Sunday, October 31, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Just a hop, skip and a flying leap...

In September Jeff and I went on a trip with a couple of friends that we began planning over a year ago...back when the boys were just beginning to crawl and I had thoughts like, "Well, by one year from now, I'm sure I'll be fine leaving the boys for a week or so..."  Ha! 

It was a Baltic Cruise beginning in Copenhagen, Denmark, with stops in Estonia, Russia, Finland and Sweden, ending again in Copenhagen.  It was a wonderful trip and the boys were totally spoiled well taken care of by grandparents the entire time.  I really had no reason to worry, but somehow managed to fit that in anyway.  I did much better than I ever expected for the first week.  Then I had a bad dream and anyone who's a mom knows...that trip was over for me from there on out!

Here's what we saw in the meantime...
Copenhagen, Denmark

The real Little Mermaid statue was in China.  Go figure!  So we had to settle for her little sister at Tivoli Gardens.
This is Hamlet's Castle (well kind of anyway)

The medieval town of Tallinn, Estonia

In St. Petersberg, we decided it would be best to go on a 10 hour tour of the city.  At the beginning of our tour, our guide told us that according to Tolstoy, if you have not suffered you are worth nothing.  I think we may have been worth a little something by the end of the day.  (You'll see what I mean.)
 The incredible Hermitage Museum.  Our guide said that if you wanted to see the entire thing it would take you 8 years.  As you can imagine, we had a bit of a whirlwind tour in our few hours there.
 The Church of the Spilled Blood.  Apparently Ivan the Terrible didn't want to take any chances of this masterpiece being copied by anyone so he had his architects eyes gouged out after he designed this church.  I guess that's why they called him the Terrible.  

We stopped here for lunch...(nice parking job, eh?) where we enjoyed traditional Russian fare, including beef stroganoff, caviar (big orange fish eggs), champagne and vodka.   Nancy and I drank too much, NOT vodka, WATER.  I downed two bottles of water not imagining that this might pose a problem later.  We passed up the long line for the bathroom on the way out and were assured by our guide that there would be bathrooms at the next stop.
 This is only about 15 minutes later but I'm already walking gingerly.  However, I discovered that the only bathrooms at this stop required rubles to enter and I had none.  In fact, all I had were some American 20 dollar bills.  Fat lot of good that did me!  So we went on to the next stop...
 The Peter Paul Fortress was nice but by now I REALLY had to find a restroom or I was going to make a spectacle of myself.  Nancy was about as bad off as I was at this point so we raced off in the direction the guide pointed us...I wish I had a picture of this but I don't.  It was an old beat up trolley car that had been converted into outhouses.  I guess they thought that was charming??? Or maybe it's just a mobile restroom for hire and they drive around to various tourist spots.  I hate to think what would happen if they stopped fast on the road.  But I digress.  This place also took rubles and Nancy happened to have some from her last trip to Russia.  It was physically painful watching the woman pick out the right change only to discover that several of the coins were not rubles and we didn't have enough.  I would have gratefully handed over a $20 right there for the privilege of entering one of those teeny tiny little cubical outhouses but the lady showed us mercy and let us go through anyway.  I don't know if I can fully describe to you how small these stalls were.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that the toilet seat was two inches from the stall door.  There were very small corners on either side where you could conceivably fit your legs.  So it's really not surprising that they had to post this sign in each stall...

On to the next stop...
Stockholm, Sweden
This was my FAVORITE.  I loved Stockholm and could imagine being perfectly happy spending our entire week there.  Someday maybe we'll go back.

So we bookended our cruise with two 1 1/2 day stays in Copenhagen.  During our last stay I was determined to go to a flea market.  Don't ask me why but I've always wanted to do this.  Nancy had two local friends who met up with us and showed us around so we did find a flea market and I DID buy something...
 no, not these pictures but aren't they cool?  I love antiques because I feel that the history and story behind them (whether I know them or not) adds to their beauty.  How much more fabulous to look through antiques in a place like Denmark!

I'm a sucker for little silver spoons.  I found some that have that little Danish crown on them and was happy as a clam!
Seth wasn't as excited as we wereheh heh heh!

Overall, it was an amazing trip.  Jeff took a personal recordbreaking 3500 photos.  We had a great time with our friends.  We even got plenty of sleep at night.

When we got home we got to see this...

and there's nowhere in the world I'd rather be.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

For Grandma Julia...

Mmmmm...hamburger helper!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wardrobe Malfunction

Not quite sure how this happened.