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Friday, April 28, 2006

we are in italy

We have made it safely to Italy. We arrived in Venice yesterday after a small trainstation mix up. We will be leaving here tomorrow and headed to Pisa. We are hoping for a better food and people experience there and in Rome. I am glad we came here but will be happy to move on. Just stopped by an internet cafe here in town to check our mail and grab a couple of addresses to send out postcards (that we picked up in Amsterdam -- sorry -- we tend to procrastinate). We will probably make it home before the cards- hahaha. All right, we are off; we still have to pack and figure out the postoffice thing over here. Talk to you soon, later in Italy!!!

p.s. We saw our 1st European Rat!! SWEET! (it was across a canal so there was no risk involved)


Mark and Jenni

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Europe ~ by the seat of our pants!!

Below is a quick list of where we will be and when. I'm not sure what rooms have internet access so I don't know where I will be able to get on and at least say hi but please keep checking! We'll communicate when we can.

Mark & Jen

April 21 & 22 (fri & sat) = Berlin, Germany
April 23, 24 & 25 (sun, mon & tue) Heidelberg, Germany
April 26 (wed) = Zurich, Switzerland
April 27 & 28 (thu & fri)= Vencie, Italy
April 29 & 30 (sat & sun)= Pisa, Italy
May 1, 2, 3 & 4 (mon, tue, wed & thu) = Rome, Italy
May 5 (fri)- travel day to Paris
May 6, 7 & 8 (sat, sun & mon) = Paris, France
May 9 we fly home.

So feel free to suggest things to see - we have very little planned - we are just going to tour by the seat of our pants, impromptu style!!

p.s. We have started our day here in Berlin and Mark does indeed feel better today! We have eaten and are headed for the zoo with temperatures in the upper 50s (scattered showers). Talk to you soon!!

Friday, April 21, 2006

We're off!!

We have officially left for "vacation"! It snuck up on us but Mark finally was released from work on Thursday afternoon after a wonderful send off by the plant out here. I went to work with him that morning and one of the head guys at the site took us out to Delft to see the Delft Blue Factory ( "Royal Delft is the last remaining Delftware factory from the 17th century still producing entirely handmade Delftware." So we had a quick tour of the factory there and they were generous enough to buy us a piece to show their thanks for Mark's hard work. It is being shipped to our house as we speak.
They were all so nice and accommodating to anything we could possibly need. One of the guys even gave us a small suitcase to use for our trip thru Europe because he heard we were going to buy one. Amazingly friendly people. I'm excited to be on the road but very sad that we had to leave Holland. There was still so much in that little country we didn't get a chance to see... Oh well, I guess we'll just have to go back!! :)

So, as I was saying, we are officially on our vacation. We left this morning at the Godawfull hour of 4:30am to go to Amsterdam and turn in our rental car and catch our train out of the country. We of course (true to us) got about 3 hours of crappy sleep before we set out. After his send off at work we went to Madurodam ( in Den Haag; its the amazing miniature replica of Hollands top sites and it has a really cool ice sculpture section too.... AAAAGGGGHHHHH.... man I can't stay focused. (<-- that was all very cool but ate up our afternoon and then spent 1.5 hours going home -usually takes about 30-40 minutes) We met our Englishman, Danny, for dinner and a few beers to say good-bye at our local restaruant and bar there in Citta Romana. Of course one beer rolls into three and before you know it its 9:30pm and we have to get home an pack!!

Thankfully Danny is staying a week longer than us and is doing us a huge favor of mailing off some of our belongings that we just didn't have room for in the downsizing of our luggage.
*~*~*~Man, I have so much to say that I haven't even touched on and just not enough focus or time to get into all of it - its going to take me a year to finish by vacation blog for this trip*~*~*~
He's a saint, that one, we kept adding the famous, 'Oh, and one more thing... Oh, and if you don't mind, could you...oh yah we forgot, whatever...' and he just kept nodding and assuring us he would take care of it. Hell of a nice guy!

So after we got finished packing it was damn-near midnight and we laid down for our 3am wakeup call - UUUUGGGGG! We got up about 3:25am, grabbed all of our shit and were out the door. Surprisingly once we got the tickets validated we did pretty good with the whole train thing. A very nice stranger found us looking lost at Central Station and stopped to offer some assistance and guidence to get us off and then we sat accross from another very nice gentleman that we spoke to at the end of our 1st train who offered up some nice vacation points and some basics on train travel throughout Europe. Incredibelly nice folk out here!!

We arrived in Berlin this afternoon about 3pm. Our only actual plan for this city was their zoo. Zoo Berlin ( is noted as one of the biggest and best zoo's in the world!! And us being the freaks that we are, if we only have 1.5 days in the city what do we want to see??? Yeah... I hope that doesn't make us shallow. We are truely interested in the crumbling of the wall and all of the history associated with Berlin (and there is tons of it) but... they have Pandas!? I can experience the zoo in one day - I can't truely experience the WHOLE city in a single day - so, you make choices!
Unforturnately Mark and I have come down with a small cold and I have been battling some kind of stomach 'upset' off and on for a couple weeks. I don't know if I keep eating something icky or I'm just picking up stomach viruses but it definately sucks and Mark definately caught it this morning as we were leaving! :( He woke up feeling crappy and it has progressed all day. So, although we have been able to push off a cold with out modern medicines such as Nyqui & Dayquil (they have never heard of it) I have found that the only remedy for this stomach crap is lots of water, pepto, advil and sleep. So as I type to you on our 1st night in Germany, my love sleeps 10 feet from me trying to fight off somekind of Holland Bug. Keep your fingers crossed that he wakes up bright eyed and bushy tailed!!

Yeah, so, although we finally hopped the boarder via train I don't have much to report. The countryside is definately more rolling - Holland is pretty flat - but the houses and farms we saw on our way were pretty simular. I snapped some pics but I'm not sure if I'll be able to paste them in this post or not. We were both surprised - although Holland had begun to warm up to around the 50s the last couple days when we got off the train here it was almost hot! Too warm for our jackets (although some still are wearing them - habit I think) I never caught an actual temperature but wow! I shouldn't have sent my capri's and sandles home with Jason and Ashley! Maybe southern Germany will be cooler! We don't have room in our luggage to buy new clothes! Traveling this time of year (at least for us) seems to be a great big Catch22. The city obviously isn't as noticibly old as the other places we have visited but it was all but completely leveled at one time or another in its history, so its easy to forget, as we walked from the train station to our hotel, that we are indeed in another country.

Before Mark laid down he asked me to tell everyong hello for him. So, 'Hello"! Well, I too, am exhausted - It has been along day. I'm going to go curl up with my husband and will him better by morning. Due to computer difficulties I'm not going to try to post pictures now - it would cause too much frustration. I'll try to get some attached tomorrow evening if we don't go do anything.

I'll talk to you all soon, wish us luck!


p.s. just so you know, I rarely reread these before I post them (I didn't read this one), you are lucky if I remember to spell check the thing, so don't judge to much on the flow of the document, take it as a glimps into the workings of my mind, no matter how frightning that may be!! Good night!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

We're going to Amsterdam!!

Central Station

Today we are off to Amsterdam!!! After a few hurdles...
Its is rainy and dreary and cold!! Just really yucky! No worries though, most days start like this and clear up by noon - so we get a little wet... That isn't going to stop our trip!
Next, food...
We have found (via a whole nother storey) that inorder to eat breakfast at the club house you must 1st make a reservation. We have a very nice restaurant and bar up here that we tend to frequent, the night staff know us and are very friendly... do you feel where this is going?
We made reservations after dinner last night. We decided to eat here because of the convience for an early start and because they have a pretty decient breakfast menu (namely pancakes! :) ) We wanted pancakes, it has been almost 4 weeks!!
We get there for grub and find an almost empty restaurant and a table for 4 nicely arranged... with food... we haven't ordered yet. : There is a basket of bread rolls (hard as rocks), a plate of sliced meats (possible proscuto) and cheeses, a basket of jellies, peanut butter and butter, some watered down OJ, a thermos of plain coffee...
~*~*let me stop here for a second~*~*
We have been here almost 4 weeks and out side of what I make at home have not been able to find a plain cup of coffee anywhere in this country. Not to complain but occassionally a girl just wants some 'joe'; no froth, no need for sugar and damn-it, a normal size cup. This 'joe' which has been so elusive that I have finally put it out of my head is now in front of me with all this other crap, that I did not order, and all I want is come pancakes and cappachino., I see a waitress, one, and decide I'll go find out what is going on and see if we can order something to eat since we did not order the stuff on the table. 95% of the population here speaks almost perfect English and everyone else speaks enough to conversate with, this lady clearly spoke the language I needed but we were having some communication problems still (I will even take the blame and say it was my fault, I tend to talk very fast). As our brief conversation unraveled my 'point' kept getting smaller and detailed. I went from wanting to understand how this breakfast/reservation/menu thing worked to just wanting to order off the menu to just wanting cappachinos for the table... finally a cord with her was struck with the cappachinos and I recieved a rather loud, very forceful "Nae, it is not possible" and she was gone. Wide-eyed, I hung my head and returned to my friends with no better breakfast and worse, no fancy, european cappachino. Hmmmph! Mark later, after we resigned to our less than desireable meal tried to go smooth over the problem and figure out how to do this next time and came back with no better resolution but brought a bill for 40-some-odd Euros!! We finished 'joe', licked our wounds, touched every roll on the table so they could not be reused since we paid for them and with our tails limp walked to the car in the most rain we have seen since we arrived to make the treck to Amsterdam. We got a little more chipper! No problem! We'll eat in Amsterdam!!
We piled in the car and were off. The drive is about 1.5 hours so basicly accross Houston, no problem, we'll be there in no time! The rain slowed us down some but what really took it's toll is when we were almost to the parking garage where we were going to catch the train and my husband said, 'just take the next exit..'. Somewhere my brain vetod his comment and I went straight. I told him that didn't look like what we did last time. That was all until we passed under the overpass and I saw the stadium to our left! OOPS!! sorry love! I figure no biggy, I apologized to all, we'll just take the next exit and u-turn. As most of you can guess, it never works like that when you are in unfamiluar territory. We ended up taking a 35 minute detour, not senic, just a detour.
We did finally get there, we were able to park and finally get on a city train to Amsterdam Canal district. As typical, our timing couldn't have been better. The weather cleared up within 30 minutes or so of our arrival and we had about an hour to go before we could check into our apartment for the evening.
I had tried to book us a hotel but was too late to find anything decient for a reasonable price and had reserted to B&B (which I were cheaper anyways) and the first one that had something I jumped on! We didn't get the B&B treatement because we didn't stay in their home but rather in an apartment around the corner that they also rented out. This ended up being the best idea because you get to see what at least one or two of these little houses look like on the inside! I didn't get a good picture of the outside (I carry the camera all the time but tend to get caught in the moment and forget to use it) but grabbed a few inside. I would definately recommend these guys. They were very friendly and helpful and the place was well kept. Barangay has 8 thumbs up!!
Here a few pictures of our trip - there will be more on our photo site by the end of today - I'm posting something like 330!!! I need to figure out how to get paid doing this - its a full time job!

our living room

stairs leading to the bedroom. The ones leading up from the street were just as steep!
nice room

the bathroom is typically small with an odd, full length window view of the person bathing
this is how you get to the loft bed (Mark & I slept up here)

it was kind of like sleeping in a tent

this is the view of the loft if you are lying on the blue bed.

Okay, this is getting long! For the rest of the pictures you will have to hit the picture link. I'll work on getting them up and will label them all later.

We had a good time. We just roamed around. We took a night time tour of the Red Light District which I would definately recommend. It was very informative and it makes sure you see the whole district. We went down some allies I know we would never have dared on our own. I wish we would have taken a 2nd one to see what other info. we would have gotten. The next morning we also went to the Anne Frank House and took a canal tour. The Anne Frank House was very well done and organized and a real experience worth the 7.50Euro each I think it cost us. The canal tour was okay but you couldn't really hear or understand all the points of interest and it was hard to see unless you could hang out a window taking pictures, which I did. I guess I would do it again though because it lets you see areas you probably wouldn't cover on foot.
We left the city around 6:30pm on Sunday and were exhausted - I don't know how I got us home, it was a looooonnnng 1.5 hours back.

Anne Frank House

Hello - I'm back

Again I appologize for the delay. As I said, we had some friends in town and then I have been trying to prep pictures for posting and then you would not believe the hoops I had to jump through today with this computer to get to be able to post anything!!! I think I am going to be able to attach pictures with this post but it will still be time consuming.

Well lets get you updated. One of our best friends, Jason and his wife Ashley, came for a short visit this past weekend. They arrived on Friday after some plane headaches that occured before they even left their home town in Oklahoma. They were suppose to arrive here at 8:20am but instead landed at 11:00am. Not too much time lost. We got a cappachino and hit the road. Schiphol Airport (pronounced: skip-ole) is a cool air port, they have quite a bit of shopping, food, a grocery store and train depot as well as a museum all within its walls. If you're interested you can check out their web site here.

We took off to Brielle for some authentic 16th & 17th century Europe sites and a little shopping.

1620!! I've becomed almost obsessed with finding dates on buildings. This is one of the oldest I've found.

I think we met Mark for dinner at the club house and had a few beers and called it a night. The next day was our journey to Amsterdam!! We needed our rest.


Friday, April 07, 2006

sorry its been so long

Wow, its been awhile, sorry. I had to get our train arrangements taken care of and reserve all of our hotels for our actual vacation. It was extremely time consuming and frustrating but I am happy to announce that we are officially 'booked'!!! Yeeeeaaaahhhhh!!! :) I really just need to stay focused thru that. Look how long it still took me, almost a week!! And it ended up being more expensive than we (he) thought it would be. I told him not to let me do it alone... I have expensive taste... :)

Just so you know I have pictures of Rotterdam that still need posted as well as some from Hellevoetsluis and some from a sunset at the beach I took the other night. It is just going to take awhile to get them up; now that I have our reservations taken care of, I'm fix'n to walk out the door to go pick up Jason and Ashley from the Amsterdam Airport!!!!!!!!!!!! They got screwed on their flight! They were suppose to be landing at 8:30am but their plane from Oklahoma to Atlanta had problems so they had to rework their entire itinerary and are now landing at 11:00am. Not too much lost time just a pain in the ass for them. But, they are coming to Europe so that should erase some of the pain for them, hopefully!

Lets see, what else... Mark has been working late every night this week, pulling 11 & 12 hour days, not exactly the 8 -10 we were told but still bearable. He's actually worried about getting off tomorrow... keep your fingers crossed for us!!!

Well, I'm sure there is a ton more but I have to get out the door, it's about 1.5 hour drive and the weather is kind of shitty this morning.

Talk to you soon, don't give up on me!!

Jennifer :)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


My mother-in-law sent me this and I thought it was pretty cool!!

On Wednesday of this week,
at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00
in the morning,
the time and date will be
01:02:03 04/05/06.

That won't ever happen again.

Monday, April 03, 2006

We had a GREAT weekend

*~* I still can't post photos within my post so you'll have to check out my picture page for photos. *~*

Mark had to work on Saturday until about 1pm. That totally sucked! We had planned on going over to Brielle because they have a festival/party every April 1st to celebrate their 1st victory over the Spanish in 1572 (I think). The original town is adorable! The town has since expanded to accomodate modern times but the original was a walled city surrounded by a moat! It all still stands. It has a big church, houses store fronts and a few small canals! Great town! We got there late and the celebration was wrapping up and really getting into more of a party so we missed alot of it but it will still be a neat town to visit and shop in later.

We also went to Rotterdam on Sunday. We were told they had a great shopping square so we hopped in the car with our map and took off. It took a little roaming around, in the rather large city, before we found it but it really is a GREAT shopping experience. It is probably 4 city blocks big and has everything from an outdoor flea market to big department stores and inclosed malls!! The weather for the day started out raining and dreary but cleared up rather nicely! That is a pretty cool city and I can't wait to get back their as well. The clock is offically starting to tick so we had better get a move on!

Lets see, We also spent a little time in Hellevoetsluis. I have pictures of all of this but my computer is still acting up and it won't always let me on the internet. :( As it does I'm posting pictures and typing blog posts but I'm getting down to the wire and have to get our actual vacation planned and rooms reserved. Plus Jason and Ashley fly in Thursday!!!!! So I will be pretty busy in the days to come! But bear with me and check back often! I'll get things posted as fast as I can!!

Gotta go make some reservations!

Talk to you soon,