Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 33: HOME

What more can one say? The trip is over but hopefully in the next few days I can write all about my favorites!

Day 32: heading out

So long Germany . . . hope to see you soon.

I am so not ready to head back to Texas . . . not to mention how hot it is there right now . . . I really had a great time the last 32 days and can't wait to be back . . . we will so do this again only different places of course . . . it has only reaffirmed what I have always known deep down inside . . . I love to travel!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 31: super long morning

view from the ferry room . . .

Our ferry left the port on time but for some reason we arrived an hour late . . . which meant we arrived in a town at 10:35 PM last night and without a hotel reservation or any knowledge of a hotel . . . bad planning on our part. So what were we to do? Get in the car and drive back to Germany . . . sounds easy doesn't it? Well, what was suppose to be a 5 hour drive turned into over 7. Needless to say we were exhausted when we arrived home and poor Alex drove the entire way. Colin was a real trooper since I know sleeping in a booster seat is not very comfortable . . . only one 'moment' where he needed some love and back on the road we went. At one point we spent an hour going through major road construction and took the exact same wrong turn twice and almost three times . . . I tell you when you are driving that late and with that many trucks on the road you make silly mistakes.

Along the way we realized that between the two of us we had less than 15 euro and still had to pay the Italy tolls which would be about 35 euro . . . hmmm, so not easy to find a cash machine in the middle of the night and we debated if they would take credit card. After making three unsuccessful detours, we held out that they would take credit cards . . . Alex was much more optimistic than me and she was right. We laughed about it and knew that both of our parents would be less than thrilled that we set out with that little cash. Yes, I know . . . lesson learned!

The rest of the day I spent packing and getting ready to head to the hotel for the night . . . we fly tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn so wish us luck that the return flight will be as easy as the departure and that Colin will be just as good . . . I know he is SO ready to see Papa!

Guess I need to get some sleep . . . have only had 4 hours in the last 36 hours and a super long day ahead of us tomorrow . . . see you on the other side of the pond!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 30: good-bye Sardinia

Today is our last day in Sardinia . . . while I did enjoy myself, it is not a place that I have a desire to return . . . okay so I would but would go to a different part of the island. We loaded up the car and headed back to the port in Olbia to board the ferry back to Italy.

Old church in the middle of nowhere/somewhere . . . it was really beautiful inside and it always amazes me how Europe has such beautiful churches.

waiting to board the ferry . . . this one was HUGE compared to the ferry we took over to Sardinia and this time we have a room with a window!

Good-Bye Sardinia . . .

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 29: more beach

We came up with a plan with Colin . . . one girl activity and one boy activity . . . it really did work well. This morning we spent some time in Alghero visiting the sights and shopping (girl activity) and the afternoon at the beach, mini golf, and pool (boy activity). It was by far the nicest beach and clearest water we had seen this trip but it was windy and a little cold for me but you know kids and water! Oh and it did not help when I was helping build a sandcastle that Colin dumped a big bucket of ice cold water down my back . . . I mean talk about take your breath away. By the end of the day Colin had purple lips and was way tired.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 28: changing locations

After much thought, we decided to change apartments . . . I guess I am getting a little tired of the 'off the beaten path' travel. While we really did enjoy the great location of the apartment and lack of tourist, we decided to depart early and head north to explore the island a little more especially since we keep hearing how amazing the beaches are in the north.

Out came the travel book to see what was between Portoscuso and Alghero. Since I have spent a lot time dragging Colin to museums and him telling me, "no more museums" . . . we decided that exploring some ruins might be nice. It was my day to drive and man were the roads curvy but the views were nice. Since I do try and be a nice mommy, we made a short stop in Bosa so Colin could play in the water and beach . . . that was short lived as it was really windy and big waves and I was not in a swimsuit. He was less than happy and right before he got out swallowed a huge mouth of water . . . talk about major gagging but maybe next time he will listen when it is time to get out.

We spent some time wandering around Tharros which was nice.

The new hotel is okay . . . I bet in the 70s or 80s it was hopping BUT the shower works so we are happy tourists again. Colin loves that it has a pool and a mini golf course. Once again for dinner it was pizza and eis . . . tonight's flavor was Belgian Chocolate and it was super rich. And just a few weeks ago I made an off hand comment that I thought I would not gain much weight this trip . . . and then I remembered the food of Italy and Germany are so my weaknesses.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Day 27: another island

This location is starting to grow on me . . . I mean the town isn't that bad but it really is isolated and not much to do so we decided to find the ferry to another island off the coast. The Island of San Pietro was recommended but had low expectations since the same person recommended other places that we were less than impressed with so we decided to give it a go. As we walked out the door, our nice sunny day turned to very windy and cool . . . not the best weather to take a ferry but it was Sunday so we were sticking to our plan. It was a less than ideal ride but our first impression of the city was great. We once again arrived around rest time . . . but several shops were still open since it was a tourist area . . . found a very nice store that had all handmade, local artist goods . . . love supporting local artist so bought a few things. After a few hours of strolling around we boarded a larger ferry back to Portoscuso. Today I had pistachio and coconut ice cream . . . coconut was YUMMY! It was a nice low key day of hanging out and enjoying our area.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 26: out and about

I am going to start by complaining . . . the one thing that I look forward to after spending time at the beach is a shower . . . nothing like getting all the sand and grit out of every crack of your body . . . well, that has not been possible with the shower at the apartment we are staying at . . . I mean it takes forever to get it off and then the water is 'recycled' from the sea so you can imagine how counter productive the process is.

Today we ventured to the 'big' island, Sant' Antioco, off the coast of Sardinia. Doesn't that sound funny? In my opinion it really isn't an island since there is a causeway that connects them but whatever. We arrived at the town during 'siesta' and this town completely shuts down . . . nothing is open even the grocery store closed for 3-4 hours. So we decided to go on a search for a beach . . . it was super windy today. We found many beaches and twice we convinced Colin that we should keep looking . . . he was not impressed at having to get back in the car but finally we found a sandy beach with only a few people so we backed the car up and had a couple hours of fun. Colin never noticed the topless lady laying in the sun but he so clinged to a fisherman and his family. One thing I have noticed while here is the Italians love children and are so sweet to them. Yesterday Colin was building sand castles and an older man got up and went to help him. I tell you he really loves the attention. Today I noticed him walking towards me with a banana . . . the fisherman's family had them and they gave him one . . . the mom came over to ask if it was okay. Again so kind the people have been . . . oh and the pizza and gelato (ice cream) have been fantastic too . . . today I had pistachio; YUMMY!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Day 25: beach or bust

So we arrived in Sardinia and the overnight ferry was really great . . . Colin loved it too especially his bunk bed he slept in most of the night. I think I need to find another island to take one of these ferries to next summer; maybe Sicily? Yes, already planning for next summer, LOL.

Now the real adventure was trying to get from the port of Olbia (northeast) to Portoscuso (southwest) . . . no easy task especially when the navigation system in the car tells us that it will take us 12 hours to go 300 kilometers. Finally after much frustration trying to figure out the directions and from a not so cooperative, very tired little boy in the back seat, we finally made it. We met the lady who was giving us the key to the apartment . . . very nice lady but here are some funny tidbits from the first day in town . . .

--We asked the owner what would be considered a local souvenir? canned tuna fish . . . I did not know whether to laugh or if she was that serious. Of course there were many other questions and answers like this . . . I could not look at Alex because I knew I would bust out laughing.

-- After a 5 minute introduction to to the new local digital tv that is being tested in the area due to under population she asked us, "do you speak Italian?" We both answered NO and were told that there is BBC somewhere on here but not sure where and oh this is the Italian Radio station. After she left I decided to scan the channels . . . there were only three and no BBC.

--She warned us there might not be any cold water . . . thought that was odd since all water is cold. The explanation was that the hot water was good but the pipes that carry the cold water to the house are under the street and since it is so warm the street heats that water. Really? There is less water dripping out of the shower than I can spit . . . I mean seriously . . . so I decided there was no sense to even attempt washing my hair.

--There is a beach less that 200 meters from our apartment so we decided to take the little boy to the beach since we have been telling him for two weeks we are headed to the beach . . . we arrive and are the only Americans/Germans there . . . all locals and we were so very white compared to the others . . . I could so see all the eyes staring but never did feel uncomfortable. One old lady continued to tell me in Italian to take my babies shirt off . . . I put one of those swim sun shirts on so he did not totally sun burn the first day.

I am sure there will be more stories over the coming days but I will say it is really nice to be off the beaten path and not in the middle of the hoards of tourist BUT when one is at a beach you really need a properly functioning shower. Oh well . . . guess who is having the most fun?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 24: last adventure begins

Today we started our last adventure of the trip that would take us 24 hour to reach our location . . . our first stop was Pisa, Italy . . . you know every tourist has to take these photos but we were not so successful as someone was less than cooperative.

It was day time when we arrived but as we departed Livorno it was dark . . .

It is a big take the car on ferry because when we woke up we were at the island of Sardinia . . . so where is Sardinia?

I guess it is good to get our bodies ready for the Texas heat . . . but for the next few days we are totally relaxing and enjoying some fun in the sun!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 23: Garmisch

We have been staying in Garmisch which a lot of Americans who are stationed in Europe visit for vacation . . . don't get me started on my opinions . . . it is a nice area but well, I will keep my thoughts to myself. Since today was the first nice day . . . read that as not cloudy or raining . . . we headed out to do some of the local tourist attractions.

first stop: Wankbahn . . . think Zugspitze but not as high, able to hike around, and much cheaper . . . really beautiful and the ride up and down was nice and cozy.

next stop: Rodelbahn . . . FUN!!! I swear I have never met a person who doesn't like the rodelbahn . . . the kid in everyone comes out! I think the fastest that I went was 23 kilometers per hour . . .
final stop: Partnach Gorge . . . no photos because I was too nervous that Colin was going to slip and fall in . . . it was very beautiful and I swear I wanted to just jump in that water.

So as you can tell we did the Garmisch Express Tour in half a day! Tomorrow we are headed to much warmer weather . . . it is going to be one adventure just getting there . . . stay tuned!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day 22: driving back

It was time to say good-bye to 'home' and head back to our home base of Garmisch . . . of course had to stop in Weiden for a few things . . . I used to spend many a weekends walking around that town! If only Jenny were there for some H&M and McDonald's?

The weather was decent and did not rain so the drive was easy . . . and of course someone continued the tradition of sleeping in the car . . . must be nice!!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 21: this and that

We spent the day driving around looking at places I used to enjoy visiting or showing Colin important places to his parents . . . I was disappointed that one of my favorite restaurants, Cafe Bohm, was closed until next week. I was really wanting a Bauernsalat . . . oh well maybe next time . . . but went to another place that was good too. I was relieved that one of my favorite stores was still open and the drive to Muggendorf was just as I remembered it.

Colin was so excited that the girls came over to play and visit after they got off work . . . I know he had fun playing 'birdie' (badminton) and hide-and-seek . . . fun times! It was a nice low key, relaxing kind of day!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day 20: hanging out

We are still 'home' and enjoying hanging out with friends. Today we met Genie for tea, cruising, and lunch. It was nice to sit, chat, and catch up . . . I am sure her cats are glad Colin is gone. I tell you this boy loves animals. Of course he thought it was super cool to go for a spin in her cool car . . . funny to see him sitting in the back seat with his little sunglasses on while the top was down . . . and to explore the back roads between our old town and her town . . . of course with a stop to play in the freshly cut hay. We had lunch at the old stammtisch . . . was probably the best Jagerschnitzel I ever had at Herman's . . . oh so yummy!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Day 19: Home

Ahhhh, there is no place like 'home' . . . in fact when Alex picked us up at the airport a few weeks ago I asked Colin where we were and he said, "Kansas." So he was a little off but funny none the less . . . so we are back at my old stomping grounds . . . enjoying the 'good life' and catching up with dear friends too.

If you know me you know that the best times in my life occurred while in Germany. I just loved my life there, my house, our friends . . . I became good friends with three local girls who literally where my escape from the dog and child . . . they would come by and take Murphy for a walk or babysit Colin for a few hours or just sit and chat. It was so nice for the break but even nicer to get to interact with them. Over the years we have remained in contact by email and sending pictures. They would often ask when we were coming to visit and today their wish came true . . . the night before we left in November 2004, they stopped by to see us and it was emotional . . . I did not know if we would ever see each other again but today we did!

November 2004

June 2009

Thanks girls . . . we really enjoyed spending the afternoon with you and can't wait to see you again. As we drove away Colin said, "I think I'm going to miss my babysitters and those puppies too."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Day 18: driving day

Today we loaded the car and headed north . . . at least I think it was north but really just listened to the navigation lady guide me . . . man she was good . . . I get so nervous driving in big cities and Munich always makes me nervous.

Anyway, I felt like I was back home . . . I thought about the first time I drove in Germany. I was so scared to drive on the autobahn when we moved over here in 2000. People drive super fast but then again they are so efficient in the rules. My first drive on an autobahn was on the exact same drive I made today . . . from Garmisch to Vilseck. It was not a choice I made but was told that it was time so had to do it. And after that first time it was a piece of cake. I had the exact same feelings today since it had almost been 5 years since I really drove over here. It was like riding a bike . . . you just get on and go . . . in my head before I started I was going over some 'rules' with Alex . . . always pass on the left, right before left, no right on red . . . silly me always worried about little things . . . off we went and as soon as I got going it was so easy. I do miss life in Germany.

I learned last week the train put Colin to sleep and apparently so does the autobahn . . . now why the heck did he not sleep in the car when we lived over here?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Day 17: castle take 2

Today we visited the second castle of King Ludwig II . . . it is probably the most famous and largest. I liked Linderhof better because of the gardens and grounds but could probably manage to enjoy life at the Neuschwanstein Castle too. Of course the weather was once again rainy but managed to get better as we started the long hike up and down too.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 16: catch up day

It is good to be back in Germany even if it was spending the entire day doing 4 loads of laundry . . . and Colin was happy to not be on a train today!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day 15: Switzerland Review

Today was a long train ride . . . over 9 hours counting the wait time in between . . . Colin managed to annoy me the last few hours and then he decided to fall asleep the last hour; go figure!

Heidi's Top 5
1. Jungfrau excursion; Top of Europe
2. panoramic train
4. walking around Lucerne
5. swans

Colin's Top 5
1. "driving" train
2. feeding swans
3. snowballs at Mommy at mountain
4. dog sled
5. sliding on snow

Tomorrow is catch up day and the pile of laundry is getting out of control!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Day 14: Interlaken to Lausanne

Today was the final day of the Golden Pass train route . . . it was suppose to be the most scenic one so I reserved VIP seating! We were literally the front row of the train and will say it was a little weird to see other trains coming right at you . . . the conductor sits up top in a little bubble thing . . . the top pair of windshield wipers.

The views were amazing even if it was yet another day of overcast and light rain . . . I swear my timing has not been so good this trip . . . and no plans to come back to Switzerland unless someone is funding it other than me, lol.

And about an hour into the trip this happened . . . . . . riding a train can only be so exciting after 5 days!

We left "German" Switzerland today and are now in "French" Switzerland . . . and I wasn't sure if we would stay in the area for another night or not but after stopping by to ask about a return ticket I quickly decided it was time to head back to Germany. I asked for a time schedule and she gave me one that had the first train at 720 . . . I was like ummm, do you have one later and she told me to sit down and be quiet . . . so French isn't it! I swear up until today everyone has been so friendly and helpful but this town (Lausanne) is so not friendly . . . well the girl that took my order at McDonald's was very sweet. It almost feels as if we are in a totally different country.

Needless to say I just booked the ticket right then. She then asked how old the child was . . . told her 5 when Colin decided he needed to speak and insisted he was 6 . . . of course I got 'the look' and she again questioned me. I told her no matter what he says, he is 5 and if she needed to see his passport she could check . . . she took my word. So back to Germany tomorrow . . . and I am sick of McDonald's . . . can't wait for some real food!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Day 13: Top of Europe

I woke up to a sunny sky with few clouds so we quickly got dress and spent the day at the highest point in Europe . . . Jungfraujoch. AWESOME! Oh and expensive but so worth it . . . since Colin is only 5, I think of it as a 2-for-1 deal so the price doesn't sound so bad but about $100 to go to the top. When we arrived it was still nice weather; sunny, warm, few clouds but that quickly changed to major cloud coverage but still fun! There was about 5-6 inches of fresh snow from the previous night so Colin had so much fun! I planned ahead and took a change of clothing because I knew he would be wet from head to toe and super cold . . . so smart if I might say so. Anyway, if you are ever in this part of Switzerland, you must go . . . I have a feeling Colin will be talking about it for a long time . . . hey it beats ducks and swans!

Are we there yet? It took over 2 hours to get to the top!

Playing in the snow . . . it really was nice even though we did not have the best snow gear! The disk were actually free . . . you had to give a $5 deposit that was given back when the disk was returned . . . he was zooming down so fast!

Riding with a team of dogs . . . it did cost $5 and we saw where the lived so glad to pay to have them living a nice life and they only 'work' about 3 hours per day and only a couple day each week.

The box at the top center was our final destination . . .

And one parting shot . . .

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Day 12: Lucerne to Interlaken

Why is it when you really look foward to someting things go wrong? We woke to a down pour of rain. How fun is a scenic train ride in a panaromic car going to be if it is cloudy, foggy, and raining? Not very . . . my thoughts exactly but this is vacation and we are on a schedule so no time to sit and ponder the 'what if'. We boarded our train car and we had the ENTIRE car to ourselves . . . I was almost certain it would be full of old people because that is what this trip seems like it would be. It was still a nice ride but am certain if the sun was out it would have been beautiful or even better if it was winter and snowy . . . oh and 10 minutes from the end, of course the sun came out! We still have two more legs of the Golden Pass so hopefully the weather gets better.

Tomorrow is something that I have been looking forward to the most so keeping our fingers crossed that it is at least decent weather and if not . . . going anyway since I don't ever plan to return to Switzeland. We are going super high and certain Colin will be saying "WOW" often.

Tonight our big dinner was pommes (french fries) for a whopping $6 but plenty for two . . . oh and we are staying in a self-catering B&B . . . it is okay and we went to the grocery store to stock up on food and snacks since that is what is so darn expensive.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Day 11: Zurich to Lucerne

We took the one hour train ride from Zurich to Lucerne . . . nice and short so we got to spend the day enjoying the city. I enjoyed Lucerne more than Zurich but these train stations get confusing . . . I get so frustrated when I can figure things out and throw in a five year old who has other ideas than standing next to his mom while she tries to figure out the map. I do think my map skills have improved since that was never 'my job' while traveling. The good news is I was able to find an adapter for my laptop so here I sit writing away while Colin enjoys a little Speed Racer . . . the original series.

The weather has been so nice and much warmer in Switzerland than Germany . . . guess I should have checked the forecast since I assumed it would be cool and packed mostly long sleeved shirts and pants. Today we enjoyed visiting the Lion Monument (picture 1), Chapel Bridge with water tower (picture 2), Picasso Museum Luzern, and feeding the swans. It is nice to just walk along the lake and enjoy the amazing views.

There are swans everywhere and of course any five year old boy wants to feed them . . . so to the store we go to buy bread . . . lots of bread. I was surprised at how many adult tourist stop and feed them. Well we managed to spend a big chunk of time there too but that is what it sometimes takes when traveling with a kid. It was hilarious when one got out of the water and started coming towards Colin . . . talk about moving those little feet fast.

Tomorrow we are back on the train!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Day 10: train to Zurich

Today we headed south for a day on the train . . . and the next few days we will be on the train daily as we explore Switzerland by rail on the Golden Pass Line . . . excited since I have never been to this country before. Then again really was never too excited about coming since it is SO expensive. Here is what we had for dinner . . . kid's choice:

McDonalds $20
happy meal $7
chicken sandwich meal $13
gelato (one scoop each) $7
apple juice and water $7
internet $0

So I guess it all balances out. As soon as Colin opened the apple juice he said it tasted funny . . . and well it does . . . he has decided it is 'beer apple juice' . . . I tell you this kid keeps me laughing.

On the train . . .

practicing taking photos through train window

Zurich . . .