This and that in January

Three out of four household members have been hit with fever this weekend, so there is not much interesting to tell about. Instead, I am posting some pictures from last weekend, where we had one very nice day of relaxing and another day filled with activities. On the relaxing day we stayed in our pajamas all day long while doing puzzles for hours and lots of crafts and colouring. On the busy day Elliot went to a hockey tournament in Sweden while I drove Sienna a total of 600 km, so that she could do 2½ minutes on ice in the Danish Skating Cup. Slightly crazy if you ask me, but she told me how grateful she was 10 times before we went, 10 times while we were driving across the country, and 10 times after we got back home. Amazing how far gratitude can get you. I did not take the pictures of Elliot and his hockey team below, but I did make the cookies with his hockey jersey, as there was a bake sale at his club this weekend.

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St. Croix

In December we took an early Christmas vacation to the US Virgin island of St. Croix.  About 100 years ago St. Croix used to be part of Denmark so on top of the sun and sand we got a bit of a historical and cultural experience as well. Left over from Danish colonial times were a couple of forts in the two main cities, Christiansted and Frederiksted. These are fairly well preserved and we took tours of both and got a glimpse of what it was like to be stationed on the islands as a soldier.  We also visited an old sugar plantation turned into museum where the history of the slave trade and life was told. We stayed at a hotel on a small island in the Christiansted harbour which had a pretty quiet beach where we could snorkel and explore for sea creatures. We also visited some of the other beaches on the island and had a lot of fun jumping in the waves. Between dips in the pool and dips in the ocean we enjoyed checking out some of the historical areas of the city as well, and had a very relaxing time soaking up the sun and strolling along the pier going to our favourite restaurant.

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Fall break with Farmor

The kids have undoubtedly had the best fall break ever with Farmor visiting from Canada for the entire week. They have been busy playing lots of games, carving pumpkins and shrunken apple heads, going for little expeditions in the neighborhood, and giggling non-stop. The weather hasn’t been great so it was a bit cold and rainy when we did our traditional trip to Tivoli. Before that we visited the national museum where the kids had to hunt for certain items. The skeleton they are looking at on the picture below is from the Stone Age and was found right next to where we live in Vedbæk. This year we also brought Farmor along for our annual trip to the apple orchard. It was very beautiful with all the fall colours and we got some very big and delicious apples, some of which we ate, and some of which we turned into scary shrunken heads for Halloween.
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The 40th

With a little bit of delay I celebrated my 40th birthday on the 20th of August. We started out in the afternoon with a cake and dessert buffet which I had prepared. The buffet was adorned by a timeline with pictures of my friends dating back 25 years (including the few ones who couldn’t make it). After the cake we moved on to the entertainment. It was produced by some utterly brilliant people and I cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard and for so long. Finally, we sat down for an exquisite dinner, which I cannot take credit for as it was prepared by a professional and very skillful chef, Morten Vagner. Thank you to my amazing friends for making this event a bigger success than I had ever dreamed of.

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The Museum of Natural History, Vienna

The Museum of Natural History in Vienna is home to some unique and world-famous objects. For instance, the largest meteorite collection in the world and a very extensive precious stones and mineral collection. The collection of artifacts begun over 250 years ago and with over 30 million objects you will need quite a bit of time to see everything. We got started a bit late in the afternoon and decided to focus on the extensive and fascinating rock and crystal collection which itself took about an hour to get through. After a few dinosaur bones we headed out for a quick exploration of downtown Vienna.

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The Schönbrunn Palace and Garden

Right next to the Zoo was the Schönbrunn palace and garden which we visited next. The palace is a former imperial summer residence that holds 1,441 rooms. The palace is surrounded by a beautiful sculpted garden called the Great Parterre. In addition to this there is a number of other attractions, such as the Neptune Fountain, the Gloriette above the fountain, and an enormous Palm house.

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Tiergarten Schönbrunn / Vienna Zoo

Another city, another Zoo! Vienna boasts Europe’s oldest Zoo founded in 1752. There were a number of preserved buildings from the baroque era, which gave the place a nice and unique atmosphere. We saw many of the classic Zoo animals, and got a good close up look at a cheetah, and a funky type of chicken that we had never seen before. The Zoo also had pandas, but they were all sleeping when we were there. We were excited to see that one of the Koalas was up and moving about. Considering that they sleep more than 20 hours a day, it is rare that you get to see them awake. After having covered most of the Zoo’s grounds, we took a break from the heat and had lunch in the shade at a zoo restaurant. Before leaving the Zoo we passed some funny monkeys that we couldn’t really see, but that we could definitely hear. They were yelling in a very funny way.

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The Mežica Lead and Zinc Mine

On our way from Slovenia to Austria, we stopped at an old zinc mine turned into a tourist attraction. We put on mining equipment and took a ride on a genuine mining train right to the heart of the mine, the Moring district. Driving through the 3.5 km long tunnel lasted about 15 minutes and could be described as a quite uncomfortable and somewhat terrifying experience. The train ride was a bit much for Elliot, but once we made it to our destination, the fear quickly subsided. We stepped out at the station in the heart of the mountain, 600 m below the surface. Accompanied by a guide we headed down a tourist trail to find out more about the history of mining. In the mine, different types of mining equipment and tools that were used by miners in different historical periods were presented, from the early beginnings over 350 years ago until the last days of mining in 1995. We had a really interesting trip through the mine, and Elliot appreciated that it was okay to touch many of the exhibited objects.

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After the zoo we headed to the old town of Ljubljana.  We had lunch at a restaurant beside the river and afterwards walked around the local outdoor marketplace.  We visited the castle on the hill and climbed really high, 131 steps from the bottom of the tower to the top to get some spectacular views.  Then on the way back to the car we came across a love-lock bridge where the kids became fascinated with all the locks attached to the bridge.

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