Tuesday, July 31, 2012

olympic fever

I interrupt our road trip coverage to bring you a story about the 2012 Olympic Games.

Graham got his first glimpse of the games today in the workout room at our hotel. As I critiqued the synchronized divers while stumbling my way on the elliptical machine, Graham studied their every move. His face did not turn from the TV screen for even a second. He was mesmerized, frequently shouting things like,  "aaah yah, oohya ah!"

After my invigorating elliptical workout, we hit the hotel pool where Graham attempted to perform several tricky jumps and dives. One time, he "dove" in belly first, swam under water, then came up doing an impeccable "freestyle" stroke that I'd never seen him do before and proclaimed, "I did it just like the swim racers, Mom!"

Shortly after his Olympic triumphs in the pool, we returned to our room to watch some gymnastics. Even though we didn't have Bob Costas helping us sort things out and get excited about Team USA, I still found myself standing up and chanting, "U-S-A, U-S-A!" Graham joined me and added his own sound effects, "Yaaahh boom! Ahhh ya!"

After they won, we celebrated with more chants , and then he attempted several flips and rolls on the hotel bed. He said with pure awe in his voice, "Mom, they did this stuff up in the air!"

I looked up the rest of the schedule for the evening and saw that there would be some swimming finals, including Michael Phelps, so I told Graham he could stay up past his bedtime to watch. Excited was he, and excited was I. When the breaststroke came up, I introduced Graham to Michael Phelps. Since Bob Costas wasn't available in Germany, I told him all about how Phelps won everything at the last Olympics and how he is the greatest swimmer in the whole wide world. Graham was beyond thrilled. I was certain Michael Phelps would not disappoint.

We bit our nails and chanted more "U-S-A!" And then Graham yelled, "It's a tie!"

"No, Graham. No. The South African won. Michael Phelps got second place," I said with teary eyes.

Graham didn't understand. That's not how it was supposed to happen. USA wins, right? No. No. Not always...

"Time for bed, buddy."

Tears began streaming down his face. He tried to fight them, but he couldn't. He laid his head on his pillow, crying, "The green guy wasn't supposed to win. It looked like a tie. The green guy...."

And so our night ended with explanations about how winning isn't everything and yada yada and "Did you see how Michael Phelps gave the green guy a handshake and told him 'good job?' The green guy deserved to win, bud."

"But, Mom? Why did the USA guy throw down his cap at the end?"

"Well, Graham, because he was disappointed and upset and that's okay to be disappointed... There will be more races, and I'm sure he'll win one of them."

Come on, Phelps. I'm counting on you. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

a smattering of things we've consumed

Lavender macaroons at a "Parisian" cafe in Budapest
 We like to eat.
Ice coffee, pistachio ice cream sundae, yogurt mango/mint smoothie from a fancy cafe in Vienna where Franz Schubert liked to chill after composing some masterpieces.
 We like to taste whichever culture we're in. 

Hungarian goulash from a roadside cafe just after entering Hungary

Weisbeer on the top of a mountain in Oberammergau
Tony likes to research good places to eat and then go out searching for them as we traipse across the towns or cities we're in. (He's a US Navy trained navigator, you know...)

There are cafes and eateries that entice you with every single step you take in European cities.

We have a small baby in tow, which requires us to stop and feed her.

My new favorite picture of Alaina. Taken by her amazing father.
 This all adds up to us eating (and drinking) a lot over here.

Viennese square noodles from Cafe Central, where Sigmund Freud used to sit, smoke cigars, and psychoanalyze himself.

Salmon and zucchini covered in dill sauce at a Rick Steve's recommendation in Budapest.

Graham's hamburger from the same place. Best hamburger in the world.
Chicken in yogurt sauce cooked in a clay pot from the same place. Delicious. Good job, Rick Steves!

Hot chocolate, piece of macaroon, and an apple/mango/cinnamon smoothie from that "Parisian" cafe in Budapest

Salad from the Great Hall Market in Budapest

And, believe me, that's not even the half of it...

I'll do better about taking pictures and posting these things if it's something you're interested in.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

snapshots of Budapest

This is such an intriguing place.


You've got your Buda.


You've got your Pest.


 Connect um' with some bridges over the Danube, and you've got yourself a Budapest.

A thousand years of history that's been torn down and rebuilt so many times. It's hard to know when you're looking at something whether it is old or (relatively) new.


It has been a fun, educational couple of days for the Ramblin' Fam.

It's time to rest our tired bones, now.

Tomorrow, it's on to Prague for us.

Monday, July 23, 2012

a brief update

As usual, I am finding it difficult to find the time, energy, and internet to sit down and blog in the middle of a road trip.

So, here is a quick update. I hope to give more details in the future.

On Friday, Tony finished up his work in Oberammergau. We spent the evening watching "The Sound of Music" (first time for me), and then drove through Salzburg (where it was filmed) on Saturday. Um, no pictures to share, because, well, um, I'll tell you later........

Saturday afternoon, we arrived in Vienna.



We spent Sunday looking at palaces and cathedrals and art.


In Vienna!

Today, Monday, we went to the very first zoo ever in the history of the world.


It is in the backyard of a palace.

Because that's the sort of thing you find in Vienna. Zoos in the backyards of palaces.


After that, we drove to Budapest, and that is where I am right this minute. In Budapest!



Thursday, July 19, 2012

it had to happen


This time, it was actually our decision. As opposed to last time when it occurred due to an accident involving scissors...

This time, I didn't cry, but I rejoiced.

Alaina made sure the operation went smoothly.


No more tangles, and no more getting in his eyes when he's trying to swim.


And no more baby.


Okay, now I'm crying.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

pinch me


After a day spent on top of the world, I am now sitting on the patio of our little apartment atop a cafe overlooking a small band of men playing accordions and wearing lederhosen while tractors pass by on the highway.

Obberamergau? Are you for real? 

 Never mind. Don't pinch me.

I never want to wake up from this dream.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

keep on rollin'

Since Tuesday, we've bidden farewell to our friends with a dinner at Mariella's.

not sure what's going on with my hand and Graham's hair, but let's ignore that and instead look at the hands of Graham and Amanda
Driven to the Dolomites and spent a night in a quaint town called Ora.

view from our patio in the Dolomites
 Driven a bit further North to Ettal, Germany.

our hotel (view from the town below)

Graham, Alaina, and I spent a day walking the mountain trails around Ettal and checking out the town and the monastery.

And now we've settled into Oberammergau, Germany (pictures and details to come) where we'll be staying for the week while 007 does some work at the NATO school.

I've consumed several sausages, beers, potatoes, and (surprisingly) a few delicious salads. I'm devouring the cool, refreshing mountain air, and loving the amazing walking/jogging trails.

I'm looking forward to some quiet days meandering the town with my kids and sharing our experiences with you.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It was a hot Saturday in July. We were all standing beneath Castle Sant Angelo near Vatican City waiting for our friends to join us so we could climb to the top. Alaina was chillin' like a villain in her souped up stroller. Graham was dancing around her and falling on his head. She was watching him. Intent. Serious. Following his every move with nothing but her eyes. Tony was looking off in the distance wondering if he could spot our friends and help guide them to where we were. I was busy soaking it all in. The street vendors selling toys and scarves. The silver cowboy live statue propped against the garbage can ready to shoot anyone who dared drop a coin in his bucket. The children playing fooze ball next to us. The welcomed breeze breaking the oppressive heat. The limone granite on my tongue. And my children playing together. I decided to hone in on their activities as Graham got close to Alaina's face in hopes that she would suck his nose. As the words, "Ease up, Graham. Give her some space," nearly left my tongue, it happened. Alaina laughed. A hearty, deep, excited, leg-kicking chuckle. Tony was knocked out of his reverie and Graham patted himself on the shoulder out of pure pride and we all laughed with her. The first time our whole family laughed together. It was magical and I will never forget it.

She hasn't laughed since.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, July 9, 2012

roma roma roma


Let me begin by saying that our friends are troopers through and through. They've experienced Italy to its fullest. From the delicious pasta to the overly frequent strikes. I sent them on their own to Pompei where they had to wait in line for two hours before the place would open for them because the workers were on strike for the morning. After that, I figured they were destined for better luck, so I sent them to Rome a day ahead of us. I was wrong. The trains were on strike, so they had to wait at the train station for some hours before they got to make their way into Rome only so their youngest daughter could get sick and throw up all over their dinner.

They shrugged it off with a perfect "va bene" and kept on trudging through Rome's beautiful sights with us on Saturday and Sunday. Overwhelmed is what they were at all the art and people and culture and food. Over. Whelmed.

They've got more pictures that I intend to snatch and share with you before we leave them on Wednesday to fend for themselves in this unpredictable land. We will be embarking on a long road trip to Germany, and Czech Republic, and Hungary, and Austria, and back to Germany, and then home to Italy. We hope to leave bright and early Wednesday morning, and I hope to be diligent and good about bringing ya'll along for the ride. And I also hope that Alaina has more patience in her car seat. She doesn't like the thing after an hour or so... Wish us luck.

Oh, and here we all are in Rome back in October (Alaina's in my belly).


And here we are in Rome yesterday.


Have a good Monday and check back here for more fun and excitement from Europe. 

contemplating how he can become Spiderman on the Spanish Steps