Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Just a few things....

Just thought I'd share a link to an interesting article I read this morning out of the UK (Times) - economic/political subject matter: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/columnists/article6361136.ece

We have a close friend in a fiscal role in a CA government organization (cryptic enough for you?) and I'm very interested to hear how things are from a local perspective.

OK - enough of that. No platforms today. Just food for thought.

We are on night 3 of the recital/orchestra/concert rounds - 2 more to go. This is the only time of year I really miss fast food options. Frozen pizza tonight. :)

Wear Sunscreen!!! And slather your children in it. Mine like to wear cute hats (in case you hadn't picked up on that via the photo's). I get to do my first C-treatment for a spot on my shoulder - Lovely. Not! The days of lifeguarding and baking myself between classes in college are coming back to haunt me. My public service announcement (PSA) for the day.

My other PSA would be - don't wear flipflops (even "good" ones) for a whole day after a season of "regular" shoes. Work your way into it. My foot is killing me - it gets worse every year. Comes from living in climates that feel like they move from Winter to Summer with not enough time inbetween. Yes, I acknowledge this isn't the first time. My brain loses track of logic when it comes to fashionable footwear. Now I'm stuck with "doesn't hurt to walk" options which do not always "go" with my chosen ensemble. GRRrrrrrrr!

I'm off to mow the lawn! For the 3rd time in my life! I've taken my antihistimines and even bought a little protective mask. At the rate we're going, Bart won't be able to mow the lawn again until June 13 and I just can't take it. So, we'll see if I pitch an allergy fit or not! I hope there's enough gas for the mower......:)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lac Le Mans/Lake Geneva/Genf/Geneve

You may have noticed the multiple names I've titled our trips with lately. Until we came over here to the 'Old World', I didn't realize there were so many 'titles' a large city might have. We have our little bits in the US: New York "the Big Apple", Chicago "the Windy City or San Francisco "City by the Bay." But it's not as if New York has any other name but New York in any other country or language. If it does - let me know!

When traveling in Europe it can be really helpful to know the name of a city in it's original language. It can be confusing for the unsuspecting tourist who is trying to catch a train, say to Vienna, only to find no train with "Vienna" as the destination. Catching the train to "Wien" in that situation would be great. Many larger cities in Europe have their own original names as well as other language counterparts: Firenze (Florence), Milano (Milan), Moscou (Moscow), Munchen (Munich) for example.

I havn't taken the time to Google the reason for multiple language names for large cities but, logic makes me think, as map making became more widespread in the 16th and 17th C's, there would be changes based on language differences and ease. My logic could be flawed - do not quote me - ever. But it seems to make sense. And while I would NEVER call Venice "Venedig", I would, and occasionally do, refer to it as Venezia.

Why do I even bring this subject up? Our neighbors sometimes find our frequent traveling fascinating. "Those crazy Americans trying to see as much of Europe as they can in 3 - 4 years. " But everytime we use one name for a city or place, they respond with another name for it. I will say "We are going to Locarno next weekend" and they respond "Ah, Lago Maggiore - so nice." For a while, it really confused me. I've gotten used to being corrected. And learned from it.

This may all be useless information. But - you might just be going to Vienna someday and need to look for that train going to Wien!

So this past weekend was Ascension (last Thursday was the official day) which gave us a school and work holiday of 4 days. Wishing all of you in the States a fine Memorial Day - and Thank You to all the Veterans.

We headed to Lake Geneva, or Lac Le Mans as my neighbors (and the rest of Switzerland) refer to it - with a French accent of course. Bart found a very reasonable apartment in a little village called Lutry in between Lausanne and Vevey. It is here on the right with the vines crawling up it: The building dates back to approx. 1520! Fortunately for us - completely new, modern renovation. So while it was small in size, there was plenty of hot water and it was clean. My only complaint and I should have left a suggestion: the kitchenette was stocked with pots/pans/dishes and regular utensils - spoons, forks & butter knives only. The only other 'tools' were a wine opener and a paring knife. So that made cooking dinner and scrambled eggs a challenge. We worked through it.

Here is a view of Lutry from the marina:
We went to the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. Bart & I had gone last year but it was fun to take the girls.
The gardens around the museum (which is not big - an easy morning or afternoon excursion) contain many metal art sculptures - most representing the challenge of the human body and spirit. For 2 months, they also have sand sculpures by a group of 4 artists who are continually maintaining the figures and refining them. They had a sculpture of Michael Phelps but it looked a little creepy. So here are the girls in front of Ali instead:

Next day we headed to Vevey - headquarters of Nestle and home to the Nestle Alimentarium (Food Museum). Thus - the "Fork" in the Lake. It was a really cool and interactive museum. Especially for kids - we had a great time learning some of the history of Nestle - no, they didn't start out with chocolate! They started with condensed milk and food products - and 'milk' chocolate was invented a little later - right there in Vevey. I know - too many factoids today.Say "Cheese!" MMmmmmmm - Gruyere.
We also headed to Geneva - a first for us. I will just repeat one item of note that we noticed on both of our other trips to this region: we seem to choose places to eat where people don't speak English or German. I'm sure it's just us but - I have better luck in France with language than I seem to in French region of Switzerland.
One afternoon to spend, kids might make it through ONE museum - what do we do? We head for the Cathedral and the Museum of the Reformation. Geneva was the seat of Protestantism during the Reformation - mid 1500's to early 1600. Where Jean Calvin (aka John Calvin) established his Academy as well as becoming a place for refugee Protestants (Italy, France, Belgium, etc...). Martin Luther's translation of the Bible to German (largely helped by the invention of the printing press) set off a wave - quickly followed by a French, Italian and then English version.
I find the old Reformed Churches fascinating. This, the home of Jean Calvin, is very similar to our Grossmunster in Zurich - home church to Ulrich Swingli of the Swiss Reformation movement. The structure and layout of the buildings themselves are that of any Catholic cathedral/church from that period. That's what the builders of the time knew. The elements inside have similarities as well as striking differences: crosses but no crucifixes, pulpits but no altars, stained windows and beautiful woodwork but lack of other ornamentation.
We found many of the documents interesting - much of it used in it's original text until the early 20th C when many things started getting an update in the language department. They have a thorough library of Reformation literature. I myself have difficulty memorizing in new (language) Bible translations as I memorized everything up through High School in the King James Version.
So - after museums and churches and whatever the parents dragged them around to do, the girls got their time too. Much of it was spent at the playground in Lutry after dinner each night. But, there was this:
And this:
AND, this.
Give them ice cream, something to draw with and some grass to roll around in and they're happy. And you can do that about anywhere in the world. Except maybe the desert - they'd be pretty happy rolling around in the sand too!

Monday, May 18, 2009


  • How do you know you've been discriminated against in Italy? You're drink automatically comes with ice cubes. Which you did not ask for and which no one else has in their glass. Nothing screams American like ice cubes in your soda.
  • The pool renovation will never get done if it doesn't quit raining.
  • The veggie garden will never be happy if it doesn't quit raining.
  • We will be visiting a hot, dry State, the State of 10,000 lakes (yes, we know there's actually more) and the State in which the National Pork Board has it's headquarters aka State of Corn! We finally bought our home trip tickets even in the midst of 'the Permit drama' which is what this year may later be known as. No, we don't know what kind of issues are going to arise as we must wait to hear from the Swiss Authorities - but God does.
  • Chicken pot pie with homemade crust is the best. I can't do it too often or the family will get spoiled. Not to mention they don't have tubs of Crisco here. They do have lard! but I would rather use butter if in a pinch.
  • We are down to our last box of Kraft Mac 'n Cheese. (don't worry, in-laws to the rescue)
  • We are down to our last box of Q-tips from our Costco stash that was shipped over with us.
  • We are down to the last box of Lysol Wipes from our Costco stash that was shipped over - those are not replaceable here :(. Nor can they be shipped.
  • We still have 1 1/2 gallons of Spray 'N Wash from the Costco stash as it appeared I overbought a bit.
  • We miss Costco.
  • May is packed with recitals, birthday parties, concerts and long weekends.
  • Pulling weeds for four hours will make you feel stiff for a few days.
  • The Lake is misty, cloudy and glowing with the sunrise this morning.
  • I hosted a class parent coffee yesterday morning so my house is all clean for the week - even though we sat outside the whole time. With blankets - at least it didn't rain. Before you think I forced my guests to do this, most people here, after the loooonnnnnggggg winter will not choose to sit indoors even if cloudy and cool as long as it's not raining.
  • We have a regular drummer for worship team at church now - Yeah!!!! I don't have to stomp on the floor now! btw - I'm a discreet stomper...
  • We enjoy listening to our girls practise their musical instruments.
  • I finally got some paperwork done for my husband - our medical claims which I dislike doing - and so now MAYBE, I'll tackle the photo situation.
  • I realized that, until I went to the Dr. for my tick bite last week and Rachel's shoulder injury, none of us have been to the Dr. for illness - in a year and a half!
  • No, I don't have Lyme disease. Allergy rashes yes, but no Lyme disease.
  • 1/3 + of our our Bible Study group will be moving this Summer and things are just changing. I will really miss those ladies.
  • I'm somewhat tired of being a renter and not an owner.
  • I wish I could speak to home repair people in my native language.
  • I need to get my kids up for school - NOW!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbors Lawn

Look at the lawn below. One day it was a smooth layer of dirt and the next day - a rolling green. I see this off my terrasse and the side yard. I walk by it every day. My neighbors brand, spankin' new lawn & garden. I can't even begin to touch the cute new trellises for the berry bushes or the compost station discretely placed in the corner.

I really don't want to think about how many CHF it took to make that lawn happen - It's not often you see sod laid in this little corner of the universe. Pretty. sigh Because this is what I've been looking at:
How long do you think my neighbor's lawn will be daisy & dandelion free? HAHAHAHAaaaaa.... Now we did get to mow it finally this last weekend. The planets were aligned just so, it stopped drizzling AND most importantly, Bart was home on Saturday to mow it.
Now, we've been home plenty of Sundays when it wasn't raining BUT in Switzerland "Thou Shalt NOT Mow Thy Lawn On Sunday." I'm not joking. It IS the 11th commandment in this country. Closely followed by "Thou Shalt Not Speak Loudly in Public" and "Thou Shalt Obey the Recycling Commandments" (there is a whole 'nother manual for this).
We would really, really like to have that work/residency permit renewed (at risk of creating short-term havoc) so we are following all the rules. And as I have varied allergy issues, I am not allowed to mow. So we waited and I must say that, all cleaned up, the backyard is looking good.
But the bees will miss this:
They love our lawn when it's unruly.
And the pool renovation is almost complete. With the constant on-off rain, the painting must be redone on the bottom and I just found out this morning that it will be another 2 weeks before we can put water in it. The girls will be very disappointed. As will I. My heart beats slower when there's water in the giant backyard pit to cushion any fall that might occur in my imagination. Yeah, and then there's the other issue of a pool and little kids who don't know how to swim........ But my kids and their friends do so we are good with it now.
Good News - the landlord did order a new pool cover! Yippee! We have had the pool filled for 2 years with fresh water and no heating (oil/gas heating for residential pools is not allowed in Switzerland). Thus, the temperature is that of a shady pond without the algae, frogs and minnows - cold. I can count on my fingers the number of times I've actually been in this pool. The kids don't care though and they use it all the time (during the "off-season" the kids use it for soccer, snow bowling and a variety of other things we won't tell the landlord about :) ).
I will share a pic of our entry which I now love. Which I used to hate. It was a tangled mess of a jungle when we moved in (overgrown trees, climbing bushes - ewwww) and we convinced them (landlord) it must be fixed. The ground cover has all come in/spread and the perennials I added give a little extra color. If anyone needs some "black eyed Susans" I have plenty. Dividing and spreading around as I see fit. :)
Mothers Day Pic. I know others feel the same but I have to say: I feel like the luckiest Mom in the World. There is not a moment that I would trade for something else besides my husband and my girlies. God has richly rewarded me with them - Thank You!
So - I must put my lawn envy aside and go pull weeds in the flower bed today. The best part - I don't care about the weeds in my lawn. But my neighbor does!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Lago di Como aka Lake Como & Update

Last weekend was a holiday weekend for Zurich (remember the happy Socialist Parade day - May 1st ?) so we took advantage of the extra time and headed south - Italy.

I took a 'few' pictures and will share a 'few.'

I had the opportunity to visit Lake Como last year with my mom and her friend and was happy to take the family down. No, we didn't get to see George. Although I still have an open invite to Mr. Clooney for coffee. Nespresso, of course. And if you don't get the Nespresso ads in the US, I'm sorry for the inside joke. But I am prepared, just in case. :)

Anyhooooo, we stayed in the same hotel as last year - they have a family room, Yippee! And the price is most excellent for this part of the world - hotel is clean, typical European breakfast included and I slept well (enough). It's an old hotel and can be a bit noisy depending on your neighbors - ours were watching Italian TV 'til well past 11pm and watching again by 7am.

We had a great terrasse and the girls enjoyed reading/playing DS's in the mornings. We stayed in a small village (don't know that I'd call it a village even - how about point on the Lake?) called Cadenabbia which is located near Tremezzo (actual village) across from Bellagio. Take a look at Lake Como sometime on a map - it's huge and the deepest lake in Northern Italy. They have an extensive ferry system which is the best way to make your way around the lake. You can drive. If you like a constant adrenaline rush, close calls and long waits in traffic - oh, and you might drive around for hours looking for a parking place only to have it taken by a much quicker, ruthless Italian driver.

I drove our car to the hotel, parked and didn't get back into it until we returned home. That is the way to drive in Como - my personal opinion.

Lake Como is situated in the middle of mountains - everything goes straight up from the Lake. Breathtaking. Looking toward Bellagio from Tremezzo:
From the Villa Carlotta gardens:
Bellagio was crowded - May 1st was a religious holiday for Italy so they were all out enjoying the sunshine and gelato. I didn't see any Socialist parades or burning buildings. It was very nice. :)

The roads around the lake are very narrow. Add bicyclists, tour buses and drifting Italian drivers and that's where the adrenaline rush comes in. There is one village along Lake Lugano you go through as you head toward Lake Como that we were sure we'd be in trouble in . The road is so narrow, they drop the center line and there are corner mirrors so you can hope to see if someone is coming at you.
We had to stop up against a cliff and wait for a Tour Bus to manouver past us - not to mention the tunnel that's only wide enough for one vehicle. That's why Fiat does so well there. We did not get an "Italian Scratch" which Bart termed for the side car scratches and rubs we saw on many vehicles. Here's the road in front of the hotel - it's actually pretty wide at this point:
On our way to the city of Como via ferry:
My date and I in the Piazza. Isn't he cute?
Going back to Cadenabbia for the last evening:
Sweet girls in their new hats and scarves:
On the way home (and on our way there), we chose to take the San Bernardino Pass route rather than the typical St. Gottard route. It is a bit longer in time and km's but worth the beautiful views, more relaxing and we don't have to worry about whether the Gottard Tunnel is backed up or not (17km of tunnel - one of the longest road tunnels in Europe - I don't like it).
I took lots of pictures but Bart caught this one (I was still driving and no, I don't take pic's while I drive. Usually.)
Switching drivers at the scenic rest-stop. Family photo op:
Rachel having a good time:
I never get tired of the mountains here. Hope I'm not boring you :)!
Into familiar territory and almost home:
We had a great time last weekend. We have built up so many good family memories here.
It has also been an incredible stressful time. Bart is working 14 hr days and we've added another element of uncertainty. We do have the signed contract finally, as of yesterday, BUT there is a chance that the Swiss Immigration/Permit authorities may deny his work permit (we'll find out in 4 - 6 weeks unless the Firm can wrangle an answer sooner). Thus our permit to live here. Which expires June 30. It is a political/current environment issue, not personal.
So we are uncertain once again - we appreciate your prayers. But you know what we do have: our health, a wonderfully loving family relationship, happy children, a job (whether here or back there), wonderful friends and a God who loves us!
A friend in my Bible study (we are all dealing with uncertainties due to the current economy/world events) sent this via email this morning which I loved:
Oswald Chambers--he was an English writer and died in 1917...his devotion book My Utmost for HIS Highest...is truly a classic...

April 29
Our natural inclination is to be so precise--trying always to forecast accurately what will happen next--that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We think that we must reach some predetermined goal, but that is not the nature of the spiritual life. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. Consequently, we do not put down roots. Our common sense says, "well, what if I were in that circumstance?" We cannot presume to see ourselves in any circumstance in which we have never been.
Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life--gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it ishould be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises. When we become simply a promoter or defender of a particular belief, something within us dies. That is not believing God--it is only believing our belief about Him. Jesus said, "unless you...become as little children.." Mat 18:3 The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled. But when we have the right relationship with God, life is full of spontaneious, joyful uncertainty and expectancy. Jesus said, "believe also in Me Jn 14:1, not, Believe certain things about Me...Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in--but you can be certain that He will come. Remain faithful to Him.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Bells are Ringing!

They sound beautiful. But as it is 1:45 on Thursday, and according to my Swiss German teacher, there's been a funeral. They still sound beautiful.

It is an absolutely beautiful, Swiss Tourism day as well - not a cloud in the sky. It's warm, sunny and although the clouds are supposed to come back tomorrow along with cooling back into the low 60's - I'll take all I can get.

In fact, this can't be too long - I need to be outside!

So I will post our past weekend trip tonight. Not now. And while I try to be pretty true to our real life situation here without spilling my guts, things have been pretty crazy in the midst of the 'cool' trips. A friend in my Bible study this morning put it very well (thank you SM) "you are full to the brim and if anyone bumps you, you'll spill over." How true. So there is stuff to share but I have to wait so I don't flood the written page.
Enjoy the pic from our terrasse - if you were here, I'd love to share a coffee or tea or glass of wine with you on it. 'Til later, I've got some garden puttering to do. :)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Ball Anyone? Shhhh! Don't tell Mom....

That's what you get! Get to work you naughty children! You know the rules - No playing ball in the house! Yes! Playing ball in the house! Well, actually, I let them. And no I didn't make them mop on their hands and knees. That was their request. They find it fun. Hey - Who am I to say no? By all means, scrub away! They hire out at 3chf per mop - quite affordable don't you think?
So here we are playing ball in the house on a rainy day. It wouldn't normally be such a big deal but I bought a new bat and some very soft balls at the store when I was in Zurich. The bat is a hard foam - I've never seen an actual baseball bat on sale here in Switzerland. We did smuggle gloves and balls over last summer for the girls but no bats.
Can you please take a look at this blurry picture and tell me what is wrong with it?!!! Besides the outrageous price I paid for a foam bat and one foam ball.
Is the kid trying to hit himself in the head? What????? What is he doing with his hands???!!!
Sometimes you've got to wonder.
And yes, the girls had fun and did not break a thing.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Spring Break - 3rd & 4th (final) Stop

OK - If blogging were my job, I'd have long been fired. I WILL finish with Spring Break today and then I'll only be one week behind in trips and almost caught up before the next.

May is our holiday month. We just had the May 1st holiday - a day for the Socialist's to have their parade and declare the democratic capitalist's to be the 'evil ones.' Then, a small minority of them (who happen to come from other parts of Europe, non-Swiss) create street havoc. Bart call's it "Hooligan Day" which got a chuckle from about half the Swiss in his office. This year, not only was the KPMG office building assaulted with paint and windows broken, it was also set on fire. Thus why all the business capitalists must go on holiday. So as not to be present when Rome burns. No lasting damage and really, their building is chosen in part because of it's convenient proximity to the 'hooligan' neighborhood. The Banks in Paradeplatz are standing unscathed.

So we were away again and I will have to share later this week as I am compelled to finish Spring Break. Or my mom will be upset that I have not posted any Villefranche pic's.

Our final stop as a group (reminder that there are still 2 families travelling together) was Villefranche sur Mer which is located on the coast of France between Monaco and Nice. We had been 2 years ago and loved it - very pleased to return. It was a long travel day from Cinque Terre and we were very happy to reach our final destination. The train had been delayed in Genoa but fortunately that was the last major train and we knew we could catch a commuter from Monaco onward.

Once in Monaco, my friend exclaimed "Hmmm, this train station is definitely different than the Italian train stations." That is true. It has air conditioning AND escalators - no dragging bags up and down full flights of stairs. It also caters to the Riviera crowd and that is evident in the upkeep and facilities.

I must share one incident - as I seem to attract the oddballs in life - we met a very friendly Iranian man who was headed to Nice and catching a boat to Corsica. He really wanted to talk with J and I in English. Explained how he had traveled to Los Angeles as one of the Shah's body guards back in the day and then realized I spoke German too, so insisted on speaking German with me as well. Then he proceeded to tell us how we must watch the children if we go to Nice (yes, I know, and no, we won't be going this trip), and how can you (me) be old enough to have such children (pointing at my husband and yes, they are mine, I am OLD enough) AND that he speaks 12 different languages (none in school, all by ear) including the language of Jesus. ???? Aramaic. Okay. Fortunately, our stop was next.

I did complain that I do always seem to attract weird, drunk men in public - this goes way back to an experience S and I had at a bus stop in Jr. High. J & Bart questioned "He was drunk?" Unfortunately, years of public transport developes in one a keen sense to those who are are habitual drinkers. "Yes - if not drunk, he had started at the lunch hour." I need to develop a meaner look in public.

Enough of strange encounters.

Here are our kiddo's enjoying the sun and sea at the beach. By now, everyone had proper bathingsuits except for the grownups. And no - we did not go all French Riviera - rolled up jeans and t-shirts had to suffice. The water was freezing but the kids didn't care - it was nice and warm on the sand. A great day. See that reddish/orange house there in the middle (purpley trees behind it) - with the Cypress', olive grove and extensive gardens. That's my house. S tried to claim it but I told her I saw it first - 2 years ago - so first dibs. We then decided it's big enough to share. That way we could split everything and it would be more affordable. hahahahaha
Our monkeys. When we weren't at the beach or eating or walking around the little town, we were at the city playground. On the last afternoon, B, who by now was miserable without his skateboard, saw some boys on their behind the park. So J offered one of the boys the 1.50 euro he had in his pocket to let Blake ride for a few minutes - what a dad! Cracked us up and B was happy.
I know I often mention how expensive things can be here when traveling. We don't eat out much when we're home because there's the cost of eating when you're traveling. "Fast" food here isn't the same (not to mention a meal at McD's is much more expensive here) and you can't always find a quick place for food - not to mention, many shops are closed during the lunch hour - so you find yourself at restaurants for lunch. Which on average can cost the equivalent of $50 - 60 for a family of 4 (the beverages alone cost $12 - 15 - and you can't ask for tap water unless you've ordered some other kind of beverage). At this point of the trip, I think we were all glad to be in an apartment vs hotel. We had lunch out/sandwiches and then were able to barbeque and make our own dinners in Villefranche. We have found Apartment rentals in Europe to be very easy and for our family, the most convenient for any stay lasting more than 2-3 days.
We had a nice view of the small bay of Villefranche. Looking toward Cape Ferrat. And then, it was time for our friends to head back to CA while we headed off to London......
We stayed in London for the weekend because the flights were cheaper through Heathrow and we used the extra $$ saved from flying Nice - Zurich direct on a hotel. So we saved but didn't all at the same time. Makes sense? We had wanted another weekend in London anyway and it just worked out. So,

I have no words for this picture (in front of Buckingham Palace) other than it makes Bart & I laugh. So I hope you get a chuckle but not in an offensive way. I never even noticed the Jewish man to the right until we were looking at the pic's at home - I was more fascinated by the young ladies outfit when I took the pic. I guess it's the contrast that makes us giggle.

We love the parks in London and it was soooooo incredibly beautiful with all the trees in flower.
Not our typical Easter Sunday dinner but here you have it: Hard Rock Cafe London. We have traveled on two occasions that hit Easter Sunday and while it is never the same as being at your home Church, we remember and recognize the significance and celebration of the Resurrection in spite of our location. And the Westminster Abbey bells were RINGING!
So, yes, here we are at the Hard Rock. This is our family treat when we are in cities that have a Cafe - we've been in Barcelona, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Rome (not Paris) and now London. Where it all began. Yes, the Hard Rock Cafe was started in London and attracted it's clientele for the 'American' style food served. They started the memorabilia collection with Eric Clapton's guitar seen below. It was supposed to 'reserve' his spot at the Cafe. Pete Townsend wasn't going to let that pass and reserved his place also with a guitar (bottom left). There you have it - Hard Rock history if you didn't know it.
Why do we bother? Bart and I like some rock & roll (I think I mentioned the girls danced at the table to Switchfoot in Copenhagen? - Yikes :) AND we can get fajitas, or loaded cheeseburgers, American hot dogs, Barbeque ribs, salads other than an 'Insalata Mista' with Italian or French dressing and oh, it just feels good even though it's kitschy American. Because we don't get 'home' much and it's fun.
The Fam in front of Big Ben.
So we ended our Spring Break in England - listening to English. We went to the British Museum as well - one of the original intentions of this trip - which was huge and fantastic. You need several days to do it real justice and save your legs. But we did a surface run in several hours which is all the girls are really up to anyway. The great thing is - it was all in English! Picking up on the 'English' part yet?
It was wonderful to be able to read the signs and descriptions in our native language. Usually we are looking for an English translation card or simply figuring it out with logic. Logic goes far but sometimes you lose a bit in translation. And your brain has to work harder.
We returned home having had a great time but realizing the house was much quieter now our guests were gone. I still miss them. I am so happy they were able to take time out of their lives and travel here. There are still things I would have liked to share with them. Never enough time. They are probably happy to be home and not worrying about making noise on top of the neighbors. :)