Saturday, July 31, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Don't know when we'll be back again!

Goodbye Zurich! Thanks for the wonderful year, great friends and fantastic memories.

Right now, we're flying over the Atlantic Ocean headed for family time in Oregon. We still have a few more Swiss posts to get caught up with, then stay with us, our blog will continue with our lives in
San Francisco!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Boat cruise

 A few weeks ago, we actually spent a whole weekend in Zurich! We didn't do much on that weekend, but we did get out and enjoy the sunshine and the city for a few hours.

 We ate lunch at a little take-away Dim Sum shop on the Limmat, next to the train station. This place came recommended by a few articles I read in the beginning of the year. It's a mom and pop shop, with great food! Of course, it was on my 'list' for Zurich, and this was a great weekend to cross it off my list and have a picnic with my family.

E got to play in the park for awhile

Then a nice walk along the Limmat River, watching the tourists and soaking up the sunshine

We walked ourselves down to the lake to hop on a 90 min boat cruise around the lake. (Yes, this too has been on my 'list!') This trip only cost us 4 francs! One of the many great things about living here is there fantastic transportation system. Even their boats are included and used as transit, which means my tram/train/bus pass included the boat cruise! We also have a card that gets us a 50% discount on transit tickets around the country, so John only paid 4 francs for his ride! Cheapest entertainment in Zurich!

View of the hill we live on from the lake

This was a great, low-key way to spend a Saturday afternoon with my wonderful family.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fussen, Germany

Known to us as 'Castle Country,' Fussen was a town that was recommended to us within the first two weeks of our arrival, and we continued to hear about it over the year. We weren't going to miss it. We even got lucky and had some wonderful friends join us for a quick weekend vacation to this stunning countryside.

The drive was a little over 4 hours from Zurich, and we arrived just in time to walk to Fussen and grab some lunch.

Amazing color of the Lech River

Walking into town from the hotel

Views  from along the river

Entering in the main part of Fussen

As we walked into town, we saw these, Schneeballen (snowballs).... YUM! 
Our first thought was to come right back after lunch and try them!
BIG Mistake! They are little bits of pastry dough glued together in the shape of a ball, then fried and dipped in chocolate. Deceiving. They tasted, well, like someone took 3 month old donuts from the bakery across the street, then fried them again and set them out for a few more weeks before selling them. I just learned that,"Schneeballträume made from short pastry deep-fried in butter-fat, served for the first time in 1719 on the occasion of an inspection of a mill."  1719, yep, we got the leftovers.

Loving the sunshine!

Ella and Mia hungry for lunch

I LOVE flower boxes. I love that everyone has them, I love that they make each house look perfect.


Walking from the hotel to dinner. Can't beat this country walk.

View from dinner, looking at the Neuschwanstein Castle

Getting to dinner was, naturally (because it's us), a challenge. We walked for a LONG time, only to find out that the restaurant was full. We turned around and headed down a road where we knew we could find what we wanted - a tv. It was still World Cup season, and the USA was playing that night. We found another restaurant with a tv, but it was full. The server directed us to this little farm house just down the road that could help us. It was adorable. We showed up unannounced to this tiny little restaurant/hotel, and the woman that ran the place was able to put together a fantastic, classic German dinner. A array of meats, cheese, breads and spreads! There were only 5 tables in the whole place, and we were the only ones there. After our girls finished their dinner, they got to play on the floor and be 2 year old girls without us worrying about them, while the adults watched the soccer game.

Sunday we woke up to blue skies and lots of excitement from the girls to go the the CASTLES! There was so much talk between them about meeting Cinderella, and seeing the princesses, and wearing their princess outfits, and on and on....

The two main attractions in Fussen are the Neuschweinstein Castle and the Hohenschwangau Castle.
The Hohenschwangau castle was built by King Ludwig's father, King Maximillian II of Bavaria. Completed in 1837, this was their official summer residence.

Our only group photo with Svenja, Mia and Tim. We took this in 1 shot with a self- timer!!
Behind us is Hohenschwangau, where King Ludwig II was raised.

The courtyard of Neuschwanstein. King Ludwig's dreamland

View of Hohenschwangau from Neuschwanstein

The Neuschweinstein Castle was completed in 1892 for King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The palace was designed by the King and intended as his personal refuge. However, it was opened to the public after his death in 1886. The castle took more than 20 years to complete, and Ludwig only resided in the castle for months. Because of Ludwigs death and elaborate spending, the building was stopped due to lack of money, so only a few rooms of the castle we completed. 
This castle is the inspiration for the famous Disney castle - can you blame him!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Visiting Vienna

Vienna  was a 'must see' for us, and it just so happened we were able to find a great flight deal that allowed us to spend three nights in this great city, and still get John to work on time on Monday morning. For this trip, we rented an apartment off of (which we use for everything!) for our stay, giving Ella her own room, and us a little kitchen.  We spent three glorious and rainy days touring Vienna.

Yes, there are playgrounds in Vienna, can you believe it!?!

Rathaus was completed in 1883


Rain, rain go away

Flower Gardens in the middle of the city. This city is filled with parks and gardens that are all kept up beautifully.

My favorite pic of the weekend

Dancing on the steps of the library

It was also World Cup time, which meant two things for us: Beer. Soccer. 

Mom - saw the Hummels, and thought of you

Saw these and thought of ME

After we had been in Vienna for a day, my mom emailed me and mentioned that she'd be eating the Sacher torte if she were there. Of course, that was the first stop on day 2.

The cafe in Hotel Sacher

The famous torte

Next we went to Prater park to see their famous ferris wheel. You can guess that Ella was pretty determined to ride the wheel. From the top, she kept watching all these log cars go down the water slide. Guess what we did next....

Being in a city with such a rich history of music was amazing. Not being able to go to any of the concerts going on because we had Ella with us was a little frustrating for me. Thankfully, the opera had that base covered already - open air live broadcasts of the performance. You sit outside, with snacks, busy toddlers, dogs, casual clothes, come and go when you want and watch the live broadcast for free! This was my favorite part of the weekend. John humored me and came along with the family, and Ella actually found some of it to be kind of entertaining.

 She thought this was Santa  - If Santa was on stage, she was tuned in!

We stopped over at the aquarium. Totally not worth it. This bird nearly landed on my shoulder. We left.

And found an American bar, with great beer and soccer. On Father's day  :o)  Bird incident forgotten.

In all those pictures, there was no mention of the typical Fillmore travel 'hiccups' we've become so accustomed to.

Not to worry.

We hit plenty of bumps in the road as we were leaving on Monday morning. Our scheduled car service arrived to pick us up at 4:54am, and left before we came downstairs at 5am (the scheduled pick-up time.) Leaving us stranded in Vienna at 5am, with a flight to catch. John called the company and they said we were not out on the curb on time, so they left without even calling to tell us that they had arrived. We had no idea they even showed up, and we were on the curb at 4:58am. After 30 LONG and STRESSFUL minutes of trying to flag down a cab, we made it to the airport.

John's original plan when we were booking the trip was to fly back to Zurich on Monday morning and head straight to the office. Instead, he was scheduled to fly to Dusseldorf  from Vienna, leaving Ella and I to fly home to Zurich on our own. British Airlines booked John on his Dusseldorf flight, but never cancelled his Zurich flight. They even printed his boarding pass without checking his passport, handed ME his boarding pass, and never saw him. Then I proceeded to board with his pass, they never checked our passports or ID when boarding either. As the plane was just about ready to depart, a ground control employee boards the plane and comes up to me asking if they should hold the plane so my husband can board the flight.

Security at it finest.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Komen Race Update

This is my BIG THANK YOU
 to all of you that have donated money to my Komen race thus far! I have officially raised $1,191.56, which means I am HALF WAY THERE!  Woo Hoo!!

Training is going great. Last cross-training walk was 1000 feet up, up, up with a 35pound weight! 

Hopefully, once we get to Oregon ( in 11 days!) I will be able to crank out a couple 10-12mile walk/runs for 3 days in a row. I'm so excited, I'm already mapping out my route! 
Love, Kim

There's still time to donate to this great cause to find a cure for breast cancer!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fog Mountain

It was inevitable. Everyone I know that lives here has experienced this cloud phenomenon. You plan a perfect weekend in the mountains in the spring/summer, and you come away with nothing but a foggy, wet, rainy weekend. We've had a lot of rain on our recent weekend vacations, but our whole goal (or hope) in planning a lot of summer trips was to avoid such weather when we were on mountain peaks. But, Mother Nature had other plans for us, so we reluctantly embraced them, and did our best to make the most out of our trip.

I suppose I should tell you where we actually went to see clouds (in case you want to see them too!!)
Mt. Pilatus is at the northernmost branch of the Alps. The legend is that a dragon with healing powers lived in the rocks among the mountain. It's also said that a ghost of a Roman governor found peace in Lake Pilatus, which meant for years no one was allowed to climb the mountain as not to disturb Pontius Pilate.

Click here to see what the mountain looks like from Lucerne (can't show you my pics, because in two trips, we've never seen it.....)

The route to and from Pilatus is called the Golden Roundtrip. You go up one side of the mountain in a cogwheel train, and down the other side in multiple Aerial Gondolas. You'll have to imagine (like us) that the views are breathtaking.

From our boat ride to the start of the cogwheel train

I was really excited about this part of the trip because this cog wheel train is the steepest railway in the world! At one point, the maximum gradient is at 48%!!

Boarding the train

The start of our trip up, looking over Lake Lucerne

Being very serious about admiring the trees  :o)

The actual cogs on our cogwheel railway

Starting to get sucked into the fog

When we reached the top, you couldn't see more than 10 feet in front of you. So we grabbed some lunch, and tried to patiently wait for something to happen. This is what we saw.....

When we emerged from the restaurant, we were granted a little cloud lift, so we snapped some pics.
Looking north towards Lucerne

Looking South towards what should be lots of Alps

The cogwheel railway

One thing I really wanted to see during our trip was some ibex. As we were embarking on our one little mini hike (I can call it a mini hike because I wasn't the one carrying Ella) we saw these little mini mountain goats. Not ibex, but I was happy.

Looking back at our hotel on the peak of the mountain. How COOL is that!

We figured the best way to end our day was with this  

We had big plans for our Sunday morning. Thoughts of hiking, playgrounds and toboggan runs danced in our heads.
 Then we awoke to this

We decided that we were best off heading down the other side of the mountain on the gondolas. And just shortly after getting on the gondola, Ella says, "Goat!" And in the clouds is one little cliff, sneaking through the fog, with one lonely IBEX watching us glide down the mountain. Thanks to our little girl, we got to see an ibex!
The rest of our trip only went down hill from there. John and Ella dueled with a slippery slide and both came out a little worse for the wear. We got stuck in pouring rain at the park, and got charged an extra (ridiculous and unusual) fee on the train ride home.
Usually, we're a pretty 'go with the flow' kind of family, and try to enjoy whatever our situation may be. But on that Sunday, coming home, getting in pj's, enjoying hot chocolate (in June!) and making a home cooked meal with the family was a perfect end to an unsual weekend.