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Summy and Nay Nay's European Adventure

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S: Summy and Nay's European Adventure 2011

BC: Designed and created by Summer Upton | Cheers, au revoir, and auf wiedersehen, !

FC: Summy and Nay's European Adventure | England, France, and Germany March 11-20, 2011

1: London is calling! | Nay had quite a time getting to ATL (bank, traffic), but she made the flight! | Catch the red-eye to London!

2: Our First Views of London

3: After almost 24 hours of travel and uncomfortable sleep on the plane, we finally arrived in Merry Ole England! | Our Tube station and hotel

4: We travel like locals on the Tube with our Oyster Cards!

5: A trick to remember when riding the Tube: MIND THE GAP! In other words, don't fall in the hole between concrete and car.

6: Our view as we exited the Tube | As we exited the Tube, the London Eye was in front of us, and the Big Ben clock tower (Big Ben is the bell.) was behind us.

7: Our first stop in London was to tour Westminster Abbey and the area around Parliament.

8: Westminster (or Westminister as Mom continued to call it) was so ornate and cluttered. Every spare inch (cm over here, I guess) is used. We walked on centuries of dead people and through tons of side chapels. We sawElizabeth I's and Mary Queen of Scots's tombs, Grave of the Unknown Warrior, Poets' Corner, the Coronation Chair and so much more. Just one month later, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Will and Kate) married where we stood. Amazing. | Mom's description to Dad on the phone that night: "That was in The King's Speech!"

10: Classic

11: London | Opposite page from top: Parliament clock tower (Big Ben), Tower Bridge (Mom's "London" bridge), classic red phone booth This page from top: St. Paul's Cathedral from Millennium Bridge, classic double decker bus, fish and chips

12: Begun on the ruins of the original Roman fortress at Londinium by William the Conquerer, The Tower has served as palace, prison, museum, and fortress. We didn't get to see all of it, but we definitely saw a lot of this historic site with a tragic past. One of the highlights was seeing the Crown Jewels, including the largest golden punch bowl EVER! We also saw the memorial on Tower Green to Anne Boleyn and others who were executed here.

13: Clockwise from top: One of six ravens guarding the Tower (London will fall if they are removed!), A view to the dungeons, Bloody Tower, Traitors' Gate, Colin the Yeoman Warder (also known as a Beefeater), center entering through The Byward Tower

14: Our second day in London began with a tour with the greatest tour guide known to man, Dave. He was very smart and funny (and the accent and cute looks were a plus as well!). He told us more than I could ever remember about London. We couldn't get enough of his stories.

15: We tried to watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, but weather was too rainy. We did see lots of marching to and from the Palace though.

16: I finally found my way to Mecca! Shakespeare's Globe is rebuilt on the South Bank of the Thames near the original site using all authentic materials. The tour was incredible, mostly because our guide so loved the theatre and words of the Bard that we hung on her every word. I choked up several times listening to her and realizing where I was. The stage is gorgeous, complete with painted heavens. We got to be groundlings near the stage and then sit on the second-floor benches. I saw a bird perched up in the third floor waiting for the upcoming performance of The Tempest. We then went quickly through the Exhibition and saw lots of costumes and props from previous performances, a history of Shakespeare and the theatre, and even a stage fighting demonstration. Of course I then spent way too much money at the shop.

19: Out and about | A perfect last day in London for mother and daughter: A sunset trip up in the London Eye, a walk along the Thames, glazed nuts on Millennium Bridge, Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower, and memories to last a litetime!

20: Our next day was a travel day. We took a coach to catch our "ferry" in Portsmouth that would deposit us in Caen, France. Favorite memory: Larry talking to Mom and Spence about electricity and football (diagrams on napkins) | We stopped in Portsmouth at a museum showing the history of preparations for the D-Day landings, including a brief film, an ornate embroidery, and even some life-size models.

21: The American Cemetery and "Bloody" Omaha Beach

22: Arromanches | Code name: Gold Beach Later: Fort Mulberry

23: Bayeux, France: The Perfect Little Town in Normandy I'd been here before and loved it, so I was excited to get back. We went to the Bayeux Tapestry and ate a wonderful lunch featuring the local delicacy, apples. All was wonderful until I fell down/off the stairs/curb trying to get the picture to the right.

24: Bonjour, Paris!

25: Ooh, La La! "Window licking" along the Rue de la Paix

26: I've always felt at home in Paris, so sharing this wonderful place with Mom was one of the highlights of my trip. I got to share dinner on Montmartre, a freezing nighttime riverboat cruise, Notre Dame, the Champs Elysses, the Latin Quarter, Jardin du Tuilleries and outside the Louvre, souvenir shopping along the Rue du Rivoli, a croque royale lunch at a small cafe near Palais Royale, the Eiffel Tower, and many favorite Parisian experiences.

27: Home Sweet Home

28: Sightseeing in Paris Always a pleasure to see Notre Dame, Invalides, the Louvre, Arc du Triomphe, and Champs Elysses. But this time I found two new favorites: replica of Statue of Liberty and the Monument to Peace at Champs de Mars.

30: Built by the Sun King, Louis XIV, in the late 17th century, Versailles is so ornate, gilded, fantastic, unreal, and homey. We didn't have time for the full tour, so our tour guide Claire took us through as much as time would let us, including the King's State Rooms, King's Quarters, Queen's Apartment, Hall of Mirrors, and gardens. | Versailles: My New Holiday Home

32: Willkommen in Berlin

33: Our old-world hotel, once a private residence, was a stark contrast to our modern Parisian hotel. | Berlin is a modern city, still rebuilding from WWII damage and communist rule. But one of my favorite aspects of Germany: great food!

34: I found the German capital to be a city still recovering from a century of fighting and oppression. Even though the city endured two world wars, I think the worst atrocity was the erection of the Wall in August 1961. Families were separated literally overnight. And what I admire about this city is its ability to pay homage to the mistakes and hardships of its past, such as the double line of cobblestones marking the Wall's route and sections of the wall still standing as memorials and open-air mural galleries. My favorite memorial: the simple yet powerful Holocaust memorial near the Brandenburg Gate. Large, rectangular marble slabs shaped like coffins grow in height toward the middle. Perfectly poignant and overwhelming, especially at night.

36: Our exploration of the Wall culminated in visits to both Checkpoint Charlie and the museum dedicated to border crossings (both failed and successful). For a small fee, I got a picture with two guards at the checkpoint. (One even sang "Sweet Home Alabama" to me and asked to see pictures from home on my camera.) The museum holds displays of actual escape plans like a hot air balloon, cars with false trunks, luggage to curl inside, and even a zipline. The lengths to which these East Berliners would go for freedom is inspiring and sobering.

37: Checkpoint Charlie Replica and Museum

38: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial and Museum

39: I was both looking forward to and dreading the trip to Sachsenhausen. I'm not sure what I expected to find there, but this wasn't it. The gate greeted us with the promise that "Work Liberates." There's not much left but a few cramped bunkhouses kept in tact for visitors. We saw several displays in the jail and kitchens. Most of the bunk houses are gone, and in their place are concrete, numbered markers. People have placed rocks and flowers in memory of those lost. Since we didn't have a lot of time, we completely missed the crematorium and execution ditch, but I think I'm glad. There also weren't many pictures of the suffering. Just hearing the stories was enough for me. The main purpose of the camp was to test soldiers' boots. Inmates were forced to march in boots too small or large for hours, leaving many crippled. The experience was made more stark on such a bitterly cold day.

40: Our brief walking tour showed us a meticulously restored city that was 75% destroyed on the night of February 13-14, 1945, killing over 35,000 people. Rebuilding this once great capital of Saxony has taken over sixty years and is still incomplete. Our tour guide Kristina (with a very thick accent) showed us comparison pictures, which were almost unbelievable. Reconstruction uses original materials and restores to the old world style. We saw the opera house and Zwinger, an outdoor entertaining space with porcelain Glockenspeil chiming bells. The most impressive part of the city is a gilded outdoor stone and porcelain frieze of Saxony's rulers unharmed by the bombs. We walked along the river and toured two restored churches: Frauenkirche (Lutheran) and Hofkirche (Catholic)..

41: Dresden, Germany: My favorite little German city (Don't tell Munich.)

42: Meissen Porcelain Factory Tour

44: After buying the only thing I could afford at the porcelain factory in Meissen (a five-euro medallion), I took a few pictures from the road and slept during the 2 1/2-hour ride back to Berlin. I awoke to darkness and city lights.

45: Our bus driver Peter dropped us at our restaurant, Faustus, next to KaDeWe (the largest European department store). We took an after-dinner walk to see the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church with destroyed spire. I didn't get run over by a bicycle rider, just almost. (Those Berliners don't play about their bikes!) Then we rode the U-bahn back to our Berlin home, Hotel Tiergarten. Mom and I talked a bit about the trip for a while, listing our favorite sights and memories. Then we started organizing and packing for our trip home, crossing our fingers that our suitcases were under fifty pounds each. As wonderful as this trip was, especially sharing the experience with Mom, I was so happy to be going home to my sweet baby Scout, who missed her mommy as much as her mommy missed her. Historic sights, new experiences, and quality time with my mom and new and old friends make this trip one I will hold in my heart forever.

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  • By: Summer U.
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