Here is Niki's write-up to her Dad ...
We first went to Malaga Spain also known as the Costa Del Sol. This is at the bottom part of Spain near the Med. It was nice!! had our timeshare apt and our friend from Va came to visit us for the week. Enjoyed the Spanish dancers complete with fans and castanets... We went to several towns nearby that were full of history and oh just so quaint.. and lovely. The mountain of Spain are really beautiful. The people of Spain are very friendly.
We also went to Gibraltar. From there you could see the coast of Africa.. (Morocco) That was quite an experience :) The monkeys that live up top of Gibraltar were so so cute... they are people friendly.. one came up to Kyle and tried to open up his hand ..thinking that he had some food for them... Next one jumped on top of his shoulder. ..to his head and then off.. Also saw the cutest baby monkeys too.. :)
For my Birthday.. Ken got me a leather blazer.. and Rob made me a surprise oreo cake.. with (21) hahaha on the top.. nice gesture... then they took me out to eat at a place on the Med...the view spectacular.. and the food.. well I will say this.. the best steak I have EVER had.. Perhaps that is because I have been in Kazakhstan too long?? ha-ha who knows.. but it sure was awesome.
Met a really super lady named Bree from Australia.. she worked at this resort.. She came to visit us a few times.. and had dinner with us one night.
From Malaga Spain we traveled to London.. Saw Big Ben and the Queens house.. as well as the Tower of London.. London was cool and somewhat rainy.on and off.... but it was pretty and very interesting.
We then rented a car and drove up the Northumberland Coast (which is on the east side of the UK) It was the most beautiful drive!!! I just can't describe it.. you would have to do it yourself. I love England.. just lovely...
We stayed at a little town (town consisted of three houses!!) Chadwick,Berwick Upon Tweed. It was an old property from the 1700's that this couple and their father in law lovingly restored. It was just so elegant and the hosts were really sweet folks, especially the father in law, we had several nice chats in the eve... Very near the house was the North Sea.. and sand dunes. This area is protected and a wild life habitat. It seemed deserted..like as if noone ever walked there before. We had a nice time walking the beach.. watching the birds and the waves..in the distance you could see a the point where Bamberg Castle is.. nice view. :) Up the other side you could see the town of Berwick Upon Tweed, another cute little old town surrounded by medieval Elizabethan fortress dating back to the time of Robert the Bruce.
From Chadwick, Berwick Upon Tweed we drove up to Edinburgh and saw the Edinburgh Castle.. Neat town with the castle way up on a huge rock.. This castle had a town inside of it.. Really fascinating!! Kyle loved the hundreds of balloons that they let free to fill the sky.. it was a neat site!
We continued driving up the coast and stopped for dinner in a little town called Morpeth.. a small old town with taverns and another old castle..
We finally arrived in Aberdeen Scotland.. wow.. Just breathtaking!! again.. you would have to go to see for yourself.. !! :) Stayed a couple days at a bed and breakfast.. the innkeeper.... just as sweet as can be.. We saw so many castles.. seems like this part of England and Scotland are just bursting with them!! We couldn't see them all !
Aberdeen was a cute small old town.. all houses constructed of Granite.. this area also a preserve.. as they intend to keep history alive for many generations. We did though, see Drum castle.. this one was originally given to the Ervin (Irvine) way back.. by Robert the Bruce.. If you watched Braveheart with Mel Gibson.. this movie tells the story of the Scot's struggles and also of Robert the Bruce.. if not.. rent it!!
Anyhow.. it was fascinating..and Ken and Kyle were just having such a good time. We also saw the Castle which was in the movie Harry Potter.. this castle was really awesome.. and in A-1 condition.. actually there is a family that lives in it. The land around this Castle was oh.. just beautiful.. I could have sit for hours and just watched the animals graze.. it was a captivating backdrop for daydreaming! :)
That eve we had dinner at a Scotish pub.. very authentic experience!! Dinner was great.. I wasn't paying attention and Ken give Kyle chocolate milk.. a big mistake!! As we were walking back to the B&B at this cross walk.. Kyle threw up his entire dinner.. it was a super projectile one too.. people were quickly trying to get out of the way.. and we sure got lots of looks.. poor Kyle.. He said he felt fine afterwards.. Never give Kyle chocolate milk!!
Continuing on.. we drove from Aberdeen down the West side of the Uk.. to a town called Blackpool.. just north of Liverpool England. Stayed at a bed and breakfast.... again.. the hosts were so down to earth.. they seemed like family.. It was eve when we arrived and we all were starved... and well.. they fed us.. for free... it was amazing the interesting and kind people that I encountered along the way.. reminding me that this world in which we live in.. isn't at all what the news shows on TV..I think that it is just a few folks making things seem that way.
From England to Scotland you can really tell the difference in the speech dialect.. they also have some English words and sayings that are new to us.. one of which.. " A Wooly Jumpa" this is a sweater or a jacket!! Alot of other sayings of which don't come to mind at the moment!!
From Blackpool we went across the UK..down towards the east again.. near the Stanstead Airport.. to a small little town.. I forget the name..but it sure was hard to find.. it was out in the middle of farm country!! Had a neat little cottage.. with all the works.. We took a walk to the local tavern.. this dates back to 1400's!! and had a great dinner.. again.. the people were so dear. The lady who waited on us.. brought me a bouquet of fresh lavender!! :) and some memorabilia.
Took a flight to Rome... a short hop.. then onto a subway to get to the area of our accommodations.. I was so tired by then!! ha-ha.. had to drag all my luggage up alot of stairs.. from the subway!! switching twice! then up a couple blocks to meet this lady.. she took us in her car.. up the street to her B*B... Her two sisters were also there.. None of them spoke any English.. so that was really interesting!! hehe... Don't know too many words in Italian. But we seemed to understand each other just fine.. they all had fun pinching Kyle's cute little cheeks!! (I'm sure he loved that!!)
The bed was as hard as a rock!! and the view was of others laundry!! We did have full rane of the apt though which was nice.. the kitchen and a private bathroom as well.
Our neighbors down the hall were from Sweden.. a family with two teenage girls.. they were also really nice and spoke great English.. they say that the English language is mandatory in their schools there.. We got back one eve. to find a note on our door saying they had left us a bottle of wine in the frig.. Awe how nice!
Needless to say..We had a great time.. although Rome was a little dirty..but alot of beautiful things to see.. We managed to see most of them all by foot!
Things were very beautiful especially at night time when the fountains were lit up as well as all of the old ruins. .. just magnificent!! I can't describe it.. It was humbling to walk thru all of the history and the ruins of ago.. and all the wonderful churches. The food was good too.. especially the ice-cream.. I have to say that the Italians make the best ice-cream !!!
Next a train bound for Germany.. Hoped on a night train for Munich.. this was my very first train ride.. !! We had a sleeper accommodation.. not much to speak of.. just some bunks and a window.. ha-ha.. This lady from the Check Republic stayed with us.. that night.. a very sweet lady.. who was also heading for Germany. I had a hard time sleeping as it really got hot.. and I was filled with excitement to see where I was.. It was hard to see as it was dark.. but I could make out the alps just fine..It was really neat.
Finally got into Munich.. and hopped a trolley car to our hotel. Had to change rooms because of the loud construction outside and the noise of a jackhammer.. :(
We then went out for a walk and a bite to eat.. Found a little pizzeria.. and had pasta. The whole place was run by Egyptians.. The waitress.. told me that Germans don't like her kind and they don't like blacks or Americans either.. I found that hard to believe.. so I put her words to my test.. When we finished dinner.. we walked some more..and I intentionally greeted everyone who passed me.. I always got a smile.. and always a Hallo.. So... she either needs to change her attitude and smile more...or leave Germany!!
The following day after we had all rested.. We took a tour on a big double Decker bus.. to see a couple of King Ludwig's Castles.. He was the King of Bavaria.. way back.. when Bavaria was its own country. Seems this King was so frivalant and spent all his moneys on Castles and things of luxuries.. the country went bankrupt and had to give into Germany.
The first Castle was small but very very extravagant inside.. many gorgeous fountains.. This King had a thing for Angels and Cherubs as they were everywhere.. from the fountains to the decor inside.. all mostly gilded with 14k gold!.
Had to find the ladies room,,, as I always do!! and stood in a long line as usual.. While in this line.. I met a couple ladies.. one of which asked me where I lived.. and I had told her Kazakhstan.. she said to me.. " No way, Really?" I said,. " why yes" .. She continued to tell me she had just returned from Kazakhstan the week before.. ! I had asked her where she stayed..and she replied, "Hotel Kazakhstan" I told her.. NO WAY I live across the street from there! All I can say is.. Small Small world! Then another lady heard our conversation and wanted to chat.. she said she was from Alexandria Virginia.. ha-ha.. Oh my... I told her I lived there as a kid!! She continued to say she worked at .. Mount Eagle Elementary School!!!... again.. small world.. as that is where I attended Elementary !!!! It was an interesting conversation with two neat ladies. :)
After visiting this smaller castle.. we drove thru the Alps.. (Breathtaking and my most favorite) to a small town called. Ommerobergau. A precious small old town.. of Bavarian style homes. As the coach drove the street the children greeted us with great cheers!! We all did a little window shopping.
Next back on the bus toward the Neuswanstien Castle.. the one famed of being the inspiration for Disney's Castle.. As we approached.. it was just wow!!! really wow! This is a very majestic fairy tale like castle. Unfortunately this King Ludwig became broke..and didn't live to finish the entire castle.
We had lunch just down the hill from the Castle in an old tavern. I had the sausage, crout and mashed potatoes.. I had such a craving for!! And wow.. was it ever delicious too!!
After lunch we took a tram up to the Castle..and trekked around inside. Again another gorgeous place in which I could have easily just set up house in!! After took the bus back to Munich.. it was a very scenic ride back.
My favorite part of Germany is its beautiful Bavarian Alps and countryside. Germany is immaculately clean.. and so many flowers.. Balicimo!!
The following morn we took the train to Heidelberg. It was about three hours trip.. not too long.. the train... immaculate! and a wonderful ride. Met some lady from California.. and chatted with some old German folk. Real nice. Arrived in Heidelberg train station.. again.. super duper clean.. the nicest in Germany thus far. I called Warren my cousin to check on my room.. he gave us all the pertinent info.. an off we went via tram up a couple blocks.
The room, well, small but clean and comfy. It happened to be a nice warm sunny day.. perfect for a leisurely stroll down Heidelberg's oldtown.. It was Very charming indeed, cobblestone streets with mountain views and a majestic castle. I met up with my cousin Warren in the eve.. and his partner Guy, super nice fellow. We all had a nice chat and I met the new family addition, Emily Barryessa Lathe, newly adopted baby girl. Such a sweet baby and they both seem to love her very much.. We all had dinner out.. and called it a night.
Next day we hit the markets and I did more walking as Ken and Kyle went to see the movie Spiderman... Later, we all went to dinner at a German restaurant Bier Garden. Fantastic atmosphere with plants and vines everywhere.. even overhead. I had more sauerkraut, which caught up with me later!! Payback for Ken's snoring!! ha-ha..
We got up early and packed up.. calling it an end to our European treck.
I think we all had a wonderful time really enjoyed all of the food the places and especially the people that we met in our travels. Ken, Kyle and myself shall never forget our experiences. :)