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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lille

I flew into Brussels today on my wayl to Lille. My friend Julien picked us up at the airport, then cooked lunch at Louis' house- pasta with smoked trout in a cream sauce.

That night we went to a nice wine and cheese house party (it is France, after all). Wonderful wines, cheeses, and pâté. Afterwards, we went back to Sarah and Julian's where there was a party going on on the third floor.

The next day, we visited the old town to see all of the lights, the ferris wheel, and the Christmas Market.

Scenes from Lille:


Me with Julien:


Christmas Lights:




Thursday, December 04, 2008

New York, NY

Gotta love New York during the Holidays:



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mumbai, India

Mom, Dad, and I arrived last night in Mumbai. Little did we know what an evening it would be!

After going to Ajay and Nameeta's house, we walked down the street to the Ghanteshwar Hanuman Bell Temple. Here are mom and dad there:



Afterwards, we headed to dinner in the Bandra at a place called Soul Fry.




Soul Fry was really good- but shortly Nameeta and Ajay began getting phone calls about terrorists attacking in South Mumbai--the Taj, the Oberoi, areas we would have visited today (and are lucky we were not at last night.)

The restaurant emptied out quickly. After the appetizers, we got our food to go and went back to Kahr. We did stop at the local pan wallah who makes an after-dinner treat called pan--a betel leaf filled with all kinds of stuff. Here's the nearly finished product:




We then went back to Nameeta's and Ajay's, watched the news, emailed family and friends to let them know we were okay, and waited.



Now it is morning. It was a beautiful sunrise, and the street below seems busy again.



But there are still terrorists holding people hostage, and news of fresh fire. We are still a ways from all of that activity, so we will wait and see what our plans will be. For now, we will enjoy a nice Indian breakfast! Dad at breakfast:




UPDATE: We spent the day not leaving the house until time to go to the airport. (We ordered in some really great food, however!) After seeing that flights were being cancelled coming in, we knew we better get out while we could. It was a bit scary getting to the airport and passing all of the security checks and guns, and I felt a bit like a sitting duck while we were in line to even get inside the airport. But I think our family and friends at home were more relieved than we were when we texted that we were on the way back to the US.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Kuwait City, Kuwait




I landed this evening in Kuwait on Delta's inaugural flight from Atlanta. I got to cut the ribbon in the airport and pose with the crew.



I am staying in Le Meridian Tower Kuwait. It is very nice and has a great lobby with a beautiful fountain and lovely bar without a drop of alcohol.

On Sunday we toured the city, and went to the top of the Kuwait towers. Here's the view from the tower:



We also took a little boat ride through the Arabian Gulf:



To see all of the pics, click on the blog title.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Easter Island




After a flight that was nearly six from Santiago, Chile, Jonathan and I landed on Easter Island--one of the most remote inhabited islands on the Earth. We checked into our hotel, the Hotel Gomero (http://www.hotelgomero.com/). One of the first things we did was rent scooters, grabbed a map, and started making our way around the island.





We started in the Southwest corner of the island in the small town of Hanga Roa, then headed along the coastline going counterclockwise along the island, smelling the salt in the air as the Pacific Ocean lapped against the rugged shoreline. Below, Jonathan stands in the sea mist:





Along the way, we stopped to see the largest shrine on the island, Ahu Tongariki.



Then, we went to the beach at Anakena, where there are more statues, most of these with their little red hats:



The ride back from Anakena to Hanga Roa was very fun--a nice paved road where we could get the scooters up to 70 km/hr. That night, we had a nice dinner at a restaurant called Aloha, then went to sleep pretty early after a long day.

The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel, returned the scooters and then headed to the airport, to learn that LAN was oversold that day, and we'd have to wait another day before returning. Having no other options, we returned to the Hotel Gomero, checked into an upgraded room (this time with a pool view), and returned to the scooter rental place where we got our same scooters back. There were a number of things I wanted to see (such as the crater at Rano Kau) that I didn't get to see the day before, so I was grateful for the opportunity to spend a little more time on the island.

I bought a better map, and off we went, this time heading clockwise around the island from Hanga Roa, turning at the base of Terevaka, where we saw Ahu Akivi, the only statues facing the water. (They are also more inland.). From there, we headed back up the center of the island to Anakena again, where we spent more time on the beach this time. Leaving there, we went to Rano Raraku, the volcano where the statues were made. (We had also missed that the day before.) There are still hundreds there--left behind and never erected at shrines.



From there, we headed back down the coastline counterclockwise on the east coast, back to Hanga Roa, and then to the volcano on the southern tip of the island, Rano Kau. Looking down into the crater of the volcano was incredible--the camera does not do it justice.




For more of my pics and descriptions of Easter Island, go to: http://picasaweb.google.com/FrankWrenn/EasterIsland#

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Santiago, Chile



I flew into Chile this morning. Great day so far-- Jonathan and I took a cab to San Cristobal Towers, a luxury hotel in the Starwood group where we were treated like kings. We even had our own butler.

After settling in, we walked around San Cristobal hill through the metropolitan park to Barrio Bellavista, where we had a nice lunch. Then we toured the Santiago Zoo, which had some cool and different animals, but the habitats seemed a little sad. The poor polar bear looked like he was dying in the heat.



That evening, we returned to the Barrio Bellavista to check out the scene. It's a really hip area with lots of bars and restaurants.

Below: Sunset over Santiago, with the Andes in the background.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Paris

I flew to Paris from Munich in the morning, meeting my friend Chris at the Hilton by the airport (CDG). He had never been into the city, so we had plenty to see. Unfortunately, we got off to a later start due to some confusion with the train. There was a strike going on (of course) so the train I was used to taking didn't go where I thought it was going, instead stopping at Paris Nord. As we sat and it started going the opposite direction, I realized I had messed up. It took a little while to get back on track, but after we finally did, we returned to Paris Nord, go out this time, and took the Metro to the Notre Dame.

Then, walking around the great Cathedral, we crossed over to Ile St. Louis where we purchased the best chocolate ice cream you can ever taste (Berthillon). Then, crossing over the Seine, we walked into the Marais, then down Rue de Rivoli to the Louvre, where we toured the tremendous courtyards. Then, we headed through le Jardin des Tuileries to the obelisk at The Place de la Concorde. From there, we could see the Arc de Triomphe in the distance, and decided to take the Metro there.

I had never been to the top, so we made the climb up the steps to see the beautiful view of Les Champs Elysées. We waited there as night descended on the city, watching as the Eifel Tower lit up for the evening.



Going back to the Metro station, we returned to the Marais to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Au Gamin de Paris, where we both had the steak au poivre vert with the mushrooms as an appetizer, after being served a kir while we awaited our table. After a long, relaxing dinner, we returned to Paris Nord just in time to take the last train back to the hotel.

The next evening, after our business meeting, we returned to the city, this time taking the funicular to Montmatre to see the Sacre Coeur. After seeing the stunning views of the city from there, we had some wine, cheese, and charcuterie at Au Pichet de Tertre.

Then, we took in the spectacular night time views of the skyline and the Sacre Coeur.

Walking down the hill, we headed into Pigalle to see the Moulin Rouge.

Finally, we stopped into Chao Ba for a drink before returning to the hotel for the evening.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Munich


After taking the train from Salzburg to Munich, we checked into our hotel, the Sheraton at Arabella Park. It is conveniently located at the end of one of the U train lines, and along the same line as the Oktoberfest fairgrounds, the Theresienwiese, so a perfect location.

Our tent reservations at the Hacker-Pschorr Festzelt were at 6:00, so we met up with others at 5:00 to head to the fairgrounds. This year, cigarette girls were not allowed to sell their wares, so it was perhaps less smokey than in previous years, but certainly just as hot. Scenes from Oktoberfest:


After we left the tent, we went to Sinan's, just outside the Theresienwiese, the crazy little pizza-joint turned after hours disco that we found last year. It did not disappoint. Great pizza, and always a fun place.

The next day, Jonathan and I went into Munich, walking the now familiar streets and seeing the sights—Marienplatz, the Rathaus, the Glockenspiel. We had lunch at the Spaten Haus, where I enjoyed a delicious jaegerschnitzle with a creamy mushroom sauce and a delicious cheesy spatzle. But we also went shopping—and after years of looking at lederhosen, we both finally bought a pair, as well as the shirts and socks.


After making our purchases, we settled in for a beer at a bar by Sendlinger Tor, then went back to the hotel. Later, we met the others at the Theresienwiesn at what I dubbed the 'alcoholic karrussel,' surprising them with our lederhosen.
After riding a few rides, we hit Sinan's one more time, then headed back to Arabella Park with a final night cap at the hotel.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Salzburg


I love Salzburg. It is so beautiful, and I can't help but think that the success of the movie The Sound of Music is due in large part to the beautiful scenery and charming nature of Salzburg. Which, I suppose, led me to want to do The Sound of Music Tour for the second time, this time in a different season. Below, a lake just outside of Salzburg.




And remember these places from the Do Re Mi song? These are all in Mirabel Gardens.






























I stayed at the Goldener Hirsch again, which I highly recommend. (This time, I was in room 50.)

The hotel is in the old city, in a stunning setting on a small street that is just doors down from the house Mozart was born in. The view of the street (Getreidegasse) from my window:




Me on the pedestrian bridge with the castle in the background:


Our night in Salzburg was a little later than our night in Vienna, since we didn't really have to get up early. We had no plans for the next day until 6:00 pm. We found a couple of really fun bars, including one with a bartender named Christine who had us doing the Macarena and the Chicken Dance and singing “I Will Follow Him” from the movie Sister Act.

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