Monday, June 14, 2010

Warm Days and Nights in Savannah

Sister Weekend 2010 has now come and gone. We had a whirlwind weekend in beautiful, hot, humid Savannah, Georgia. Savannah is a lovely city with incredible architecture and history. We did not realize how much history occurred and is preserved in historic Savannah. Some say many ghosts are still there to protect it even now. Fortunately, we didn't encounter any personally.
Friday evening we spent enjoying a lovely supper on the Savannah River. There was even a brave sister who tried a "new" dish. I don't think she will venture so much again! Saturday morning we drove out to beautiful Tybee Island. The morning was well spent exploring the shops and enjoying the beautiful sights like the lighthouse. Then we were off to Savannah for the afternoon. The tour through the city was both entertaining and enlightening. Did you know that statues of soldiers face their enemies??? We all do now!!!
Sunday was an adventure in coming home. Glad we are all home safe and sound....
Where to next year???? We shall see.....

Monday, June 8, 2009

Day 8...The final Tour

Today we made our final tour. We traveled to the town of Oxford. This town is known for the universities that are located there. Several US "importants" have attended school there. Bill and Chelsea Clinton just to name two. We took the city bus tour and we were able to see the awesome old buildings that house these colleges. These buildings were built in the 12th, 13th and 14th century. They are still beautiful and functional today. One fact that really impressed me was the stacks for one library runs 2 miles under the streets. Can you imagine checking out one of their books!

The Harry Potter movies were filmed at Christ's Church here in Oxford. The old building is truly a beautiful old building. The whole town looks like Harry Potter. Lewis Carrol, Jane Austin, A.A. Milne, JRR Tolkien and C.S. Lewis all were students and or professors here.

While we were eating lunch we were "entertained" by a truly arrogant student. He must have thought he was the most learned person in the whole of the town. He just kept talking about how stupid everyone else was.

After lunch we went to Blackwell Bookstore. In this bookstore there were new books as well as some real neat used books. There are over 2 1/2 miles of stacks in this bookstore. We looked for a while and bought a few treasures.

We retraced our steps back to the bus stop and missed the train. The engineer said oh, well and left without us. Not to worry there was another train coming in about 20 minutes. We loaded then, got off at Reading to change trains and traveled back to the "little lonely train station at Blackwater". We named this station that because there is not a ticket office there and the kisock is not always working. After arriving at Blackwater we took a cab on to the house to pack and have a bit of supper.

We are now packed and ready to go to bed. We will have to leave at 6am in order to get through customs at the airport. We should arrive at Houston about 12:30 pm.

We have had a wonderful time and it has not cost and arm and leg, only an arm, but it has been worth every sore muscle in our legs. Maybe Beth's broken toe has not been permanently damaged.

Another year, another "sister trip". Who knows where we might go next year. We have talked about going to Florida, Georgia and Virginia. It all depends on what is happening in our lives.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Day 7 Our Last Day in London

We began our day, once again, at the Farnborough Main Train Station. This was our last trek into London.

Our first stop was the Royal Mews. We saw a few of the horses used to draw the carriages, the carriages themselves, and the Bentley that the present queen doesn't like. We also saw the golden carriage. What an awesome sight that was!! This carriage is only used for coronations. The queen is only pulled by the white horses.

The second stop was the Queen's Gallery. Beautiful porcelain vases, "useful" tableware, oil paintings by the most famous artists, unique clocks, and some jewels made up the display in the Gallery. Unfortunately, we couldn't take any pictures.

Our next stop was a long way up the street to the Wellington Arch.

After viewing the Arch we walked down the street to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. As we were walking down the street we came upon a building with flowers growing out of it (or so it seemed). It was really felt tacked to a wall with a soaker hose woven in it, and little pockets cut in the felt to hold dirt and plants. Beth wants to build one at her house.

After lunch we began our trek home. The Underground from Buckingham to Waterloo was PACKED like way too many sardines in a can. We decided that we weren't sardines, so we took the long way around to get to Waterloo.

I counted stair steps today and the total was: 363. Wow, no wonder our knees and ankles hurt! I really don't think I have much of a knee problem anymore.

Every year when we have our sister trips, each sister gets a nickname. Can you guess which sister has the following nickname? Mama Duck, Minnie, Mole, and Ping.

Tomorrow is our last day of site-seeing and we are going to Oxford. A fitting end since most of us are teachers!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Day 6 - St. Paul's Cathedral and The Tower of London

Whew! Another fast and exciting day in the U.K. Off to Farnborough train station for a ride into Waterloo station. This is the rail and tube station that we have landed in each morning in London. Oh yeah, it's Saturday. Weekends are when they perform "engineering maintenance" on the tubes in London. We find our way through the maze of tubes to get us to the Tower of London. Oops, it's raining. The Beefeaters postpone the Tower tours when it's raining. So, we rearrange our plans.

No problem, we'll do St. Paul's Cathedral first. Wow! An incredible place of worship. The ceiling is beautifully decorated with mosaics. Kathy's theory is that since churches in England are used for burial grounds, they decorate the ceilings so that the dead can look up at the beautiful ceilings. Just a theory, but a good possibililty. Nevertheless, this in an incredible house of worship. It has been preserved for hundreds of years and is still a living church today. There was even a wedding there today. We weren't invited. After lunch in the crypt, no I'm not kidding, we are off to the Tower.

Going through any kind of security with the four of us is never boring. As Kathy presented her bag to the guard at the Tower, he spied a new pack of Mentos candy. He pulled them out and told her the guard in the shack behind us would love one of her Mentos. She, of course, told him to give one to the other guard. He did, after he took one for himself. She then gave them the whole roll. They never searched in our bags much. Beth did offer them a "healthy" breakfast bar, and he replied "good for you!". In other words, thanks, but no!

We then followed a great tour with a Beefeater. These men are retired enlisted English military personnel. They apply for this job upon retirement from the military. They and their families even live in the Tower. The Crown Jewels are a sight to behold. Wow is about all we can say for the size and beauty of the jewels that have been used by the Royals for hundreds of years.

Four tired girls rode the fast train home again. Now off to bed to dream about tomorrows adventures at the Royal Mews and more of London!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Day 5-Windsor and London

Today was another great day in the UK. This is the first day that the sun has not been shining. We had cool drippy weather while we were in the city.

First stop Windsor Castle. The castle was simply amazing. The people of this country have done an excellent job of preserving their artifacts and heritage. It is so fascinating to see books, paintings, documents and buildings that are hundreds of years old. The grounds of the castle are unbelievable! The moat area that has been planted in roses and other beautiful flowers is a sight to behold! Definately fit for The Queen!

After another fast and furious ride on the tube we arrived at the British Library.
There were some original manuscripts of Alice in Wonderland, Handel's Messiah, the Beatles songs, and original drawings of Leonardo DaVinci. One of them was about weight and motion.

Back on the tube and on to Kensington Park, for a picture of Peter Pan. The parks in London are very beautiful and well maintained.

We got to see Friday afternoon rush hour up close and personal. There were tons of people on the tube and the trains this afternoon. All rushing home to a 10 x 10 square of a grass patch and a house that is not very large.

The Tower of London and St. Pauls is tomorrow! Hope the weather will be good.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Day 4 Into the city

Finally, we get to go into London. There were sights to see and places to go. We started off with a flight on the London Eye. AMAZING!! We could see most of the city from way up high, but you really had to "mind the gap" when getting on the flight. The view was not foggy! We have not seen any fog in the UK since we have been here, but the week is not over yet!

After the London Eye, we walked over the River Thames. There we saw the Parliment building and the Westminister Tower Clock. Most people call the Tower Clock "Big Ben" but it is the chimes that are "Big Ben". We went through Westminster Abbey, then around the corner to the Parliament Building. We were able to go in the House of Commons and watched them set their agenda for next week. It is very interesting to see how a different country's government works.

After that we walked to a place to eat lunch. We all ate either hamburgers or chicken sandwiches, chips (french fries) and a coke. The food didn't taste like American food.

After we ate we went to Buckingham Palace. We walked down Whitehall Street, past 10 Downing Street, to Trafalgar Square. You can no longer walk in front of the Prime Ministers home, but we could look though the guarded gate. From there, we walked down the tree lined street to Buckingham Palace. We were able to watch the afternoon changing of the guard, not the most exciting event to see. Buckingham is not as ornate on the outside as other buildings we saw. But Windsor is tomorrow, and it is supposed to be awsome.

From Buckingham, we walked down the street to catch the underground tube back to Waterloo Station. Beth had another first today, riding on a train underground. She did us proud, no screaming! The train to Farnborough was packed to the gills. We had to stand up until the train stopped at the first stop, Surbiton, so we could sit down.

More walking tomorrow (ouch) but well worth any discomfort! We will post pictures later when we have time to download them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day 3-Bath, England

Today we started out on a lonely train station, Blackwater. This station only has a kiosk, no attendant. This means we do not have too many platforms to choose from. We boarded the train to Reading, changed trains there and on to Bath Spa.

Bath is where the Roman hot springs are located. Clusters of bath houses (called crescents) were built for people to stay in when they came to the city in the summer to soak in the hot spas. The rich folks hired people to carry them down to the spas.

We took a city/skyline bus tour. The tour was very informative, and the view from the skyline was beautiful. All of the buildings are constructed from stone from the quarry on top of the mountain. Where the newer part of town was built it is falling into the old shafts of the quarry. They are pumping cement into these shafts to hold up the town. One problem, a rare bat has been found, progress has stoppe and the town is still sinking. We remember a similar situation at home with the sand hill cranes and the turtles.

When we got back down to the main part of the old town we went to the glass blowing factory where we watched a young man (23) make a vase and a pig. He had only been blowing glass for three years. He certainly has perfected the art in a short time.

After a hike down the hill, and a trip to the shoe store for Beth to get a pair of shoes for her still broken toe, we started on our trek home. We got on the train in Bath, got off in Reading and got on the wrong train . After realizing our mistake, we jump off the wrong train and had to wait for another one to come. Finally, we got back to Camberly by way of the lonely train station at Blackwater.
It is almost midnight, we are tired and are ready to take London by storm tomorrow. Pictures will come later.