2011 · 2012 · paaaarty

HNY!

Happy New Year YO!!

How did you celebrate ringing in the new year? Felix and I went to Tahini restaurant in Puerto Portals for a delish meal of sushi, dumplings and some kind of chicken thingy…. my new fav from there is Foie Gras sushi. O.M.G. If they had given me a plate of only that I would have been a very happy camper. But that’s pretty fattening? Right? Foie Gras. Must check on that.

And then we ended up at Ritzi’s Club. It was a last minute decision since there was only 10 min before the new year and I didn’t want to be in the car. Our friend’s boyfriend is the owner and we were treated to free everything there – so nice of them! Rosé champagne, scotch, dancing on the tables! Oh my. We ended up at home around SEVEN IN THE MORNING! Yes, I had a headache all day yesterday.

But here is to a new year! I say good riddance to 2011 – it really sucked.

Happy 2012 My Friends! Wishing you all peace, love, prosperity and just one hell of a good time. CHEERS!

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2011 · architecture · beauty · familia · Germany · love love love · Road Trip · travel

EPRT II Day One/Two

The EPRT II (European Parent Road Trip Part II) started off with us flying into Düsseldorf. Me, flying in from Mallorca, and my parents flying Phoenix – Chicago – Warsaw – Düsseldorf. Wasn’t sure about that whole extra stop for them until I looked at where dad bought his tickets – CheapO Air. Yup, that’s my Dad! Love him!

I had booked us a night at the Düsseldorf hotel Stage 47. We had the Maisonette Suite which was a lovely two-story room for the price of 170 euros. My roll away bed was about the skinniest thing you have ever seen but since I am skinny, we worked it out. A nice dinner at a Thai restaurant just down the street and then it was time to hit the sack.

The next day we headed towards Wesel, Germany. Felix’s parents have a gorgeous townhouse in the middle of the city. During World War II,as a strategic depot, Wesel became a target of Allied bombing. On the 16, 17 and 19 February 1945, the town was attacked with impact and air-burst bombs, which destroyed 97% of the city. Felix’s parents home is one of the few that survived. It is at least five stories tall with an incredible huge wooden staircase that runs through the middle of it. And his mom is such a great decorator she has made the entire place, including the backyard to the most sweetest, most comfortable home you would ever want to live in.

So, after kisses of hello, a glass of rosé champagne and a piece of strawberry cake we headed off towards Xanten.

Xanten is the only German  town whose name begins with an X. The history of Xanten goes back to the Romans, who founded the settlement of Colonia Ulpia Traiana in 15 BC. That is a reeeeeeaallly long time ago. But by 275 it was mostly destroyed by Germanic tribes. But nowadays it has been rebuilt within the Archäologischer Park to see how the town might have been. The Nühlens (Felix’s parents) said the park is an all day thing so we only went to the Römer Museum. And it had so much to see and you get (for a small fee) your own handset which tells about each area in museum, it works as a listening device but also has videos reenacting moments from that reeeaaallllyy long time ago.

Among the exhibits on display are the remains of a Roman boat, suspended from the ceiling at a height of 12 metres. Further highlights are a stunning, large mural and the oldest and best preserved Roman cannon yet discovered. Spanish oil amphorae, silver tableware, pottery and a considerable collection of Roman army weapons and equipment are also on display.

The parents at the Römer Museum in Xanten, Germany

After the museum we saw the cobblestone streets and the church in Xanten – all so very lovely. And then we headed towards the town of Kevelaer, Germany. The clouds were menacing and there was thunder in the distance but we were able to see the Chapel of the Candles and the Chapel of Grace. Two very beautiful and different things!

Xanten Dom

The Chapel of Grace is a very small but very richly decorated hexagonal building built in 1654. Hundreds of people come to pray at the chapel every day. Even the Pope has been there! The story about the building is interesting and unusual. I am only going to give the overview but if you are dying for more, go here for the full story.

A traveling salesman, Hendrik Busman in 1641 prayed at his usual spot where he heard a mysterious voice that said, “Build me a chapel on this spot”, which he then heard three other times on this same spot. By the way, all sites that I have read about this story claim he was a very sober man for those days. Which makes me laugh, did all drunks have the same voice echoing in their heads? Anyways, soon after Busman’s wife had a dream of a postcard offered for sale to her by two soldiers. She told her husband and he made he go find the card and buy it. That card is still there today. It was such a tiny place I never realized the importance of it until now.

And only a few steps away was the Chapel of Candles which you have hopefully already seen on my last post. Felix’s dad thought there were too many candles. But Felix’s mom and I disagreed. They were beautiful! They are kind of like shoes, you can never have too many.

Stay tuned for Stralsund and Rügen Island!

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2011 · beauty · church · cool photos · familia · Germany · Road Trip

Kerzenkappelle Kevelaer

Kevelaer is a municipality in the district of Kleve, in North Rhine-Westphalia  in Germany.  It is the best visited Catholic pilgrimage location within north-western Europe. More than 800,000 pilgrims, mostly from Germany and the Netherlands,  visit Kevelaer every year to honour the Virgin Mary.

This was one of the first stops for the Europe Parent Trip II Part One (could I make it any more confusing). Hundreds of lit candles of all sizes were in front of this chapel of the candles (kerzenkapelle). BEAUTIFUL! Plus a small shrine is built close by for the faithful to come and pray for healing.

My parents and I are still hitting the streets! My aunt and uncle arrive tomorrow, but I am back and posting now all of the gory details. Don’t forget to come back to check ’em out. Germany, Poland, Mallorca, Barcelona all coming to a blog near you.

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2011 · familia · friends

Quick Trip (not the convenience store)

HOWDY!! Back from the USA. It was fast but fun (as always) trip. Here is a quick rundown of time spent.

Day one: Hung out in Brooklyn with the cool Hauser family. Time was spent watching 4-year-old boys run around kicking a soccer ball, visiting the Brooklyn Public Library and catching up with good friends.

Day Two: With the adult Hausers, we went to a beer garden (why do I feel like that should always be spelled german style – biergarten) under High Line Park. I believe it was called The Standard Beer Garden (biergarten). I was reminded of going to Spanish concerts where you have to buy your drink tickets at one booth and get your beverages at another. At least the food carts you could go straight up and order. Beer was good! Dumplings were yummy! Friend’s company even better. And out of NOWHERE comes a bit of rain, which I was laughing at people getting out of the way but then came a squall and we were pelted with rain, wind and dust for 20 minutes. Mr. Hauser braved the storm to get more drink tickets while we all huddled under the one space that was covered. And the DJ just kept playing on …….

Day Three: Off to Milwaukee! I flew AirTran, decent service, friendly flight attendants. I ordered a beer and was never asked to pay! Sweet. My family met me at the airport and we headed back to my aunt’s house in Grafton, WI. Born in Wisconsin and lived there for 10 years I felt like I was back at home. My sweet nephews were there, they grow up toooo fast! Just look at that face!

Day Four: The wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Timm. Congrats you two, may it be an exciting and lovely journey. Wedding was at 1:00, nothing major to report. The reception was a bit later, I got to mingle with my aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins! Sadly, no Grandma. But she was there in spirit. My nephew Avery was slow to get on the dance floor, even though his feet were wanting to, he was still a bit shy. But after a few drinks, he was ready to go. Drinks of milk people! Well, milk for him. Brandy Old Fashion Sweet for Mom and me! Mmmmmm, can only get those in Wisconsin folks. At least a good one.

It’s the Dancing King! And his dancing queen. They were busting moves and you couldn’t get them off the dance floor. It was seriously cute.

Day Five: Kind of a mellow day. My brother flew back to Phoenix cuz he is in school, yo. He is too school for cool.

Day Six: Said my goodbyes. Booohoooo. And flew back to New York City. Again with AirTran and AGAIN I scored a free beer. She said she would come back to take my card but never did. Sweet!

Day Seven and Eight: Spent with the awesome Cornell family at their new home in Floral Park. I had the basement to myself and it was like my personal apartment; bed, bathroom, refrigerator stocked with Coca-Cola. Thanks you guys! Mrs. Cornell and I went to the Long Island beach, wanted to get hair feathers (do you know what I am talking about – the new style with feather extensions? sadly, we never found a place) and then ended my trip at Les Halles. DELICIOUS French Food. If there is ever steak tartare on the menu I need not look further. Plus steak frites. But what made it the best was hanging out with awesomest friend ever. Love her!

And then it was back to Felix whom I missed dearly!

2011 · barcelona · catalonia · france · hotels · Road Trip · spain · travel

Trippin’

So it started off pretty uneventful. Caught the 8 a.m. flight to Paderborn, made a quick stop in Detmold to eat a brötchen with meerrettich (horseradish) Miree and I was off.

Felix bought me a fancy schmancy navigation thing (Navigon) and it was perfect! No worries on where to turn, was I supposed to take the A1 or was it the A5?? As I settled into the new car I jammed out to my CD mix of country and new downloads from iTunes, plus Felix downloaded the new Beastie Boys – yeah yeah right right. Okay! Just buy it already.

The ride was sweeeet! Nice car. I drove from 2 p.m. until about 10:30 when I spotted a hotel sign around the French town of Dommartin les Cuiseaux. Just look for the huge chicken statue (at the Aire du Poulet de Bresse) and you can’t miss it. It was a highway area with hotel (Etap), cafeteria, gift store, etc. I went to see if they had vacancy for lil ole me and the sign at the “front desk” directed me to go to the sandwich store. Even late at night there were three people waiting to get a sandwich, when it was my turn I asked for a room. “Oui, follow me.” An inexpensive 40 euros later and I was in my room.

I wasn’t expecting anything much, there were two doors in my room. One was for my port -o- potty looking toilet and the other with the similar look and feel, my shower. But my room!! Oh my gosh, much excitement to be held.

Are you KIDDING ME!?!? A bed AND a bunk bed!? I couldn’t decide, the bed seemed nice and comfy but how cool to sleep in a bunk bed, in France. Hmmm, I wonder what bunk bed is in french? Moment ~ lits superposés. Okay, I will never remember that. Next time in France, pardon, do you have una chambre avec les lits superposés? Ah yeah, that minor in french is really working for me now.  I was so overwhelmed with my sleeping arrangement choices that I switched every 15 minutes. (That is a joke my friends)

The next day I was up early and back on the road by 9:30. I was wanting to get to Barcelona at a decent hour to do a little shopping on Paseo de Gracia. I really needed a new bikini for the summer and a stop at Kiehl’s (LOVE) was in order.

I was in France for most of the day. The tolls! Don’t even get me started. For one, totally outrageous. I think I spent about 60 euros on tolls in France. But my most embarrassing (not to mention frustrating) moment was when I pulled into the line where I could pay with a credit card. When I got up there I put in my Visa. Spit it out. No toll gate going up. My other card. Nope. Then I see VISA and MASTERCARD with a line going through them. How is it possible they don’t accept Visa or MC? What is WTF in french? I pushed the help button. Nothing. I motioned to the people behind me (because of course there was a line forming) that I needed to back up. Or something. Did they have a gun? Not for me, for the machine.

This cute lil old man from the car behind me walked up to try to help. He spoke French to me, I spoke Spanish to him. (I was having a meltdown). FINALLY the gate raised. The gate controllers must have had a really nice laugh. You are welcome. The lil man said, “C’est bon!” I said “Gracias!” and I was back on my way. Note to all foreign travelers at all tolls – just go to the person in the booth.

Spain couldn’t get there fast enough. And then I was in Barcelona with billions of cars and 18 streets going off each round-about. Finally, I made it to the hotel, the Gran Torre Catalunya. From the outside it looks very uninviting, but it was a good price and for an extra charge of 10 euros I was bumped up to the 12th floor. I would have liked the view of Montjuic better but I didn’t mind what I had.

There is a restaurant on the top floor that overlooks Barcelona and a main transit station is almost next door. It is at a very busy area and I thought it would be louder but maybe since I was up on the 12th floor (instead of originally on the 3rd) it was quiet. Of course the occasional taxi horn here and there but you will get that almost anywhere in Barcelona. I tried to motivate myself to go to Paseo Gracia. I opened the minibar, had an Estrella beer, changed into my new maxi dress, sandles and left. I decided a brisk walk would be just what I needed, but after 20 min of walking I realized I still had at least an hour more to go and I changed my plans.

Plaza Espanya was close by so I headed back in that direction. Once I got there I realized the old bullfighting arena was there (no more bull fights in BCN) and I heard it was turned into apartments but there were people going in and out, so, I ventured in. It was … a MALL – Las Arenas. A really nice mall, lots of bright stores, a 12-screen cinema and at the very top was the rooftop terrace. From the terrace you could overlook Fira Montjuic and the Palau Reial while eating sushi or burgers or chinese. The view with my bowl of Miso soup:

I was up early again to find my way to the port. I won’t bore you with my frustration but this time Navigon was not helping, at least not at the minute necessary moments… But I made it! The last time I was on the ferry it was from Palma to BCN and it was in November. I figured it would be the same, no seating outside, just hanging out for eight hours wandering the expanse of the boat. But I was wrong! After my much needed late breakfast of salad, chicken and french fries all doused with vinegar I walked outside and at the end I found people sunbathing on cheap plastic white lounge chairs. There weren’t any chairs available by the time I discovered where everyone was but after watching two abandoned chairs I finally took one when nobody came back to claim them in 34.7 minutes.

It was me in my tanktop and rolled up pants surrounded by people in bathing suits (apparently I missed that memo), and naturally, the car convention.

And then finally after eight hours on the ferry, a sight for my sore, traveling tired eyes. Le Seu, the cathedral in Palma.

I was home.

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2011 · the royals

Eight More Days

The countdown has begun. Every day up to the wedding I will post some super awesome royal wedding tidbit that you just have to know! So you better check back every day to make sure you are in the know. Also, I am thinking my invite got lost in the mail? Can’t believe Wills and Kate would keep me off the list!

Carry on ….   May I introduce the “Instrument of Consent”, which is the Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II’s historic formal consent to Prince William’s forthcoming marriage to Kate Middleton.

Not only did William have to ask Kate’s dad for her hand in marriage but also his grandma. His grandma naturally being the Queen of England. How cute.

Because of a law from the 18th century – the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 – which decreed that “all descendants of George II must obtain the sovereign’s agreement before they wed, otherwise the marriage is invalid.” King George III (George II’s grandson) ordered the law when his younger brother, Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland, secretly married a commoner.

I can just hear the conversation now….

William:  Hey grams, what’s up?

Queen: Oh no William, I know that tone in your voice. What do you want now?

William: You know that hot girl I was talking to you about, the one in the see-through black mini dress thingy that she modeled on the runway?

Queen: No.

William: Yes well, grams, seems like I am in love and apparently even in year 2012 I have to get some sort of consent formed signed by you. Kind of like I did when I went to camp, and the army, and even when I wanted to go to the zoo last week.

Queen:  It is called tradition William. It dates back to a law from the 18th century – the Royal Marriages Act of 1772.

William:  Again, 21st century yo. But keeping it reals grand! If you could just sign the permission slip I will be your ever-loving grandson.