Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Saturday, January 14, 2012
I tried hard to whittle this list down to 5, but couldn't. I really enjoyed them all! Since my TBR piles grow faster than I can read, these books are not from 2011; that's just when I read them:
Open Season, C.J. Box
Ordinary Thunderstorms, William Boyd
Tell No One, Harlan Coben
Dreaming of the Bones, Deborah Crombie
Finding Nouf, Zoe Ferraris
The Devotion of Suspect X, Keigo Higashino
The Ghosts of Belfast, Stuart Neville
Impact, Douglas Preston
To Fetch a Thief, Spencer Quinn
Amazonia, James Rollins
In the Bleak Midwinter, Julia Spencer-Fleming
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Boxing Day sales rival any Black Friday--except for the queues.
The elusive sun sets over Hyde Park.
Department stores, ablaze with Christmas lights.
Tower Bridge looks pretty nice, too.
Next day, we stroll through Battersea Park...
And Chelsea, where many writers and artists passed through.
I can't wait to pass through again!
Friday, January 6, 2012
German Christmas market still goes strong under the bridge.
The sun breaks out as we ride the Eye!
Christmas Eve dinner at Babur, a fusion Indian restaurant serving Brother Cadfael cocktails--how British is that?
We watch the Queen give her Christmas speech.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Johann Sebastian Bach was born in this town in 1685.
Thuringian bratwurst is the best! Just ask anyone from Eisenach. The bratwurst stands set up first thing in the morning and break down around 6, not long before the town goes to bed.
Luckily, they keep their store windows and Christmas lights on!
Tomorrow we return to London!
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
We hike through a snowy forest, past former mansions now divided into apartments--or else standing derelict.
Ludwig the Springer built the Wartburg in 1067, supposedly after hauling in his own dirt for a foundation. That way, he could claim the castle was built on his own soil.
Knights hung out in this room. This relief shows Ludwig's son, who also founded Eisenach.
Glass mosaic illustrates Saint Elizabeth's life, from the time she came to the castle in 1211 as a 4-year-old, intended to become the child bride of Ludwig IV in 1221. When her husband died on a Crusade, she and her children were expelled from the castle by its new heir. Never mind, she went on to become a nun, advocate of the poor and sick, and eventually a saint after dying at age 24.
Mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria was so taken by this banquet hall on the top floor that he copied it in his fairytale castle, Neuschwanstein.
Martin Luther hid out in this room in 1521, where he translated the New Testament from Greek to German. Stories claim that visitors have taken bits of plaster from the wall where his ink splattered.
Tomorrow we explore more of Eisenach!
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Eisenach is a quaint, medieval town on the edge of the Thuringian Forest and in the center of Germany. Its city gates date back to 1200.
No town is too small for at least one Christmas market. Eisenach has two: one at the central market platz, and the other up the hill at the castle.
Christmas market sells candy and gluwein and bratwurst and gluwein and smoking-men incense burners and gluwein. It has blacksmiths and offers kiddie rides (and did I mention gluwein?)
Tomorrow we climb the hill to the castle!
Monday, January 2, 2012
Near their flat rises One Tree Hill, where Elizabeth 1 went a-maying in 1602 (i.e., she had a picnic under an oak tree). The tree in fence is Honor Oak, for its royal connection, although this is not the original.
We worm through the Christmas crowds at Covent Garden, and we find roses and cherry blossoms still flowering.