St. Petersburg, Russia

The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood : St. Petersburg, Russia

Our Whole Crew: St. Petersburg, Russia outside Church of the Spilled Blood

Inside St. Isaac’s Cathedral: July 2, 2012

The Pine Trees are fountains! Peterhof Palace Gardens

Peterhof Palace: July 2, 2012

Tomb of Peter the Great: Peter and Paul Fortress St. Petersburg

Wax Figures in the Yusupov Palace: Rasputin (Integral part in the downfall of the Royal Romanov Russian Dynasty) is about to murdered with the help of Felix Yusupov

Hermitage Museum of Art: July 1, 2012

I wish I could say “ I’m in love with the city of St. Petersburg!” , but I cannot. I appreciate it, and I THINK, I could like it, but I’m just not there yet. Sean and I have spoken with several fellow travelers these past two years, and they are quite “smitten” with the city. I do think it’s quite pleasing to the eye and loaded with history: to me very sad history.

We have been there twice, and each time there are literally “hoards” of people. There are traffic jams, traffic accidents (our own bus driver hit TWO cars on our 2nd day of touring). We have had two intelligent, informative, and friendly tour guides these past two trips, but the regular people we have encountered have neither been friendly nor enveloping. Both times I have been there I have experienced that “Give me your tourism $$, then get the heck out!”

Russia’s Czar, Peter the Great, created this “young” city (1703) from swamp lands. He dragged his country practically “kicking and screaming” into the modern era of the world. However, he died, Russia couldn’t “keep it together” again. It seemed to almost have it with Alexander II, but he died at the hands of a homicidal maniac.

I wrote this time last year of “Victims of History” such as Mary,Queen of Scots and Czar Nicholas II of Russia. I first heard and read of the Nicolas when I was about 11 years old. He had such deep love and devotion for his wife, son, and daughters, but not the same love for the people of his country…that is the tragic downfall.
Okay, what I do like very much from St.Petersburg…. 1)St. Isaac’s Cathedral, 2)Church of the Spilled Blood and just outside of St. Petersburg…3)Peterhof Palace Gardens.

London and the XXX Summer Olympiad

Olympic Park: London England

Across from the Olympic Park: John Lewis Department Store

Ammon and Carter have been to London, England twice. They seemed to have some vague memories of the city from the summer of 2011 especially Big Ben, Parliament, and the London Eye. This year, we spent approximately 4 hours (strolling, a bit of shopping, and eating) at the new mall adjacent to the Olympic Park. It was July 8, and no one was allowed into the park for another 10 days or so. However, Carter and Ammon will have their schema set as we watch the XXX Olympiad for the next two weeks. I think they will really enjoy the swimming events since they’ve swum now for the past two summers.

It may be Citius, Altius, Fortius (Swifter, Higher, Stronger), for the Olympic athletes, but from the Caylor-Brown household, we wish all the athletes God’s blessings both physically and spiritually through the events, and we ask God’s blessings and protection to the spectators as well. Enjoy World!!


“I don’t want to Blink”
Traveling without complaints (well, maybe wanting to be carried or placed in a stroller), random butterfly kisses from Ammon, random “Give me a hug!” from Carter, “Let’s play Freeze Tag!” yells, toys strewn across the living room, the toddler clothes spread on the laundry table ready to be folded, the toddler Sunday school shoes placed on the shelf calmly waiting for the next Sunday: I love it, and I don’t want to blink. My blinks have already seen over 3 ½ years pass, and it keeps on racing.

I am so blessed to have Carter and Ammon. I have a request from you faithful readers (you know who you are) that God grants me more patience and better ways to spend quality time with my children in my daily life. I get so caught up with the chores around us that I feel as though I neglect valuable time with them, and “ I don’t want to blink. These are the best years of our lives.” …for me, literally.

Tallinn, Estonia June 30, 2012

Tallinn, Estonia with the Emerald Princess in the Background: June, 30, 2012

Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Cathedral

Tallinn’s Lower Town Square

Fat Margaret’s Tower: Tallinn, Estonia: June 30, 2012

Over 25 years ago, I remember having a geography class, and my professor had us label and recall Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on a European map. The gist of the lecture when mentioning these were, “These are Baltic countries which are very similar in language and culture. They are a part of the Soviet Union.”….end of the lecture on Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. What a shame, right?

For several years, Sean and I had heard very positive things regarding the sites and people of Tallinn. We were not disappointed. The mixture of middle ages architecture, Russian Orthodox (we actually saw a funeral in the Russian Orthodox Church while we were there) named the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and other historical architecture was very quaint and pleasing to the traveler’s eye.
If the opportunity arises, we will return to Tallinn.

Aarhus, Denmark

Ammon & Carter at Aarhus’ Wishing Well

Aarhus’s Open-Air Museum: June 27, 2012

Ammon took Carter & Sean’s photo in Aarhus

Carter took Ammon & Haven’s photo in the Aarhus Cathedral

Aarhus, Denmark: June 27, 2012

Aarhus, Denmark is Denmark’s 2nd largest city. The best part of our excursion was the Outdoor Museum. The Danish government has taken house/businesses from around the country of Denmark that are noted to be in like the national registry for historical sites from centuries gone by, dismantled them, and reconstructed them in an open-air museum. There are homes, gardens, and a business district with shops and places to eat. The museum has different blocks of buildings dating from the 1500s to the 20th Century.

Oslo, Norway: June 26, 2012

Oslo Hard Rock Cafe: June 26, 2012

Viking Museum

Public Ski Jump Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Oslo’s Opera House: June 26, 2012

Since I was a teenager, I have wanted to visit Oslo, Norway. My Nanny Caylor always spoke HIGHLY of this nation. During my one day visit, I was not disappointed.

During World War II, Norway was occupied by the Nazis. However, the Norwegian people fought tenaciously and tirelessly to kick them out. I know it was common, but the first time I heard about them battling on snow skis, I was soooooooooooo impressed! My Nanny always thought Norway was so pretty, and it was shared between Norway and the United States that Norwary paid off all its debt to the United States after World War II.

Oslo’s port with Princess Cruise Lines had to be THE BEST port we had ever experienced. The downtown area was less than a 10 minute walk from the ported ship! The Oslo Fjord itself was such a beautiful, natural wonder too.
We know we want to go back to Oslo: 6 hours there were not enough.

Berlin, Germany

Carter & Ammon at the Brandenburg Gate

Berlin Wall

The Infamous, Check-Point Charlie, Berlin

If there is one thing I can say about Berlin, Germany, it’s that I need to get to know it better. Our two days there was nice, but I did not see and experience enough of the city. I really enjoyed our location at the Novotel Hotel. It was right beside a train station that went to major, Berlin locations, and it was ½ block from one of the stops of the Berlin Hop-On/Hop-Off Sight Seeing Bus Tours.

We did not get to experience a lot of the history, but the people seemed friendly enough, and getting around was very easy. One thing that we really appreciated was the airline Air Berlin. If you ever need a European Airline either in or out of Germany, this airline is relatively inexpensive, gives good, respectful service, and it serves both beverages and food!! We used Air Berlin from Berlin to Copenhagen.

Prague, Czech Republic

Astronomical Clock (Installed in 1410!): Prague

Wenceslas Square: Prague, Czech Republic

The Whole Crew and Prague : Thursday June 21, 2012

From June 20 until June 23, we were in Prague, Czech Republic. It was just 3 days, but it was just enough to have that “we want to return here” feeling. It was a great experience.

The Old Town Square where our hotel was located was PERFECT. We highly recommend the Old Town Hotel and Residence. The suite we had a combination of traditional (two Bohemian crystal chandeliers hanging from the 15 feet ceilings) and contemporary (the bathroom furnishings were so cool) furnishings.

Our hotel was one block from a Starbuck’s, 200 yards from the Hard Rock Prague, one block from excellent shopping, and a 5 minute walk to St. Wenceslas Square. Yes, it bears the name of the King of Bohemia who is in the beautiful Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas”. This square had EVERYTHING: hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, and so much more.

The architecture of the city seemed to have 1,000 years of styles blending together to make such a picturesque character.

Bavaria, Germany/Don’t Eat at Woerner’s Cafe in Munich

Ammon, Carter, & Nana at Neuschwanstein: June 19, 2012

Ammon & Carter at the Munich Glockenspiel: June 20, 2012

Munich, Neuschwanstein, and the horrific Woerner’s Café.

Welcome to Beautiful Bavaria, readers! The Caylor-Brown European Vacation of 2012 began with Bavaria, Germany. It was my 3rd time (1984, 2006, and 2012) to Bavaria but Carter and Ammon’s 1st.

Unlike the snow covered, charming, laid-back feeling from February of 2006, we found a busy, bustling, rainy, and humid Munich this time. The sites were beautiful as always, but the people seemed edgy and not as friendly this time.

None the less, Ammon and Carter had a great time. The Comfort Inn where we stayed was decent and with a good breakfast. Downtown was pleasant to walk through. We had a traditional German dinner at the aesthetically pleasing (excellent provincial interior decorating) Ratskeller Restaurant, and we enjoyed strolling through the Munich streets.

For a month we had been building Ammon and Carter’s schema for Neuschwanstein castle, and we told Ammon that it looked like Cinderella’s Castle. They really enjoyed the exterior of the castle but not too much of the inside. However, their favorite interior section was King Ludwig II’s Faux Grotto.

I rarely write a NEGATIVE comment in our blogs, but if you are in Munich on Marienplatz in the same square as the Ratskeller and the glockenspiel, we recommend that you do not eat or drink at the Woerner’s café. Allow me to explain why….
Sean and I needed about 15 minutes to buy a few souvenirs, so we bought Ammon, Carter, and Nana an $8 cup of strawberry ice cream from Woerner’s Café, and sat them under a Woerner umbrella in the square. It was 2:00 in the afternoon, and the lunch crowd was thinning out. Sean and I left to buy souvenirs, and we returned 30 minutes later.

As we approched, we could see that the outside tables were practically empty, and Nana was flustered. A Woerner waiter had asked Nana (seated with the Woerner ice cream cup in plain sight) to leave, and when Nana did not leave, the waiter brought the manager out. The male, bully manager publically humiliated our 73 year old Nana with two 3 year olds, and told her to leave. She did not. I went to the manager and said, “You should be ashamed making a grandmother and two children leave your café while they are eating your ice cream.”, and I turned away. He said, “The ice cream is a carry out, and I’m not ashamed!” As we left, the nark waiter, said in a loud voice, “Go home!”. We exited with pleasure.