Blog: 2006

Zurich in the Daylight

Posted on December 29, 2006 by Holly Hayes
*Day 2, December 18, 2006* Breakfast was included at our Zürich hotel and it was really fun. They had not only the standard continental fare - croissants, bread, jam, cereal, coffee, juice - but also fresh eggs that you boiled yourself and fresh oranges to squeeze in a juicer yourself. We had a great time and it was delicious. After breakfast we packed up, checked out, and left our bags with the front desk so we could go out exploring for the day...

Switzerland Day 1: Heathrow to Basel to Zurich

Posted on December 27, 2006 by Holly Hayes
Our trip to Switzerland for the pre-holidays (Dec. 17-23) was wonderful and very festive. It was mighty cold - below freezing the entire time - but it never snowed. That was okay, though, as we had some blue-sky days in the cities and we still got to enjoy the snow during our day in the Alps. Airport Adventures Thanks to good old Heathrow Airport our trip didn't begin very smoothly, although it could have been much worse...

Day Trip to Leiden

Posted on December 2, 2006 by Holly Hayes
On Saturday, we squeezed in a day trip out of Amsterdam to Leiden. We wanted to see another part of the Netherlands than just Amsterdam, and it turned out to be one of the nicest experiences of the trip. Both Haarlem and Leiden make easy day trips and David left it up to me; I chose Leiden because I knew it has a few old churches and some Pilgrim history, but mainly we went to wander around...

Amsterdam 4: Food, Language, Coffeeshops, Transportation, etc.

Posted on November 29, 2006 by Holly Hayes
For the final post on our trip to Amsterdam, here's a random jumble of all the leftovers - food, the coffeeshops, the Red Light District, our flight, Van Gogh, the language, etc. Food in Amsterdam The Netherlands is not generally known for its food, but there are some local specialties. One of these is herring, which we saw no need to try...

Amsterdam 3: Anne Frank and Jewish Amsterdam

Posted on November 29, 2006 by Holly Hayes
Anne Frank House One of the coolest sights in Amsterdam is the Anne Frank House, where the famous young girl lived in hiding and wrote her diary during the Nazi occupation. My guidebook says it's the most popular attraction in the city and I believe it - even in the middle of winter, there was about a 15-minute wait in line. It has been a long time since I've read Anne Frank's Diary, but the museum posted relevant quotes from it in the various rooms, in both Dutch and English...

Amsterdam 2: Churches

Posted on November 28, 2006 by Holly Hayes
Unlike most European cities, Amsterdam does not have a great cathedral or an impressive array of churches. This in part because the city officially adopted Calvinism soon after the Reformation in 1578, and Calvinists are not fans of fancy religious art or architecture. So after the Reformation, Amsterdam's existing churches were stripped down to their bare essentials, and those built later are quite plain and utilitarian...

Amsterdam 1: Canals, architecture, bicycles

Posted on November 26, 2006 by Holly Hayes
We had such fun exploring Amsterdam for David's birthday trip. It is quite a beautiful city, especially with all the canals and the lovely houses that line them. Neither of us realized just how many canals there are - it nearly rivals Venice! The canal houses of Amsterdam are almost universally picturesque - tall and thin and squashed together in a variety of harmonious colors, shapes and sizes...

Cerne Abbas

Posted on November 15, 2006 by Holly Hayes
On our way back home from Weymouth on Sunday, we stopped at Cerne Abbas, a village in the county of Dorset with a population of just over 700. It's delightful. But it's best known for the giant chalk drawing on a hillside just outside of town, known as the Cerne Abbas Giant or "Rude Man." You can probably guess how he got his nickname. {ph12279} Like the Uffington White Horse that we visited about a year ago, this figure was drawn by cutting into the white chalk layer of the hill...

Sherborne

Posted on November 14, 2006 by Holly Hayes
Saturday evening after Glastonbury we headed for Sherborne, for no other reason than they had a big, nice church and it was on the way to Weymouth. I had written an article on Sherborne Abbey Church for Sacred Destinations, so I thought it would be nice to check it out and get some pics. Alas, the church was closed. But we looked at the outside and had a nice walk through town...

Remembrance Day in Weymouth

Posted on November 14, 2006 by Holly Hayes
Weymouth is on a little peninsula on the southern coast of England (i.e. on the English Channel part of the Atlantic). We chose Weymouth because one of David's co-workers recommended it as the best beach in the area and it's pretty handy from Oxford, but it also turned out to be a wonderfully historic place to celebrate Remembrance Day. On our way from Glastonbury to Sherborne, I had called a B&B in Weymouth and booked a room for the night...

A Weekend Trip South

Posted on November 13, 2006 by Holly Hayes
Since Wilma (that's our old Saab for any new readers) is now running very well thanks to all of David's recent work, we decided to take a longish trip south for the weekend. We did a lot of walking, driving and sightseeing, and had a wonderful time. On the right is one of my rudimentary maps showing our route and main stops. On Saturday we toured Glastonbury Abbey and its quirky, New-Agey town; walked around the pretty Dorset town of Sherborne at dusk; then went for a night walk along the pier in Weymouth, where we stayed the night at a B&B...

Visit to the Rollright Stones

Posted on October 9, 2006 by Holly Hayes
Saturday morning we went to see the Rollright Stones, a stone circle and other monuments dating from 4000-1500 BC. They were interesting, and best of all were only 20 miles from Oxford. They are on a small hilltop in the village of Little Rollright (hence the name) and there were really nice views of the countryside in both directions. The King's Men The monuments all have great whimsical names, based on the local folklore that they were people who were turned into stone by a witch...

An Afternoon at Magdalen College

Posted on October 4, 2006 by Holly Hayes
We had a beautiful sunny day yesterday, so I thought I'd get away from the computer for once and take my camera for a walk around town. I had a pretty good time and a nice walk, but as always, the blue sky went away before I got to take very many photos! Argh. I went ahead and took some pictures of the University Parks and Magdalene College anyway, so here's a few of 'em...

An Anniversary Walk Along the Thames Path

Posted on September 21, 2006 by Holly Hayes
September 18th was our second wedding anniversary! How time flies. A few days before that was our one-year anniversary of living in the UK, which is also hard to believe. We celebrated both occasions on Sunday the 17th, with a three-hour afternoon walk along the Thames Path followed by an excellent pub dinner in Oxford. It was so much fun and we got to see a new side of the city...

Weekend in Durham

Posted on August 23, 2006 by Holly Hayes
My friend from work back in Portland and her son came to visit us in Oxford. David took Friday off and we all spent Friday and Saturday nights in Durham, a city in northeast England city with a university, cathedral and castle. After much deliberation, we decided to drive (the train prices were horrifying and the car gives more flexibility). It was a long trip with some nasty traffic towards the start, so we all owe great thanks to David for all the driving! We headed out mid-morning, after our visitors checked out of their Oxford hotel and we brought their stuff back to our place...

Wonderful Whitby

Posted on August 23, 2006 by Holly Hayes
Sunday, on our way home from Durham - well, it was actually pretty far out of the way - we stopped at Whitby, a historic fishing village on the North Sea coast. The drive to get there was quite calm and beautiful, and took us through the North York Moors, a national park known for its rugged, heather-covered hills. The quaint building in the second photo below is of public toilets at a rest area along the highway! Whitby was great and a big hit with everyone...

Weald and Downland, Chichester and Winchester

Posted on August 14, 2006 by Holly Hayes
We hadn't done any local sightseeing for awhile, mainly because it has been so hot. But the weather has really turned and it is actually cold most of the time lately! Strange. So yesterday we decided to go on a driving day trip south of Oxford. The main motivation for the trip was the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, which is in the middle of the countryside not far from the coast...

Wells and Glastonbury

Posted on May 1, 2006 by Holly Hayes
Saturday we went for another driving day trip. This time we headed to Somerset, south of Bath to Wells and Glastonbury. The drive there was quite pleasant until we encountered terrible traffic in Bath. After crawling into town at about 5 mph and then taking 15 minutes to go around a single roundabout, we had to stop for a bathroom break. The honor went to the Bath Cricket Club, where we also watched a cricket game for a little bit...

Prehistoric England: Uffington, Avebury & Stonehenge

Posted on April 12, 2006 by Holly Hayes
Last weekend we went on a wonderful driving tour of prehistoric England and it was such fun! Uffington White Horse The Uffington White Horse is not too far from Oxford and was our first stop. It is a giant stylized image of a horse on a hillside, made from scraping away the topsoil to reveal the underlying white chalk. It's difficult to see it all from the ground, but we still got a decent view of it from the nearby hill (it's in both of these photos - click to enlarge!): The White Horse dates from as early as 1000 BCE and is thought to be a tribal symbol or dedicated to a Celtic horse goddess...

A Day in the Cotswolds: Cirencester, Burford and Bibury

Posted on March 25, 2006 by Holly Hayes
It has taken me almost a week to post this, but we took a little day trip last Sunday to Cirencester, a medium-sized town in the Cotswalds less than an hour's drive from Oxford. Its two attractions are a good Roman museum and a medieval parish church. Here's an interesting factoid we learned: *-cester* at the end of a British city name indicates that it used to be a Roman city...