Chizzy and I just got back from a few days in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Mostly just a photblog here. If you want brutally long commentary, check out the special edition podcast Chizzy and I recorded about our visit.
ďOur Saviour on-the-Spilt-BloodĒ. A mouthful of a name, but a very cool looking structure.
Continue reading "St. Petersburg"...
As most of you know, I had the opportunity to visit our Singapore office 2 weeks ago. Iíve never been to Asia so I was super excited to have this experience. I arrived around 7am on a Sunday morning and it was probably 80 degrees and so humid. It would only get hotter and stay that way for the entire trip.
I stayed on the 48th floor of the Swissotel.
Here are some views from my room.
Iíve been told that Singapore is probably one of the most westernized locations in Asia so this was a good introduction for me. Lots of shopping malls and fantastic food. Unfortunately I didnít have much time to shop but I walked through several giant air-conditioned malls to get to work everyday, passing no less than 5 Starbucks on the way.
The office is actually located on the 8th floor of this mall.
The first day I met up with a colleague and his wife who showed me around the city. We ended up in Little India.
My first coconut
Continue reading "Singapore"...
I donít think it was a Memorial Day equivalent but there was some random European-wide holiday here on Monday. Chizzy parlayed that with a personal vacation day on Friday and we set out for a long weekend in Lisbon, Portugal. It was the first time either of us has been to Portugal and now we are very close to having visited all Western European countries (at least for a few hours).
Continue reading "Lisbon"...
Iím happy I finally had the chance to visit Prague. It would have been great if Chizzy could have been there as well, but she tricked me into going without her and Iím really glad that she did. And it wasnít like I was alone. In fact, Iíd recommend bringing along Chris, Paty, Reid and Heather anytime you need to leave the house really.
I was the first to arrive early on Thursday morning with plenty of time before the official hotel check-in so I decided to save some money by making my way to the city via public transport. Two lessons quickly learned. 1) Donít expect to break a large bill with a token iced tea purchase at the airport shop and 2) Enthusiasm in the English language wasnít quite as widespread as I expected. It was no problem getting around whatsoever and I never felt like I was misunderstood, but there was a fair amount of caveman conversations going on. And Iím pretty sure it wasnít because they couldnít carry on a conversation with you in English if they wanted to. It just seemed like the type of wariness that comes with being a massive tourist destination and dealing with lost and confused people all day.
A 20 minute bus ride and a 5 minute metro (subway) ride later, I popped onto the street right next to the main Old Town Square.
The square was very crowded in general but any photo where it looks like there is an unnecessary amount of congregation is probably related to the clock in the next photo.
Continue reading "Prague"...
Iíd heard a fair amount about this clock from Chizzy who stayed in the hotel that overlooked it when she visited. Every hour, hundreds of people would gather around to watch the magic. Looking around the crowd, I did see a little bit of the disappointment Chizzy mentioned that follows each little show but there was always a hearty round of applause as well.
The weekend after Nick and Shelby left, we made our second journey out to Zermatt with a bunch of Chizzyís co-workers. We took off late on Friday afternoon and got to Zermatt in the dark. We woke in the morning to rain which wasnít that sweet since this day was supposed to be a hiking day.
This was our view from the balcony off the room in the morning.
We set out fairly early as a group to find some breakfast along the main street in town. No chance for eggs and bacon here. Just rolls and jam. Stupid Euro-breakfasts.
Continue reading "Zermatt Revisited"...
Whatís this? A possible break in the clouds? Yes, it was. The day ended up being AMAZING and we had a fantastic walk in the mountains.
So yeah, Venice is pretty amazing. It is the best example of a city we have come across so far where the tourist aspect almost adds to the enjoyment of the city. Itís difficult to explain, but it just seemed like all us tourists were supposed to be there. The city is something unique in the world that people want to see and you donít mind sharing it. The city has grown around the tourists and it was difficult for me to think that the city had lost any of its uniqueness because of that. After all, it is a freaking city with WATER FOR ROADS!
I wasnít kidding about that view from the earlier post being from our hotel window. Chizzy outdid herself once again and got us rooms with Grand Canal views right at the freaking Rialto Bridge. We were impressed.
Continue reading "Venice"...
If you didnít figure it out from the three clues in the last post, the city Chiz chose for our latest trip was Budapest, Hungary. It is only a 1 Ĺ hour plane ride from Zurich to the huge Central European city so it made another great candidate of the long weekend variety.
The first fun fact we learned is that the Ďblueí Danube runs through the middle of the city and separates the two parts of the city. Literally. The city to the west of the river is Buda and the city to the east is Pest. When we heard this we realized what a perfect fit this city was for the two of us. I naturally represent the Buda side with my spherical belly, which leaves Chizzy to be theÖ well, you get it. If you donít have the knack for keeping compass directions clear in your mind, the Buda side can always be easily identified because it is the side with the hills. Pest is totally flat.
Continue reading "Budapest"...
Itís been two months since our visit to London so Iíll try to remember everything we took photos of.
Bryan and I both arrived via train to Paddington Station, though at separate times since I was there for work a couple days earlier. Neither of us got a chance to take the tube, not because we were scared, but because we took a tour bus around instead.
Our hotel was awful so we spent very little time there. It wasnít that cheap either (well, maybe for London) so it was incredibly disappointing. The location was good though. We immediately took off in search of that world-renowned English cuisine. Easily found it at a nearby restaurant. I had Fish & Chips...Delicious and greasy. Bryan had the meat pie and fell in love.
The next morning started early with a walk to Hyde Park. On our way we found this little street and thought itíd make a good photo.
Continue reading "Eastenders in Training"...
We didnít quite capture the enormity of Hyde Park, but hereís a little taste.
Some gardens around the Schonbrunn palace.
Also in the gardens of Schonbrunn, these were actually called ďfake Roman ruinsĒ. I might have learned this after taking the picture.
This really was boys playing catch with an American football. First Iíd seen of that over here. I have no idea if the boys themselves were American.
Lots more...Continue reading "Vienna Sights"...
The Vatican is a damn cool place. I donít know if that is an inappropriate thing to say of a very spiritual place, but Iím not religious so I feel secure saying it. Besides, itís primarily a cool place because the Popes stole all the marble and pillars from Roman structures. So they shouldnít be judging.
Here is how St. Peters Basilica appears in the skyline across the river Tevere.
A closer look standing in St. Peterís Square.
We figured it was from one of these two windows that the Pope addresses the people who gather in St. Peterís Square.
Continue reading "The Vatican"...
You have to get past the Swiss Guard to gain entry into the Basilica. I found a good tickle to the side stomach area was the best approach.
The first order of business during our latest travel trip was a quick weekend tour of Switzerland by train. Zurich is basically central-north Switzerland and our end goal was Geneva in the south west. Itís less than 3 hours by train to give you an idea of how small the country is. We stopped in Bern on the way there and stopped in Lausanne on the way back. Here are some photo highlights. I have a lot to catch up on and the other trips were a bit more interesting so Iím skipping photo touch-ups and long commentary for this leg.
Recall that before Katrina there was some flooding in Europe, particularly Germany and Switzerland. Bern was one of the cities that was hardest hit, but it pales in comparison to what is happening on New Orleans. Iíll just post a couple before and after pictures that I was able to assemble from a previous trip to the capital of Switzerland.
And the token underwater cars:
Bern has a really amazing old-town area, but it is undergoing massive roadwork this summer and this is what we saw.
We visited the house Einstein lived at in Bern when he started forming the ideas for the Theory of Relativity. Heís real popular in Bern still. You had to use your imagination in this landmark.
Continue reading "Tour de Suisse"...
Geneva was probably the highlight of this particular trip. It has a nice mix of old town and modern city. This is a French speaking area of Switzerland and the French influence is very apparent.
Oh, what can I say about Munich except the beer is great and the pretzels are HUGE.
We have an office there so I was able to schedule some meetings for late in the week and have Bryan meet me on Friday for some super good times. We stayed outside of the city so our mode of transport to the center was the U2. I asked Bryan if thatís how the band got its name and he was sure it was not. We still havenít looked into that one.
Saturday morning we got up nice and early and headed on down to the center. It was raining so we decided to hop on a double decker and tour the city. Here are some of our shots from the bus. I took the pictures so youíll see lots of raindrops on them since I didnít really try to find a spot out the window that was dry.
Just so you get the general idea of the city. There were a lot of cranes around so many of our pictures didn't turn out so great.
Continue reading "MŁnchen"...
Another festive street.
This is an unauthorized post. I am doing this while Chiz is at work and didnít make sure these photos pass approval for world viewing. I really hope she doesnít seek revenge by posting photos of me. There are no two ways about it (if there was before); I am officially fat. I have managed to move to Europe and pack it on. So much for blending in. Also, we donít hear enough from Chiz on this site and Iím sure people are wondering what she is up to. I think this is a fair representation of both her unique lifestyle and her magnificent beauty. Enjoy.
RelaxingChiz. This is a popular location for weekend chillin. We know she is only relaxing and reading celebrity gossip on the computer because her shoes are off. When she is actually working, she keeps the shit-kickers on.
Continue reading "Swiss Chiz"...
Finally after 5 months of 60 plus hour weeks, I managed to take a week off. The city of choice was Prague. Carolyn and I managed to get in a lot during our trip. Our itinerary was something like this:
Day 1 Ė Checked in to the hotel where we had this fantastic view of the Astrological Clock. We had heard a lot about the hourly display so we were happy to have arrived about 10 minutes before it went off. A bell started to ring, the little figures on the side of the clock started making some mechanical movements and then the windows opened up. Several little statues passed by the window, the rooster crowed and it was over. Didnít live up to the build up, but it certainly was worth it being able to watch the crowds gather every hour and gauge the bewilderment and disappointment, followed by cheers and laughter.
Chizzy wanted to do a photoblog of Stockholm, but sheís in Paris for a week and she never did get around to doing the other posts she promised so Iím taking a shot. Actually, there are a lot more photos from the trip (including a boat excursion to the city of Vaxholm) so she might still do one yet.
Each time we leave a location we went to visit, we promise that we will do better research before we go to the next place so we know what to do. That still didnít happen here. Like I mentioned before, I didnít even know Stockholm was in an archipelago until we got there. The reason I bring this up is because there are very few instances where we actually knew what we were taking pictures of so captions will be limited. This shot from the plane gives a very good idea of the geography we were in.
We do know that this particular square in Gamla Stan (the old city) that Chizzy is standing in has a rich medieval history. It was the site of the first town hall and is the location of the ďStockholm blood bathĒ where 100 political dissidents were beheaded and their heads were left to roll around in the mud for three days.
OK, hereís some scenery.
Continue reading "Stockholm Pictures"...
The third Monday in April is Sechseluten here in Zurich. It is a celebration of the end of winter that culminates with the burning of a giant snowman. The length of time between when the fire is lit and when his explosives-filled head ignites is an indication of how much longer winter will last. The parade portion of the festivites are a chance for the Guilds of Zurich to dress up in traditional costume and strut through the streets. Guilds were traditionally profession-based organizations such as the masons or the barbers but have eventually become social groups that often are tied to a specific family. Chizzy is in Ireland for a few days, so I ventured out on my own to get these gripping photos.
Continue reading "Sechseluten"...
Here's the doomed snowman the day before the burning. At this point he is still pretty smug about being the center of attention and having an armed guard.
I thought I'd show you guys who is on my team. These are the people I work with in France. I'll have to post the Swiss team later when I have a full office.
Jean-Marie is a super outgoing guy who's originally from the Congo. He speaks about 3 African languages, French and English. His favorite phrase is "boom-i-ay," which means "kill the man" or something like that in English. He just says it when he does something good or is happy to see you.
Karine has been with the company for about 7 years and is originally from Brittany.
Continue reading "Since all I do is work..."...
We took the train to Neuhausen, about 45 minutes from Zurich. It was about a 25 minute walk from the train station to the falls. This shot is from the approach to the top of the falls. The train goes across that bridge, but you can also walk across to get a better view (which we did of course).
The falls. Not really. Haha. We joked about it because Rheinfalls is the largest in Europe, at only 25 meters high.
Read on to see it...Continue reading "Rheinfalls"...
Before I get into all the Lucerne stuff, let me first introduce you to the new Chizzy and Bryan.
Can you tell what's different?
Now onto Lucerne...the land of milk. At least we know it best from the dairy products. We didn't see any cows though. It was a very cold day in Switzerland, -10C. We were chilled to the bone, but managed to walk around most of the town pretty quickly. Not much to be seen here, but quite a beautiful city. It is the most visited city in Switzerland, but I imagine that is during the summer when you can swim, hike, check out the medieval wall, milk some cows, etc.Continue reading "Lucerne"...
Instead of sharing all of our photos from our weekend in Paris, I thought I'd just start with a few different shots of our most photographed site. It may seem cliche to take a ton of pictures of the Eiffel Tower, but each one has it's own charm.
Here are some of the pictures from our quick weekend trip to Brussels.
The Grand Place. It was 360 degrees of old.
Continue reading "Some pics of Brussels"...
Another view of The Grand Place. This building housed a museum.
We punched in Versailles to the GPS navigation system in the Audi station wagon and were off for a day trip to the most famous Chateau in France. We actually ran out of camera juice about half way through the day so some stuff will only live on in our memories. Hopefully some of these photos will do justice to the modest dwelling of Louis XIV.
You should be able to make out the castle there in the middle of the picture.
Continue reading "Versailles"...
The Hall of Mirrors. Although we didn't capture a mirror in this picture you can trust us that they were there and they were spectacular. Actually, a more traditional photo of this hall wasn't possible due to the massive restoration that wont be complete until 2007. Fun fact: The Treaty of Versailles was signed in this room.
As part of the sightseeing duties we hopped the train up to Uetliberg to look down on Zurich and get some overcast but sweet mountain views.
Had to get above the clouds to see the mountains.
Continue reading "Top of Zurich"...
"Hurry up! I'm standing on a grate."
Continue reading "One Day in Paris"...
I jumped in the water shortly after taking this picture