Caen, Normandy

After visiting Morlaix with my host family, I decided to go to Caen on my own. Caen is in Normandy and I wanted to visit the D-Day beaches. My tour started at the Caen Memorial Museum. It had so much to see and read from the end of WWI thru the Cold War.



Part of the Berlin Wall

I spend a good 4 hours re-learning history and seeing artifacts. The next day I took a private tour of the beaches. We went to Point le Hoc, Omaha Beach, the American Cemetery and the artificial harbor of Arromanches.


Looking at the landscape you can see all the creators from bombings


Omaha Beach


After visiting WWII sites for two days, I finally was able to spend some time in downtown Caen.


This is the Abbaye aux Femmes and it is 950 years old!


This is the Abbaye l’hommes and it holds the tomb of William the Conqueror. img_9614

I was also able to see the Caen Chateau. It was built by William the Conqueror.

Morlaix, Brittany

Every 6 weeks my host family has a 2 week vacation. Its great because I get to travel with them to other parts of France. This trip we went to Morlaix, which is a small town in Brittany and on the west coast of the country.img_9328

This is the house that we stayed at when we weren’t surfing! It is the grandparents house and it was really homey. They have a big yard and huge garden with fresh flowers and all kinds of fruits and vegetables.


Downtown Morlaix is very old. From the small streets and old houses, there is something special around every corner. One of the main things to see in Morlaix is the Roman viaduct.

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Here I am with my host sister. The viaduct is behind us! The top level is for trains and the lower level is for pedestrians.


This is where my host family and I went surfing! The water was cold but we had our wetsuits on. Since Morlaix is on the north side of the coast, this water was the English Channel. We had a great time in Brittany together! See the rest of my trip in Caen, Normandy here.


Rome is the most famous city in Italy. It was the last stop on my Italian tour and I saw many new sites!


The first place I visited was the Colosseum.  This structure was the largest amphitheater ever built and could hold up to 80,000 people!


Statues were also among the ruins in the Colosseum


Inside the Colosseum


North of the Colosseum is the Capitoline Wolf. This statue on the right is a She-Wolf feeding two young boys. Legend has it that these two boys, Romulus and Remus, built Rome.


Capitoline Wolf


One reason Rome is so famous is because of the Catholic Church. Here I am in the middle of St. Peters Square, which is the center of the Vatican City.IMG_5207

I climbed to the top of the Dome and saw great views of Rome!


A full view of St. Peters Square!


Just east of the Vatican is a 2nd century castle. The Castel Sant’Angelo is one of the highest buildings in Rome. It was built for Roman Emperor Hadrian and his family, but then used for priests. Today it is a museum. IMG_5217 IMG_5230

The last place I visited was the Trevi Fountain. It is a must see because, it is said, you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the fountain!IMG_5231

I guess I will be back…

What is your favorite site in Rome?

Florence and Pisa, Italy


Florence was my 3rd and favorite city of Italy. Here you can see the entire town from a hill!IMG_4937

Michelangelo’s David is made into several statues all over the city.

Behind me is the Basilica of Santa Croce. It is known as the temple of Italian Glories as Michelangelo and Galileo are buried here.

I had to see the view from the top of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as ‘Duomo’IMG_5016IMG_5015

It was well worth the climb!IMG_5033

This is a great view of Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, as it is the last bridge in Florence with buildings on it. All the others were blown up during World War II.IMG_5063

No trip to Florence is complete without stopping at the Boboli Gardens. It is a large open air museum that makes you realize you are in the middle of Tuscany. IMG_4975

The pasta in Florence was so good, I finished all of it!


A short train ride from Florence is Pisa, the small town famous for its leaning tower!IMG_4846

There is also a church next to the Tower.IMG_4878

What a nice day to see the Piazza dei Miracoli.

Did you climb to the top of the Duomo in Florence and or the top of the Tower of Pisa? 

Milan and Lake Como, Italy

The first time I went to Italy, I did a multi-city tour. I started in Milan, and took a day trip to Lake Como. Milan was definitely the most modern city I visited in Italy.


This is the Duomo di Milano Cathedral in the center of the city.


Next to the Duomo is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the worlds oldest shopping malls.

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Look at that sunset and fresh mozzarella I enjoyed on my first day!


On my second day I went to Sforza Castle. Today it houses several museums and art collections, but it was built in the 15th century by the Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza.  During the 16th and 17th centuries, it was one of the largest citadels in Europe! IMG_4718

This is Porta Sempione and it is the city gate of Milan.


On my third day, I took a quick train ride to Lake Como!


Lake Como is truly beautiful, no wonder George Clooney has a house here. I took a short boat ride to some of the other valleys in the region.

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The food in Italy is so tasty! I had gelato as a snack and pizza for dinner.


My waiter posed with me in front of Como Cathedral. This church was the last Gothic Cathedral built in Italy.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Milan? Did you take a boat ride in Lake Como?

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona was my first trip to Spain! It is the capital of Catalonia and the second largest city in the country.


Barcelona is known for its unique architecture by Antoni Gaudi. The house to the right is Case Batllo, or, House of Bones.


Gaudi’s largest piece of work is Sagrada Familia, a cathedral that has been under construction since 1882!


These pictures are from Park Guell, also designed and built by Gaudi. There isn’t one straight line in this entire area!


There is a great view of the city from this hill.

IMG_3567 IMG_3589With the famous lizard!


The 1992 Summer Olympic’s were hosted in Barcelona.

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Barcelona has a great location, as it is right on a beach.

Have you been to Barcelona or Spain? What’s your favorite Gaudi building?

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and located in the North Holland providence. It is a city of canals and known as “the Venice of North Europe.” The first time I visited this wonderful city was during “Queens Day” in the Spring of 2011:


One of the biggest tourist attractions of Amsterdam is the Heineken Brewery.

Amsterdam has decriminalized marijuana use.


I was also lucky enough to visit a second time in the Summer of 2013:


One of the cities canals.

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Enjoying some cuisine and enjoying my view of Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam. That means Royal Palace in English.


Going to a Coffee Shop is a must do… its all part of the Amsterdam experience! To learn more, I also visited The Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum.

I like small cars, especially if they are pink.


All three pictures above are some of the traditional fashion in Holland. That includes wooden clogs!

Have you been to Amsterdam? What was the one thing you didn’t want to miss?!

London, England

I traveled to London for the first time in the Spring of 2011:


Here I am with the famous Tower Bridge.

I had afternoon tea at Harrods, London’s designer department store.










The weekend I visited was 7 days before the royal wedding, but that didn’t stop me from going to Westminster Abbey. The picture to the left is the main entrance, and the picture to the right is the back of the abbey.











Theres are from inside the gardens at the Abbey.


I also went on the London Eye, which is a big ferris wheel. What great views! In the background of this shot you can see Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.


For dinner I had to get some Fish n Chips. Yummy!

Riding a double decker bus is fun if you have the front row seat up top!


I love public transportation 🙂


I was looking for the Beatles…


but only got to see some influential places they put on the map.

Its always nice to have some familiar foods from home!











Whenever you travel, you always need to stop and smell the roses! To me, this means relaxing and realizing how special each place it. I did that in London at the park on the left. And of course no stop to London is complete without going to an old school phone booth!

I visited again in the summer of 2015:

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Look at the London skyline! This is the view before the crossing the Tower Bridge.

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After crossing the Tower Bridge, I visited the Tower of London and Crown Jewels. I ended the day with a refreshing drink!

What is your favorite thing to do in London?

Stonehenge at Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice at Stonehenge is an annual tradition where over 20,000 people come to see the sunrise thru the inner circle. Although historians don’t know exactly why these stone were erected in this formation, it shows how our ancestors watched the sun. Stonehenge is aligned with both solstices, 6 months and 180 degrees apart! Every year people come to see the sun rises between the Heel Stone, which is only in perfect alignment on the summer Solstice!
Can you see me?


There I am!


Normally, if you visit Stonehenge, which is 80 miles southwest of London, you must stay behind a wire fence about 100 yards away. I did my research and applied to have a private tour at 5 am to see the sunrise one week before the Summer Solstice! It was me and one German couple (with 2 security guards of course). It was very intimate and amazing to be able to walk around these magnificent stones at sunrise in such serenity.


These stones were created into monuments around 3000 and 2920 BC, however, smaller stones have been found in the area as old as 8000 BC! This shows the area was used long before its main period of construction.


Here comes the sun!


There I am!


And there I am with the sunrise! The stone in the center of the middle window is the Heel Stone; where the sun rises adjacently with it just a week after my visit! When this happens, its first rays shine right into the heart of Stonehenge and that gives people a reason to celebrate. If only I was there with thousands of other people to experience that.. I think I would have gotten lost.


The engineering behind shaping and raising the stones is truly incredible. In order for these massive stones to stay in place, our ancestors had to shape lintels and then create a join locking system with mortise and tenon joints.


Proof I wasn’t trespassing…


The one guard was nice enough to hold me, since you CANNOT touch the stones!


Other fun facts about Stonehenge:
-It took over 200 people to move each stone, some weighing over 35 tons. Some rocks came as far as 150 miles! It could take on average 12 days to move stones that were only located 19 miles away.
-One reason for the careful placement of the rocks was to create a calendar. Our ancestors depended on successful crops, so knowing the time of year was very important to planting, harvesting and breeding livestock.
-There are circular hedges all around the surrounding area of Stonehenge, where singular people were buried. This may be because it was considered a place of healing, where people traveled and then died in the area. Or, it was a tribute to dead ancestors; a cemetery.
-The term “Stonehenge” was created around 645 AD when the Roman’s were conquering much of the United Kingdom. When the Roman’s moved from place to place, they tried to bring their own religion into already established buildings. In this case, they used this monument as a burial ground for a man who had been decapitated. The term “Stonehenge” was created from the words “stone” and “henge,” which means “hanging.”
Druids did not build Stonehenge!! Druids were priests who flourished in the Iron Age, around the time the Roman’s began occupying Britain in 43 AD. The reason for this common myth is a writer named William Stukeley, who stated Stonehenge was not created by the Roman’s or the Danes, but by the previous inhabits living in Britain. Stukeley published his opinions in the early 18th century, and although he was correct in most of his hypotheses about Stonehenge, he was wrong when he declared Druids the builders. Since the monument was recognized as a temple, the only other ancient priests he knew, and therefore he believed created the structures, where the Druids.
Please feel free to leave any questions you may have… I have an entire book directly from this Wonder of the World and World Heritage Site. I always love to continue to share!

Bath, England

If you are visiting London, you must take a day trip to Bath. Bath is in Somerset and is known for its Roman Baths.
The Romans were able to build a spa around 60 AD because of hot springs, which are the only ones in the United Kingdom!


Bath has been a World Heritage Site since 1987.


This is the main bath and when it first was opened it attracted people from all over Europe as it was said to help people with many ailments. The water is said to have magic healing powers, even today!


When it was an active and working spa the water was clear because a ceiling was covering it from the sunlight. It now has a green tint due to algae.
When the Bath’s first opened, only men were allowed. Then they had separate baths, one for men and one for women. The one in the photo above was the private spa for royalty.