crystal's capers

one girl's international adventures

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mainhatten & Musicals

This is a co-post by Riki & me.

Riki got me concert tickets for Christmas, but these weren't for just any concert; the event was called "A Night of Musicals" and featured highlights from the best musical productions.

So it was already interesting to guess which performance belonged to which musical. Okay, sometimes it was obvious but honestly: Do you know everything about "Elizabeth," "The Lion King" or "Cabaret?" But before we talk about the night we would first like to talk about our DAY.

Since we would be in Frankfurt anyway, a city I had not yet visited, I suggested that we see some sights before the show. Riki got some ideas together and we headed out, by train, shortly after lunch. Due to delays in the train tunnels under the city, our first stop ended up being Frankfurt's Red Light District - thankfully, we were able to contain our visit to the classier areas.

Well, if the tunnel is blocked and you have to get off the train at the "Hauptbahnhof" (central station), it is unavoidable to pass the "Kaiserstrasse." Little side note: directly behind the Red Light District starts the banking area, so the guys working there have some "interesting lunch choices."

And just down the street from the banking area is the famous Alte Oper, Frankfurt's old Opera House. The motto engraved outside means, "Dedicated to the True, the Beautiful & The Good." I loved the juxtaposition of old-style German architecture and modern skyscrapers.

Makes me sad somehow. Later that day we saw a picture of Frankfurt after the bombing in 1945. Actually, there was no Frankfurt anymore. More than 85% of the city (NO JOKE!) was destroyed. Ruins everywhere...

Yes, the damage was catastrophic, and the re-build is miraculous. Frankfurt, even now, is building itself up; downtown there is a new shopping mall of several city blocks being constructed this year.

I guess we chose the coldest day of the year to hike around outside; it was FREEEEEZING! To warm up we stopped in a cafe for Chai & Cocoa. Next stop: Zeilgalerie, a 7-story mall with a spiral hallway all the way down. Riki surprised me with a breathtaking view over Frankfurt.

And on we went to the actual city centre - the Roemer. "Roemer" means "Roman" and is named after the remains that were found there. Several foundations of Roman baths were excavated during recent construction, dating from 65-110 A.D. Today, the Roemer is the central place for celebrations, therefore the heart of Frankfurt.

Perhaps the Roemer is the heart of Frankfurt also because it is in the heart of the city (thanks, Tips); the History Museum, Museum of Modern Art, the Market Square and one of the most famous sights in the city, the Kaiserdom, are all located just steps away from this area.

The earliest foundations of the Dom go back to around 680 A.D. In the Medieval period, several German Emperors were coronated here, resulting in the term "Kaiserdom" (Kaiser meaning Emperor). Still, compared to the Dom in Mainz this one is pretty small.

From the Dom we went down to the River Main, took some skyline pictures in about -529379.5 degree Celsius and then looked for a nice place to have dinner.

Riki wanted to surprise me by taking me to a Japanese restaurant he'd previously been to; sadly, they were closed. On the plus side, during our earlier walk through the city we stumbled upon a brand new Japanese restaurant and decided to give them a shot instead. Not only was the food great, but we had a great opportunity to practise our Japanese with the native staff!

Hai! So desu, ne.

The new sushi-chef took f.o.r.e.v.e.r to cut Riki's sashimi, so by the time we left the restaurant we had only 30 minutes to get to the Jahrhunderthalle (concert hall) across town! We scrambled to the nearest station, and lucked out with only a 5-minute wait.

Sorry to oppose but the only one "scrambling" was you! I just WALKED with longer strides...

Whatever. By the time we got to the proper station we had about 3 minutes to get there on time, and a good 10-minute walk left before us; keep in mind that Riki's "long strides" are a nice jogging pace for my stumps-for-legs.

But we made it! They had just started with the first performance when "Sweaty-pants" and I arrived at our seats.


The review was fabulous! We enjoyed selections from "Phantom of the Opera," "Cats," "ABBA," "Grease," "Dirty Dancing," "The Lion King," "Westside Story," "We Will Rock You," "Evita," and, perhaps the best, "Rocky Horror Picture Show." The vocal talents were amazing, the dancing was flawless and many of the selections were even performed in English! The night was capped off by the whole audience dancing "The Time Warp" in unison! What a great time!!

Yep, and due to my perfect planning (and my beautiful legs - Hi, Kels!) we caught the train back home by seconds, a little "scrambling" included for parts of the party...

Why am I always running with you!?!?!

Anyhow, it was a wonderful day. Thanks so much, Riki, for your thought and your planning. Love you!


Sunday, January 21, 2007


Yesterday, I told Riki that I wanted to do something touristy today, Sunday. We thought about driving to a castle, but they're all pretty far and it was his turn to cook lunch, so it had to be an afternoon trip. Not sure what we'd do, or if the weather would pan out (it's been shit here so far), we decided to wait and see...

In the meantime, we capped off our Saturday night by watching a surround-sound DVD in bed; "In the Name of the Rose" is a family favourite around here. The movie was quite intriguing, but the idea that followed was even more agreeable:

As it turns out, though set in Italy, most of the interior shots in the film (which is set in 1375 in a Franciscan monastery) were taken inside an abbey nearby Gustavsburg! Perfect for our little afternoon trip!

Riki and I enjoyed being lead through the monastery by a CD guided tour (in German for him, and English for me) and learning a bit about the history of the magnificent place. The neighbouring town was also picturesque. Exactly what I was looking for!

Thanks, Baby!


To make you a little jealous...

...or at least entice you to visit me. We saw these roadsigns on the way to Saarbruecken, our new home city (as of March, 1).

Luxembourg - approx. 80kms from Saarbruecken

Paris, France - approx. 400kms from Saarbruecken

Hello, weekend trip to PARIS!!


Thursday, January 18, 2007

First Time In Mainz

Today dear Carla took me into Mainz for my first Germany city adventure. The weather was crap, but the sights were amazing!

We visited many jaw-dropping churches (including one with windows by Chagall), and shopped our socks off (got a new sports jacket and runners for less than 70 Euros), we ate great Thai food and, of course, I took approximately 50 grillion pictures! Thanks Carla!!

*** be sure to click on the slideshow to see my comments!


Long Awaited...

Here are some of my first sights in Germany! Let me know what you think. :)


Three Times the Birthday Fun!

Right before departing from Canada I celebrated my 27th birthday, although I still argue that it was my 26th, since last year's slipped between time zones. On Saturday, Jan. 6th I met with some long-time friends for a lovely Greek dinner. Many thanks to those who could make it!

The next night, on my actual birthday, the Hambrook family (plus our semi-recent add-ons, Shawna, Riccardo & Robbie) feasted on my Mom's famous Chinese food. Mmmmm, my favourite. She really spent all day in the kitchen for me (again!) and I owe her BIG for it. Complete with wine, ice cream cake and Balderdash, it was a fabulous evening!

Thinking I was through with ringing in my older age, Riccardo and I flew to Frankfurt, Germany where his family surprised me with yet ANOTHER fantastic birthday celebration! More great food, more cake and more presents!! Oh, and let's not forget the pre-birthday gift-giving I enjoyed at my sister, Rebecca's - Thanks guys! I am SOOOO spoiled!

Thank you so much, everyone!
Love yas! oxox


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Vielen Dank...

...means "many thanks" which we would like to extend to everyone who took the time to see Riki and me while we were in Canada. I'm/we're sorry that I/we didn't have more time with everyone, and especially sorry to anyone who I/we missed completely.

Extra special thanks to my family, especially my Mom, who went out of their way to make things comfortable for us while we invaded their home(s).

Much love.


Touring Around


Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Drive in the Country

Some of Riccardo's first views of Canada...


Holiday Happiness

My mom hosted a larger-than-usual family Christmas this year, attended by both my sisters, my parents, uncle Ray and Riccardo. The food and drink was even more plentiful and delicious than past years, and we were all unmercifully spoiled with gifts. Thanks, Mom, for all your hard work and preparation.

Shortly after Christmas, Riki and I caught a ride with uncle Ray and Rebecca to Victoria, where we spent New Year's Eve. Rebecca hosted the festivities which included a fabulous fondue and much wine (as evidenced in our crazy compilation of glamour shots). Amazingly, one of us noticed mere minutes beforehand that midnight was upon us, and we put down our fondue forks long enough to ring in 2007 with champagne and kisses. Thanks, Rebecca and Mike (and Kevin) for putting up with us.


A Timmy-Ho's Advertisement?

Riki & I tried to triple-date with Jess & Chris & Cameron & Bailey to Wildlights at the Kamloops Wildlife Park... after a nice dinner at Earls, after a stop-off for cocoa, after bundling ourselves into 50-grillion layers against the cold, we found out that the park was closed for the evening. Never did get back. :(


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