Friday, April 29, 2011

Grindelwald: Day 2


For our first real day in Grindelwald we got up early to ski what was left of the snow before it melted away. Switzerland had a very mild winter this year and while we were there they were having summer-like weather, it was 25 C or 77 F! So, it was closing weekend and what snow they had left was melting fast. We skied Kleine Scheidegg and they were only running 2 ski lifts but we had a great day of spring skiing! In the heart of winter Grindelwald is the converging point for four ski resorts and you can easily switch between all four. Since it was basically summer we only got to ski this one day at Kleine Scheidegg but my quads were still sore at the end of the day and spring skiing is my favorite. I love how warm and relaxed a spring day on the slopes is and this day did not disappoint.
 Dale was pretty stoked to get to ski the Swiss Alps! I think he's already dreaming of a trip back with buddies skiing the 'hard stuff'. He was going to Heli Ski but since the winter was so mild and the spring so warm, the Heli trips stopped just a couple days before we arrived. A bummer for sure but it wouldn't have been worth the money under those conditions anyway so it was nice to have someone else make the decision for Dale instead of him agonizing about what to do.
Here's the view from the base looking up at the glaciers. We got a really great cloud free sun shining warm spring day.

I thought the chair lift was pretty cool looking and I liked the way the orange covers looked with the white snow everywhere. 
We stopped for lunch and a beer at the top of the mountain in these lovely stone buildings overlooking the glaciers and Alps. It was a pretty amazing view!

And one last picture, this one of Dale and I happy to get some ski time! It's slowly been killing Dale every time it snows in Colorado and he sees the snow report and can't go skiing. So this was a small redemption for him.
Love Always,

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grindelwald: Day 1


Our first day in Grindelwald was more of just a travel day. We flew from Stockholm to Zurich and then took the train from Zurich to Bern to Interlaken to Grindelwald, there was lots of train switching!
Here's our first glance of mountains from the train just as we were getting in to Interlaken. It's more like tiny little hills at this point but we could see bigger mountains were getting closer!
We grabbed lunch in Interlaken on our 'layover' and were pretty excited the mountains were getting closer. No snow this low. When we finally got to Grindelwald there wasn't snow in town either but still some in the mountains! Grindelwald has about 3 blocks of a downtown and they were having their semi-annual cow sale dowtown. Twice a year the local farmers bring their cows in to the city center to show and sell them. It was pretty strange getting off the train and hearing mooing everywhere. They were pretty cute but I was a little bummed they didn't have any bells on. I've always thought Swiss cows wear bells.
Then it was back to the hotel for balcony time. Here's the view from the balcony looking at the North side of the Eiger. Having grown up with the mountains in Colorado, being near mountains feels a bit like home and these mountains were no exception. We were both content just taking in the view. Ahhhh mountains!
Love always,

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter in Sweden


I found this good summary of how the Swedes celebrate Easter:
"While in other countries Easter is specifically a religious holiday, it has become a secular one in Sweden. The Swedes are well down in the statistics when it comes to church visits per year, and even if Easter swells the numbers slightly, most people celebrate it at home with their families and relatives.
Many of the practices associated with Easter have religious origins, but this is not something that bothers Swedes much. They eat eggs because they have always done so — not because they have just completed a fast.
Nowadays, eggs are a favourite accompaniment to the dish of pickled herring that is the centrepiece of most Swedes’ Easter meals. And few associate the omnipresent birch twigs — nowadays decorated with brightly coloured feathers — with the suffering of Christ. Easter has its own rituals.
Children dress up as Easter witches; clad in discarded clothes, gaily coloured headscarves and red-painted cheeks, they go from house to house in the neighbourhood and present the occupants with paintings and drawings in the hope of getting sweets in return.
Having consumed all these sweets, they are then given Easter eggs filled with yet more. Parents of a more ambitious turn of mind let the children search for the eggs themselves in a treasure hunt — following clues and solving riddles until they find their prizes.
A traditional Easter lunch is likely to consist of different varieties of pickled herring, cured salmon and Jansson’s Temptation (potato, onion and pickled sprats baked in cream). The table is often laid like a traditional smörgåsbord. Spiced schnapps is also a feature of the Easter table. At dinner, people eat roast lamb with potatoes au gratin and asparagus or some other suitable side dish." Po Tidholm, 
Dale and I are actually in Switzerland as this posts so we won't get to witness the Easter trick-or-treating, which I'm a little bummed about. Maybe we will see something similar in Switzerland though! I did pick up some Easter soda from the grocery store, that's it in the picture below with some Digestive Crackers.

The soda is just like Coke or Pepsi but with hop extract and malt extract and it's not fermented so it's not alcoholic. It's sort of like a sweet root beer. I thought it was alright but I don't think I'll have any more. Those digestive cookies I had with it though? Those are great! They taste like graham crackers but less sweet. I wish they had a better name because, let face it, digestive cracker just doesn't sound appetizing! Anyway, back to Easter. I also got us each an Easter egg and filled them with candy, that's a quarter to the left of the eggs so you can see how big these eggs are but they are pretty small when compared to the Easter baskets in the States.

It's been interesting walking around town and seeing pictures of kids dressed as witches or chickens with eggs  instead of all the pictures of religious symbols you see in the States for Easter.

Hope you had a great Easter where ever or how ever you celebrated! Or as the Swedes say, Gladpåsk!
Love Always,

Saturday, April 23, 2011

If . . .


I thought this was an interesting choice for a business name.
If . . . 
After looking them up it makes much more sense. They are an insurance company so they have you covered "if" something happens. Ah ha! Clever Swedes!
Love Always,

Thursday, April 21, 2011



Sweden is Americanized enough to have McDonald's, Burger King, and Subway but they also have their own fast food chain called MAX. Normally I don't eat fast food but in the off chance I might get a cultural experience, I did try MAX. 
That's Dale above with the menu which was pretty much your standard burger joint but I think Dale was happy to get some "American" food. The menu at the checkout broke down the CO2 used to make each item which we thought was interesting and we haven't seen anywhere else. I just looked into it on their website and they offset their carbon footprint: That puts them a step ahead of McDonald's and Burger King in my book!
Here's our order - I told you it was still your standard burger joint! Below is a close up of the chili fritters I got and they were quite tasty!
Yummy! Just looking at them makes me hungry for more!
Love Always,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Haga Park


There is a big park just north of Stockholm proper called "Haga Park" which used to be the Royal Family's summer residence but is now open to the public to enjoy. I'm behind in posting this one, the snow is long gone. But about a month ago we had a particularly warm day and I took a nice walk around Haga Park and the lake it is on, Brunnsviken. First thing I noticed was the Copper Tent which used to be stables but today houses a cafe.
Then it was on to enjoying the reflections and colors the lakes melting ice caused. I had a lot of fun being able to spend some time outdoors and play with my camera. Stockholm seems like a whole different city with the ice gone, there are parks and water everywhere that I didn't know about!
And finally, I was so excited to have found some signs of spring! Flowers blooming!
Stockholm is really coming alive. Not just in nature, the whole city is coming to life too. People are starting to go do things, there are events happening throughout the city, that sort of thing. It's really interesting to see how drastic the change is from Winter to Summer!
Love Always,

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Visitors round 2!


Just before we went to Berlin we had our second round of visitors, Nicki and Seung! It was so nice to have them here, show them around the city, and it's always good to laugh with good friends! Hope they had as much fun as we did! (P.S. The flowers on the table in the picture below we call daffodils in English but here they call them easter lilies. I haven't seen any of what we call easter lilies in English. I thought that was a fun little quirk!)

Love Always,

Friday, April 15, 2011

Berlin - Day 3


For our last day in Berlin we took a trip on the train to a city 15 miles outside of Berlin called Potsdam. Potsdam is a beautiful little town where the Kings of Prussia lived until 1918 (ie when the Prussian Empire fell). Potsdam is also where the Potsdam conference occurred immediately after the end of World War II in which the borders of countries were redrawn. Below is Potsdam's Brandenburg Gate, which has the same name as the gate in Berlin but not nearly the same historical relevance, it's still pretty though.
The area the Kings lived in is called, "Sanssouci" which is French for "without worries" and they named it well because I can't imagine anyone that lives here would have worries. The parks, lakes, and palaces are just beautiful. Fredrick the Great is the king who reigned during most of the construction but Dale and I actually found the grounds more impressive than the palaces.
Can you see the little duck in the water? Loved this reflection and the little ducky swimming around!
Here are Dale and I with the vineyard entrance to the actual sanssouci palace and below a close up image of the sanssouci main room from the outside. Wouldn't it be cool to have your own vineyard at your house? Yes please!
Below are several pictures I took while walking through the sanssouci palace. The amazing park/garden is free to enter but to go into one of the palaces cost 12 euro each and I had to pay 3 euro to take pictures so I'm sharing them here to "get my monies worth"! Below is the main hall in sanssouci.
Below is the library with wood covered walls, comfy chairs, pianos, leather bound books, and a beautiful view out the window. I want one.
Above is the room Frederick the Great composed music in and practiced playing instruments in as well. On the ceiling is a golden spiderweb that stretches down to the sides of the room and has various fruits and animals in it. That was pretty neat! And below was a surprising find for such and old castle, an Andy Warhol painting of Frederick the Great.
Next we wondered back in to town and stopped for Döners which we discovered are basically the same as Swedish kebabs or American gyros and we love all of them! 
Below is the view from where we ate lunch, not so bad huh!
We walked around Potsdam a little longer then hopped the train back towards our hotel. It was sunny and a warm-for-us 50 degrees or so F so we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon laying by the river near our hotel, just behind the East Side Gallery. Dale grabbed a beer and I grabbed some gelato and we were very happy to get some warm sun time. That's not something that has happened in Stockholm yet!
One of Dale's co-workers who was also going to the meeting flew in and we met up with him for dinner near our hotel and went for a beer after at Ständige Vertretung where we tried some of the delicious regional style of beer, Kölsch. I don't like the style Kölsch in the States but it tastes different here and I very much liked it!
One last thing about our trip to Berlin, there were people walking around with these portable grills selling sausages like in the picture above. I thought that was pretty cool! But not a job I would ever want to do. So, that sums up our trip to Berlin. Have you ever been to Berlin? What did you like best? What would you want to see if you haven't been? If we ever go back, I'd like to go dancing, I hear nightlife in Berlin is great! And I really liked the food so I would definitely enjoy trying more of that, yummy!
Love Always,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Berlin - Day 2


Day 2 in Berlin we were busy, busy, busy sightseeing. We started off the day by heading to the Bundestag, or Reichstad as it is also commonly known, which is the seat of the German Parliament. 
You used to be able to walk through the Bundestag but we found out that as of November 2010, you have to sign up online at least a week in advance which we didn't know so we didn't do it so we didn't get to walk through the Bundestag. If you'd like to avoid this, remember to sign up on the website here:
The German government is actually structured very close to that of the United States so we weren't very disappointed to miss the tour since we already have a pretty good grasp on how it all works.
Next we took a short walk to Brandenburg Gate. Berlin once had a series of gates to control all the coming and going in Berlin but this is the only remaining gate. This one in particular used to lead directly to the city palace of the Prussian Monarchs. Napoleon took the statue from the top when he defeated Prussia in 1806 but it was returned a couple years later. The gate was damaged during World War II and the Berlin Wall blocked off all access to the gate. I found this fact particularly powerful. This is one of Germany's most historic landmarks and no one could access it for 28 years. Unbelievable.
Just 1 block away lies the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. We didn't go to the underground portion but it was somber walking through the memorial and reflecting on the Holocaust.
Just 1 block from the memorial is Potsdamer Platz which used to be the busiest corner in Europe but it was completely flattened during World War II and the buildings you see below have been built in the last 20 or so years.
There are some pieces of the Berlin Wall here as well as a visible strip in the concrete flooring to show you where the wall once stood. Here's Dale showing you where the wall once stood.
We walked along the line until we found the Topography of Terror. This is a Museum about Hitler, the Nazi Movement, World War II, all of that. A section of the wall remains here and it also happens to be where the Headquarters for the Nazi movement were located although you can hardly tell because as soon as the Nazi's fell all of their buildings were destroyed. In fact, it was only a couple years ago that the barely visible structural remains were found. 
We actually spent quite a bit of time walking through the museum and learning in detail all about these horrible events. We ended up getting too exhausted and emotionally drained to finish looking through the museum but it was very well done and incredibly detailed. Next we stopped for some German food, I got a schnitzel and just loved it! And then on we went to Checkpoint Charlie which is the most well known checkpoint, and the only checkpoint where members of the Allied Forces could cross from East to West Berlin. This one is actually not the original though.
The original is now located at the Allied Museum. So, we hopped on the train and went to the Allied Museum which details what the Allies did to help Germany during and after World War II.
Below are license plates from West Berlin. Depending one which Allie Governed State you lived in you had a different plate as I'm sure a lot of other daily things worked as well.
One thing we learned a lot about here was the Berlin Airlift and below is one of the planes from the mission. It was pretty unbelievable how the Allies worked together to keep the 2 million people in West Berlin alive essentially.
Finally, we walked the East Side Gallery to view the Berlin Wall and the paintings on it. It is actually the longest open air gallery in the world. The paintings were done in 1989 after the fall of the Berlin Wall and it was just really interesting to see this expression of all the different emotions everyone was experiencing. We stopped half way through and got a drink on a floating lounge and reflected on the day. 
It was an emotionally draining day but it was very interesting and we learned a lot.
Love Always,