My Holiday in London

It’s been awhile since I have updated this. So much has happened I don’t even know where to begin. I was on holiday in the U.K. from May 8-17th. Everything was fabulous! I will try to post some pictures. If you have facebook, that is the better way to look because it allows so much more space and is easier to look through.

Lately traveling has been a bit rough for me this year. Something always hiccups in my plans. On our way to London, the international security guys were stamping us out of the country and they looked at our passports (mine and Adena’s) and saw that we had been in the country for 3 months and 1 day. The legal allowance without a visa in Europe is 3 months. I have a visa, but it is in process. He asked me what I was doing in Germany and whether I was going back to the states after London. I told him my stuff was here so I am coming back. He told me I shouldn’t come back, that I needed to go home. Needless to say I was a bit frazzled that in this rinky-dink airport that is more like a plan hanger, these security guards are trying to give me hell for being here one day too long. They must be people who don’t like the states, otherwise outbound flights don’t get checked. What can you do?

We stayed at the oh-so fabulous “Ritz” as we lovingly call it. The five star hostel downtown London in Bayswater formerly known as “Smart Hyde Park Inn”, every backpackers nightmare. I am just kidding. It was an adventure. The hostel definitely wasn’t the cleanest or organized. We had to switch rooms almost every night we were there even though we had a long term reservation. The pictures on the website were definitely misleading. It was like they took pictures of it right after it opened….a 100 years ago. We didn’t shower much on this trip (yikes! But it was scary in the shower stalls and the water had no temperature control, so either extremely cold or scalding hot.) I have to say it was fun staying there. We met a lot of great people on our trip. That was probably the best part of staying in hostels was meeting people. We met one guy from New Zealand named Nathan. He is the most hilarious person. New Zealanders are called “Kiwis” and I didn’t realize it was after the national bird. I was thinking of the fruit. So every time he said “Oh that’s kiwi humour for you,” I would picture these kiwi fruits laughing. He is actually living in London and was looking for a job, but London is so expensive. It is cheaper to stay there in the hostel, find a job, and then a flat. Luckily he found a really great job on our last day there, so we went out and celebrated his job and our going away. It was great.
What did we do in London? Are you ready for a novel?? Just kidding. I’ll only give highlights.

The first day we went to the British Museum and first had breakfast in the park that is adjacent to the museum. It is very lovely if you have ever seen it and quite peaceful. At the museum, we saw a demonstration called “The way of Tea” and women from Japan who were in a school for tea and serving it, gave the demonstration. It was performed in a replica tea house in the museum. I was one of two people who were volunteers to have this ceremony performed and taste the tea. I really enjoyed it! The next day we took a tour all over the city on one of the big red buses. I definitely felt like a tourist, but we had some pretty funny tour guides and it was such a lovely day when we went, no rain, only sun. I actually got a sun-burn. I didn’t buy any sun tan lotion because it was 10 pounds for one bottle of lotion. That is $20!!!! Sooo expensive( in Deutschland wir sagen sehr teuer!!) Saturday we went to the Tower of London and it was absolutely incredible! So rich in history. Our tour guide was one of the actual guards and he was hilarious. I like the Brits for their humour, much better than German humour; although sometimes a little too saucy for my taste.

Monday we took a train to Bath for the day. Bath has to be one of the most beautiful cities!! All the architecture is the same as from the 18th century, nothing has really changed or modernized. It is also home to the Jane Austen Centre and the Roman Baths. We toured the Roman Baths and then we went to the Jane Austen Centre and had a high tea. It was very beautiful and very peaceful. Even as I write this my heart is again put to rest and filled with delight. We sat and drank tea and scones for quite some time just enjoying our break away from kids and soaking in the culture of the 18th century in Bath. We took a tour of the house, which was very much like one of the houses Jane Austen lived in when she resided in Bath. I bought a biography at the store on the Life of Jane Austen. I am only 60 pages in and it is very insightful.
The next day we went to Edinburgh and stayed in the worlds greatest hostel! This time I am being serious. It was very new and everything was better than the website stated. Plenty of space, very clean --we actually took a shower in this one. Gotta take ‘em where you can. Lockers were free and the place had like 6 kitchens and they were sanitary!!! I wish we had stayed longer in Edinburgh, the place was beautiful and the lodgings were great and cheap. While we were there, we saw the Edinburgh Castle. I saw a museum that paid tribute to Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. I only found it though , while walking on the street, but it was near closing so I only had 15 minutes in it. After I went there, I toured the Scottish Whiskey Heritage Museum. I loved it! They give you a glass of whisky before you start the tour and you get to keep it. Great day! Later that evening we went to the local pub and had haggis and something else that is a traditional Scottish meal and a good local cider. It was actually really good and really cheap. Eating out in the U.K. is uber expensive.

We went to York the next morning and we saw a lot there. That morning we had a traditional English breakfast, eggs, toast, beans, hash browns, sausage, and bacon. You could tell that it definitely was a farming community by the way the sausages were made and tasted. It was good, but I think I might die of a heart attack if I ate that everyday! One of my favorite places in York was the York Castle Museum that had pretty much the history of society in York, but much emphasis on the women’s life. It was really neat. It showed the evolution of many common household products and how they had changed over the years. There were these older women in there who remembered using some of the original products, scrubbing boards, and such who would come over and tell me about their experiences with it. They were really sweet and reminded me so much of my late grandma. She really would have enjoyed the museum. My next favorite place was the York Minster. It was incredible. Words can’t express the awe and wonder one feels when they step into the grandeur of this neo-gothic cathedral. You really feel how small you are and how grand and glorious, ominous, and majestic God is. Solemnity captures the heart and mind in reverence towards God. I lit a candle and went into one of the side prayer gates and prayed. My heart was heavy that day.

We traveled back to London that night exhausted and went back to our rooms to find we were rooming with more Germans! Oh I didn’t mention, that every night at the “Ritz” we were always paired up with Germans. It was pretty cool…Anyways, we slept in the next day and then went to “St. Arbucks” to pay our tribute to the American saint. Coffee actually wasn’t too expensive there as it is in Germany. I think it is because there is a St. Arbucks on every corner where as in Hamburg, there are two. That day we went to see “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” in the Shakespeare Globe Theatre. The play was absolutely incredible!! The actors were dead on in their timing and downright hilarious. They were familiar with all the little nuances of particularly their characters and in general the way Shakespeare meant this play to go. Fantastic! Had me laughing so hard I was crying. I am so glad we went to the play. I will never forget it.
That night we went to a Tex-Mex restaurant because I have been craving Mexican food forever and I was desparate. The lady assured me it was authentic. I first ordered a pina colada and guess what ?? It came out on the rocks! I couldn’t believe it. I sent it back to be blended. Who ever heard of a pina colada not being frozen?? The food was definitely like eating Mexican food up north. Yankee Mexican food. It was supposed to be enchiladas, beans, and rice. It was tortilla with cheese--no sauce, ranch beans, and yellow rice. AHHHH!! And it was 20 pounds all together which is $40 American. No bueno. Most expensive non-Mexican, Mexican food I have ever had. The lady asked me how it compared because I she knew I was from Texas. I was nice, but honest and told her it was nothing like it at all. She tried to justify it, but I just smiled and said it wasn’t. I think she felt horrible, because the bartender came by with the bill and two free shots. Nothing in Europe is free, so she must have thought we were going to stiff her. For the record we didn’t. It’s not her fault the food isn’t real. I waited tables way too long to do that to any waiter.

Friday, we went to the Tate Modern and Westminster. They were both great. I enjoyed looking at the line of Kings and Queens and reading some of the Latin. I was impressed on this trip with my language skills that because of learning four Latin based languages, I was understanding a good bit of the Latin inscriptions. Later on that night we celebrated with Nathan and this French girl at a little Italian restaurant down the way from the “Ritz”. We said adieu and went to bed early (12) because we had to get up at 3 to catch our flight. We woke up early that morning, checked out, took a cab to the train station, took a train all the way out to Stanstead Airport. We got in line to check in for our flight. (You can only check in online if you are an EU citizen. They are very seclusionistic like that over here. All about the EU. Kind of creepy...) Anyways, after waiting for some time and the line not moving, they closed down our flight for check in. We talked to the people and they wouldn’t check us in, even though we had been there for quite some time. They sent us to the ticket counter. We still had plenty of time to get on the plane, but all the people we talked to were rude and called us liars saying their was no way we were at the right check in desk and they always give last calls, yadda yadda. They didn’t have a flight until Monday and they wanted US to pay extra for it. I was so angry at this point I was laughing. No one had any flights for us and we needed to be home to work. The only flight was with AirBerlin for 189 pounds!!! That is $400 U.S. dollars. AHHH!! We ended up taking the train back into the city, the tube to Kings Cross and taking the Chunnel to Brussels, the train to Cologne, then the Deutsch Bahn to Hamburg, and arriving in Hamburg 14 hours later and out €230 each. A complete nightmare. Needless to say I wrote a letter to Ryanair yesterday demanding a refund for our extra expenses home. Hopefully they will grant it. I am trying to rest in the whole God knows better and is sovereign over everything. The only thing I could think of is that because they don’t check passports on trains, maybe this was His way of smuggling us back into Germany. I don’t know, but it was quite frustrating to end our trip that way. But I was definitely glad to be home. I unpacked, did laundry, and took a long hot shower.

All in all, it was a great trip, a great experience, and I think I might study a semester in Bath.


Life is like a flower in blume


Two Germans, a Brit, and a Ukrainian playing Baseball. Yes that is a beer bottle for a bat!

Life has been incredibly wonderful the last few weeks. Let me re-phrase that the weather has been perfectly wonderful the last few weeks; and it makes all the difference. I woke up one day and Spring had arrived right under our noses. It had been warm already for 5 days and I was sitting on a bench waiting to take Charli home from school as I looked up and gazed upon the most beautiful cherry blossom tree I have ever seen. The moment felt like out of a movie as time seemed to stand still and I soaked in the beauty and glory of the fuchsia stained blossoms hanging in graceful splendor. Something within my heart just sighs and says yes this is what home feels like. This is what rest feels like. Winter is gone. I can breath with ease once again.

I never thought I would utter or write this phrase, but I miss Texas weather or summer that is. All of you (y’all) in Texas are ready to stone me right now, but it is absolutely true. Hamburg is finally warm, everything has come to life, and the sun is shining for more than a couple of hours in a week. The sun brings back memories that are imbedded to my soul. I listen to familiar music while the sun shines into my window and I can’t help but think about times of jamming out in my car to music while the sun poured in. Or feeling the sun on the back of my neck, a cool breeze rushing by as I watch my kids play in the backyard and the gardener tending the ground; it makes me miss my garden. I even dreamt about my roses last night. I even miss digging in the ground in 100 degree weather because I was determined to plant my roses when I wanted. I know these feelings are nuts, but I lived in Texas for 22 years; however, I never thought I would end up back in Texas, but I feel it calling me home sometimes.

Back to the weather in Hamburg. I truly believe the weather has an extreme influence over people. I watch people come our of their ruts and turn into truly charming people all because the sun has come out. Studies have shown that it doesn’t make a difference chemically to the levels of serotonin in your brain, but I believe behavior analysis would beg to differ. My own experience of observing people and interacting with them in every day life has proven otherwise. I also feel as if I appreciate Spring so much more because it was so nasty for so long, so dreary and dull. As if I didn’t struggle with depression enough without any help. FYI: I am actually doing well as far as depression is concerned.

It also appears like spring in the way events in my life have turned. I didn’t have any friends for so long and it was quite a bit lonely. Then I started going to church and started learning the language better and suddenly things started to progress. Before I knew it I was speaking German and I was busy almost every free day of the week with a social engagement getting to know the hearts of the people I am surrounded with. My life is blooming here. I feel at home at IBC (International Baptist Church). No it’s not my specific cup of tea, but this is where God has me and I love the people. Ministry is beginning to evolve for me here and a desire to see God move amongst the people in Hamburg is strong. I love watching all the different cultures in the church as well. I went to my first International wedding on Saturday and I so didn’t know the people! Everyone was invited and said to come even though I didn’t know them, that it would be a good experience. A German woman married an Indian man. It was a great ceremony.

Check this out. I was in the Stadt Park last Sunday with the Young Adults Group from church. The weather was amazing, the park was beautiful, we were grilling some bratwurst--which is actually really good, and drinking some beer--like every other German! The best part of it was when a couple of people turned an empty beer bottle and a hackey sack into a game of baseball. As the game grew into teams, they realized they didn’t know the rules and so being the good ‘ole American they asked me, so I taught them baseball. I love it! In a park with people from all around the world we played baseball with a beer bottle and a hackey sack switching between English and German with many moments of mix-ups between languages that can only be appreciated by those who have been in such a mixed company. When else can one appreciate when a man from Ghana utters, “Why are we leaving guys? It’s so hell outside.” Hell is the German word for light. So awesome!

This past Thursday was Mai Tag/Vater Tag/Himmel (May Day, Father’s Day, Ascension). All having many purposes for this day. Everyone was off work. Mai tag is a day for workers to have a free day. I had this day off J . Father’s Day is supposedly a celebration of fathers, but all I saw at the Schlosspark (castle) in Reinbek, were a bunch of young kids getting drunk “celebrating” their fathers. I asked them where their dads actually were, and they were like “uh..nach house” (at home). So it is basically an excuse to get drunk; hence the neo-Nazi rallies in downtown Hamburg. Apparently it made the world wide news. I am just waiting for a phone call from my family saying my grandma saw it and says to come home right now. The last reason for the day is celebrating the ascension of Christ into the Heavens (himmel). From what I saw, the day was pretty much a day of kids getting drunk and starting fights with each other. After two hours I was pretty bored with it even though it was gorgeous at the park. So that is father’s day! Every youths dream.

I am heading to London on Thursday. Please pray for safe travels for Adena and me and pray God gives us wisdom and discernment. Neither of us have been there before. We are traveling the hostel route and by train. We are spending five days in London, a day in Bath, a day in Edinburgh, and a day in York. I keep having dreams of getting mugged. Maybe a little paranoia, but prayer never hurts. J …

I feel like so much has happened that I can’t write it all. Please keep in touch and send me email, mail, whatever form of communication is best for you. I miss you guys.


Breakfast of Champions- Nutella on a sesame brotchen.

Die Alster- Downtown Hamburg

Downtown- This is my view on the way to school everyday! It's a hard life.

If you look close enough, the bridge is actually the railway I take everyday.