Wednesday, May 30, 2012

the journey home

Elliott's conference finished in Germany and it was time to head home to Sicily.  We took the long way back: drove west through Austria, paused in Litchenstein for the night, and then swept through Switzerland and into northern Italy to catch our 6pm flight out of Milan.  

By this point we were more confident with the GPS and also rested and relaxed after a week in the mountains.  Hence this leg of the journey was a lot better Day 1 of our road trip last week, where this whole thing sounded like one big bad idea.  Although we don't know if we'll ever do this again, at least the photos will help us remember it fondly!

Here are a few snapshots from along the way...

where we stopped briefly for playgrounds and cappuccinos

a video of happy moments on the road
(Isn't Lena so cute with her little book?!) 

where we found a street fair, shopped for cheese, watched a bachelorette party in full swing, and ate hot bratwurst for dinner 

where McCafe was the only place open in Lugano and where we walked along the lake in the rain

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

a week at Edelweiss

On Monday morning at Edelweiss in Germany we ate breakfast together.  Then Lena and I watched Elliott walk down the hallway towards a week-long series of lectures.  And I looked at Lena and felt that old sinking feeling that I always get when Elliott walks away to work after a long weekend or trip together.  (The first day Elliott went to work after our honeymoon I sat in his lap and cried.)   

But Lena and I bucked up and did some exploring, and after awhile the hours, and then the days, were passing by, filled with a new routine in a new place.  Garmisch, Germany, is in the middle of the Bavarian Alps and oh. my. goodness. those mountains are beautiful!  That first day Lena and I went on a long walk into a meadow beside the hotel.

In the evening we took Elliott back to the meadow so he could enjoy it too!

Lena and I also found a playground, where Lena learned how hard it is to climb a rope ladder:

And we hung out with our friend Liam, who helped Lena learn to walk and taught her that the picture on the mailbox was a "horse... horse... horse."

We also played in our room, where Lena loved pressing the buttons on the safe, playing in the curtains, reading books, and napping, which I always enjoyed too.  

The hotel had bikes with baby seats on the back, and so Lena also went on her first bike ride!  She thought it was a-okay, and I loved it.  (See the video below.)

We also spent untold hours in the pool and hot tub (where cameras and water don't mix) and Elliott and I got a babysitter for a couple of nights that we were there so we could go to dinner and a banquet with other conference attendees.  Not bad, not bad at all!  In fact I think we're ready to go back anytime the Army needs us there.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Italian Road Trip Day 4 :: Italy to Germany

Thus far this northern Italian road trip had included many lovely vistas and gorgeous countryside, but Day 4 beat them all.  We started in Verona and drove straight up through northern Italy, a corner of Austria, and into Germany that night.  Along the way we passed through the Dolomite Mountain region of Italy and then entered the Bavarian Alps region of Austria and Germany.  Pretty?  Beautiful?  Breathtaking?  There are not words in the English language.

There is also no way that any camera can capture the magnificence of that region of the world through a car window from a highway.  I tried, wanting to have a piece of that place to savor down the road. 

We passed through so many tunnels that day (one of them over 5 miles long!) and sped past hundreds of vineyards.  We also admired unusual sights along the way, like old-school luggage strapped into convertibles and random castles along the roadside.

A photo of Innsbruck right after we crossed the border into Austria:

For lunch that day we slipped off the highway and into a region called Appiana sulla Strada del Vino, roughly translated "the Wine Road South of the Alps."  It was as idyllic as it sounds, with pretty little lakes to hike around and lovely hotels and homes surrounded by lush green vineyards.

A mama coot and her 5 little babies:

This one is for you, Dad Garber.  We think this is a European columbine.

We found a little trattoria nearby for a lunch of bread, cheese, sliced meats, and house wine.  This is where we realized that we were barely in Italy anymore, because the woman serving us lunch spoke about as much Italian as we did.  She was blond-haired and blue-eyed and spoke German, even though we were still 50 miles inside the Italian border!  I'm sorry to say that the meal was also not very Italian, for the bread was old and dry, the meal was served with a pickle, and the wine lacked the robust flavor of house wines that we're used to.  Maybe we should have order the schnitzel and pretzels instead?  Oh well, at least it looked tasty!

The animals on the trattoria owner's property were our favorite part of this rest stop.   Lena fed the geese and met her first guinea pigs!

That evening we finally arrived at Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, the hotel in Garmisch, Germany, where Elliott's veterinary conference would take place all of next week.  But more about that after the weekend.  Elliott's home for a four-day weekend and we're excited about a trip to the beach with friends as well as a lot of downtime as a family.  Wherever you are, go soak up the sun, enjoy a good book, and I'll see you here next week!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Italian Road Trip Day 3 :: the Adriatic Coast & Verona

On Saturday morning we woke up in another little town in Italy, this time on the Adriatic coast.  Rimini, Elliott determined, is a beach town that primarily serves Italians and Russians.  We were the only people speaking English in that whole town, it seemed.  

That morning we woke up and grabbed a traditional Italian breakfast (brioche and a coffee) and headed for the beach outside our hotel.  It was beautiful and so peaceful in the morning.  None of us were dressed for the water, but how can you keep a one-year-old out of the sand and sea?

Weird thing to see on the beach in the morning: bodybuilding couple flexing their muscles for endless photographs.  Yikes.

Later, while Lena napped, Elliott and I discussed and then thought that we'd probably enjoy our day just as much here as anywhere.  Back to the beach after nap time! 

Lena met a crab:


When Lena was sufficiently tired out and ready to sleep in the car, we hit the highway towards Verona.  I had hoped to stop along the way in Emilia Romagna, a province of Italy renown for its food (spaghetti alla Bolognese, balsamic vinegar, and tortellini, to name a few).  Unfortunately my sweet baby slept through both Bologna and Modena, leaving us with no choice but to leave Emilia Romagna behind and hope for lunch sometime around 4pm upon arrival in Verona.  Oh baby!

But "lunch" sure was good when we finally got it.  We stopped in some grass by Verona's ancient city walls to savor and enjoy. 

In Verona's central piazza we found a Mother's Day fair in full swing, complete with live music, a ceramic pot-painting station (pictured below), and an obstacle course set up by the police to teach little kids out to bike safely.  


We visited the beautiful old castle (literally "Castello Vecchio," the old castle) in the heart of Verona.  The setting sun cast a lovely light on the river and surrounding buildings.  Easy to see why Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet here!


Biking is huge in Verona.  They even have their own bike share program, just like Capital Bikeshare in D.C.!

We finished our day with pizza and drinks in a quiet piazza.  Ahhh travel... in retrospect, we do love thee!

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