May 27, 2010

Fun Weekend in Frankfurt!

Brian and I had a really great weekend last weekend! We took advantage of another 3 day weekend (German holiday - woohoo!) and had fun doing all sorts of things!

First, Friday night was a Wig Out, Pig Out party! Really random - on Cinco de Mayo, I met this lady at a Mexican food restaurant (the only decent one in Frankfurt) who is from Arlington and went to my junior high AND my high school! She's super sweet and invited Brian and me to her and her husband's gorgeous home for a wig party! It was a lot of fun to meet new people and wear goofy wigs. And, the food was delicious!!

Brian was such a good sport! I had borrowed a wig from a co-worker - I was a brunette for the evening. But Brian didn't have a wig to wear. When we arrived at the party, Lynn immediately offered up her extra wig - a hot pink bob wig - which Brian rocked and had a great time doing it!

After a few hours of wearing the hot pink wig, Brian decided to try on another "wig". This one was for his face : )

On Saturday, I packed a picnic lunch, and Brian drove us all around the Taunus region on the motorcycle. Taunus is very hill-y and green, and the roads are so fun on the bike! They're nice back-country roads that go through beautiful wooded areas. We rode to the top of one of the hills and had a picnic lunch there. It was a perfect, relaxing Saturday! I'm just mad that I forgot the camera again! I swear I'll remember it on our next bike trip.

On Sunday, it was Bier Bike time : ) We met up with 16 of our friends on Sunday afternoon and made our way to the southern part of Frankfurt to pick up our wheels for the afternoon. Check this thing out!

It's a bar, complete with a beer tap, but it's a bicycle! All of the "bar stools" have pedals, and then a person from the company steers the bike all around Frankfurt!! It was such a fun time, and we had perfect weather for it! It's hilarious to ride through the city - random strangers stare and laugh, toast (like, "cheers!") with you, and take tons of pictures! The bike also comes with a stereo, so we played all kinds of music that we just sang along with the entire time. It was a blast!
Christine, the bier bike bar tender!

Riding down the Main River in Frankfurt

Coasting downhill - time for a quick pic!

Our friends, John, Shannon, and Sean

Check out our driver - she was one tough lookin' cookie! She only hit the curb once, though! haha!

Alexis and me

So we ran into a little problem while riding around - we drank all of the beer! Brian to the rescue! He jumped off of the bike and bought 2 six packs. Then, he SPRINTED to catch up with us - in flip flops!!

"I'll be right back!"

Saved the day!

As we arrived back at our starting point, we came upon a group of Italians celebrating a bachelor party! They were hilarious! Only a couple of them could speak English, so they were explaining all of the traditions of the party to us. One - the bachelor had a stump chained to his left foot. As you can see in the picture below, the stump had his fiance's name on it! Hilarious. Then, he was selling shots to try to raise money "because the woman loves to shop". He was also trying to raise money by selling pieces of his pants - if you paid him, you could cut out a piece of his jeans. And you could pay to wax any part of his body (they had all of the waxing supplies with them), and then you could sign his bare skin! hahaha

Brian with the bachelor

Cuttin' the bachelor's pants

After the bike ride, it was time for some food! We all went to eat at one of my favorite German restaurants, and we continued to enjoy the great weather outside in their beer garden!

Love this girl!

When the food arrived, it felt like Thanksgiving! Check out that platter of meat

After such a fun-filled weekend, Brian and I relaxed on Monday and enjoyed some time at the park. I'd say it was a successful weekend!

May 22, 2010

Lake Como

For our four-day weekend on 13-16 May, Brian and I drove down to Lake Como, Italy. We literally planned this trip the night before we left, and we decided to try a new approach to vacation accommodations. Instead of staying at a hotel, we decided to rent an apartment!

On Wednesday evening, we left the Frankfurt Consulate after work and started our drive south. I had made reservations at a youth hostel in Switzerland for Monday evening, so we drove to Zofingen, Switzerland. This was our first time to stay in a hostel, and it was actually very clean and reasonable. Our only complaint was that the furniture was extremely small - Brian didn't fit on the bed at all. I think his exact words were, "This looks like a preschool playroom." haha! They did serve a good, free breakfast the next morning!

We were so glad that we had decided to stop in Switzerland instead of trying to drive the entire way on Wednesday night, because the view about 30 minutes into our drive on Thursday morning started to get really spectacular! We started to get into the Alps, and everything was so so green! And we have never seen so many waterfalls! Literally, I regularly counted 9 waterfalls all in one view. We'd come around a corner, and there would be 5 waterfalls on one side of the mountain. It was breathtaking!

A very exciting, civil-engineer-tastic part of our drive was the tunnel we drove through in Switzerland. It's the third largest road tunnel in the world - 10.5 miles long! I was glad that we don't have claustrophobia.

When we reached the lake, we were completely taken aback by its beauty! I had heard from several people that Lake Como was an amazing place, but I did not expect it to be THAT beautiful! We drove into a town called Menaggio where we caught a ferry to cross the lake to our town, Varenna.

Holly Honda on the ferry

Arriving in Varenna

So excited to be there!

We had a little bit of trouble finding our apartment in Varenna - the address on the real estate website was spelled wrong, which made putting our exact final destination into our GPS interesting : ) The phone number we had also led us to a very unhelpful British lady who kept referring to an email we "should have seen and printed" but we had not, which we told her repeatedly. Brian and I had a lot of fun imitating her jovial, air-headed comments!

Once we finally found our place, we fell in love.

Check out the balcony!

Our living room and kitchen

Heaven, right?

We celebrated our arrival with a glass of wine, good music, and an excellent view from our porch.

Our first afternoon there, we wandered around Varenna, seeing the sights and taking in the relaxing atmosphere.

The path we took from our apartment to town

Port in Varenna

You wouldn't be able to tell from the picture above, but that evening an awesome thunderstorm rolled in. We enjoyed a nice night in our living room reading and listening to the rain.

The next morning, the rain storm was still lingering around, so we continued our reading/relaxing plan. We set up chairs in front of our window to the balcony and just read and watched the rain. Around one, the weather cleared off, so we went on a nice long walk up the coast.
View from our hike

Every view on our walk was picture-perfect. It was hard not to constantly take pictures of everything I saw!

We stopped to enjoy cappuccinos and crepes at a cute waterside restaurant with this view.

As we continued our walk, we wandered into a little shop to browse, and we struck up conversation with the store owner. He apparently loves Texas and wanted to show us pictures of his last visit. As we continued to talk with him, we figured out he had good connections to restaurants and places to stay (for future visits, of course!) He highly recommended a B&B that was about 500 feet away, and he encouraged us to go take a look. So we did!

Little did we know what we would find - the CUTEST 82-year-old, 4'10" Italian lady named Angelina who rents out two bedrooms in her home! She didn't speak a word of English, which made her even cuter because she kept rambling on in Italian as if we understood everything she said. Another lady was there, and after introductions (in English), we found out she's from Longview, Texas and is engaged to Angelina's son! They met 25 years ago in Alaska, but had recently reconnected on the internet! Cute story, right?? We enjoyed over an hour of conversation with them, and most of it was spent trying to decipher what Angelina was talking about, and then laughing at how cutely frustrated she would get when we didn't all of a sudden understand Italian! So much fun. When we left, she made Brian get down on his knees to hug her goodbye so that they could be eye-level! I only wish I had my camera ready for that moment. We definitely plan on going back and staying in Angelina's basement.

Dinner time! We ate at a brand new restaurant in town that was beautiful and oh so delicious! I haven't eaten that much in a long long time. Fresh fish from the lake with an Italian twist - yum. Luckily we had a nice, up-hill walk back to our apartment to walk off dinner : )

On our walk back, the lake was aglow

Saturday was our "cruise around and see everything" day! We got up early and bought all-day tickets to ride ferries around all afternoon. Our plan was to start in a little town across from Varenna and then cruise up the lake toward the Alps. First stop, Bellagio!

And of course we stopped for breakfast

We found a gorgeous garden that was right on the lake

Leaving Bellagio on the ferry


The further north we got on the lake, the windier it became. Which meant perfect weather for wind-surfing, kite-surfing, and sailing!

After a few hours on the ferry, we made it back to Varenna for one last pizza.

On Sunday, we started the most beautiful and kind of strange drive ever!

It started like this...GORGEOUS

And then this...WOW

We're getting this right?

This...can't be right

Way too much snow for a lake trip!

Yay! A way down

After all of the snow, we decided it was time for lunch. Brian tried to convince me to stop for lunch at the top of the mountain, but I convinced him that we weren't quite dressed to stop. Everyone was wearing snow shoes and parkas, and we were in t-shirts and flip-flops! When we finally made it down into a more moderate climate, we pulled off the road to find a quick bite. The only restaurant we could find was in a castle! So, we ate lunch in a Swiss castle. What a crazy, random drive back to wrap up a wonderful vacation!