Friday, November 30, 2007

Lucerne Switzerland

I saw a picture of Lucerne when I was flipping through a guide book. The picture looked so beautiful that I wanted to see the city in person. Josh was not convinced of visiting 'Lucerne' until his friends told him that the city is beautiful. Unfortunately, we had a not so good weather weekend. The sky was gray and started drizzling in the mid-afternoon. We started our Saturday by walking toward the oldest road covered bridge called Karpellbrüke. Had the weather been better, we would have taken a boat to see the city from the lake. Instead we walked around the old town and stopped at a few restaurants/hotel for Glühwein (hot wine) and afternoon tea to stay warm. We also visited a lion monument that was next to the Glacier museum containng stones from the ice age and fossils that were more than 20 million old. We also came across a very ugly sculpture that I later found an interesting story... the sculpture was so ugly that the mayor at the time had to reveal the sculpture secretly in case there were protesters.

It was a Piano Festival week in Lucerne. There were concerts held in Kultur und Kongresszentrum Luzern (Culture and Convention Center). There were also free piano shows in the local bars and restaurants. So, we picked a restaurant which happened to be a vegetarian restaurant. We enjoyed the music and the candle light dinner very much although we are not vegetarians.

As we were leaving the next day, one little part of sky cleared up just enough for us to see the Alps. It's so beautiful. We took out our camera and snapped very quickly. We just afraid to miss it.

We had a quick stop at the Zürich. The Zürich train station was fulled of Christmas market booths and people. It's so feasted. Switzerland is such a beautiful country. We are definitely going back to visit again...and hopefully in a better weather conditions.

Monday, November 19, 2007


My cooking skills are finally progressing to "baking"! Baking is hard...a lot of mixing, rolling, and fillings. Great accomplishment thought. Here I my BSU sweatshirt and apron. I spent a whole day making pizza and cookies. Josh could not wait to put them into his stomach...he was really funny. Here is a picture of the finished product! No picture for the was in his stomach already...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Luxembourg and Trier

When Josh said, let's go to Luxembourg. My job was to research options for transportation and a hotel. Lucky us, I found a special deal on the train ticket and a reasonably priced hotel within walking distance to the downtown of Luxembourg city. Find the deal, make the trip; that's my methodology.
Luxembourg city is a small but very beautiful city by nature. Its wide canyon, which was full of water/ice, showed the Early Jurassic sandstone formation (water retreat marks). We took a two- hour-walking tour around the old town and the lower town. Our tour guide seemed to be a history buff and had a great passion for the city and his job. He gave us so much historical information.. from the early Roman era and the multiple other rulers; from birds, economics, population, geography, to religions. It was almost overwhelming but totally worth it. There were some interesting stories too, for example, the stature you see on the attention to the leg. If the horse's left leg was up, it meant the person had died naturally. On the other hand, if the horse's right leg was up, it meant the person had died in war. If no leg was up, it meant the person was still alive when the stature was made. Another one was how an Abby got turned into a prison, then hospital, then a prison again, and now to a culture center with free admission. The tour guide also talked about Trier city (a German city by the boarder) which is the oldest city in Germany.

After the lesson, we decided to leave Luxembourg early and visit Trier since we had to change trains in Trier to come home. The first thing we saw was Porta Nigra (the best preserved Roman city gate north of the Alps) before we entered the old town. Porta Nigra is also known as black gate because the gate turned black as it aged. We also visited the Trier Cathedral and Roman bath palace. By luck, we came across a festival. We had no idea of what they were celebrating but it looked fun and interesting. There was a live band, beer booth, and people in customs.

It's always fun when we travel...we never know where we will end up and what we will see.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Road trip in Lorraine Region France

Loved driving the French countryside... especially on the Deutsch Auto Bahn with a convertible. Downside? It was about 45 F outside and cloudy. We were not going fast but...a "scooter" WAS. It had to be going at least 130 km/hr (about 80 miles/hr). A scooter not a kidding.

So... it all started pretty good...we had a convertible, borrowed a GPS from a friend, and printed out maps just in case the GPS went kook. With all that, we still got lost... so lost that we had to call our friend Julia to reconfirm our Chateaux's name and address. (Here are two things you should know about driving in the French countryside at night - dark and no sign or tiny sign if you have eyes of owl.) I was so frustrated and my dear husband was trying lighten up the mood by saying, we might see wild boar since we were in the countryside. I said, why wild boar not deer?? Inquisitive wife as always...hehe~ I had no idea where Josh got the idea of seeing wild boar... Anyway, after one and an half hour of being lost and driving on the same road back and forth we finally found a 'road' --size of a bike path (with no sign) leading us to the right town. And a nice guy who jumped into his car and led us to the chateaux. No sign for the chateaux of course...we could have driven pass it without knowing it's there. Finally, we checked in about 10 pm. We were tired and hungry, so we decided to get some food. We were driving and just so happy that we found our chateaux. Suddenly, we turned happy to stunned... wild boar in the road...there was a big wild boar family - a mom, a dad, and countless babies... Josh was speechless...(I guessed he was just joking when he mentioned it earlier) and I just kept saying "pig...pig..wild's real...they were real...there were tiny pig babies. We probably interrupted their meal or dirt bathing time." Then, the mama and papa wild boar led all the babies crossing the road to hide in the dark. We were laughing so hard and could not stop laughing. That was the highlight of the day after a 5 hour drive which was supposed to be 3.5.

Came back from the dinner and walking to our room without our host was super creepy. It's a real old castle unlike the one we stayed last year (old but been modernized). This one was old too and was kept/decorated in the traditional way. We had to go through two very long and dark hallways to get to our room. And our room was huge and had portraits around the wall. Imaging all the eyes looking at us in the dimly lite huge room...I slept...ok.

So that's the chateaux Autigny-la-Tour...not so creepy in the day! They also had a duck that would follow us around. I called that picture "Josh got a new friend!" Click on "our pictures to share" to see pictures inside of the chateaux and Josh's new friend.

Next night, we stayed at another tiny town, Coussey, since the last one was not available. It was a last minute type of road trip. This one had a very interesting long name - "La Demeuroe du Gardien du temps qui passe" and Chambres D'hotes. It was a cute, warm, and cozy old house. Side notes: The bathtub in the room looked romantic but not very practical. They served dinner also. We had dinner with six other adults and 3 children. It was not much of talking but lots of translations.

Since it's a countryside weekend, we stayed only in the tiny towns, Autigny-la-Tour and Coussey. We also visited the little towns of Neufchateaux and Toul that were not on the tourist book. We just found an old chateaux and decided to drive there and play it by ear after the first night. Well, it's a countryside road trip... how I could describe it. It was green, lots of cow, sheep, and wild boar (we saw a herd of wild boar after our late dinner heading back to our chateaux.)

On the way home, we visited Nancy (pronounces Nuncy in French. We got corrected a few times.) Nancy was a very beautiful city. We only spent a few hours walking around the city. I would like to go back and visit again...but Josh said...there are so many places yet to visit. So...we'll see.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Happy Birthday~

Josh got older and we had a party on his birthday eve!

Cagliari Italy

Although we didn't do much research about Cagliari or the island - Sardinia, the whole trip ended up surprising easy ...even with the public transportation. From the airport to the downtown was only a ten minute bus ride service every half an hour, and it only took us less than ten minutes by foot to find our bed and breakfast. Our host was great...not in a hurry to take money from us but letting us know where to eat and visit.

It took us visiting Italy three times (once in 2006, we visited Rome, Florance, and Venice) to adapt to Italian lifestyle. We ate no earlier than 9pm for dinner! Thanks to our flight schedule it was easy for us to adjust... After we checked in at the B&B we went out for dinner... it was already 10pm. In the next two days, we took short naps or breaks between our explorations and dinners. So...we could finally blend into Italian's (or Southern European's) life style - afternoon nap and late dinner. Nothing could go wrong with Italian food so we picked things randomly from menus (no English menus). We were so happy that the dishes we ordered turned out to be mussels, baby octopus soup, seafood spaghetti, Sardinia caviar spaghetti, various fish, and some we could not recall anymore. I also happened to find a traditional Sardinia sweet that it's made of nuts, raisins, flower, sugar, and whatever to make it taste so good. It smelled so good that we had to get it. We had it with a bottle of wine and a shot of local drink from our host before the nap... It was perfect for a afternoon snack!!

We took a bus to Pula to see Nora (a super old ruin), probably the oldest built in Sardinia. The archaeological area is very well kept and shows the evidence left following the Punic and Roman dominations. Nora used to be considered one of the main landing places in the Mediterranean area, thanks to its strategic position. Today, part of the ruins have still not been uncovered, but visitors can still admire the beauty and the prosperity that Nora enjoyed in past times.

This was one of our favorite trips - wonderful B&B location and host, beautiful city, tasty food, relaxing schedule, and the interesting ruin.