Monthly Archives: August 2012

6 Budget Activities to Do With Kids in the UK


For those of you not sick of hearing about my trip to the UK yet (I hope there are at least 2 of you left), my article 6 Budget Activities to Do With Kids in the UK is running on today.  It starts out like this…

Ok, here it is people: the truth about travel with kids. You can plan and plan and plan until you are blue in the face. You can research activities you hope your kids will find intriguing until you are bleary-eyed. You can root out every possible fun activity there is until your head is spinning. But no matter how much work you do to entertain your kids on a vacation, the sad reality is that in the end it doesn’t matter. No matter what you do, those slippery little suckers will end up liking some random activity better.

Now, come on, doesn’t that make you the least bit curious?  Wee bit?  Go Here!

6 Budget Activities to Do with Kids in the UK

Other travel musings:

Sweet Spots: UK

Leaving My Heart (& “the Cheeseman”) in Hamburg

Don’t Worry, I Speak the Language

Round ’em Up Son: All is Good in Wales

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

Round ’em Up Son: All is Good in Wales


After a long trip, the question I am most asked by friends and family is “What is your name, again?” No, not really, the big 5 question is always, “What was your favorite thing on the trip?”

It is funny, but even though many activities and places will jump out as highlights on a trip, there is always one glaring favorite – the place I most want to go back to, soon.  The place I  want to be instantly instead of going back to work or doing laundry or cooking or cleaning or shaving or… well, you get the picture.  For me on this particular trip, it was Wales.

While it is true that there are in inordinate amount of sheep in Wales (seriously, they could go Animal Farm and take over if they were thus motivated).

And yes, it is also true that it is really rainy (ok, you can’t see the rain but trust me…it poured).

(Calwy Castle)

and windy

(Beaumaris, Anglesey Island)

and foggy a majority of the time

(Snowdon Mountains)

But even with all that – it is just so  darn BEAUTIFUL.

(Llandudno, Wales)

And somehow, the beauty is all tied up together in one big, green wonderland – sheep, rain, wind, fog and all.

So, save a spot on that green spongy grass for me.  I will be back.

Don’t Worry, I Speak the Language


I told my kids on the eve of our recent trip abroad to the UK – “don’t worry, I am fluent in the language.”  The fact that my kids looked at me like I was a complete imbecile (a mastered skill) did not for one second daunt my laughter (which was about on par with the reaction received when in London, after asking specifically for “lots of ice” in his coke, my husband received five – count ‘em – five cubes of ice in his glass).

These experiences are all the things about travel to other countries that I love. And even though I invariably return home with an  understanding of the culture and life in the countries visited, I also always return with some burning unanswered questions – The kind that will in all likelihood, always remain a mystery.

Here are  5 from the recent adventure.

1. The Barber Shop.  There are an inordinate amount of Barbershops in the UK.  Not beauty salons mind you, but barbershops everywhere you turn.  Why is this?  Do the English have an aversion to unwanted hair?  Does the rain stimulate unnatural follicle growth?  Even our English friends were at a loss to explain this phenomenon.  However, this particular Barbershop in Salisbury really had us baffled.  I suppose it is possible he was just trying to stand out in a sea of Barbers (better than the Sweeney Todd approach, I guess).

2. The Statue.  Naked man statue on roof of building in Oxford – I think he wants to jump.

3. The Language. You know you are in Wales when you begin to see names of towns like this:




Blaenau Ffestiniog

Tyywsdllopyddefghjkmnopqurstyz (ok, this isn’t one, but a Welshman  could probably pronounce it anyway).

But hey, they do have some pretty cool castles – and you don’t have to know how to pronounce the name to enter.

4. The Cows.  “Here in Amsterdam, we like to let our milk cows walk on the ceiling.  We are just bovine-friendly that way.”

5. The Fountain.  Bird bath or water fountain? Only the true Amsterdammers know for sure.  We stood and pondered for a long time, but in the end, survival of the fittest was the name of game that day.

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!



Leaving My Heart (and “the Cheeseman”) in Hamburg, Germany


In the middle of a whirlwind tour of the UK, we flew to Hamburg, Germany (boy are our arms tired, ha) to visit friends. For the duration of our stay in Hamburg, we didn’t stay in hotels, tour many historic sites, or contribute to the tourist traps.  Instead, we squeezed into our German friends’ lives – ate homemade meals with them, played on the Elbe River together, shopped, talked, laughed and learned more about each other.  The best kind of travel – Travel with the heart.

On my final night in Hamburg, it became glaringly apparent, I must return to Hamburg – to be with my friends again, to  partake of the wonderful Northern German gastro delights of fresh fish, cheeses, meats and breads, and to play in the Elbe River once more.  But there is also an infinitely more dire reason I must make a reappearance in Hamburg. I must return to see “the cheeseman”.  You see, upon the eve of my departure I learned that “the cheeseman”  is Brad Pitt – David Beckham – Channing Tatum – Ryan Lochte all rolled into one glorious package selling, what else but cheese, at the local market.  Unfortunately, I did not learn this little nugget of hunk-alert (yes, I have a husband, but who doesn’t enjoy a good view every now and again) information until our farewell dinner where, upon learning that I had in fact been to the local market that very day, it was quickly discovered I had failed to purchase any cheese or even approach the cheese stand. The women in attendance began to exclaim…

“Ah, you have been to the market, did you see “the cheeseman”?

“What? I can’t believe you did not see “the cheeseman!”

“Oh, “the cheeseman”.

“He is so beautiful; “the cheeseman” should give up his life of cheese and be in movies”

“I order my cheese very slowly just so I can stay longer staring at “the cheeseman”.

“ ‘The cheeseman’s’ Dad isn’t so hard to look at either!”

So you see, clearly, my Hamburg experience is not yet complete! I will have to return, very soon, before “the cheeseman” runs off to Hollywood.

Some favorite pictures:

Playing Viking Chess on the banks of the Elbe River…to an audience.

Seeing off the Queen Mary 2 as it leaves the Hamburg Harbor.

100 year old underground tunnel, crossing underneath the Elbe River.

Playing and swimming on the Elbe River as massive ships cruise by on their way out to sea.

Making discoveries.

Time to sail on, for now.

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

Sweet Spots: UK


The Magical Movie Tour

Bath, UK: Jane Austin – Pulteney Bridge

Oxford, UK: Harry Potter

Salisbury, UK: Some Superhero movie somewhere

Stonehenge, UK: Spinal Tap (20 inches or 20 feet…???)

London, UK:  Sherlock Holmes

Boy Meets Tree


It’s only funny until someone gets hurt, then it is hilarious

Rest assured – boy is tough, boy walked away with only a few scratches, boy then biked 9 miles down a treacherous mountain trail,

boy thought the video hysterical!

It is always good to laugh, even  especially when it is at yourself.

Sweet Spot: Marlette Lake – Lake Tahoe, CA

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

Sweet Spot: Marlette Lake – Lake Tahoe, California


Truly breathtaking spot.  Want to go there?  Well, no cars are allowed, not even any roads, just trails. So here is what you need to do:

1.  Rent or bring a bike with lots and lots of suspension (unless you want your ya-ya parts to be screaming in agony the next day).

2.  Get up at the crack of dawn…(ok, or a few hours past the crack if you are like me and choose not to function any earlier than that!).

3.  Wear sunscreen (sun, high altitude and all).

4.  Wear bug spray ( I swear the mosquitos are as big as bald eagles up there!).

5.  Bike about 4 miles up hill (yes, really all uphill), to arrive at Marlette Lake.

6.  Leave your vertigo at home because the most exhilarating way down the mountain is to bike the 9 mile Flume Trail – an ant-trail sized path, apx 7800 elevation, along the side of Sierra Mountains with breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe (uhh, don’t miss the trail, it s a long way down the hard way!).

7. And, when you finally make those arduous 3 to 4 miles up hill (for a special treat, the steepest part is saved for the last mile)  and before the long scenic cruise down hill (hopefully on the path and not down the side of the mountain)…don’t forget to take a swim.

For this sweet spot, the entire journey is more than worth it!

Oh, and on the chance you happen across the rope swing at Marlette Lake, better view this:  Boy Meets Tree

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!