September 29, 2009

Dear Mr. Sprungli...

Do you think it would be possible for you to move to the United States? I miss you terribly. XOXOXO Jennifer

September 28, 2009

September 27, 2009

Home again

After climbing the 414 cramped, steep steps to the top of the Florence Duomo (yes, I counted and happily informed people "only 250 stairs to go!") And seeing some great views of Florence We found Galileo's boyhood home And found our first international geocache And walked through the Boboli (no, no pizza to be found) and Brendini gardens And went to get dinner which included singing Happy Days with our waiter who served me the best pannacotta known to man We rubbed the boar's nose And the coin went through the grate instead of bouncing off, which foretells a return to Florence and good luck Until it was time to get going. So we went to the Florence train station, where there was no Munich to be found on any boards. And absolutely no one to help or a board to tell us anything helpful. Instead, there was a train going to Monaco-Vienna at the same time. True to Italian form, that was our train. (Monaco, Munich, they both start with M, right?) So we found our train car and got in our luxurious sleeping quarters with no air conditioning for the first 2 hours and 4 extremely polite Germans who were already fast asleep (until we barged in), having come from Rome. I mean, nothing says luxury like this, right? 8 hours later, we arrived back in Munich. We had our final German pastries and wursts and beer while we watched everyone getting off the trains at 6:30 a.m. already drunk on their way to Oktoberfest (this festival is STILL going on?!?!) and rode up to the airport to be on our way. And now, sigh... it's unpacking and laundry time. Well, that and hugs and kisses and loves for C-man and Harry time, too. I went from death camps to beer festivals to castles to climbing the Alps to almost ordering horse to chocolate factories to David to churches to wandering Italian streets to gardens to gelato and pannacotta and tiramisu to trains to planes to home again... So the final review? Southern Germany is a really nice place. Somewhere I'd happily live. And Oktoberfest was an absolute blast. I fell irrevocably in love with Switzerland, which was a total surprise. Hearing the cowbells dinging and the cleanliness and orderliness was something I appreciated immensely. Even the air smelled sweet to me. (Then again, maybe that was just the chocolate in the air.) And while everywhere has great things to offer, (beautiful gardens, David was amazing, food was deee-licious) it'll be quite a while before I return to Italy. It was by far, the biggest disappointment of the trip. If I ever went back, it'd be to stay in a villa in the country. But the cities, Venice, Rome, Florence, Milan - I'll leave for the people who are happy just eating and drinking with millions of other tourists and calling themselves world travelers. 4 continents down, 3 to go...

September 24, 2009

A day in Siena

We decided to try to escape the tour groups that are quite literally bumping into one another all over Florence. So today is brought to you by Siena, Italy. You know, the place that brought Crayola the color "burnt siena". Check this out, and you'll see why...
Laundry hanging outside windows. My patron Saint, Saint Catherine was born in Siena. (the last of 25 kids) Therefore, there are churches devoted to her here. Creepily, her HEAD and finger are also on display in another church. I really wanted a photo, but they were pretty darned strict about that. (Nevermind I walked through 3 Italian security systems to other exhibits with 2 Swiss knives in my bag, including to go see David, but don't take a picture of Catherine's head or they'll practically chop yours off...) Another great view in Siena.
Beerman enjoying the day outside the Siena duomo.
The local wildlife. I swear, I have more pictures of Italian pigeons than I do of churches. It's probably because it's the only thing that's "legal" to take photos of around here. (Beerman just said, "Did you just put one of your pigeons in your blog? Yes, honey, I did. You can watch Halloween dubbed in German while we're in Italy, I can put pigeons in my blog.) Another perfectly beautiful fruit stand.Sweet, sweet Siena meats...
And me in the streets.

Overall, Siena to us was what I think Florence is to everyone else. Beerman and I keep talking about why I dislike Florence the way I do. I mean, the food is absolutely spot-frickin'-on, the art is amazing... but the tourists are tripping over one another. It's kind of like the French Quarter in New Orleans. It's always felt so fake to me... Siena, on the other hand, while still tourist-laden, feels like the real deal to me. Laundry hanging from the windows, real people moving about their days, and real life happening. Ahhhh... refreshing.

I can't believe we leave tomorrow night for Munich to go home. Such a drag. But I think we have to go home to pay for this trip. Damn. I hate that part.

September 23, 2009

Zurich to Florence

Late last night we got on the night train to Florence. And despite what the brochures tell you, an overnight train in a 2-person sleeper coach is.not.great.But it got us here. And now we're onto churches, churches and more churches Frescos, frescos and more frescos And then there was my illegal photo of the man himself... It was even more amazing in person than in photos.A nice view of the Arno River And tourists, tourists, and more tourists. It's to the point of being oppressive. We're heading to Sienna tomorrow with the hopes that it'll be fewer throngs of tourists and more of the Italy we came to see.

September 21, 2009

Luzern and back again

First, a cogwheel up the train to Pilatus in the AlpsDisappointed that it was total fog (seems to be my luck?), we went on the 40 minute trek up the mountain from the statiion with the hopes there would be a break in the fog. We got to the "Echo" point. It was amazing. Of course, I yelled, "RI-CO-LA!" I mean seriously, how could you not? And then Beerman said, "Whoa, don't step in that!" About 30 yards later, look what we find! Along with her babies! They were adorable. And then we made it to the peak. And the clouds broke for a few moments... Excited that we saw something cool, we had to document the happy moment. And then the clouds broke again. We sat for quite a while watching the snow-covered mountains in the distance. We were incredibly lucky to see anything at all, and it was gorgeous. So, after a while, we started to make the trek down. And then we took three gondolas (ski-lift-ish thing) down the mountain. And went into Luzern to check things out. And took a break for some important stuff. Do I look happier? Then back to Zurich (fat blue angel protects the city)

To end the night with Swiss cheese fondue.

Tomorrow is our last day in Switzerland. It'll make me sad, because besides being extraordinarily expensive, this is one of the best places I've ever been.

But then it's off to Florence on the night train.