Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Eve 2008-09



Awoke to a lovely sunrise this morning. As it is the last day of the year, I thought of the analogy of the sunrise and the new year. I posted a series of photos of the sunrise, basically all the same scene. Just as life is in a way, the same scene played out daily, but as with the sunrise, it changes constantly and can be so beautiful....or not. But that's the beauty of life, we get to make a choice how we are going to live it every day.
I'm usually not one for end of year resolutions, but I will make some this year...to be true to myself, trust my instincts, live one day at a time and allow love to conquer fear.
Happy New Year!


I added photos of the fire works at midnite....and " Dinner for One"

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day


I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.....


More photos here...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Christmas 2008



It's in the 50's this week..so much for a white Christmas. But that's ok. We had the snow scenes the last weeks. Doesn't look like a white Christmas back home either..I just hope it's a good one for everyone. From what I've been reading in the news, I know it won't be for some. I guess the best thing is we can say goodbye to this crazy year soon, and hope for a better one in 2009.
I am very thankful for the year I had, even though it started really lousy. It's been quite amazing!

This weekend was spent around town. My big project was making Sauerbraten, started marinating on Thursday and made it for Sunday dinner. It was so good, see the pix here. Earlier Sunday we went for a walk in the old Freiburg cemetery, which I had not seen. And then we went up to the Schlossberg, the mountain we look out at every day from the balcony. On Monday, since it was so warm, I went back and walked up to the lookout tower, great 360 degree views of the Black Forest and the Rhine valley.
Today I just finished shopping for Christmas dinner. The town was crazy! Lines everywhere..last minute shoppers and because the day after Christmas is also a national holiday, the food stores were jammin'.
Christmas Eve and Day will be spent here by ourselves. Thanks to Claudia, Gisi will get to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas! Thank you Claudia, it arrived today. This weekend we will go to the Bodensee to visit some of Gisi's relatives.
I wish everyone a Happy Christmas and New Year....healthy, safe and peaceful.
Frohe Weihnachten!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A week before Christmas....



One week til Christmas! I hope you've been good. And I guess it's a four day wekend for most people, that's great! Enjoy!!
It's snowing here again this Wednesday morning. Gisi told me when I first got here "it hardly ever snows in town". Well this must be the fourth or fifth time. She said this morning "the city is trying to show it's prettiest side to me". Well that's nice. It's better than just grey clouds, makes everything look so nice.
We took a drive up through the Vosges Mountains in Alsace this weekend. Saturday was a sunny, blue sky day, so we headed to the hills. We ended up going to an old silver mining town, St. Marie aux Mines, in the Val D'Argent. ( I didn't realise the Amish movement was started here) It was so pretty, the woods in the mountains were frosted with snow as we got up higher elevations. We saw a Poitou, so cute. Some beautiful photos here.
Sunday we awoke to a cloudy, foggy day. But it had snowed again the night before, so we took a walk through the cemetary down the street. So quiet and peaceful there. In the naked trees you can see Mistletoe growing. I never saw it in it's natural habitat. Apparently, it was a good year for mistletoe and you can see it all over town in the trees.
Also, I posted some pictures of the Weihnachtsmarkt, the local Christmas market that is so popular throughout Germany. This is in Freiburg. It's a good place to get some local handcrafted gifts and products. They have food stalls and Glüwein is very popular this time of year. My favorite are the Marroni stands, small roasted chestnuts.
Three weeks from today I will be on a plane heading back to New York. This time has gone by quickly, yet I feel like I've been here forever....strange. I've really gotten used to the pace here, and it should be interesting to see how I reacclimate to NY. Well, we'll think about that later. Now I'm going to enjoy the last weeks and Christmas and New Year here. I hope you enjoy them wherever you are. I will write again before Christmas...Tschüss!!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Early December....photos and food



Hallo, wie geht's dir? All is well here. Funny, I'm just now really getting comfortable being here, and I have to leave in less than a month. Ain't that always the way?
The Christmas season is full on here, lights are up, the Christmas markets are going on all over the region. There's a nice one here in Freiburg (photos later this week), and we were in some towns in Alsace and in the Black Forest this weekend that had them. As a matter of fact, we wanted to see a beautiful village in Alsace, Riquewihr, but when we got there, it was overrun with hundreds of people..tour buses and cars lined the road into town. So we didn't get to spend any time there, just too many people! We did see some other intersesting things though..the town of Neuf-Breisach and it's walled fortifications, and a tiny village called Zellenberg, in the heart of the Alsace wine growing region.
It was a rainy weekend here in the Rhine valley, and we didn't realise how different the weather would be 20 minutes away. Sunday we drove up the mountains to St. Peter, and it was a winter wonderland. We went to a small Weihnachtmarkt in the village platz. We also re-visited the church of St. Peter, which was the first church we visited when I first came here in the summer. Something called me back there this weekend, and it was nice to sit there for a while, and give thanks for all that has happened in this past year.
We have been making some nice dinners at home, some local specialties, with all the great local ingredients available here. I've included a bunch of photos of our recent dinners, and how they were made. Winter is a great time to eat here, the cool weather is conducive to some of the heartier dishes. Being in the south, there are a lot of regional dishes that are not so prevalent in the northern areas. The area we're in features both Badisch and Swabisch cuisine, and Gisi has been going back to some of the food her mother used to make..Spätzle, Schupfnudeln, raw sauerkraut (so good!). And Feldsalat is in season, I could eat that every day. I made a great roast cod dish (!), and some of my favorite Italian pasta dishes, and tonight I'm making Shepherds Pie for the first time. Fortunately, Gisi likes to cook and we cook very differently. She makes more vegetarian dishes, and uses very little fat. Most of you know how I like to cook! So I have definately been eating better (= heathier), and have probably lost a few pounds. Walking and biking every day helps too! Luckily, the weather has been relatively mild, 52 today, with a few days in the upper thirties and low forties, but comfortable enough to be able to get outside every day.
Check out the photos from the past week or so here.
Hope you all have a good week...Ciao!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving in Germany


I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. I had ribs and fries at a local Irish type pub, and they were showing NFL football, so I did have a small taste of home on Thursday evening.

We had our Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday. We had four of Gisi's friends (Angela, Christian, Klaus and Martin) over for a traditional Turkey dinner, which none of them ever had. The menu was Roast Turkey Breast, Mashed potato, Curried sweet potato, Green Beans in Olive oil and Garlic, Mixed Mushrooms with Shallots in Butter and Wine. And I made a Pumpkin Pie, of course.
After searching all the butchers in town and market, we could find no turkey. We finally located a Turkey farm (Truthahnhof) in Ihringen. Having placed our order on Wednesday, we drove out to pick up the breast on Friday evening. The farm, Martinshof, was located at the edge of town and we got to see all the large white domestic turkeys as they were put back into the turkey house for the evening feeding. They run around freely in fields on the property, and they were quite large. We went in with the owner to get the breast, which weighed 3 kilos, about 7 pounds. I was excited.
As you can see, the kitchen is tiny. So I really planned out the sequence of prep and cooking carefully and I prepped a few dishes the day before. It actually went very well. I started Saturday cooking about 3pm and by 8 we were sitting down to eat.
The Turkey looked fantastic as I removed it from the small oven, at just about 158 degrees. I let it rest while I finished the beans, mushrooms and sweet potatoes.
The result was great. Everyone loved all the dishes. The Turkey was super moist with crispy skin, this is the way to go for ease and tenderness. The curried sweet potato was a big hit, savory and not too sweet. Klaus said my mashed potatos were as good as his mothers, so I took that as a huge compliment. Everyone had at least 2 helpings, so in the end there was only about a pound of turkey left, we'll finish that with a salad tonight. We finished with espresso and pumpkin pie, which was delicious. You can see the photos here.
We sat around talking, and in some instances me listening to German conversation, for several hours. By midnite, everyone left. It was a great experiance, and I was happy to cook for Gisi's freinds and share our Thanksgiving tradition. Sunday will be a day of rest. Now, onto Christmas!!!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving


Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S. Not here, it's just another day. It seems strange not to be getting ready to spend the day with family and freinds, eating massive amounts of food. It is the first time I've not been in the states, and only the second time not being in New York on this day.
The sky is cloudless and blue today. A beautiful but chilly morning. A good day for a parade!
We will go for a walk in a few minutes, stop at a church and give thanks for all the beauty in our lives. I have a lot to be thankful for this year, even though it has been one of the most stressful year of changes. But all is good.
I will be making a Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday for some freinds, so I will join the festivities then. Today I will have all of my freinds and family in my thoughts.
I wish all of you a happy and safe Thanksgiving day!
Peace and Love

Monday, November 24, 2008

First Snow in Town, and Käsespätzle



We had our first snow here in town on Saturday evening. It was real pretty, and a bit of a surprise. We spent part of the day in Colmar, Alsace, France. A very picturesque old town, it is the capital of Alsace. As we left Freiburg at noon, it was quite cloudy, with a forecast for snow flurries, but when we got to Colmar, it was sunshine and blue skies. And cold. Friday was the last of the 50 degree days I think. It dropped down to the low 30's overnite. As we drove back, the clouds moved in again. We went out for dinner at 8, and the snow had already started. By the time we got back there were a few inches on the ground. See the photos here.
Sunday was cold and we stayed in for the day. Gisi made Käsespätzle, it was really good on a cold Sunday afternoon. It reminded me of when my mother would make Pirogies in the middle of January.
This week I will prepare to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for us and some freinds. If I can find Turkey. It's hard to find whole turkey or even whole breasts, but I think I have a lead! Rumour has it there's a turkey farm in Ihringen. We will have our Thanksgiving on Saturday as everyone is working Thursday. Gonna make a Pumpkin Pie too, from scratch (thanks to a fellow expat's recipe). And I need to find some cranberries to make a spicy cran relish my friend Donna told me about. Along with the usual array of side dishes, we'll show them how it's done in the states! This should be fun.
I hope everyone has a wonderful, safe Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Enjoy.
Or as my mother used to say...Happy Bird Day!!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Some Sunshine for a Cloudy Day

Here's a great bit of New Orleans. Clint Maedgen and the Preservation Hall Band...this should brighten your day! A cover of The Kinks' , "Complicated Life"......

Monday, November 17, 2008

James Booker

I got this from a freind of mine..Here is one of the all time great New Orleans piano players. If you dig New Orleans piano, find everything you can by him. Here's some info on Booker. His left hand is legendary.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nathaniel Mayer

While talking to a friend here today, I found out Nathaniel Mayer passed away on November 1. I was turned on to him in New Orleans at the Ponderosa Stomp, where he did some killer shows. Mayer was a great soul singer who had a regional hit when he was 18, in Detroit. Then faded into obscurity for the next 35 years or so. If you like old school soul, check out his music here.
When I saw him in New Orleans at the Stomp, he was dressed as a true soul man..white pants, white shoes, red satin shirt, a girl on each arm. He was powerful and energetic, and it seemed he was relishing the his time back in the spotlight, on stage. I'm glad he was able to have that time. I'm glad I got to enjoy his music and see him sweat, and entertain a roomfull of new and old fans.

Here's a site I found with music and video.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mitch Mitchell-9 July 1947 – 12 November 2008

Well now the band is united once more. Mitch Mitchell left this world yesterday, to join Noel and Jimi. And I was thinking about all the great music he created with Noel Redding and Jimi Hendrix, who is my favorite musician of all. Mitch was on par with Jimi in his musicianship and creativeness. A perfect combination.

As my friend Joe F. commented,
"Those Hendrix Experience albums are a cornerstone of my musical consciousness". They are for me too. I was 12 years old when I first heard "Are You Experienced", it made such an impression on me. "Axis: Bold as Love" really blew my mind. I had never heard anything like that before. I was converted to the religion of Jimi forever. "Bold as Love" is tattooed on my arm. I remember when "Electric Ladyland" came out. A double album! It was so special. And listening to Jimi on acid could just send you to the next universe!!

Listen to the drums on "Love or Confusion", or "Waterfall", or "Manic Depression", "Crosstown Traffic", "Bold as Love", "Voodoo Child" or dozens of other songs they created....no one played like that in the rock world. My friend Martin, here in Germany, put it right, "
the experience played with a lightness and swing like a jazz combo". That was Mitch who added that touch. His cymbal flourishes and syncopation were unique in rock and roll. He obviously listened to the great jazz drummers, and found a way to fuse that with rock.

I had the oppurtunity to see Mitch along with Billy Cox, on tour last year with the "Experience Hendrix" show. It was the only time I ever saw any of the original band, and Mitch was as good as ever.

As I sit here listening to his music, I'm very happy I was lucky enough to grow up during the period that produced such fine music, and such dynamic musicians. No one ever broke ground like the Experience did, and I believe no one ever will...

Here is another comment by Martin, "it's a pity, that so many younger people (starting beeing as old as Gisi...) learned to hate or to disrespect Jimi Hendrix. they are notable to see what he and the members of his groups did to music, and Jimi especially to guitar playing. Before him People just played an amplified loud guitar. He invented a complete new instrument and a complete new way of orchestral playing". Ja, genau.

And he couldn't have done that without Mitch. Thank you Jimi, Noel and Mitch..you continue to inspire and awe me, and will forever.

"have you ever been experienced?...not nessicarily stoned, but beautiful."

An Interview with Mitch here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Jura, Neuchatel, Montreux, Chamonix, Hochblauen..a weekend in the mountains



Greetings...This past weekend we went to Switzerland and France. We originally were going to go north, but the weather seemed right and we thought it may be a good time to explore some of the mountain regions we have not seen yet. So we decided to go to the Jura mountains, from there head south to see the town of Gruyere and onto Montreux and Lake Geneva. The Jura seperates France and Switzerland, running north-south for about 150 miles. It's northern end is only about an hour + from here. It really seems like an extension of France, it is totally french speaking...and they have many farms, tons of cows and, therefore, great cheeses too. We looked to see which city/town we could stay overnight in and it seemed Neuchatel would make a good point to explore from. This is the traditional center of Swiss clock making, and Neuchatel is on a lake of the same name. Read here to find out more. And here. Since it is not exactly tourist season, we were able to score a room in a hotel right on the lake, very cheaply. Photo. And there was no traffic to speak of on the roads. We checked out the Old Town, then found a place for dinner. Fondue rules!

In the morning, after exploring the town some more, and going to the weekly market, went on to drive through some of the mountains and towns nearby, with Ste. Croix as our destination before heading to Montreux. As you can see from the photo's, it is a very beautiful area indeed.
After leaving Ste. Croix, we headed south east towards Lake Geneva. As we drove on, we came to a spot where we could see the Alps clearly, it was getting near dusk and and we were getting excited to get closer. Something about really big mountains is very enticing. We knew Mont Blanc, in France, was not very far away. It is the highest mountain in Europe. I had seen it before. In 1990, I went on a ski trip with some freinds, to the Italian side of the Alps, at Breuil-Cervinia. Cervinia is the Italian name for the Matterhorn. From the top we could see many peaks including Mont Blanc, just a few kilometers away. It felt like being on top of the world. Look here.
We arrived at Lake Geneva just in time for a brilliant sunset. In the hills above Vevey, on terraced vinyards, we stopped and took in the view. Montreux was only another fifteen minutes. We arrived at the hotel, again right on the lake. We had booked a cheaper land-side room, with the hope that they may upgrade us to a lake side room, gratis. They did! Look here.

"We all came out to montreux
On the lake geneva shoreline
To make records with a mobile
We didnt have much time"

Remember that song? "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple. One of the first riffs any guitar player learns. I must have heard it a million times, now I was standing on the spot where it happened. It's a great story. Read about it here. See a video concert version here. ( I just discovered how to do this link thing, and I love it!)

We walked around town that evening, had some dinner and made a plan for the next day. We were going to go to Gruyere, but the mountain bug got us. We figured we weren't that far away from Mont Blanc, so we thought we would drive a little further south, up a mountain pass, and we could get a good view. So the next morning we went down to the lake front for a walk, and came across a statue of Freddie Mercury. Seems he had a studio in town, and stayed there frequently..after his death, a memorial was installed. We then went to tour Castle Chillon, on the shore of the lake down the road a bit. Like 1,000 years old. Pretty awesome.

We mapped out a route to a 1500 meter high pass, figuring we would see Mont Blanc from there. Well we didn't. Too late to turn back now. We headed to Chamonix in France. Up some spectacular mountain roads, we were there shortly. But as it can be in this season, the fog had settled over all the really high peaks. So we got to see some of it, and some glaciers and a lot of lesser snow capped mountains. All very impressive and beautiful. We strolled around Chamonix, bought some super chocolates and had coffee before heading back. Needless to say, we never made it to Gruyere. Another weekend for that. Great trip, beautiful sights, a lot of history, and some really good food. I must say though, Switzerland is an expensive place, compared to some of the other countries we've been in. Except for gas. Much cheaper than Germany, go figure. See the photo album and all the pix here.


On Monday, Gisi had the day off so we went to the last of the three major peaks here in the southern Black Forest, the Hochblauen, or just Blauen. We were able to see the Swiss Alps from here too, and a 360degree panorama of the Rhine valley, south to Switzerland, west to France and north and east over the Schwarzwald. A gorgeous day, in the hi 60's, but windy on the mountain. Luftig!!! Check out the pix here. Here's the Feldberg, and the Belchen.

Wednesday now, back to the normal routine. You know, house cleaning, going to the market, preparing dinner. The weather continues to be somewhat cloudy, patches of sun...sometimes..but not too cold yet. They're starting to put up the Weihnacht (Christmas) decorations and stalls, they sell Christmas items and Glühwein and all that good stuff. Should be fun to see. Hope all is well with everyone. I read some of the news , mostly about our declining economy. Not good. Better days are on thier way, they always are. Auf Wiedersehen for now!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President Obama.


What an historic moment. I am so proud to be an American, more than ever. Thank God. Thank the American electorate. Hopefully, we can look forward to a deep and meaningful change that this country so desperately needs. I only hope all citizens rally behind our new president to support and work towards an even better future. Amazing. I'm speechless. God bless President Barrack Obama.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day....Finally!




Well here we go folks. Today is the day of reckoning. I hope it turns out good. I cast my vote a few weeks ago. Guess who I voted for. I will be up late tonight and early tomorrow..I'm not sure when we'll see the results here...but I'll be watching CNN International and checking online.

We had an absolutely gorgeous day here yesterday. (photo on right, above) The sun was out all day...it seems like it hasn't been for weeks. Today is back to heavy fog, real damp. This past weekend was ok, but what was interesting was how when we went up to the mountains on Sunday, it was warm and sunny. More so than here in the valley. We were on the Belchen, the third highest peak (1414meters) in the Black Forest and at the soutern end. Check out the pictures. We saw the Swiss Alps, the Jura and the Vogessen mountain ranges, it was quite beautiful. It was about 5-10 degrees warmer up in the mountains and the air was so clear. There was still snow around from earlier in the week. You can see the low layer of clouds hanging over the surrounding valleys...it looked like the sea.(photo left, above)

This weekend, if the weather is decent, we are going to drive up the Rhine river valley to Saarland, and over to Nancy, France. Nancy was a center of the Art Noveau movement, and the capital of old Lorraine, so it should be interesting. We may even get up to Luxembourg.

I'm going to go watch history being made. One way or another......

http://picasaweb.google.de/allenineuropa/Belchen11208#

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Haloween





Hallo Welt! Another week in Freiburg, mostly rainy and cold...we had snow in the mountains yesterday! Too soon for me.
I have some new photos from last weekend..it was really nice weather and we travelled to Gisi's hometown of Ehingen, to prepare her parents grave for All Saints/Souls Day, which is a national holiday here. We drove through some beautiful areas, the Donau Valley in particular. The Donau is the German name for the Danube river, and it starts in the Black Forest and heads east. There are some great cliffs, and we saw climbers scaling the vertical face walls of some of these. Out that way is mostly farming villages, and they were preparing the fields for the winter (plowing and spraying pig manure, not a nice odor!). We saw some new crops coming up, and wondered what grows during this time. Winter wheat maybe? As we headed east, we came across a lot of fog, as it was a somewhat warm day after a very cool evening..it made the light very eerie..see in the pix.
On Sunday, we stayed a bit closer to home, and went to the town of St. Ulrich in the Schwarzwald, about 15 minutes from here. It is so nice to be able to travel such a short distance and be transported to a completely different enviroment. All mountains and pastures, cows, goats...there are some nice photos from the day posted.
We attempted to go to dinner at a Straussen..which is a seasonal type of restaurant that farmers do during the spring and fall harvest time. You know where they are by the straw brooms hung outside. They are usually in an older building or farmhouse, and not really a professional restaurant..seems like the whole family helps out cooking and serving. They tend to have a limited menu, featuring regional specialties, or possibly thier own livestock and game, vegetables from the harvest. Apparently they are very popular, as we could not find a seat at several during the time we went, about 7pm. We will try again this weekend, a little earlier.
We did have a nice game dinner though at an old Restaurant in Kirchhofen, The Krone. I had Hase (rabbitt) and Gisi had Hirsch (deer), and it was really good on a cold night. There were only about 5 tables occupied, so we had great service and we were offered second helpings if we wanted (we didn't accept!), they feed you well in most restaurants here.
I was able to borrow a guitar finally, it's nice to be able to play a little and keep in practise. (check out the picture of the mystery Telecaster) I miss playing with the boys in the band. Hopefully I will write some new songs while I'm here.
Well I need to do some grocery shoping today, since tomorrow is a national holiday and everything will be closed. And everything is closed every Sunday...no mall cruising here!
I just hope it stops raining for a while, not really fun riding a bike with bags of groceries in the rain!
By the way, how's the election campaigning going? I bet it's getting crazy...I have only limited access to TV coverage here. I think that may be a good thing. I voted last week, hope you do too. I will be looking forward to the outcome, it will be 3 in the morning when they probably will call the results...I may have to stay up. Bye for now.....

Happy Birthday to my sister Laura today!!!!!! Many, Many More!!!!

http://picasaweb.google.de/allenineuropa

Friday, October 24, 2008

Freitag in Freiburg


It's Friday and I'm sick. I caught the flu, my first european cold. So I made some chicken soup last night. And the weather isn't helping. Yesterday was beautiful but today and earlier in the week, it's been very cloudy, grey, and sometimes raining. Last night Ani Difranco said they do grey very well over here..I know what she means.

Oh yea, We saw Ani here in Freiburg last night. I mean she played a show...really. Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, London and....Freiburg! Well isn't that great? Yes it was. She is on tour with some of her Righteous Babe lablemates, and they played the Jazzhaus, a wonderful venue here in town. Not very big, so we got to see her up close. She played with her band (Drums, Acoustic bass, vibes/percussionist), and they were really super...she is such an awesome writer, and I love her guitar playing. They played a comprehensive set, from early stuff to her new record. Gisi and her freind Chris had never seen her, and they really enjoyed it. Unfortunately I couldn't take any photo's, verboten!

Have a nice weekend, and here's to sunny days!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rome Photo's


ok, I finally edited and captioned the photo's from Rome. There are a lot of pictures...over 300! But that's edited from 750...so I tried to choose what I think are essential to give a overview of what we saw. With attention paid to some of the details, and the overall beauty and feeling of the city, it was't easy. I thought about putting them in seperate albums for easier viewing but....I didn't. Take a look, I think they came out good. Sorry for some of the unclear, fuzzy shots, I didn't use a flash at anytime, I wanted to capture the natural lighting and sometimes it was a bit low...so there it is. I hope you enjoy!



http://picasaweb.google.de/allenineuropa

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rome....a Preview




Got back from Rome saturday evening, and it was a great trip. The weather was beautiful, high 70's...cool at night. I am in the process of editing and organizing the photos I took, should have them posted by Wednesday. I will write a little about our days there, but really the photo's will tell the story. It is a magnificent, inspirational place...I will say this now: St. Peter's Basillica and the Vatican are beyond description. Truly breathtaking, I was speechless and dumbfounded by the beauty and majesty, the sheer scale. Pictures will not do it justice, but for those who have not been there, I hope they convey at least a sense of the beauty I saw.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Roma

Off to Roma today! i will not have a computer so i will post about this trip next week. Be back on Saturday evening. Arrivederci!!!!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Kaiserstuhl


Saturday we took a ride over to an area called the Kaiserstuhl, a wine region here. Some of the finest red wines in Germany come from here due to its warm climate and soil conditions. An old volcano cone, the mineral soil is perfect for the vines. Seen from afar, the area rises from the flatlands and terraces have been created on its slopes. As you drive through the area, you notice how the roads have been carved into the landscape, with banks of earth rising around you, and come upon deep bowls of the former volcano that have been terraced and planted with acres of vines. It is really special, and much different than the Burgundy terrain of rolling hills and gentle slopes.
The harvest has just started, it's been a warm autumn and the winemakers are waiting til the last right moment to pick the grapes, to acheive the maximum sugar content. We came upon a winemaker in the vines and he was taking samples of grapes, crushing them and putting them in a device that measures the sugar content. He was very happy that the grapes were achieving high sugar content, which makes for a better wine. He said it should be a very good vintage if it contiues this way until harvest. They may wait another week or two before picking, if the weather cooperates.
The day was really beautiful, but hazy, due to the warm air flowing in over the cool mountains. The fall colors are well on thier way. It should be another good week.
Check out the photos from the day..there are also some new ones from a park nearby, and all the fall flowers, and some of the market in the Münsterplatz.
Tomorrow we are going to Rome for 4 days. Great weather is forecasted. It should be awesome, I've never been before and look forward to seeing all the great sights and art. And eat really well! Arreviderci!

http://picasaweb.google.de/allenineuropa

Friday, October 10, 2008

Photo link

http://picasaweb.google.de/allenineuropa/FreiburgFirstWeekAutumnOct792008#


new photos...click on link

Back in Freiburg, Germany.....first week

hello friends...it's friday morning in Freiburg. i have been back here since tuesday morning and i think my biological clock is finally adjusting to the change. i had a really good sleep last night for the first time. being here now is different from the last time, Gisi is working and school's back, vacations over. i am trying to establish a routine here, so i don't feel like i'm just slumming. still feeling my way araound.

i've been getting up at 7am with Gisi, and we have coffee as she gets ready for work. she's usually gone by 8am..then i clean up the apartment, shower, do emails and such personal business. i've taken a walk around town and to the daily market, yesterday was overcast and i took a bunch of photos i will post. everything looks much different than it did in the summer. i am going to look into taking a german language course, there is a american-german cultural center in town. of course i hope to take a lot of photos through the seasons here, and capture the holidays. it should be beautiful.

Gisi is off next week. she is starting a new job on the 20th. so as this will be the only time we can get away other than weekends, we are going to Rome. we got a great deal on Ryan air, and found an inexpensive hotel right in the middle of Rome. it will cost a little over 500€ for both of us, 4 nights and airfare...that is cheap! i am really looking for ward to this trip. any reccomendations on what to see would be appreciated. obviously, we wil go to the big spots...the colloseum, the vatican, etc. i've heard the food is amazing there also ;-) i look forward especially to taking a lot of photos.

as for weekend trips, we are going to explore the areas in alsace, lorraine and switzerland, the jura mountains and some other German, Swiss and French cities all easily accessible by car. and of course we have the black forest literally at our doorstep. (the photo below is a panorama of the veiw of the Schlossberg from the apartment).

also keeping an eye on the elections and the economic crisis, although not too closely. it's nice to be able to escape the hysteria and drama. i'll have to face that when i get back in january, so for now we will enjoy the more sane aspects of life in europe.

it is really great being here with Gisi. she is a wonderful person, and we are enjoying a new dimension in our relationship. i hope you can meet her. she will be coming to the states in jan. for six months. i have a lot to show her back home...so we'll be around.

i miss my dog, Savannah, but i know she's in good hands with Claudia and hanging out with Nellie and Tate. I get to talk to Aidan via skype, which is great. free internet phone calls, in case you've not heard of it. if any of you have it downloaded, you can search my skype name, alithang, and send im's or call.

tomorrow we are going to drive to france to do some grocery shopping. we're running low on mustard! i will post photos today from the past few days. and i hope you have a great weekend! Tschuss!

Veiw from our apartment of the Schlossberg, Black Forest

click on photo to enlarge

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bye Bye New York, Hello Freiburg!

Monday is finally here! The day we've been waiting for, talking about for some weeks now. By 6pm i will be in the sky, on my way back to freiburg and Gisi. I am very excited. This is a whole new trip. Not so much going for vacation as much as going to live life, a new life in a new land. With someone very special to me. I'm scared, nervous...and exhilarated! I am blessed.
I had a wonderful dinner with my family today, and in general, a very emotional weekend. This will be the first time in my life i will not be in nyc for the holidays. Crazy, right? So there was some sadness mixed with a lot of happiness, but i know all will be well once i get back to Germany and Gisi.
Check out the photos from today, I had to post these pictures of Joel. Too freakin' cute!
http://picasaweb.google.com/allenineuropa/BabyJoel#

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New Photos..the last of the summer trip..in France

i've posted the last of the 35mm photos, taken in south france. sunset picnic in collias, market in remoulins and gordes in provence. take a look....
http://picasaweb.google.com/allenineuropa

9 days til my return to Freiburg, Germany...and more photos of fall in the Black Forest. We will probably hit a bunch of places in Alsace, Switzerland, maybe Dijon and a lot of places in South Germany I haven't seen yet. Tchuss!

Monday, September 22, 2008


the end of summer

well, here we are on the last full day of summer. autumn arrives at 11:44am monday..and what a summer it has been! not just the fabulous experience of travelling in europe, there have been so many wonderful occurrences in my life.
and i guess they all started when i decided (not sure thats the right word!) to leave my job on march 14. after some deep soul searching i entered into a new phase of my life that i believed would never happen. after an initial introduction to a new way of living, courtesy of some fine fellows in ny, i went to new orleans for april and part of may and really got the ball rolling. i met some wonderful new friends in new orleans and had some great life enriching times, on a daily basis.
and then of course, i met gisi....wow, that came out of nowhere! we had a great time for the last three weeks of my stay in new orleans, then for a week in nyc. after gisi left nyc, i was again alone, and i used that time to further my spiritual education with some very special people, and i continue that process today. after seven weeks home and talking to gisi daily (thank god for skype!), we finally got to be together again. hence, this blog.
those six weeks were amazing on so many levels. it ended all too fast, and i soon found myself on a plane back to nyc, i think a different person. new york seemed strange to me, somehow something changed. of course, i was thrilled to be with my family and friends again. it was especially good to see my son, aidan and grandson. what a beautiful little boy joel is. pure joy that i haven't had since aidan was his age.
back here i resumed my program, helped along by loving people, prayer and meditation. i never would have thought myself capable of that nine months ago. and now, here i sit, last day of a glorious season, and two weeks from tomorrow i will leave for germany once more, this time for three months.
life can be an amazing experience if you get out of the way, and let it come on it's own terms. and accept what it is, live in the moment and with love and humility in your heart. i am truly blessed and full of humble gratitude for the things i have learned along the way. and of course all the wonderful people in my life. (danke meine geliebte!)
i hope to continue this blog in germany and fill in some of the missing stories from the summer, and share all the new ones to come. one day at a time.
be good to yourself, ciao.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

hellloo ..what's goin on?

seems i lost some momentum...finding it difficult to finish my travel entries..well, maybe i'll finish them in germany. in case anyone is reading this, i'm going back for three months, starting october 6. i think it's going to be a beautiful autumn.... i'm looking forward to seeing the season change in germany and elsewhere. and i won't have to hear all this election crap. really tired of the nonsense already. but i will send in my vote, for sure.
meanwhile, theres some new photos from burgundy, nuits st georges, and remoulins posted, taken with my 35mm cam. apparently, they got a bit damaged from the xray machine, but not to bad. i hate when that happens.

tomorrow is jimi hendrix's anniversary of his untimely passing, in 1970. he would have been 65! one can only imagine what might have been. so give props to the master. blast some stratocaster.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

And now for something completely different...

Music Heals…It’s Not Just a Rumour

I was feeling a bit lousy the past few days, for various reasons. Trying to think my way out of it wasn’t helping either. Unconsciously, on the way to an appointment today, I decided to take along the ipod, not something I usually do. I kind of like hearing what’s going on around me, whether in the subway or the park, or my own head. But today, in went the earplugs for the ride to midtown. And I rediscovered something I’ve always known, but sometimes slips away in the day to day routines of life in the big city. Music heals all wounds. Rapidly and profoundly. Well, at least for me. It always has, and I’ve turned to it to sooth my psyche and soul throughout my life.

As I hit shuffle, just to see what came up, a Graham Parker song came on. Now I absolutely love gp, I have since the first record, Howlin’ Wind , in 1976. This particular song was from his seminal record, Squeezing Out Sparks, from 1979. I decided to listen to the whole thing as it’s always been on of my favorites, not just of his music, but an all time, desert island disc.

From the first song to the last, this is such a great record, on so many levels. The playing, the production, the lyrics and music..gp’s soulful voice. From the twisted travelogue love song, “Discovering Japan”, the sad but snarky” Local Girls”, then “Nobody Hurts You”, a study in disillusionment with a killer guitar riff (a personal favorite), through “You Can’t Be Too Strong”, probably the most achingly beautiful song about abortion ever written and the truthful yet uneasy “Passion is No Ordinary Word”…haunting lyrics set to powerful, muscular music by the kick ass Rumour, who were at their musical peak, in my opinion. And it goes on for another five songs. Ok, I’ll admit, to me, “Waiting for the Ufos” could’ve been left off, but otherwise, a solid collection of amazing songs.
“Saturday Night is Dead” rocks about the emptiness of a drunken pub night, the utter reality of being in love in “Love Gets You Twisted”…I think we’ve all experienced that. “Protection” is one cynical tale of success and it’s pitfalls, it’s guitars chugging and screaming.” Don’t Get Excited” sounds like someone who’s seen it all and seen enough.

Now that’s what I take from it, but you may hear these songs differently. What I think we‘ll all agree on is this is a band and artist in top form. The production, by the late Jack Nitzsche, is so clean and clear, yet the rawness of the guitars shoots through, the bass and drums are solid and present. I love Bob Andrews’s keyboard parts. Brinsley Schwarz gets killer tone and monster riffs on lead guitars, and Martin Belmonts rythym playing is superb. The rhythm section of Stephen Goulding on drums and Andrew Bodnar on bass just nails it down deep.

Listening to a record like this reaffirms all my beliefs in the magic and mystery of rock n roll. It’s the reason I can’t stop listening, can’t stop searching for the next perfect song, the next must see band. Needless to say, the rest of my day was awesome…even as the doctor jabbed a two inch spike into my torn rotator cuff!

So drop a needle on some vinyl, pop a tape, slip a cd..listen to something you love and make your world a better day. It cures what ails ya.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

labor day...welcome to september

wow it's september 1..that was a quick summer.
thank god new orleans was spared a direct hit by gustav.
i've been to lazy this weekend to continue writing the rest of my travel journal, hopefully i will get back to it this week.
five more weeks, then back to germany..yay!
i have a lot to do here before then...i got someone to sublet my apartment for the duration, so i have to pack up a bunch of stuff and stash it, clean up the place, get the yard together for winter, take out the cold weather clothes..squeeze in some music with the boys, spend some time with family, doctors, dentists, ...well, it will make the month go quick, so that's good.....

Saturday, August 30, 2008

http://picasaweb.google.com/allenineuropa/AroundNewYork

new york

busy week, lots of appointments and running around..hope to continue writing, still have reggio emilia, venice, bolzano and ulm to go, but not til the weekend is done. got some grilling and visiting to do. meanwhile i have some recent photos of places around nyc....see link above

say a prayer gustav misses new orleans..

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

cannes and le verdon (provence), france

we headed next to the riviera, cannes and the mountainous region called le verdon,in provence, north of cannes. i'll pick up on that later...done for now. here's where i left off..

we left remoulins to make our way to cannes. originally we were going to stay in nice, some of my friends had been there and loved it, but we couldn'
t find reasonable accommodations. so as we widened our search we found what seemed like a great guest house in cannes. we were not familiar with the area, other than what we've heard about the film festival, but it looked like a good location, and was on the Mediterranean, so...why not. we arrived about mid afternoon, and soon found our place. it really is a beautiful old, big house turned into guest quarters. very nice, not far from the beach..but kind of a strange neighbourhood. surrounded by a lot of modern apartment buildings and on a street that was a major route to somewhere...in the evening we heard a lot of cars and motorbikes make their way up the street next to us,,,there was a sign that pointed to "super cannes"...whatever that was, i didn't check that out yet. we weren't there much, so it didn't really matter.
we went down towards the sea after we settled in, by foot a 20 min walk through the city. and it is a city, not a quaint village. during our walk it kept getting denser and more commercial as we headed towards the fabled croisette, the beach and boulevard at the sea. when we finally arrived we were not exactly thrilled. noisy, crowded,luxury's shops and hotels, traffic. not exactly the peacefulness we were used to. i guess it was ok for a medium large city by the sea, but after some days where the only sounds we heard were cicadas, it was a little jarring. i was slowly morphing away from the city vibe. we took in the beach, got a sandwich and split back to our place.
we consulted our maps and decided to take a ride north, into the hills and mountains around grasse, which is the perfume center of france, and therefore i would say the world. the french make the best colognes and perfumes, i have a cabinet full of them, i'm a huge fan. as it was late afternoon, the tours of the perfumeries had closed, so we kept heading north. soon we were in the kind of country we like, winding mountain roads, small villages every 10km or so. we had to take a detour off the route Napoleon we are on , there was a festival going on in one of the towns. after deciding to continue, we were soon very high up in the mountains.after exploring the back roads and catching the sunset from on high, we came across a village, st valliers du theiy, and stopped for dinner. there were several choices, all looked good, but we opted for one with outdoor seating. next to a big green meadow, and looking up at mountains. it was very quiet and serene, as we ate our dinner...except for the little dutch kids with their parents, running around as bored kids are wont to do. did i tell you the dutch were everywhere? literally, there wasn't a town, or highway where we didn't see a car with nl plates, usually trailering a camper of some sort. after dinner is was completely dark, and it gets dark late there, 10pm or so...so we headed back to cannes and sleep. before going to bed we checked out the maps and decided we would go back in the general direction, only more east and see some lakes in the area.
the next morning we awoke to crisp sunshine, pure blue skies and great weather..as usual. we so lucked out on weather, we did not have one cloudy or rainy day in the two weeks we were on the road. after breakfast, we headed out to the mountains again. these areas, or departments (similar to parishes or counties)are part Provence, part alpes maritimes, part var...officially known as "Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur (P.A.C.A.), check out this link and map
...http://www.provenceweb.fr/cartes/ukindex.
we headed toward lac st croix, the largest of the verdon lakes in north var. http://www.provenceweb.fr/e/groupes/verdon/lac3.htm
driving through the countryside we again slowly rose in elevation and arrived at lac de Saint-Cassien. we stopped along the shore at a roadside stand and truck, the truck was selling snacks amercaine..hot dogs, fries, and such, and the stand had fresh fruit, vegetables and tiny saucisson. we bought some peaches, plums and suasages for the ride. the plums were out of this world, literally bursting with juice, running down our faces...so good. continuing on, with the top down and the sun beating down upon us, we enjoyed the scenery as we climbed ever higher. the light in Europe in general is remarkable. i don't know if it was because it was new to my eyes, but everything was just so crisp and clear.look at the photos and see if you agree.
eventually we were very high up and came across a small village,baudinard sur verdon. we almost drove past, but as we got to the end of town, we noticed a overlook parking area. we stopped and figured this would be a good place for lunch. there was a cafe/restaurant adjacent to the overlook where we had coffee after our alfresco lunch. we saw that we were only a few kilometers away from lac st croix, and we soon drove over a hill where the lake revealed itself to us. driving along the road that followed the contour of the lake, it was hard to keep my eyes on the road, it was so beautiful. we came to a parking area where we stopped and took some pictures, and scouted out a place to swim. we drove a few more kilometers and came upon a bunch of cars parked on the side of the road, so we figured this would be a good spot. there was no formal beach where we entered the lake shore, just small areas along the shore where people dropped their towels and swam. which is exactly what we did. it was a pretty hot day, and just about 2pm so the water was just what we needed. we hung out there for a few hours, pretty much by ourselves enjoying this impossibly gorgeous scene.
afterwards we stopped in the next seaside town, bauduen, and got some cold water and ice cream. we then set out to make our way back to cannes in the golden afternoon light, taking our time as we descended the hills, stopping at any and all overlooks to take in the countryside. it was one of our best days out and we savored every moment.
arriving back in cannes about 8pm, we were hungry but didn't want to go out, so we got some Chinese food and ate it at the hotel in the garden. Chinese food in Europe was not very good..we also had some in freiburg. they are very timid with the spices and seasoning...don't do it! the next day we were going to leave for italy..our next stop would be reggio nell emilia, just past parma and just before modena...looking forward to eating in italy!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

some of the places i missed writing about...

well that was a trip. back home reflecting on all, i realised there may be some changes a-coming. i really loved being in europe and visiting different cities and all. the food, the culture, art, lifestyle...all really appeal to me. not to mention i spent six weeks doing all these things with a wonderful woman. so upon returning i felt a bit depressed...and lonely. as much as i love ny, it is my home town, i'm not feeling it. you know, they say home is where the heart is, and my heart got stuck in freiburg. here in ny, i don't know how i fit in right now. it's great my family is here, and it was great to see my dad and aidan and his family, and of course savannah. but i really don't want to be here right now. and i have the oppurtunity not to, so i think i'll spend the fall back in germany.

my trip through france, germany, italy and switzerland was one of those life changing experiances. i want to write a bit more about some of the places that i couldn't while on the road...i'll do it in bits as the inspiration strikes me. right now i'm inspired by france..
paris was wonderful, and i need to spend more time there to see all the museums and art. seeing the physical city was very exciting and beautiful. we got to sample a good dose of parisian lifestyle, and staying in montmarte was a good place to do that. very funky neighborhood. unfortunately, very expensive...but i hope to go back and see more someday.

travelling south, from beaune to italy was so beautiful. each region had it's own distinct vibe. beaune and burgundy was amazing. the town of beaune itself was very charming...old and beautiful. but the surrounding areas of vinyards was really great. grapes as far as the eye could see. beautiful sloping hills, ancient walls and towns, great churches and cemetaries. and the light there was very special, especially in the late afternoon. in general, i found the light throughout europe so beautiful, and it opened my photographers eye again. i will never forget having a picnic dinner of local foods, on the slopes of pommard, overlooking the valley as dusk approached...sitting at a picnic table next to four local, older women doing the same thing. the decending sunlight on the grape vines is burned in my memory. and to be in a place that for centuries was and is the center of the the greatest wines in the world! very special indeed.

our next stop was in remoulins. we were going to go to avignon, but couldn't get a decent hotel rate...and i'm glad we ended up where we did. remoulins in a few miles west of avignon, and at the junction of the rhine river valley, provence and the languedoc region, another great wine region. a small old town, not spectacularly beautiful, but more rustic and rural. it was great to see the pont du gard aqueduct, and to ride thoruogh old orchards in the hills. the gardon river and gorges were also very pretty, and history permeated everything we saw. they are still living there and doing the same things that were done for hundres of years...farming, vinyards, etc. and we got to see le sanglier, the wild boar! another beautiful evening was spent eating is abandoned apple orchards above the city as the sun went down. the photos from there have not been posted yet, i will get them on this week. you'll see what i'm talking about. there are photos posted of the town, and the pont du gard...take a look. we used remoulins as our base for some travelling through provence also. remoulins is one of our favorite memories of the trip.

provence is gorgeous. rolling hills, towns built upon the hills overlooking the fields of sunflowers, lavender, grazing sheep and cows and goats, and vegetables. we missed the lavender by a week or so, the harvest in in mid july..but we found a few wild fields here and there. we picked wild herbs on the roadside...thyme, rosemary, anis all over the place. check out the views from gordes, a town built high in a hills overlooking the lavender fields. we almost drove right by the town, as it was on a spur from the road we were on, but as we topped a hill and started to descend, we saw the village above us and decided to backtrack...good move. we only saw a small portion of the provence region, but it was so beautiful. i could spend a summer there, no problem. look at the photos and you'll see what i mean.

we headed next to the riviera, cannes and the mountainous region called le verdon, north of cannes. i'll pick up on that later...done for now.

btw, i'm going to continue posting some photos, both of europe (i have a lot of 35mm pix not yet posted, and i really love the look of film vs. digital), and of new york city...i'm going to use my tourist eye here and see what happens.

Friday, August 15, 2008

home in nyc

http://picasaweb.google.de/allenineuropa


to view all photo albums......

back home in astoria....wanna go back to germany!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

last day in freiburg....

last day in freiburg...bummer. as much as i look forward to going home and seeing family and friends, this has been an incredible time. i am going to miss gisi terribly, we just spent 6 weeks seeing some of the most beautiful sights, having a great time, one of the best experiances of my life. the time spent in freiburg was also very special. i feel at home here. gisi has been so kind and tolerant, put up with me moving in on her life, she is an amazing person...it's gonna be really hard leaving. tonight we are going to have dinner with some freinds to say goodbye, and then tomorrow we'll spend the day in frankfurt...friday is flight day.
i just want to say again how fortunate i am to have been able to do this...it's been a crazy 8 months, my life has changed as i never thought it would and the future is open ahead. life is good, and i look forward to where ever it takes me in the future. i have no idea what i will do when i get back...we'll see. but it will be good, i'm sure.
i will be writing some more about some of the places we visited, and didn't have a chance to write about..we got some good stories. and i will post the rest of the 35mm photos....today i will post the photos of our last day here, it was really beautiful..we went up to the feldberg in the black forest...a real pretty day.
love to all....peace...see you in new york

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

back home in freiburg...






http://picasaweb.google.de/allenineuropa

to view more photo albums, go to this site.

we are back in freiburg, the past two weeks have been awesome. thursday we will spend the day in frankfurt, and friday i fly home. it has been an incredible trip, and i am so fortunate to have had the oppurtunity to visit these cities and regions in europe. i want to give credit to gisi for a lot of the photos, most of the ones taken on the road while driving were taken by her, as i drove 80% of the time. driving was half the fun, i would never have dreamed 3 months ago that i would spend six weeks driving an italian sports car through europe!!! also for being such a great host and guide, and travelling companion. we really had a wonderful summer here, and i'm going to miss her and being here.
i want to write more about some of the regions we visited and will do so when i return home and have more time. meanwhile i will post the rest of the photos and i hope you enjoy them as much as i did taking them. i still have several hundred 35mm photos i have yet to develop, hopefully by the end of the week i will post them.

Monday, August 11, 2008

ulm, germany

back to freiburg tomorrow...a lot to write about during the coming week. more pix posted tonight.
great weekend....

Friday, August 8, 2008

bolzano, italy

check out more venice photos and photos of the dolomite mountains, the italian alps...in bolzano italy now...and the room internet is not working, so i bought 30 mins to upload some photos...check them out...awesome
click on the slideshow and go to albums....

Thursday, August 7, 2008

venice

wow....venice is unbeleivably beautiful. it is a photographers dream...you could shoot here for days. check out the pix, only a few, most were shot on 35mm, need to get back to develop.
bad internet connection here...so ill write more about it tomorrow...we will be in the italian alps at bolzano...ciao

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

buon giorno from italia...

tues am in reggio emilia...some random thoughts from the past week

beaune is most beautiful. the center of burgundy and ground zero for all things wine. the people, the food, the villages and the landscape were all just perfect. the wine? im sure it wqas great.... go if you can.

remoulin is a pretty, old village..very rustic and rural...it is far south, and like the states, things are different down south. some of the oldest architecture and monuments. the romans were all over the place. we had dinner one evening in an old orchard on top of some high hills..i have pix on the 35mm, will add later...it was so beautiful. the ground is full of herbs and flowers, the trees are so pretty...after dinner we were driving along the backroads and came to a field..it was dusk, almost dark. gisi spotted something at the edge of the field..we stopped and looked. bear, dog? ah, the ears..it was le grand sanglier...a big black wild boar! really....it looked at us for a minute, then ran into the woods...it was quite a sight.

provence...you could spend a month there...or a lifetime. just everything you ever read or
heard...the small villages in the hills, fields of flowers, grapevines, lavender, corn...stone walls, big skz...just look at the pix...i dont know what else i could add....ill get to some specific stories later.

the traffic on the autoroute in france was murder...apparentlz every frenchman went on vacation at the same time..from beaune to remoulin and from remoulin to cannes were both much longer trips then we anticipated. dont travel on august 1st or 2nd! from cannes to italy was great. the autostrada is very fast, not much traffic at all. we probably averaged 100 km hr compared to 50 or less in france.

cannes was not so good. the beach area, croisette, was like any other beach destination on the east coast...the sea is beautiful, but the surrounding area was dirty, crowded and too commercial..but i guess that is what it is supposed to be. the mountains to the north, the verdon area, on the other hand was reallz special. so glad we went there.

dinner last night in a local resto...gisi had pizza...very good as you would think...and i had rigatoni and veal, both excellent. prices in italy much more reasonable than france or germany....to the po river and bezond today...gonna get started...its 10>30am....later

Monday, August 4, 2008

good morning....

more pix from this weekend posted...leaving cannes today, on our way to reggio emilia italy...dont know if we have intrnt there...hope all is well with you. this is fun!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

sunday....more pix

check out the photos from beaune...the weather has been great...and the vinyards spectacular..we are enjoying this immensely ..just dont have enough time to write. anyway..i will post more pix later, meanwhile we are off into the mountains around cannes.
ps cannes downtown, the croisette and the beach...ehhh...too many people, 5th ave shops, big city like..not our cup of tea.

click on the slide show and go to the new web album....

Saturday, August 2, 2008

update

hello....in cannes..didnt have any int access...awesome trip thru provence and languedoc...will post pix later...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

photos...

click on the slide show..that will bring you to a page where more photos are available for viewing.

weekend and monday, july28.....






saturday we we're going to go to heidelburg, but we got a late start so we went to france instead (doesn't that sound crazy?) we headed toward colmar, on our way to munster and the vogessen mountains. it was a nice ride, and munster is a beautiful town, and the surrounding area. this is alsace wine country...vinyards abound, along with many farms. the storcks in munster are famous here, i'd never seen one before...you should have seen all the babies they were dropping on the ground! we stopped and bought some local food specialties and baked goods...blueberries in season, so they make great tarts and cakes. we had coffee in the local cafe, that was fun...see the pictures. then we rode up to gaschney, a ski village at the top of one of the mountains. the road up is also used as a racecourse for cars and motorcycle races. at the top there was a farm along side the ski resort, some big cows hangin out...i don't know what kind they were...any cow id's? as you can see in the photos, again another beautiful scenic area...

on sunday we hung around town..went to a local park, the local airfield and just rode the bikes around town...got caught in some rain. it is always nice to bike around freiburg. later we went to one of gisi's best freinds place, chris. she lives in town, in a really cute small house that was a part of a larger old jouse. it was left intact after a new house was built in front of it, so it sits in a courtyard in the rear. very romantic, it reminded me of france or a slave quarter in new orleans. she has use of the courtyrard, which she decorated with many plants and an outdoor sitting area.
chris was very welcoming and very sweet...she speaks english very well, she is a nurse working in basel, and i immediately took a liking to her. we hung out for a while, then went to dinner at an italian restuarant down the bolck, michaelangelo. apparently it is one of the older italian places in town, and the food was fantastic. we had a mixed antipasti, gisi had penne arrabiata which was done perfectly, chris had veal milanese with spaghetti, and i had scallopine with funghi. the veal was some of the best i ever had, prepared perfectly..and very succulent for a this veal cutlet, plenty of flavor. really impressed. after espresso, we went back to chris' place, then home about 11.

monday we picked up some maps and assorted sundries for our trip on wednesday..rode around town a bit..stopped for some ice cream, was a gorgeous day. dinner was the charcroute we bought in munster..so good....

today we pack, do the laundry, clean up and we are off tomorrow morning...first stop...beaune france, in the heart of burgundy...i am so excited! we are bringing the laptop with us, so i will post some pix and hopefully have time to write some..ciao!

itinerary as of now: beaune, avignon, cannes-nice, reggio 'nell emilia, venice, bolzano, innsbruck, ulm germany...and home. 12 - 14 days......

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Today....

i posted new photos from yesterday, today and 35mm photos from bodensee (so much better looking)...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

the schlossberg, bodensee and rhein...






ooooh-ooooooo hallo! ya have to hear it to get it....
so, what the hell is goin on wit chu? i miss speaking newyorkese...fuhgeddaboudit!

we had dinner last night with some of gisi' s friends, martin and angela (with a hard G), and axel and maria...they are very nice and thankfully they all speak some english...axel doesn't talk much, maria talks enough for the both of them...she's very funny, we were talking about language and american pronunciations...ya gotta hear her say "tater". martin seems to know a lot of history of the region and expalining all sorts of esoteric things to me..we ate at a restaurant near the augistiner platz in town, sat outside next to a small canal...it was quite nice. zum rauhen Mann..the rough man...which martin explains, was the name of the house the restaurant was in, and was the description of the man who lived there...a lot of houses are named, it predates numbering system..so theres the house of blue star, etc.....angela's english is limited, but she is kind enough to try to speak to me as best she can, and it's really not bad..nice people!

i had a wonderful snail soup..a cream based stock with some a dollop of whipped cream on top...badisches Schneckensüpple...say it fast 3x...then i had a main course of schweinehaxe, a roasted pork shank, with sauerkraut and kartoffel knödel (a potato flour dumpling). it was delicious and the dumpling was surprisingly light...i remember the ones at the steinway brauhall were like paste balls. pork seems to be the prevalent meat here, which can be a little heavy in warm weather...but it is very good, i wanna meet these pigs. we then went to a biergarden...at the fierling brewery down the street a bit. no i didn't! i ordered a beer and gave it to axel..i drank shwarzwalder wasser. boy they can really knock them back here.

we then rode our bikes back home..as almost everyone does. we passed through the platz again, where all the kids hang..drinking beer and wine , sitting across the bächele, talking and doing things kids do. i wondered what happens to all the bottles when they're done. there must have been hundreds!

during the day we went up the schlossberg in the new tram they just installed (see pix). the schlossberg is the mountain that is directly across from us as we look out on the terrace. we walked up a bit to some viewing areas and took in the view of the city and the surrounding mountains. it was quite warm yesterday, like 83..so it was nice to be up in the hills and trees. whats really nice is that it is 10 minutes by bike from the apartment, and takes 10 mins to get up the mountain, very convenient. we had coffee in a cafe up the mountain, and there was a biergaten up there too.

the days before we were at the bodensee and the rhein river, where it starts out of the lake of konstanz. it is a beautiful area, farms and vinyards all around, the sea, and switzerland is across and up the river. there is one town (büslinger?) up river, completly surrounded by swiss territory, but is german..a little enclave that apparently was owned by a german count and when the borders were drawn, it remained german territory. martin said there is an area in the middle of basel that is the same way.
we stayed at a guesthouse on the water. look at the pix, you'll see how we found and booked it. very cool. we drove around the höri, the name for the penninsula we were on...named so because of a german phrase... as god made the earth, as was finishing, he said Jetzt Hör I uf! ..i am finished and i can't make it any better, it's just so beautiful. and it's true...
we ate some local plums that were amazing and had dinner at the guest house restaurant..i had two lovely poached trout with butter sauce...and then went down by the water to stargaze..we both saw the same shooting star as soon as we looked up!
the following morning we took a cruise on the local ferry, down the river to schaffhausen switzerland, where the rheinfall is located. the ferry ride was about 2 hours, so we got to see a lot of the surrounding countryside...then we took a shuttle bus to the falls. they are the largest in europe, and although they are not that high, the volume of water in tremendous. it is very pretty. after a few hours there, back on the ferry...we started at 11am and didn't get back til 5:30...so we then got into the car to head home. back home at 8:30, exhausted...had a pizza..was suprisingly good, i thought for sure the pizza here would be awful.

it is 11:30am saturday, and we may drive up to heidelburg today, about 2 hours. i hear it is a lovely town. no doubt. this country is full of lovely towns and villages.

ok, i am going to go pray now...and thank god for the good fortune i have been experiancing, and pray for all my freinds and loved ones, and be thankful and humble. and pray i can continue on a straight path...60 days today! yippee!!!!! tschuss!

Friday, July 25, 2008

rhein river

what a beautiful place.....