Wednesday, September 30, 2009

London: Day Three

We turned back into tourists on our last day in London.

First stop, the Tower of London.

Marion in a dress, dancing in the castle. What a surprise!

We, of course, took the Beefeater tour. Because that's what you do when you go to the Tower. So don't miss the Beefeater tour when you go, k?

Traitors' Gate.

Where Anne Boleyn's head (among others) rolled.

Marion got a smile out of this guy outside of the crown jewel building.

After our tower trip, we took a boat down to Westminster Abbey. Saw Big Ben and Parliament on our way to a pub for lunch where we grabbed some fish and chips in a pub (hello yumminess). Then we made our way to the Abbey.

That was enough for us. London was packed with tourists. So when we were done with the tourist thing we headed back to the hotel, rested a bit, then went out for our last dinner of the trip.

London, it's a great city. Three days isn't even close to the amount of time needed to see it all. But we enjoyed our time there, however brief it was.

It was also nice to not have to mime my way through a conversation. The downside to speaking the same language as the locals was the realization that my conversations could now be eavesdropped on. There are benefits to living in a country that speaks a different language!

Monday, September 28, 2009

London: Days One & Two

Shortly after my whirlwind trip to Malta, we all packed up and went to London to see my sister Colleen graduate from university. And to see a bit of the town of course.

The day after arriving we decided to spend some time in Kensington Gardens. My dad thought it would be nice to rent a paddle boat for a bit. So we found the rental area and got Marion suited up in a lifejacket.

And then we found out why he wanted to rent the paddle boat. Look at the pure joy on his face at getting out of hard labor.

Of course Marion loved the ride. Dad enjoyed his relaxtion time.

And my sisters, Colleen and Erin, worked up a sweat trying to chase the ducks per Marion's instructions.

My mom and I did a bit of shopping during their boat ride and found food for the geese. So that was our next stop.

This goose didn't seem to understand Marion's technique. We realized why later; most people were feeding the geese from their hands.

We continued our walk around the gardens and found our way to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.

We spent some time there relaxing.

Some more than others.

During our walk we saw some signs advertising a Peter Pan play.

We called and got some tickets for it for that afternoon, mentioning that we had a three month old infant with us. "No problem", the ticket agent said, "she doesn't need a ticket."

So we killed some time around the gardens until it was playtime. We walked over to the play tent, got our tickets, and went to find our seats. One person checked our tickets and waved us through. Then, we were stopped by a second person.

"Excuse me, I need to see a ticket for the infant", the woman said, motioning to three month old Betti asleep in her baby carrier.

"I'm sorry, what? She's three months old?!"

"Everyone needs a ticket."

Dad stepped in, "We were told she wouldn't need a ticket. She's three months old. If you aren't going to let us in, we want a full refund."

So yes, the people running this Peter Pan play expected us to pay for a full price children's ticket for a sleeping infant.

Now I know what you are thinking. Big deal Meghan! Why didn't you guys just pay for the ticket? How bad could it possibly have been?!

Ladies and Gents, here you go. They wanted us to pay 35£ for Betti to sleep through the performance on my lap. 35£!?!?

Yea, we got the hell out of there. And then the manager tried to sell that this was something typical in England.

I've checked with my English friends and that is baloney! I understand everyone needing a ticket, but you don't need to force people to buy a ticket. Just print out a ticket for infants! It really is that simple. But they wanted none of that- 35£ or no show for you! Silly really, they lost a total sale of six tickets because they wanted a ticket for Betti.

Ah, their loss. Marion was sad for a bit but we sold her on swimming at the hotel. She really is pretty easy to please.

So off to the hotel we went for some swimming and resting.

The next day was my sister Colleen's graduation day.

Marion wanted a hat of her own.

Then we settled in on our balcony (aka the children's section) for the ceremony.

They started off the ceremony with the following:
We welcome all of the families here today. However, parents, please mind your children. If they become disruptive or loud, please take them away.
Which basically meant we spent the entire ceremony in fear. Marion has not mastered her indoor voice yet and is a social butterfly who loves to talk and play. Therefore, disruptive. When this didn't work,

Brian took her to the hallway where he spent most of the ceremony.

I found all of this quite funny considering a lot of the guests (including graduate's parents) spent the ceremony in an adjoining room watching the ceremony via closed circuit TV. Concern about the kids getting out of control but you aren't going to make sure that the parents who paid the bills get to see their kids graduate in person?

Anyway, we did our part and I'm pretty sure we didn't piss anyone off!

We were all able to see Colleen walk despite being on "Operation Keep Marion Quiet". She graduated, mission accomplished!

Celebration was that night with Day Three in London the next day.

To be continued...

Friday, September 25, 2009

We have forward movement people.

I was able to record a bit when she started doing this yesterday.

I see any me time I had disappearing in my future. Just this morning Betti managed to get to one of Marion's toys; she took one chomp on it and screamed. Uh, yay?

Seriously though, glad she finally managed to do it. She's been so upset trying lately! Maybe she'll sleep at night now? Please universe?

Flashback: Starbucks

While going through my draft posts this week, I stumbled upon this gem that I wrote a year ago. Things have changed a lot in just a year. Anyway, I'm sharing my flashback with you. Enjoy.

or, the only place I can find a stinking blueberry muffin in this country.

Blueberry muffins hold a special place in my heart. They are on a short list of foods that help my morning sickness. The others are Kraft mac and cheese, fast food, and fried chicken.

So I'm basically in hell. None of these foods are easy to come by here. For the past week I've been surviving on McDonalds and Burger King. Somehow I have still managed to lose 2 kilos. That is a mystery.

So this morning, after I had puked in the sink, I said enough is enough! I pulled myself together, put Marion in the car, and headed for the Starbucks located a couple of towns away.

We arrived and I got four blueberry muffins. Pregnancy does weird things to women. I no longer cared that the muffins were 3.90CHF a pop. I just needed them.

So I got one, and it was good. And now I can't figure out what to eat for lunch.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Malta: Take One, Day Two

Day one can be found here.

My second day in Malta was a bit rushed. My flight was scheduled to take off around two so I figured I'd try to squeeze in Valletta in the morning. I spent most of the morning running around Valletta so I don't have as many pictures as I do of Gozo.

First up, walk/run from the hotel to the ferry to take the boat over to Valletta. I made it.

Next up, wander around Valletta.

I had some time to see the sights until the movie I wanted to see, The Malta Experience opened for the day. It was obvious to me that there was a massive amount of history in Malta from only one day on the island. So I definitely wanted to see this movie to get a better handle on it all. Unfortunately it didn't start until 11am so I had some time to get lost in Valletta.

I finally found my way to St John's Cathedral.

Mass was going on so I decided to join in. When in, uh, Malta, right?

Well, this church was just gorgeous. I'm glad I stayed for mass, it really gave me a sense for the cathedral. Minus the men completing restoration work in the church. No tourists during mass but work is okay?

But back to the church. The lighting sucked so pictures were hard to get. You get the idea though.

And the detail?


I found my way to St Paul's Shipwreck Church. St Paul is widely considered to have brought Catholicism to the islands and is the patron saint of Malta. The church is home to St Paul's right wrist-bone and part of the column on which St Paul was beheaded. No pictures allowed, so you'll have to live with this.

Fort St Elmo was next on my list of stops for the day. I walked all the way there only to be told that it was closed; the police academy now use the fort for training.

So I walked down to the Lower Barracca Gardens to enjoy the views and relax a bit.

Finally it was time to see the movie. Worth it as I learned a ton about the island. I'm sure I could have learned all of it from Wikipedia or a quick Google search, but it was nice to not have to squeeze Googling in on my vacation.

However, I needed to book it back to the hotel after the movie in order to catch my flight back to Switzerland. So as soon as the movie was over I ran out of the theatre outside. No cabs, but there were some guys with horsedrawn carriages who I thought might be able to get me to my ferry (located on the other side of the island) quickly.

So I, with a baby strapped to my front, ran across the road and ask them, "How much to get me to the ferry, fast?"

"Miss, would you like to take a tour of the island?"

"No. I need to catch the ferry, now. Can you take me there quickly?"

"Sure. 50 euros."

"Ha! Are you crazy? No. I'll run." I turned around and started to leave.

At this point I was chased by a younger guy, looking to make a deal.

"Miss, how much were you thinking?"

I told him 10 euros, tops.

He responded with, "How about 20?"

This people obviously did not get the urgency of the matter so I laughed, said no for a last time, and started to book it to the ferry. And while I walked away, I could hear behind me, "15????"

I missed my ferry and had to wait for the next one. However, I ended up making my flight. And that's all that matters!

It was a good trip and I expected Brian home from his short business trip to Malta the following week. Little did we know that was not going to be the case and we would be coming back to Malta for a second time to visit Brian almost six weeks later.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ballet, now with all the accessories

I had to tear her out of these clothes after the class. I swear, she would go anywhere and do anything as long as she was wearing a skirt, a dress, or anything with sparkles/feathers/bows/etc.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Urnäsch Alpabfahrt

Well, we made it to Urnäsch for the Alpabfahrt this past Saturday. It did not disappoint!

Urnäsch seemed to be the hot destination on Saturday. The train was so crowded, we sat in the bike room on the way there. We were fine with this, better to not disturb the others with our excited kids.

When we arrived, we waited for the cows and let the kids splash in a local fountain.

Pavel got a little adventurous. Sadly, it ended with him butt first in the water.

Around the same time Betti got a bit hungry. Luckily, I can feed her without using my hands now.

Finally, cows!

The first two were decorated.

They were followed by four men who were singing, smoking cigars, and dressed in traditional dress.

Then came a large amount of cows.

Followed by one very lucky car.

Which was followed by the baby cows, one herder, and one rambunctious dog. The bus was lucky enough to get caught up in all of this.

Bus schedule messed up by cows? Only in Switzerland.

After seeing all of the cows, we walked around a bit admiring the town and the gorgeous views. The grassy hills surrounding the town looked like velvet. Must come back to the Appenzell region.

I'm glad we choose to go to the Urnäsch Alpabfahrt; there was a market and activities for the kids. Things to keep Marion busy is enough to make my day a success!

The kids would have spent their entire day "milking" this cow.

"Mommy, we're not done yet!"

But there was a pig race and Mommy had some money on some pigs (3 and 5 baby!).

As luck would have it, pig number 3 won this race. I won my money back, woo hoo!

Someone tell that other pig which way the slop is.

After the race, we let the kids run around while we enjoyed some beverages.

"Hey, Daddy, what are you holding??"

"No more pictures Mommy!"

"I mean it!"

On our train ride back, we saw many more Alpabfahrts. None of them were as big as the one in Urnäsch but they all included traditional Appenzell dress and police escorts. This one was lucky enough to get stopped by our train; the men just continued to enjoy their cigars.

We had a fabulous day. Great weather, great cows, good beer, and a lucky number 3 pig! Really, can it get any better than that?