Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Christmas Tree for 2017 Memory

Wednesday night we had one of those, “Gosh, isn’t this the most fun ever” moments. Since we have only been back a short time from our long (and fabulous) trip to Europe, we have not done any Christmas decorating. And, we had no Christmas tree.

Unfortunately, because we are so late in selecting one, there were no tall trees left and we had to settle for a shorter one this year. But that is not a problem because purchasing it will be a wonderful memory we will have for the rest of our lives.

Little LW went with us and helped. We borrowed BSB’s truck and picked up LW from his school early. As always, he was very excited to see me. He ran into my arms and turned back to tell his teacher, “Oma is here!” Wow, what a moment.

Then we went outside to see Papa waiting in the truck. LW literally yelled when he saw him. He really loves his Papa and gets excited every time we are around. It is so heart warming.

Off we went to the local tree lot to try and find a 9-foot or taller tree. My conversation with LW in the car went something like this:

“LW, do you want to help Oma and Papa pick out a Christmas?”
“Do you want to help Papa put the tree in our house?”
“Yep, I will do it with Papa. Where are the ducks?”
“I think the ducks are gone night night. Do you like the Christmas tree lights?”
“Yep. Look, a BIG TRUCK.” (There was an eighteen-wheeler on the road.)

Gosh, this was fun!

We knew finding a 9 foot tree was probably a long shot and sure enough, we settled for 7 (almost 8) foot tree.  However it has a pretty shape – nice and narrow for our foyer.

LW was so sweet – he helped the tree attendant by putting the stray limbs in a trash box as they were cut from the bottom of the tree.

Then we took the tree home.

Of course LW really sprung into action trying to help carry the tree and then screw in the base. 

I was holding the tree up while the “boys” fitted it to the base. I looked down and there were two sets of legs coming out from under the tree, one big and one small. How cute!

LW was very proud of himself. He is such a good helper.

This was definitely one of those memories you live for.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Best Wine Bar in Genoa

Our purpose in visiting Genoa, Italy was to pick up our car that we would drive for the next two weeks throughout Italy. Genoa was more enjoyable than we anticipated.

We arrived at the train station and took a taxi through winding and extremely busy streets to the airport to pick up our car.

Genoa was so much larger and more industrial than I thought. For some reason I thought it was a sleepy seaside town. It was a huge shipping port.

This cruise shipped docked in Genoa has a picture of Super Woman on the side.

Unfortunately the car was not ready so our first meal in Genoa was in the airport. Not ideal, but not stressful. Finally the car was ready and we were on our way. After settling into our hotel, we headed out in search of some good Italian food and/or wine. LOL

This was the view of Genoa from the street where our hotel was located.
Hubby D did a search for “Best Wine Bars in Genoa” and found several with great reviews. We chose the one closest to our hotel and set off to find it.

For each city we visited Hubby D downloaded a map of the area so we could find our way around without using data on our phones. This worked beautifully!  He is so smart!  (Or, maybe I am uninformed…)

We had some problems with street names but finally came across this alley where the wine bar was located. Unfortunately it was not open yet.

So, we peered in the windows to see if we thought it would be what we wanted. The owner saw us and came to the door and urged us inside. It was perfect!

Interesting fact about this wine bar. They have a chalkboard where they constantly update the wines they are serving.
It was not fancy but the lasagna was good and the wines were great.
Unknown to us there was a chocolate fair in town right in front of a large fountain. I believe everyone with a motorbike in Genoa was in attendance.

More motorcycles parked in one place than I have ever seen.
We slowly browsed the stalls filled with every kind of chocolate imaginable.

After selecting one tasty morsel each for a bedtime snack, we found our way back to the hotel. Tomorrow we leave for our drive to Como and the Lake District of Italy.

This fountain was located just opposite the chocolate fair. It was very pretty and just down right romantic.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Three Elevators and a Terrace in Nice, France

We were up before dawn to leave Barcelona and catch our 7:23AM train to Nice. We watched the sun rise out the train window.

Our Barcelona hotel packed us a nice European breakfast out of a box. We had delicious croissants, juice and fruit.  Life is not too bad.

This would be a long day, as our train will take over 6 hours travel time with 2 train connections.  It probably would have been better to fly but by the time we decided we should fly, the flights were very expensive.  So the train it would be.

What was I thinking when I planned this?  I should have been more careful about how much time we spent on trains.  Today the train ride would be like being on a boat for 6 hours and I did not bring my seasick medicine.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?

We watched the mountains with snowcaps turn into a valley with green fields and olive groves.

While on the train, I was on my phone texting with a good friend, JA back in Northern Virginia.  Just that week, JA and her husband returned from Bahrain to NOVA. JA has traveled quite a bit in the Switzerland and Italy area so she was familiar with where we were traveling.

It was just too cool to be on a train in France and Italy and talking to a friend in Virginia in the United States. 

We sent this picture to JA while on the train.
I complained to JA that I did not like the train too much and she told me how she loved traveling by train as you could watch the villages go by and see all the picturesque farms.

From then on I found ways to make the travel much more enjoyable. She really motivated me to see the positive.  And, I did not think about the movement of the train as much so my stomach benefited TREMENDOUSLY. A big THANK YOU to JA.

We had a train change in Marseille long enough to grab a quick bite to eat. Originally we were going to spend the night in Marseille so I shot a quick picture to remember it by.  I was hoping our change to stay in Nice for two nights was a good one.

World War I and II memorial in the train station.
Took this picture of an escalator and sent it back for BHB to show to LW.
We had a friend join us for lunch in Mareseille.
We arrived at our hotel in Nice barely in time to catch the last of the sunset. We had 3 elevators to take to get to the room.

However, as the bellman said, “To get the best room in the hotel, you must go up in 3 elevators.”

Sure enough, it did take us 3 elevators or 2 elevators and 1 stair to get to the top floor and our room overlooking the shore and the town of Nice. The hotel was a group of buildings and not just one building.

I knew from the first moment I walked in the front door, this hotel was going to be a challenge for my bad knee.

There was a long hall to the third elevator.
You could take the stairs to the left instead of the last elevator.  LOL
IT WAS DEFINITELY WORTH IT. The room had the most wonderful terrace – almost as big as the room itself. This was definitely a good choice.

We made it just in time to catch the last rays of the sun.
However, it did have a traditional French bathroom with no shower – only a hand held sprayer.  Hubby D was not going to be happy.

Nice turned out to be a great choice and a one of the top highlights of our entire trip. Even with the shower challenge, we would definitely go back to Nice.

The first night we were hungry and tired. Unfortunately most of the restaurants did not even open until 7PM or later. We had to settle for pizza at a local bar. 

I ordered a drink and it came with one (ONE) ice cube. Welcome back to France.

But the terrace on our room made up for all the other things that were not perfect.  The next morning Hubby D told me he would be happy just to spend the day sitting on the terrace enjoying the view and soaking in the sunshine. It was lovely.

Our view was stunning! 

There was a wall on the side of the terrace that was almost like a sculpture. There were cut outs in the steel where you could look and see the shoreline of Nice. It was so pretty!

Every city we visited had very good public transportation. The people were also very creative in the way they moved around. Scooters, small bikes, segways -- Hubby D and I were very impressed. The US should take note.

In the distance is a man on a motorized skate board.

As we explored the city we found some interesting sites.

Flats that lined the shore were adorable.
We stopped for a glass of wine on the main boulevard in Nice.
This was a very imaginative park with sea animals for rides and slides.
We found an organic wine store, a cheese store and a meat store – PORK!

Our second night in Nice, France was thoroughly enjoyable. We tried to take every advantage of the sunset and the view from our terrace. Our wine and snacks made it perfect.

After the sun went down, we ventured out to the old town section in search of a quiet but local restaurant. We succeeded and had one of the best meals of the trip.

The soup was so good, I ate it before I remembered to take a photo.

It was a very traditional French meal with duck and wild boar. We finished with the best lemon pie either of us has ever tasted. 

Ooo La La, we were completely enjoying France for one last time before we were off the next morning for Genoa to pick up our car and the drive to Como, Italy.


I saw this sign outside one of the restaurants. I think it will become my mantra.  I have always wanted a super power.