Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Beautiful Impressions

Today I spent the day with hubby and extended family/friends at the DeYoung. We had the opportunity to see this exhibit, and it was spectacular! I don't think I could ever get tired of looking at these works. The experience of seeing them in person is vastly different to looking at a print or copy in a book.

 Afterwards, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at a quiet restaurant along the coast. It was right on the water and the weather out by the beach was actually sunny today!

I loved today because it was the first time this particular group of us had spent time together outside of "holiday" family gatherings.  I relished the chance to talk to everyone during such a pleasant and relaxed day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summertime Begins

There's been a lot going on since I got back of course! We've had a preschool graduation, a school play about saving ocean habitats (ironic, especially since K's class started rehearsing for this one in January), a tap dancing show, a day trip to go cherry picking, a very belated beading birthday party, and all the usual holidays and celebrations.

Maybe the most extraordinary part of the summer has been our trip to Lake Tahoe with Grandma. We went to the beach, played in the water, and made sand castles. But the girls also had their first trip to the snow. In June! In California of all places! Because the spring has been so mild, there is still a lot of snow in the mountains and some of the lakes remain frozen. All the same, K and M had a fantastic time making snow angels and a very little snowman. And I enjoyed watching much more than getting cold!

Home Again, Home Again

So you can guess the rest of the story. I had to go home. Mom and I were up very early again to catch a taxi to the train station. I guess during Passion Play yeard, everyone must double up on jobs because the village is so tiny. The taxi driver was also the bread delivery lady and her van smelled heavenly with the baskets of freshly baked bread.

We then began the crazy train/bus ride back to Munich with some confusion with a couple of bus drivers as to whether we needed to go to Huglfing or Uffing. We made it and along the way passed field after field of mustard (the flowers are brilliant yellow).

I said good-bye to Mom at the airport as she had another 24 hours still in Munich before her flight. I was quite sad as this was our first trip together (without kids!) in 11 years, although this time we were both grown-ups. I really enjoyed spending time with her and having the opportunity to talk to her uninterrupted.

I made it back home after traveling for over 24 hours. I was very tired, but very happy to see K, M and of course, hubby. Came home with lots of happy memories, pictures, and souvenirs feeling very lucky.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Passion Play

Mom and I spent the morning exploring the town of Oberammergau. The weather drizzled a little, but no heavy downpour. Lots of beautiful woodcarving shops and buildings decorated with incredible frescos. Crowds of people all browsing and sightseeing before the play.

Lunch was early so the everyone could be ready sharply at 2:15 for the 2:30 start. We had no idea where the tickets were when we booked the package, but we ended up sitting in row 5! All playgoers were given a full textbook of the play in both German and English, and it was hugely helpful to be able to follow along.

The play itself was just amazing. My favorite actor in the entire production was Judas. The music was beautiful, especially the singing by the three soloists. The huge scale of the play with over 2000 participants was mind boggling, not to mention the inclusion of pigeons, pigs, sheep, horses, and a camel!

Dinner break was at 5:15 and again the streets filled with tourists. Every tiny detail is planned in the nine years between plays, so that everything is run seamlessly. No cars crowd the streets because everything is within walking distance or shuttles are planned. Dinner is ready to go for everyone at once so you can be ready for the 8:30PM start. In fact, the flow of tourists into the town is carefully controlled throughout the week by the various play packages that are offered. The entire production, the involvement of the entire town of 5200 for 4700 visitors four times a week is meticulously planned and run.

It is an enjoyable experience both because the visit to Oberammergau is so well thought out, but also because of the wonderful quality of the play: elements of Greek drama, Shakespeare, opera, and the Passion Play. It is emotionally draining, but extremely gratifying to see.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

On to Oberammergau, Germany

The next day began very early (I'm just not a morning person!!) We left Como and took the train back to Milano. From there, we had a wild and crazy shuttle bus ride with a driver who thought he would take a shortcut to avoid traffic (it didn't work). We flew to Munich and proceded to get very confused by the train system. It's a great system once you figure it out, but complicated if you don't know and German. The subway, buses, and trains are all interconnected. 
After another confusing incident with a missing train and another bus detour due to construction in Huglfing, we finally got to Oberammergau 12 hours after we began. We changed around Mom's flights with my brother's help so that she could come home earlier. I was worried about her trying to jump off and on the trains, buses, and planes by herself with luggage.  

We checked into the Hotel Turmwirt. It is a charming hotel with charming staff and super modern amenities. It must have been recently renovated in order to be ready for this year's Passion Play.

After a delicious dinner of schnitzel, soup and fries, I wandered around the town for a short while. The entire town is painted with beautiful 18th century frescos. I really enjoyed looking in the windows of all the woodworking stores. You could see the different styles of each artist even though much of the art reflected the religious themes of the Passion Play. Also, visited the Parish Church which is located directly across the street from the hotel. Since it was getting dark, it was a little hard to see some of the amazing Roccoco artwork, but beautiful all the same.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Mom's ankle was quite swollen, so we decided to ride the boat up the laggo to Bellagio. (Of all the places in the world to have to sit and rest, this is probably the best.)

Weather was perfect: sunny and warm. We rode the "slow boat" (versus the "fast boat" which doesn't make as many stops). Taking in the villas, relaxed travelers, and snow-covered Alps waqs quite surreal.

I left Mom resting her leg on a bench overlooking Bellagio. I took the opportunity to explore in every direction and took lots of pictures so that Mom could see what was around us. Everything was scenic. I visited a 11th century church, lots of charming little shops, and looked in a lot of store windows that offered very expensive, very lovely things of all kinds. Gave in and bought a beautiful silk scarf from Como.

Somewhere along the way I saw George Clooney's villa. I knew the general area and heard that it was supposed to be white so I had to take a picture of them all. Also saw where parts of the latest Bond and Ocean movies were filmed. Absolutely gorgeous.

Mom and I dined at a lakeside restaurant close to the hotel (we stayed at the Hotel Barchetta Excelsior--the location is perfect--the breakfast room overlooks the lake). I ate a delicious dinner of spinach gnocchi in a crispy Parmesan cheese shell.

What an amazing place Lake Como is.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Travel Adventures Continued

I never finished the trip. Actually, I didn't have wi-fi anymore so I am finishing the trip here from home. :)

The next day was an early one. We scrambled to catch the 8:00AM vaporetto. It's worth it, though, to get up early to see Venice in the morning without the tourists, vendors, and beautiful sunlight.

We rode the train to Milan, but along the way Mom's ankle started to swell and bruise. There wasn't much to be done on the train so we figured we would get to Lake Como and then figure it out. Unfortunately, it was three different trains which meant a lot of hopping off and on trains quickly with luggage.

We arrived in Como to 80 degree weather and sunshine. What a beautiful town! After checking in, we took a taxi to the hospital and went to the ER. We found a nurse who spoke English, and were seen right away. Not a lot of information other than "don't walk." Although of all places to be stuck sitting, Lake Como isn't so bad. 

I left Mom on a bench in a pretty park by the lake and explored. Saw the temple to Volta and then followed the road along the shore in the opposite direction. Everything was incredibly scenic! Took a break for some cherry gelato, and then walked to the duomo and explored the little shops there. Found a great bookstore and found some books for the girls in Italian (i.e., The Three Little Bears).

Dinner was outside looking at the duomo at a pizzeria. Loved how it stays light out until 9:30PM, and the wait staff never hurries you out of the restaurant.