Sunday, April 11, 2010

Visit from the Hawkins

The Hawkins arrived just in time to celebrate Candi's birthday! I made Alper Macaroni to welcome them to Switzerland which is a Swiss dish made with noodles, potatoes, bacon, and a cream kind of meal! We had a birthday party with cake and champange! I still have not mastered how to make a cake in Switzerland. I tired the two layered cake this time but underestimated the frosting. It still tasted good though :)

Lucky Zann took off work Friday to explore the town.

Dr. Mike had to get a picture with the toilet since he had to PAY to use it.

Friday afternoon we headed to Locarno which is in Southern Switzerland on the Italian border.

We enjoyed the train ride with pretzles, a bottle of wine, and taking pictures out the window.

Frist thing we see in Locarno...a Fart sign. Who knows what it means in Italian but Dr. Mike had to get a picture :)

After checking into our hotel we went out for some Italian pizza! Then Candi's birthday continued at the Casino of course. No one hit the jackpot but we had fun!

It was dark when we got to our hotel way up on the hill so we didn't really check things out. The hotel owner showed us our little cottage then we hit the town. We woke up to this cute place. We didn't plan ahead too much for this trip so I found Dolce Vita last minute on a travel website. It was a pretty good deal so we went for it.

Zann enjoying a sunny breakfast with the beautiful view. The hotel was located up on the hill looking over the city. It was an amazing view.

Dr. Mike's view from his bed on the first floor of our little cottage.

We hadn't researched Locaro very much before coming since we were both swamped with work, we just figured we would walk around the figure things out as we went. We started our day planning to walk from our hotel down the hill to the town. About 5 minutes into our walk we saw a sign for a gondola and thought we would check it out. We had read about it but our travel book didn't highlight it as a must do. Well they were wrong.

This is the chair lift up after the gondola. I am not a fan of chair lifts to begin with but a side ways chair and a very steep hill, I was nervous. My hand hurt from holding on so tight.

But totally worth it for the incredible view! We were hot in long sleeves at our hotel who knew we would be going up into the snow.
Our feet were not prepared for a snow hike but we had to make it all the way to the top right?

Almost there...

And we made for skating down..

Coffee/Beer stop before heading down.

Well worth the trip up if you visit Locarno!

Once we made it down we were back on the track walking to the town. Next stop was the church of Madonna del Sasso which dates back to a vision of the Virgin Mary which appeared to a Franciscan monk. It had an incredible Last Supper display.

Christmas Cards 2010??

We had been walking for about an hour and in Switzerland that calls for a coffee or lunch stop. We voted for lunch with more pizza and gelato just because we were near Italy. The rest of the day we strolled around the city and lake. We may or may not have had an afternoon trip to the Casino. Ascona is the next town over from Locarno (about a 30 minute walk) so we walked over there to find a spot for dinner. Zann and I were being very picky about where we wanted to eat (or drink, we were really just trying to find a place with cheap wine!). We finally settled on Osteria Nostrana which look like it had great pasta and it was packed so that was a good sign. As we were drinking our first bottle of wine I noticed a boy walk in with two other people that looked sooo familiar. I kept saying I swear he is the older brother of Victor (who when to OLGC with me). But we were in Ascona Switzerland and at random restaurant so someone I know really couldn't be there right? I was too shy the whole dinner to say anything. As they stood up to leave I had to take the chance. As soon as I walked up Nick said I thought I recognized you. He had a 5 dollar bet with is friend that I went to OLGC too. So it was Victor's brother Nick. What are the chances right? Even weirder he was visiting another OLGC grad who lives in Logano and there were just there for the evening having dinner. How he recognized me I'm not sure since the last time he would have seen me I was in my way awkward stage with braces in 5th grade.

OLGC reunion in Switzerland!

Now we have had 3 bottles of wine, maybe we should go home!

Sunday morning we walked around the town a bit more and decided to leave around lunch time so we could stop in Bellinzona on our way home. Bellinzona is has the three best preserved castles in Switzerland.

It was a beautiful beautiful day. The castle lawn was the perfect spot for some R and R!

Dr. Mike LOVED brats! He got one everytime we went out!

We spent Monday exploring the old and new sides of Zurich. Of course with a stop for a brat for lunch and Spruengli for dessert! We had a fun shopping trip looking for a new purse for Candi. She got a super cute green Longchamp as a souvenir!

On the way home we stopped at a restaurant in our neighborhood Bohemia for happy hour.

Tuesday Zann had to work so we took a picnic lunch up to Uetliberg (my favorite spot in Zurich). We opted to take the train instead of hike, enough walking had been done all week. We had an incredible view of the mountains and a great lunch!

Tuesday night for our last dinner Zann did his special surprise we did with Susie and Jeff and we went to the Blindekuh. This is the place you eat in the total dark and the staff is all blind. Candi found this restaurant online when she was looking for a place for us to go for Zann's birthday so it wasn't a total surprise. But nothing can prepare you for TOTAL darkness. Again we had yummy food.

We had a fabulous week together! We were sad to go to the airport Wednesday morning to say good bye. We all went to the airport together because Zann and I were off to Egypt about an hour after their flight. Looking forward to Charleston this summer!!

Here is the link to the rest of the pictures:

Sheia and Kevin's Visit!

YAY for Sheila and Kevin coming to visit!! They flew to Prague to meet Zann and I there on a Saturday night. I was in Prague for work so they decided they wanted to visit there also. We had a great time walking around the city and went out for dinner. Sadly, the rest of the time I was there, I was stuck in the conference but they had a great time sight seeing and stayed until Monday. Monday night they headed to Zurich to spend the week with us there. Sadly I had to work every day while they got to go out and do fun things, so I don't have too many pictures.

Tuesday I was able to get to leave work early for a special treat. Sheila's Aunt Megan is married to Don Beyer who is the US Amabassador to Switzerland. So they invited us over for dinner and to sleep over. Awesome!! Of course we are coming!!My principal was so nice to let me leave school at lunch time to head for Bern. If was great to get to catch up with Kevin and Sheila on the train.

And boy were we in for a treat!! After we checked in with the two sets of body gaurds we were escorted to their Beautiful home!!

Here are some pictures of the house for you Mom!!
We had the third floor to ourselves!

With polo shirts for each of us the with embassy symbol on them

And fresh baked cookies!

Pictures with the Obama's and Oprah

After cocktails we enjoyed a GREAT meal make by their personal chef (after eating I decided I definately need a chef one day!). We had two yummy salads followed by mushroom lasagna and apple cake for dessert. Then we headed down to their movie theater for the rest of the night. What a special experience to go there and it was great to meet Megan and Don!

The had some Herend China in their cabinet!

Front door and entry hall

I wish I could have spent more time with Sheila and Kevin but that just means they will have to come back and visit :)


In March, my school sent me to Prague for a course called Making the PYP Happen. This is an itroduction course to the PYP and two other new teacher from school came along also. I was sooo excited because this was my first "business trip" meaning they paid for my flight, hotel ,and we got a stipend for food each day. Not too often that happens when you are a teacher, but my school does an excellent job providing opportunities for professional development. We got there Thursday night and we out for dinner then went to bed early because the course started early Friday morning. Zann decided to come along since the plane tickets were cheap and my school had paid for the hotel and our food. And Sheila and Kevin were meeting us there Saturday night.

We stayed at the Crowne Plaze which use to be the old Communist Head quaters. It was very nice. This is where the conference was and they did a fantastic job giving us breakfast, a huge lunch, and many snacks during the day.
The PYP Group + Zann Making it Happen down town for dinner

Out for pizza and beer on Friday night. I meet a great group of girls that are teaching all over the world. I hope I get a chance to visit some of them one day!