up, just giddy, very similar to my friend Christine one time at the Toledo Museum. We saw the glass pyramid, reflection ponds, the arch out front, but we were in no shape to go inside today. So we walked back toward Le Halles.

On the way I noticed a metro entrance that the one in front of the Toledo Museum must be modeled after! What serendipity!

One thing that really stood out about this city, is the great mixture of transportation. The trains and buses were excellent, but you also saw cars, scooters, bycycles, and plenty of walkers.

We ate Chinese for dinner, train ride back to bus station, bus ride back to hotel. What a long but terrific day. In the train station, my son tried to befriend a boy with a couple of french words he picked up, and the boy didn't understand. His mother came over and told me in English that the boy didn't speek a word of French (or Enlglish), only Hebrew. Never know what you'll find!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Paris: Day 2 - Disney

We started off the vacation with a day of completely comercialized pursuits ..."Eurodisney". It was a gorgeous day. We went right away in the morning, went back to the hotel in the afternoon for naps.

Back to the park around 5pm - 11. We saw the light parade which was quite a bit different than the one in Orlando. Just at the end we started seeing lightening bolts and a storm blew they canceled the fire works. We ducked into Planet Hollywood for dessert to avoid the crowded bus stop and torrential downpour. It was a great ending to a nearly perfect day.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Paris Day 1

Today was mainly a day of travel. Manchester to Amsterdam to Charles De Gaul in Paris.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bon Voyage!

We're off to Paris...can't wait! Will post pics when we get back.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Bloods & Crisps

In some ways food is very different here... haggis, blood pudding, bangers/mash, mushy peas, etc. Crisps are potato chips, and chips are french fries. Shopping can be very different because all of these little towns have very pedestrian friendly (car unfriendly) main streets. In other ways, things are exactly the same here. New American style outdoor strip malls are popping up all over, and you can't travel very far without seeing Subway, McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc. Hell, our town even has Dominos delivery! You have towns struggling to change after factory closures and the social problems that follow high rates of unemployment.

Today we went far away from all of that, up into the Lake District at Lake Windemere. It is a very beautiful area. We took a half hour cruise around the lake, and saw countless sailboats, row boats, and waterfowl. There are no fast/loud boats ripping through which makes it all very relaxing. The lake is 10 miles long and we drove the length of it which is a narrow winding stone wall bordered road.

Most of the buildings in this area (even new ones) are made of true fieldstone. It is amazing. There is good food and nice sidewalk shops in Bowness. Ambleside looked terrific too, but we only drove through. We ate at the Travellers Rest pub, good food and the building has loads of "character". When I say character I mean there isn't a true wall in the place anymore! Great selection of cask ales but I was driving so I resisted. I have to say Theakston's Old Peculiar is my "favourite" so far.

While in Bowness, we toured the Beatrix Potter museum. The kids were very afraid because many of the storybook animals looked so real.

I think there was a little bit for everyone today. The best part for me? We stopped by a guy's home in Blackpool to pick up my Yamaha subwoofer ebay win. yay!

Friday, July 21, 2006

School's out...

School let out for the boy today. He said he prefers his school in England over that in Toledo. They have recess 3 times a day and better food.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Finally...broadband @ my UK home

Today I came home from the Laundromat and saw the wonderful green light on my broadband router. This was supposed to be activated long ago, and after many long phone calls its finally working!

You may be wondering, "Aaron, you seem to have a great job with a great company, why would I be going to a Laundromat?". Ahh, a question my wife has asked me as well. It turns out that our dishwasher, clothes washer, and dryer, all languished while waiting for our arrival. We knew about this 2 weeks ago, but I'm learning that NOTHING happens fast over here (except how quickly the taxes start piling up). Yes, there is a 17.5% sales tax (VAT) added to nearly everything. And our first piece of mail we received was a letter from our borough (county) asking us to promptly pay our council tax (property). Shortly after we received a letter from the government asking us to quickly pay our annual TV license (you pay an annual fee to government just to have a TV in your house)...ugh

We are starting to venture out a bit more from the house now. Yesterday we spent time at Albert Dock in Liverpool, and then on to the great beach in Southport. Both are just 20 minutes from our house. I'm still getting used to how quickly you can travel what seem like long distances on a map. UK has about 54 million people and is probably comparable in size to Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.

I'll definately be bloggin' more often now that I'm back online...feels good.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Settling in

Life has been very busy getting settled into our new house. The kids are loving it. Megan is trooping along without a car, but the towns here are very pedestrian friendly with great public transportation.

Our air shipment arrives tomorrow and our ocean shipment should be in the next week or so.

I'm working with a great bunch of developers now and I think I'll enjoy it much more. Before I was sort of alone in my work and now I'll be with a good size team.

More to come...