Friday, June 27, 2008

The Secret Club

Today I have fully embraced something that I have had suspicions about for some time. That is that I am now unofficially in a new group, organization, club, gang? I don't know what to call it. What's strange is it happened without me really knowing it. It just kinda snuck up on me until today, when I fully engaged in a behavior that I have only witnessed but never participated in. What I'm referring to is the "secret biker hand greeting". If you own a bike or any two wheeled vehicle you know what I'm talking about.

Up to today I've only been the recipient of said "hand greeting", always thinking "that's interesting, I don't even know that person, but I guess since I'm on a two wheeled vehicle also we now have a common bond". I've never returned the gesture, primarily because I'm never prepared to do it and by the time I see the other person's wave it's too late, or early on I was too afraid to take my hand off the handle. Today though I saw another scooter coming down the opposite side of the road (pink I might add), I was prepared and we totally connected, both giving each other the full on "low wave" as I call it. I then immediately thought "yep, I'm now definitely in". If you want to see pictures.

If Ever You Go

Here is the first installment of Joshua and Tiffany's Travel Tips. We don't have tips for every place but if we noticed something we jotted it down.  These are all things our guide books didn't mention.



  • Don't buy the 1 Euro tourist map, ask for one at the bus window. It is free and better because it has the bus routes on it too.


  • A rarely visited place is the Giardino Giusti.  It is a little hard to find but well worth the effort and here is why


  • Skip the audio tour for the Doge Palace unless you really care about all the art you see, there is really nothing else in it
  • Buy the Rolling Venice Card for just one day even if you are staying longer and then just make sure you buy your museum ticket that same day and show it to your hotel
  • The Ticket to the Doge Palace includes admission to one other museum in Venice, Murano or Burano
  • Go to the Cemetary if you are going to Murano or Burano



  • The Treasury is not what you are expecting.  Don't think jewels, think Catholic reliquaries and tapestries and in my opinion those things aren't work the 10 Euro admission
  • Schonbrunn Palace had the best garden we saw in Europe (as far as palaces) so go on a day when it is sunny and you can explore-not when it is rainy and cold like us!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Keeping Up with the Wedelichs

We had some friends who moved to New York while we were in Europe. They are loving it and we were so excited to see the pictures of their new place. They moved in to their new place and not 2 weeks later it looked like this. We have been living in our house for 6 months (post construction) and we only have 4 things on the walls. In our defense, the whole ripping the house down to the studs and building it back in 2 months did wear out our decision making muscle, however, seeing their finished space was the encouragement we needed to start up again (you know, that and not planning or being on a 6 week trip).

Now we didn't get 100% completed but we did get 100% planned so now I am on the look out for the missing elements (a chair, the perfect fabric and various wall stuff for one space). We hung 1 small picture, 1 big piece of art that was intended for our dining room in Austin but it reminds me of my favorite artist so I couldn't put it in the garage, and 20 little square mirrors in 2 vertical lines on a wall. The biggest project was hanging the chinese lanterns behind our bed but I think it was worth it, plus when we hang the fabric in front of all the cords it will brings some more red to the room, hide the mess, and be perfect.


Josh says his favorite thing is going to be turning on the warm light in the winter, I think it is cool that we don't need bedside lamps anymore. Also, in linking back to Sam's picture I noticed that she had chinese lanterns which isn't where I got the idea, but it does confirm the "sure chinese lanterns are still cool" statement I made.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Still Not Fully Dealing

Some of you might remember that right before we left for our trip we participated in Express (an art festival for our church). Although I'm still not dealing with the window that fell to the ground and broke, I am moving forward with trying to recover some of the cost of that piece that is now in shambles.

Last night, we spent part of the evening listing 2 of our pieces on etsy in my shop and I think I'll add 1 a week for a while. I sold some scarves there a couple of years ago and I just love to browse through all the cool stuff listed by everyone else. So even if you aren't interested in stained glass, check out the other cool stuff at etsy-be careful it can suck you in for hours.

You can find people I know here and here as well.

My Favorite Video in a While

So Heather M. sent me a link to this guy's story, but it wasn't until I saw the video here that I really fell in love with it. This is such a brilliant idea. This embodies everything I would love to do with video.

You watch it and tell me what you think (a little viewing tip, move your mouse off the video screen to get the controls to disappear).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

6 Weeks Missing

So after 3 or 4 mornings of up at 6am I think Joshua and I have recovered from the jet lag. We've had 3 client meetings and we have 2 projects we are moving full speed ahead with. I would say we are back to reality and that makes us both thankful and a little scared.

Scared, you ask? Now that we are back to reality it feels like we never left. It is the strangest feeling, almost like those 6 weeks never existed. If we stop for a second they are still there but otherwise it feels like we never left our Salem home and our FYK Architecture business. While we were gone it felt like this was going to be a huge marker in our life, and the fact that it doesn't even register just one week later is scary.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Cold and Rain

Well today it was a rainy cold Paris day. Josh and I bundled up in our warm layer of clothes under our jackets and donned our ponchos and headed out. It was also windy so we walked around looking like marshmallows when the wind would fill up the plastic.

rainy morning

One thing that the rain couldn't ruin was this amazing sandwich that we had for lunch today. It was from this little counter place that our friends told us about (thanks Rory and Jeni) and it was to die for. Because it was a counter there was no where to sit and the rain made a park out of the question, so we decided to each in the subway like a homeless person-right beside a homeless person actually. By the time we were done with it we were plotting how we were going to get back down here to have it again for lunch tomorrow.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Back to Paris

Before we account for our second day of Paris, I need to stop and acknowledge something we’ve been struggling with since about the end of week one…….my shoes. They’re really stinking at this point. And this is no exaggeration, but when I take off my hiking sandals the smell totally fills a room. Sometimes even when we are on the train or in a museum and the air conditioning hits my feet we can smell it with the shoes on.

We’ve had a bit of a body chemistry lesson: We’ve learned that Tiff sweats a lot on her upper body and all my sweat however seems to come out of my feet. That’s bad news when the only shoes I brought are hiking sandals that I don’t wear socks with – I’ll spare everyone the funky details. So until we get home we’re hiding the shoes in the hall or covering them with something so we can sleep. Once we get back……maybe some bleach? - (planning to attack them today)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Pillow

I had completely forgotten about my pillow. Even when Greg asked what I was the most excited about having at home it didn't even cross my mind. But sleeping on my pillow with my pillowcase was amazing.

We are home and a little jet-lagged but nothing a nap won't cure (thank you freedom of self employment). We are anxious to see everyone so let us know if you want to hang out. Look for our Paris and London blogs in the next couple of day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Surviving without the Internet

Sorry for the lack of blogging but we didn't end up with internet access in Paris and in London it is a public computer at 20 minute intervals. We have been writing our blogs and so we'll post the rest of Paris and London when we are back at home in Nashville.

We are about ready to be home and are not really doing London up right I'm sad to say. Fatigue has set in and so we will be looking forward to coming back another time and giving London the attention it deserves. One great thing is we are using all of my hotel points and staying at the Hilton for 2 nights which is nice (more about that later).

Anyway, congratulations to all who have made it through the journey with us. Drop us a comment and let us know you've been reading-we're curious.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Just as Expected

Today we hit Paris and I'm definitely wishing that we had put this stop on our itinerary earlier. There is so much to see here and it is a pretty big place and nothing is really easy to understand. You need to be on your A game and right now we are coming in right around B-. I don't know if they take joy in making it hard for tourists, but I know at least one person at the train "information" desk took great joy in being incredibly rude.

Lets use baggage lockers/storage as an example. People that live here don't even know that it exists in the station. In other train stations everything is clearly marked with arrows and signs that lead you just where you need to go. In Paris' Gare du Nord station, for baggage lockers/storage there are 2 signs- one randomly along the tracks and the other right beside the stairs that lead no where but to baggage storage so you don't see them unless you know what you are looking for. When Josh and I came back to get our luggage we had trouble finding it and we had left our bags there not 7 hours earlier.

Overall our experience in the station was negative but once we had the transportation system figured out and we had our tickets bought (2 hours later) we left the station and it just went up from there. Paris isn't as magical as I imagined in my head but it is kind of close. I don't think our weather is going to be great here and a couple of things we wanted to see are closed but we did find out that the Impressionist museum is free right now so things are looking up for us.

FYI - I need everyone to prepare themselves for all the things we didn't see while we were in Paris-I don't want to hear anything about it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

2 Pros and a Con

So this hotel in Amsterdam is not going to win any awards. It isn’t so bad that we had to pull out the sleep sheets, but we are keeping our shoes on. It is definitely the smallest (6ft by 11ft) and it doesn’t come with any frills. So… we are presently sitting on a sidewalk stealing borrowing internet.

Overall, I am a huge fan of this city. It has a great vibe (I know the legal marijuana probably helps) and Josh loves how there are more bikes than people in this city. I’m not really sure how that works in winter, but it might be interesting to find out.

dutch parking lot

I also think I could get into the whole football culture here. Today Holland is playing in the finals (not the final finals, but the final 16) for the Eurocup and the whole city shut down. It was crazy, 8 out of 10 people were walking around in an almost offensive color of orange (a little like Knoxville) and now that the game has started you can hear people singing and cheering in unison all over the city. It is like our college football that has spread outside the confines of a university and just didn’t stop until it took over the entire country. I love it!

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Second Day of Rest in 4 Weeks

After a full day of sightseeing we went with Camilla and Rasmus to meet some friends at a block party on the other side of Copenhagen. The DJ played 90’s hip hop and I’m not going to lie to you-Funky Cold Medina was my favorite.

block party 5

We enjoyed the party and break dancers for a while but our feet were killing us and we feel bad making people speak English for our benefit so we headed home before our hosts. Since that point we have been sitting on their couch watching DVDs (we did stop to sleep). We watched a documentary called The Bridge, finished up Friday Night Lights and almost made it through 2 discs of Prison Break before we had to leave for our train to Amsterdam.

I know you are thinking, what? you are in Europe…why are you watching American Television? We needed a day to relax and Camilla and Rasmus were able to provide that with a DVD player, a couch and TV on DVD . And you know what the best part is… on the way to the train station we were rewarded with an excitement to go to Amsterdam like we haven’t experienced since the beginning of our trip. We are ready to take in the last 2 weeks folks, Amsterdam watch out!

The Land of Houses that Fall Over (almost)

You always hear about Venice and the houses that are not on good foundation, but I really think that Amsterdam deserves much more accolades on this front. I didn't see half as many houses falling over in Venice as we have seen here. I mean look at these things (click on the picture to see more):

one of many leaning buildings in amsterdam

Josh was getting all judgey about the quality of houses but these things are 400 years old. I'd really like to see how the McMansions in Brentwood hold up in the next 400 to 500 years.

We can't believe this is real

On our tour of Copenhagen today Rasmus and Camilla took us to a place called Christiania. Is it an area of town? Is it a suburb? Nope-it is its own country...kind of.

In the 70s some hippies took over this abandoned military hold in the middle of town on the river and said, "this is ours." And they still live there-they don't pay the danish taxes, they have their own laws, and function on a pure democracy. Everyone has to attend a meeting and vote to change rules in the area, allow people to have certain things on their property, and to punish rule breakers. This section of society isn't' known for their perfect attendance, so not much gets done there.

Some rules are: 1. No "hard" drugs 2. No cars 3. No bulletproof vests and you can read the rest in the article link above.

The thing we can't get our heads around is how that can still exist within a modern city. They tried something like that in San Francisco but I think the government intervened in a month and these people have been "self governing" for over 30 years.

All that being said, they really did have some cool graffiti.

christiania art 5

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Josh's Mystery Building Game - Round 6

We're giving you the statue since the whole building is covered. Good luck!

can you guess it

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Familiar

After four straight weeks of everything new, we have arrived in Copenhagen to the familiar and I never knew how much I would love it. We are staying with Rasmus and Camilla who were couchsurfers with us in Nashville in September of last year. They took an 8 month trip around the west hitting North America and Central America and have only been back in Copenhagen one month. We had to take an extra night train to get here but there is no doubt that it was worth it.

The most amazing thing is there was no introduction there were just hugs and breakfast and then a day of relaxing because they know the stress of travel.

catching up with rasmus & camilla

We went and laid in the park by the water, we went to a little amusement park and then we did a little walking and ended the day watching Friday Night Lights. It was awesome.

This is what couchsurfing is all about, having people you know all over the world that can give you a comfortable feeling no matter how far from home you are.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Favorite Things - Week Four


Joshua-Using our finely honed train skills to find our way from Prague to Zurich

Tiffany-Sleeping on the side of Ebenalp in Switzerland (filth and all)


trying to find a place to eat

JOSHUA-This captures dusk in Prague pretty well.

Hosts' daughter Anna

TIFFANY-The family we stayed with in Appenzell was awesome. It was like being with friends we already knew. (I hate that this isn't in sharp focus, but sometimes the technical isn't as important as the subject)

The Least Likely Favorite

I love the place we are staying. I love how much history it has and if I spoke German I would walk through knocking on doors asking to hear the residents stories (and I'm sure they are glad I don't speak German). We are staying in the only un-renovated building on our street in East Berlin.

old on a block of new

That means that the owner of this building hasn't been found and the government can't do any repairs (besides maintaining) to the building. It also means that they haven't yet kicked out the residents who lived here when East Berlin was walled in. And finally, it means the first day we arrived we were a little nervous when the address we were given matched this building.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

History Come to Life

So, most of the stuff we are seeing is so old we have never even heard of it, or only in passing in some class somewhere in high school. That is not the case with Berlin. This is where recent history was made and I have just loved soaking it up.

Today, Josh and I split up for the first time in 26 days and we took different tours. I took the Berlin Overview walking tour and he took the New Architecture tour. My tour was supposed to last four hours but I got an amazing guide and 5 1/2 hours later he was finally winding down. It was crazy finally realizing the whole Prussia thing was started in Berlin, then all the Nazi stuff and how that happened, and then if that wasn't enough there was still the Cold War. I mean really, could one city have so much history/turmoil.

DZ Bank - Frank Gehry

Josh's tour wasn't quite as exciting and was supposed to last 3 hours but he was done in 2 1/2 because he was the only one that showed up for that tour. But, he wasn't there for the tour he was there to just see the buildings so in the end we were all happy even though it was 90 degrees and we were tired.

After all the walking outside we decided to find a museum that was open on Mondays and settled on the Jewish museum. It was great (very interactive so it was great for me kids).

jewish museum

And then we were hoping to catch an English movie but didn't make it in time for the last showing today-but we did get to see a guy take off almost all his clothes in the middle of a square. Josh was afraid he was going to light himself on fire, but don't worry he didn't (or at least not during the 15 minutes we were watching).

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


So Josh and I have been suffering from the soreness of the 10 hours of climbing we had done in the last couple of days. Yes, the Neuschwanstein castle was nice but our trip to the mineral spa takes the cake as my favorite part of our stop off in Reutte.

We were couchsurfing with a great woman, Elke, and when she heard we were sore she recommended we go to the spa. Sounds expensive-but once we realized it was less than 10 Euros each, we decided that was money well spent because we could use some healing salt water for a couple of hours (I also was a little relieved when she asked if we had bathing suits).

Here, a spa is access to salt water pools, saunas and a steam bath. All of the water is warm and at this particular spa, one of the pools had a salt content of 12% which means staying below the water took effort. There were all kinds of jets and bubbles and at the end of 2 hours we were relaxed and more re-energized than expected.

Really, someone needs to find special salt in Nashville somewhere so we can have one of these at home (or at least ship it in).

Monday, June 2, 2008

Josh's Mystery Building Game - Round 5

Whatever car manufacturer ad that is, they helped out by printing a banner of the building over the scaffolding: can you guess it 5

You are my Everest!

(minus the Thanksgiving Pants)

lake seealpsee

Hardcore hikers Tiffany and I are not. I dare to say we're both pretty thin people, but hiking an elevation difference of 800 meters (a bit over 2,600 feet), much of it steep switchbacking steps, got the best of both of us. It was an amazing experience all around. We started on the trail about 9:00ish, hiked up a bit until we hit Lake Seealpsee (see above). On the way we met many cows, one of which was extremely friendly, and took a particular liking to my feet-No doubt drawn by the lovely smell of my feet (and by lovely I of course mean rank - we're getting some bleach on those puppies A.S.A.P.-the shoes not the feet).


A note about the Swiss cows: We had just missed the yearly ritual/festival of taking the cows up the mountain to graze. We're a bit sad about that, but we enjoyed having them greet us on our hike up.

After our brief rest at the lake we continued up, at many points not able to look down without coming to a stop, otherwise becoming dizzy, and fearing we might fall off the side of the mountain. We made it to Gasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli about 1:00 and both concurred a brief nap was in order before continuing up to the summit.

A quick moment to talk about the Gasthaus. This is a house that uses the mountain as its back wall. We got a mattress and access to a toilet and that was it. It was great!

After the nap we finished the climb up, over a scary little bridge, through a small cave, past a little church with pews and past where the cable car lets you out (which we didn't use either way). All in all we decided the view for Aescher was best so we hiked back down the 200 meter elevation and spent the rest of the evening looking at the alps from a seat on the side of an alp.

gasthaus aescher-wildkirchli

The day after we hiked up, we hiked back down to our hosts' house. Nadja and her husband Simon and their daughter Anna were great. Nadja, who in an interesting story got her face on the local train, works at a winery near by. We explored the town during the day, saw a very nice contemporary art museum and drank some of the best water out of a fountain we've ever tasted. That night we grilled out and got to meet Nadja's father. I put the meal in my top three of the trip so far.

Best part of Appenzell: Amazing Scenery / Worst Part: The Flies (supposedly Basil will keep them at bay?)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Direct Train-whatever!

Our tickets from Prague said:

Train 207 Departing Praha 17:20 Arriving Zurich 6:04

No connections, no via stations, nothing.

Just to be sure (you know our Czech luck with trains) we double checked online. It has no connections just get on the train and go.

In reality this is how it worked-you let me know if this sounds direct to you.

We got on a train that said Salzburg on the sign (train 207 departing 17:20). The train attendant came through in Ceske Budejovice (still in the Czech Republic) saying all done, get off. We are maybe halfway to Salzburg and no where near Zurich. When we couldn’t communicate with her and couldn’t understand why we were told to exit the train, she drew us this map:

prague train-map

This is the point where I know we've become more savy at train travel-we were able to execute the hardly understandable map. We had to leave the station in Ceske Budejovice and walk 400 meters to a bus pickup. Then we rode that bus for over an hour. We arrived in a no name Czech city after dark (station hardly existed) and crossed 2 tracks to climb up into what a paper sign said was a train to Zurich. There we found our couchette (un-airconditioned).

I don’t know about you, but I think some of those steps would be worth mentioning on the online itinerary. But hey that’s just me.