Monday, August 25, 2008

Winter Season in Paris and Amsterdam

So, I am recruiting knowledgeable minds! Well, ones that have traveled to Paris and Amsterdam at least.

I've mentioned that Tim and I are heading across the Big Blue this upcoming winter, and I am beginning to surf around for sites to see! It's a ten day trip starting in Amsterdam (including over New Years), heading through Brussels for lunch, and then on to Paris (for our two year anniversary).

Included in our trip:
Notre Dame
Anne Frank's House
Louvre Museum
Seine Cruise
Eiffel Tower

Other than that, we are starting from scratch! If you know of cool museums, funky sites, yummy restaurants, or even just pretty views, I would love to hear them. Load me up with information people! Let me learn from other people's experience. Even if you know of just a really good travel site, that would be sweet.

For those that don't personally know us, we have traveled overseas quite extensively, just not to these locations, so we don't need generic travel info like how to fly and such. Just specific Parisian and Dutch wonder!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Last of Philadelphia Adventure.

Continuing on the great Philadelphia Adventure of 2008, Tim and I found my phone at the rental car place and navigated the SEPTA rail to get to the downtown area. It was like instant Boston nostalgia on the commuter rail. Hot, smelly, waiting impatiently, but yet, so miss-able! We found our hotel in the same building as the SEPTA stop, RIGHT downtown. So we went out to explore, randomly finding a free, outdoor, Boyz II Men concert before Independence Day fireworks. So we walked around some more, not needing to recreate the mid 90s boy band, but wanting to see the fireworks. Torrential downpour right before the show wasn't awesome, but we stayed planted at our on-ramp location, and saw lots of colorful explosions before walking back to the hotel for the night.

Sunday, we arose early to walk to the Franklin Institute and saw this sweet Pirate exhibit. We saw 400 year old rope that looked like it was made yesterday. We saw the leg bone of a 10 year old pirate boy. It was insane, and made me want to hunt for pirate ships! We went through the rest of the museum, and I was tuckered out by noon! We walked back to Reading Terminal Market, which I have come to describe as Faneuil Hall on crack. At least 50 stalls of food and produce and awesomeness. And I got the beloved cheese steak I have been dreaming about for over a year. Then we found this crazy side museum called the Mutter Museum, which is basically a museum of medical oddities. Its super small, and attached to a university, but its weird skeletons and cadavers and just creepy weird stuff. The first floor of room one alone is enough to make me NEVER want to be a doctor. After a stop at Trader Joe's (despite our hatred for it, we cant afford to eat out EVERY meal), we dropped the food off at the hotel and walked through Sketchyville to Edgar Allen Poe's residence and national site. I got a stamp in my book (see KC entry for explanation) and took a tour. The basement was RIDIC creepy. It POURED rain as we were leaving, but it was at least a 45 minute walk, so we tried taking the bus and ended up waiting half an hour for the wrong bus, getting mildly soaked under the bus stop. We had signed up for a haunted ghost tour that night, and while the driver was smart, it wasn't really scary. It was more just historic, but still not too shabby. I just like the scary stuff, and tour drivers named Anthraxicon. All in all, a good and LONG day.

Somehow we got up the next day by 8 to head to Independence Hall. Did the tour of the big touristy place, saw the Liberty Bell, and headed to the Constitution Center. Walking up the sidewalk, Tim completely randomly spotted my grandparents also going to the Center. We joined them in going through the Center, but then split ways so we could go to lunch at DiNardos. We love ourselves some yummy seafood. Christ Church was next, it was a walk in, walk out, and yet, in walking out, SURPRISE! pouring rain. We said screw it and just ran awning to awning until we made it back to the hotel. Since the rain never let it up, we decided to grab a bus to the King of Prussia mall. REALLY big mall, only we didn't know that it took an hour to get there until we were on the bus. Oh well. Did some shopping, ate some Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, shopped more, and got CPK to go, holding it on our laps the whole way home. After that, we called it a day.

Tuesday was awesome. We slept until 10, did shopping at Foster's (the coolest kitchen store ever), ate at Reading Market, and basically had a lazy morning. Took a bus and walked to the Eastern State Pennitentary. This place could have an entire entry to itself. It was different than I imagined. None of it has been touched since the closure of the penn in the early 70s. Paint is chipped, metal is rusted, cells are collapsed. It is destructive beauty. Everywhere you turn is another picture of despair colliding with nature and art. Undescribable.

I highly suggest it to everyone before it gets restored for safety reasons. It also had a high creepster level. Im not one to go all ghosts and ghoulies, but this place had a vibe that gave us the chills. Especially in certain areas. It was just a place that could be felt and not just seen. After we spent several hours there, we took the bus to the infamous Rittenhouse Square. Nothing too special. It was very Newbury Street. Nice shops and such. Dinner at Reading Terminal (in case you didn't notice, we liked it a lot). The evening was very chill. Watched Alien on my laptop, some trash tv, relaxation was the key of the night. We also had to decide about the next day. We had wanted to hit up the Philly Zoo, but it was just so hot, and we had a plane to catch, it just wasn't worth it. And somehow, we ended up watching Gang shows on CNBC until 2am. We're dorks.

Our final day was a partial day, we slept in again since we had nowhere to rush to. Checked out, and took the SEPTA to UPenn (*sigh public transportation). Our destination was the Archeology and Anthropology Museum. Tim liked it more than I did, but I have been spoiled in the past by European massive museums. We spent a little time there, not much though, and went back downtown for our last meal at our favorite place, the market. Back to the hotel for the shuttle to the airport. It was kinda sucky, Tim and I had the same flight from Philly to Minneapolis, but then we separated ways there and I flew in to Waterloo while he flew into Cedar Rapids. But we both got home before midnight!

And that is the end of my blathering on and on about anything Philadelphia. I promise :)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Philadelphia Family Reunion 2008

Most people don't enjoy their family reunions. Especially when they really don't know any of the people that will be there, remember their names, or even know how they are related to them. I, however, was giddy about this past 4th of July so I could fly out with my mom and brother (Tim joined the next day) to Pennsylvania to attend the Roskamp Family Reunion. My mom and I went to the one five years ago, and I have been enamored since. Something about the place (Thomas Mill Farms, a huge property with a wheel house, gardener house, bamboo forrest, EVERYTHING) and all the people around eating and drinking. Its like people watching heaven.

Despite my mother having boarding pass issues in Waterloo (the worst airport on the planet, everyone there has a MAJOR power trip), we arrived in time for the barbecue by the creek. It was rather awkward when people think that my brother is my husband. I know they haven't seen Chris since he was a baby, or met Tim ever, but still, creepy ew. The first night is always the weirdest because you have no idea who anyone is and being introduced to 50 people all at once leaves little chance to actually remember anyone's names let alone relation. Add about 10 glasses of wine and beer PER person, and you have a mental mesh of mayhem!

The next day (Happy Independence Day!), we picked up Tim in a nearby town that has an Amtrak. Wayne, PA is the cutest most perfect town. An array of unique restaurants. A quirky mix of shops down a neat and tidy main street. An old time movie theater. And more yoga studios than I have ever seen in a ten mile radius. Adorable. Back at the Mills, we got a private tour of the bamboo forrest in the backyard. It was so in the middle of nowhere and random, it was like you stepped into a story book, with a panda hanging out just around the corner. These things are a lot of chillin out, on one of the many porches and decks or dens that they have. That afternoon, Tim and I were doing such with my grandma when the lady of the house asked us to make a liquor store run for her. We figured out that we were the designated runners because everyone else in the house old enough to have a license, was too buzzed at 2pm to drive to the store to get the "largest bottles you can find" of Jack Daniels and Grey Goose. THESE are the people you want to party with. Remember, that 60% are over 70, and 90% are over 40. And of course, only hours later was cocktail hour by the pool before the Independence Day BBQ feast. Its ridiculous what these people have catered. 3 ten foot long tables full of food. Gourmet food. Plus an ice cream bar with at least 10 different kinds of toppings. Insane. But delightful! Then come the embarrassing family stories about how my great aunt was born due to a pastor recommending birth control. And how she was almost named Iowa. Top it all off with a private fire works show, with several nearly killing people by shooting off the wrong way, and you have a grand Fourth of July!

That last day that my mother and brother were in town, the four of us drove to Amish country. The Amish culture has fascinated me since I was very little. I dont know why really, I have absolutely no desire to live in that manner, but I just find it most intriguing. So anytime I have the chance to be around it, sign me up! We took the Straasburg Railroad, slightly disappointed that we didnt see more Amish countryside since it was so short. We headed through the Lancaster countryside, taking as many discrete pictures as we could, and hitting up the Amish shops at Intercourse, PA. *insert own joke here* (no pun intended). Back at the Mills, our final Reunion activity was to witness the Family Talent Show. Most acts involved the little kids doing gymnastics or singing. But the top two acts were several of the older women singing about Menopause. And my personal favorite, my straight laced grandfather and his brothers, dressed up like the Beatles, lip syncing "I wanna hold your hand." Check it out here: We were all crying with laughter. And after that, we rushed my mom and brother off to the airport to say goodbye. And of course, on the shuttle between the car rental and airport, I cant find my cell phone. So we have a rapid good bye as Tim and I go in search for it and start our own Philadelphia Phenomenon!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Red Sox Sitings in Kansas City!

This past week, Tim and I took an extended weekend (part of the pluses when you work where we work) and headed down south to Kansas City for two Red Sox/Royals games. We took a brief sidetrip into Urbana to meet up with Travis for a brunch at the Machine Shed, and then headed the several hours down south.

What I have apparently been oblivious to over the past lifetime, is that, as soon as you hit the Missouri/Iowa border, it really is like entering a new world. I knew that it was more sourthern, but I did not realize how much. We made a few stops (Tim loves his fireworks) and in dealing with the people down there, it is just crazy how different they are than up here. And its only a few hours away! Even the choice in restaurants in drastic. Southern cooking and barbecue are boasted every 50 feet. I also didnt know how "unkempt" Kansas City was. Its like the sprawled out over a huge plot of land, and then decided to only keep tabs on 1/4 of it. Empty run down building and plots of land were everywhere, only because there was just so many of the same businesses everywhere. Sad almost.

We got to the hotel, only a few blocks from the stadium (go priceline!) and it was like Red Sox haven. 4 out of every 5 people that we saw were donned in some sort of Red Sox gear. We quickly learned that most of them were all faux fans, not having ever even been to Boston, but it still tugged on my heart strings to see that much Sox pride. It made me long for the days at Kenmore station, fighting through to get up top only to be happily assaulted by vendors selling everything promoting the Sox, to brutally embarassing the Yankees (Jeter sucks...and swallows).

One thing I did enjoy about Kansas City was the Jack Stack restaurants. It is DELISH barbecue that we ate for two of the three meals that we ate there. We walked in and wanted to die a heavenly death from just the smell alone. I wont go in to our awesome food, cause thats even more boring than I can handle, but it was delish, with the perfect atmosphere and a not so hefty price. Tim was pretty much in heaven. And then I was in heaven the next day at a breakfast place called First Watch. Im thinking Cedar Falls needs one. I would be there ALL OF THE TIME. Enough about food.

The games On the first night it was well over 100 with the heat index and humidity. You walk outside, and no joke, an instant layer of sticky and sweat breaks out over your entire body of skin. But we had really good seats, and I took a ton of pictures to keep myself entertained and did my People crossword. The second night, we had even better seats, and there was a nice perfect breeze coming through, and we had a bar as a footrest right in front of us. Needless to say, the second night was a lot better.

We had planned to go to the zoo during the day on the second day, but one business we passed said the temperature was 108, so we forwent the zoo, slept in til noon, and then gave in to my latest addiction. National Park passport stamps. I did it a lot when I was little, and my mom found it this past year, and I have taken it on all my trips for the past few months to get as many stamps as I can. Its just a fun little thing to do and be able to look back at. So I got the Harry S Truman home site crossed off the list on this trip. Only nine million more to go!

Overall, the trip was relaxing and fun. As much as I am not a fan of watching baseball, my love of all things Red Sox and food made it that much more enjoyable. Good times. I rate the trip A- (and only because 108 is just way too hot to have a straight A). :)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tagged-6 Random Things About Me

Usually, I am really good at staying away from these kinds of things. But I liked the idea of this one, so I thought I would give it a whirl!

I've been tagged by This Abode

First here are the rules:
*Link to the person who tagged you.
*Post the rules on your blog.
*Write 6 random things about yourself.
*Tag 6 people at the end of your post.
*Let each person know you tagged them by leaving an entry on their blog.
*Let your tagger know when your entry is up on your blog.

Six random things about me...

1) When I was in second or third grade, I completely mauled my mouth in a tabogganing accident with my father. 15 years later, the only lasting damage is a chipped front tooth (covered up with a bond).

2) In 7th grade, my mom and I traveled to Chile for two weeks with NU High School for an exchange program. I stayed with a family that fed me nothing but Coca Cola, yogurt, and hamburgers with guacomole. I still cannot stand anything avocado to this day.

3) I have a ticket stub from every single movie that my husband and I have seen in the theaters, all the way back to the first movie we saw when we started dating, "Meet the Parents."

4) I am obcessed with the television show Big Brother. More than obcessed. Freakishly drawn to it by an invisible force impentratable.

5) I used to hate peanut butter beyond belief. I wouldnt eat anything that closely even resembled peanut butter. Over the past six months, a 22 year old hatred magically went away and now I cant get enough of the gooey delicious paste.

6) One of my favorite New England activities was going up to Salem in the fall and seeing the Halloween Pet Costume contest. It was always brilliant and hilarious.

I tag because I care... :)
- VitaminZ because I envy the amount of pushups and posts he can do in a single day.
- Fruit and Bread because I love her blog and her pictures are gorgeous.
- Ryan because if he does this, it will be entertaining to read.
- Blogelemy because his life is full of excitement and vigor.
- Chance because he's my token Iowan in Germany.
- Adam because he hasnt posted on his own blog in TOO LONG.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Roll Call!

Do people actually read this, or am I just typing to the empty nothingness that is the internet?

Shoot me a message, on this post or email or whatever!

I am also open for topics. I have a few ideas rolling around, but I am willing to listen to my public ;)

Back Home: Boston

After the last post about what I love about Cedar Falls, I got to thinking about what I missed about Boston. It's killer. At this point in my life, no matter how many other places I live, I am going to miss somewhere else. When I am in Boston, I miss Cedar Falls, and now that I am back here, I want to go back to Boston.

It is definitely something that will plague me for the rest of my life. But is that such a bad thing? It is when it comes down to decisions like where I want to be, but it just also means that I have found places that have made the moments in my life. I have attachments and loves in all of these places, with people and events and everything surrounding the areas. *sigh* Let's just make one big city! And everyone I love can live in it!

Here's my list for Boston!

-Midnight movies
-Cape Cod vacations
-Dunkin donuts
-Restaurant scene
-Having a doorman
-People watching
-Free movies
-Smell of Starbucks everywhere
-Great Christmas shopping
-Clothes that arent 3 seasons old and actually fit
-Every type of store, from cheap corporate to quaint and cute
-Cultural Uniqueness on every corner
-Gondola rides on the river
-Walking in the North End
-Trick or Treating in Beacon Hill
-Ghosts and Graveyard Tours
-Museums that change exhibits more often than each decade
-Boston Red Sox fans
-friends that are quirky and amazing
-Bars that know how to be bars and not clubs
-Ability to go to clubs
-They know what it means to be a deli
-Puppies everywhere
-Parades for absolutely everything
-Way more holidays than the midwest
-People everywhere
-Cute boys that know what style is
-Harvard Square
-Taking the T when its empty
-Party Favors Cupcakes
-Limited Release movies

-Not knowing anyone from high school
-The accent
-Kenmore on the day of a game
-Shows at Avalon/Axis
-People with a sense of humor
-Sea air
-Fanueil Hall and Quincy Market
-Street Performers on every corner
-Hay Market farmers market