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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Oh How To View the Olympics??

I love the Olympics, especially the winter ones.  When I was a kid it was easy, turn on the t.v. and watch prime-time broadcasting complete with special stories about athletes that would make me cry.  Remeber when Dan Jansen's sister died or when Tonya Harding had Nancy Kerrigan assulted?  The personal stories really made the Olympics come alive.
As an ex-pat, or not, it's a bit more difficult to follow the competition.  In New Zealand we loved watching the summer games and hearing about the NZ comepetitors.  They really kick butt in rowing and windsurfing, but I missed my American heros.  Then back in the states I held my tinfoil wrappedantenna  out the basement window until my fingers got too cold just in an attempt to see the games.  I was able to buy a few of the competitions off iTunes but that was very limited.  In Colombia I turned to slingbox.  A friend gave me her password and as long as the internet was streaming well that day I was able to get pretty good coverage.
So now I sit here in Russia with the Olympics a stone-throw away, but completely inaccessible.  I've been asking around to see what other people are doing.  Russian channels are an option, but I only know two words - yes and no - and I don't think they will enhance my viewing experience very much.  AFN looks like it might be another option.  We are lucky enough to get that, so I will set the ancient multi-region tv we were given in the family room so we can all watch it.  
Chad just gave me another option that looks like it will work-out pretty well.  NBC Sports Live Extra app. for my iPad.  The boys have been using it to watch soccer for about a year now.  All you need is a cable account number and password (thankyou mom & dad!).  I've been going through the app. for a few days.  There is an icon just for Sochi Olympics that opens up loads of interviews and commentary. I can beam it up to the large screen tv through my Apple TV box.  It makes me feel real techy.  Another feature that I'm liking is it tells me when certain events will be broadcast, and not just in America, but it figures out what time, where I am at!  Seriously cool, I don't have to go through all those complicated equations of timezones and whatnot.  So Monday morning I plan to get up at 5 am and watch the women's nationals long program while getting ready to sub!  Easy, peezy!

Hachapuri


A sign hangs in the front window claiming to be "2013 Trip Advisors favorite ex-pat restaurant".  From the number of ex-pats who have told me about it and the conversation around our table about favorite dishes, I would guess that statement to be well deserved and true.
A crowded room, an accordian playing, a piano with candles lit dancing in the dim light pulls one into intimacy with their table as they huddle close in conversation.  From the Georgian menu we decided to order an array of grilled vegitables, hachapori, dumplings and keebobs.  We picked and nibbled and shared food and conversation.  Before we knew it the night was over and it was time to pull out the umbrellas to head home.

Natura Siberica

The frigid rain and cloudy day melted away as I stepped into Natura Siberica.  A friend had suggested going and quiet honestly, I needed to get out of the house.  I'm posting about this shop because, in my opinion, it is not a place I would stumble across in my wanderings around the city.  It's a place you have to be told about, have to be shown.
A short walk from the Tverskaya metro, just across the street from Starbucks - in case you've mapped the city according to coffee - with a nice little sign above the door is Natura Siberica.  As their card says they specialize in "cosmetics of wild herbs and flowers".  A lovely clerk who spoke some English helped me out.  I think I was lucky on this day to find an employee with English skills.  My friend had gone over the website before we left so she was familiar with the packaging of the items she was looking for - another good option in the world of Russian. 
From lotions and creams, spa supplies, make-up and a wide variety of oils, all products are made from natural ingredients.  Take for instance the hair oil made from Yack horn.  Ok, some things sounded a bit weird, but the outcomes were amazing!  
The best part of it all was I walked away with 2 pump bottles of hand soap, 2 lotions, 1 spa cream and 2 bath soaps for less than $30.  Great items to tuck away for a rainy day or when I need to pull out a last minute gift!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Stonehenge

The large rocks arranged at Stonehenge are somewhat of a mystery. Nobody really knows who put them there or how they got them there. When I first heard we were going to London for a few days Stonehenge was one of the sights that I wanted to see the most. I don't know what interested me so much about them but I guess thats how we ended up on the tight tourist bus schedule. The first stop on our all day tour was Windsor Castle and the next Stonehenge.
When we arrived at Stonehenge the guide on our bus informed us that they had changed the setup of viewing Stonehenge a week earlier. The visitor facilities and parking lot were moved from a two minute walk to Stonehenge to 1.5 miles down the road. When we saw the 45 minute line we were expected to wait in for a bus to the sight we figured it would be faster to walk the 1.5 miles. I was a little worried that our time at the top would be cut short if we arrived later than the people on our bus but we quickly figured that wouldn't be a problem. Two or three buses passed us as we sped walked up the road but not enough to make it to the rest of our group waiting in line.
As we walked, Stonehenge came into view. It was amazing to see the rocks and so interesting to think about. We spent about 20 minutes walking around them and took plenty of pictures. Once again instead of waiting in a ridiculous line we opted for the walk, which wasn't that bad.
Luckily we arrived at the bus with time to spare. I wondered how the people who the waited in the line made it, but I was glad we did. Although it doesn't seem like a lot to look at I enjoyed it very much, and it was defiantly my favorite thing that we saw in England.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Stonehenge

The large rocks arranged at Stonehenge are somewhat of a mystery. Nobody really knows who put them there or how they got them there. When I first heard we were going to London for a few days Stonehenge was one of the sights that I wanted to see the most. I don't know what interested me so much about the rocks but I guess thats how we ended up on the tight tourist bus schedule. The first stop on our all day tour was Windsor Castle and the next Stonehenge.
When we arrived at Stonehenge the guide on our bus informed us that they had changed the setup of viewing Stonehenge a week earlier. The visitor facilities and parking lot were moved from a two minute walk to Stonehenge, to 1.5 miles down the road. When we saw the 45 minute line we were expected to wait in for a bus to the sight we figured it would be faster to walk the 1.5 miles. I was a little worried that our time at the top would be cut short if we arrived later than the people on our bus but we quickly figured that wouldn't be a problem. Two or three buses passed us as we sped walked up the road but not enough to make it to the rest of our group waiting in line.
As we walked, Stonehenge came into view. It was amazing to see the rocks and so interesting to think about. We spent about 20 minutes walking around them and took plenty of pictures. Once again instead of waiting in a ridiculous line we opted for the walk, which wasn't that bad.
Luckily we arrived at the bus with time to spare. I wondered how the people who the waited in the line made it, but I was glad we did. Although it doesn't seem like a lot to look at I enjoyed it very much, and it was defiantly my favorite thing that we saw in England.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Windsor Castle

Over Christmas break, our family took a trip to London. One of the days we did was a day trip to see Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Bath. We were mainly taking the tour to see Stonehenge (which, ironically, we spent very little time at). We were surprised at how much we liked Windsor.

Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world. It is an official residence of the Queen, where she usually spends her weekends (but not around Christmas time). There was a fire there that destroyed 100 rooms of the castle in 1992, but it is mostly restored now.


Windsor Castle is truly a castle; it is massive, and sits on top of a hill. It even has a moat around it, although the moat has always been dry. 300 people live and work at Windsor Castle, keeping it in good condition. It is surrounded by a little town with very cute buildings, and many little shops and restaurants. It would have been fun to just spend a day in the town alone!


Since we were on a tour, we had limited time in Windsor—as in an hour and a half. (We spent 3 or 4 hours in the smaller Kensington Palace on Sunday!) I would have loved to have spent a day there in the town and castle. We walked through the castle, but didn't dawdle to look at everything, and spent next to no time in the town. We didn't want to be left behind on the tour!


Inside of the castle, there are massive dining tables for great parties, and many grand rooms and entrances for important people. One table, for 160 people, is so large that they use a ruler to set it, otherwise it will look very messy! We saw a huge doll house built all to scale, made for Queen Mary, simply to show architecture in miniature. It has electricity and running hot and cold water. There was also knights' armor, like in a movie. I was surprised at how short all of the suits were! The castle had its own chapel, called St. George's Chapel. It was beautiful, but unfortunately we had to speed through it. Windsor Castle was a great place to visit!