road trip

GDC 2013!!!


It's been a while since my last post but much has happened in the last several months. I'll get to all of it very soon, but for now I am really excited to announce that I will be speaking at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco in Read more

And I'm back!


I know I've said this before, but what a year! I meant to write a lot more these past several months, but Hitman: Absolution took every moment I had. Even when our newest little one, Livia, was born I only got a brief break before diving right back into Read more

stuff...


More than anything, I just wanted a reason to post that image. So, I'm going to be making a couple of additions to the site. If you haven't noticed already, I have added an Animation page (you can click on it at the top). I'll be adding an updated demo Read more

a hell of a year...


Well, hello. It's been a while. 2011 has been one kick in the crotch after another and updating the blog always felt like the last thing I wanted to do at the end of the day. Not that things have gotten any better or easier, but I'm getting the urge Read more

a pox on our house...


(artist rendering) So I have come down with the chicken pox. It sucks. Along with the Norwalk of '06 and the Rotavirus of '08, this falls in my top three worst sicknesses. I wish I could say the time off from work has been relaxing, but it has been a sweaty, Read more

road trip, the journey home…

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no, we’re still alive. I have just been really unmotivated to update the site since we got back. The kids started at their new schools (yes, I’ll write about that shortly as well) and work is right back into it.

Anyways, let’s wrap the road trip up first. I’m going to do more of a slide show and less talking. I need to save some stories for later don’t I?

So, after Milan we headed to Nice.

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It was beautiful, but it turned out that the hotel I had booked didn’t allow dogs. They let us stay the night and we found a place just down the road in Cannes that would let us bring our furry co-pilot. It was beautiful there. The beach was crowded but the water was amazing. They don’t allow dogs on the main beaches there, but there’s an island just off the coast called Ile Sainte Marguerite that did. We hopped on a ferry and had a nice little swim in the Mediteranean,

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Then we were off to Paris! Here’s Leigh in front of Notre Dame…

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…and a couple of random photos from around the church…

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The peanut and I in front of the Louvre…

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And of course, we had to eat like the French…escargot! Emma and Evan had two each. Delicious!

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Last stop of the day was the Eiffel Tower…

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After Paris, we stopped for a night in Bremen to do some last minute shopping (back to school clothes) and then pointed the car for home.

It was an amazing trip and we have a ton of stories and some incredible experiences. Our goal was to pack as much into the three weeks as possible and I think we did a good job of that.

I’ll be posting a recap of Rome very soon as well because it needs it’s own post.


road trip continued…

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So I’ll pick up where I left off, Milan.

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Switzerland was definitely the low point of the trip, but Milan was a close second. I had booked two nights at a hotel there, thinking we would like it enough to want to stay. Wrong. If you want to shop for clothes or run around like you’re really important and have somewhere equally important to go, this might be your place. I didn’t think a place so close to Rome could be so different. The people were rude, there was almost nothing to see historically, and it was really expensive. Driving there was mental. No defined lanes, just natural selection in vehicular form. I managed to make it the whole time without anyone honking at me, but you have to switch from defensive to offensive driving to survive there.

We did, however, manage to get pulled over by the police. The one main historical sight in town, the Duomo, sounded like a neat thing to check out so we punched the info into Jill (our GPS) and had her lead the way. Turns out she has a hard time telling the difference between a pedestrian street and a driving one because after doing as I was told, I turned right down a street and into a nest of cops. Leigh snapped this picture right before they started waving their arms at us and a couple of fancy dressed lady-cops came over to give us the third degree.

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After about 15 minutes of strained English, they let us drive back the way we came. I think they couldn’t understand our strange documentation and my Canadian drivers license.

The only thing keeping Milan from beating the Swiss for lowest point in the trip was the food. We ended up at a restaurant recommended on tripadvisor.com (where the picture from the previous post was taken) and it was some of the best food we ate on the whole trip. It was so good, we went back the second night. Here’s a picture of my pumpkin ravioli, ZOMG!

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Also around this time, Evan started to develop an odd little habit. He had decided that wearing shoes in the car was so last year, so he would take them off and throw them out the door. There were several times along the trip where I forgot to check and nearly drove off without them. Here is the little monkey being caught in the act…

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Next stop…Nice!


road trip update #1

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Now that we finally have some consistent internet I can write an update. I know I promised a write up on Rome, and I will, but if I don’t write down what we’ve been up to the last few days I’m sure I’ll forget a lot of it.

I picked up the rental car on Sunday morning with minimal set-backs. I had booked an A6 wagon and all they had for me was an A4. Still enough room for all our crap, but not as spacious as I had hoped for this trip. Oh well, at least we have a car, right? I had planned on doing this trip the old fashioned way, with just some google-maps printouts and a smile, but on a whim I threw down some more money on a GPS from the rental company as well. Let’s just say it’s paid for itself already. More on that later.

Driving back through Copenhagen from the airport was a strange experience. I have been riding a bike in the city for a long time now and it was the first time seeing it from this angle. It was my first taste of driving in Europe and it was a little confusing. In retrospect, it was a walk in the park compared to what we’ve been up to the last couple of days. I’m getting ahead of myself though…

So, we loaded everyone into the car and headed south. Our first destination was Hamburg which is apparently the original stomping grounds for the Unger clan. We made it to the bottom of Denmark and onto the ferry bound for Germany with not much to report other than the crazy price for the ferry. I shouldn’t have been surprised, still being in proximity to Copenhagen, but it was a bit of a shock. We’ll most likely take the longer way around on the way back, though I think there are toll roads that way too. Don’t we pay enough in taxes already?

Driving in Germany is what I imagine heaven looks like for cars. Rest stops every few kilometers, high speed limits, and everyone driving with a high level of skill. I always thought the autobahn was a specific stretch of road hidden away in some remote part of the country where you could drive as fast as you bloody well felt like. It looks like that is just the word for ‘freeway’ in Germany and the unlimited speed thing is all over the place. We would be doing 140kmh+ in the SLOW LANE with people passing us on the left like we were standing still.

Anyways, we got to Hamburg and it was really nice. I think we will definitely go back for a longer visit because we all got a really good vibe there. Our next goal was to head to the middle south of Germany to a stretch of road called the ‘romantic road’ which was supposed to be the quintessential German countryside experience. I had also read that along the top of this route, there was a small town called Colmberg where you could stay in a 1000 year old castle that had been turned into a hotel. I tried to book on their site bit they appeared to be filled up. I found a couple of back up hotels in the area and we decided to try our luck at the castle just in case. We got there just as it was getting dark (and starting to rain) and were in luck. They had one room available with a double bed and they could move an extra cot in for us. A bit of a squeeze, but how could we turn down a chance to stay in a real castle for the night.

It was family run and they couldn’t have been nicer. The kitchen was closed when we arrived, but they put together a meat and cheese plate for us anyways. The whole place was decorated in a hunting theme and was really cool.

Here’s the view from our room. The castle was on top of a hill overlooking the town…

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The kids checking out some of the ‘furniture’…

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…and part of the view…

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It’s strange. I had tried to plan my shortest route through Germany as it didn’t hold much interest for us. By this point, it was really starting to grow on Leigh and I. The people were really friendly and we just got a good feeling wherever we went. We will definitely be coming back to check out more of the country. In particular, I’d like to see more of Hamburg and visit Berlin.

That said, the gloomy weather was bringing us down so we decided to head south as quickly as possible. We chucked out the plan to do the romantic road and head for Switzerland. I’ve always wanted to see the Alps and in my mind, it was full of quaint little ski villages with people wearing suspenders and pockets full of Ricola. How wrong we were. We headed for Zurich, thinking that in a Larger city, we wouldn’t have trouble finding a place to stay. Turns out Switzerland is crazy expensive and full of really rude people. The only place I could find for us to stay that didn’t break the bank was in Luzern, about 45 minutes away. We plugged the coordinates into our trusty GPS, who by this time we had started calling Gill after a really nice lady at the Hotel in Hamburg, and headed forth.

The next morning, I was really looking forward to our drive through the Alps to Italy. Turns out the Swiss are a bunch of mole-people as we spent probably two-thirds of the driving time underground. One tunnel lasted for nearly 40 minutes! I got dizzy when we finally emerged. Unfortunately, because of all the tunnels, I have no pictures of the mountains. Take my word for it, they are beautiful when you get a glimpse of them. Also, they sell firecrackers in the grocery stores, so the Swiss aren’t all bad.

We arrived at the border to Italy with the temperature hovering around 30 degrees and sunny weather, yay! Now, there was pretty much nothing as far as a border crossing into Germany and Switzerland, but Italy had a proper station. As we pulled into the line up and started getting our passports and Rylee’s documentation out, we noticed another lineup with an ambiguous sign over it that said ‘Other Passports’. Surely a Canadian passport falls into that category (whatever category that was) so I pulled into that lane. We drove through some randomly placed cones and barricades, past some border guards, and out the other side in Italy. I felt really weird, like I had just robbed a bank in plain site or something. The guards looked right at us and did nothing so I assume everything was cool, but what the hell were the hundreds of other cars doing waiting in the other lanes. I kept watching the rearview mirror for the next hour thinking they were going to chase us down.

Well, we arrived in Milan and settled into our hotel just outside the city center. I will go into more on a later post, but let’s just say that driving here is not for the weak.

It’s getting late and tomorrow we are heading to Nice for a couple of days. I can’t wait to hit the beach. We should have some decent internet at the next hotel so I will continue this tomorrow hopefully. For now, I will leave you with this view from our table tonight where we had dinner…

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