Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Royal Wedding!

I was quite lucky to be in London during all of the Royal Wedding madness.  And it was insane!  I've never seen so many Union Jack's at one time.

The Mall 

Upon advice from my good friend Liz Blackburn, I was told, that to get a good view of the wedding parade we needed to camp out beginning the day before the wedding.  So that's just what a couple of friends and I did.  We camped overnight in St. Jame's Park!

This is our campsite where St. Jame's Park meets Horse Guards Parade.  We picked our site because we had a great view the square in front of us and easy access to a toilet.

Carrie, holding up our souvenir flag

Chiara at our campsite!

We came relatively prepared, obtaining camping chairs and a tent and several blankets.  We also stocked up on tons of food and beverages.  This unfortunately was a rather cold evening, we all ended up buying another layer to keep warm with.

We certainly weren't the only one's camping either. 

In the foreground is my friend Kyann who came by to keep us company.  In the background though, you can see loads of tents set up.

On either side of us were Americans.  On one side was a couple who had flown in from Chicago just to watch the wedding.  The other side were the teachers from the American School up in St. John's Wood. 

The atmosphere that evening was so cool.  Everyone was excited and super friendly with each other.  We shared food and drinks and had a great time.

Carrie and I

Some friends who stopped by and had a few drinks with us.

The next morning was a bit rough, as we were all pretty tired from the night before (and a little hung over as well).  But by morning, there were loads of people around us, waiting for the big event.

And it became even more packed an hour or so before the procession began.

Here the three of us are, with front row seats!

Let the Show Begin!!

First to come through was the procession of cars going to Westminster Abbey from the Palace to Westminster Abbey.

Loads of the Queen's Guard everywhere

Princes William and Harry

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

Pippa and the flower girls

Kate Middleton and her father

There were speakers throughout the parade route, so we were able to listen to the entire service while waiting for the return procession.  We also picked up a few official programs so we could follow along.

When the service was over, the royal family returned in horse drawn carriages.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Kate was absolutely beautiful and Prince William was quite dashing.

Pippa and the flower girls

Prince Harry and the flower girls

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

Prince Charles, Camilla, and Kate's parents

All in all, I'm so happy I did this.  It's an experience I will remember forever.

Mom's Vist to London: Dresden and Potsdam


While Mom and I were in Berlin we took the train to Dresden and Potsdam.  Dresden, about 2 hours south of Berlin by train, was very cool.  It was so amazing to think that all of the buildings were rebuilt after the city was leveled in WWII.  While we were here we did a ton of walking around, on both sides of the river, went into a few museums, one filled with quite an old collection of china and a beautifully done art museum, and took in as much sun as possible.


Mom and I visited the palaces in Potsdam one afternoon, New Palace and Sanssouci.  Both were extremely beautiful and the gardens and park surrounding them were very lovely as well.  They reminded me very much of Schoenbrunn in Vienna

New Palace


Looking down from Sanssouci


As you can tell we had absolutely beautiful weather on our trip.    I know I very much enjoyed it and I assume my mom did as well.  It was so nice to spend a couple of weeks with her.  I'm very lucky she could come to visit!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mom's Trip to London: Berlin

I was very lucky to spend two whole weeks with my mom in April.  The first week we spent in London, as previously posted.  For the second week we went to Berlin!  This was both of our first times in Berlin and I enjoyed every minute of it.

In college I took several quarters of German and finally got a chance to put it to good use.  Mom did alright while there, I made a little list of key phrases for her on the plane.  But of course when we arrived, they all went right out of her head and she reverted to the little bits of Italian she learned on a trip to Europe a few years go.

The first thing we did, to help acclimate us to the city was to take a walking tour.  I was really struck by how open the city is.  The city has many wide streets and boulevards.  My favorite street was Unter den Linden.  The Brandenburg Gate below marks the end of the street.

Brandenburger Tor

My Mom and I were both impressed by the Holocaust memorial (pictured below) as well as the Jewish Museum.  Both were very respectful and at the same time discreet.

The Holocaust Memorial

As a student of European History, I very much enjoyed visiting Berlin.  The Berlin Wall and Check Point Charlie (along with the Check Point Charlie Museum) were two of my favorite historical sights.

Part of the Berlin Wall

Check Point Charlie

Berliner Dom

The TV Tower

Berlin is host to several great museums as well.  The Pergamon Museum, home to many incredible stolen antiquities was by far the coolest.  Inside were the reassembled Pergamon Alter and Ishtar Gate of the palace of Babylon.

The second day Mom and I were in Berlin, we parted ways.  She explored the area where we stayed (Prenzlauerberg) and I met up with my friend Laura who lives and studies in Berlin.  She took me to a really great outdoor market at Mauerpark.  The best part of the market was a traveling karaoke show.  A man, on a bicycle sets up speakers and a microphone at an outdoor stage.  Anyone can go up and sing.  I was pleasantly surprised with some of the performances.  If I had to guess, I would say at least 1000 people showed up to watch this.  The best part is that it happens every sunday!  If I make it back to Berlin soon, I will definitely coordinate my visit with stop at this market and take a bit of Karaoke!  Thank you so much to Laura for showing me around!

Karaoke at Mauerpark