Archive for September, 2014

Parts is Parts

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Each piece of the puzzle is sheer perfection! And the results will take your breath away.


Florence with Ernie

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Yesterday (the 23rd,Sept.) our travels would have seen Sandi and Ernie Jenson jump on board. Tragically, Ernie’s life ended with a horrible traffic accident a few weeks shy of a trip of a lifetime. It’s difficult to stroll around Florence without them; to raises glasses of vino de la cassa, consume pizza as only italy can make, and indulge in gelato in exquisite. flavors. They both would have loved the feel of the leather goods, and held their breath seeing “David” in all his glory, and been spell bound at the sight of the Duomo right in front of our classic hotel.

I know I will reflect for the next several days what it would have been like, as I know Sandi is watching her calendar and seeing these days go by at home.

Today we went to the more humble Santa Croce church where many illustrious Italians were entombed; Michelangelo, Marconi, Dante are but a few.

Steve and I sat in a pew and silently held Ernie and Sandi in our hearts. Ernie was an engineer-type with a keen mind and thoughtful observations so we said a prrayer and lit a candle in front of the sepulcher of Galileo. I think Ernie would have liked that.

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When in Germany!

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

DSC02371The Oktoberfest is a celebration of a marriage that took place long ago (Hapsburg I believe) and was such a success, that they still celebrate it today.

It begins the third Saturday in Sept. and goes until the first Sunday in October. A mere two weeks for 6 million people to flood into Munich.

They ALL wear their native dress and arrive super early for a beer that can’t be served until the Mayor taps the first keg at 11a.m. But you have to do that in order to get a seat in one of the huge beer halls (like 6-10,000 folk in each!)

The waitress’ have arms of steel as they carry 10-12 steins at a time, then get back in line to get another batch. The food is brats and sauerkraut and of course PRETZELS.

It takes place on a huge fairgrounds with all the rides and carnival games and carnival food. Everyone mingles, and enjoys the Umpah bands. It was a great time! (no entry fee, just $10 a beer)

Practice, Practice, Practice

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

We are on the eve of the opening day of the Oktoberfest! Tho’ it had never been on my bucket list, when the planets and the calendar, and the precious moments align, then you just gotta do it!

I am not a beer drinker, but I’m an eager student. My beverage of choice still isn’t hard-core as I order a Radler (beer and lemonade). It suits me just fine. It is also a fine drink to build up wrist muscles…those steins weigh a ton. I am more concerned about knocking out my front teeth with it.


Hidden Venice

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

DSC02311 (300x400)Ever been to Disneyland on a holiday?  The crowds kinda take some of the fun out of it when you can’t do or see all you had hoped for because of just too many people.  That’s Venice! And don’t get me started about expensive! Gondola rides are now  more than $100 or sitting in St. Mark’s Square and ordering a glass of wine will set you back $19.

So allowing for 3 days in Venice, we settled for two and had a day in Padua instead. It’s a university town (60,000 students worth!) and it has rivers and canals and cobbled streets and market day and cheap pizza!

But Steve and I did turn a few hours in Venice into a treasure hunt and had a great time seeing things people would normally pass over. For example, among all the white pillars of the Doge’s Palace there are two pink ones. You’d miss it if you didn’t look for them. The Doge would stand there for all criminal sentencings as well as hangings. You can find the site where the scaffolding was erected because it’s across from the elaborate clock so the condemned man could see his last minute. St. Mark’s Basilica does not line up with the square, but if you seek it out, there is a medallion in the marble that is the perfect axis point to the church. We ran around the Square and the Rialto Bridge finding these sort of things in lieu of standing in lines.

So a little hide n’ seek, a dance in the middle in the square, and a gelato…we had a party Venice-style!

Where For Art Thou?

Thursday, September 18th, 2014


Not the home of Romeo and Juliet?? Say it isn’t so!

That’s right, an eager tour guide in 1970 thought this romantic courtyard with photogenic balcony would be just the key to kick up tourism for the city. Was there ever a Juliet Capulet? Probably, but money has it that she was most likely from Sienna. You see, a little further south, tuscan towns had neighborhoods that inspired incredible loyalty. In Sienna they are called contrades. Your identity was first and foremost that of the contrade, then your city, then your country. I am Catepillar Contrade (they are all creatures in Sienna), I am then Siennese, and then I am Italian! The loyalty was pretty intense and you wouldn’t dare marry outside of you contrade; don’t even think of it!

But the world needs romance and something to believe in, as evidenced in the 1,600 Japanese tour groups that come through yearly illustrates how that yearning is world- wide. So they come by the bus-load and drive right by the amazing roman coliseum to crowd this tiny niche and rub the left breast of Juliet’s bronze statue and to pay to lean out that balcony. Notes are delivered, and even the entry wall is plastered with bandaids with tiny inscriptions on them (and while there, keep an eye out for pick pockets)!

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After the Fall

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

On August 17 I was running the America’s Finest City 1/2 marathon. Only 3 miles into a 13.1 mile race, I found some uneven pavement and fell, turning an ankle. 7 miles later I decided I probably should stop running. My doctors concurred. I should have stopped sooner. My 1/2 marathon in Parma, Italy 4 weeks later in all likelihood would not happen.

In the ensuing 4 weeks I did my exercises and wore an ankle brace and compression sock any time I was on my feet.

Here in Europe I didn’t do any running, but a lot of walking through Saltzburg. Having made it to Parma, I wanted to experience the excitement with the 6000 (1500 doing the 1/2) runners at the starting line.

Would I be able to run?

Could I complete the run in the allotted time?

Could I walk part of the course?

Could I savor running in a foreign city and just enjoy it for what it was?

The race course zigs and zags through the streets of Parma. We actually ran 2 laps around the downtown section. What a great feeling after running 1/2 mile knowing my ankle was not going to be a concern during the run. It also was a great course for spectating (which I thought I would have to do after the ankle sprain). Debbie and our friends Wally and Pam from Colorado Springs were there to cheer me on at almost every turn. I think they ran almost as much as I did. I enjoyed hearing everyone around me speaking Italian and being encouraged by fellow runners, viewing the architecture of the many ancient buildings, and of course, crossing the finish line to cheers in a tongue I didn’t understand. The Run became the universal language for me and I praise God I got to be a part of it.


Parma Half Marathon

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

I did it. Whoooohooo!!! My ankle did not cause any issues & I had a GREAT support team in Debbie , Wally, & Pam!!! They ran almost as many miles as I did. Now getting ready to go celebrate!! This one is for you Robbie, Happy Birthday.


Parma As In Parmesian

Friday, September 12th, 2014

We are in Parma, Italy for Steve’s half marathon. But while we wait with anticipation for Sunday, we took a Cheese, Balsamic, and Prociutto Tour!

The 4 of us met our guide, Ricardo, at the first venue, which was a family-run operation of 5 people. They make about 10 rounds a day, but that consists of gallons and gallons of milk processed with rennet, thyme, and salt. Each wheel is valued at 3-4 hundred euros each! It’s hard work and nothing goes to waste as the cream makes butter to sell, and the whey is fed to pigs for prociutto. Each round is 90 pounds approximately, and is aged to perfection. The cows, feed, rennet…everything must come from this region to make this authentic Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese. And it’s all in the family, generations back to a nephew who had just come on board.

The balsamic was the same way with the minimum ageing of 12 years to a maximum of 30 years. That recipe is wine that evaporates down to a syrup in special casks. Tastes awesome, not the watery stuff you get in the grocery.

The prociutto ham was quite an education too. The ham is raw, from one of the hind legs of a 9 month old pig. Salted and hung, it dehydrates by a third and is tested multiple times for the correct curing. It too hangs around for 24 months.  

You have to have a lot of patience to eat Italian.



Hansel And Gretel Take On Salzburg

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Maria Von Trapp’s story lives on

Maria Von Trapp’s story lives on

Where were you and how old were you when you first saw The Sound of Music?

It was my 16th birthday on a very special date with a guy I had a huge crush on (Andy Andeck). We were at the Loma Theater was where all the big movies were shown in town and it would show for a year or more (Lawrence of Arabia, etc).

And don’t we know ALL the words to the music?

Heck, my wedding march was the one Maria had in the movie because it wasn’t ‘Here comes the Bride’. Well I guess that impressionable teen lives again in that today we got me a dirndl! (Steve already owns liederhosen). The women in Bavaria wear this native dress often, not as a costume but as everyday nice clothes, and men are in their deer skin pants just like any pair of shorts. It pains me to see Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer get old, but their story or rather Maria Von Trapp’s story lives on.