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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Exploring My Fatherland

Today - we took a drive to two places close together - just north of Stuttgart.
town.

First - we went to the Porsche Factory and Museum. Admission was free
but the museum was small. They are building a giant new museum right now that will rival Mercede's and BMW's museums. It only took an hour.
or so.

Next we went to Ludwigsburg - it was the capital of Wurtensburg Duchy - from a long time ago. Duke Ludwig Eberhard found the city and also built his palace there. The town has a street named Eberhard - and a big statue in the busy town square of Eberhard.

The palace is beautiful and all original. It was built around 1700 - but it is all original - floors - walls - and furniture. The palace is very ornate - to my surprise. Generally - German architecture is stark - but we all go through our flowery periods. Keith said it looks like it was designed by a girl. I must admit the outside has some breathtaking colors that play well there - but might appear gaudy in Tallahassee or Tamaqua. Eventually Wurtenberg turned into a kingdom and a 450 pound - 7 foot tall - Frederick was made king. His wife was a quarter tonner two.
When they married it was called the Wedding of elephants.

This palace housed 1800 people - more than Henry VIII's Hampton Court. This palace seems light and airy compared to the castle-like home on the Thames.

Friday - we have an all day to tour - then we catch our light flight back to London. We have one week left before we go home.

Trailing Spouse Saw His First Pro Soccer Game

Lulu had to stay back in London for her classes - so Keith and I
caught a plane for Stuttgart to see a soccer game - his favorite team
is the London Arsenal team.

Our plane tickets cost 10 pounds ($20.00) - I am not kidding. With
taxes they were a little more. RyanAir.com has cheap flights all over
Europe. The inside of their planes is more like a bus.

First - we stopped in Tubingen to see the University founded by Duke
Hertzog Eberhard (The Bearded One). We found a bust of Eberhard there.

Then - we drove to Stuttgart and found Eberhard Street. We also found
this gigantic courtyard statue of Duke Eberhard on his horse. My name
was Eberhard before the family changed it to Everhart when they moved
to America.

Today - we went to the gigantic Mercedes Benz Museum. After that we
toured the plant where they make 1600 Mercedes A class engines a day.

Later that evening - we went to the soccer game - Stuttgart versus
Arsenal. This would be like the NFL in America but they wear short
pants and really kick the ball. It was my first professional soccer
game. The most interesting thing is how they treat their opposing
fans. Just like FSU has a small corner section for visitors - they do
that here. Except - the visitor section had an 8 foot high fence
around it. You feel like you are in a cage at the game. The cage
extends all the way to the bathrooms - the concession stand - and the
gate. Outside the gate is a cattle trough made of heavy gauge steel
wire that leads you almost two blocks away from the stadium. There is
absolutely no interaction between the two crowds - except jeering
thru the fence. They also sing the entire game.

The game itself - was okay. The players get paid like NBA basketball
stars - millions of euros. The teams trade players like horse meat.
The games are very low scoring - many times ending 0 to 0. I guess I
just don't "get it." I am convinced that if America would start a
topless women's soccer league - men still would not watch it.

But how many times do you get the chance to share a few days in
Germany alone with your 30 year old son? Times like this come along
less and less - and it is fun sharing a few common bonds - sports -
cars - and German beer. It could not have happened without all of
Lulu's planning and the FSU Study Center in London. Go Lulu - Go Noles
- and Go Arsenal. We won 3 - 1.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Free Internet is Tight in Stuttgart

I am sitting on a street corner post behind my hotel. It was hard
finding a free net. Sorry I have not been online more.

We toured Mercedes today - watched them make engines - also they have
a fantastic museum.

In one hour we go to the soccer game. Keith is wearing his Arsenal
shirt and already got teased by Stuttgart fans :-)

It is hot here but nice. It is so much tidier than London. I like the
minimalist stuff.

At least I found a spot to go on the net - hope no cars hit me.

more later.

Stadium is 10 minutes away by train.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lulu is the New Pirate From Penzance













Lulu just visited her roots. With Keith just arriving Saturday - Lulu decided that we must make a trip to the southwest corner of England to Cornwall - the place where her great grandfather lived before he came to the United States for work. The trip had all the chances of disaster - 6 hours on a train each way - staying in a questionable hotel because most places were booked - Keith with jet lag - and also Harry and Keith having to catch a jet for Germany on Tuesday morning at 7 AM. But if we didn't do the trip this weekend - we could not fit it in.

Lulu went online - got the train tickets - then she got the hotel. Sunday morning early - we grabbed our bags and head to the train station. After a short subway trip - we were at Paddington Station with plenty of time because our train was delayed 13 minutes for repair. The train left a little after 8 AM. After getting on the train - we found our first class reserved seats. We had a table - had something to eat.

We had our GPS stuck to the train and were cruising at 110 MPH in some places - but near the end of the line our train slowed down a bit. Pretty soon we were alone - as our train pulled into Penzance at 2 PM. We found our hotel easily because it was just a pub with about 10 rooms on Market Jew Street across from the train station. The place was old and rustic - Harry's style. So far - not bad.

Lulu was excited so out we went to catch a bus to Lamorna - her great grandfathers "fatherland." Unfortunately a bus was not due for two hours - so we saw a lonely cab - and he said he would take us to Lamorna. After a 6 mile winding road - we got to our destination. Lamorna is smaller than Tuscarora - maybe even smaller than Newkirk. But it was such a pretty place with the mountains dropping into the sea on a granite coast. The town was famous for its tin mines - but they petered closed when Asian tin was undercutting their price. Also on the side of the ridge one could see where granite was quarried with gigantic pieces pushed over the cliff to form a waterfall of rock.

It was such a serene beautiful oceanfront scene - we were speechless. We just absorbed it all - our minds running wild. We had a hearty lunch of mussels - crab salad - and beefsteak. The water was several pretty colors of blue. the locals were swimming and scuba diving in the waves near the old stone pier where granite was loaded onto ships.

Great grandfather Cox left there around 1880 - and we saw post card pictures of the area form 1890. virtually nothing changed.

Lulu wanted to walk the beach path back to our hotel - but after covering 3 of the 6 miles over very difficult rocky cliffs - we decided to catch a bus at Mousehole - pronounced Mow-zel - and saved our legs.

Back in Penzance - we walked the streets until late at night. It was Sunday evening quiet. We even bravely lurked into an old cemetery - but the names were worn off the tombstones - we could not read much. Finally - we turned into our hotel for the night - and all three of us slept soundly.

In the morning our train pulled out very early - and we enjoyed our trip back to Bath - a historic town in eastern England. Bath is the place where 120 degree water has been coming out of the ground for over 2000 years. The Romans developed a spa there and later Queen Victoria claimed its water help her breed after years of troubles. The town became famous for its spas and elite visitors.

After a fast train to London - we were back to our flat for supper. We are all tired - Keith is snoring away - but Lulu is smiling - and that is all that matters - isn't it?

CLICK PICTURES TO ENLARGE -

1. The new "Pirates of Penzance"
2. The Roman Baths in Bath
3. Lulu at a home in Lamorna
4. Lulu after walking the road from Lamorna
5. Keith and Lulu at Mousehole Post Office
6. 1890 post card of Lamorna Cove.
7. Our hotel in Penzance on Market Jew St
8. Lunch overlooking Lamorna Harbor
9. How many times did Pop Pop Pop Cox gaze at these blue waters?
10. Local helping Lulu with her "Cox" papers
11. Lulu after trying out the 70 degree waters
12. Keith and lulu returned to their roots.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

London Auto Show

One of the most interesting things about coming to England is to see all the different types of transportation and how they cope with $10.00 a gallon gasoline.

Friday I went to the London Auto Show. It was easily the biggest one I ever attended.

Of particular interest to me were the electric vehicles. Many different companies are trying to make electric cars that appeal to the masses. If an electric car can't make it here - it won't make it anywhere. London offers so many incentives to people to buy one.

First - gasoline is $10.00 a gallon. Most of that price is tax - it is like a penalty for using too much fuel. Second - when you buy your auto tag - you must pay a road tax based upon how much fuel the vehicle uses. Electric cars are exempt from that fee. Third - is a congestion tax. If one drives in the city of London - they must pay a $16 a day fee. A special sticker is affixed to the windshield that is read by the cameras as you enter the city. If you do not have the sticker - a fine will be sent directly to your home. Next - parking meters are free to electric vehicles. Finally - there are several free charging stations in the city.

Another neat feature - every car bear a special insurance code. Based on how much the car costs to repair and also how safe the car is - buyers know what it will cost to insure the vehicle before they buy it.

There were many really neat cars at the show. You would never think that the locals must pay such a high price for fuel. It was a Friday afternoon - but the show was packed.

Check out my video of the car show at www.harry.everhart.com

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"I'm Henry the Eighth - I Am" at Hampton Court








CLICK TO ENLARGE

Pictures -
1. The formal gardens.
2. The fountain courtyard.
3. Mars sleeping on Venus's lap
4. The knight's new meaning of "cup."
5. Lulu among the flowers.
6. Harry and Lulu in front of the palace.

I must admit - I didn't pay much attention in my English history classes - heck - I didn't pay much attention in any of my classes. I probably learned more British history from the British rock invasion. Herman's Hermits sang about "Henry the Eighth." Lulu copied "Ann of a Thousand Days" to suffer me into the spirit.

With nothing planned last Sunday - Lulu decided we would take a train about 15 miles up the Thames River to Hampton Court. It is the a palace that rivals Versailles in France. This was the home of King Henry VIII. I was not quite ready for the size and grandeur of this home. At any one time over 1200 people were living with the king in his court.

Henry VIII was most famous for leaving the Catholic Church because the Pope would not grant him a divorce from his wife Katherine. To provide the divorce - Henry took over the church in England - including all of their land and wealth. After that - Henry went through a host of wives hoping for a male offspring to take over the throne.

Americans are used to having elected presidents. Our presidents must be elected by the people - not inherit their position by being the offspring of another president - usually. Britain seems to waste a lot of money on this royalty thing.

Hampton Court is beautiful. I can't even imagine how much it would cost to build a palace of this size and quality today. The place would easily sleep thousands of people - but we only saw two bathrooms.

Our Trip to the Cavern Club in Liverpool

Happy Jack Video

Sidetrip with FSU Students to Avebury - Lacock - Salisbury









The Florida State University Study Center offers guided bus trip to various place outside of London. Yesterday - we took a bus to Avebury - Lacock - and Salisbury. Each town has many historic and pre-historic site for the students to experience and enjoy.

Avebury is a town build inside of a henge. When one thinks of henges - the famous Stonehenge comes to mind. The henge in Avebury is actually older and bigger than the more famous Stonehenge. Unlike its more popular brother - at Avebury you walk among the rock - even sit on them. One problem at Avebury is the sheep - well more like the product of the sheep. The students developed the "poo poo dance" to get from stone to stone and keep their shoes clean. The town of Avebury is a community among the monolithic stones that has existed since the time before the Pilgrims came to America.

Lacock is a town organized around a former nunnery built in the 1200's - yes about 800 years ago. Later the main building was developed into the home of the local Lord - complete with cloisters and several large out buildings. It is incredible to Americans how buildings can last this long.

Finally - we went to Salisbury - the place famous for the Stonehenge which is just outside town - about 8 miles away on the Salisbury Plain. Our main objective in this town was the Salisbury Cathedral.

The cathedral is gigantic with a spire 400 feet how. The cathedral is built with blocks of Limestone. It seems in perfect shape. What adds to the amazement is that this church was built in 1250 - they were celebrating their 750th year. unlike many other cathedral - it only took them 60 years to built it. Inside the church are buried many of the important people throughout England's history. The Avon River flows through town and as we crossed the bridge one wonders how much water went under that bridge in 750 years.

What puzzled me was why our blue badged guide chose not to take us to the famous Stonehenge. Being a former tour guide of students - I did not want to question the reasons for missing this world famous site. I am guessing the Stonehenge has become quite the tourist trap. Also - people are no longer allowed to touch or walk among the rocks there. One cannot re-create the scenes from the movie European Vacation.

Being on a field trip with students reminded me of all the trips I ran as a teacher back in Pennsylvania. Many people re-call that back in 1978 - Lulu and I bought a tour bus and took students to Cape Canaveral - Disneyworld - Washington - and Philadelphia. Whenever I visit some of our old haunts - I feel a bit sad because that period of our lives is over.

I have included a few pictures of Stonehenge to show you what we missed. When we come back to England next summer - we will take an overnight trip to Salisbury to see the world famous landmark.

Pictures -
1 - Nancy and I at the Avebury Henge.
2 - Circle of large rocks at Avebury Henge.
3 - Lulu's students doing the "poo poo dance."
4 - Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain.
5 - Stonehenge at night.
6 - Aerial view of the tourist area around Stonehenge.
7 - Church clock in Salisbury Cathedral - still working after 750 years.
8 - Salisbury Cathedral built in 1250.

This Band Practices Less Than a Mile from Our Tallahassee Home



Camp Leads a Drumbeat for a Marching Band’s Style

From the New York Times on July 23, 2008

By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As his extended family gathered around the table for dinner last Christmas, Ben Brock received one final present. It was a scrapbook, each page adorned with photos of him as a child and handwritten notes from his relatives. Then, on the last sheet, the names of his mother, sister, uncles and aunts appeared, with a dollar figure next to each.

Those numbers reflected the money they had pledged to send Ben, 16, almost as far from his home in Seattle as it was possible to go within the continental United States. At the end of that journey lay the dream he had nurtured since watching the movie “Drum Line” in sixth grade: to become part of the Marching 100, the renowned band at Florida A&M University.

So on a gauzy gray morning seven months later Ben and his snare drum strode onto the dewy grass of the band’s practice field on the Tallahassee campus. He had been awakened at 5 a.m. and the day’s last rehearsal would not end until 10 p.m. His feet screamed. His shoulders ached. Gnats swarmed around his face, daring him to break rhythm and lose composure.

“Snap, precision, lock in with the tempo,” called out an instructor, very much in the manner of a Marine drill sergeant. “Now step it up, get some volume.”

But this, all this, is what Ben Brock had sought, he and 450 other high school students, drawn from throughout the United States and as far as Germany. They had enrolled in the summer band camp operated by the Marching 100. For the campers, these eight days offered a kind of initiation; for the band, they offered the chance to recruit future members and to spread its ecstatic performance style literally around the world.

In the nation’s historically black colleges, marching bands have long provided far more than “The Star-Spangled Banner” for football crowds, and none, arguably, has grown more famous than Florida A&M’s.

The group’s traditional and official name, the Marching 100, is a rare bit of false modesty: the group now numbers upward of 350 musicians, drum majors and flag-carriers. The unit has built a national, even global, following with appearances at the Super Bowl, both of President Bill Clinton’s inaugural parades, the Grammy Awards and the bicentennial of the French republic.

The only reason Florida A&M was not explicitly identified as the inspiration for “Drum Line” is that the script called for the Marching 100 to finish second in a battle of the bands, and, as the group’s director, Prof. Julian E. White, put it the other day, “We don’t lose.”

The Marching 100 has created a revolution in band style, radically infusing the traditional catalog of songs and formations with the sounds and dances of black popular culture. “It slides, slithers, swivels, rotates, shakes, rocks and rolls,” the band’s founding director, Prof. William P. Foster, wrote in his memoirs. “It leaps to the sky, does triple twists, and drops to earth without a flaw, without missing either a beat or a step.”

It also attracts plenty of acolytes. When Dr. White began the summer camp 18 years ago, he expected to attract mainly African-American students from the Southeast. Not only has the enrollment soared to 450 from an initial 90, the geographical and racial range has expanded. (Tuition is $475, with many students receiving scholarships.)

Three busloads of campers came this summer from Michigan alone. Dozens of Hispanic and white teenagers have flocked to the program, including the archetypal slacker this summer who wore a T-shirt explaining, “I’m Probably Late.”

“They come here, they ignore the gnats, they ignore the heat, because of the uniqueness of what we do and the pride we feel, the dedication,” Dr. White said. “And when they leave here, their parents say they sleep for a week.”

Ralph Jean-Paul remembers those sensations well. Now the band president and a tuba instructor for the summer program, he started out eight years ago as a camper.

“I felt I had come to an empire,” Mr. Jean-Paul recalled. “To see this magnitude of musicians, all working in one place, 30 tubas alone. That first day, I told myself, ‘This is where I want to be.’ ”

Technology has enhanced and challenged the summer camp. On the one hand, teenagers anywhere in the world can find clips of the Marching 100 on YouTube or visit its MySpace page.

“I saw people doing a dance routine with their drums that I thought was completely impossible,” Mr. Brock said of his online exploration. “I said to myself, ‘I’ve got to learn how to do that.’ ”

On the other hand, the rise of hip-hop and the computerized music programs like GarageBand has depleted the pool of young instrumentalists. In addition, many public schools have reduced or eliminated music classes to provide double periods of math and reading, which are tested annually under the education law No Child Left Behind.

The camp makes no concession to any of it. Within the program’s single week, every student is expected to learn a pregame and half-time show, and to perform with a symphonic, chamber or jazz ensemble. Veterans know to bring along insect repellent and ice packs.

“They’re serious down here,” said L’Dante Brown, a 14-year-old drummer from the Virgin Islands. “When they tell you to stand still and be quiet, you can hear the mosquitoes flying.”

And when they tell Mr. Brown and the rest to move and make noise, and all the French horns and piccolos and saxophones and trombones sashay into action, the syncopated sound echoes across the hilly campus.

“I know I’m not the best player,” said Dana Dixon, 16, a clarinetist from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “But I’ve learned notes. I’ve learned steps. I’m happy and I’m sore. I thought waking up at 5 o’clock would be terrible, but it’s nothing. It’s, like, let’s wake up and do it.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What Do You Do When Gas is $10 a Gallon in London - Go Electric






While Lulu is with her class - I just love to look at cars and scooters. In London where petrol is $10 a gallon - people are very innovative about ways to save fuel and money.

Back in the 50s - when you came to London you had to fight the smog. To this day - London homes have lots of chimneys - some as many as 12 of them. They used to burn bituminous coal which was very smokey. It mixed with the ocean fog to make a very thick messy pea soup. The government outlawed bituminous fireplaces. Today - we are truly surprised how nice the weather is here. Of course it is July - but we have had mostly sunny days with temperatures in the low 70s - sort of like Tallahassee in March.

The government has come up with a plan to save fuel - reduce congestion - and cut down on pollution. First off - over half of the $10 a gallon is gas tax. That really encourages people to buy thrifty cars and drive less. Then they tack on a large road tax. If that isn't bad enough - if you want to drive your car in downtown London - there is a $16 a day congestion tax. Also parking can be as much as $8 an hour downtown.

As a result of the above "incentives" - London has mostly buses - taxis - rich people with expensive cars - and of course the scooters. Scooters are allowed to park for free. They do not have to pay the road or incentive taxes. Also - many of the scooters get over 100 miles per gallon. I would guess that there are more scooters than cars here in town.

I could walk around all town all day just taking pictures of cars and scooters - and I have enough in my album to bore you to death.

The newest rage is the electric car. The government has encouraged this alternative by waiving the road and congestion tax. They have also offer free parking and some free recharging spots.

Yesterday - Lulu and I visited the NICE Car Company yesterday - http://www.nicecarcompany.co.uk.

NICE means "no internal combustion engine." They offer a very nice small 4 passenger car - a few delivery trucks - and even some electric scooters. The cars can go about 50 mph and offer a range of 60 miles. The scooters can go about 35 mph and have a range of up to 100 miles.

The cars cost about $22,000 - the trucks about $21,000 - and the scooters are about $5000. They are all equipped with regenerating brakes which means that when you brake - you are re-charging the battery.

I do have a Vespa scooter at home and would trade it for one of these electric jobs in a second. They are perfect in town vehicles. What a souvenir this would be to bring back to Tallahassee. Now if we could only get the Department of Transportation to offer - no road taxes - parking - and free charging stations - we would be on our way to leading this country into energy independence and clean air.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Trailing Spouse Lands Front Row - Lulu Plays Maria in The Sound of Music at the London Palladium

Lulu works until around 5PM. So I decided on Thursday afternoon to go to the Apple Store and learn a bit about the iMovie program. Apple offers free workshops all day so I set out on an 8 block walk to Regent Street. On the way - I passed the Palladium Theatre. I remembered that this was the place where Beatlemania started when the world learned of the Beatles. The marquee outside said The Sound of Music was playing there - Lulu's favorite movie and play. If you do not know the story - it is about a singing family that escaped from Austria and the Nazi occupation. The front door was open and I walked inside to the box office.

The man at the box office was very nice. He said, "Aren't you the Trailing Spouse?" I was astonished but said, "yes." He told me it was my lucky day. He had 2 tickets in the front row - right in the center. He said they call that area the stalls. He offered them for free - but I insisted on paying something. I said, "How about 20 pounds each." I could not believe it - I had 2 front row tickets to Lulu's all time favorite for 7:30PM. I thought he said we were sitting in the "stools" - so I would have to make sure Lulu wore trousers.

Not all of the above paragraph is true - but I did have 2 front row center tickets for the show - and Lulu did not even know.

I crossed the street and had new incentive to learn the iMovie program. I planned to do a video of Lulu's big night at the Palladium.

After an hour or so - I went back to the flat to wait for Lulu and tell her the news. But at 5PM - no Lulu - 6 PM - no Lulu. Finally at 6:30PM she came in. I thought she would be too tired - but when I told her of the tickets - we both scurried the 7 blocks to theatre. I reminded Lulu to wear trousers because of the "stools." We got there at 6:50PM. We saw a pub across the street - and the waiter assured us that we could have supper in time for the show. He didn't lie.

At 7:20PM - we waded through the crowd - and into the theatre. The usher told us to go down a set of steps into the bowels of this old theatre. Then we entered a dark brick tunnel - but we finally saw the light at the end. We went up the steps - and we were next to the orchestra. The seats were fantastic. But no stools :-)

The show to me was not as good as Buddy Holly - but better than Wicked - and on a par with Lion King. But sitting where I could tap the conductor on the shoulder made it perfect for me. Even with my poor hearing - I could read the lips of the cast.

The show started and they were adamant about not taking photographs. As the theatre darkened - I thought - who was going to catch me. I set my little Canon camera on video and held it in my lap. I had to record a few clips to "show" Lulu when she pinched herself in bed thinking it was a dream. My knees can be seen in the video - also the stage edge clipped a bit because I did not dare pick up the camera.

The show was great. Lulu knew every word - but contained herself.

Beach at Nice on the French Riviera

video

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Apple Raises the Bar in My Book






I am sitting in the London Apple Store enjoying a free lesson on using "Mobile Me."

But what has me happy really happy is some personal service I just got.

This morning I woke up and the power supply on my macbook had frayed and failed. My computer had a 70% charge and that was all the connection power I had left with the world.

I walked the roughly 7 blocks from our flat to the Regents Street Apple Store. I went to the "Genius Bar" only to be informed that I would need an appointment because they were super busy with service. I explained to him that I would need the computer for my blog back to the USA. The "Genius" said to go over to the "Ipod Bar" and see Jack - imagine that - Jack.

I went to see Jack and he said just sit over there at that bench. I thought he was putting me off. There were several lines for service - see the pictures. Five minute later - Jack walked over - took my power supply - went downstairs - and in a minute came back up with a new power supply in hand. Jack didn't even ask my name - I was so thankful - I nearly kissed him.

I felt like the old board game - "Go to the Head of the Class."  That is an old teacher joke. At any rate - I am sitting in this workshop - watching the big screen - and watching my screen.

This is why the Everharts love Apple Computers.

Lulu will read this - she is back at our flat - and she knows how happy I am. I want to remind Lulu that they have the new iphone G3 over here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pictures from Our Trip to the French Riviera

To view slide show click on pictures.

NICE



MONACO



CANNES

Trailing Spouse Pays $4.00 a can for a can of Coke in Cannes

Lulu and I spent Sunday in Cannes. We got back to our flat in London
Monday night. I am decompressing. When we came to Europe we realized
that the Bush dollar is virtually worthless here. I promised myself
that I would not be a tightwad whiner and complain about how expensive everything
is. When "country bumpkins" travel - they always complain about prices
at the tourist traps. But that even occurs in New York City or Washington. This was different.

Let me start by saying how pretty Cannes is. The weather was
great - warm - sunny - and low humidity. Sort of like Arizona with a
beach. That is the French Riviera. Having taught Earth Science for 33
years - I felt like George Bush when I said, "This is pretty - but where
is the River?"

Of the three big French Riviera cities - I prefer Cannes. This is
where they hold that film festival every year. It is a mixture of
Miami South Beach and Hollywood. The mountains come right down to the
sea. The Mediterranean Sea is the prettiest color of blue - see my
pictures at - www.harry.everhart.com. The coast is lined by resort
hotels - vacation homes - and fancy restaurants. The town is full of motor scooters and really neat small cars - many convertibles. One
can't but help gape at the pretty people in all of their pretty and
expensive fashions and jewelry. It is everything you expected and more.

The actual beaches are a disappointment. In Monaco and Nice - the
beaches are covered with rounded "river rocks" and/or pebbles. In
Cannes we saw our first sand beaches. One other thing that is a
disappointment is the "topless crowd." Yes - lots of people sun
themselves topless. But 90% of those exposing it all might better be
left with an old fashioned knee length suit. I realize I am showing
my prudish American attitude about nudity and sexuality - because most
of the people sunning topless couldn't care less about what I thought. I
guess it was a novelty for me - because many times I caught myself staring.
Lulu suggest I get some sunglasses to cover my one bugged out eye. I am
not a fellow that likes to spend hours sunning on the beach - and I
did not want to do it there. Lulu loves swimming and sunning on the
beach - she did not attempt "topless" for fear of being fired from FSU
- but she looks better than 99% of those sunners.

The actual water was cold by Florida standards - 75 degrees (23 over
there) - and a bit chilly for me. The bottom was not soft - and the
water was not super clear. There was a boat in the waves going back and forth skimming something. Without a doubt - Panama City is much much
better. I have a new appreciation for our warm water - and soft white
sugar sand in Florida. Regardless - the beaches were packed. Many
restaurants have their tables on wood platforms right on the sand.

Back in our "hometown" of Nice - on July 14th - their Independence Day
- we enjoyed a French military parade with the typical "flyby" of jets
in a missing man formation. One American said, "Notice that they
don't have rifles - because they have all been dropped." Another one
said, "Notice the uniform - kilts and sneakers - so they can crap and
run at the same time." It was funny - but I did not agree. I reminded
the guy that we would not have won our Revolutionary War without the
French help. I also said that the French were right in regards to Iraq
- and now we are over here paying 4 Bush oil dollars for a can of coke.

Touche!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Monaco and Monte Carlo are Different

Yesterday we spent the entire day in Monaco. It is a very different place. 

First of - people get Monaco and Monte Carlo confused. Simply - Monte Carlo is a section of Monaco developed much later - specifically to cater to the tourists. 

Monaco is as separate country surrounded by the country of France on 3 sides - the southern side is the Mediterranean Seas. The only country smaller than it is the Vatican. It is a democratic monarchy. It has been ruled by the Grimaldi family for hundreds of years. The present monarch is Prince Ranier. You may re-call that he married Grace Kelly from Philadelphia.

There is 1 main casino in the Monte Carlo section. It is surrounded by luxurious hotels. Quite frankly - the Hotel de Paris is the first hotel that refused to let us browse through it. I wonder how the guard knew that we were not staying there. the casino is divided into 2 sections. One section is very small and has just slot machines in it. This is where they let the low grade tourist go for free - how nice of them. The second section has an entry fee of 12 euros - about $17 a day. It was just gaming tables and was more stately in that casino. We heard rumors that you had to have dress clothing on to got there - but we viewed many sandaled and shorted tourists going in. I guess $17 waives the fancy dress requirement.

Monaco is not even the size of Disneyworld. Also - like Disneyworld all their money comes form the tourist trade and selling tourists fancy homes. Real Estate is high priced and their are tons of fancy European cars all over. Many of the Bentleys and Ferraris are rental cars. It gets pretty pathetic watching plane jane tourists renting a red Ferrari to tool around the winding streets at 30 mph. 

Monaco is the only place that still has Grand Prix racing right in the streets. In May - the race attracts 180,000 tourists. It takes them 6 weeks to prepare the race track and 3 weeks to tear it down. It will be fun watching the race next May on TV and picking out all the sites where we toured.

You may re-call that Princess Grace Kelly got killed when her car went off a cliff when its brakes failed. there are winding roads all over - and it looks like they put up many walls after she went off the cliff.

I will add some pictures later to this story - because with the Mediterranean weather - it is truly beautiful here. 

The beaches are disappointed and exciting all in one breath. The "beaches" are covered with not sand. As a result it is very clean - but they can't compare to the Florida beaches. The rounded river pebbles are about the size of a pencil eraser. We got a bottle full of them - in case we can get it by security at the airport. The exciting part is the commonality of nudity. Prudish Americans can't quite get over this. Many of the nude bodies are leathery and saggy - but every now and them a really pretty one is seen. It is hard getting used to folks changing their clothes on the beach - and drying off in full view - without even a care or glance.

We are staying in a very nice hotel in Nice. We are a couple blocks from the beach. I am typing this from a McDonalds right on the beach. They have free internet - and many folks come here to get online. Our hotel has no internet at all. Even on our balcony I cannot reach free wifi. Most places in town that we checked need passwords.

We took the train from Nice to Monaco. It was normally 3 euros each way. We planned to pay for our tickets on the train - but no one came around to collect. The train was crowded in both directions with day tourists - and people from the many cruise ships that come to Nice.

The water here is a pretty blue - but not very warm - maybe 76. The bottom is very rocky where we went - Lulu left her sandals on to go in the water.

There is a tram train that takes your on a tour of Monaco. We took that tour because they had earphones that you could set to 12 languages. It made the tram very quiet - but also shut up the tourists.

We walked down along the harbor - there are tons of pleasure boats there. Many of them look like they do not move often. Lots were from London and the Cayman Islands. I doubt if people make that trip - they fly and have help take the boats.

There are so many neat cars - not just the rich ones - but the smalls one. they pay 1.50 euros per liter - that is about $10 a gallon - so they squeeze everything out of that gallon. 90% of the cars are standard shift. And truly scooters outnumber the cars. You can park scooters almost anywhere - and in some places people put their cars on the sidewalks. Cars even park on the rounded intersection corners. In my opinion drivers are more courteous here than in London - but American drivers are by far the most courteous. Lulu almost got hit by a cab even when she was in a zebra crossing here with the green walking light on. 

Of course - everything is written in French here - and they do not "double print" things in English. Many times - they "choose" not to understand English tourists. It is like they speak a different language  :-)

Food is more expensive here to us because of the terrible state of the American dollar - thanks to Bush and his war. I am surprised how people can separate Americans from Bush. I can also see why how the Dixie Chicks felt over here about Bush and his oil war. enough politics.

Since Lulu is being paid to be in Europe and we have a free a nice free flat in London - we are a bit jaded. It costs a lot more for "regular" Americans to come over here now. 1 pound is 2 dollars and 1 euro is about $1.75.

So Nice and Monaco remind us a lot of  Miami Beach and Waikiki. Along the beahces there are rows of very expensive hotels and condo. There are a lot of upscale stores for fashions - cosmetics - etc. 

We have 2 more days here - Lulu wants to go to Cannes next. It is about 17 miles by train. I am guessing it will be a lot like nice.

By the way - yesterday Angelina Jolie had here twins over her yesterday. It is all over the news. We have about 8 TV channels and only 2 our in English - one of them is only English every other hour - that we share with German - what a hoot. It is funny seeing the same 2 stories scrolling across the bottom of the screen for long times.

We left oru good computers in London - I am tpying from an old Apple ibook. It is a little slower - but at least if I lose it - it is no big deal. I also forgot to install Slingbox on it - so no American TV on this trip.

We are having a blast - but if I were paying for all this - I would be cranky.




Friday, July 11, 2008

Things are Nice in Nice.......France

Lulu always wanted to go to the French Riveria. Since we have 4 day weekends in London - this was her chance. 

She loves looking up bargains on the net - things like priceline.com - expedia.com - and deals.com she can't resist.

So back in London - in our little flat - she was lying in bed - working deals. Usually she lands a whopper - and she thought she did this time. She bought a package for $600. It included 3 night in a hotel by the beach - and two plane tickets form the London City Airport - a very small airport that only handles STOL - short takeoff and landing planes.

We took a cab to the airport and got to our plane. It was a really neat plane holding 120 people - 20 rows with 6 abreast. The plane was a joy - we taxied down the runway - not a taxiway -  turned around. The pilot gunned the 4 jet engines and we took off like a rocket. We jumped off that little runway - so far so good. We cruised at 30,000 feet - at almost 500 mph. The reason I know is because I had the suction cup of my GPS stuck to the window. We crosses the English Channel - followed the Seine River to Paris - went over Lyon and even saw snow in the Alps. Finally we landed right next to the Med. Sea just above the water to come down. It was a steep descent - 100 feet down a second near the end - but ended with a very smooth landing.

In the air - I asked Lulu for the tour package papers. The final bill said 600 POUNDS - not dollars. Lulu assumed that because she was contacting priceline.com - the price was in dollars. So we are paying $1200 for this trip - still not a bad price - but not the deal Lulu thought. 

I told her - I was going to use the extra $600 to buy her birthday present - tomorrow - Saturday. Happy Birthday Lulu!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

"And Nothing to Get Hung About" - the Trailing Spouse Experiences Beatlemania in Liverpool





Strawberry Field was a children's home that was just behind John Lennon's boyhood half of a double block home. He used to love to play in the woods behind the home although Aunt Mimi - the woman who raised him - constantly admonished him to stay away from there. It all started here.

Click on the title above for 50 pictures.

John's mother Julia was not very responsible. When John's father set out to sea - Julie asked her sister Mary to care for John. Mimi had a very nice small home in a neighborhood of upward professionals. Mimi kept the home after her husband's death by taking in boarding students. The house had 3 bedrooms - but Mimi managed to board 4-5 students. Regardless - John had an inspirational childhood - and throughout his life he wrote songs about the good feelings for his lost boyhood.

Lulu has 4 day weekends in her teaching job here in London. If there is one person on this earth that loves travel more than me - it is Lulu. My Mom always said that Everharts have "gypsy blood" in them. Lulu is the biggest Everhart of all. So last weekend she wore me out in Liverpool. And this weekend it is Cannes - Monaco - and Nice.

Liverpool was a hop - step - and jump from our flat. The Euston Train Station is just up the street - so on Saturday we drug our bag of stuff to catch the 8 AM train. 3 hours later we were in our 3-day Liverpool home. We lived on the docks of Liverpool in a 4-star hotel that Lulu got on priceline.com.

The main reason for our trip was to re-visit our youth by taking a pilgrimage to Liverpool. Lulu had the flu - but that was not going to stop her. She already had paid for the train - the hotel - and the "Beatles Tour." They were non-refundable.

A little bit about Liverpool proper. At one time - it was an industrial city and the busiest seaport in the British Empire. 2 million emigrants set out for America from her docks. It was also the capital of the slave trade until Great Britain banned slavery a long time before the USA.

In the old days - every house had about 6 fireplaces - and they burned bituminous coal. You might know that this fuel burns with a very dirty flame causing lots of soot and smoke. Brits were using the term smog - smoke and fog - a long time before it became Los Angeles's trademark. The city was filthy and when the Industrial Revoluton ended - it turned into a dirty slum-laden metropolis.

In the 1950s and 1960s - when the Beatles became famous - the second British Invasion of America started here.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney met here in 1957. They were smitten with skiffle music - a blend of folk and light rock and roll. Liverpool was overrun with music groups that bought guitars - learned 3 chords. Every waking hour was spent writing songs and finding places to perform them. There were over 700 skiffle groups in Liverpool alone. Lennon formed the Beatles and developed a career playing at The Cavern - a wine cellar in the rundown warehouse district. Just like the American kids - they enjoyed listening to Elvis - Chuck Berry - and Buddy Holly.

The original Cavern Club was filled in as part of a subway rail project - but a new one was developed right next to the old site. Lulu and I ascended the 4 flights of steps into the old wine cellar. By my calculations - we were easily below sea level. There was a tribute band playing a set of some of the old hits. No one was collecting money - but there was quite a few having drinks. Most of the folks were just curious middle-agers like me holding up their video cameras. I will post some video later.

From 1957 to 1962 - they became a phenomena - Beatlemania. Before America even discovered them - the Beatles had 5 years of relative success in the UK. Then they arrived in New York City in 1963 - and the rest was history. No music group has ever had a bigger influence on music - clothing - hair styles - or pop culture.

They stayed together as a group for 6 more years and then went their separate ways. Due to marketing in the music industry - they were virtually here and gone in seconds. Their record companies marketed their songs for many years before we realized it was all over. There were always rumors that they would get back together - one of the hopes that somehow steered my new Volkswagen to Woodstock. But alas - it never happened. The door was dramatically slammed shut when a nut shot and killed John Lennon - the leader of the group in 1980.

Visiting Liverpool - gives one a haunting feeling. From all the news coverage of our youth - you get a feeling of deja vu. A visit to John's and Paul's boyhood home brings a finality or closure to this event that powered my youth.

Kids can play rock and roll better now - better instruments - more equipment - and the genre has expanded from audio to visual - but The Beatles did it first. They were such vanguards that at one time they owned 9 of the "top 10" spots of the music charts.

One can tour the homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. You can feel the forces that urged these kids on to write and play so much wonderful music. This was probably the highlight of our trip. Visit this page -

http://picasaweb.google.com/HarryEverhart/Liverpool

-for pictures from those tours.

On Sunday we took a Ferry ride on the famous boat from that song - "Ferry Cross the Mersey." You get a feel for the lives - both past and present - of the working middle class people that inspired Lennon and McCartney. People were very friendly - they loved talking to us - and truly admired America. It was kind of hard for a lad whose hearing was altered as my mom said, "By playing that rock and roll music way too loud." But even with perfect hearing - Lulu assured me she couldn't understand most of what they were saying. Americans and Brits are truly separated by a common language.

I realize this story is all over the place - but I am lying here in bed with "Lulu's flu." I am trying to capture the feelings before I forget them - which happens more and more as I get older.

But there's more - just like the final crescendo in "A Day in the Life" - it was time for "The Beatles Story" - a museum exhibit on Albert Pier. After so much walking and the overkill of information - I was not sure that I wanted to pay 12 pounds 50 pence for another museum - after all of the others were free. With a senior citizen discount for me - and a student discount for Lulu - we got it down to 8 pounds 50 pence - or $17 each. It was without a doubt the best spent money on our trip. It took almost 3 hours to view all of the exhibits in this museum.

Near the end of the museum tour - there is a place called John Lennon's white room. I will not even try to describe my feelings as that white grand piano plays, "Imagine." While it played - I read the light gray words to the song on an otherwise bleached while set. One can feel the emotions and youth drain out of your body. It was like mourning - realizing that many of those exciting feeling of your youth have been stolen from you - maybe by a culture that did not experience the 60s - but had two sets of the 50s and went right on to the 70s. You think of the kids that died for nothing in Vietnam - and not were killing a bunch of them in Iraq.

When John used to run off from Aunt Mimi to Strawberry Field - notice no "S" - she would admonish him and warned him that danger out there in the world could hurt him. He would reply to Mimi, "Do they hang you for it?" She said no. That's all he needed to know.

John Lennon and Beatles have enriched our lives immensely. They taught us to follow our dreams."

"And Nothing to Get Hung About...
...Strawberry Fields Forever."