Thursday, May 31, 2007
We have been pretty busy socialising lately and it won’t stop throughout summer. Life is tough, you know. Last week, we took a few days off and drove to Austria to visit some friends, and this past weekend, we were home and close to home. We had a great time.
Suse and Andreas, our friends form the Bavarian region came over to visit us. After their arrival, early Saturday afternoon, we started with a nice welcome drink: a pink Moët. After the welcome drink, we took the tram to Basel and walked around to show Suze and Andreas a bit of Basel. We shortly discussed whether we should bring umbrellas or not, as the forecast for the afternoon was thunder showers. We decided to challenge faith and leave the umbrellas at home. A good decision as we were so lucky with the weather; we didn’t get a drop of rain all day! We got off at the tram stop “Bankverein” and walked down the Freiestrasse. Neither Suse nor Andreas had visited Basel before, so this was their first view of this nice town. The first acquaintance with Basel centre was a small shock. The first looks in the shop windows made a sound of disbelief escape from Suse’s mouth. Yes, she was shocked by the prices of articles displayed in the shop windows.
We continued our way down Freiestrasse towards the Marktplatz (Market place). Of course we had to show them “Globus”, a beautiful department store, with an excellent food department offering exclusive foods, spirits and wines. All their merchandise is displayed in such a nice way that it's amost impossible to just walk straight through. We continued our stroll up to the Münster cathedral to enjoy the view over the Rhine. Then we walked down the (many, many stairs to the quai to take one of the idyllic ferries across the Rhine to the other side of Basel. Note that this one (out of four) runs on the power of the current only. When we got off the ferry, a crossing of just a few minutes, we looked at the beautiful old houses nestled along the Rhine and decided to stop for a drink on the terrace of one of the many restaurant.
A bit later we continued our walk through the backstreets to arrive to the “Caveau”, a nice wine bar where we sat down for an afternoon aperitif. We enjoyed an excellent Merlot from Chile and had plate of different cold cuts and “Hobelkäse” (a very tasty, thinly cut cheese called Sbrinz). Andreas enjoyed the wine and the plate as he loves the “Bündnerfleisch” (a thinly cut dried salted beef). After the tasty aperitif, we walked over to the restaurant where we reserved for the evening dinner, the Atlantis. The restaurant is known for its cozy ambiance and superb kitchen. We all enjoyed our dinner accompanied by a nice bottle of Cabernet Syrah Penfolds BIN 389, one of my favourite Australian wines. Even Suse, who said “I’ll sick with water for now” couldn’t resist its lovely full taste. She even wrote down the name. I guess she’ll be on a specific wine hunt next time she’s shopping…
After dinner we took the tram back home and sat down in the garden to enjoy the nice evening weather. After a short while, Suse made herself immortal by feeding Dale his vitamin paste from the tube. Yup, she's been added to Dale’s “Tube Of Fame” guest list. I think Suse fell in love with our black feline. The ladies went to bed one after the other and Andreas and I enjoyed a last (2 or 3) drinks while chatting in the garden. Around 3 am we decided to get some sleep, too.
The next morning, Dale amazed Andreas and Suse again with his almost human behaviour. The famous words “gutti-gutti” (“feeding time”) made him run in from the garden and up to the kitchen. After he was “served” his breakfast, we had ours. Suse wanted to feed Dale some of the yoghurt, but without success. I immediately knew what was wrong. You must know that Dale is brought up in a very good way and knows how to eat correctly. I took a spoon - don’t laugh - and scraped through the yoghurt cup to fill the spoon with the rests of yoghurt and presented it to Dale on the spoon. And, you might have guessed already, Dale calmly licked the yoghurt from the spoon until he was done. Another surprise for Suse. Yes, Dale is quite an amazing animal.
Around noon, Andreas and Suse decided to drive off as they had plans for the evening at home. Before they left, we planned our next visit to them to make sure it wouldn’t take that long until seeing each other again. So, we’ll be back in the Bavarian region at the beginning of August. We’re all looking forward to it. Their just such adorable, fun people. After we fixed the next date, we said our goodbyes and off they went.
That evening, we were invited at TBF’s. The special reason was that a fellow bloger Colon Blow (Mrs. TBF's brother) and Mrs. CB were visiting. We arrived at the TBF residence around 5 pm and as always, we were warmly welcomed by both TBF’s. For the first time we met Colon Blow and Mrs. CB in person, after we had only known each other via cyber space.
By the way CB, this reminds me, you should put up a few posts again. It’s been quite some time now :-) I know we’ve bugged you all evening with this, but a blog needs to be maintained, kept alive!
We went up to the roof in the “Fishbowl” for the a glass of wine. Mrs. TBF had again arranged for a nice appetizer consisting of king prawns, olives and bell peppers stuffed with olive and/or blue cheese. Delicious! I could feed on snacks like that all night. We chatted away while TBF showed his expertise on BBQ-ing once more. He made sure that the prepared meal was slowly cooked to the right point. He is a master of grilling. Once the meat was ready, we were kindly requested to come downstairs for dinner. We enjoyed an excellent dinner of stuffed turkey breast with Cranberry sauce and a mix of oven roasted veggies such as bell pepper, mini potatoes and mushrooms. A very tasty meal! After dinner, we sat outside on the balcony and at a certain moment heard the rain pouring down. Dessert was served on the balcony; Vanilla ice with strawberries macerated in grand marnier. Yummie!
All evening, as we were chatting away, Colon Blow at a certain moment was the involuntary victim of our harassment. He was “criticised” (again) for not posting on his blog for so long (last post: March 17th, 2007!!!); struggling at times with his new camera missing the fun shots because of being late with the right settings and switching off the flash which led to dark pictures. Poor guy! But he was a good sport and laughed along with us. Wanna take a look at his blog and read about his adventures in Switzerland? Just click here and read about his past few weeks with his sis and bro-in-law. But, give him a bit of time, though. They've only flown back on Wednesday.
At a certain moment, the wind got pretty strong and the rain was swept on the balcony so we decided to go inside. At that moment, TBF told CB and me that he had to show us a funny passage of the movie “Borat”. We actually ended up watching about half the movie before CS and I decided to go home. We had a fun evening, enjoyed meeting a fellow blogger and his lovely wife, and had a great time with all. After we arrived back home, we both were so tired that we just crashed into bed.
Monday, we took it easy. Just enjoying a quiet day with the two of us, reading blogs, listening to music and enjoying a glass of champagne. We had a fun filled weekend again, but tomorrow, a work week starts. When I think that I had to get up 4 am the next day to appear on time for a meeting in Germany that started at 8.30 am, pfewww. It was a toughy…
PS: As so as we get the pictures from Andreas, we'll update. Blogger won't let me upload more for the moment, so I'll try again later this evening or tomorrow.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
At some point, we saw this guy at the bar drinking just a wee bit too much over his initial thirst and was taking a "bar snooze". All of a sudden, he got up and walked straight towards us. Since we had been watching him for some time, we were a bit afraid that he might have felt offended. Or did he just want to have some conversation? So, he staggered towards us, took a seat right between Chris and Pinki, and fell back in a deep sleep within seconds.
We were woken up by a call on OX's mobile phone the next (same!) day at 11.30. OX had set the alarm, but kept putting it on "snooze". It was Ernst, our next stop in Austria. We got up and showered, and OX went out to get coffee and fresh bread while I was getting ready. The weather was beautiful, but we knew that we had a bit of a drive before we reached our friends Ernst and Helga in Mattighofen, a small village about 40 km north of Salzburg.
Monday, May 28, 2007
As you may have read here, we had decided to drive off a day earlier and had booked a room at the Crowne Plaza Pitter in Salzburg. The roads were pretty busy, we had rain almost all along, and there was a lot of road construction on the way. It took us over 6 hours (instead of the usual 4 ½ to 5) to get to Salzburg. We found our hotel without too much trouble and checked-in. We had planned to do a bit of sight seeing and maybe find a cosy restaurant, but it was pouring rain and we finally decided to stay at the hotel. We opted to have dinner in the Hotel’s Pitter-Keller for some authentic Austrian comfort food. The portions were huge, and the food and service were great. After dinner, we went for a drink at the bar and then up to our room. Salzburg sight-seeing will have to wait until August, I guess.
Our next stop was Bad-Fischau – I love that name… Bad, bad Fischau!! - just outside Wiener-Neustadt. I was still raining cats and dogs, but nothing could stop us from seeing our good friends, Pinki and Andrea.
After a warm welcome and settling in, we drove off to open up Pinki’s “Backstage Bar" and prepared for the evening. We went to a local restaurant for a quick dinner and then rushed back to the Backstage. The live band, “Laura and the Comrats”, was stuck in the Ascension Day traffic and was running late.
They finally arrived half an hour before the opening and still had to set up and do a sound check. At 8pm, the band was ready, the doors to the Backstage Bar opened and the guests were let in. The first part of the show was a bit slow, if you ask us, but Laura picked-up in the second half and the overall ambiance improved (or was it just us??).
The second day was a bit more relaxed, especially since Pinki and Andrea were off, so we decided to go out for dinner at a lovely restaurant called the Triad. Ever hear the expression the more the merrier? We all agreed that it would be fun to ask Birgit and Gerhard (Pinki’s sister and bro-in-law) to join us.
Then Pinki arranged for a lovely surprise: Christoph Schellhorn (remember, the musical wonder from this post?) was to come over and spend the next two days with us since he was in the area and had no gigs planned. Yay! Both Orange and I really liked him the first time we met so it was a thrill for us to see him again. I must add that since last summer, a deep friendship has developed between Chris, Pinki and Andrea. They call him “their adoptive son”. We have now also given him a new nickname (Kevin), but I’ll tell you all about that later.
We drove off for the restaurant and met Gerhard and Birgit on the way so that they could follow us in their car. The Triad is a beautiful old farmhouse, nestled in a striking Austrian countryside landscape and offers fine dining, a driving range and holidays on the farm. We had a wonderful dinner there in an almost perfect atmosphere… The table next to us had brought a hoard of young children (approx. 3-5 years old) with them. Don’t get me wrong here, we like kids, but when they are well behaved, and this kind of restaurant is definitely not a playground. Actually, it’s the parents that we were pissed off about. They did not say a word as the five kids were racing through the dining room, sometimes hitting each other, screeching, crying, and bumping into tables and chairs, aaargh! This is just not the “big golden M” type of restaurant. Ok, I don’t want to get carried away here, so I’ll leave it a that and I think you get my point that it is not only annoying, but can also be dangerous for the kids, guests and the service personnel.
After they left, however, we started making jokes and thinking up silly situation with kids and restaurants, and that’s where “Kevin” came into the picture. Chris being the youngest among us at age 24 and the fact that Pinki had made a few remarks about adopting his “protégé”, we started talking of the movie “Kevin: Home Alone”. That’s how it all got started and became a running gag throughout our stay.
We left the restaurant and got home around 11.30pm. While Pinki opened a bottle of wine, I returned from the bathroom with… guess what… Yes, Chris’ guitar. I swear that on my way out of the bathroom, the case magically opened and the guitar just flew right to me. Really! All right then, it wasn’t quite like that, but I could have sworn that it was moaning and begging for Chris to play it. So, seconds after I had handed Chris (alias Kevin) his guitar, his fingers started tickling the strings and a wide smile spread all over his face. He is not only an awesome guitar player, but as I have mentioned in earlier posts, it’s as if he and the instrument melt into one entity, one soul. It’s pure serenity and well being: it’s written all over his face and you can hear it through every song he plays, which makes it not only a delight to hear him, but also to watch him. He played for us (and himself) until the wee morning hours and we got our own concert once again. Maybe this picture will give you an idea of what I mean.
We'll update soon, guys, but for now, you'll find more picts of part 1 here and hopefully, Pinki will send me his photos soon.
Monday, May 21, 2007
This coming weekend, Andreas and Suze, friends of ours from the Unterallgäu (south of Munich) will be coming over for the weekend and on Sunday evening, we'll be meeting Mr. and Mrs. TBF for dinner where we also will have the chance to meet fellow bloggers from the USA!! Another fun-filled weekend.
Stay tuned. I'll try to post as soon as possible, but for now, it's back to work.
Monday, May 14, 2007
I am happy to report that CS Mom is doing very well again. Last Monday, she had her corset and head stabilization removed - after 3 months!! - and has no more pain. She is free!!! How important is freedom, you ask? You stay put for three months in a "bullet proof vest" (that's what she called it) and head harness, having to ask friends and neighbours to take you to the doctor's, bring you some coffee, etc.
She's as happy and excited as a four year old at Christmas! She called me 3 times this week just to tell me how relieved she was and explaining step by step that she had now driven to the corner store all by herself, had no dizzy spells, she slept through a whole night, showered for the first time, washed her hair on her own, cooked herself a meal and was hungry again. The list goes on.
She's been such a good sport about it and was always in a good mood. I'm just happy to have her well again and I am so proud of her! She's one helluva woman.We too often take things for granted. Our life and that of our loved ones hangs on a silk thread. ALWAYS. We never know what can happen and we should never forget that. Life is a gift. Live it.
I love you, Mom! Thank you for giving me life. I hope you had a fun time with *Carl and the kids on Mother's Day.
Although the weather is really crappy right now (it rained all day), I'm all excited about seeing our Austrian friends, *Pinki and Andrea, again. We had planned on leaving early on Wednesday morning, but we've now been thinking of maybe leaving tomorrow aroung noon and staying at one of these romantic little Inns around Salzburg (my idea - *wink wink*). After all, it is an 8 hour drive to Pinki's. It also looks as if the weather would get better and we should be blessed with a few sunny days.
You may remember that Pinki opened up the Backstage Bar just last year in September. The decor is a beautiful mix of modern design and old arched ceilings; the music is easy jazz, funk, soul, groove, “chill out” style. During our last visit, they were rennovating the place, so it was still quite a mess. On Wednesday evening, we will have the pleasure to be there. Yeah! We will be hearing LAURA & THE COMRATS, a young folksblues group from Vienna. From Pinki's description, Laura's voice really goes under your skin, a touch of melancholy, soft and inviting. Knowing Pinki's taste for music, I'm sure it's going to be a great evening - one of many, of course.
On our drive back through Austria, we'll visit other friends of ours, Ernst and Helga, who were also at Pinki's summer party last year. I'm sure that will be fun, too. And it will surely take me a good half hour to get used to Ernst's regional dialect again.
This is going to be such a great 6 days!
*See archives January 2006 and August 2007 and scroll through!!
Sunday, May 06, 2007
We also enjoy planning short trips during the "season". March/April to June is usually a very good time in Europe because of all the long weekends we enjoy. It starts with Fasnacht (Basel Carnival), followed by Good Friday and Easter Monday, then May 1st (Labour Day), Ascension Day and Whit Monday. Depending on the canton, you'll have a few more after that.
We'll be pretty busy socializing these coming weeks (and you all know how much we love that). Here's a short preview of the coming weeks. We have planned a 5 day trip to Austria the week after next to visit our friends Pinki and Andrea, we'll be meeting up with a U.S. fellow blogger on May 27th (I'm not revealing who, just yet), just before that, Andreas and Suzanne will come from Bavaria to visit us in Basel, a trip to Amsterdam the first weekend of June - where we'll miss meeting up with Ginnie by ONE day! - and then Brenda and Harry will come over for a weekend mid-June.
I don't know what's after that yet, but I'm sure that the good times will not stop there.
Stay tuned and have a great week.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Yesterday, we were invited to the annual "Alie's Barbecue". Every year, Andy and Di, Alie's parents, organise a barbecue up on a nearby ridge to celebrate her birthday. Because of the unusually hot April and lack of rain, it was forbidden to grill in wooded areas. So, Andy and Di decided to go over to plan B. We got to their place early to give them a hand (a few meters walking distance) and found Mr. and Mrs. TBF there already. After a bit of chit-chat, our tasks were assigned. Orange-X would drive up with Andy to unload two car loads of drinks and cold foods and he would then stay there to stand guard.
TBF was the "Grill Doctor" or “ Dr. Weber”, armed of course with tongs and welding gloves. Mrs. TBF and I were the “BBQ-nurse” and “BBQ-trainee nurse” (also apparently called “candy girl” because of the red/white striped uniforms they wear) were responsible for feeding the two grills with a new load of sausages or carrying the perfectly cooked ones to the kitchen oven to keep warm until all were done. TBF mentioned something about a French maid’s outfit, but both Mrs. TBF and I agreed that it was not the proper attire for a BBQ. If you look carefully at the photo, you might see the sweat pearling on his forehead and his soaked bandana. Men at work??
We knew quite a few faces already such as Rammy and John, Rita and Eric, Wendy and Alan, and Markus and Nicole, but many were new and it was fun to get to meet them all. You guys must be wondering (from my last post) where the belly buttons come in, right? I think this is what I meant by “the big kids”. Don’t ask me how or who started talking about it, but in no time, our little group started comparing belly buttons. You’ll notice that TBF took the picture because of the angle. Only the hairy belly (OX’s – of course, pushing it out for a better view) is more or less in the right focus because of his height.
The kids had a blast too. They were playing, eating, laughing, playing again, and at some point, they decided it was too hot and started to dig out the melted ice from the coolers with the plastic cups and showering each other with it. Mrs. TBF and I were there just in time to rescue the wobbling bottles of precious wine that was still on the picnic table. We asked the kids to take out whatever bottles were left in the cooler and move to a “safer spot” with the cooler. So they continued their splashing game further away from the adults (read: so that we could act like kids without them noticing). We could very well hear the kids screaming and giggling and throwing water at each other, but then the sound came closer. The “unarmed kids” were running towards the "adult safety zone". Well, so much for the safety zone. Somehow, Sam, Di and Andy's son, was running beside a little girl and probably bumped into her. She was holding on to one of these cups filled with ice cold water. Untill... Sam accidentally bumped into her. And the cold water, you ask? You guessed it. (Drum roll) It landed right ON MY BUTT!
A shiver rand down my spine and I started laughing. The little girl felt really bad about it and apologized. I told her that it was ok. It's just water, but now she had to pose with me. Pay your dues, right? There she is. Caught 'ya!
Here are a few random pictures to keep you busy. I’m still wondering if Di was camera shy this year. She somehow she escaped all of our photos.
Rammy, Mrs. TBF and Henry
Anyway, around 7.30pm, this guy (a community official) came over to tell us that it was “Fahrverbot” (no “driving” motorized vehicles allowed). I tried to tell him that the only cars up there were to carry the stuff up and down again (of course, I stretched the truth a bit, but most of them were). I don’t know what his problem was, but he wouldn’t listen to what I said and just kept repeating: “Hier ist Farhverbot.” But, hey, no was driving at that point and the engines were not running. So we cleaned up and drove to Di and Andy’s for a few more drinks. Note: we were really good adults that evening. Really. No abuse.
Five of our “men” – now here comes the part where the adults never grow up – decided to play a round of soccer (football for the Europeans) with the 13 (!!) kids. They had fun, but…. After about an hour, we already had the first “casualty”. John had been fouled – that’s his version of it, anyway ;) - by an 11 (?) year old. He came in limping, and I do believe that it was quite painful. His ankle was already being promoted to the size of a baseball. Di immediately got an elastic bandage and ice packs. I bandaged his foot – I have discovered a new talent... probably from all my sports injuries - , but I think this one was more meant for children’s wrists than constantly swelling adult’s ankle. I ran home to get a longer bandage, but I just couldn’t find it. Damn. Always when you really need it, it disappears. So I came back with a lot of gauze and tape to at least give him some support. OX did the bandaging this time (HA! Always good to have an (ex-) physiotherapist in the house). Very professional.
Short after that incident, the kids were sent to bed and we left about half an hour after that. I went to bed and O-X came up shortly after because he had to get up at 4.30 to go to Chiasso/TI. Unfortunately, he got a fever during the night and cold sweats (NO. It wasn’t because of me – well, not this time). The next day, his legs were itching and driving him nuts. There we have the second casualty of the game. He had this before when playing in the soccer field with Sam and he must react VERY badly to some kind of plant in that field.
Anyway, that’s the end of a very fun evening with only a few minor incidents, except for John: I hope that he’s doing better.
Have a great week.