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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

DAY 12 - London to Stockholm on Ryanair

Sept. 14 - Meeting More Swedish Cousins

Ryanair is a very cheap way to travel!  The drawbacks, however, are:
** The airports are obscure, a ways from the big cities, and sometimes difficult to get to.
** The flight is cheap, but if you have luggage, IT"S EXPENSIVE!  17 lbs. is the limit for your carry on.
** CROWDED!  Lines!  Mean workers!  NOT FUN!!

I got a 4:00 a.m. shuttle from the hotel and went right to the airport in 8 minutes.  I arrived to LONG lines for everything and the hardest security EVER!  I have replaced hips, so I always set off the alarms.  The guard frisked me for 20 minutes and her wand kept beeping on every area of my body.  It was CrAzy!

Then we waited in one big room.  People were EVERYWHERE.  Many were sleeping on the benches, so it was hard to find somewhere to sit.  I finally did.  They don't let you know which gate to go until the last minute, so you just wait and keep watching the board.  When it's finally posted, you make a bee-line!  If you don't get there 1/2 hour before  boarding, they don't allow you on board.  It was a L-O-N-G way to walk to this particular gate.  Again - CrAZy!  AND...if you don't get your ticket stamped with a special stamp (which they don't tell you about),  you have to go all the way back to the first long line.  Of course, I forgot (we did the same thing on our earlier European trip and luckily they let us through).  SO...I happened to ask an attendant who happened to just be walking by to get some food.  She was VERY nice and signed it for me.
FINALLY boarding Ryanair at 6 a.m.
 I only got about 4 hours of sleep after I re-packed everything earlier that morning.  I left my suitcase at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel which I was VERY grateful that they allowed.  They put it in a locked room and said I could pick it up when I came back in 5 days.  I took a backpack to Sweden that I didn't have to check.  I saved $75 that way.  The round trip only cost $60 total.

Two new cousins that I discovered meet Ingalil and I for lunch.  They live close to Stockholm.
 It was so exciting when I found out that my great great grandfather's brother had some other posterity that I hadn't met the first time I came to Europe in 2013.  I found these two sisters and we corresponded and had a lovely lunch together.

Most of us ordered  a wonderful seafood salad.

Christopher and his grandmother, Ingalil are also my cousins.

Isn't she just strikingly gorgeous!
 Well, actually Ingalil's husband, Sven is my 3rd cousin, but unfortunately, he passed away earlier this year.  BUT...I consider her relation as we had so much fun and were able to communicate very well.  (even if she doesn't think her English is very good!)

Christopher does well with English, but hadn't spoke it since I came the last time - July of 2013.  He enjoyed chaperoning us 4 ladies to lunch and more.  ha!

Paula, Ingalil, and Susanne, and I enjoy some laughs together!

A marketplace downtown Stockholm

One of the iconic sites along the sea that goes through Stockholm...the old City Hall
It is the venue of the Nobel Prize banquet and is one of Stockholm's major tourist attractions.  The construction of the City Hall took twelve years, from 1911 to 1923. Nearly eight million red bricks were used. The dark red bricks, called "munktegel" (monks's brick) because of their traditional use in the construction of monasteries and churches, were provided by Lina brick factory. Construction was carried out by craftsmen using traditional techniques.
We really enjoyed our walk along the beautiful!

It was a nice, sunny day!

Ingalil in the Inner Yard of the City Hall

The Swedes LOVE their SEA!

Ingalil and I pose in the warm sunshine.

So many great memories of our afternoon in Stockholm!

Another shot of the Stockholm Old City Hall
We walked around downtown and into a shop that was celebrating their 50th year.

We met Christopher and he drove us 20 minutes north to where he currently lives with Ingalil, his grandmother.  She has such a beautiful house with lovely Swedish decor.  Last year when I came here, I marveled over her home and today was no different.
Beautiful hardwood floors and Swedish rugs everywhere.

Loving all her decor!

Her dining room - going into the kitchen

We had a very enjoyable meal together - thanks cousins!!

What a big steak!  I only ate 1/2...potatoes with BĂ©arnaise sauce  - YUM!
BĂ©arnaise sauce is hugely popular among most Swedes. It is perfect for the fancy steaks as well as the every day dishes like sausages and vegetables.  I LOVED it!  We also had dill, shrimp, and mayonaisse in a 1/2 of an avocado - very refreshing!  We also had cheese after dinner - a fun tradition.  What a lovely evening of conversation, memories of Sven, and talking of Christopher's mom (Ingalil's daughter) running for mayor and WINNING today!  We were all thrilled she gets to do a 2nd term! 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

DAY 11 - Churchill War Rooms & Sing a Song of Sixpence

 Sept 13 - LAST Day with My Cousins  :(
Before breakfast, I took a walk through Green Park and saw many homeless people waking up from their sleep in cardboard boxes around the trees.  I didn't catch anyone for my photos.
I think that's an apple tree on the right.

I saw the Queen's guard, but no changing of the guard scheduled today.

The East Front of Buckingham Palace completed in 1850.

Canada Memorial
  The Canada Memorial erected in 1992, behind the Canada gate, is a tribute to the 113,663 members of the Canadian Forces killed during the First and Second World Wars.

The Memorial Gates
 Wellington Arch, also known as Constitution Arch or (originally) the Green Park Arch, is a triumphal arch located to the south of Hyde Park.
  Wellington Arch was moved to its present position in 1882-83.

The Royal Artillery Memorial is a stone memorial at Hyde Park Corner, dedicated to casualties in the Royal Regiment of Artillery in WWI.  It was unveiled in 1925.  Artillery guns and their crews were themselves targets, and 49,076 members of the Royal Artillery died during the conflict.  Over haf of the casualties in the war were from artillery.

In Memoriam to the machine gun corps during WWI.

Another WWI monument unveiled in 2012 during Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.

There were several flowers and notes around the monument.   What a beautiful tribute!

 I got back in time to meet my cousins for breakfast at the hotel.  It was a buffet, but I really wanted some English porridge, so they made a bowl just for me with berries in it...mmm!

"Don't we all look chipper this morning?"

We started on our walk across Hyde Park where I had just been.

We saw a parade go by the street that lined with this.

My cousins enjoy the Royal grounds.

The Churchill War Rooms is a museum and one of the five branches of the Imperial War Museum. The museum comprises the Cabinet War Rooms, a historic underground complex that housed a British government command centre throughout WWII and the Churchill Museum, a biographical museum exploring the life of British statesman Winston Churchill.

The picture says it all - well used during the war.

So many Churchill relics - he was VERY popular and loved by the American people.
Construction of the Cabinet War Rooms, located beneath the Treasury building in the Whitehall area of Westminster, began in 1938. They became operational in August 1939, shortly before the outbreak of war in Europe. They remained in operation throughout the Second World War, before being abandoned in August 1945 after the surrender of Japan

He had quite the sense of humor!

How sad is this?

One of his uniforms
Following are some of the war rooms down under.

While the usage of many of the War Rooms' individual rooms changed over the course of the war, the facility included dormitories for staff, private bedrooms for military officers and senior ministers, and rooms for typists or telephone switchboard operators.

Next - we were off to eat in another authentic English pub.....

One of London’s most magnificent pubs, it's a must see on any visitor’s list. From the outside it looks pleasant enough, plain brick with some ornate ironwork, typical of many in town; inside there’s a wonderful and surprising contrast. Dazzling ‘brilliant-cut’ mirrors cover the walls, their intricate patterns sparkle as they catch the light, giving the impression of a much bigger space.

YUM!  Can't wait to taste what's in store here!
  • Red Lion is the name of over 600 pubs. The lion is one of the most common charges of arms, second only to the cross, and so the Red Lion as a pub sign probably has multiple origins.
I decided to get a real English pie - scrumptious!

Another wonderful meal together - sure love these two!!

I went upstairs and saw some cute paintings on the wall of one of my favorite nursery rhymes...
"Sing a Song of Sixpence - a pocket full of rye"

"Four and Twenty Blackbirds baked in a pie."

"When the pie was open, the birds began to sing."

"Wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?"

So we continued our tour of the city on our own.  We went on a subway ride - John's first.  He got a lot of eyes with his cowboy hat and boots.  Some girls even wanted a photo, but we had to jump on the subway or miss our ride.

 This guard would NOT bat an eyelash!

Off to the British Museum to mainly see the famous Rosetta Stone...

The Rosetta Stone is one of the most important objects in the British Museum as it holds the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphs - a script made up of small pictures that was used originally in ancient Egypt for religious texts.  It's been on display here since 1802.

We went into a dark room and saw some beautiful gems - oh my...worth thousands/millions.!!

I'm posing with a copy of the original Rosetta Stone.

We all enjoyed  a ride in the front seat of a London Double-Decker bus....the view was FANTASTIC!

We saw this interesting sculpture as we rode the bus.

The Clarke Brothers enjoy seeing their name on a London bus.

Hard Rock Cafe International, Inc. is a chain of theme restaurants founded in 1971 by Americans Tigree and Morton in London. In 1979, the cafe began covering its walls with rock and roll memorabilia, a tradition which expanded to others in the chain.
Hard Rock Cafe has its roots in London. - this was the 1st one!

Da-dah!  Like my robe?  Compliments of our hotel at the Mayfair....our last night together.  :(
What a great day it's been (again!)  I had to go an hour away so I could catch my flight to Sweden tomorrow.   I went by private taxi.   Good-bye (farewell) dear cousins and THANK-YOU for everything.

English Restrooms - it's always interesting to get different photos of the various doors in the countries of Europe.

My room at the Holiday Inn Express near the London Stansted Airport - very short stay.