Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Layover Fun

My kids playing on the moving walkway at DFW airport today.  This activity never seems to grow old.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Photo Friday: Madrid, Here We Come!

These pictures were taken in 1994 - the last time we were in Madrid.  But we're on our way back - see you next week, Madrid!

This post is part of Photo Friday at DeliciousBaby.com.
I've also linked up to Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Winter in Frutigen, Switzerland

In the town of Frutigen, Switzerland.

A lovely town we passed through regularly on our visit to Switzerland last winter is Frutigen, in the Berner Oberland, surrounded by towering Alpine peaks.  Unlike the smaller nearby ski resort of Adelboden, Frutigen has a train station and can be accessed directly from anywhere in Switzerland.  (Frutigen is where we disembarked the train to catch the bus to Adelboden.)  If you like hiking, Frutigen has some fantastic trails, one of which takes you across the one of the longest pedestrian suspension bridges in Europe.  Stop by the Tourist Information office right in the center of town for a trail map.

Family activities in Frutigen include miniature golf, an equestrian center, a sports center with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a tram up to the local mountain peaks.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

Photo Friday: Weikersheim Castle and Gardens

Just about everywhere you go in Germany you are likely to discover an unfamiliar castle, palace or fortress with lovely gardens or grounds beckoning you to stop for a stroll or a picnic.  Weikersheim Castle in the town of Weikersheim, in the Baden-Württemberg region, is one of those idyllic castles.  The peaceful baroque gardens are dotted with tall stone sculptures and offer a view of the valley.  The interior of the castle is rich in art and baroque decor, with a famously well-preserved knights' banquet hall particularly worth seeing.

Guided tours of the palace take place every hour and tickets are 5.50€ for adults, 2.80€ for children under 15, and 13.80€ for a family ticket.

Today the castle is home to the Jeunesses Musicales Germany during the summer and this August, 2012, will host a two-week chamber music festival featuring the California Institute of Music.

This post is part of Photo Friday at DeliciousBaby.com.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Review of Backöfele Restaurant in Würzburg

For a rustic Franconian atmosphere and large portions of traditional German-style food, Backöfele Restaurant in Würzburg, Germany, is the place to go.  Located very near the Residenz Palace in the Romantic Road town of Würzburg, it's a convenient meal stop for tourists.  But locals come here too, in fact, it was my cousin, who has lived in Würzburg her whole life, who took our family to Backöfele for dinner.  We sat in the very large covered courtyard with a tree growing out of it.  I love the old-farmhouse decor!  The four kids who were in our party played card games at their end of the table for hours never once being asked to leave, as we adults drank beer and chatted.

The food is tremendous.  I had Wienerschnitzel with warm potato salad.  My son had a huge plate of two bratwurst which he enjoyed so much that he ate another bratwurst off of someone else's plate and promptly threw up after we left the restaurant (don't be alarmed - it had nothing to do with the quality of the food, only the quantity he ate).

If you like asparagus, Backöfele has an impressive Fränkischer Spargel (Franconian asparagus) menu.  Franconian asparagus is white asparagus, generally considered to be slightly milder in flavor and a bit more tender than green asparagus.  The menu includes a creamy asparagus soup, an asparagus/vinaigrette salad with salmon, and another asparagus soup with ham.  Fresh asparagus is also available with butter, Hollandaise sauce, or olive oil and parmesan.

Monday, June 11, 2012

La Maison du Gruyère Cheese Factory

Two times a day the local farmers deliver their fresh milk to La Maison du Gruyère Cheese Dairy so that the master producers of world-famous Gruyère cheese can keep their cellars filled with up to 7000 wheels of maturing cheese.  The smell of cheese is so pungent upon entering this fine fromagerie that two of the eight teenage girls in our group could not stand to go inside, but the others (and I!) were delighted.  Open to the public for demonstrations, tasting, dining, shopping and photographing, La Maison du Gruyère is a popular tourist destination for visitors to the medieval town of Gruyères, Switzerland.  Arriving at the train station you can't miss it - it's immediately across the street, below the old walled city.

Thousands of wheels of Gruyère cheese.

Daily cheesemaking demonstrations take place from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. and again from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. and although this activity was high on our list of priorities in Switzerland, we unfortunately arrived too late in the afternoon for a tour after missing our train from the nearby chocolate factory in Broc.  We did spend some time browsing in the lobby where there are old cheesemaking artifacts and various interesting production facts displayed.

La Maison du Gruyère also has a restaurant with a menu of fondue (of course!), soup, ham, and meringues.

Cute little restaurant at La Maison du Gruyère.

The gift shop is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the summer, and from 9:00 to 6:00 p.m. from October through May.

Tours of La Maison du Gruyère Cheese Dairy are 7 Swiss francs for adults, 12 francs for a family of four with kids under 12, and 6 francs for students.

Notice one girl holding her nose from the "strong" odor.

Related posts:
Chocolate Making in Broc, Switzerland
Wooden Shoe Making in Gouda, the Netherlands
Violin Making in Mittenwald, Germany
Glass Making in Murano, Italy
Porcelain Making in Delft, the Netherlands, and in Oberschliessheim, Germany

Friday, June 8, 2012

Photo Friday: Not the Diamond Jubilee

No, we weren't at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee last weekend.  These are just pictures from a random royal procession taking place on the streets of London when we were there a few years ago.  Seems like those Brits always have something to celebrate - and always do it with style!

Did you see any of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations on TV?  Most of it took place from June 2 - 5, and included a BBC concert at Buckingham Palace featuring Elton John, Annie Lennox, Paul McCartney, and others; a pageant on the Thames River with a flotilla of over 1,000 boats; a service at St. Paul's Cathedral; a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace; and finally, a balcony appearance.  Beautiful official photos are posted on the official website of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

This post is part of Photo Friday hosted by DeliciousBaby.com.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

No Brotherly Love

Okay, what is up with Spain and Portugal?  Are they not friends?  Do they not share a peninsula?  Is there no Iberian brotherly love?  First I find out there are no regular, high-speed train connections between their capitals, Madrid and Lisbon, just an 11 hour overnight train.  In fact, there are only four rail lines that cross the border between the two countries at all.  Next, we try to rent a car for pick-up in Granada, Spain, and return in Lisbon.  We are perfectly well aware that there is often a substantial fee to pick-up/drop-off in two different countries, but Auto Europe denied our request completely, saying there is no - nada - cooperation between Spain and Portugal with rental car exchanges.

Guess what we'll have to do now?  Drive to Seville, drop off the car, get on a bus across the border, and then rent another car in the first town in Portugal.  How silly.

Only 4 rail lines (in red) cross the border between Spain and Portugal.

UPDATE POSTED ON JUNE 7, 2012:  Thanks to a suggestion by Denise, a commenter on this post, I tried working with Avis directly over the phone and got a much better deal!  They wouldn't allow such a booking on-line, but through an agent we got a reservation to pick up a car in Granada and drop it off in Lisbon!  Sometimes it pays to try everything.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Euro Nosedive

Graph is courtesy of x-rates.com.

Just look at that nosedive the Euro has taken against the dollar!  Woohoo for us!  With any luck it'll keep on dropping and stay low all summer so we can afford just a few more pitchers of sangria on the Costa del Sol.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Photo Friday: No Speeding

Never drive your tank over 70 kph in Dinkelsbühl, Germany.

Head on over to DeliciousBaby.com for Photo Friday fun.
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