Kill the Poor! Or maybe something along those lines?


When I last left you, our little family was roaming around Europe wearing nothing but some old drapes.

Well, maybe not old drapes.

But we definitely were doing some roaming.

It was with sorrow that we said goodbye to Switzerland, and joy that we found ourselves in Salzburg.   Where, sadly for those traveling with me, I found occasion to use every Sound of Music quote in my repertoire.  My vast repertoire.  Like. I have confidence in sunshine!  I have confidence in rain!

(I did, however, think Chase's umbrella might not have instilled a lot of confidence.)


(Are you tired of the Sound of Music references yet?)

(So is the city of Salzburg, I'm sure.)












Highlights included:

*  The Frauline Maria Bike Tour.  Highly recommend it if ever you're in Salzburg.  You ride all through the city and countryside, taking in the historic Salzburg sites, as well as the filming locations for the Sound of Music.  It's nearly impossible to resist singing the ever-familiar tunes whilst careening past the spots that Julie Andrews made famous.  Even the Husband gave in to temptation and muttered a line or two against his will.  It was fantastic.

* Seeing the places where Oma and Opa fell in love when they were young.  Though I'm sure the boys found it less romantic than the girls, it was thrilling to see the places firsthand that we've heard about for years.  I reminded our kids that this city is part of their story, too.  Then and now.  It's pretty cool to see it come full circle.

*  My boys in mullet hats.  I'm still kicking myself for not buying them.  They pretty much rocked.

*  Die Festung (or The Fortress).  Fantastic view, from bottom to top.  Though the eight pounds of sweat dripping off me after hiking up the hillside to get there made me sort of wish I had taken the train instead.  Note to self:  LISTEN TO OMA.

*  The Salt Mines.  Very fun, and probably informative.  Unfortunately, our English translator headsets only worked half the time, so we got a lot of the information in German.  Which was pretty much useless to most of us.  Except to the Husband, who speaks 20 languages because he is secretly a spy in the CIA has a knack for picking up foreign languages.  Weird and uncanny.

*  The Eagle's Nest.  Hitler's birthday present from the Nazi Party.  Spectacular, chilling, and unbelievably high up.  Favorite part for me:  The history lesson at the top from our resident historian.

*  Staying at the Weisse Taube Hotel and playing cards in the lobby until after midnight because our rooms were too small.

*Also at the Weisse Taube:  No air conditioning (eek!) or screens on the windows in our room on the third floor.  I about had a heart attack every time one of my children poked their heads out to see the sights.  Which was about every eight seconds.  We were probably in greater danger of me dying from worry than from them actually falling out.  But still.  The mama in me cannot be contained.

*  Doing laundry in a shop run by the ONE person we ran into over the two weeks who spoke no English.  Thankfully, it had been enough days of German immersion that I could tell her we were doing fünf loads.  (That's five for you non-Deutsch speakers) like me.  Know what also helped?  The fact that both my boys have taken German at school and kept counting with me like I was a pre-schooler. 

*  And though it is slightly horrid, I laughed hysterically when I saw this sticker on a street in Salzburg.  I have no idea if it means what I think it means, but it made me laugh:


*  One of my favorite Salzburg encounters came at Die Festung.  I was admiring the spectacular view and taking more than my share of photos.  Next to me, a man and his wife noticed my camera, and asked if I would take a look at theirs.  It was locked up and they were unable to take any photos.  I fiddled with it for a few minutes, and could not figure out how to get it working for them.  He shrugged his shoulders, reached down into his camera bag and pulled out this beauty, full of film, and ready to go:


We shared a laugh at the wonders of modern technology.  His new, high-end digital camera was useless to him; yet this old film camera from the 1940s was still in tip-top shape.  He snapped a photo of the city and we prepared to part ways.  I asked to look at his camera one last time.  The photographer in me could not let him miss what was truly a once-in-a-lifetime shot.

And wonder of wonders, it worked!

I was so happy to have helped him, but I loved his old film camera.  I told him I have several like it on a shelf at home.  He told me to bring them along next time in case the new camera stops working.

Wise words.

All in all, Salzburg was fantastic.  Would that I had months to spend there instead of days.  I love the dirndls, the food, the architecture, and the charm that hangs on every street corner.  Heaven.

Stay tuned:  Wienerschnitzel ten meals in a row and a piece of the Husband's childhood.  Lots more to come.

For the posterity

I am asking your forgiveness in advance. The next several posts here are going to be a recap of our vacation to Europe.

I know. It's like I sort of invited you over for dinner, and then pulled out a nine-hour slide show of my vacation.  I can't imagine anything worse. For you OR for me.

But it was truly the trip of a lifetime and begs to be documented. Check back in two weeks. I should be done by then.

I hope.

Also? If you follow me on Instagram (@clhalverson), it's like you get to relive my vacation TWICE.

My apologies.

So. The trip began with a flight to La Guardia Airport in NYC. This resulted in Hannah's dream of taking a taxi coming true.  Which, coincidentally, was my worst nightmare brought to life.  Due to the fact that we booked this trip on frequent flier miles, and they never make it easy on you, we had to take a cab to JFK for our flight to Zurich. We were a little delayed arriving at La Guardia, so it was going to be a tight connection.  I was DYING at the thought we might not make it in time.  And then when we hit NYC traffic?  I about got out and started running several times.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), our flight was delayed out of JFK and we had HOURS to spare once we got there.  Blech.

Fast forward about 12 hours (hooray!), and we arrived in Zurich. Where we met up with our favorite Oma and Opa, and took a train to Lucerne.


This photo pretty much sums up how that first day of jet lag felt for all of us:


Exhaustion beyond belief.  Every joint and bone just aches and begs to have sleep.  But how can you complain when you are walking around a city that looks like this?



(I love the look we are getting from the old man on the right. Yes, we're idiot tourists. Deal with it.)

After a good meal, where Opa translated the German for us all, we took a boat ride out on Lake Lucerne. Anything to try and stay awake without having to walk around. It was stunning, I tell you. Absolutely stunning.



The next morning, we took the cog train up to the top of the Jungfrau. I think this view speaks for itself, though I could wax on about it for hours.  Probably one of the most beautiful places on this planet.  The photos just don't do it justice.


Along the way, we met up with one of my BFFs, Jennifer, her husband, Mike, and their three ridiculously adorable puppies. They are living in France for a few years, and kindly drove several hours to meet up with us. Clearly, Hannah was in puppy heaven:


As was I to get to see these faces again:


And, as we display class wherever we go, the boys promptly stripped down to their bare skin at the top of the Jungfrau. Why? I'm still not sure. I'm guessing it was because they can.



Plus, I was wearing the ever-appropriate flip flops on top of a glacier.  Were the view not so breathtaking, I might have noticed the frostbite sooner.

Ah well.  There are worse problems to have, I suppose.  I mean, what if I had been wearing my diamond shoes?  Oh, the horror.


I could go on and on, but I'm going to let these last two photos speak for themselves.



Switzerland is breathtaking, and there is nothing like it anywhere in the world.  Not pictured (because I couldn't bear the thought of going) was when Josh and the boys parasailed off the top of the Schilthorn.  Yes, they strapped themselves in to a parachute and just started running off a cliff.  As you do.

Not illogical at all.

And then, if that wasn't enough manventure for one trip, they took the tram back up and HIKED down from the top of the Schilthorn to Lauterbrunnen.


We also visited Ballenburg and Brienz.  If you go to Switzerland, I highly recommend stopping at both places.  Spectacular.

Stay tuned for Salzburg, Munich, and York.

And try not to gouge your eyeballs out in the process.

And no, I won't share her. She's all mine.

It was obvious to me when I first met my in-laws that I would be marrying into a fantastic family.

That fact has been confirmed to me many times over the 16 years of my marriage, but none more so than at the tea party Oma threw for the little girl cousins while we were in Utah. (Which, mind you, she throws monthly for the in-staters).

I have heard the tales of the famous tea parties, but scarcely could have imagined the complete and utter genius that is the Oma.

First on the agenda at the tea party, is decorating a large banner. Crayons, markers, and colored pencils await the creative minds and hands of little girls. There are no lines that need to be stayed in. There are no rules. The more colorful and garish, the better. Little scribbles are at home next to neat, detailed words.


And what could possibly be better than hanging your masterpiece with tape onto the mantle?

After all, a tea party must be properly decorated.


Next, the girls are divided into teams of two, with big girls happily partnering with little girls. Every pair is handed their very own scotch tape and several rolls of crepe paper. Decorating of furniture is highly encouraged.


Next, the girls are whisked off to the beauty station. Each girl competes for space at the full-length mirror where hair do's are coiffed and created using the ribbons, bows, and curlers from Oma's stash. Pink foam curlers provide the ultimate in ladies hair fashion and magically are "ready" in about eight seconds.


After the proper time has been spent in the beauty salon, it is time for the fitting of the gowns. Stylish traveling trunks have been brought for the occasion and somehow eight girls manage to find just the right outfit without any fighting or tears. There are shoes, accessories, hats, and gowns enough for all.

This Oma knows what she's doing.


Once all the divas are properly attired, it is time for the fashion show, complete with runway walk and color commentary by our hostess.

Twirling is highly encouraged.
No tea party would be complete without an excited interruption by the big brother, just returning from his antique store shopping with the Opa. World War II weapons and artillery are the souvenir du jour in the 10-year-old boy crowd.

Sadly, I am not sure any of the girls even noticed.


The brief interruption over, and it is time for tea. Every girl receives her own pitcher of cream, a tea cup, and saucer. Tiny treats and bite-sized fruit delight even the pickiest of palates.

And one must always remember to raise her pinkie when drinking at a ladies tea.


Tea-time entertainment is provided in story form by the seemingly tireless Oma. Quite fitting, naturally, that all the stories are tea party related.


Once the food and drink have been devoured, it is time for the clean up. Eight little heads bob happily into the kitchen for dish washing. That task is completed, and they return with disposable wipes for the tables.

Cleaning has never seemed so fun.


The grand finale is a game of artistic freeze dance, after which everyone is declared a winner and receives a bracelet and some lipstick.


Is it wrong that we're considering moving here, JUST for the tea parties?

These are the memories that generations are made of.

Bless you, Oma.

The one in which she keeps posting about her travels...

So, the fry sauce was a dead giveaway, was it?

You crazy Utahns. How you came up with the genius that is fry sauce, I will never know. But in all our travels, we have never found its equal.

Though the Husband will not touch the stuff with a ten-foot pole, I, however, could bathe in it. It is the only way to eat deep fried potatoes and I will forever be grateful for its discovery.

But while we were in Utah, we did a lot of fun things.

We took time to smell the roses:


We rode up our beloved mountains on ski lifts and marveled at the view.


Once at the top, we exhaled, sighed, and wondered if there was any place on earth quite as lovely.


That spectacular view was somewhat diminished during our hour-long wait to ride the Alpine Slide. Apparently, the track is quite deadly after a rain and it took several runs for the employees to get it dry enough to let us go down.

I was quite content to wait, even though some in my party were less than patient [cough*the Husband*cough].


One of us jumped from rock to rock. Again and again. And again. And again.

Honestly. All I need is a pair of rocks and this kid could entertain himself all day.

[Note to self: See how exciting the rocks seem when he opens them Christmas morning.]


We (some of us more than others, of course) had really good hair days. Ah, that dry desert air. Does wonders on the humidity-drenched locks that adorn my head.

Please give a moment of silence for my perfect bangs. They will never look so tame again.


And, lord help me, did we eat.

And eat.

And eat some more.


I am ashamed to tell you the number of pounds gained in just ten days' time [cough*five*cough] but it was worth every fat-filled calorie.

Tragically, it will take me about 10 weeks to get it off again, I am sure.

Anyway, thanks for playing along. Courtesy of random-dot-org, the winner is:
Julianna said...

I'm going with the majority and saying Utah... I may just need to visit, that fry sauce looks yummy!

July 26, 2010 6:44:00 PM CDT

Send me an email with your address and a little something is headed your way, chica.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a tea party that will make you weep with jealousy...


We have been in this state less than 24 hours and already we have hit one of my must-eat spots.

Because it's all about priorities, you know.


Can you guess what state we are in?

This one ought to be easy for a lot of you, and because of that, I will throw all entries (whether correct or not) into a hat and send the lucky winner a prize.

Contest ends 24 hours from right now.

Happy speculating!

(And here's hoping that sometime soon I will stop posting about food, vacations, and food eaten on my vacations)

And the winning city is...

Boston, baby!

The picture for the contest was taken in at one of my favorite places in Concord. It was at the North Bridge --the serene, tranquil place spoken of by Ralph Waldo Emerson in his poem, "Concord Hymn." It was quite literally the site of the first battle in the American Revolution.

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.

A few of you guessed correctly. A lot of you guessed wrong.

And some of you were absolutely hilarious in your guesses.

If ONLY I could go to Lallybroch with one red-headed, kilt-wearing Scotsman! Yum. (Read this book and you'll want to go, too.)

But since there can only be one winner, courtesy of Random-dot-org:

Cindy from AZ

Send me your address and a little ditty is headed your way.

I will be back tomorrow with pictures galore, stories, and a very funny conversation with a pedicab driver about my thighs.

Right now, I should be unpacking and doing laundry, but I find myself here at the computer, trying to catch up on the hundreds of blogs in my reader -- getting up only to get myself more handfuls of the highly overpriced/very touristy Boston Baked Beans we brought home.

Which by no means are helping the matter of the aforementioned thighs.

See you soon, peeps. It's good to be home.