Thursday, July 30, 2009

Swiss Alps

For our four-day weekend in early July, we took a trip to the Swiss Alps, specifically the Berner Oberland. As the picture above shows, we only had Lyndi with us--Keanna and Ayla spent the weekend with friends. If it seems that this post goes a little long and has tons of pictures, its because everywhere we went had beautiful mountain views.

This part of the Alps includes the deep, glacier carved Lauterbrunnen Valley. We stayed in a cheap hotel with loud, drunk guests and a really nice owner (who gave us a discount due to the loud guests). The valley is surrounded by cliffs and many waterfalls. Cars are found in the valley, but to get to the villages and mountains one has to take cable car, trains, trams, or foot. We took the train and then the above tram to get to our highest point. Note the piles of hay stacked in lower left of photo.

This picture shows a view from 7317 ft. One can see the cable car on the right, the closest village at 4180 ft, and the village on thefloor of the valley at 2600 ft.

Beautiful Alpine views were common. The cliffs and the bottom of the valley are on the right.

Beautiful views!

Emily was really excited to be there; Lyndi....not so much.

Lyndi was a trooper and did the entire trip in the Baby Bjorn.

Directly behind us is the Jungfrau (Young Maiden) at 13,642 ft.

On the left is the Eiger (Ogre) at 13026 ft, in the middle is the Monk at 13,449 ft, and the Jungfrau (young maiden) at 13,642 ft on the right. So that is the young maiden being protected by the monk from the ogre.

Lyndi did excellent on the trip.

Lyndi, contemplating which peak she wants us to carry her to next.

This train goes from the valley floor at 2600 ft up to the saddle between the Monk and Young Maiden at 11,300 ft. That's a big elevation change. Half of the trip is spent going through the Ogre moutain. The Swiss aren't afraid of making tunnels or of heights. They completed this train over 100 yrs ago. The ride isn't cheap, so we decided to do another, more challenging hike.

On the right is the "North Face" of the Eiger. Since1935, at least 64 people have died climbing the North Face of the Eiger. It was first successfully climbed in 1938.

Lyndi did great. Rick Steves' travel books have been incredibly helpful as we have visited Europe. I have noticed that our camera, and the mirrors here in Europe, tend to exaggerate my chin and cheeks. Although not incredibly flattering for me, Lyndi pulls off the chubby cheek, double chin look very well.

The trail with people on it, that runs from left to right, is a somewhat steep trail that we eventually hiked (see photos below).

Several times throughout the day, big chunks of the glacier behind my head would crash down the cliffs. It was quite impressive.

Another glacier.

Lyndi and I are on the trail, which was right at the base of the Eiger, Monk and JungFrau. We strongly considered climbing the North Face, but decided we had better not since we didn't have enough sun screen.

This picture shows the trail going down toward the valley floor. For all of you runners, there is an annual JungFrau marathon which begins at the valley floor and climbs 5,960 ft. The trail gets quite steep at times, and I had a rough time just going down it. My loosely tied running shoes
didn't make great hiking boots, and after hiking down 3100 ft with Lyndi on my belly I was convinced that my size 11 feet had been compressed to about a size 9.

We were really enjoying the wildflowers and amazing alpine views, and then we noticed the dark clouds move in.....
Even with the rain and bad-parenting moments, we had a wonderful trip.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On July 4 2009, Emily and I were in the Swiss Alps with our 4 month old daughter when the storm pictured above rolled in. Despite living 4 years in Portland and 2 years in Bavaria (where it gets alot of rain), we found ourselves unprepared for the wet weather. If this sounds familiar, see our July 4th 2008 blog, or just keep reading.
This picture is from our July 4 2008 experience in the Italian Alps. Notice the approaching storm and the naive, silly Americans who didn't bring any rain gear for themselves or for their young kids.

July 4th 2009, Swiss Alps, yet again-no rain gear. This is after some kind lady took pitty on us (as we were huddled beneath a tree trying to keep Lyndi dry) and insisted we take her rain jacket--which was a nice North Face rain jacket. We were very grateful, but felt embarrassed and basically expected the next passer-by to give us the crappy parents of the year award. I'm happy to report that we can be taught and bought a rain jacked and umbrella later that evening. (In our defense, the skies were blue in the morning and I'm pretty sure Lyndi enjoyed the rain and learned a valuable lesson that she will probably never forget.)

It's easy to see which one here stayed dry.

I loved seeing cows up grazing on the high mountian grass, with bells ringing. The barns/stables (the locals call them Alps) are where the cows are kept at night and where the cows are milked twice daily. Check out the large ceremonial bells that are kept beneath the eaves. The cows only wear these big ones when they are being moved to or from the winter lowland pastures/barns.
The farmer is trying to move his stubborn cows into the stable. With his alpine walking poles he certainly doesn't have the typical American Cowboy look. I kind of felt like I should help him get the cows in, but the tourist in me forced me to get the camera and camcorder out.

Tough guy and tough 4 month old girl with the "Valley of Waterfalls" behind us.
Emily and I really loved Trummelback Falls. Basically this is a river that drains snow and glacier runoff from the Eiger, Monk, and Jungfrau mountain range. Lots of water with lots of power.

I basically had a really serious look and a death grip on Lyndi the entire time. This really isn't a river you want to fall into.

With the amount of power behind all the water, one could imagine how, over thousands of years, this river could cut a very narrow ravine through hundreds of feet of rock.

The river drops about 460 ft in elevation in a series of 10 waterfalls (deep inside the mountain)that one could walk right up to through caves. The waterfalls flow at about 20,000 liters of water per second (that's a lot of water loosing a lot of elevation very quickly). Each year the river carries 20,200 tons of swiss alp rock off of the mountian--that's why the Alps are getting smaller every year and in several hundred thousand years they may be mere hills.

This really isn't in order. The above pictures were from the later part of our Swiss Alps trip.
I will post the first part of our trip later.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dubrovnik, Croatia

500 years ago Dubrovnik was a bustling town rich from salt trade and boat making. It flourished in the 15th and 16th century and in 1667 was destroyed by an earthquake. It was then re-built in Baroque Style.
In June of 1991 Dubrovnik violently seperated from Yugoslavia. October 1st at 6:00 AM the citizens awoke to bombings on nearby hillsides. Intially, the bombings were concentrated on the outskirts of the city, but they soon started bombing the Old City. Nobody expected Dubrovonik to be attacked and the citizens had to use what they had. The locals had to carry the supplies by foot or donkey up the hillside to the fort. After 8 months of bombing the Croatian Army liberated Dubrovnik, but without the losss of about 200 brave citizens. This was the first time the great walled city had been attacked and it survived quite well. Some might ask why bomb this beautiful city? Some believe that the Serbs wanted the Croatians to hurt and what better way then to attack their most prized city, Dubrovnik.

I am certainly glad this beautiful city survived.

Leah and I decided we wanted to enjoy some of the amazing seafood! While Leah and I ate lunch Justin and Rand decided to cliff jump into the Mediterranean. Justin did document this event and may decide to have a post dedicated to the jumps :)

I had to document my great mothering skills, I'm not as talented as you Marlena, but I am working on it .

Enjoying the Stradum Stroll

What a perfect ending to a great trip, it was nice and relaxing.

Gala Night

We are new to the cruising thing and we weren't quite prepared for the Gala Night. On Gala Night it was encouraged to dress up in Black Tie Attire. Opps! I had to really bribe my girls to take showers, let me do their hair and wear a presentable dress on these nights. My bribe was MAKEUP! We both had fun and Justin took the girls to take pictures on the Staircase!

The Talent show

One of the activities that the "kids club" put on was a talent show. There were a few hillarious moments.
The little boy in the blue/white striiped shirt is Owen and Below you can see Keanna dancing to "It's a Barbie Girl" Ayla Did NOT want to participate

Our Cruise Line was an Italian Cruise Line this often presented some intresting situations as far as a language barrier and culture. The following is an example of such an event.

One Evening after the "Kids Club" Keanna expressed to me that she wasn't quite sure she liked it. I then asked her "why"

Keanna "They talk really loud"

Emily "What do they say"
Keanna "Momma Mia!"

Monday, July 20, 2009

Got Milk?

Got Milk?
Lyndi is sure growing! At her 4 month apointment she was 97% for height and weight. She weighed in at 18 lbs!! This is a picture of her eating rice cereal. She was not intrested at ALL, I guess we will hold off for a little longer.

Topaki Palace

Our next stop was the Topaki Palace, by this time it was quite hot and Lyndi was ready for lunch. I was a little more hesitant about nursing in a Muslim Country, I eventually found a womens bathroom.

Above was our view of Asia, as we ate lunch. Luckily, we found some shady tables to sit at.

This palace was different then other palaces I have been to. Much of the palace was outdoors and you could walk to the different rooms. Outside the rooms were terraces with fountains. Above is a picture that shows a room within the palace.

Justin, Lyndi and I taking a picture with the Bosphorus River behind us. If you continue up this River you will end up in the Black Sea. This isn't the best picture of Justin, but we only got one picture. I was avoiding the sun and taking cover in the shade whenever possible, this picture required stepping out of my comfort zone a little.

It was about 90 degree's this day, we are NOT accustomed to that living here in rainy Germany. Lyndi was struggling a little, so I took advantage of any opportunity to get her wet. Here you can see me taking water from the fountain and putting it on her hot neck.

Above is the circumsion room. This shows how ornate each of these rooms were decorated with the blue tiles.

Before I walked into the cirucmsion room there was a group of young boys, whowere probably of Turkish decent. One of the boys asked me "Where are you from?" I was a little hesitant, but responded "The USA"

All of the boys responded with astonishment and started talking loudly amongst themselves and started pointing towards me. I felt a little akward.
Our next stop was the Grand Bazzar (sorry no pictures) which is one of the largest and oldest(1461) covered Bazaar's in the world. After our experience in Izmir, we went prepared. We were pleasantly suprised with the mild mannered salesmen. If we had more time (and more money) it would be a fun to get some friends together and go shopping here.
This was our last picture of Istanbul as we were leaving. You can see on the left the Blue Mosque and on the right the Hagia Sophia.