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Thursday, July 31, 2008

11 Years and Going Strong!!!!

Happy Anniversary Sweetheart!
I can't believe it has been 11 years since we got married. It seems almost impossible. I still feel like I am 18. It has been a fun ride and I can't wait to see what the following years bring our way. Thank you Frank for all your hard work and being such a great father. I know they adore you. I know it is crazy sometimes, but someday you will look back and miss it before you know it they will be grown. Love you for Immer and Ewige.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Marc! Our nephew Marc is turning 4. Yahoo! We hope you have a great day filled with lots of fun memories. Before you know it you will be 5.

Monday, July 28, 2008

David and the Pointe de vecchio

David
The Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus


Pointe de Vecchio Bridge

Florence

Our last stop before we made the 7 hour drive back to St. Gallen was Florence, Italy. The Duomo is so beautiful. It is constructed of three colors of marble pink, white and green. It is a little difficult to photograph with just a point and shoot camera. The shear height of it and the many angels make it difficult. We were able to get some nice photos never the less. Since it was Sunday the Duomo was closed to visitors, but the boys got to climb to the top of the bell tower. We were smart to get there right after breakfast because there was no line.


A room with a view or not?

Like Helena Bonham Carter in the movie A Room with a View, I have always wanted to open the shutters of my hotel room and look out onto the Duomo in Florence, Italy. No such luck not even for a hotel room that cost $250 a night. In fact, $250 a night does not even buy you a nice room. I thought by looking at the pictures on the internet and the three stars that our room was relatively nice. Wrong! I guess I should have done more research because our hotel was a flee bag hotel. I normally do not like to write stuff like this because it sounds like I am a pampered American. However, it should be a crime to charge this kind of money for a hotel room that reminded me of even the worst college dorm. The carpet was dirty and some of the tiles in the bathroom were broken. The furniture was cheap furniture at least 30 years old. The hotel did not have any charm or warmth to it. I have stayed in some nice hotels in Europe for much less. OK, so we got breakfast but the eating area was like a student cafeteria. The food was adequate, but I did not go back for seconds and barely finished the first. The only reason I ate it was because I knew there wasn't going to be any snack or lunch for a while. So, my advise when booking a hotel if it really matters is do your research first, and if you are going to a popular tourist destination in their peak season then book several months in advance. In Europe, you will have a hard time during the summer finding a hotel if you don't do so in advance because there is very little supply and lots of demand.

Tuscany

Sunflowers are my favorite flowers! Driving through Tuscany, you can find field after field of Sunflowers in the month of July. Sadly I was almost a little late and I would have loved to see these fields a week earlier, but we drove at night. Speaking of driving at night, as we were driving to Elbe and I said to my husband as he was driving over a 110 in a 60 mph zone, "this is not the Indy 500." To which he replied,"Yes, but this is Italy."


Pisa

On the way home we stopped in Pisa. Here is our family trying to hold up the tower. This was my second time to Pisa the first was almost 11 years ago on my honeymoon. It is just as beautiful the second as it was the first. It was fun talking to my boys about Galileo and his experiments which is just up their alley. They loved it, but they also love the gelato that we get just about every day except for when they are really naughty.


The oh so leaning Tower of Pisa

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Post Cards From Elba, Italy




Elba is located 45 minutes by ferry off the coast of Italy near Corsica. Elba is where Napoleon was captured, and held for 10 months. He lived in the pink building. The island is very green like Hawaii on the north side and dessert like on the south. The beaches also vary from side to side too. You have your typical tan sand beach that is flecked with grey, black, and white to your black sand beach to your rock beach. Italiens are the predominate tourist, so it is a little hard to find people who speak English. However, some of the people do speak German. It was fabulous! We spent a week with our friend Simona and her family. I can't say we saw much of the island but we sure did relax. The weather was perfect. Though hot we didn't really notice it due to the constant breeze. The good thing was that it cooled down every night allowing us to sleep like babies.

Happy Birthday Simona!!!


Last week was my friends Birthday. Thank you so much for the wonderful week in Elba, Italy. It was fantastic. Stay tooned for photos.

Food

I am going to really need a diet when I get back to the states. Italy really did me in. Moderation is just not possible in the land of fabulous food. Simona my friends father took us out to dinner several times while we were on vacation. Yummy, Yummy, Yummy is all I can say. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of this fabulous food I ate, but I will torture you with a description of at least one of the meals. So, we went to this restaurant in Procchio the little town we were staying in. The first course I ate was a Salad Mista which is a green salad and varies from place to place in Italy, but here it always came with tomatoes and corn with a dash of olive oil and basalmic vinegar. The second course was a creamy pesto with finely diced ham, and a touch of red pepper not to hot just right. The last course was flank steak grilled to perfection just a little pink and oh so tender cut in ribbons which they call tagliatelle on a bed of arugula and shaved Parmesan cheese. Frank had a platter to start that included everything from the best salami, octopus, and shrimp that was laid in a counter clock wise direction around a very fine diced tomatoes salsa,but thicker than American salsa. He finished with Swordfish. For desert we walked to the main promenade, and had crepes with Nutella and smarties from a street vendor but the combinations were endless. Another one of my favorites is a crepe filled with pastry creme. I do need to torture you with just one more meal which was really yummy called Spaghetti Vongula. Most likely, I have spelt this wrong; however, it is spaghetti with baby clams with pine nuts. OK, this might not sound good to you, but you should give it a try. Because they get all their seafood fresh it does not taste fishy. The clams were small and actually sweet. Beside the daily pizza for lunch that was cooked in a wood fire oven, on top of that add a scoop of gelato (I think I tasted every flavor) now you can see why I am in trouble.
On the way home we commited a mortal sin by stopping at McDonalds. When I told my husband this my son replied, "why it is not sunday." They were happy and even more happy with the toy that played It's a Barbie World by Aqua. We finally had to take them away in fear that we might just kill them if we heard the song one more time.

Catamaran Italien Style

There are lots of things to do on the island and one of them is to go on a Catamaran or has the Italien say Catamarano. Frank and Harris went for the first time with our friends son Frederico, but then we also went later in the week as a family. Rides last from 30-60 minutes and are not to expensive. We had a great time. I didn't take any photos though of us as a family. I didn't want to worry about the camera getting wet.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sailing lessons

Harris had the opportunity to take sailing lesson this past week. He had so much fun learning how to work the boat. The great thing was that the lesson were also offered in German, so he was able to continue speaking German a couple hours a day. Unfortunately, Winston was too little to take the lessons. Next time! At the end of the week, all the kids took a ride on the banana boat which is a large inflated banana pulled by a jet ski and they let Winston ride too. He had so much fun!!!! When he came back he had a grin that was as wide as the Grand Canyon.

The North Shore

Life is a Beach!




Life is a beach. I am sure that months from now I will be finding sand in our suitcases, but that is ok because then it will bring me back to our week in Elba. The boys were happy to play at the beach all day with a pair of goggles and flippers or just a bucket and shovel. They were content. What more can you ask for in life? It is amazing how something so simple can offer so much joy. It is just to bad that mommy forgot to put sunscreen on her back and ended up with a sun burn so bad it blistered. Ouch! Silly mommy! She had to wear a t-shirt the rest of the week.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Camp Oma



This week while we went on a cruise the boys went to their Oma's house in Germany. She kept them busy. They had so much fun. You can tell by the look on their faces. Can you see the smiles? While at Oma's house they went to McDonalds, walking with the ladies club, swimming, made a cake, made jam, went to a beach party at the local swim pool, went to Mathicum a science camp, and a Freizeit park Lochmuehle. Wow! What a week! Oma is going to need a vacation after this. Thank you Oma and Opa Thijs! We love you and thank you for giving mommy and daddy a break.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dubrovnik, Croatia

This was our final stop of the cruise. You would not even know except for bullet holes in the wall that this city was just in a major war. However, from my understanding they have had a lot of help rebuilding the city. This is a city where you might want to take an excursion in order to obtain a much deeper knowledge of the city. Dubrovnic (Isthmus of Dubrovnik) is a very old city and was a rival to Venice with shipping. There are two parts to the city the old and the new. The old city is completely surround by a giant wall. Inside you will find old churches, a historical museum, and many stores and restaurants. The cost to walk along the wall is 8 euros and you can buy an audio tour for an additional price. So that is just what Frank did. He loves to go the top of any building in every city. There were to many stairs to carry the baby up, so I stayed at the bottom and people watched while Roman took a nap. A little more than an hour later Frank came down as happy as can be and we all enjoyed an ice cream or two. I am going to have to hit the gym when I get back home.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Acropolis

This was my second time to Athens and to the Acropolis. It is more than impressive. I wish that I had photos of my first trip there to post, but they are back home in the U.S. In the 18 years since I have been here they have done a ton of restorations. We took the Metro which is very clean and easy to navigate. It only cost us a 1.60 Euros to get there which beats the price of the excursion or a taxi. We found the Greek people to be very friendly, helpful, and I would say a good majority of them spoke English. Some things don't change and that is the orange juice. When I was there with my mom for the first time we got ourselves fresh squeezed orange juice after we came down from the site and I did the same this time. It is the best orange juice in the world. Delish! One thing I would suggest though is to go in the off season of April or even October because the mixture of the heat and crowds was just too much. This is also a place you do not want to bring a baby because they do not allow strollers and the heat is really unbearable. We ended up taking turns going to the site. Kind of sad because we would have like to look at it together.