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Road Trip


 Sunday, November 16, 2003

Burning Man (Lawrence Kesteloot)
We went to Burning Man in 2002. We took pictures on a disposable camera and finally developed them. Here's the story.

 Saturday, August 2, 2003

Cross Country Trip, Westward (Lawrence Kesteloot)

From Athens we returned to Virginia, drove back across the country, and found an apartment and a job. Here's the story with pictures.

 Sunday, July 27, 2003

Athens (Lawrence Kesteloot)
We finished up our European trip in Athens.

 Sunday, July 20, 2003

Santorini (Lawrence Kesteloot)

We're sorry for the very long gap in our postings. In Greece this website stopped accepting new posts, then our cross-country trip and wedding took up all our time and we lost the momentum.

I'll try to catch up slowly, starting with this write-up of beautiful Santorini.

 Sunday, April 28, 2002

Venice, Milan, and Rome (Lawrence Kesteloot)

We took a train to Venice, changing trains in Milan. In Milan we stepped out for two minutes to eat at McDonald's and saw the city's tallest building, where an entire floor had been destroyed by a personal plane that had crashed into it the day before. Venice is everything you imagine. In fact, it had even more canals, and lots of cute tiny streets. There was the occasional smell of sewage, which wasn't altogether bad since restaurants in those areas were cheaper. There are a lot of famous things to see in Venice, but we spent most of our time just walking around idly. We even went on a gondola ride, which immediately put us into the vacation pictures of dozens of people.

We went back to Milan to spend a day window-shoping at the world's most stylish stores. Milan was okay, more interesting than I thought it'd be. There's Leonardo Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" painted onto the wall of a church, which is pretty amazing. What's also amazing is that it survived at all, since Napoleon's troops used it for target practice, and during WWII the building was bombed, leaving only that wall standing. Other than that Milan is basically an industrial city where women look condescendingly at each other's very stylish and expensive clothes.

We've just spent three days in Rome, where we saw the Vatican, the Colosseum, Nero's underground palace, the weekly flea market, and a great private museum. I had heard that Rome was very dirty and busy, and imagined myself spending half my time in a metro or taxi getting from Roman ruin to Roman ruin, but it's actually very beautiful, definitely on our list of cities to revisit one day.

 Thursday, April 18, 2002

In Cinque Terre, Italy (Lawrence Kesteloot)

We're in Vernazza, a tiny tiny village in Cinque Terre, five villages on the coast of Italy. We just spent 4 hours hiking through 4 of the 5 villages and I think we're going to take the train back to the hotel, we're pooped. What an incredible hike, though! We're totally indebted to Elke Augustino for suggesting this, it's just been the best day. We're staying in nearby Levanto in a cute one-star hotel. We head for Venice tomorrow. I am so sunburned. We just passed by a house here where a woman on her balcony was chatting with hikers we'd been with for a while, and the hikers (Italians) then explained to us in French that the lady had lived in that house for 90 years! I asked to take her picture but she said no. Also on the way up to Corniglia (another of the five villages) we took a wrong turn and ended up on some road where some guy who was working in his fields stopped us and gave us a handful of fava beans, in their pod. He was the cutest.

 Sunday, April 14, 2002

In Aix-en-Provence (Lawrence Kesteloot)

Our friend and saviour Brad Grantham fed-ex'ed us his digital camera, and California DMV faxed me a duplicate of my driver's license, so we're up and running again. Nine days in Paris somehow melted away, and we'll post details and pictures from there later. We then took the train (200 MPH!) to Brussels where we stayed five days with my aunt, uncle, and grandmother.

We've since been driving southward through France. We stopped by Giverny, where Claude Monet lived for 50 years, and saw the pond where all the waterlillies were painted. We spent two days in the Loire valley to check out some chateaux, including the one that Tintin's Moulinsart was based on. We then headed for Le-Puy-en-Valey, a city which supposedly had amazing features created by a volcano. The features were okay, but all the stores were closed noon to 3pm for lunch (sheesh!), and the city's only internet cafe had one single computer, which was booked until 5pm.

We spent last night in Avignon, which still has a medieval wall around the old town and the famous bridge from the song can be walked on for a mere $3. We stayed in a hotel that used to be a chapel. Totally cute town. We're now in Aix-en-Provence, which has the first open and available internet cafe we've found in 5 days. This is the home town of Paul Cezanne, and you can tell by the house colors where he got his palette. We've also been stopping at antique shops, though so far we've been too chicken to buy something and ship it back home.

 Monday, March 25, 2002

Robbed! (Lawrence Kesteloot)
Today in the metro of Prague I had my wallet stolen (pick-pocketed), so did my mom, and Jennifer had the camera stolen, all within about one minute. We didn't have much cash, and we cancelled our credit cards in time, but it's fairly devastating nonetheless. The biggest setback is the camera, which had all the pictures we'd taken in the last week in Paris and Prague, and will leave us cameraless for the next five weeks of our trip. We may buy a new one in Paris if we find something we like. That camera had been good to us, though, 6000 pictures in about a year and a half.

 Saturday, March 23, 2002

We're in Prague (Lawrence Kesteloot)
We're in an Internet cafe (the Bohemia Bagel) in Prague. What a beautiful and mysterious city. People here are proud of their history and their town, so they preserve what they have. We haven't see a McDonald's or a Starbuck's yet. (We've only seen a Pizza Hut.) The food is Germanish, not terrific but hearty. Prague is very photogenic, like Florence, so expect a lot of pictures when we return. It's cold and rainy (with occasional snow). Last night a concert band in the old town square played "I Will Survive" (and other things, such as the Czech national anthem) in front of a medieval-looking cathedral. After the concert they came down off the bandstand and played patriotic folk songs while large groups of college students jumped up and down. Prague by night is stunning. Makes you wish you could see in black and white.

 Wednesday, March 6, 2002

New York City and the Amish country (Jennifer Alden)
We took a few days and drove to New York City and back through the Amish country of Pennsylvania. See the full story.

 Sunday, January 20, 2002

Devon, the "English Riviera" (Lawrence Kesteloot)
In July we spent a weekend in Devon, which is the south-west part of England. Too much to write here, see the story.

 Sunday, September 30, 2001

Trip to Florence (Lawrence Kesteloot)

We went to Florence with our friend Sue to meet up with our friends Kirk and Lisa, who were there on their honeymoon. Florence has so much art around even the ceilings of banks have frescoes. We went a bit crazy with the digital camera, taking over 300 pictures, but here are some of the good ones.

 Tuesday, September 11, 2001

A Trip to Bath (Jennifer Alden)

A few weeks ago, we spent the day in Bath, which is about 25 minutes away from our house in Bristol. We spent some time walking down by the river Avon and the town center, but we spent most of the day at the site of the ancient Roman baths.

About 2000 years ago, the site was sacred to the Romans, who were mystified by the 1,000,000 + liters of hot mineral spring water that surface there every day. They built a temple to Sulis Minerva on the site. This stone carving of the gorgon hung over the entrance to the original temple. People would make pilgrimages from all over to bathe in the spring which was supposed to have all sorts of powerful healing properties.

Only the bottom third of the building is the original Roman structure (everything under the reddish line in this picture). The rest has been added over the years, up until the mid 1800's when it opened as a museum. The Romans built a drainage system to carry surplus spring water off tothe river Avon, a few hundred yards away. The drains still work perfectly after almost 2000 years.

 Monday, August 6, 2001

Weekend in Oxford and Cambridge (Jennifer Alden)

Back at the end of May, we went to Cambridge and Oxford for the weekend, but we weren't able to post the pictures because our computer wasn't working. We've rescued the pictures (thanks Brad!) so here they are:

We went to Oxford on Saturday. The city was gorgeous, with cute old shops and beautiful architecture everywhere (this merchant's house was built in 1380 - no that's not a typo.) Oxford isn't just one school. There are actually a bunch of small colleges which are collectively known as Oxford. Probably the best known of these is Christ Church, whose halls have known the likes of Albert Einstein, Lewis Carroll and 13 British Prime Ministers. Our favorite part was the fantastic dining hall (another photo of the dining hall). It felt like being inside a Harry Potter story.

It was the weekend of "the Eights," The main rowing event at Oxford. It was beautiful weather and the students crowded the banks of the river to cheer for their individual schools.

The next day we went to Cambridge. It didn't feel as small and cozy as Oxford, but has more than its share of cute shops and neat old buildings. We climbed up the towers of St. Mary's and had a great view of King's College, where we attended a choir concert later that afternoon. We finished up our weekend with a short walk down by the river Cam, where we watched the punting boats.

On the way back to Bristol, we stopped by Potter's Bar, the home of Lawrence's great aunt Paulette. She has lived in her house since she and her late husband bought it new in the 1950's.

 Sunday, July 8, 2001

Madonna in Paris (Jennifer Alden)

A couple of months ago, we bought tickets for a package weekend to see Madonna perform in Paris. The package included a bus trip to and from Bristol (over 10 hours each way, but they didn't tell us that until we were on the bus), hotel accomodation for two nights and tickets to the concert.

The bus trip (besides being long) was scenic and really interesting – from Dover on the English side, we actually drove the bus onto the EuroTunnel train. Once inside the train, they parked the bus and you could get out and walk around. The actual crossing is about a half an hour, with about ten minutes of that under water.

We got there late Friday afternoon, and spent the evening wandering around Montmartre, the district of Paris most known for its artists, the beautiful Sacre Coeur, and (due to the unbelievable amount of steps you have to climb to get there) panoramic views of the city.

On Saturday, we spent most of the day at the Louvre. There are way too many treasures there to try to start describing them, but some of our favorites were the Dutch masters, the sculpture galleries and the large format French paintings.

That night we went to the concert. We had to stand in line for quite a while, but it was well worth it – Madonna did not disappoint. The show was spectacular – the music, dancing, costumes and lighting were way over the top – we loved it! It was the perfect end to a perfect weekend, and we faced the next day's ten hour ride home exhausted but happy.

 Saturday, June 23, 2001

Hay-on-Wye, "Town of Books" (Lawrence Kesteloot)

Today we went to Hay-on-Wye, a tiny village in Wales about two hours from here. The village is known for its used bookshops -- 38 of them. You can see the list of bookshops at their website (alternative website). One of the stores claims to be the largest used bookstore in the world, with 400,000 books, and indeed it's gigantic. A customer once got locked in there overnight by accident. Several of the other stores claim to have a couple hundred thousand books. The village must have over a million altogether, and you can walk the whole length of it in a few minutes. The stores only close for Christmas and Easter, so if you come to visit us, let us know if you want to pop over to check it out. We plan to go back and stay at one of their bed and breakfasts so we can explore more of the stores. This being our first time we tried to keep things under control.

 Sunday, June 17, 2001

Weekend in Axbridge (Lawrence Kesteloot)

Since our trip to Scotland we've been to Oxford, Cambridge, and Bath, but unfortunately those pictures are on our personal laptop, which refuses to boot. In the meantime here are some pictures from a weekend we spent at a co-worker's house. Juliet, our marketing executive, lives in Axbridge, the smallest town in England (anything smaller is a village), about 45 minutes south of us. The town's houses date to the 1400s, and though most have rebuilt a new facade, a few in the center of town have hardly been touched.

Juliet and her husband David have bought a medieval building which, at various times, has been a farm, a pub, and a restaurant. It's huge, with a large courtyard in the middle where we spent most of the weekend reading and eating. They're renovating the whole place. This includes building a library for their 15,000 books; turning one room into a small film theater (it will be the only one in Axbridge); converting one large room from a Japanese rock garden into an art gallery; and of course laying out one lane of a bowling alley.

Sunday morning we went to a car boot fayre (a flea market) in nearby Cheddar and took a quick drive through the Cheddar Gorge, which we'll have to revisit for hikes. Sunday was Juliet's birthday, so for dinner we went to a restaurant in Bristol. Here are some pictures of the view from our table: Juliet and family, Georgian houses, sunset, and church.

 Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Weekend in Scotland (Lawrence Kesteloot)
We spent the weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland, with friends from home. See the full story.

 Monday, May 21, 2001

A Day in Wales (Lawrence Kesteloot)
For May Day (May 7th), a Monday we had off, we drove to Wales, which is only 20 minutes from us. It was a beautiful day--the first since we'd arrived in Britain--and we took to the motorway without a plan. A roadsign indicated that a nearby town, Caerleon, had Roman ruins. It turns out the town was also hosting its May fair (spelled "fayre"). We weren't supposed to walk into the Roman amphitheater (because of foot-and-mouth), but dozens of people were doing it and I couldn't resist the urge to stand exactly where, 2000 years before, men faced lions for the entertainment of others. We also spent some time at the fair itself and in a small alley (called "Ffwrwm", pronounced how you'd expect) of shops and restaurants.

We drove on, heading for a shore-side castle that Jennifer had found on our map. Turns out that St. Donat's castle is now a college. Student actually try to study there. Tourists weren't allowed, so we pretended to be concerned parents choosing between St. Donat and maybe Cambridge. Pictures of the castle, stairs, statue in the garden, and the lady's room (that door leads into a stall).

On the way home we passed by a section of road where sheep are allowed to roam. So much for foot-and-mouth.

 Wednesday, May 9, 2001

Trip to Belgium (Jennifer Alden)
We went to Belgium for five days to visit Lawrence's family. See the full story.

 Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Recent Trips (Lawrence Kesteloot)

We've finally uploaded some pictures of our recent travels.

 Sunday, March 25, 2001

In Paris (Lawrence Kesteloot)
So ze�re noz in bequtiful Pqris: Sorry, those French of course have a different keyboard. We're in an internet cafe in Old Paris after a quick lunch in a Jewish bistro. We came for Lawrence's grandmother's 92nd birthday. Our primary goal was to visit the Louvre, but in typical French fashion they're having a strike, so we're going to visit Notre Dame instead. Last night we attended a concert of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons in an old church, la Sainte Chapelle. We're staying with Lawrence's uncle, Lucien, who lives in a beautifully-decorated apartment on Rue St. Honore. Lucien's roommate, Jean-Marc, is a wonderful cook and has been spoiling us with delicious French dishes. (We'll upload pictures when we return to England.)


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