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Distant Lands

Monday, 17 December 2007

The Paper Moon Diner and Baltimore Holiday Treats

The Paper Moon Diner has been the favored midnight stop for students at Johns Hopkins and Loyola College for years.  During regularly-scheduled daytime hours, it is a few blocks from the Baltimore Museum of Art, a short hop down the Jones Falls Expressway to the Maryland Zoo, the Walters Art Museum, and more.  The proximity, and the open-24-hours part make it a great place to grab a cup of coffee (us) and a scrambled-eggs with cheese (her) before moving on to our next event.

Two other things I might mention?  The decor - which is covered floor-to-ceiling in toys (in various states), cars, shoes, artwork and anything else the eclectic and wonderful owner's imagination can conjure.
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Mannequins grace the bathrooms.  Superheros twirl overhead from the fans. Oh the wonders of superglue.  And the food - if you are partial to peanut-butter-pie, [...]More

Friday, 14 December 2007

The Bavarian Alps

We rented a car in Munich and drove down to Fuessen to see Neuschwanstein and tour the Alps.  Since the car we'd reserved wasn't actually available when we arrived at the rental agency, we had to negotiate for a similar car (or at least something big enough to carry 4 adults, one baby in a carseat, and luggage).  I strongly recommend being familiar with the makes and models you are likely to be offered in the area you're traveling - thinking you're getting a luxury sedan when you rent a Mercedes A-class will be a let-down.

I thought driving in Munich was great, but keep in mind I was coming from Athens.  Still, I found the signage good and the other drivers quite decent.  When we left the city, the baby and I started our first-ever trip on the autobahn (the others had traveled in Germany before). 

The views of the Alps across the Bavarian farmland were tremendous, and we passed through a couple charming little villages, complete with partially iced-over ponds full of ducks and swans.  At 8 months old, just driving in a car made the baby pretty happy, and [...]More

Wednesday, 05 December 2007

A Do and a Don't in Bavaria

Overall, traveling with a baby in Bavaria in the winter was wonderful, but I do have to note one major mistake:  Linderhof.  This is a (the?) summer palace of Mad King Ludwig (of Neuschwanstein fame) and is based on Versailles.  It's pretty much on the way between Neuschwanstein and Munich, at least the scenic route we took, so we decided to stop and tour it.

Bad plan.

I'm sure it's gorgeous in the summer when the grounds are at their best, but in the winter it was treacherous and icy (and not all that attractive).  With the baby backpack we nearly wiped out several times, hours away from medical help.  Once at the palace, we found we couldn't take the backpack inside (we knew strollers weren't allowed, but the people at the ticket counter thought the backpack would be okay).  So not only did we have to leave the pack with all the stuff in it outside, but we had to carry the baby in our arms the whole tour.  Which no one enjoyed.

As usual, the baby loved the snow and being outside and seeing stuff, [...]More

Stuck in Traffic, Out of Gas, with No More Veggie Puffs

Driving through the North Island of New Zealand in a camper allowed us to do many things off the beaten path, including set our own timetable, make our own meals, and take a day off to visit friends in KatiKati. I hadn't seen them since their wedding 10 years prior.

However, following great timing arriving in holiday-rests from the Coromandel to Rotorua, and beating bus-tourists to our favorite sites more often than not, …

We planned badly for our return to Auckland and landed smack in the middle of Friday afternoon rush hour. With a child who had a distinct 3-hour in-vehicle limit. We nearly ran out of gas. We hurtled last minute into a station that might never have seen a camper before (there was lots of staring, perhaps from the howls of rage coming from inside the van). And we were hoarse from singing itsy

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Thermal Zone - North Island

At one point, as we walked along a wooden path that passed over a geothermal lake, we stopped in awe. It wasn't the amazing penny-gone-bad colors produced by the heat and sulfur (although those were beautiful). It was the sign, stuck right in the boiling lake just a few feet from us, complete with stick figure in motion and red circle with a line through it: no walking. We saw another later that warned we were not to smoke near the open vent.

Seriously.

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Geothermal is a way of life for people who live in and around Rotorua. So is the rotten-eggs smell, which you do get used to.

Some Aucklanders call Rotorua by another name, "Roto-vegas" and it does feel that way. If you want to pack yourself into a big plastic ball and roll down a hill, here's where to go: the birthplace of Zorbing.

There is a lovely <

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