Monday, February 27, 2012

London - Hyde Park

We spent one of our morning in London walking through Hyde Park.  It was a beautiful day and the daughter really enjoyed watching and feeding the birds.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Christmas Market - Dusseldorf

While the family was back home in the states during the month of December, I signed up for a bus trip to the Christmas Markets in Dusseldorf, Germany.  Christmas Markets are a big deal in Germany and usually last for about 4 weeks.  Dusseldorf had 6 or 7 different markets but most of them offered similar products.  Some stalls offered handmade German products but many stalls just offered cheap products made in China or India.  The baked almonds and fried mashed potatoes were great and many people enjoyed the gluhwein.  

Representation of the demographics of the bus (stock photo).  Myself and another co-worker were 2 of the 3 guys on the trip. 

Many of the stalls had traditional German Christmas decorations including the rauchermaan (incense smokers) pictured below.

One of the more talented vendors.

An over sized Christmas pyramid.

During most of the day it was pretty wet and chilly, but towards later afternoon it dried up.

My Schweinsaxe (pork knuckle), it was as good as it looks.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Peckforton Castle

During our trip to England to visit our cousin, they took us to Peckforton Castle. The castle was built in the middle of the 19th century as a family home.  It has been described as the "very height of masquerading" and one of the great buildings of its age. Today the castle is used as a luxury hotel.

The entrance to the castle

Part of the walled exterior

We had to wait to go inside as a wedding was taking place.

The courtyard

There were aviaries on site housing many large birds of prey, with daily shows. 

The bride was excited that we had come all the way from America for her wedding.

Everything about the castle was fantastic except the random 18 hole mini-golf course.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

London - The Monument

The Monument is London's commemoration of the great fire of London.  It stands 202 ft tall and 202 ft from the place the fire began.  The monument was completed in 1677

A view of the city from the top

A little winded but happy to be at the top after climbing the 311 steps.

On the way down

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Tale of the Tape

From Friday's paper over here.  I guess they think Mitt is going to get the Republican nod.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Rome - The Food

One of the great things about Rome was the food and the service.

Our first day we ate at a tourist trap, which we don't recommend doing.  The pasta was alright but..

It may have been the worst driest piece of cake we have had.

We learned our lesson and found a great little diner in the Trastevere neighborhood that didn't skimp on the water like many of the places in northern Europe.

We ate a lot of pizza on the trip

The pasta carbonara was very good as well

Did I mention I liked the fact that I didn't have to go through the day parched?  We also ate lots of breads and oils.

Rome was also home to the fanciest McDonalds we have been in, it is just down the street from the Spanish steps.

More pizza, but this one had a butter/garlic sauce

 The gnocchi was a great way to start a meal

We had these a few mornings

I'm not big on tomatoes but these were the best tomatoes I have ever had

Did I mention we ate a lot of different pizzas?

Never seen this before

We ended up at another tourist trap which was a fail

And what's a trip to Italy without eating some Cannoli?

They didn't dissappoint

And finally our favorite place to eat in Rome.  Forna la Renella in the Trastevere neighborhood.  It is a must go to if you are in Rome.  The potato, rosemary, and olive oil pizza was tremendous and different than anything we have had before.  We also went with a more traditional ham and fresh mozzarella pizza.

You take a number, they call you, you tell them how much you want, they cut it off, weight it, and out you go.

We had to go back again the night before we left Rome.

In addition to the pizza Forna la Renella bakes the majority of the bread for the restaurants in Trastevere.