Cruising Part 2: Warnemunde, German

So, our first port of call was advertised as Berlin, but anyone who knows geography knows Berlin is no where near the sea. We actually docked in Warnemunde which is a small, sleepy resort town, certainly not big enough to entertain you for a full day. Rather than take the train 3 hours into Berlin for a whirlwind tour, we chose to arrange a tour with Friends of Dave that took us to Wismar and Schwerin after a short tour of Warnemunde. 

I would recommend Friends of Dave for the traveler who is perhaps timid and wants to be dropped off and picked up at every step. For those who are more adventurous, you could totally do this tour on your own. In hindsight, we should have rented a car. We like to be a bit more autonomous, but the tour was good and sometimes it is nice to just go with easy. We had great weather as we explored 3 new towns.
The nice thing about Germany is that the architecture never disappoints. Castles, churches and hamlets abound. 






Monet's Gardens at Giverney

Monet's Garden at Giverny needs no introduction. It is an understatement to say the gardens are splendid! I will let my pictures speak for themselves. Giverny is an easy day trip from Paris.  




Versailles

The main draw to Versailles is to see the splendid palace and it was for me too, although this time not only did I come to see an incredible palace built for kings, I came to see the Versailles temple built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. For members of the church temples are the most holy buildings where marriages and other ordinances are performed. Prior to a temple being dedicated, the public is invited to tour the building, but once it is dedicated only members of the church are allowed inside. 

The Versailles temple is a beautiful nod to Parisian artistry in its stained glass windows, art deco motifs and floral patterns. Enjoy the photos of both buildings--one built for an earthly king, who lost his head, the other built for one who willingly gave his.  






Silent Sunday

Linking with Photalife

North Utah Pioneer Architecture

Utah was settled by Mormon pioneers in the mid 1800's. Brigham Young (leader of the LDS church at the time) was determined not to just settle Salt Lake, but the entire the entire Utah territory. This decision can be seen in the continuity of architecture from St. George in the south to Logan in the north. I love 19th century Mormon architecture, it seems to call upon their European roots to build something grand in the worship of Deity.  



Paris: Springtime Highlights

In May I went to Paris to meet some friends and tour the newly opened LDS temple. Spring time in Europe can be fickle and I didn't always appreciate it, but now that I live in a place with hardly any variety to the seasons, it was a welcome relief. Needing a jacket and scarf, breathing in the brisk morning air. Not so much a fan of rain, but I was weather prepared, so even rain didn't get me down. Having already been to Paris, I wanted to take it a little slower, try new things, walk new neighborhoods and hit a few favorites.
First stop the Orsay Museum. World known, it needs no explanation or introduction. Do you know how nice it is to wander a museum on your own--refreshing! 
We were there on election night. I cautiously made my way down to the Tulleries where the after party for Macron was being held. Crowds came with flags, car horns honked and the general vibe was jubilant.
Naturally, we hit the Louvre, but this time I wanted to see something new--the Napoleon living rooms. As you can imagine, they were sumptuous.
My friend Jen and I ate one fancy dinner at Le Train Bleu--I could get used to dining like this!  But perhaps the best activity of the week was our Chocolate Walk. Oh my word, delicious! It was pricey, but I am telling you, if you like chocolate in all its forms, you must do a chocolate walk, your tongue will thank you for it!   


 I love this flea market find! Not the greatest picture, but I wanted to see how it looked on. We went to 3 different flea markets because what I really wanted to find was a piece of artwork. Something that said Paris which out screaming, Eiffel Tour. I was unsuccessful, so my green dress will have to do.
Love this wall art--so many different interpretations!



Downton, I Mean, Highclere Castle

Blogpost by Eliza Neal

Before officially starting this post, I have supplied this video to enhance the reading experience for all of my Downton fans. You can bet I had this song running through my head the whole time I was walking the beautiful grounds of Highclere and I can't imagine a better way to look at these photos than by listening to this familiar tune. 


In dreaming up the perfect UK trip, a visit to Highclere Castle (set for both the interior and exterior shots of Downton Abbey) was a must. It doesn't take much to please the Neal girls- as long as it's a British and set in a time not of our own, we'll watch (and rewatch) it. Downton is no exception. 


Highclere Castle is the estate of the Carnarvon family. While rooms in the house feature photos of the family, the current Earl, Countess and their children do not live at Highclere but in a smaller property on the grounds. This is to our advantage though as the rooms aren't different from the ones we see on TV. The grand entry, two story foyer, the large library, the light blue bedchamber of the Countess, and the illustrious staircase we see so many of our favorite characters come down (mine being the sweet golden retriever) are all precisely the same. Sadly, photos of the inside are not allowed so you will just have to enjoy our photos of the beautiful gardens.


Thankfully, our visit was accompanied by gorgeous weather. While we were only in the house for an hour and a half, we stayed on the grounds until it was closing time. The cafe on site offers a tasty lunch and, if you book in advance, you can even enjoy afternoon tea with a view of the castle. This, and the gift shop, are the two buildings you can visit with the Gardens Only ticket. In my opinion, the gift shop was totally worth missing. There is an lack of Downton related souvenirs (I mean, one would expect to find a Mrs. Crawley t-shirt  or something, but maybe that's just me) and instead there were a variety of overpriced hats, scarves and knick knacks. Total bummer!



Even if you decide not to go into the house, the grounds are quite expansive and there are many little gardens to tool around in. My mom loves a good flower picture for her instagram and I think she got enough photos here to last the rest of the dry Saudi summer. Also, walking the grounds gives you the opportunity to pretend you are Lady Mary coping with some new catastrophe.








A visit to Highclere Castle is a very simple day trip from London (see Highclere website for directions). Buy tickets online in advance to ensure you can tour the house, but I'll let you in on a little secret they don't advertise on the website. They reserve a number of tickets for walk ins, so if you are caught without, chances are pretty good they will sell you one onsite.