Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lago Maggiore

We had a wonderful long weekend in Ticino, the Italian part of Switzerland. The weather was incredible. Over 80 degrees and sunny! It definitely lived up to the "Swiss Riviera" reputation the travel books proclaim.

On the way, we took a little detour. Andy typed the town of Brione, instead of Via Brione, into the navigation system. You know me, I was more than a little annoyed that we clearly weren't going in the right direction. However, traveling off the beaten path has rewards. We found a quaint little restaurant, complete with view overlooking a waterfall and beautiful village, and had a nice Italian lunch.

After turning around and heading back to Locarno, our destination, we also stopped at a dam. We were surprised to see that it is actually the dam from which James Bond jumps in the movie Goldeneye. The tallest bungee jump in the world. Thankfully, it wasn't open for jumpers that day or I might have had a hard time keeping Andy off the ledge :-)

Our hotel overlooked Lago Maggiore. We enjoyed our breakfasts on the terrace and evenings spent reading books on the balcony and gazing at the stars. We savored every moment!  The hotel also had a playroom.  I'm not sure who enjoyed it more - us or the kids.  They had a big Connect-4 game and Andy enjoyed beating me.  Jonas loved the extra-large Legos and Sara found a baby doll stroller to push around.
 On Saturday, we took a funicular and then cable car up a mountain. Jonas loved these new modes of transportation. Next, we hopped on the boat to Ascona. Another charming town on the lake. Europe is so full of charm and beauty. It really can't be matched. And neither can the gelato - we had our share of it on this vacation :-)

On Sunday, we stopped by Bellinzona. The castle there is just incredible. And, there was a market in the main square, complete with food and music.

I forgot to tell you in my last post that I'm now a VP :-) I'll be serving on the board of the Women's Activity Club that runs Jonas' preschool. I'm looking forward to being more involved and working with a great group of women. Also, I've started taking Sara to a play group there. It's fun to see her interact with the other kids (and moms). She's growing up so fast!

And now some tidbits from Jonas:

During our warm weekend: J: Mom, my hair is hot. M: I know. Do you want to put on your shorts? J: No. My kneeeees aren't hot. My haaaiiir is hot.

While battling yet another stomach bug this week (warning, this is a little gross, but we thought it was funny): J: Mom, why is my butt throwing up?

M: Jonas, you need to get some rest.  Then you'll feel better.  J:  I don't want to rest.  That's wasting my time.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Catching Up!

Sorry it's been a couple of months since I've updated our blog. We've had a very pleasant last few months of winter. At least, I hope we've seen the end of winter :-) In a way, winter was somewhat disappointing. Charlotte might have seen more snow than us. Andy only got to ski once, Jonas didn't make it at all and the winter wonderland was short-lived.

The highlights of Feb/March were our trips to Luzern. A beautiful city! And we had great, sunny weather!

Luzern has a big Fasching (Carnival) parade, so Andy took the day off and we hopped on the train with Connie and kids to see the celebration. The costumes were incredible! And, you can see Jonas' delight when the parade participants started throwing candy to the kids :-)

In March, we celebrated Oma's birthday. She hosted a lovely and incredibly delicious dinner! Jonas got a much-needed haircut. Although, when I first saw it, I was speechless. He suddenly seemed to look like a 5 year old.

We also visited an animal park in Esslingen with Oma's neighbors. Joel and Jonas always have fun together, even though they don't speak the same language. Sara loves animals! Every time we head off in the direction of the farm here in Uster, she starts pointing and getting excited :-) We went to the Zurich zoo again and also to the circus zoo in Rapperswil. They have a sea lion show, which the kids loved! And Jonas rode a pony too. He hopes to ride the elephant or camel with Andy next time.
Jonas went ice-skating for the first time and did great! Our neighbors invited us to attend lessons and Lenora kindly watched Sara while I spent time skating with Jonas. (Can you tell that we have the best neighbors? A true blessing!). I got a tear in my eye watching him :-) He would have stayed on the ice all day, but Mommy was tired! It won't be long before he can skate unassisted. Too bad we didn't pick up on this activity until 2 weeks before the season ended. I plan to invest in some ice-skates in the fall, because we'll be hitting the rink a lot next season. Maybe Sara will even join us on the ice by then!

February and March were a little difficult as Andy's grandfather and my grandma passed away. We miss them, but treasure the memories and trust they are in the presence of the Lord.

Sara took her first steps on March 19th. We even got them on video! She hasn't walked much since then. She still prefers to climb. I am constantly pulling her off of the kitchen table.

Last weekend, we took the train to Konstanz, Germany. It was a wonderful day: Incredible weather, great atmosphere, scenic boat ride, and gelato 3 times (you can't pass it up when it's only a Euro per scoop :-). A great way to kick off the travel season. This is the stuff European life is made of!

We visited an awesome park in Uster for the first time. They have a ton of cool things. Jonas' favorite was the tire swing zip line.
I leave you with a quote by Katy Stewart on the Travel Belles website recently: "Most places we visit merely offer the chance to flirt with them, to be blinded by their exoticism and leave before the spark goes. However, when you commit to a place for a while, when you settle in, the lust may wear off but it is replaced with love."

May you all find a place half way around the world to love (if you haven't already:-). I'm excited about visiting mine again soon (Florence and Munich).

Next stop, Lago Maggiore. Stay tuned!