Saturday, September 3, 2011

Europe Part 2– London

After leaving Dublin on Monday we flew to London.


We flew on RyanAir and for those who haven’t had the experience of flying on RyanAir I highly recommend it…its like being on a bus from Vegas to Orlando (or between two cities you would expect to ride a tacky bus with lots of merchandising). The entire inside of the airplane is a giant advertisement, from the the stickers on the overhead bins down to the tray tables. They sell lotto tickets on the drink cart and smokeless cigarettes along with other crap. I guess when your fares are that low you make it up for it in interesting ways of annoying your captive audience.
Our first day in London was kind of hum-drum, with most of the day spend in transit from Dublin we dropped our bags at our apartment, grabbed some fish and chips for lunch, then we went grocery shopping for beer and breakfast food. The day ended with us drinking in the Knotting Hill neighborhood. We didn’t see Julia or Hugh in case you were curious.
JenRob and I having beverages in Knotting Hill


Our second day in London started with a great tour of Parliament. Our tour guide was a sweat English lady that was quite knowledgeable. I feel bad that I have toured Parliament but still haven’t made it to D.C. to visit our own heads of government. Maybe next year.
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Mike and JenJan walking from our Apartment to the Tube.
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Look Kids, Big Ben…Parliament.
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Mike and JenJan outside of Westminster Abbey
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Mikey and I in front of Buckingham Palace
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Inside the Churchill War room…Matt and I elected to do this tour while the others went to Westminster (since I had already been to the Abbey a few years ago). for history buffs I highly recommend this tour. There is a really nice interactive Churchill museum in addition to the war rooms themselves.
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I think this needs to be my new motto…this is a way better motivational poster than the “successories” things.
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Matt and JenRob on the tube
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We got tickets to the Arsenal UEFA Champions series game that night…after the London riots the previous week we weren’t sure they would play the matches or if we would want to be out with a bunch of soccer hooligans…but their were Bobbies everywhere and we were fine at one of the most corporate stadiums in the EPL.
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Mike and JenJan at Emirates stadium
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The Doug sporting Red for the Gunners at Emirates stadium
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After the match (which Arsenal won) we went out near the embankment area and got a nighttime look at the London Eye.

Day 5

Our third day in London started with a squirrel attack…on our way to St Paul’s we approached a squirrel that was eating a mouse on the sidewalk of the churchyard. At first the squirrel went after Mike, I of course said “come on, its just a squirrel” then the little bastard started after me. Being that I was wearing shorts and soft shoes, rather than jeans and boots, I thought better of stomping the little shit and I too ran away like a scared child. After that we proceeded to the front doors to await the opening of the church.
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The guys on the front steps of St. Paul’s. You aren’t allowed to take photos inside the church (unless you are an oblivious and rude Chinese tourist as we found out) so we don’t have any inside photos. But the place is glorious.
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View from the top of the dome of St. Paul’s.
This was the first of may climbs to the top of tall monuments and buildings on our trip….more high aloft photos to come. The interesting part of the climb, or scary depending on your prospective, was once you left the whispering gallery and started the accent between the lower and outer dome you where on some very tight steel grate spiral stairs. They were challenging for those challenged by heights but they appeared to be better than the wood ladder-like steps that were the original way to get to the top that you could still see on the inside of the lower dome as you climbed.
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Our Beefeater at the Tower of London. This guy gave our British Parliament lady a run for the money on “Best Tour Guide” of the trip.
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It was a little busy at the Tower of London that day.
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We decided to eat our lunch while waiting in line to see the crown jewels.
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Tower Bridge (not the London Bridge as may mistake it for)
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After the Tower, Matt and JenRob and I went to the Royal Mews (carriage house and stables) near Buckingham.
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Can’t remember this pretty guys name. One of the horses that pulled the coach for Kate and William’s wedding.
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Robertson’s in front of the Wellington Arch. We went to the top of this too, but it had and elevator.
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Trafalgar Square in front of the National Gallery
After the Wellington Arch we did a quick run through the National Gallery (which was super packed) and then we headed to Harrods’ department store in South Kensington.  After grabbing a pastry in the food hall at Harrods’ we walking across Hyde Park to our apartment. During our nice walk it started to rain on us….the park was larger than we thought.

Day 6

Day six was our last partial day in London. We woke early, packed up and dragged our bags to the Eurostar train station (were we had a 4pm train later in the day). We placed our bags in storage so we could tour the nearby British Museum before leaving for Paris later that day.
The British Museum is free (donations optional)and thus it is SUPER BUSY. The crowds in the Egyptian rooms were a bit much for me. Luckily I had been here in April 07 with mom so I sought out other things to look at in the quieter parts of the museum.
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Robertson’s on the Stairs at the British Museum
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Mike and JenJan
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I spent a considerable amount of time in the Asian sections of the Museum…thus I saw many Buddha…coincidentally…or maybe most appropriately….this area was the calmest section of the museum.

Europe Part 1 – Dublin

I just returned from a two week vacation to Europe with some friends from Kansas City. Mike and Jen Janis, Matt and Jen Robertson and I left on Aug 12 bound for Dublin, London, Paris and Rome. My original plan was to return via NYC and stop there to celebrate my friend Jim Kuchera's b-day...but more on that later. We had been planning this trip since March-ish. We didn't get to see everything and we stayed mostly in the big cities, but it was super fun.



Our first port of call was Dublin, Ireland. This place didn't feel like a big city, more like a college town. The weather was cool and cloudy (which I loved) and it rained for short showers each day (not a big deal). Our hotel was right in the heart of town and as we found out our first night has a pretty good night club on the ground floor. It was great while we were drinking...however the Robertson's room was directly above the club...which was problematic when we decided to call it a night. They had to change rooms to avoid the "thump" of the club.



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Matt and I collecting our bags at the Dublin Airport

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The reason we went to Ireland…Guinness

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The groups first Guinness…its almost noon…I think? Certainly no were near our last.

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An interesting group of locals heading to the pub from some beverages.

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our double-decker open-top bus tour….jackets required…later on it rained and we moved downstairs.

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smallest pub in Ireland…probably.

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The jet-lag is setting in

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Always a Guinness in hand when you’re in Dublin.

Day 2

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Matt figuring out the fancy trash compactors at McDonalds. Yes we ate at McDonalds…it was the only thing open on Sunday morning.

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I think it was around 930 or 10am when we had our first Guinness on the tour at St James Gate Brewery

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Kilmainham Gaol

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JenRob and JenJan at Kilmainham Gaol

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Taste testing Jameson on the tour of the distillery

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Matt and I both got picked to be taste testers….and we got a certificate for participating.

Arabian Nights and Days

As some of you know I have been working on a project in Saudi Arabia for the past several months. We are doing the preliminary planning for a 2 million square foot expansion at King Fahad Medical City in Riyadh. The expansion includes a 10-story Neuroscience Center, a 10-Story Cancer center, a proton thearpy suite, a 6-story lab and office building, and a new central energy plant to support it all with emergency generators, chillers, cooling towers, etc. It is a super interesting project and the trips over to KSA weren't at all scary. I know I had a lot of family, friends, and co-workers that were worried about me traveling to the middle east, especially with the Arab Spring protests going on this year. Luckily the areas we were in were safe, civilized and the whole experience reinforced what I already knew...most people in the world just want to get up, go to work, earn a good living, and come home to a safe house, play with their kids, enjoy time with their families and eat a good meal.

I could fill pages with stories...but rather than that here are some photos that Mindy (one of the architects with HKS) took during our trip in April. I returned in June (with an interesting lost luggage story that I'll tell sometime). I'm getting ready to return in October when hopefully it is cooler.

Andrew telling one of his "tall" tales before dinner

The feast that Ayed aranged was quite included Camel (which I didn't try since even Ayed said he didn't like it)

Ayed, me, Bob B, Bob P looking at the article in the newspaper about or visit with the Saudi Minister of Health the day before.

Everyone posing with the was kind of a big deal to meet with their version of the Surgeon General

The KFMC SUV didn't have 3 rows of seats so when Mindy insisted on going shopping the last day, Preston and I had to ride on the floor in the back.

A sandstorm blew in our last day. Bob B needed a mask, so did I but I didn't have one. Abdullah is smilling because he got a kick out of our discomfort.

"Suit" shopping at the mall in Riyadh.

A copy of the article in the paper. I'm on the far right of the photo.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Been a long time gone...

It has been quite sometime since I posted...and I've even had a few comments from family (especially my mom) that I need to post some photos. So what have I been up to since October 2010...

More Baseball
When we last left off I had posted some photos of the ALDS series where I was at the Rangers v Tampa game right behind W. Well a short week later I was watching the Rangers play the Yankees in the ALCS on TV at my friend Jimbo's house and we decided at the spur of the moment to buy tickets to NYC to see the game the next night in NYC. Those who know well know me for the planner I this was super out of the ordinary for me and here are some shots of the trip.

Braving Times Square in my Ranger Red

View from Our Seats!!

We won the game!!

Chili Cookoff Win

I entered our chili cookoff at work this year for the first time. I made some Green Chili (new Mexico style)...and I won!

Trip to PHX 2011
It had been over a year since I had seen Shaun, Sara and Larkin in Phoenix...and I had yet to meet Brayden who was now 1 year old. I planned on going in February over Super Bowl Weekend...but my plans were foiled by a freak week of snow and ice in Dallas so I had to rebook. So on March 18th I packed up and headed west. To make sure I got a whole weekend out of the trip I planned to work on our Phoenix office on Friday and Monday.

The Grimm's Cute Kiddos

Larkin (almost 3)

Brayden (just turned 1)
NCAA Round of 32

By coincidence my Kansas State Wildcats were in the NCAA tournament and were playing Wisconsin in the SW region in Tucson AZ, a short drive south of Phoenix. So Shaun and I purchased some Stub Hub tickets and headed to the game while Sara (bless her) watched the kiddos on Saturday.

View from our Seats...mid court 18th row!!!

We had great seats, a fun day, but in the end the Cats did not advance....still a good end to the season for K-State.

The Zoo

After a guys day on Saturday in Tucson we planned some family fun for Sunday. We loaded up the crew and headed to the Zoo. Here are some pics Sara/Shaun and I took with our matching Cannon DSLR cameras.

Petting the Goats

The Grimm Family


Brayden Pointing at the Animals
Larkin and Doug Hanging Out at the Zoo

Larkin showing me around

Larkin reading the map to plan our route thru the zoo. (a future planner after my own heart)

Somebody got tuckered out at the Zoo