Since our last entry we have been around a bit. We left France, spent some time in the beautiful city of Amsterdam and are now staying in Copenhagen, Denmark. Here are a few highlights.
The evening of the U.S. election we were in Tours, France. We had decided to stop in a pub for a few drinks, (actually we've done that most nights since in Europe but that's besides the point.) Anyway, it was early (around 6:30 PM) so we were the only ones there, except the bartender of course. After ordering our drinks we noticed a huge American flag hanging behind us on the wall. We thought this was strange - afterall we were in France. The bartender noticed our reaction and pointed at an even more surprising poster they had hanging up with the images of Obama and McCain. Apparently, as he explained, they had held an election of their own earlier, there in the bar. He showed us the shoe boxes with slits in the top for the ballots, one box for American voters and one for French. The results showed that the Americans voted for Obama by about 65% and the French voted for him by an even larger perecentage of around 90%. At this time it was only mid-day back home so the real voting still had a long way to go. We went to bed that night in nervous anticipation. It would have been useless to stay up for the results because we would have been up until 7 AM the next morning - France time. When we did wake up it was like Christmas morning because we knew that, barring some issue with hanging chads or the like, we would already have a new president. We couldn't wait to find out who it was so Lynette flicked on the tube. But unfortuately we had to land in the country during the election that has the worst English friendly television of anywhere we've been. They didn't even have CNN at the hotel like a lot of other places have. So of course the announcers on all their news programs were speaking French and they dub over anyone who is speaking English. We watched for a bit but we saw no difinitive proof of who the new president was. No shot of Obama or McCain smiling with a big "The Winner" sign below him. Just shot after shot of French dudes with a microphone blabbing on in nonsense. I couldn't bear it any longer so I went down to ask the hotel manager. With my still crusty eyes and mashed bed hair I went down stairs like a child anxiously going to see what Santa brought, and hoping it was not a big chunk of coal in my stocking. When I found the manager I asked if he happened to catch the news and knew who the new US president was. I will leave out what my response was when he told me who won so as not to give away my political affiliation. This is not a political blog and I don't want to push my views on anyone. But I'll just say I sped joyously up the 3 flights of stairs and panting heavily gave Lynette a big high five when I reached the room. Throughout the next few days whenever we told a French person where we were from, such as with our castle tour guide, they didn't hesitate to immediately say "congratulations,"without even knowing or asking who we favored in the election.
Much earlier in the year we had heard from some French tourists that strikes are very common in France. For rather minor things in our eyes the people will strike simply in order to keep the government in check. And they will do this in somewhat extraordinary ways like driving really slowly on the highway or gathering in the road to hold up traffic for hours. They laugh at images on TV of U.S. strikes with a few people walking harmlessly in a small circle with picket signs. They don't see how this can be useful. Here in France they will create great disruptions to create the most amount of inconvenience to people. In this way they apparently get a much swifter response to their cause. We unfortunately got to experience this in action when the train line employees went on strike while we were in Tours. There were huge delays which turned what should have been a 2 hour trip for us into a full day event. And it definitely doesn't help that France doesn't do any announcements on the trains or in the stations in English like most other European countries do. It was quite a stressful day.
We were sad to leave the wonderful cheese and croissants of France but Amsterdam had its own great cuisine that we enjoyed. One restaurant we went to was called "Moeders" which means "mother" where the walls are covered from floor to ceiling with framed photos of mothers from all over the world. You can bring in a pic of your mom and they will hang it up. All the dishware in the place is different and mismatched because apparently on opening day all the customers brought their own and they have been using it there ever since. We ordered an extraordinary meal which was a variety of different traditional Dutch foods. We loved it because it reminded us of home. It had roasted beef with gravy and three different kinds of potatoes, apple sauce and a bunch of other good things.
In Amsterdam we visited the Rembrandt House which to our surprise didn not have any of Rembrandt's paintings. But it was cool to see where he lived. We did eventually get to see some of his works at a museum in town which was great.
We also went to the Van Gogh museum which is one of both mine and Lynette's favorite museums so far. It was fantastic to see so many of Van Gogh's works in one place. You really get a sense of his development over the years. For being a self trained artist he sure grew a lot as an artist which really shows his genius. Unbelievable that he finished 900 paintings in his short 10 year career.
We also visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam which was quite an emotional experience.
We are now in Copenhagen, Denmark. We arrived 2 days ago. We met some people while in Australia who live here so its cool to swing by and check out their town and meet up with them.
Yesterday Lynette and I took a boat tour of the harbor area. Its a bit cold here now but it was still a cool ride. We saw a lot of the beautiful old architecture the city has to offer along with some cool modern structures as well. They have a lot of old wooden sail ships here and we saw some real live modern day Vikings. Actually they were Navy officers aboard the battle ships which were docked in the harbor but whatever. I didn't think I'd get much reaction from them when I waved as we passed by but to our surprise they all turned and gave us a big wave and a smile. Quite friendly chaps.
So far we have learned that the Danish make really good danishes - go figure. We also experienced a traditional Christmas time drink called Glogg which consists of hot red wine with cooked nuts and fruit bits in it - quite tasty. Another thing that is popular here is the hot dogs which they put all sorts of toppings on. I've had two so far and am going for another one for lunch today. I might try the one with bacon on it.
No photos this time unfortunately because I haven't been able to find a computer with a connection for my camera but hopefully soon.
Dave and Lynette