Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Una granjera en la familia

Sydney fue a una granja con su clase. Se divertio a montones!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ay! Feliz cumple Sydney

Sydney cumplio 5 hace 6 semanas aprox. Tuvimos que cambiar la fecha, sin embargo todas sus amigas vinieron a festejar. Tambien tuvo otra fiesta con sus amiguitos de la escuela, 15 en total.

Cinque Terre, the pictures

Cinque Terre, Italia

We all met back in Switzerland in the middle of the second week so that we could recover from the jet lag before school/work. We decided to make a long talked about trip to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre means “The Five Lands”. It is a series of five fishing villages built into the cliffs along the Italian Riviera in the Liguria region of Italy, to the west of the city of La Spezia. The five villages (from north to south) are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Cinque Terre is noted for its beauty. Over centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Part of its charm is the lack of visible "modern" development. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach it from the outside.
A walking trail connects the five villages. The trail from Riomaggiore to Manarola is called the Via Dell'Amore ("Love Walk") and varies in difficulty from an easy stroll to a rough and physically challenging hike. The stretch from Manarola to Corniglia is the easiest to hike, although the main trail into Corniglia finishes with a climb of 368 stairs. The trail from Corniglia to Vernazza is steep at certain places. The trail from Vernazza to Monterosso is by far the steepest. It winds through olive orchards and vineyards and is rough in places, but offers the best view of the bay and the spectacular approaches to both Monterosso and Vernazza.
Our first day, we took the train to Riomaggiore and explored the village in the morning. We covered the whole village in about an hour and spent the late morning/early afternoon at a cliff side restaurant overlooking the water. We ate plenty of seafood, brochette, and olives. In the afternoon, we hiked the Love Walk. We found this to be a very smooth walking path and thought the information on the internet significantly overstated the difficulty of this trail. It was so smooth that we kicked ourselves for not bringing the kids’ scooters. We spent the afternoon exploring Manarola, which was one of our favorites. The main street leads right down to the water and is filled with restaurants and shops on both sides. This main street is also littered with fishing boats that never seem to move. This is also one of the most scenic villages as the houses and buildings are all brightly colored.
The next day, we took the train back to Manarola and then hiked the path to Corniglia. As we thought all the paths were similar to what we experienced the first day, we brought the scooters with us this time – big mistake. The treck to Corniglia was very rocky and hilly and we ended up carrying the scooters that whole way. We received many strange looks from fellow hikers and one woman even stopped to ask “what’s with the scooters?” I had to explain that we started from the South with the Love Trail which is very easy and smooth. She had started from the North and the trails so far for her had been nothing but rocky and hilly. We eventually made it to Corniglia, and finished the journey with a punishing climb of the Lardarina, a long brick flight of steps composed of 33 flights with 377 steps. Corniglia, unlike the other villages, does not sit directly adjacent to the sea. It is surrounded on three sides by vineyards and terraces and the fourth side descends steeply to the sea. We took a lunch break and explored the village. It was still pretty early in the day, so we decided to hike to the next village, Vernazza. Vernazza I believe was our favorite of the five. Like Manarola, it also had a restaurant and shop lined street that connected the train station with the water. But at the water, there was a nice little beach area that was also surrounded by restaurants. Most restaurants opened for dinner at 7PM, but we found one restaurant that opened at 6.30. So we made a reservation and then spent the rest of the afternoon at a cafĂ© on the main drag and did some people watching. The food was delicious - again, we ate mostly seafood, olives, and this time, some pasta.
On our last day, we promised the kids we would go to a bigger beach and build sand castles, and we knew Monterosso had the best and biggest beach. We debated in the morning about whether to hike or take the train. Since we had hiked to all the other villages, we decided to hike this final leg, and therefore took the train back to Vernazza. This final stretch between Vernazza and Monterosso was not the most physically demanding, but certainly the most treacherous. In some spots, there was nothing more than a narrow ledge along which we had to inch along slowly and carefully as we held each others hands. JP and Syd proved themselves to be great little hikers. We never carried them once, despite hiking for up to 2.5 hours at a time. We made it to Monterosso in the late morning and immediately found a place to eat. After lunch, I explored the village while Sandy and the kids hit the beach. Monterosso does not have the old world charm of the other four villages and is a bit more touristy because of the beach. However, I found it to be an interesting town with some nice shops and restaurants. The five villages are also connected by boat, so in the afternoon we took a boat ride from Monterosso to Manarola. We had dinner in Manarola at a restaurant we spotted our first time there and then took the train back to La Spezia. The weather could not have been more perfect over those three days – each day was sunny and warm with a nice cool breeze. On Sunday, we awoke to a cloudy, rainy day, which was fine since we were doing nothing more than driving back to Oberrieden. We could not have timed the weather any more perfectly!

Mexico Lindo y Querido

Nuestro corto viaje a Mexico estuvo muy relajado. Familia, amigos, comida, y muy buen clima.

No faltaron las visitas a parque de los coyotes
La foto familiar; si, la fotografa necesita unas clasesitas


Mas parque

Andy y Syd disfrutaron mucho esa semana. Gracias Andy!

Easter Break

The ski season came to an abrupt end when Jim tore some of the muscle fibers in his calf one Sunday on the slopes. Fortunately, it was at the end of the day as well as at the end of the season. This last time skiing was great, because it was the first time we all went down the slope together as a family. We are definitely ready for ski season next year!
The kids and I had two weeks off from school in April around Easter. Jim took some vacation time and we split up to visit our respective families: Jim and JP went to Syracuse while Sydney and I went to Mexico. JP must have picked up a flu virus on the plane, because he was sick as soon as he and Jim got to Syracuse. He was a couch potato for the first 4-5 days, although I think Grandma and Grandpa enjoyed the slower pace and were happy to watch cartoons with him and feed him popsicles. Despite being under the weather, they managed to visit Beaver Lake to see how maple syrup is made, participated in an Easter Egg hunt in Paula’s neighborhood, make a visit to Jim’s high school, and make a visit to Aunt Suzzy’s work to bring flowers for her birthday. The second half of the trip was better – JP spent quality time with his cousins Griffy, Chelsey, and Piper. They worked in a couple more trips to Chuck E Cheeses (JP’s favorite place) and topped off the week with a fantastic Easter dinner at Mom and Dad’s – Jim managed to pack on an extra 5 pounds over the course of the week.