Saturday, November 24, 2012

Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

Saturday morning, we woke up and took the train to Freiburg, Germany - not to be confused with Freiburg, Switzerland or Freiberg, Germany. (About 830 years ago, the duke of this region, born in Freiburg, founded the city of Bern.) It was nice to get on the train early enough to find a private cabin, so we could eat breakfast and play cards. We went without reservations, but soon found a good deal on a hotel in the center of the old city. The streets were packed with people, musicians played jazz Christmas music, and the shopping was great.  We found a little restaurant, Hester's Cafe, with the best steak dinner ever.  In Freiburg, there is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Germany, the Hotel zum Roten Bären. It's in the oldest part of town, founded in about 1190. We hiked in the Black Forest, saw the reconstructed synagogue at the site of the original which had been destroyed in the 1940's.  Freiburg is a beautiful and interesting place.     

Always getting our picture taken while we're eating.
We are a happy family!
Freiburg Minster
New Orleans jazz in Germany
Hester's Cafe
Christmas Market at the Cathedral
Gate to the city
Edge of the Schwarzwald (Black Forest)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Chamonix, France

Keith and I went to Chamonix to spend four fabulous days without the kids.  I had done a lot of reading on the Internet to find a town with just enough to do, the perfect hotel with a swimming pool and jacuzzi (I even called the hotel to make sure both were working), and a place close enough to make it easy to get to.  We started the trip with a train detour that put us on a bus that dropped us off in the side of the street in the middle of nowhere in the cold black night, then we took an airport shuttle type van that took us to an abandoned train station, waited a half an hour for a bus and then walked in the dark, freezing cold to our hotel.  One of the two reasons we came was to take a cable car to Auguille du Midi to get the best view of Mont Blanc.  The Internet said it was open but it was closed for repairs. At least we could swim and get warm in the jacuzzi.  The pool was a small dipping pool and I guess the word jacuzzi got lost in translation.  Good thing I like to just hang out with my husband.
Mont Blanc is the rounded peak on the far right 
Aiguille du Midi - the place we expected to spend one of our days.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Le Dru

You know when you're a kid and you read a story in class and the character has the same name as you.  Or when you go to a store to buy a cool key chain or a coffee mug with your name on it.  Well I never knew what that was like.  Until now that is.  Keith took me to France for my birthday and there is a famous mountain here right next to Mount Blanc and it is called Le Dru.  All over town you see my name, a ski shop, a restaurant, a shoe repair shop, etc.  It took 51 years and I had to go half way around the world, but I finally got the recognition I deserve. Happy Birthday to me.

Le Dru

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Räbechilbi Richterswil

On Thanksgiving my family has always cooked turnips.  I have never liked turnips but I now have a whole new appreciation for them.  Saturday after spending the afternoon in a beautiful town on Lake Zug called Zug , we took a train to Richterswil and went to a Turnip Festival.  These Swiss will find any excuse to have a festival.  It was amazing.  The whole town carves turnips like you would a pumpkin but with cool designs, not scary faces.  They put out thousands of carved turnips in every window and every pathway.  Then they have a parade in the evening.  There were hundreds of kids walking around with their carved turnips, a lot of marching bands, and every light that you can see in my pictures is coming from the candles in each of the turnips.  The rest of the lights in the city were turned off.

Lake Zug
While sitting by the lake there were some firemen doing training exercises.

Zug had many beautiful cathedrals.
This tower had a nose on it.  What?

Rivella, Josh's favorite Swiss drink.  It is made from milk extract.
This is how they carve out the center of the turnip.

Josh and Orrin.  Only 50,000 people there and we ran into our friends the Bells.
How fun is that?
Orrin, Josh, and Kayli.
Jack Sparrow
Jonah and the Whale

This float actually had a moving windmill.
Ray Charles

Alfred Hitchcock
A London Double Decker

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A few more things to remember

Sunday we went to Lori's house with the Bell's and had dinner.  Afterwards we pulled taffy, something I had never done before.  It was really fun and the taffy was sooo good.
 From left to right - Ryan, Josh, Ethne, Kelly, Hazel, Nathan, Jethro, Talmadge

Lori in the kitchen with the kids.

Tuesday I went walking with a group of ladies around Bern.  Afterwards, the Japanese Ambassador's wife invited us for tea.   She was an amazing person, as so many of these women are that I have met here.  She had studied piano at Juilliard for five years and she played a beautiful piece for us.   The Ambassador's mansion was huge and impressive.

Beautiful Bern - Lori, Renate, Michelle, Yuriko
The gates to the ambassador's home, I wish I had gotten a better picture

Wednesday, when Josh got home at noon we went to the Ka We De and skated with some friends at the outdoor ice rink.  This is the same place that we swim in the summer and in the winter they freeze the pool and make a huge ice rink.  
The sun came out in the afternoon and it was a beautiful day.

The sun finally came out and the leaves are so pretty right now.