Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Update from Italy

We are living a regular life, except it's in a different country on a different continent. Since the last blog post, we have moved away from Como to a small town where Tessa goes to a bilingual school full time. She loves it, gets to wear the school uniform (well, better said, the school colors, as we couldn't get any official school clothes till early December), and gets fed a sumptuous lunch with 4 courses! On the days that Tod doesn't work, we two get some time to explore around, mostly we eat our way around. I will for sure miss the Italian food when we are back in the US.

Very lucky me, I have some awesome friends from high school and university, who come to visit us, and I got to spend a girls-only weekend away in Milan. Jeannine and Marieke, you are the best!

Weather is changing, it's getting cooler (still in mid teens in Celsius), but if you look how Italians dress up, you might think it's winter. When I walk Tessa to school and drop her off, all her class mates dress as if they are ready to go skiing, hats included. We just show up in a fleece jacket and sneakers. Tod says that Italians start dressing like that on a certain date, no matter what the temperature is. Fun to notice these cultural differences.

the ladies in front of the Duomo

we stayed in the cute canal Navigli district


photo taken by marieke

photo taken by jeannine

photo taken by marieke

photo taken by marieke

photo taken by marieke

photo taken by Marieke

photo taken by Jeannine

excellent pizzeria in our little town

my morning ritual after school walk

view from our 1st apartment in our new town

you see these self help 'kiosks" for milk, medicine and here flowers

our final apartment in Italy, we live on the ground floor of a very nice designed house

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Oh, the places we went last year.......

Looking at this map brings back a lot of memories of our travels of the last year, when we started our second year of travel on October 1, 2015. We have seen a lot of gorgeous nature in the US, Canada and Mexico, and had the chance to hang out with our dear family and friends in the Americas and now in Europe. Tessa, you love to draw maps, and look at them, so this one I made with you in mind. There is so much more to explore in the world, and we prefer to do slow travel. For now we are doing just that by living, working and going to school in Italy for a few months.

hanging out in Cernobbio 3 times in one week,
arriving by ferry or car (a playground next to a restaurant, count us in!)

our first local festival along Como lake

pumpkin festival in tiny Rovenna

yep, really! and not all of them are one way streets!

petting and feeding donkeys is a hit

Back in Cernobbio

Italian food, it's to die for, and we don't hold back

That's right, Tessa in school and we are on a lunch date at fabulous mountain
restaurant La Madonnina in Barni. We will be back! And might even bring Tessa
as they have a ....playground!

View 10 meters from our table

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Ah, the beauty of Como!

Tessa and I are walking to her "school", when a big bus decides to share this tiny, one way street. I feel like I need to protect both of us, and have us hold on to the ancient street wall. Nobody is doing that, so I must not be Italian yet (but to give myself some credit, nobody is walking there with an happy, active, 4 yrs old, who is so excited to go back to her school again).

In other ways, the Italian Como way of life is rubbing off on me. I , who never drink coffee, am having my second small cappuccino (decaf!) this week, of course with a yummie filled brioche in one of the many bars. Yes, you read that correctly, bar. There is alcohol served as well, but I'm not quite there yet this early. The brioches are to die for. My favorite is the croissant filled with pistachio filling, at the hefty cost of 1 Euro! It won't break the bank on a daily base, but at some point my pants might decide they no longer fit me. Good we are only staying in Italy till November.

Common sense, something we have an abundance of, and naively somehow I also expect that my 4 yrs old has common not take something out of the toilet bowl, and tell me that she doesn't like it! Nope, not what you think. It's the toilet freshener, that hangs in a small basket on the rim. You won't find this in the US, or Mexico for that matter, but it's a staple in some European countries. Related to toiletries (still reading this blog, he?), I bought the most organic, sensitive skin, no perfume, bla bla bla deodorant here, and to my surprise, it's a spray that smells like.......toilet freshener! Ok, enough said, let's do some pictures of our great como lake experience. Driving here is not so fun, but exploring the lake by ferry is awesome.

the lake in Como on a gorgeous day, 10 min walk from
our current apartment

Tod (my own George) wants to buy a house on the lake here.......
I have a feeling lake Erie is more likely


our ferry stop in Torno, a lovely small village with a maze of tiny streets

the maze continued between the 2 houses

zoom in, and you see a car driving! a super small car, our
involuntary upgraded Alpha Romeo would not fit here!

It would be a drag to bring Bliss here, but sailing would
be fun here

lovely streets of Cernobbio

on our drive up to Bellagio, we passed a town,
where they have a saint and church dedicated to bicycling

love this grass bench, not that comfortable but artistically pleasing
in Bellagio (very popular town but too touristy for my taste)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

herring, hurricane and vertigo

A strange combo, I know. Let me explain.

I think I have done a good job in introducing Tod and Tessa to a variety of unique Dutch foods. We added healthy herring to the list,  dutch pancakes with brie and bacon, broodje kroket and frikandel (basically unhealthy processed meat in the category of fast food). Our time in the Netherlands have come to an end. We had a wonderful Saturday with my dear relatives aunt Ans, cousins Ingrid, Anita and Ron, and my nephew and niece Robert and Danielle. Thank you for playing so much with Tessa, she also had a blast visiting you!

Hurricane Newton
While we were in the Netherlands, we learned that hurricane Newton hit southern Baja and moved on over toward San Carlos/Guaymas, where Bliss is stored on the hard. Very sadly 2 lives aboard a shrimp boat were lost, and 3 are still missing. This area is considered relatively hurricane safe, but as proof by the pictures below, there are no guarantees what mother nature has up her sleeve.  Thanks to Marion and Theo of s/v Marionetto for keeping us updated and sending a picture of Bliss. Still 6 weeks to go till hurricane season is over, let's keep fingers crossed.

I have heard that Como is a gorgeous town, but so far I haven't seen much of it. We all spent our 2nd day in Como in the hospital, as Tod said " we are having some nice family time". Short version is that I started to experience vertigo during my last days in the Netherlands, and after 5 days of symptoms off and on, and playing our own doctor, it was time for some medical advise and reassurance. Tod's basic Italian helped us out, as English was hardly spoken. Nine hours later, multiple tests, CT scan and seeing 3 specialists, we were ready to call it a day, and asked for the bill. The total sum was $0.00. Yes, you read that correctly, welcome to socialized medicine.  Slowly on the mend, so lets bring on the amazing food and gelatos.

Tod loving his raw herring with onions

bak fiets, or cargo bike, we have seen quite a few of them

bikes, bikes everywhere and outside cafes in the summer in
den Bosch, Netherlands

unique water art in Den Bosch

" a home without books
is like a body without a soul"

 I love how cities like Den Bosch are biking and pedestrian friendly, no cars
in center, and these are the walking distances and times to various attractions

super baby sitter Sterre, daughter of my high school friend Jeannine

feels like nothing has changed after almost 38 yrs,
ok, we are a bit older

super niece Danielle, who together with Robert, played with Tessa for hours

super nephew Robert, and notice the 'pepernoten'

dry storage in San Carlos, Bliss was here last year
photo by Marion van der Pol

some unlucky boats, photo by Marion van der Pol

Bliss survived fine, photo by Marion van der Pol

view from our large balcony, our apartment is this floor,
we are in the hills, 10 min walk from lake Como

our steep and super narrow driveway, i think there is less
than 1/2 feet left on each side when Tod drives up