Zurich, Switzerland is beautiful, clean, and expensive

We pet- and house-sat in Zurich, Switzerland as our last sit this summer.  We took care of a very sweet dog named Lilly.  Lilly loved to chase balls in the backyard.Switzerland lilly the dog netWe were about 12 miles outside of Zurich, out in the countryside.  We would take Lilly for walks through beautiful green farm lands. There were lakes and rivers everywhere in the country.  This is Lake Zurich.Lake Zurich trees net

There were parks and small houses built on the shores of this large lake.Lake zurich house netLake Zurich bench netAnd there were still flowers in October.orange spike flower closer netsweet pea pastel netThe public transportation was good and easy but really expensive.  To go into Zurich on the train, (12 miles) and return was $22.00 each.  This was like 3 times more expensive than in the other places we have visited.   The expensiveness of everything was kind of off putting.  A coke at a cafe was $6, a hamburger was $13, a box of cereal was $7 and gas was $8 a gallon.  We purchased two small pieces of chocolate and it came to $4.50.Switzerland handmade chocolates net

Even postcards were $2.50.  Needless to say, we ate at home and did not buy much.

But the city of Zurich was beautiful.  It is cut in half by the Limmet River, and there are many bridges to cross from one side to the other.Zurich Limmet river netThere are fountains everywhere and they all run cold, clean water all the time.  You can always fill your water bottles for free.Zurich fish fountain net 

I came across done fountain that someone had filled with fresh roses.Zurich rose fountain 2 netIt was a lovely city to visit for a week.

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Dylan Thomas’ birthplace in Swansea, Wales

We were spending the night in Swansea, Wales before going to our next sit in south west Wales.  Sometimes you discover something that you did not know on a trip like this.  In the restaurant where we were eating dinner, I saw a wall painting of Dylan Thomas , my favorite poet after Shakespeare.  It  said that he was born and lived his first 23 years in a house in Swansea.Dylan Thomas gate net

Thomas was an amazing wordsmith.  The way he put words together to make new and startling images was like painting with words.   Here is the beginning of the poem Fern Hill;

“Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,”

You can see the joyful child rushing through the high green grass at his aunt’s farm.

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Dylan Thomas 

It was kind of hard to find the house since there were only small signs.  I am surprised that the council in Swansea has not publicized that it is Dylan’s birthplace.

We were greeted at the door by Geoff Haden, the owner of the house and a Thomas admirer.  He took time with us to talk about Dylan’s life here in this middle class Edwardian house.  Geoff encouraged us to take our time looking at the house and even said we could open the cupboards and drawers.

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Geoff Haden

Dylan was born in the front bedroom of his parent’s house on October 27th 1914. Dylan Thomas birth bedroom net

The house has been lovingly restored to as close to the original as possible.  Geoff told us that they found a woman who had been a maid in the house when she was 15 and Dylan was 16.  She remembered how the house looked.

Here is a photograph of the desk in his tiny bedroom.  It was here in this untidy bedroom that was full of books, sweets and cigarettes that Dylan wrote such amazing poems and stories.Dylan Thomas desk net

Dylan Thomas top of desk net

 

 

There is even his twin bed that was next to the house hot water boiler.Dylan Thomas bed netIt was a thrill to see where Dylan wrote his masterpieces and to feel his spirit in the house.  Dylan’s life was short.  He died in New York on November 9, 1953 after drinking all night in a pub after one of his poetry readings.  He had been ill with pneumonia and went into a coma in the hospital and never came out of it before he died.

His most famous poem is “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night”  that he wrote for his father when his father died in 1952 just one year before his own death.  It is sad that Dylan did not get to follow his advice to his father about death.

“And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Dylan Thomas portrait netIf you are ever in southwestern Wales , try to get by the house in Swansea.  The home is also available for private hire.  The do weddings, conferences, private parties and book launches.  It is located at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea.  I am sure Geoff will welcome you warmly.

London is a cornucopia of history, museums and art

We have been so busy here in Ealing because we are only 25 minutes outside of London by using the tube.   The museums here are mostly free so you can go back when you cannot get to see everything in one visit.  I have been to the Victoria and Albert Museum two times.IMG_20180812_121612395IMG_20180812_163258822The Museum of London, which has  excellent exhibits on Roman London and the middle Ages in London.

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Remains of the Roman wall in London

the Rose theatre model

Model of the Rose Theater

shiloutte manThen there are many interesting art and theater events to see.  Here I am at Shakespeare’s Globe, where I saw an excellent production of Othello.Old Globe theater Othello linda

Old Globe theater groundlings

The Globe Theater with the groundlings

We went to see the Old Operating Theater that was opened in 1822 to do operations on poor women who were in the St. Thomas hospital.  This was done before there was any anesthetics.  There are exhibits of the primitive tools used in this theater to train new surgeons.  I could almost hear the screams of the poor women who were treated in this place.  It was closed in 1862.Old operating theater in London

Old operating table in London

The wood chips under the table was for the blood

obstetrics tools 1820 2Now to end this blog post on a more pleasant note.  We stopped by the glass blowing studio featuring Peter Layton’s latest works called Homage.  Mr. Layton was in the studio and we got to talk to him about his remarkable work.

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Artist Peter Layton next to one of his glass art works

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Glass artist blowing and shaping an art work

peter layton glassLondon is a wonderful city to explore and discover and it does not have to cost you a fortune.

Baltic cruise , part 2

We got to spend 2 days in St. Petersburg.  You cannot leave the ship unless you have booked a tour or have applied for a visa.  The last time we were here it was 1990 and it was called Leningrad.  There were hardly any tourists when we were here, now you can hardly find space to move in the big attractions.  We went to the Hermitage (the former Winter Palace of the czars).  The palace is huge and filled with priceless art.  This is the grand entrance staircase. 2018 Baltic cruise Hermitage stairway  Everywhere in the palace there is gold leaf and white walls.

2018 Baltic cruise Hermitage Museum ballroom

The ballroom

Here is a marble statue that I believe is called three sisters.2018 Baltic cruise Hermitage Museum 3 sisters

And of course, here is the throne where the czars sat when receiving dignitaries. 2018 Baltic cruise Hermitage throne

We saw lots of churches with gold leaf accents.2018 Baltic cruise St. Petersburg church

2018 Baltic cruise church JesusAnd more Romanov palaces; the top 1% of the Russian monarchy lived very rich lives.

Here is Peterhof, one of the summer palaces used by the royal family.  It is known for its many fountains and lovely gardens.  It was built by Peter the Great in the 18th century.

2018 Baltic cruise Peterhof fountain

 

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2018 Baltic cruise peterhof Adam fountair

And a small resident who was keeping a watchful eye on us .

2018 Baltic cruise Peterhof squirrel faceThe last palace that we saw was the Catherine Palace, another summer palace that the royal family enjoyed.2018 Baltic cruise Catherine Palace frontI want to end this blog on St. Petersburg with the end of the Romanov family.  In 1917 Czar Nicholas II and his entire family were shot to death in a basement in a house in Siberia.  We saw where the burnt remains of the family are interred.2018 Baltic cruise Romanov's graveA sad ending for the royal family.

Here is a photograph of our family group.  It was so much fun to do this together.2018 Baltic cruise St Petersburg familyWe went on to visit Helsinki in Finland and our final stop was Stockholm, Sweden.  There was one more day at sea to recover and then we were back in Copenhagen.  Some of us flew home, some of us flew to Paris and David and I flew to London to start our first pet and house sit.  I am afraid the photos stopped in Russia because my camera broke. I just got a new camera in England and so the blog will continue with photos as we begin our English adventures.

Baltic cruise, part 1

We went on a family Baltic cruise a week ago.  We were on the lovely Regal Princess and traveled from Copenhagen to Oslo , Germany , Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki and Stockholm. We had a great time.   I am going to divide this trip into two blogs and this part 1 will include Oslo to Tallinn.

We (two sisters and five other relatives) spent 4 days before the cruise in Copenhagen before we got on the ship.  Copenhagen was lovely but so expensive.   We were shocked at the prices and were kind of happy to get on the ship and start saving money.  We had  drinks and appetizers on our balcony.  My sister Sandi shared a cabin  with us.2018 Baltic cruise david sandi.jpgThe next day we landed in Oslo, Norway.  David and I decided to spend the afternoon in one place; the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History.  It is a museum of cultural history with extensive collections of artifacts from all social groups and all regions of the Norway. It also incorporates a large open air museum with more than 150  historical buildings, relocated from towns and rural districts.  It was interesting to see how these remarkable and clever people lived through the harsh winters.

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The ship arriving in Oslo

2018 Baltic cruise Oslo Norwegian dancers

Norwegian folk dancers

The oldest building in the park is the Gol Stave church. The church has been dated to the years from 1157 to 1216. 2018 Baltic cruise Gol Stave church roof

2018 Baltic cruise Gol Stave church full

Here is a farmhouse from around 1750;  2018 Baltic cruise Oslo old farmhouseWe walked around the entire museum and are feet were very happy to take the ferry back to Oslo and to walk back to the ship.

Then we had a sea day to rest and recover;  Sandi and I went to the gym but it was small and very crowded.  The rest of the day we spent filling in our travel journals from all the adventures we had had in Copenhagen. Warnemunde, Germany was our next stop.  We had signed up for a small private tour that took use in a bus to Schwerin castle in the countryside.  It was a fairy tale castle set in a lovely garden.2018 Baltic cruise Schwerin castle

We also saw the city of Rostock which has a famous astronomical clock that has been running since 1472.2018 Baltic cruise Rostock astronomical clockIt was a wonderful tour but there was not much time to take photographs.  We had another sea day to finish our travel journals before starting the big push of five port days in a row.

We landed the next day  in Tallinn, Estonia.  Tallinn has an intact medieval old town that is enchanting, except when there are 3 cruise ships in port that disgorged 8,000 tourists.  This was so disappointing because it was so crowded.  We had to wait in line for 30 minutes to use the 3 toilets available for women and men.  We have decided that we would like to go back to Tallinn in the late fall when there are far less people to ruin it.

2018 Baltic cruise Tallinn dragon 2

A dragon gargoyle on Tallinn city hall

2018 Baltic cruise Tallinn church

A mosaic from a church in Tallinn

Here is a photo of the Tallinn presidential palace.  We walked right up to it; there are no barriers just 2 guards protecting their female president.2018 Baltic cruise Tallinn presidental palace

To be continued…

A cross-country relocation RV trip

We have always wanted to take an RV ( recreational vehicle) to see if we would like to purchase one.  An opportunity came up to relocate a new RV from Iowa to Las Vegas for $1 a day plus gas in 10 days, sounded like a dream come true.  We took this trip from May 4 to May 16.   We include my sister Sandi in this trip. We flew into Minneapolis and drove to Forest City, Iowa to pick up the RV.  RV photo I will not talk about the particulars of how the trip went as David has promised to deliver one of his data packed posts to fill you in on the details and the actual costs of the trip.  What I will say is that we had a great time in the places that we stayed, but there was way too much driving for me inspite of the fact that we purchased 2 extra days at $150 per day to extend the time.

The first place we stopped at was Mount Rushmore.  It was quite inspiring.  None of us had been there before and we enjoyed the spectacular mountain carvings.mt rushmore heads 5x7We then drove to Yellowstone National Park.  This was my favorite part of the trip.  The park was still snowy in places and the animals had just had babies.  The hot springs and geysers were stunningly beautiful.  Here are some photographs.

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Moma buffalo and baby Red dog

 

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Dave on right checking into Madison Campground

 

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Yellowstone hot pool

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Sandi and David

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Old Faithful

We spent 3 days here and it was wonderful.

We then moved South through Jackson Hole.  It was so cold and rainy there we only stayed overnight and then headed south to Bryce Canyon.

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Jenny Lake, Grand Tetons

Bryce was sunny and warm.  It is hard to capture the magnificence of the rock formations in photographs, but I tried.

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Bryce Canyon

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Linda & Sandi on the Bryce Canyon Lodge porch

We drove to Las Vegas the next day , spent the night and returned the RV in the morning.  Rented a car and drove home.  I was so happy to sleep in my king size bed with my honey that night.

Southampton England for nine days

We left sweet Pablo to his wonderful mom yesterday and took the train to Southampton.  This is a seaport where the Titanic left for its fateful final trip.  We are on a 9 day break between sits and David chose a lovely apartment for us near the marina.  I love the ocean and it is wonderful to just walk 5 minutes to the sea.

Here is a photo of the marina. Southampton marina 5x7 netThey were parking this racing boat as we were walking by.  It is a stunning boat and I bet it goes fast.racing boat 5x7 netThey are building lots of high rise apartment ( we would say they are condos) buildings all around the marina.  This one is the tallest.  I can hardly image what the view is from the top stories. Southampton apts 5x7 netThere were also a pair of swans that came up looking for food.  I did not know that they lived in sea water but the harbor manager said they did.swan neck 5x7 net More photographs and stories to follow soon.