Monday, January 30, 2012

Europes biggest (and most dangerous) playground - Linnaeushof

Even in the Netherlands, Saturdays should be reserved for the Hawks.  However, the wife had made plans to go with the neighbors to Europe's largest playground much to my chagrin and lobbying to stay home.

After you pay your entrance fee and enter the park, nary a worker is seen again. If you want to ride the zip line, you strap yourself in, hit the start button and away you go.

If you want to ride the Flintstone cars, climb the steps, shut the door if you so choose, and start peddling.

Notice the lack of straps, harness, or belts holding you in from falling 30 feet.

 The daughter about to be flung out of the ride.

Well this is a little safer way to ride the swings but notice the angled metal merry-go-round in the background.

A little help please.

This playground is brought to you by Marlboro.

Calculating her odds of surviving the day.  Looked to be about 50/50.

At least there is a little bit of netting.

About an hour in to our adventure at Linnaeushof, the neighbor kids and my daughter wanted to go on the ferris wheel.  The wives were getting lemonade and I thought my daughter would be to small for the ferris wheel and could fall off similar to the swings that were posted above.  So I sat with my daughter on the ferris wheel of death and the neighbor father peddled the ride (similar to the stock photo below)

Unfortunately as our cart reached the top, it flipped completely flinging my daughter and I out. I held the daughter, grabbed one of the spokes, and landed on the axle.  After getting everyone safely down, the daughter was fine however my finger looked very similar to this.

After letting the shock wear off, we headed to the first aid station.  The lady working went to get the "nurse", when she saw my finger she looked like she was going to pass out and said she needed to get her supervisor (the "nurse" happened to be the same lady who sold the tickets at the front gate).  After waiting for 10 minutes I popped my finger back into place and kept waiting.  The supervisor finally came and recommend we tape it and showed no concern that the ride had flipped me out.

We spent the rest of the day at the playground, and I made it home to see Iowa beat the sisters of the poor (University of Louisiana Monroe) with one apologetic wife.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Versailles and it's little Palace

The Versailles Palace sits about 12 miles outside of Paris and can be reached by quick train ride.  Versailles is a symbol of the excesses of the French monarchy under Louis XIV "The Sun King".  Estimates very for the cost to build but they range from $2 billion - $300 billion in today's dollars.  It also estimated that it took almost a quarter of the government income to maintain the palace during its heyday.

The palace is capable of holding up to 20,000 people, has 700 rooms, and 67 staircases.  They estimate 3,000 people lived there at any one time, all either wanting time with the king or working for him.

The golden gate is a replica as it was torn down during the French Revolution, however the replica is covered in 100,000 gold leaves with a cost of $8 million.


The view through the gate.

The wait was long to get inside, it took about 1 - 1 1/2 hours to get in.  The line snaked in the courtyard back and forth with each length about 100 meters.  All the people below are in the same line.

When we first got inside we got a view of the chapel.  This is the chapel on the first floor.

This is a view of the chapel from the second floor where Louis the XIV would worship while those on the first floor worshipped him.

Nearly all of the rooms had ornate ceilings.  Some of the designs were painted in and some were raised sculpture.

This wall had the real marble columns blend in with the painted marble columns to give a sense of openness.

This is one of the walls which were hollow with an entrance (as pictured below).  The servants would wait in them until a guest needed something in order to stay out of site.

All of the furniture was fit for a museum.

The beginning of the hall of mirrors, which contains 357 mirrors which were one of the most expensive things to possess at the time.  The hall of mirrors is where the Treaty of Versailles was signed ending WWI.

A view down the hall of mirrors.

The daughter enjoying the history of the hall of mirrors.

The mirros are symmetrical to the arched windows across the room and are designed to reflect the gardens.

Everything was really over the top.

The kings bed, where visitors would come watch him wake up and go to bed.

The queens bed where the birth of the chidren were a public event.

A view from the palace of the first section of the gardens.

One of the many fountains in the gardens.


A view from the gardens of the palace.

We leave you with a monkey riding a horse. Which was as fun then as it is now.

For more information on the palace you can go here.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Forgive me, for I have sinned

There are a lot of temptations in the Netherlands, and unfortunately I succumbed to something I thought I would never do. 

I used liquid smoke on a pork shoulder.

Sometimes I can't sleep thinking about it.

When I'm back in the States it won't ever happen again.

Friday, January 20, 2012

St. Andrews - The Cathedral

A little history of the church from Historic Scotland:

"The cathedral was begun in 1160–2 by Bishop Arnold. Work continued over the next 150 years, interrupted by a storm in 1272 which blew down the west front, and the first War of Independence against England (1296–1307). The cathedral was eventually dedicated in 1318, in the presence of King Robert I, by which date it was by far the largest church in Scotland.

The cathedral church is now ruined. Substantial, and superb, fragments survive, including the east gable of the presbytery, where the relics of St Andrew were held in veneration, the south wall of the nave, and the majestic west front. The cloister to the south retains its ruined chapter house and stone-vaulted undercrofts. The latter now house the cathedral museum, with its fascinating collection spanning the period from the 8th century to post-Reformation times"

The photo below gives a little perspective on the sheer size of the original formation.

Burial sites within the church walls.

St. Rules Tower, originally from the 12th century.

The burial site for Tom Morris.

A tombstomb in remarkable condition considering the age.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

St. Andrews - The Old Course

We couldn't go to Scotland without visiting the oldest and most famous course in the world.  Like any day I have seen of the British Open hosted at St. Andrews it was cold and blustery. 

The Royal and Anciet Clubhouse.

Tom Morris' shop along the 18th fairway.

On Sundays the Old Course is closed and open to the general public to enjoy (much different then premier courses back home).  The general public is also allowed to play the course.

No discrimination here, even the dogs can walk and enjoy the course.

Never thought I would be standing in the Road Hole bunker (my father's teachings of proper golf etiquette forced me to rake it when I left)

The wife and daughter amongst the peaks and valleys of the 17th fairway.

The tee marker of the "Road" hole.

Standing on the tee box of the 17th, with a blind shot over the Old Course Hotel.

After walking half the course, you can tell the rest of the family was really enjoying it!

The greens have a lot of pitch to them as seen in the picture and video below where I dropped a ball straight down.

Standing on the Swilcan Bridge, thanking the crowd for their support.