Let Them Eat Cake

While we aren’t in France any more, someone still thought that today: me.

After lounging around at the half-off beach (it cost five Euros) and Dad and Ethan swimming in the blue waters, we returned home but stopped by the bakery and supermarket on the way. Our first stop was the bakery, and I chose a beautiful chocolate cake there. Mom also bought some bread and chocolate pastries for breakfast tomorrow. At the supermarket, Ethan stayed in the car with the cake while Mom, Dad, and I went inside and chose, among other things, 20 SPF sunscreen (we only have 30 and 45 right now), cherries, green beans, and peaches.

At home, we lounged around (we did that a lot today!) before heading out to supper at 6:25. We returned to the restaurant on the hill and ordered seven dishes: chicken with zucchini in a lemon sauce, greasy zucchini crisps, tzatziki, chili with egg, Greek salad, vine leaf rolls, and onion pastries. It was delicious, and supper there was a lot easier for me this time because Ethan sat in the chair facing the setting sun.

We returned to our house, and I sliced the cake into five pieces (one half and four eighths) and then served the slices.

Let them eat cake!

Ciao!

Windy Weather

Today there was wind on the southern edge of Crete. Not so much as the wind a few days ago that come north from Africa, but there was still enough wind to make the waves be big. The beach that we went to was the Saint Paul Sandhills. It is just around the point from Saint Paul beach, but it was still nice.

At first, I went out and swam around in the 3 to 4 foot waves, and then I got out when I got tired. We all tanned for a while before Eryn and I climbed a big rock. Eryn and I then walked around the corner of the rock in the ocean and came back to the parents. After a bit of tanning again, my father and I went out and swam in the big waves.

Some of the waves were bigger than others, and my father and I stayed out farther than where the waves broke. We rode up and down, going from trough to top to trough again. Some waves broke a long ways out and were powerful. My father lost his hat in one of them, but recovered it.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Don’t Cry Over Spilt Milk

The proportion of beach time to driving time was rather alarming today, as we spent slightly over an hour on the beach and hours driving around on dirt roads trying to find elusive towns and paved roads.

On the beach at which we lounged, Dad and Ethan bounced in the waves and Mom and I waded. The beach reminded Dad, Ethan, and I of Backwash Beach in Costa Rica because it has small (and quite large) rocks that roll back and forth with the waves and can scratch and squish unsuspecting toes and legs. Also the tide was in, so that probably affected Dad and Ethan’s splashings.

Dad drove our little-car-that-almost-couldn’t around a lot, and we ended up at the beach we visited several days ago. At that point, we turned around and headed home. On the way, Ethan and I remembered things we had done on other two-week spring break trips, such as petting a baby sloth in our backyard in Costa Rica, our volcanically heated pond in our Hawaiian yard, and eating rocket (lettuce leaf) pizza in Pisa.

We made it home, and I set about my algebra final. Now it’s finally finished (several hours later). The only break I took was for supper, which was pizza, green beans, and salad. I had finished pouring extra vinegar on my plate for my pizza and was putting it back down on the table when I knocked over my glass and sent milk onto the table. We had to take off the tablecloth, dry the table, put a new tablecloth back on, and put the whole mess back together before eating was resumed.

Sigh.

Ciao!

Beaches in Crete

Today we went out around 9 o’clock and drove south. When arriving on the southern shore of Crete, we went to our first beach. Along the way, we went down a paved road, turned around, and then went down a badly kept gravel and rocky road.

At the bottom, we found a nicely surfaced dirt road and drove on it until it joined up with a paved road. We went down to the beach and lay out on the sand and occasionally jumped around in the waves. After about an hour of doing that, we got back in the car and found a paved road going up the hill. It came out 5 feet after the place where we had turned around the car. Oh, well.

After that  beach, we drove for several hours and looked out over lots of beaches. We decided to do the Paul Sandhills beach again tomorrow morning and then walk along the beach. When we got home, my father and I swam in the pool while my sister worked on her math test.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Wednesday Wind and Wakeup

I have (currently) one more math problem for the entire year…too bad. I will finish it before I go to bed, however. In any case, there was wind here today. It started last night about the time when I came in from playing football.

The wind was loud. My family reported that the wind howled through the night. I was too busy sleeping. I woke up this morning and had breakfast with my sleep deprived family. We then looked out the window and couldn’t see the ocean so decided not to go to the beach.

We sat inside and did schoolwork before staying inside some more and doing some things like playing Minecraft. We then went out to get some stuff from a supermarket and then got some bread from the bakery. Later, we went to dinner. After dinner, we learned that the dust came from Africa.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Breaking News: Tourist Town Trap Traps Tourists!!

The wind was really blowing this morning, and now, at 8:23 p.m., the wind has subsided but you can’t see the ocean from our house. Our pool was filled with leaves, and it was at least partially refilled with a hose, so it’s probably really, really cold.

Apart from that excitement, our day was rather dull. We visited Lidl and the bakery for food but didn’t check out the restaurant at which we planned on eating until we were back in Rethymno and looking for it. It was on a very touristy street (although Rethymno itself is quite touristy) and the menu had pictures on it. As I learned in Rome three years ago, when menus have pictures all over them the food usually isn’t very good and it is very overpriced.

This would be the exception.

The food was typically Greek—meaning it was delicious (especially the vine leaf rolls stuffed with rice and the fried peppers) and inexpensive. The atmosphere was rather unimpressive, but what could we expect?

Ciao!

Crete Cherries and Castles

Some people out in my audience might not classify a palace as a castle, but it is close enough for what I wanted, which was alliteration in the title of my post.  Today we went to a castle, or palace, if you prefer it that way.

The palace was the Knossos Palace, under which is situated the labyrinth which used to house the Minotaur. Since you either know or do not care, I will not bore you with the tales of Theseus and the Minotaur; suffice to say that the first one killed the latter. The palace, going back to the original subject, is in ruins, not surprising, considering the fact that it was built around 2000 B.C.

We took the guided tour and walked around, learning about the throne room, how the queen had makeup, about the first toilet, and other interesting factoids. The palace has the oldest mosaic, throne, staircase, theatre and road in Europe. The Minoans were also the oldest civilization in Europe.

After about an hour and a half, the tour ended and we got ourselves some fresh juice. On the way home from the Iraklion area, we stopped by a store and bought their whole supply of juicy red cherries.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Kids in Knossos

After a long (one-hour) drive, we reached Knossos Palace. Knossos Palace is the legendary home of the Minotaur and hot and dry. It was definitely a good thing to hire a guide, and she took us—along with our small English-speaking group—around the palace for an hour-and-a-half.

Anything wooden or painted was fake, placed by the archaeologist Arthur Evans. There is a bust of him at the entrance to the site.

There were five entrances to the palace: one each on the north, south, west, and east sides, and one on the northwest. Among other trivia, we learned that the first toilets were found in the palace. The queen had one in her room. She also had make-up tools, which we didn’t see (they were in a museum). Clay pipes carried water in to and out of the palace. There were forty rivers on Crete, our guide told us, and forests, too, but with the Turks and the Venetians came destruction. Now the forests are long gone. In their place are vineyards, olive groves, fields, and towns.

When our tour was over, we re-circled the site, this time allowing time for pictures. We stopped at the café on our way out and ordered overpriced drinks. This seemed like a lot to bear after the $10-per-gallon petrol earlier in the morning. (Suddenly, $4-per-gallon is looking pretty good.) Mom and Dad chose orange juice, and Ethan and I went for the Tooti Frootis, which had a delicious combination of pineapple, banana, orange, and apple juices (delicious especially since you couldn’t taste the apple).

On the way home we stopped in Heraklion and Mom, Ethan, and I looked at the cathedral, and I found a teal dress I really liked (but couldn’t buy).

Also on the way, we stopped for cherries, a dark chocolate bar, and chocolate-coated baklava at a mini market. In case you want to know, the chocolate-coated baklava is really, really, really good.

Ciao!

Chicken of the Sea

“Ethan! I dare you to swim out to that rock,” I called. “That one—out there!”

Ethan looked up from the shore and saw the black rock that I was pointing to. He gamely started swimming out to where Dad was, but he wasn’t trying very hard and kept being pushed back by the waves. Finally he got to the rock where Dad was, but kept turning back on his long swim out to the big rock because he was worried about jellyfish.

“You know how an iguana is called ‘chicken of the tree’?” I asked. “Well, you’re the chicken of the sea.”

He took offense to this comment and, gathering his pride and his courage, hastened out to the rock and back. Dare done, he sat back on the rocks next to me and enjoyed the warmth on what we nicknamed Jelly Belly Beach—the name was chosen due to the large number of small, round, colorful rocks on the water line that reminded us of one of our favorite snacks.

Ciao!

Beaches and Bad Roads

This morning, after a bit of breakfast, we left the house and went to beaches. The first beach that we visited was called Saint Paul Sandhills, and there was a fair amount of people in swimwear… or lack thereof. After a bit of sunbathing there, we drove for 3 hours to go 3 kilometers along the coastline. The roads were un-surfaced and bad and sometimes ended up at people’s farms. Oh, well, at least we got to where we wanted.

At this next beach, I swam around and climbed on rocks before it was time to go and we got into the car and started home. It may sound like not much, but there was a lot of driving time. On the way to the first beach, though, we did see lots and lots of grasshoppers hopping around on the road.

After staying at the house for a while, we went out to eat at a Taverna. We had lots of food and came back stuffed with deliciously delicious food. It was all good, homemade, and healthy. Well, most of it, but still, as I might have mentioned, the food was good.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Sunday Schedules…

…or lack thereof. Today was interesting. We spent most of it planning what to do on other days. We got up this morning and ate breakfast inside and then sat around, read comics, played Minecraft (only me) read books, and looked at possible beaches to which we might drive.

Around 3 pm, my parents and I went out to swim and swam for about half an hour. Eryn just sat in the poolside shade and read a kindle. When we got back inside, we read for a bit before eating dinner out on the patio. The dinner mainly consisted of rice and beans.

After dinner, Eryn and I went and played with Maria and Bobby. Before long, two boys (ages 6 and 9) came out and played with us too. We played football and then basketball and then tossed balls around. Bobby and I rode on his bike down the hill and around the road. I rode on the axels.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Schoolwork, Supper, Sports, and Stuff

After schoolwork, supper, and other homey activities, Maria and Bobby, along with their two cousins, ages six and nine, were joined by Ethan and me in the lot next door. We started off playing football. The nine-year-old, Maria, and I were winning 6-3 when someone called a time-out. I took the opportunity to climb the steps behind our pool up to the area above the lot and throw down the footballs that were there.

Maria came with me, and as soon as we were up there the boys started throwing balls at us. It ended when someone threw the star football into the thorny bushes and we couldn’t find it.

While we were all standing around feeling guilty, Maria brought ice cream cones, which were eaten with gusto. Before the cones were finished, a new football game was started with the same teams as before. By the time the game ended with Bobby and Ethan riding on a bike, my team had three goals to the other team’s one. And I scored two goals!!

Ciao!

Food & Fat

All we officially achieved today was letting down our ten-year-old neighbors, Bobby and Maria, by getting home from supper too late to play basketball like we’d promised last night.

On the other hand, supper was excellent: Greek salad (feta, tomato, and cucumber), oven-grilled feta, chicken with a lemon sauce, grilled chicken, zucchini chips, and more, all for less than a meal for one person in Switzerland. On a related note, did you know that Greece has the highest obesity rate of any country in the European Union?

Ciao!

Basketball

Last night, after I posted yesterday’s post, Eryn and I went outside and played basketball and football. Football, in this case, means what you Americans might call soccer. I call it football. In any case, Eryn and I played with Bobby and Maria, twin 10 year olds. Before we came back in for bed, we promised to play tonight after dinner.

This morning, I went out and shot some hoops with the basketball that they had left behind and eventually, when the kids came up, played with them while Eryn stayed inside. After a day of sitting inside, we went out to eat. By the late time that we got back, the kids weren’t there and the balls were gone.

Oh, well. That is a shame. Still, though, we will have time to play again, I hope. As I was saying earlier, we did nothing very interesting today, though we did swim in the pool, which was blissfully cool in the spring heat.

That’s all for now, Folks!

One Cool Pool

“We’re now on Crete, which is good, but that means there’s no more English,” Dad commented as we walked into the bakery. We were in Iraklion, the port city where we had landed and gotten our rental car after showers on the ferry, and we were hungry. The bakery was the perfect place to sate that hunger.

The subtitles of the pastries were in English (Dad was wrong), and I chose a slice of spinach pie and a mini sugar-covered donut. Mom and Ethan also chose mini sugar-covered donuts, but Ethan had a cheesy pastry and Mom had two mini spinach pies and one mini cheese pie. Dad ordered a tomato-and-olive ring and a chocolate-frosted mini donut. We ate in the car our drive to our house.

We were greeted by the owner’s sister-in-law when we arrived. According to the car, it was 23°C (73.4°F). It was much, much cooler than it had been in Athens, and the crystal-clear pool in the backyard didn’t seem so inviting.

Dad napped, and then we were back on the road to get groceries. After driving through Rethymno, Crete’s third-largest city, we settled on the Lidl supermarket in our village called Agia Triada. We bought—along with foodstuff including garlic, frozen ravioli, orange-chocolate cookies, and bell peppers—soap, laundry soap, and the cheapest serviettes we could find: we bought three packages. The available bright colors were tangerine, yellow, pink, green, and dark purple. Guess what? We didn’t get pink! Ethan originally chose tangerine, yellow, and pink, but then he discovered the green and purple. After I vetoed the purple, he selected the green. It went well with neither pink and yellow nor pink and tangerine, so I reluctantly dropped the pink. We used white ones from the bakery for dinner, though, so my pain was not even recognized.

 

Upon our return, I happily organized the groceries in our kitchen before heading upstairs to my room. Realizing I’d left my Kindle downstairs in the living room, I dashed down to get it. Ethan was lounging on the couch reading, and I asked him why he hadn’t been swimming—he who had seemed so ready to jump into a pool in Athens at the drop of a hat.

“I don’t know” being the standard response to everything, that was as much as I got. But within five minutes, he was out in the pool. I joined him and Dad outside shortly thereafter, while Mom slaved over a hot stove in the kitchen. After lounging in the sun and reading for a few minutes, I eventually gathered my courage and slipped into the cool pool. Ethan was convinced and returned to enjoy the shallow waters. The shadows were getting longer, and before the whole pool was in the shade Ethan had retreated to the concrete and his towel. I stayed in the pool doing backflips until ten minutes before supper, which was salad, green beans, and pasta with tomato sauce and chicken.

Ciao!

Crete Pools and Water Parks

We, in case you couldn’t tell from the title, have arrived in Crete. After a good night’s sleep aboard the ship last night, we bumped against the dock this morning around 6:30. When we got off, the boat, we found our rental car and got in. After driving for a bit through Heraklion, we found a bakery and bought some pastries and pies.

We then drove for about an hour before arriving at our new house. On the way, Eryn and I looked at a map, which showed a gigantic waterpark. Sadly, it is a ways away from where we are staying, but that is okay. On the way here, we saw a much smaller waterpark, but it didn’t look as fun.

The place where we are staying has a pool. Tonight before dinner, Eryn and I both swam in the pool. It was nice to swim after months of not doing so.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Athens*

*Turns the title into ‘Athens Asterisk,’ because I couldn’t think of any other alliteration for a summary of our time in Greek’s capital city.

 

We saw the typical tourist things (the Pantheon, the Acropolis, the new Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeology Museum, the hill where Paul the Apostle preached, the hill with an elevator in a tunnel to the top [which we did today], watching the changing of the guard) and we also did some non-typical tourist things, such as eating porcupines, ice cream, and other goodies from our favorite patisserie.

Today we rode the elevator to the top of the hill near our apartment. After an hour at the top, we went back down and bought ice cream and bowls of chocolate mousse and a strawberry-cream dish at the patisserie. We ate it in the park several blocks down the hill. This park was a lot cleaner than that near the metro station.

After playing musical benches and finally getting one in the shade, we sat for a while and reflected on our Athenian adventures. Oh, now I discover some good alliteration!

We’re on an overnight ferry to Crete now—we got in a taxi to the port shortly after we finished in the park.

Ciao!

The Closest Thing

In South Africa, when we were at, I believe, the Haven Hotel, I told you all out there about the changes of a woman’s life. When they are young, they want horses, when they get a bit older, they want a man, and when they get older and older, the want to go on a cruise ship. In other words, the way of a woman’s life can be summed up in one word; horsemanship…horse, man, ship.

Today my mother, who is in the 3rd stage of that cycle, probably got on to the closest thing to a cruise. The boat in which we are all riding is large. It may not be the largest boat in the harbor, but it is still very large. There are 9 decks in total as far as I can tell, and we are staying on deck 4. Our tickets may say that we are in room 4009, but I can assure you that the plaque on the outside of the door says 4033.

The levels below us are just for cars and trucks, so we are the lowest possible. The main deck from which you can feel the breeze is number 9. As I said earlier, it is a big ship, and it is big enough to even have a pool. Sadly, though, the pool wasn’t open to swimmers, so we spent a dry afternoon and evening. Tonight, after getting on the boat, we ate dinner at one of the onboard restaurants.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Spring in Switzerland

These are a few of my favorite things . . . . . . . .

Steep, rocky mountains partially covered with snow

Green valleys in the high mountains dotted with traditional Swiss houses – If we lived in Switzerland our house would be of traditional style with red shutters and many window boxes.

Numerous waterfalls – Lauderbrunnen is nestled in a valley of 72 waterfalls.

Many spring flowers, especially pink tulips, red geraniums, and yellow buttercups.

Gondola and cog-wheel train rides – These were fun ways to see the landscape up close and from above, move from town to town, or just ride for entertainment. Unfortunately two of the most picturesque gondola rides were closed because we visited just before the summer tourist season begins at the end of May. We will just have to visit Switzerland again!

 

 

It’s All Greek to Me: Day Two

Moment of the day: Making it as difficult as possible to answer Ethan’s trivia questions about Lord of the Rings since (a) I had no idea who he was talking about, (b) I was trying to annoy and dissuade him, and (c) I was really enjoying called Mary Adoch (or whatever their name is) a ‘she’ when apparently they’re a guy.

Food of the day: The delicious rice-stuffed tomato for supper!! It tasted a bit like the grape leaf rolls we got from Costco at home—a.k.a. they were delicious.

Treat of the day: My delicious chocolate dessert from our favorite patisserie. It is a chocolate mousse shaped like a dome, with a chocolate coating. It had sliced almonds sticking out of it with two white chocolate chips and one red one: the red one was the nose, the white ones were the eyes, and the almonds were the spines on the porcupine.

Person of the day: The guards outside the parliament building, who wore tights, khaki skirts with their khaki shirts, and red shoes with big black fluff balls on the end. We watched the changing of the guard, which happens every hour on the hour.

Place of the day: The National Archaeology Museum, where we saw statues, statues, and more statues. The most interesting ones (in my opinion) were the ones found in the bottom of the Mediterranean. Many of the statues are partially perfect and partially destroyed. The perfect parts were in the ground below the water. The damaged parts were ruined by microscopic sea creatures.

Disappointment of the day: Finding out that Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas didn’t win Dancing with the Stars and placed fourth—but at least Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough won!

Ciao!

Changing of the Guard

In the state capital, Athens, members of the elite Evzones light infantry unit, provide a 24-hour honor guard, with an hourly guard change, at the Presidential Mansion and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier off Syntagma Square at the foot of the Hellenic Parliament. The Changing the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in particular has become a tourist attraction, with many people marveling at the guards, who stand motionless for two 20-minute intervals, during their 1 hour shifts.

Or so says Wikipedia. We saw that changing of the Guard today in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Since you probably learned more than you wanted or needed to about the whereabouts of the Guards, and what they are, so I will go into something that my sister would enjoy…maybe.

The Evzones wore tassels hanging from the back of their hats. Those tassels were then draped over the shoulder and then hung down the front of the tan colored clothing. On the back of the tights, at about knee-height, there was a ball of black cloth fluff hanging on both legs. On top of the shoes, as well, was a puffball.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Final Country

Now that we are in Greece, we are nearing the end of our trip. In just a month we will be home. For us, a month seems pretty short, but that is still a lot of time for experiencing Athens and Crete.

We finished up France and Switzerland last weekend. Both were great, though a lot of the Alps were “closed” due to snow until the day after we left. Oh well.

Our Grecian experience has started out well. The weather is warm (compared to the past several months) and the food is quite tasty. This is going to be a good month.

The Acropolis Area

The Acropolis area is large. In my opinion, it includes the Ancient Agora, the Acropolis, the Zeus Temple, and Hadrian’s arch, not to mention a few other things. Today we explored that area further than yesterday. Yesterday, if you didn’t read my post, we went to the Acropolis and visited the a Parthenon in warm Greek weather.

Today we explored the Ancient Agora, a nearby hill, and peeked inside the Acropolis museum. The Agora was mainly a bunch of ruins that some people thought was very interesting. The most interesting, picture-worthy, and noteworthy thing there in my opinion and a bunch of others’ was the large amount of tortoises.

Actually, the best thing in the Agora was the Temple of Hephaestus, which is the most preserved piece of ancient art in the world. We eventually left the Agora and went up to a hill. We then went and saw the Acropolis museum, to see what we missed. Sadly, photographs were not allowed to be taken for some odd reason.

That’s all for now, Folks!

My Life is Ruined: Day Two

Moment of the day: Seeing the tortoise amongst the ruins below the Acropolis with grass hanging out its mouth.

Discovery of the day: It was something of a surprise how easily we found the big bronze plaque commemorating the hill where the Apostle Paul spoke to the Athenians hundreds of years back. It was also a bit surprising how short and slippery the hill was—slippery due to the fact that thousands of people have stepped in the exact same places year after year and worn the rock down.

Food of the day: The delicious green salad (I judge salads based on the dressing, by the way) that accompanied our pizza at dinner.

Treat of the day: My half of Mom’s chocolate baklava left over from last night. It had a chocolate center but was sweet, flaky, and sticky on the outside. Perfection on Earth.

Person of the day: The kind man who scooped our gelato near the Acropolis (Mom and I shared cookie, chocolate, and raspberry flavors). When Dad panicked about his camera—where was it?—he went back to the man and asked if he had seen it. To our relief, he said ‘yes’ and handed Dad the camera, which had been placed behind the counter.

Place of the day: The air-conditioned Acropolis Museum, which has all the statues that remain (except for those in the British Museum). It is where the silver cup given to the winner of the marathon at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 is currently housed. The race was on the last day of the games in Athens, and the champion was Greek. (I care more about the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics because that’s when American gymnast Carly Patterson was crowned Olympic all-around champion.)

Disappointment of the day: Although this may not technically count, the mouse pastry with a bashed-in face at our most-frequented bakery had not been sold. Also—we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the Acropolis Museum.

Ciao!

Acropolis Apocalypse

The sun is hot…I am sweating. Bodies are pressing against me and stinking of sweat as I try to get through the line. I am almost to the front…almost there…

I got there. Eventually, after only a little bit of time, my family and I got to the front of the line and bought our tickets for the Acropolis. For those of you who haven’t, like me, studied archeology or anything like that, then you probably will not know that the Parthenon and the Acropolis are not the same thing, despite ‘common knowledge.’ The Acropolis is a wide field surrounding a plateau.

On that plateau, there are a bunch of ruins, the most important one being the Acropolis. The Acropolis is in ruins, now, of course, and there is a crane sticking out of the middle on ‘restoration.’ I knew that Greeks were smart, but I didn’t expect that.

That’s all for now, Folks!

 

My Life is Ruined: Day One

Moment of the day: We finally achieved victory at Vodafone when (a) we found the store and (b) we got three SIM chips. This occurred while I was playing a candy game on the iPhone 5 and then Fruit Ninja on an iPad.

Discovery of the day: In a thick guidebook on Greece, I learned that Greece consumes the largest amount of cheese per capita, with 25 kilograms (55 pounds) eaten annually. Greece is also the world’s number-three producer of olive oil. 80% of its olive oil is virgin olive oil, compared to Italy’s 45%. However, much of Greece’s best virgin olive oil is exported to Italy, where it’s mixed and then sold as Italian.

Food of the day: Chicken gyros, which is basically chicken wrapped around a stick and turned vertically. It rotates while grilling, and the edges are shaved off to create a serving. The chicken came with tomatoes, onion, pitas, and a white sauce.

Treat of the day: Gelato shortly after leaving the Acropolis. Dad and Ethan each enjoyed chocolate and raspberry flavors, while Mom and I shared a heaping bowl of tart lemon, creamy chocolate, and refreshing pistachio.

Person of the day: The waiter at supper, who was entertaining, spoke English well, and gave us food.

Place of the day: The patisserie we visited yesterday: we bought dessert there (the restaurant where we ate supper was next door). I had a mini vanilla ice cream bar dipped in chocolate and caramel sauces.

Disappointment of the day: The woman at the gate of the Acropolis who had said she would be our tour guide, but that she was waiting for more people, gave up: after all, if you can’t have it a lot, why not have nothing?

Ciao!

When in Athens

When we got into the airport,
We saw a bunch of Greek,
We ate a bagful of pastries,
And tried of Greek to speak.

We failed much at this large task,
then got into a cab,
We drove for a while to our flat,
At there we saw now crabs.

Even though Athens was renowned for its navy in the Greek wars against Persia, we cannot see the ocean from our flat. So, because of that, we saw no crabs. We live inland a bit, on a 7 floor building. We are on the sixth. We arrived in Athens after a 3 hour plane ride this morning from Paris, waking up too early.

We are starting to learn the Greek alphabet, which only has 24 characters!

That’s all for now, Folks!

It’s All Greek to Me: Day One

Moment of the day: Flying over the expansive and expensive beachside villas with pristine blue swimming pools to the Athens airport.

Discovery of the day: The bakery that sells the yummiest-looking stuff I’ve ever seen (I always say that)—and ice cream!

Food of the day: Soft zucchini patties that accompanied our delicious and filling supper.

Treat of the day: My wonderful ½-slice of chocolate pie from the bakery in the Athens airport. Also, I enjoyed my quarter of the ‘traditional walnut cake’ from the same place. These two items made up half of my breakfast.

Person of the day: The charming receptionist for our apartment building. She just might speak better English than me.

Place of the day: Our flat in the center of Athens on a bougainvillea-lined street.

Disappointment of the day: There is no swimming pool in this apartment building!

Ciao!

Chicken Chow

Now we can add another country to our ever-growing list: Germany.

We’ve been there before, but we were not expecting our GPS to take us through the country on our way to Paris from Lauterbrunnen. So now we can say we’ve been to—counting the U.S. and Portugal—seventeen countries on this trip (Thailand, Laos, India, Australia, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, the UAE, Argentina, Chile, Peru, USA, Portugal, Morocco, France, Switzerland, and Germany). Tomorrow we’ll add yet another, as we wake up super early to fly to Athens, Greece.

After a relatively uneventful but rather stressful drive from Lauterbrunnen to Paris, Dad checked into the Hilton. Then he and Ethan went to Hertz to return our rental car.

In the meantime, I took two backpacks and three bags up the parents’ room on the sixth floor (Ethan and I are just across the hall). The key card was in my coat pocket. It was hot after struggling with the bags in the elevator, so I tossed my coat on the floor and walked out the door.

I made it to the elevator before I realized my mistake.

Downstairs, Mom asked for a new key while I sat anxiously on a black sofa. We took the suitcases and hats up to the room and waited for Dad and Ethan to return. When they finally did, we got in a van to the airport and had supper there. Mom and I shared a chicken salad and chicken penne. Dad ate the chicken penne, and Ethan had a chicken sandwich.

What wimps!

Ciao!

When in Paris Again

We drove for a long ways today. We drove all the way from Lauterbrunnen to Paris in one day in our gray Ford Focus. We started around 8 this morning and drove north. We first passed through Interlaken and then drove on the northern side of Lake Thun. We then passed through Thun and continued on our way going northwest.

We passed through Bern, the capitol of Switzerland, and then continued on our way. We eventually crossed the border and entered, low and behold, GERMANY! We went for a while on German roads before crossing a canal and arriving in France once again.

We continued on, and while I read some more of J. R. R. Tolkien, my father drove us across France. At around 6 o’clock in the evening and checked into our Hilton hotel near the Orly Airport. We eventually ate dinner in the Eastern terminal and then came back here, to our hotel.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Aborting @ Bort

“Too bad the toboggans are closed,” Mom said mournfully. We were at Pfingstegg, and the toboggan run at the top of the gondola was closed. After riding a ferry around Lake Brienz, we had caught the train up to Grindelwald. We had gotten off at Brienz and, while the boat was stopped for twenty minutes, Dad bought raspberries, sour gummies (ew), and a chocolate bar from the Coop.

In Grindelwald, after taking the gondola up to Pfingstegg, we walked to the gondola up to First (through Bort) and rode to Bort. Ethan and I played on the playground, flipping on the ropes, while Mom played Sudoku on her phone next to Dad on a bench.

We hurried back down and bought postcards at a kiosk near the train station. I was on my way to Die Post when Dad waved me over. Up we went to Kleine Scheidegg. We had the whole three-car train to ourselves. At Kleine Scheidegg, we changed trains and went back down to Lauterbrunnen. On the way home, we stopped at Hotel Oberland for dinner. Ethan and I shared the Bombay Chicken Pizza (as delicious as before—if not better, since I got all the sour cream [Ethan doesn’t like sour cream]) and a green salad. Mom and Dad got a pizza, a salad, and a dish of rosti, traditional Swiss hash browns.

Ciao!

CH Cruises

CH stands for the Confoederatio de Helvetica. In English, that means the Confederacy of the Swiss, or the Swiss Confederacy, or something along those lines. In the case of my title above, it does not mean that we went on a large ocean liner filled with people and swimming pools galore, I mean a simple cruise around a lake.

We woke up this morning and left our house around 11:15 and hopped on a ubiquitous train down to Interlaken. In Interlaken, we used our 6-day passes and got onto a boat headed around the Brienz Lake. We stopped several times around the lake before finally getting to Brienz. We stepped out for a bit and took some pictures and bought a chocolate bar and some raspberries before getting back in the boat and heading back towards Interlaken.

After we got back to Eastern Interlaken, we took the train to Grindelwald, and rode up a tramway that was included in our ticket and hadn’t yet been ridden by my family and me. We looked around on the top and stepped into the UNESCO Park before hopping back out again and catching the tram down. We went up to Bort again and Eryn and I played on the rope and wood playground while my parents ate chocolate.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Up towards Jungfraujoch

Jungfraujoch… the top of Europe, is the highest railway station in all of Europe. It is at an elevation of 11,332 feet above sea level and is only two hours’ train ride from Lauterbrunnen. Today I will be telling you how close we got and why we were only that close.

We went up towards Klein Scheidegg and changed trains there. We got on the red train going up towards Jungfraujoch and rode upwards until the first stop: Eigergletscher.  Eigergletscher is the highest train station that we can go to with our six-day passes without paying extra.

We shivered a while at Eigergletscher before riding the train back down towards Klein Scheidegg. We caught the train back down towards Lauterbrunnen, and, when we got there, my mother and I scoped out Lauterbrunnen’s recycling capabilities. It wasn’t much… only plastic bottles, glass bottles, and aluminum cans.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Schoolwork vs. Skiing

Well, I didn’t take my huge math test today. Instead, we went up to Eigergletscher (Eiger Glacier), which is the highest our train tickets take us without any extra charge. It was cold and snowing and, after viewing the white, we stayed inside for twenty minutes waiting for the next train back down the mountain.

We returned to Lauterbrunnen and Dad and I went to the tourist office. There, I was excited to get my hands on a ski map which shows the runs that were open in the 2012-2013 ski season. Looking around in Eigergletscher or Kleine Scheidegg, an Oregonian finds it hard to believe that it’s already May here and the ski season is over.

Oh, well—at least we crossed skiing off our list in Dubai.

Ciao!

France Favorites

Eiffel Tower — This really is a huge, eye-catching structure. We visited it during the day and night, but only went up to the observations decks during a sunny hour where we viewed the city. The nighttime lighting is impressive, especially when the lights flash on and off once per hour.

Pedestrian malls – France is a great place to wonder around the cobblestone streets, look in store windows, eat ice cream at a sidewalk café, and appreciate the many colorful flower beds and pots.

Stained glass windows in cathedrals and churches – We visited many cathedrals and churches to see 13th to 19th century stained glass windows, with the most impressive ones at Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.

Countryside – While staying in Semur en Auxious we drove and biked through the countryside. We saw many acres of green pastures and yellow mustard fields, white cows, ambling creeks and canals, houses with bright flower boxes in small villages, yellow and purple flowers cascading down rock walls, and fruit trees with white and pink blooms.

Pastries and bread – This country knows how to make delicious breads and pastries! We sampled many types because Ethan walked almost daily to a local boulangerie. One of my favorite treats was similar to a croissant with chocolate chips included throughout.

Miniature Golfing in Grindelwald

Again, like many a day in Cape Town, the three of us (Mother, Eryn, and I) played miniature golf. We played on a course that we had seen yesterday while walking through Grindelwald, hence the title of this particular post.

When we left this morning, we went down into Interlaken and walked around in search of something that we didn’t fully understand. We didn’t find that thing, and so we went back to the train station and rode it up to Grindelwald. In Grindelwald, we walked to the miniature golf place and paid the fee. We went through all 18 holes.

The holes were different from most; one of them was a vertical loop, another was a jump into a net, and another was a horizontal loop. They were all fun, even though I lost. When we finished playing, we found my father again and walked to the train station and took the train back to Lauterbrunnen via Klein Scheidegg.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Mini-Golf and Mini Market

We were on our way up to Grindelwald on the train after stopping for a short time in Interlaken. Ethan and I were excited at the prospect of playing mini-golf for the first time since Cape Town. Of course, it’s six times as expensive here, but it was still ‘enjoyable.’

After 18 holes with complex contraptions, Mom won with 80 points. Ethan had 108 and I had 107. Oh, that made me proud: it’s rare when I don’t place last in mini-golf.

On the bright side, the notepad on which the scorecard sat was pink, and so was my ball. Ethan had white, and Mom had yellow. The funniest moment was when Ethan, after giving up on a hole and getting the maximum score, decided he’d try it “just to see if you can really do it.”

The ball went straight up the ramp and flying into the net.

“Ugh!”

 

Mom insisted on shopping (ew) afterwards, and she and Ethan darted in and out of little tourist shops. In the end, we missed the train up to Kleine Scheidegg by two minutes and had to wait another half hour.

In Kleine Scheidegg, we switched trains to Lauterbrunnen. The car was stuffed with Indian tourists—a slight change after our ride up to Kleine Scheidegg, when we once again had half of the train to ourselves.

We walked home after not shopping in the Coop (the local mini supermarket). We had stood outside the automatic doors, but they hadn’t opened, so we had thought, Must be closed. Although it is odd that the Swiss wouldn’t do something on time (it was 6:17 and the shop closes at 6:30).

As we walked away, a man walked through the automatic doors.

Oh, well. We’re eating a chocolate bar as consolation (and dessert). It has three flavors in the squares: green (disgusting and nasty), orange (yummy), and pink (eat this one!).

Ciao!

Who’s On First?

“Hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen… fluorine, neon, lithium—wait, no!” Ethan exclaimed. He was trying to recite the first 50 elements (from hydrogen to tin) on the Periodic Table of the Elements in a short period of time. My record is 19.49 seconds.

 

We were on our way to Grindelwald from Kleine Scheidegg. After riding the train, we got on the gondola to First. Passing through the Bort stop (we didn’t abort), Ethan exclaimed, “Restez assis!”

“What?”

“Look at the sign!”—which read ‘Keep your seat.’ (You didn’t have to get out of the gondola at that stop.)

At First, we got off and walked on the snow-lined road to a frozen lake. On the way back, Ethan and I snacked on a lemon-ginger chocolate bar before we were stopped in our tracks by a mini-avalanche. This mini-avalanche was on a mountain across the valley but was still quite loud and obvious.

 

On our way back down, we stopped at Bort and Ethan and I played on the playground. In Grindelwald, we stopped at the supermarket for groceries such as chocolate bars and chicken.

Ciao!

Flying Diapers

When we woke up this morning, we didn’t know what we would see or do today. We thought about going up to Klein Scheidegg and playing in the snow, but we never imagined seeing flying diapers. Unlike the Australian Royal Flying Doctor Service, I think that the flying diapers that we saw didn’t want to do anything to help hurt people.

When we left the house, we took the train up to Klein Scheidegg and romped around a bit before heading down to Grimmelwald. From there, we took a tramway up to the ‘First’ Station. While on the way up, we saw a sign that said ‘Restez Assis’… interesting. We walked around on the top for a bit, going to a lake and seeing frogs, before coming back.

On our way back down, we saw some people riding down cables in red harnesses. We thought that that was interesting and noted it. When the people got out, the red ‘diapers’ flew back up the cables, two at a time. They were actually hooked on a rope, but it looked like the harnesses were flying.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Fire & Ice

We tried going to the base of Staubbachfall first, but the gate at the bottom of the trail was closed due to it not being summer. So we walked for another hour-and-a-half before getting to Trummelbachfall. After paying the 30-franc (US$30) fee, we were in.

Up the ascensor we went, and we were reminded of Valparaíso. At the top we went up the stairs to chutes 6-10. Trummelbachfall is a series of falls in the mountain. The water on the rocks drips and drops and it’s cold and wet as you stand near the wall to get a better view of the falls.

After viewing chutes 1-5, we wandered back to a picnic table by the creek, where we ate an almond chocolate bar and Dad read us a BBC article on grammar– especially apostrophes.

 

In Kleine Scheidegg, after riding the train, it was sunny (totally unlike yesterday, when it had been snowing). Ethan instantly ran to the snow and started chucking snowballs at us.

“I don’t know how he does it, but he misses every time,” I noted.

“Ready… aim… FIRE!” Ethan hollered, missing again.

“Seems more like ice to me.”

 

We caught the 17:31 train back down to Lauterbrunnen, and Ethan hung his jeans over a chair to dry. They were wet after I threw Ethan into the snow.

Ciao!

More Snow!!!

That is what we saw today. We went up to the top station and walked around in the snow. However, that wasn’t until late in the afternoon. We first left the house around 11 o’clock, and walked for a while out to a set of waterfalls.

That set of 10 waterfalls is famous for all being inside a cliff face and not being on the outside, like a bunch of the other waterfalls in the valley. We rode up the Ascensor on the inside of the cliff and then climbed around the top 5 waterfalls. We worked our way down to the bottom waterfall and then left.

We eventually got to the train station and rode the train up to Kleine Scheidegg , which is the station at the top. We got out of the train and hiked up a ways through the snow until we found a nice viewpoint. I threw some snowballs at my family, accidently hitting my mother in the neck with one. Sadly, though, I missed most of the time.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Swiss Snow

Today was the first time I’ve seen snow fall from the sky in thirteen months. That’s a long time, by the way—the last time was (I believe) 2012 spring break, when we lost our power for two days, our tree house fell down, and Willamette Pass Ski Resort was closed due to too much snow.

 

Today was better since we still have electricity. We don’t have a tree house, but all the ski resorts were closed due to a lack of snow.

After buying our tickets, we boarded the train up the mountain and rode to where the line ended. It started snowing on the way, and the little boy in the car ahead of us was practically screaming: “Look, Dad! It’s snow! Look, Dad! Look!”

We could get on another train to Jongfraujoch—the Top of Europe (not really)—or we could go to Grindelwald. We chose Grindelwald because there was a mannlichenbahn we wanted to ride in Grund, which was a stop on the line. After walking through the interminable parking lot, we read the sign that said ‘Closed 8 April 31 Mai.’

Back to the train station we went. At Grindelwald, we changed trains and headed down toward Interlaken. At another station, we changed trains to Lauterbrunnen. There we went across the street and bought a lemon-lime Lindt bar (which was gross) and four ‘chocolate kisses’ at the bakery. We ate the chocolate kisses—brownies in a cup—while waiting for the gondola to come down the mountain across from the train station. It finally did, and we rode up.

At the top we got into the train car and rode to Murren, where we stayed for about half an hour. It was snowing and cold, the bakery was closed, and Ethan was in a snowball frenzy. Going back down the hill and Ethan had a snowball in his hood and several in his pockets. I dodged in front of Dad, using him as a shield. Ethan threw one at Dad, and then cried, “I missed!”

I turned around and wham! Ethan’s last snowball hit my hot pink umbrella. I burst out laughing, but now one of the rods on my umbrella is bent. Hopefully it can be fixed…

 

On the way down Ethan and I played 20 Questions. He almost stumped me with bumblebee hummingbird, and I got him with pygmy shark, ibex, wolverine, and trumpeter swan. I relinquished my hold on the role of ‘chooser’ when he correctly guessed red-and-green macaw.

Ciao!

Snow in Switzerland

In yesterday’s post, I told you that we had driven to Switzerland. Today, we did a bit of exploring around Lauterbrunnen and found some nice things. One of those nice things was snow, and in great quantity. For those of you who have been skiing high up in the Cascades of the Rockies or in any mountain range, you will have seen lots and lots of snow; we didn’t see that much.

After having breakfast and wishing Mother a happy Mother’s day, we set out to the train station and got tickets for 6 days before hopping on a train and going up. We went up until the end of the line at about 2000 meters above sea level, and found snow. Not enough snow to ski on, but still enough to make lots and lots of snowballs. I did. I never hit anybody up at the top, even though I got close.

We rode some more rails back into Lauterbrunnen and then went up the tramway. At the top, we took a train to Murren. There, I found some more snow and threw at least a dozen snowballs at the rest of my family…only a few of them found their mark. We then rode the rails back to the tram and trammed back down to Lauterbrunnen.

That’s all for now, Folks!

When in Lauterbrunnen

Lauterbrunnen means ‘louder fountain.’ We think that that is signifying the 72 waterfalls scattered about the valley of Lauterbrunnen. Lauterbrunnen is in Switzerland, and it we drove into Switzerland and from France today.

After yesterday’s French activities, today we drove. By the way, the answer to yesterday’s riddle is ‘mice.’ In any event, today we drove. We started out around 9 o’clock, and drove until we got to the French border. At a border shop, we bought a highway ticket, so we could go on the highways of Switzerland, and then we were off.

We drove through groves of yellow and green trees and mountains. We went through tunnels and on the lakeside before finally driving into Lauterbrunnen. We then found our new accommodation, which isn’t super luxurious and mansion-like, but it does the job, as we won’t be here too long.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Spar Swiss Cheese

Holding your breath for 1.8 kilometers would be more impressive if you were walking (or running), but doing it for 1.5 minutes seems pretty impressive to me. Which is good, since I did that. We drove through four or five tunnels after crossing the France-Switzerland border on our way to Lauterbrunnen. Lauterbrunnen means ‘loud fountain’ in German. Although Switzerland has four official languages (Italian, German, French, and Romansh), two languages are primarily spoken in the touristy Lauterbrunnen: English and German.

We arrived in the town at about four in the afternoon after buying groceries from Spar in the town of Interlaken. Along with salad dressing, green beans, lettuce, bread, milk, yogurt, and eggs, I was sure to add Swiss cheese to the basket. Once the organizing was done, we went out on a walk. It wasn’t sunny today, so we couldn’t see anything that beautiful. However, we could still see about six of the seventy-two waterfalls in the valley. The main one is Staubbachfall, which is right behind the town. It is 297 meters (974 feet) in height and was first measured in 1776. Then, it was recorded as being the height of ‘900 Bern shoes’—Bern being the capital of Switzerland.

For supper, we ate dinner while seated on chairs swathed in soft sheep skins at Hotel Oberland (‘top country’ in German). Mom and I shared a green salad with French dressing and the Bombay pizza. The Bombay pizza came with sour cream, a raisin-y chutney, pine nuts, and chicken on top of mozzarella, tomato sauce, and a wonderfully thin crust. It was surprisingly delicious.

Ciao!

Haiku Holidays

A River Beside,
with mighty rains coming still,
a house with flooding

Roughly describes our time during the flooding. A more peaceful haiku of our time here might go like this,

Sunlight on Flowers,
yellow in mustard fields,
the beauty of France

Shows how beautiful France can be if you come in the right season; just after the rain, and right as the flowers are blooming. Since, however, I am more into riddles and limericks; I bestow this one upon you:

Green Willow trees,
Upon some blue rivers,
Flowing to the seas,
Water it delivers

Rain clouds gather,
In the blue sky above,
Rivers lather,
Releasing the above.

And so on and so forth. I probably could go on for a while, but you get the idea.

That’s all for now, Folks!

PS:

It scurries all ‘round,
all the crumbs to eat,
it makes no sound,
To cats, MEAT!

That is a riddle that I composed today. The answer will be in tomorrows post.

Finished in France (For Now) On a Friday

Unless we don’t have our visas to Switzerland (and visas aren’t needed), we’re good to go tomorrow. We get to wake up earlier than usual to drive to Lauterbrunnen.

 

In the meantime, today was our last Friday in France. It started off the way it normally does: with Ethan going up to the boulangerie and buying a baguette, pain cereal (healthful bread), and braided pastries with lots of chocolate chips. For breakfast, I ate a boiled egg, a pastry, a slice of baguette, and an orange. No one else in the house ate an egg, and Dad and Ethan had pasta from last night’s supper to go with their other carbs.

Mom reviewed me on my math while Ethan read Finding Waldo. In the background, Dad was working on the computer. Eventually I got to work on my last persuasive essay of the year on the computer.

That was pretty much our day—right after that we left for supper at the ice cream place. It was only 4:15 p.m., but we wanted an early supper.

Mom and I shared a chicken tart and a green salad with asparagus, mustard, boiled egg, and tomato. Ethan had the cheese sandwich and Dad had some toast with pesto on it and the same salad as Mom and me. For dessert Mom and Ethan had ice cream, Dad had two creeps, and I had a gaufre.

“What’s a gaufre?” Mom asked.

“It’s a rodent with long teeth that likes to dig holes” was, more or less, all the response she received from Dad and me. When my waffle came and I frowned in disappointment, Mom asked if it was like I expected.

“No,” I said sadly. “It was supposed to be a soft waffle, not a crunchy one.”

 

Oh, well. Next time!

Ciao!

The Delightful Death March

We walked 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) today around Lac de Pont (Bridge Lake). After arriving at the parking lot, we walked down the beach and across the dam and, under a red bridge, saw the overflow area, which had obviously been used recently.

It only took us three hours and we were going at a fairly slow pace. Ethan talked about Minecraft the whole way, and I, after yammering on about skiing for the first hour, walked ahead of the others.

We didn’t see any animals or anything particularly interesting. It was what we didn’t see that was interesting: where there was supposed to be a bridge and an island, there was just lake.

We also saw a flour mill that had been drowned in the 19th century when the dam was created.

After the walk, we stopped at the Intermarche and bought butter, lettuce, tomatoes, chocolate bars, oranges, cookies, and dryer sheets. We had supper at home again, and I thought everything needed more vinegar.

Ciao!

Day of the Death March

Today was the Day of the Death March. Luckily for us, it did not rain today, so it was an okay walk. We first drove to a lake about 5 kilometers out of town and then parked in a nearby parking lot. We left the car (locked) and walked down to the beach to look at the water.

Seeing as though it wasn’t warm enough, there were not any people in swimsuits, only in sweat suits. We went past them all and crossed the lake on a bridge before starting to circumnavigate the lake. The lake was 12 kilometers all the way around, and we did all of it in 3 hours. Not exactly our best time, but still…

When we finished walking around the lake, we got back in the car and drove to a supermarket. After Eryn and Mother finished doing the necessary shopping for dinner, we drove back to the house. In the house, we did whatever we wanted to do until it was time for dinner. After a dinner of pasta, zucchini, and salad, we retired to the salon and read books.

That’s all for now, Folks!

D-O-W-N D-A-Y– What’s That Spell?

Doing the breakfast dishes—scraping off egg shells and orange peels

Other chores (such as reading Baby Blues) go by

Winning Scrabble—against Mom and then myself

Nagged to do schoolwork—the ‘happy days’ of the 1950s

Dishing up the chocolate cake with crème anglaise

All enjoy the (super yummy) treat

Yesterday the weather was better—it rained today

 

 

Ciao!

I Took the Garbage out

Today was a rainy day. I mostly sat inside and read the Lord of the Rings trilogy. From time to time, I got up and had a break from my usual repertoire of sitting around, but mostly, it was the same as when it rains here.

I speak like I know the rain here. I may not know the rain, but I sure do know the chocolate bars. We have sampled countless flavors of chocolate bars, from lemon and ginger to pate de almande. We have tried so many flavors that they mostly blend together. Today, for instance, we had almond, the day before yesterday we had the lemon and ginger, and about a week ago we had the pate de almande. It is fun, eating chocolate, and I enjoy it.

Later in the evening, when it was raining a lot, I went against Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout’s example (for reference, please see link below) and took the garbage out. I took it all the way to the end of the road, but that wasn’t far, so I stayed somewhat dry without a rain coat.

http://mste.illinois.edu/courses/ci407su01/students/north/kristy/Project/K-Poem-Net.html

That’s all for now, Folks!

Biking in Burgundy, or Failing & Falling: A Short How-To

As I sit in this chair typing my post, I’m trying hard not to wince. Despite the fact that this chair has a cushion, it is painful to sit because the bicycle seat on which I sat for seventeen kilometers (about 10.6 miles). We drove to the tourist information center in Montbard only to find it closed for lunch, so we sat on a bench in the sun for an hour.

Riding the yellow bikes along the Burgundy Canal was Ethan’s idea, so he must have enjoyed it the most. I would say the most exciting part of the whole ride was on the way back after we had watched a boat go through a lock.

“You should learn how to mount a bike,” Dad said, and continued by showing me how: stand with your left foot on the left pedal and then swing your right leg over to the right pedal. Easy-peasy… right?

-Some people are rather challenged when it comes to things like this (I am one of them).-

So I stuck my left foot on my left pedal and swung my leg over.

Except I didn’t.

Instead, I hit the back wheel with my foot because I was stressed out because Dad and Ethan were really close and I didn’t want to hit them. So I fell down against my bike and now have a lovely bruise on my leg.

After another failed attempt, I did manage it—although who knows if I can now perform the skill consistently?

Ciao!

Biking in Burgundy

Yes. With today’s bike ride, I will have ridden a bike on 5 continents, the two exceptions being Antarctica and Africa. Africa is sadly missing, even though that is the continent on which we spent the most time. Still, though, we biked today, and it was fun.

The Burgundy canal is 150 miles long and has 189 locks for raising and lowering boats up and down the canal. We drove in the car north to Montbard and rented 4 bikes for two hours. We first got onto the bike path that ran along the edge of the canal, and then we rode away.

We rode for about an hour; passing trees, farms, forges, and houses.  When we got to the one hour mark, we turned around on the path and went back, passing over bridges and across roads. We stopped for about 20 minutes to watch a boat be lowered down in the locks.

First the lock woman opened the top gate and let the water inside the lock be brought up to the level of the upper canal. The boat drove into the lock and got shut in with the closing of the top gate. Then, the bottom gate was opened and the boat slowly went down. When it reached the level of the lower canal, the bottom gates were opened and the boat was FREE!

That’s all for now, Folks!

Heads Rolling

When most people talk about rolling heads, they usual say it in the phrase, ‘heads will roll!’ Today, though, my definition of rolling heads is a bit simpler…and less gory. My definition of rolling heads is when people nod their heads in unison to music. Maybe it is not a perfect description, but it is adequate for my uses.

Today we went out on a walk. The walk went along the river for a ways before cutting across and going along the edge of a cow field until we got onto a road, and then walking along that road back home, making a large loop. When we got home, we had dinner and then sat around reading books and generally being lazy.

We finally left the house again, this time for an organ concert. At the concert, we faced the organ and listened to several songs. At one point, the people in the row two rows in front all started to nod their heads in unison to the same beat. We finally left after an hour and a half of organ playing.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Aural Stimulation

Mom convinced us to go on an hour-long walk in the area around Semur-en-Auxois, so we went outside to enjoy the green and the sun and the lowering waters.

After the walk, Mom made supper (pizza, rice and zucchini, broccoli) and at 7:30 we left for Notre Dame de Semur-en-Auxois for the organ concert, which was a fundraiser for the organ in Notre Dame de Paris. We also went to a fundraiser/organ concert for the organ in Notre Dame de Paris itself.

This one was more uncomfortable in the long run since it was twice as long (an hour and a half verses forty-five minutes) and the music was, I think, less interesting. However, it was warmer inside this cathedral.

Ethan was the youngest attendee. Almost everyone else appeared to be older than my parents (and that’s pretty old). Almost everyone also smiled at the organist’s apparent mistake: when playing in the high notes, he randomly hit a lower note, which sounded like a fart.

Ciao!

Walking Sunday

Today was Sunday, and almost everything was closed. I say ‘almost’ because the main thing that was open was the farmer’s market on the pedestrian walkway. When I went up to my father and attempted my Spanish with ‘moi carne,’ as in, much meat, and then my father went on about ‘oinki carne’ and ‘clucki carne.’

After I finished being annoyed with my father, we went back around to our house the long way. It was mother’s idea, and when we got home, she wanted to walk along the river on our bank, which we had never done before. We kept going for only a little ways before coming along to a barricade. We did not go past the barricade, instead, we walked back home.

Later, we had dinner in our house of pizza, zucchini, and other such things. I think that today was a good day.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Barricaded Because of Beyond

Everyone, write this date (May 5, 2013) down: for the first time in over two-and-a-half months, I wore something besides pants and a shirt in public. It was one of my Dijonian dresses, and it was very exciting. For me, at least.

We walked across Pont de las Minimes and into town, where there was supposed to be a farmers’ market. Mom declined to buy anything, so we kept going to a shop where we bought a newspaper. Although news of the flood (the water’s gone down about five feet already) was splashed across the first four pages, Semur-en-Auxois didn’t make any of the pictures—or the article, for that matter.

Oh, well.

After chilling in the house for a while and getting diesel for the car, we walked down the river to a barricade because the road beyond it was in a state of disrepair.

“So much for our walk,” Mom said.

Back at the house, Mom prepared a supper of pizza, salad, and zucchini. None of it had enough vinegar.

Ciao!

Brownies, Brown Dogs, and Bussy

Today was spent in relative ease. We spent most of the morning inside, telling the TV news reporters that there was nothing to see, and generally just sitting around. I personally read Lord of the Rings, so I had a good time.

Eventually, we left on a quest to see the Chateau de Bussey, an old manor up in the hills. We left our house and its receding floodwaters in our car and drove to the museum. On the way from the car to the Museum entrance, my father and I both petted and scratched a nice looking dog that had looked endearingly at us over the fence with his paws stuck through the holes.

Eventually, after we finished walking through the museum and going through a maze that wasn’t amazing because there wasn’t any way to turn wrong. We then left and went back home, and when we got home I made us all some Pecan and Chocolate brownies. They were very, very good.

That’s all for now, Folks!

An Amazeing Adventure

It was so sunny today that we couldn’t decide what we wanted to do until after noon. That was a good thing, too, since Chateau de Bussy-Rabutin closes at 11 a.m. and re-opens at 2. We arrived in the town at 2:15.

On our survey (“it’ll only take two minutes”) over which we slaved for five minutes after our tour, we said that, overall, the place was satisfactory. It would have been nice to have a speaking guide who spoke English, but the brochure was okay. Ethan and I enjoyed the maze, even though there was only one way. Someone had cut a hole and made a shortcut that cut the time in eight. Ethan and I didn’t notice this until we were done. We went out that way, too.

Also on our survey was the question “What could have made the shop better?” Options included more kids’ products and more books. I added a new box and checked it off.

What did it say?

 

Gelato.

Ciao!

Foul Weather Friday

There are a lot of tourists on Pont de las Minimes taking pictures of the quickly-rising river. I’m not one of them—I prefer to stay inside and on the top floor. This house on the river is interesting: the kitchen, living room, dining room, master bedroom with ensuite bathroom, and another bathroom are upstairs. Out of the front door and down some stairs is the entrance to the bedroom for Ethan and me, which has its own bathroom.

It also has several inches of water.

Earlier this morning, after schoolwork, Mom made us get our clothes and luggage off the floor in case it flooded. Within an hour, we were back downstairs and packing up all our things. I will be sleeping on the fold-out couch in the living room tonight; Ethan’s thinking the floor looks pretty good. (“I like my mattress hard.”) We went to the grocery store “between evacuations,” as Mom called it, and we bought tortillas, refrigerated pizzas, tomato sauce, pasta, oranges, asparagus, chicken, and some other food.

Mom called it “between evacuations” because after we came back, the property managers (Jackie and Ian) showed up on our doorstep. Dad helped them move the beds and some other pieces of furniture into the storage room. Two police men came by shortly thereafter and, through Jackie, said that there would probably be a siren, and, if we hear it, we are to get into the car with our stuff and drive to the Intermarche. So we packed up everything and stuck it in the car. Dad, Ethan, and I have our backpacks inside right now. If we’re still in the house by morning, we’re unpacking (except Ethan and I will stay upstairs).

In other news, I landed on Ethan’s Coventry Street in Monopoly. He had a hotel on it, and I had £5, plus properties. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to lose (a.k.a. be done with the game). I wasn’t quite done, though—Ethan and Mom had me stay as the banker until Ethan’s victory. Later, I played Scrabble: one game with Ethan and one with Mom. I beat both of them, only because of my awesome words ‘quay’ and ‘quilts’ and ‘adze’ and ‘zee.’ Together those earned me about 100 points.

Ciao!

Evacuation Emergencies

I was thinking about titling my post ‘Wet-‘ something or other, but when I came up with the title that you see, I knew that it would be best. You have heard from previous posts recently that it is very wet this spring in France, and that was proved today a lot.

When I woke up, I walked to the boulangerie and bought the day’s supply of 1 baguette, 4 pain au Chocolat and 1 pain cereal. It was raining the whole time, and when I got back, I sat in the living room and won our monopoly game that has been sitting there for some time on the floor. I finished with 11 hotels and all the properties, un-mortgaged, of course.

Just so you know, our house is arranged on three different levels. The bottom one is directly on the river, and is Eryn and my bedroom. It is also only accessible by an outside staircase. Then there is the kitchen/dining room and salon area, where we spend most of our time, and finally there is my parents’ room on the very top with an inside access stairway.

We started seeing the water level rise a bit earlier, and Eryn and I had put all of our stuff up on our beds. When a police officer came and advised us to clear out, we took our bedding and luggage upstairs and waited. Eventually, the property caretakers came along and put the beds and everything in a storeroom above the oncoming onslaught of water, as it was flooding the room.

Safely on the top floor now, we have most of our stuff in the car in anticipation of the air raid siren to go off to signal for us to evacuate, but we hope that that doesn’t happen.

That’s all for now, Folks!

The Quest for (Colonel) Mustard

Today was spent on a quest for Mustard.  Dijon mustard is famous for its strong flavor, and we experienced some of that while trying to find some good varieties. We finally found some in a streetside shop.

Inside the shop, there was shelf after shelf of mustard bottles. There were lots of different flavors, from raspberry to blackcurrant to wine. We got a bottle for ourselves and have not yet delved into it. I think that we will, though, in the morning.

We found the mustard on our day’s excursion to Dijon. It is about an hour from our base by driving, and we walked around and saw several churches and gardens during our walking, and also ate sandwiches and pain au chocolat.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Day de Dijon

Today we visited Dijon of mustard fame. Yes, we did buy mustard. Later we saw it at the supermarket Intermarche and realized how overpriced it was in Dijon. Oh, well—we know for sure that it was Dijonian.

We started our Dijon day off at Notre Dame, which is home to two bells: Jacquemart, which has run since the church was finished in the fourteenth century, and its counterpart: Jacqueline, Jacquelinet, and, finally, Jacquelinette.

After a stop at the tourist office, we continued our stroll towards the garden. On the way, we stopped at the mustard shop and then a patisserie/boulangerie, where Mom and I got pain au chocolat and Ethan chose a guacamole-chicken sandwich. We ate at the park. Shortly after we were done eating, it started raining, so we packed up and headed on to the next cathedral. Outdoors always seems so much warmer after being inside cathedrals.

On our way back to our car, Mom and I dropped by H&M where we actually found some awesome inexpensive clothes. We came out with our wares and headed home. We stopped at the Intermarche in Semur-en-Auxois on the way and had stir-fry for dinner.

Ciao!

Schoolwork Studies

Today was mostly spent by me immersed in my schoolbooks so that I could get the Lord of the Rings trilogy on my kindle. My father had promised me that if I got two weeks ahead I could buy them, and this is the closest that I have ever gotten. I hope that I will make it.

When I wasn’t buried in a book with my pencil in hand, we were going outside on walks. Whenever the sun was shining, which wasn’t very often, we would go out. The first time was to go to the church, and we achieved that. The church even had nets below the ceiling to keep the pigeon poop from falling on the heads of worshipers.

The last walk out went to dinner, and we went to the place that we had been to twice. I talked several times about our family and Eryn, but no one at the table thought that it was funny, especially Eryn.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Picture Perfect (That’s Me!)

There was no funeral in Notre Dame today, so we went in for forty-five minutes. After

looking at a stained-glass window, I ran to my dad.

“Did you see what that window said?”

“No.”

I dragged him back to the window and pointed out the truck that read “rican Red Cross” (a.k.a. American Red Cross). The top part of the window showed a French flag and an American flag. Below the window was a plaque which read:

In Memory

Of the dead of the 310th Infantry 78th Division

United States Army who fell in the Great War

1917—1918

And of whom the greater part rest in France

A la Memoire

Des morts du 310th Reciment d’Infanterie 78th Division

De l’Armee Americaine qui tomberent durant

La Grande Guerre en 1917 et 1918

Et dont la plupart reposent en terre Française

 

On the way home, we stopped at a patisserie and I bought myself the chocolate mousse Louvre. I ate it slowly, savoring every bite, while I read about the Cold War for school. Once that was done, I went back to the living room and sat on the couch in front of the 1,000-piece puzzle. I had filled in all but the largest of the holes earlier, and I had tucked a piece in my pocket so I could definitely put the last piece in. Dad came over and put in a few pieces, and we were eventually left with the one piece missing.

I put it in.

 

For supper, we went to L’Entract for the third time. We got there at 6:20 p.m. after trying to take a picture like that of the puzzle. They didn’t open for forty minutes. So Mom wandered off to see why all the fire trucks were in the area and I took pictures.

Eryn Leaps Into the Air In Front of Notre Dame Cathedral

Eryn Leaps Into the Air In Front of Notre Dame Cathedral

Ethan Jumps In Semur-en-Auxois

Ethan Jumps In Semur-en-Auxois

Ciao!