Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Big news! {That might be a bit dramatic of a beginning, I doubt anyone else will be as excited as I am about this...}

Guess which new channel we just got here? And that's in English?!

I am so excited! It actually comes on the same channel that is Animal Planet during the day, but at 18:00 (6 pm), it turns into TLC! Some of the shows are familiar and some are played from UK TLC. 

As I was flipping through tonight, though, I got a little concerned. Here's the line-up for Tuesday nights.  


Now I am the first to admit that I have watched all of the above (and enjoyed them), but I'm a little concerned about the Dutch people thinking these shows are representative of the American public! Hopefully they stay tuned for What Not to Wear and Say Yes to the Dress, because they show us so much more accurately, right? Hahaha. 

Tot ziens!

Excursion: Friday & Saturday

Friday morning, bright and early, we were back on the bus. We spent two full days driving to get back to Enschede. We stopped outside of Zurich, Switzerland to stay the night. We were all so exhausted by that point in the week we didn't do any sightseeing there. Jay and I had dinner in our hotel restaurant (I made sure to avoid all dishes with stinky cheese!) and then the group had a little party that night to wrap up the trip.

The following pictures were taken Friday on a mandatory stop. Our driver could only drive two hours and then had to take a 15 minute break. Then, after the fourth hour he had to have a 45 minute break. I guess it's a Dutch rule. Are there rules like these for drivers in the US too? Probably. Anyway, it's not so easy to find a gas station/restaurant in the middle of the Alps, so we had to spend our break at a wide spot in the road. Not a bad view, hu?

You might say we were a little "slap happy" after being on the bus for so long...Imagine how we were by Saturday afternoon!

We got back here Saturday evening around 6:30. We had a fabulous trip and it was an amazing experience, but it felt so good to get off that bus! We enjoyed a day of total relaxation on Sunday.  Jay is back to school this week, and then on Thursday his parents get here. We have a long weekend trip planned, and it will be nice to spend time with some fellow Americans.

Tot ziens!

Excursion: Wednesday & Thursday

Wednesday morning I was free to roam Genova while Jay and friends went to visit another mapping agency. Because of the very narrow roads and the fact that this agency was in the foothills of the mountains (remember I said Genova is squashed between the water and the mountains?), the bus couldn't make it up the road. That meant that Jay and his classmates had to walk the 2 kilometers uphill to get there. They were exhausted when they finished around lunchtime! 

We hopped back on the bus and drove to Parma. I actually got to go on this visit to a photogrammetry company, which was pretty cool because this has been Jay's obsession for many years, and I felt like I really learned a lot there. 

Do I pass for a mapmaker? 

After our tour of this company it was back on the bus to drive to Florence. We got there in the early evening and got checked into our "hotel." You know in romantic comedies a couple goes on a getaway to Europe and ends up in some less-than-ideal hotel? Well, it was a lot kind of like that. The best thing about the accommodations was the view from our balcony...Is it still called a balcony if there isn't  a door to get out there but instead you have to crawl out the window?

Florence is AMAZING. We found the same atmosphere as in Genova, it's just much larger and much more tourist-y. Florence is home to a couple very famous museums. Ever hear of the David statue? Yeah, it's here. No, I didn't see it. Sad to say I didn't' pre-buy tickets to the museum it's in, and I refused to spend my day in Florence standing in a line...which is also why I wasn't able to go inside the amazing cathedral either. 

We had the most delicious meals in Florence. We ate at little sidewalk cafes and tried different pastas and dishes each meal. It was to.die.for.

Those were my attempts to take a picture of  Il Duomo...this thing can hold 20 thousand (not a typo) people. The problem is it's so big and it's difficult to get far enough away from it to get it all. You should totally click on the link above and go check it out.

This photo cracks me up, because this guy just walked into the picture. I was going through them and started laughing. I need to document that we have no idea who this guy is, or I'm afraid someday we'll be showing our grandchildren these pictures and racking our brains trying to remember who this dude is!

I loved Italy. I loved the atmosphere, the people, the food, the weather. I would go back in a heartbeat.

Tot ziens!

Excursion: Tuesday

Early Tuesday morning we boarded the bus to head to Italy. After some confusion about which roads our bus could take and back-tracking and getting to see much more of Switzerland than expected, we finally crossed the Alps into Italy. {My only regret is that we weren't able to get better pictures of the amazing views we had from the bus...some people were taking pictures from inside, but I've never had much luck with pictures through glass. If I get a chance to borrow any of their photos I will definitely share them.}

We arrived in Genova, Italy in the late afternoon. It is interesting to me that Italy and Switzerland are neighbors. They are sooooo different. Switzerland was beautiful, but almost in a fake way. Italy, though...I'm in love! It's a more rustic, raw beauty. We drove through Tuscany and the hills are filled with vineyards and old homes and sunflowers.  The streets of the towns we drove through and visited were crowded and noisy. The people were much less "refined" than those in Switzerland, and they certainly seemed to be having more fun!

Genova (spelled Genoa in English) is a seaport town nestled between the Mediterranean and the mountains. It is also the home of Christopher Columbus. 

These next two pictures are looking out the window of our hotel in each direction.

Italy was just like what I imagined. The streets were very narrow with tall buildings shooting up right close to the streets. There were cars and scooters zooming in and out of traffic. I definitely wouldn't have wanted to be driving around town there! During our walking around Tuesday evening we stumbled upon a little sidewalk cafe where Jay's professor and his wife were having a glass of wine. We sat down and joined them. It was very interesting because the later it got, the busier the streets got. Families, couples, little kids all seemed to come out once it got dark. 

We ended up taking the advice of a local and eating at a restaurant "off the beaten path". Well, off the beaten path is an excellent description of this place. It was in a narrow alleyway, which I read are called carruggi. The food was delicious and the company was great. I think this was easily our favorite night of the trip.

Trust me, it's as wonderful as it looks. I loved, loved, loved it.

Tot ziens! 

An Email From an Old Friend

A few weeks ago I got an email from one of my oldest friends (That's length of friendship, not age!). Sarah and I were in the same first grade class, and we have remained friends since then. We even shared a "Best Friends" necklace or two in elementary school. {IF I was in Canyon I would scan one of the multiple pictures of us in my mom's picture albums, but just imagine two bow-headed late 80s/early 90s girls.} As we entered junior high and then high school, Sarah and I had very different interests. She was a very talented athlete, and I was...well, not. We ended up having different groups of friends, but I always knew she was someone who would be there if I needed her.

We have stayed in contact over the years--sometimes going months at a time without talking to each other, sometimes years. When I got Sarah's email a couple weeks ago it had been a couple years since we had talked (other than keeping up with each other on Facebook). 

One thing that Sarah and I always had in common was our love of quotes. She has a quote book we shared and wrote in during those awkward preteen years. When I got married, she gave me a very pretty notebook filled with some of her favorite quotes. So of course it is only fitting that at the end of the email, Sarah included a couple quotes.

Here's the amazing thing about the quotes she sent.They spoke to me so perfectly at this point in my life! Even after going all that time without really talking to each other, she picked just the quotes I needed to hear. This was my favorite one. 

Today you are stronger and deeper on the inside because of the experiences life has given you, and softer around the edges because of the things you have let go of along the way.

This time in our lives has been fun, exciting, scary, sad, freeing, and many other emotions wrapped into one. This quote reminded me that everything that happens along this path of life is working to shape me into who I am and who I will be. 

We still aren't sure what's next for us, but we're excited to see what's in store and we're completely grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Tot ziens!

Excursion: Sunday & Monday

Last Sunday Jay and I boarded a tour bus for a week long excursion with his classmates. Our destination? Switzerland and Italy...that's a far cry from the field trips I took as a student or took my students on! It has been a very, very long time since I've been on a bus that long...like I'm thinking since Student Life camp in high school?! 

Sunday we drove through Germany to Bern, Switzerland. This drive took us through the Swiss Alps. It was so beautiful. Picturesque. Perfect. We spent Sunday evening and all day Monday in Bern. Bern is the capital of Switzerland and also home to Albert Einstein for part of his life. 

Monday during the day Jay and his classmates took two tours of different mapping agencies, and I was able just to roam around town freely. Jay's professor actually apologized to Jay that I wouldn't be able to take the tours with them, but Jay assured him I would be perfectly ok with it! We had the late afternoons and evening together to explore and eat. 

It was very expensive in Switzerland, but that didn't stop us from trying the local cuisine...fondue with, what else?, Swiss cheese. Now, as most of you know I have a hyper-sensitive nose. It is generally an annoyance, but when you're in a restaurant with melted stinky cheese everywhere, it's a curse. The cheese (melted not only for our fondue but also on most of the dishes in the restaurant) didn't actually taste too bad, but I couldn't get over the smell. Ick. Jay loved it though, and was glad for once that his sense of smell doesn't work very well!

{Thanks, Sami for the pictures of Jay and me together. When I was going through all the pictures, I realized the only pictures of us together were ones you took! Thanks to you we have proof we were on the trip together!}

It was a great few days in Switzerland, but early on Tuesday morning we got back on the bus for a drive to Genova (Genoa in English), Italy.

Tot ziens!