Saturday, August 25, 2012

Me no zpeek Rushkan...

Scott and I decided to take a quick trip to St Petersburg Russia. It sounds like a long and involved trip, but in reality it is only about 3 hours from England. Involved, though, it is. We had to have Russian issued visas in order to go for the four day weekend. That in and of itself was "involved" and fairly expensive. We were eager to see if the trouble would be worth it.

We arrived on Friday afternoon. The Grand Hotel Europe was simply amazing. We were impressed with just the size of the place as well as the service. For 300 rooms, there were 500 employees which was a pretty amazing stat to me. We weren't sure what to expect from St Petersburg since we didn't have time to research it before going. We had a fun four days while there, but that was certainly all the time we needed to be there!

Pussy Riot was arrested during our trip for "hooliganism" (speaking out about Putin), so we made a point to have a beer in the local pub called O'Hooligans. St Petersburg is a beautiful city, with little to no crime. The fine arts are what one would go to see in this very European (versus Russian) city. The Hermitage is the large art museum (large doesn't really do it justice) that everyone knows. I realize some people could spend days in this building, but I was done in about 30 minutes. Admittedly, I am not very cultured!

It is expensive to eat and drink and the food... leaves a little to be desired. Borsch soup: looks better than it tastes.

The one thing I was hoping to see and we did was one of the "ice cream top" churches. The Church of the Savior of the Spilled Blood was a beautiful building. It was massive inside as well with the entire inside being decorated with only mosaics. Without question, it was one of the prettiest interiors, and most labor intensive, of all the churches I have seen. Each of the ice cream tops on the outside seemed to correlate with a small dome inside where a face had been mosaic'ed onto the ceiling.

The video highlights:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Another big day in the Hooper world...

Caden has mastered the art of "cycling" (as he calls it)! (How very British of him!) He was tenacious and determined this weekend and now our family is completely and totally mobile! We have already been out exploring the Thames River. We are proud of him and so excited for this very big step in the world of little-kid-dom.

And if you needed a video to see exactly how cute he is, then this is for you:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

We went to the Olympics!

Scott and I went to the Olympics. While I will admit dreading the Olympics because of the expected crowds, traffic, and even possible danger it posed from terrorists, I must say it has proven so far to be an amazing experience.

Evidently London overpriced their hotel rooms to the degree that now the hotels are virtually empty in the city. Because of that, there are lots of special deals, so Scott reserved a cheap hotel a couple of blocks from the event we were going to see on Saturday morning. Then on Saturday, Scott and I went to see the beach volleyball. Aside from the roads closed and detours that were necessary to arrive to the venue, the event was good fun. To simply get into Horseguards Parade (our event was not in the Olympic village), we had to show our tickets several times. Once up close to the stadium, we had to clear security very much like airport security, only more difficult. Once we were into the arena area though, it was amazing! The mood was fantastic and the crowd was lively and happy.

The matches we watched were exciting but not very closely matched teams in terms of ability. The Chinese women smashed their Russian competitors and the Brazil men did the same to the Germans. The winners of those matches went on to play in the quarter finals. We had fun though watching the crowds. There were lots of activities throughout the events with cheerleaders and games for the audience.

We would both like to attend the Paralympics which are in a couple of weeks here in London, but the tickets are really difficult to get ahold of. If we are able to go, we hope the kids will appreciate what they are watching when they see those determined athletes overcome disabilities to compete in a world competition. Stay tuned!