When I was 26, I worked for an American waterski team as a professional waterskier. The company owns waterski shows based all over the world, and I was lucky enough to be sent to an amusement park in Germany. However, it didn't turn out the way I had expected. Allegra wondered why I even wanted to come back to the park, since all she had heard were bad things about waterskiing but good things about my german friends. I was both excited and apprehensive.
1987 had been a pivotal year for me in my life - not all of it good. But that's another story.
In the parking lot, we could hear shrieks coming from an enormous ...
One of the reasons we like having a car and taking our time to get to a destination is to go off the beaten track with no agenda. When you drive off the main highways, you never know what you will stumble upon. Touring through the Alps on a winding small motorway, we pulled off on the side of a lake for a picnic. We spied some wooden tables through the trees. As we plopped down on a bench, a wakeboarder flipped in the air and landed just metres from the shore. Birch was very excited: we had come across a very cool lake with a pulley system for wakeboarders, waterskiers and wakesurfing - with no boats! For the next two hours, in freezing mountain water, Birch had a blast! There were all kinds of jumps and rails to push his skill level.
P.S. Do you call it wakeboarding when there is no wake?
On a gorgeous sunny day, coming out of the Italian alps, and travelling along valleys to Switzerland, we decided to have a picnic in Lichtenstein. It is quite beautiful: green, quiet, peaceful. Flowers everywhere. Whipping wind. As we climbed up the hill to the Gutenberg Castle, signage everywhere explained the multiple ghost stories that abound here. The more we read, the odder it felt. Then, Birch and Allegra . . .
Although we had visited Venice in 2004, Allegra remembered nothing, being 3 at the time. I have very fond memories, especially of our accommodation, Palazzo dei Tre Archi. At the time, my italian was very limited, and we all thought we were checking into a palace. Very exciting! Allegra had asked for the Princess's room. We walked into a hotel lobby with a throne (actually a gilded wooden chair with red velvet upholstery), handblown chandelier and wall sconces - crystal and gold leaf completely overdone - Allegra loved it! Our room (in 2004) had two story high french doors with a balcony overlooking the garden. Actually, we were in quite an inexpensive hotel, decked out in rococo style, right on the canals. It turns out that "palazzo" in italian simply means "building", not an actual palace at all.
When I tried to book in this year, things had changed: it was 500 Euros a night. So we decided to just go for coffee. When we arrived . . .
My birthday turned out to be lovely. John's second cousin, David, has a great wife that I like and two young teens that get along well with our kids - considering there is a language barrier. They took us to a beautiful spot in the Alps (Slovenian side) - kind of like a fairy tale : Far, far away, there is a ring of snow-capped mountains, and in that ring there is a very old castle, and below that castle there is a deep blue lake, and on that lake there is a tiny green island, and on that island there is a pretty little chapel, and in that chapel there is a magical bell. Ring the bell and true love will come forever.
Turkey over-the-top exceeds our expectations - fabulous archeological digs in Ephesus, ancient caves with paintings, chic European cafes, gorgeous architecture from many ages, treasure-laden palaces, - once, we slept in a cave with candles and white duvets - really cool ...(we also slept in buses and on trains...) - really an amazing country that is keeping the best of the old and introducing the best of the new. We met up with a colleague of mine who lives in Istanbul and she showed us her favourite haunts - she has a son Birch's age, and we all enjoyed a turkish dinner together. Great food - and we had to try many varieties of Turkish delight. Clean, safe, (okay, except maybe for the bombs in the northeast, but we were never near there..). Of all the countries we have visited so far, Turkey is the one we would recommend to those of our friends who want something different, and prefer excellent hotels to rougher ways of travelling... (But the cave was pretty cool...)
Above, Allegra and Carolyn at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, built in 1616 by Sultan Ahmed I;
below, we are standing under an archway of an archeological dig currently being recovered in Ephesus - amazing!!
The temple of Diana was discovered 143 years ago, and excavation work has been going on ever since. It is an international endeavour - the Austrians have done the bulk of the recovery of this library. It was exciting to see work being done, pillars pieced together like a giant Rubic's cube puzzle.
They estimate only 10-15% has been uncovered, so it could take centuries to do it all.
So where exactly is this source? We set out on our river journey, and it looks just like the Severn . . . except for the crocs and hippos!Click on read more
Grace hangs out in the fading sunlight while Katie, Allegra and Carolyn look for rhinos
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