Saturday, September 26, 2009

Way On Down South - Londontown

It's been almost non-stop sightseeing since I've gotten to London. I'm relaxing for the day and I figured I'd give you another update.

The best part of my time in London so far was the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum. It's something I'd never heard about before coming to London, so it was all new to me and focused on my favorite period of history. It was an underground bunker used during WWII to conduct high level British War Cabinet meetings, now open to the public. The exhibits and information are great.

The Imperial War Museum was another great highlight. Not quite as exciting because the material wasn't all new to me. A couple cool things from that:

Two British merchant marines spent 70 days in this tiny lifeboat after their ship was sunk by Germans in WWII, running out of food and water after just 34 days. Both survived.
A portable bomb shelter used during the Blitz on London:

Some of the more touristy stuff:

Westminster Abbey was really amazing - both architecturally and historically impressive. It's a grandiose monument to 3300 of the greatest Britons to live since it was built. I can't think of an American equivalent:
The clock tower and parliament were also quite impressive. I've heard that tours of the inside of the building are possible if you contact an MP:
The Albert Memorial - a huge, gaudy monument to Victoria's grief. I thought it was a bit over-the-top:
Victoria in front of Kensington Palace:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cousin Elena's Wedding in Germany

I had a great five days in Germany!

We saw Reinfels Castle at St. Goar on my first full day. It is in ruins now, but I’m sure it was pretty incredible at the time it still stood. The views down to the Rhine (or ‘Rhein’ as it’s spelled by the Germans) were great. The skys weren’t clear on our sightseeing days, but the weather was perfect for Elena and Jens’ wedding. Pictures from St. Goar (click for full size):

Once we got to Bielefeld for the wedding, we met the groom's family and caught up with the usual suspects from our side who had come across the pond. It was a multiple-day affiar - dinners and meet'n'greets, followed by the wedding and reception. Everyone had a great time - I think it shows in the photos:

After the wedding, my parents and I had an extra day to explore in the Frankfurt area. We took a trip down to Heidelberg. It was a good day trip. Like a few other cities in the region, its castle is the main attraction. This one was in slightly better shape than St. Goar:

the view down to the city:
Castle in the background in the main town square: