Saturday, May 30, 2009

Flowers of Europe

One of the things I was most impressed with was the abundance and variety of flowers one finds in Europe in the Spring. From the fields of Rape to the many different tulips and the flower vendors in the market square, Europe is filled with beauty and color this time of year:

Even the lowly Dandelion and its seed are prevelant in the landscape and lend their own beauty and color.

Everywhere you look, in every space, you will find green trees, plants or a profusion of flowers. Europeans know how to decorate using nature as their backdrop.

Germany, especially, is rich in gardens, parks, tree-lined boulevards - a truly "green state" and I will miss it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Guanaja's Big Shake

Ok, it was not a volcano but the latest news is the my island received a 7.1 earthquake and that is news.

Normally we have little shakes now and then just to release the pressure and it has been a long time since the island had something that would cause items to fall off the shelves and walls! However, this morning at 3:24 a.m. (according to the news reports), the island receive a good shaking. The jolt woke people from their sleep, threw items off shelves and walls and, in general, gave everyone a good scare.

Reports were that the center was located 80 miles NE of LaCeiba which would put it pretty much out in the ocean. A friend of mine spoke to me on the telephone this morning and by his figures the center was about 30 miles away from the island.

Since I am still in the U.S. I am depending upon newspapers for any and all reports. Reportedly 4 people have died in Honduras with a possible 40 injuries. Guests in the Gran Hotel Paris were said to have been heading for the doors and water could be seen coming out of the pool. It was also reported that the bridge in Progresso collapsed which means the connection between that town and San Pedro Sula is blocked!

Reports from Guanaja were that two after-shocks were felt. Supposedly many phone connections have been lost but, fortunately for me, I was able to reach my husband this morning who, at the time had no reports of any damage to give me.

So while the Cay, pictured above, is still reeling from the shock of being shaken out of bed with an early wake-up call, so far I have not heard of any deaths or injuries and hope that this report will not change.

As my husband says, "It's always something."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Franfurt Skyline

I have returned to Florida and still have a bit to report about our trip to Europe.   However, it seems that the health Gods have given up on me and since they allowed me to take my whole trip without a sniffle, I am now at their mercy.

Frankfurt Train Station

I left Frankfurt on the 21st.  I decided (with the aid of my son) to take the Underground to the airport.  Price wise you can't beat Euros. 3.70 for the train against a cab that would have cost more then Euros. 36.00!  Of course I had to be at the station by 5 a.m. so I had an early wake up call.  We only had a block to walk to the station but,  as is my nature, I anticipated something going wrong.  

The Underground in Germany is one of the cleanest I've seen (although, I must admit, I haven't seen many) and even at this hour there were people awaiting for their trais.  With the aid of my son, we deduced that I had to disembark at the 6th stop of the train.  We spoke with an English-speaking German who reconfirmed our thoughts and he reassured me that I would not have to change trains.  The train was there all of a sudden and I barely had time to hug and kiss my son goodbye.  So, I will take this opportunity to thank him for making the trip with me.

Well, I made it to the Frankfurt airport, found the right terminal, caught my plane and flew to Heathrow where I had to collect my luggage, find a bus office to buy a ticket and board the bus for a 45 minute ride to Gatwick.   It was a pleasant ride and the weather was not too bad for England; chilly but partly cloudy and no rain!

Again, upon reaching the terminal, I had to figure out what gate my plane would be leaving from, find my way there and await the departure.  Once on board, it was a 9 1/2 hour flight and I would arrive approximately 4 hours after I left England due to the time change.

The plane was met with thunderstorms and lightning in Tampa  which delayed our arrival at the gate and further delayed the transfer of our luggage from the plane to the terminal.  Most of the computers were down at Immigration and processing over 300 people took time.  But, it took less time than getting the baggage which was delayed due to the lightning, and that was an hour wait.

Met my daughter in the main terminal and we were off, albeit in rush hour traffic.

So, now, after 3 days, I have a cold, sore throat and body aches.  I'm hoping that it will pass quickly as I am going on to Orlando to visit friends and family.  I hate that I have this now as I certainly don't want to pass it on to my daughter, her husband and her children.  But, as she said, its better I have it now rather than in Europe and spoil the vacation.

So, I have a couple more days of rest before I go to Orlando for 5 days.  I should be blogging but just don't have the energy and, quite possibly, people may be tired of reading about my experiences!

Either way, I want to thank all that have followed my trip through my blog and made comments either on the blog site or to me personally in an e-mail.  It has been an experience and one I hope to repeat next year by attending the wedding of the young German couple that chauffeured us around in their home town.

Oh, and now I have Euros to get rid of!  Any buyers?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Buying Power!

While in Europe one may wonder just what purchases they should make that would make a lasting impression when they return to their home land.

Like America, Europe has many possibilities open for the buyer.  In my travels I have found that purchases that can be made are just as varied as those in the States:

For material things, there are objects that can only be bought in Europe:

A Bavairan Hat:

Masks from Venice:

And, for Gator fans, a Gator mask:

Certain beers, although unusual, and wines direct from the winery.  I know, there are wineries in California, but I’ve never been there!

And things I wish they sometimes had in the states: Musicians entertaining on the streets:

Quality travel by train and comfotable train seats:

Of course there are things of necessity:


Vegetables and fruits sold at open-air markets in the center of town.  Also, the sale of Rhubarb (which only people from the northern U.S. will recognize.  I had a wonderful desert in Germany of rhubarb and strawberries which brought me back to my childhood!


And artfully prepared dinners and scrumptious deserts:

Of course, I could not buy an Ostrich, but I was able to buy ostrich steak at a restaurant outside Schwabisch Hall which was delicious and had a light beef taste to it.  (No, it did not taste anything like chicken!).

Some things we can get, but not in the size I ran across:

King-sized lemons and homemade cheeses of good quality:

Now, I know you can buy crocs in the U.S., but wooly crocs?

Of course we can find bikinis, scarves, ties and leather gloves, but a wooden motorcycle?

And Disney stuff can be found, but her in, Italy, Pinocchio is the real thing!

There are other things that one cannot replicate: a view of the city

Surfing lessons in the middle of Germany:

And, certain varieties of flowers not available at least in Florida:

There are vegetable and fruit markets in every town I visited; wandering trucks that sell cheese and eggs and bread and sausage.  There was even a stand that sold coconut water!  Maybe Guanaja could make a small fortune off running water over raw coconut – as shown in the photo:

And let us not forget, CHOCOLATE!

Seafood is in abundance and is displayed in many areas, unlike Florida where it is just advertised on the menu or sold in the grocery store:

And, I doubt that the Roman soldier was for sale, but how many do you see on the street corner in the U.S. of A.?

In Europe, they even have to make their ballpoint pens fancy encrusting them with fake jewels on the top.  A little tacky for my taste, but I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

There are a lot more things available here but, unfortunately, I was busy taking photos of ruins!  Go figure.