Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hip Helsinki

Duck, duck, boat duck.  Check out this cool boat in one of Stockholm's many harbors.

Oops, this is the real duck.
Why do I think my brother would love this as a camouflage hunting boat?

We had perfect timing to get on our boat to travel from Stockholm to Helsinki.  We had a huge cabin, but then it is a HUGE boat.  There were ten stories, including two ferry decks.  I actually took this picture from  the Helsinki side.

Gabriella, our Viking Line ship, in Helsinki harbor
Now that we've recovered from the stress of the Priceline hotel fiasco, we have to say Helsinki is not Hell-sinki but Cool-sinki.  It is a dynamic city with a bit of a Russian flair.  Unbeknownst to me prior to arriving with my limited geography skills, Helsinki is just across the channel from St. Petersburg, Russia and it was actually modeled on this city during part of its history.

Cathedral (Evangelical Lutheran) modeled after cathedral in St. Petersburg 
While Sweden was an incredibly easy place to get away with English, Finland is a little tougher.  The people in the tourist industry speak perfect English, of course, but others may not.  Of course, anyone’s English is spectacular compared to our Finnish vocabulary of one word – sauna – that we can’t even pronounce correctly!

So, there literally are sauna’s everywhere – including on our Viking ferry aka cruise ship.
Sauna on the good ship Gabriella
 Finland is known for a few things besides saunas: Nokia phones, Marimekko fabrics, and one of the world’s top education systems.  Helsinki was also awarded the 2012 Design Capitol of the World.  There are 190 places in the small capitol city that are part of the Design District.  Design includes interior design, clothing, jewelry, art, photography, and even fusion cuisine.  The clean lines of Finnish furniture and the fun and funky ceramics are some of my favorites.
Finnish coffee, anyone?
 Other things you may not have known about Finland:

1. Santa Claus lives on the mountain Korvatunturi in Lapland as well.  So Santa is one of the first Finnish exports.  He is able to stop time, without him being stuck in time, so he is able to be everywhere at once.

2. The President of Finland is Tarja Halonen, and she has been re-elected for her second 6-year term.  Women in Finland were the first in the world to obtain full political rights in 1906.

3.  Finland was part of Sweden from 1155 to 1809 when it became an autonomous grand duchy (principality) of Russia until it gained independence during World War I in 1917.

4.  There is a population of over 1 million people in the greater Helsinki area.  Finland’s overall population is 5.3 million.  There are just over 200,000 reindeer.

5.  When you look at the Quality of Life Index from Nation Ranking, Finland ranks 7th overall in quality of life.  They are #1 in education and democracy and #2 in peace (after New Zealand).  They are lower in health, wealth and the environment – but above the United States in all of these.  In general, the most northern countries are doing very well.  I’d love to learn more about the Finnish education system – but since we are only here for three 3 days I won’t be doing any classroom visits!

Today I wandered the streets, stores and waterfront for about 5 hours.  I can’t carry anything large in my already overstuffed bag, so I took some notes of things I’d like to look for on the web later on.  Think IKEA with even more creative furniture and house ware ideas spread out in lots of boutique stores.  Then add a bunch of incredible jewelry and wonderful clothes and amazing fabrics, and you are getting close.  Toss in some darling Santa stuff and you are almost there.

The great side of traveling in November is there aren’t too many other tourists to jostle with in the stores or on the sidewalks.  The harder part is the reduced daylight hours and the amount of clothes you have to wear to stay warm!  Thank goodness we both like winter!

If you are in the mood to procrastinate, these are my recommendations of designers to google:

Oiva Toikka, art glass, including amazing glass birds

Iittala – Scandinavian design including some of my favorite simple glassware

Aarikka – Finnish family-owned business with clean lines, and nice use of wood

Gotta love it!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Claire and Stockholm

November 12th
Stockholm is a capital city built on islands connected by ferries and spanning bridges.  This provides great views in many directions.  Plus you get to see a lot of boats!

View of one island from a different island!
Note the little monkey Darwin on the rudder!
I love boats!
But the best part of Stockholm is Claire!  Claire is the daughter of some dear friends, and she is also one of my ol’ FALA students.  She is now an AFS student in Stockholm, but you would never know she isn’t Swedish herself!  I met Claire just outside the metro station in the middle of the afternoon.  It wasn’t long before it was dark though, so these pictures that look like 9 pm are mostly between 4 and 5 pm!  It was sooooo great to visit with Claire – a true highlight of our entire trip!

Claire, aka Swedish girl, in Wayne's Coffee
We walked through the newer part of town, and Claire took me to Wayne's Coffee, her favorite coffee place.  We had the best Chai Latte's I've ever had as well as a Swedish roll - not too sugary and I tasted cardamon - called a Bulle.  Who needs Starbucks when you can have Wayne's?

Then Claire took me on a tour of the Gamla Stan, old town.  We got our picture taken by St. Nicholas.  They had several trees up in the open squares, and some of the streets already had Christmas lights.

Claire and I with St. Nick
Then Claire took me to the narrowest street in all of Sweden.  It had stairs going down the hill toward the water.

Claire in the smallest street in Sweden
Claire also took me to "Castle Hill", the top of this small island, where there is a square known for the Stockholm Bloodbath of 1520.  I read the wikipedia information on this historic event entrenched in Swedish and Danish history, but I can't fairly summarize it for you with my limited understanding.  I can unfortunately visualize Claire's description of the blood pouring down the streets from the top of the hill!

We walked back to the metro station so Claire could go to her Swedish family's home in the north part of Stockholm, and I headed back to the hotel.  I tried to take one last photo of the two of us!

Self-portrait of Claire and Mindy
Thanks, Claire, for the great tour - and mostly for just getting to see your smiling face!  Enjoy the rest of your year in Sweden - and don't forget to get me the recipe for Bulle!

Back to Bergen!

November 9th and 10th
Darrell, Lindsey and I lived in Bergen for 6 months in 1992 - when Lindsey was only 3 to 9 months old.  It is so wonderful to come back again!  And we had beautiful weather for our train ride from Oslo to Bergen, enjoying the lakes and glacier views as we crossed the mountains.

Jason met us at the train station and we walked to the oldest part of Bergen, known as Bryggen, which is Norwegian for wharf.  There is a row of picturesque buildings lining the fjord here, from the merchant trading center that was developed by the Hanseatic league in 1360 or so.  The city itself dates from 1070.  Most of the buildings have been rebuilt since 1702, as the wooden buildings are prone to fires, but some of the stone cellars date back to the 15th century.  It is now a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.

"Bryggen", from Wikipedia
Jason is one of Darrell's early master's students, and is now a professor at NYU - Buffalo.  He has clearly been enjoying his sabbatical in Bergen, despite having copious rain!

My photo of a part of Bryggen, catching the last light of the day!

Houses above the city lake, catching the last light as well!
Then we walked up to the University and met Hans Petter, who hosted Darrell when he was here for his NSF-NATO post doc.  We drove to his beautiful home on one of the hills outside of Bergen, and took a walk along the lake near his house before having a delicious salmon dinner.

The next day was foggy so I spent the morning in Hans Petter and Evy’s house, catching up on e-mail and trying to book places for us to stay in Stockholm and Helsinki.  We've been trying to use "airbnb" where you can rent a room or an apartment from a person, but we struck out three times.  I guess we will just do hotels or hostels again.

Then I took the bus into town and wandered the shops and the older parts of the city.  

Bergen houses in the mist
I met Darrell, Hans Petter and Evy for dinner at a marvelous tapas restaurant that won the "Best of Bergen"in 2010.  Then we went out for coffee and a walk.  Hans Petter and Evy know the history of the town of course, so we got a great tour of the city by night.

The next day Darrell and I hiked up to Fløyen with Jason to get some great views of Bergen.  Then had a wonderful home dinner with Hans Petter and Evy before catching the night train to Oslo.  Thank you, Hans Petter, Evy and Jason for making our stay so wonderful!

Bergen view from Fløyen
Jason and Darrell
It was great being in Bergen again.  It is such a pretty city.  The tall Hanseatic buildings by the waterfront are still proud and colorful.  The tiny houses and winding cobbled alleys between them, with potted plants on the stoops, and the original gas lamps (now electrified) lighting the streets, are charming.  The Dale wool sweaters are gorgeous.  There is something about it that feels like home.

Friday, November 11, 2011


November 5th
The train went all the way east to Berlin during the night, before heading north to Copenhagen, so it ended up being a 16-hour ride!  Luckily we were able to sleep through half of it!  We found a café with internet (we highly recommend Barossa coffee shops) and looked for a room in town that wouldn’t force us to mortgage our house or take Lindsey out of college to work in the salt mines.  We finally managed to find a room for $115 at a new youth hostel.  The Generator Hostels began in Berlin and are now spreading across Europe.  It was clean and relatively quiet – with simple and functional design.

We dropped our bags in our room and then went out for a walk.  Unfortunately, we didn’t put on quite enough clothes for our walk in blustery coastal weather so we shivered our way through some parks and then the star-shaped citadel before heading back to our room to put on more clothes!  After all, it is November in Scandinavia and we are heading even farther north!

Picnic in the park - note cheese and wine!
View outside Citadel.  The Little Mermaid (not shown) is on the coast to the left.
Copenhagen Harbor
Every country has some wonderfully unique things.  In Copenhagen we were struck by the large carriers on the fronts of bikes - hauling children, groceries, and pets!

Danish family transportation
And the other thing we noticed (but perhaps it was because it was a Saturday and the Friday night partying had been extreme) was that Copenhagen wasn't as clean as other European cities we have visited...

Ever present 7-11 with more trash than we are used to.
Of course, the beautiful statues in the parks are a better remembrance of Copenhagen than the wind-blown garbage in the streets.  And there was a much smaller "Occupy" movement - perhaps because it was colder and/or the citizens are overall quite happy!

Valkyrie on her horse
Last evening shot of Copenhagen's favorite coffee shop.

Coffee and free internet - a great combination!
Tomorrow we take the train to Oslo!  The adventure continues...

Amsterdam, again

November 3rd and 4th
From Brussels we took a late afternoon train to Amsterdam. We had done a Priceline bid and gotten a 4-star hotel near the train station for a decent price.  Of course it had advertised free internet but it turned out that was only if we upgraded our room to a more expensive one!  We dropped our bags and went out for dinner.  It was already dark, but Amsterdam had many of the downtown streets decorated with lights.  One street had white bells, another street sported red packages.  It was lovely.  And when we stroll along the canals we agree that Amsterdam is the most beautiful city in the world.

Day view of typical Amsterdam canal
Of course, Amsterdam is also known for its tolerance of marijuana (in controlled establishments) and prostitution.  We accidentally ended up in the maze of small alleys with scantily clad ladies in the windows under the glow of the red lights.  You could literally window shop for sex.  A closed curtain meant the action was taking place right in this small room off the street.  Of course it was awkward and depressing, and I was glad when we escaped the maze.  I think I had been holding my breath as we walked by because I was so uncomfortable.

Sorry, no pictures of the red light district for you!  I did look up the origin of the term red light district and there were some interesting stories.  I'll leave it to you to do your own research though!

The bright side of this tolerance is that it extends to a tolerance for gay and lesbian relationships, as well as religious tolerance.  Amsterdam is home to a large synagogue from 1671.  Jews were well-integrated into the business and social life of Amsterdam until the Nazi’s invaded in May of 1940, and then it became dangerous.  We toured the Anne Frank house; established as a memorial, but more importantly as a place of education.  The Anne Frank institute has branches in many countries to educate people on religious tolerance.  Otto Frank, Anne’s father, was the only one to survive the war, and they had video clips of him speaking about Anne.  The entire exhibit was well done and extremely moving.

We also found the Houseboat Museum that we had missed last time, but I was content to just view the outside of the houseboats.  I was envious of this man reading a book on his houseboat in that area.

Find the lucky man - reading on his houseboat in the sun
Darrell’s grandfather on his mother’s side had furniture stores in Essen and Cologne/Köln, Germany as well as in Amsterdam prior to the rise of the Nazi’s, so we went to the city archives to see if we could find some information on his furniture store and where it had been located.  We followed one lead from an old telephone book, and an archivist then typed the information into the computer so we could get more complete records.  The lead didn’t pan out and we ended up without any information, but we were so impressed with the quality and quantity of data available in these archives.  If we had more information to begin with I think we could actually get somewhere!

We toured the Van Gogh museum and a photographic museum called FOAM when we were here in August with Lindsey.  We also took a canal cruise then.  So this time we just walked a lot!  We also took advantage of the free exhibit at the architecture institute.

Architecture Institute reflecting older buildings
We walked up the steps to the children’s science museum where we could get views over town, and took photos of the tall ships that were part of the maritime museum.  Recall that the Dutch had the Dutch East India Company and were world traders, so I'm sure there was lots of great history in this museum, but the weather was so nice we just wanted to soak in the views.

Tall ship - part of the Maritime Museum
On our way back to the train station, we stopped at a café on a bridge over a canal to have some Dutch cheese and beer.

Mindy fantasizing about a life in Amsterdam.
Our last stop was to see the "Occupy Amsterdam" encampment.  You can see by the lady in the front, that this is not just a movement of the youth here either!

Occupy Amsterdam
One of the perks of our Eurail Pass is that we are eligible for some of the train lounges.  This was fantastic because we could have a glass of wine along with checking our e-mail before boarding the train.  From the outside, the train looked like it was Cold War era, and it was ultimately headed to Moscow, adding to the ambience.  But the bunks were comfortable, and there was a table you could set up inside the compartment.  It was wonderful to turn off the cabin lights and open the window shade so we could watch the world go by as we traversed the nighttime Netherlands...

Louvain-la-neuve and Brussels

November 2nd and 3rd
From Köln we took a late-afternoon train the few hours to Brussels and then transferred to the smaller town of Louvain-la-Neuve.  There is an original Louvain, but the University kicked out the French speakers, so they formed their own community and university!  Belgium is quite divided between the Flemish and the French speakers – in fact, some want to divide the country into two.  So, in the early 70’s, the displaced French Belgians designed their own university and town and named it The New Louvain.  It was designed after a medieval village so all the buildings are stone and none of the streets are straight.  They also created different elevations with ramps and steps joining them and made much of it a pedestrian city.  The university is fully integrated into this small town.  They preserved woods near the town and put trails through it.  Our hotel was actually accessed via a ten-minute walk throught the woods!  Very nice.

Walking through the woods to our hotel
Darrell met with Hughes, a climate modeler, and his students.  He gave a presentation with about 30 interested people attending, including an emeritus professor whose work on Milankovich cycles have been cited by Darrell for most of his career.  It is so great to put faces to names you have known for so long!

Then, we met Hughes and two of his students for a Belgian dinner at a very nice restaurant.  The chef seemed to have a flair for fusion cuisine, but we had some traditional Belgian fair.  The “taster” – in French I think it is called the “small mouth” - was scallops and mussels prepared ceviche style in a small glass.  Then we shared an appetizer called croquettes du crevette – which was a shrimp dish wrapped in bread crumbs and deep-fried.  Darrell also tried Hughes snails – but I wasn’t that brave!  For dinner, Darrell had a local fish, and I had “faison”, which they translated as pheasant – but which I think was a kind of hooved game animal.  I couldn't find a translation for it, so maybe someone can help me here!  Whatever it was, it was delicious.  I was too full for dessert but I had a bit of Darrell’s crème du brulée on some pasta rosettes.  Amazing.

The next morning, we weren’t in a big rush so I took a run along the trails in the woods while Darrell did some work.  Then we walked into town and picked up some coffee and croissants to eat on the train to Brussels.  It is great to only pay 2 euros (about $2.50 now) for a cup of coffee and a croissant after the prices in Switzerland where it would have been at least double and probably triple that cost!

We only got to see a bit of Brussels, concentrating on the oldest parts of course.  The number one spot is Le Grand Place, a central square surrounded by many ornate buildings including the city hall and many guild buildings.  While this was a market with buildings from the 13th century, the buildings were rebuilt after war damage in the late 17th century and then refurbished in the 19th century.  Le Grand Place is a UNESCO world heritage site and is considered the most beautiful plaza in the world!

Darrell in front of just one small section of Le Grand Place
Even after months here, we can't get over how many highly-decorated buildings there are - no matter where you go in Europe!  How could there have been so many stone masons, sculptors, glass makers, painters, etc. as you would need to have made all these places - even given several hundreds of years?  And then of course, inside the buildings, are paintings, sculptures, candelabras, etc.  Coming from a Midwest background where having a bay window was pretty darn fancy, it is difficult to comprehend the elaborate nature of so many buildings in Europe!

Another delight in Brussels is chocolate and other sweet treats.  Here are two last photos celebrating food!

Window display designed to make us drool
Darrell and Lady Godiva!

Cologne/ Köln

November 1st
Our night-train from Vienna arrived in Köln around 9 a.m.  The train station opens up right to the Cathedral.  According to wikipedia: Cologne Cathedral was built between 1248 and 1880. It is 144.5 metres (474 ft) long, 86.5 m (284 ft) wide and its towers are approximately 157 m (515 ft) tall.  The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the second tallest spire and largest façade of any church in the world.

It was so tall I couldn’t get a picture of the entire cathedral, but here is an image showing the modern architecture of Köln next to the Gothic architecture of the cathedral.

Modern imitating Old
We also climbed up 533 steps to the top of one of the towers in the Cathedral.  And that was on our slightly sore legs from our hike with Sabina!

View inside tower
We hoped to do some research in Köln, as Darrell’s mother lived in a Jewish orphanage here from about the age of 10 until just before immigrating with her mother to the United States just before her 12th birthday in 1939.  Her father had owned three furniture stores, including one in Köln, prior to the Nazi regime, but then he immigrated to Milwaukee with Lenore's older brother before Lenore and her mother were able to leave.  She doesn’t have many memories of Köln, though she said she had been to the cathedral.  And she remembers Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, when all the Jewish-owned businesses and the synagogues were destroyed, November 12th, 1939.  Her view then was of Nazi boots from the ground where she had been thrown down.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to do as much research as we hoped because it was a holiday.  Another strike against us was that the archives, some of the best in Europe, had all been jumbled up when the building they were in collapsed into a subway tunnel.  They are working to get the archives back up, but they are not in business for now.

 So we toured the old part of the city, especially enjoying the waterfront.

Houses by the waterfront
After a picnic of our usual bread and cheese on a bench by the Rhine, we ended up at the Chocolate Museum, crowded with tourists even in November.
Chocolate fountain with view of Rhine in background

Chocolate robot trying to keep up with world demand!
We walked to the Jewish quarter where there was an active archaeologic dig.  They were also building a 7,000 m2 museum to house the results of the excavation including the oldest Jewish synagogue in Europe, including the ritual baths, plus the earlier Roman ruins it was built on.

Excavation of Jewish and Roman ruins
Just before catching our late-afternoon train to Brussels, we found a museum dedicated to understanding the National Socialism (Nazi) movement in Köln and honoring the Jews that suffered and died.  We didn't have time to see the museum, and their research library was closed due to the holiday, but we searched through some materials they had at the front desk to learn more about Köln during the war.  So, it wasn’t an entirely satisfying day in terms of research, but we were glad to see a little bit of where Darrell’s mother lived for some time…

Vienna, the "frosting" of Europe

October 31st
We caught the first train out of Klagenfurt before 6 a.m. on Monday morning so we could have as long as possible in Vienna.  We loved Vienna.  We made two different café stops there so we could sample the coffee and incredible pastries!

A sweet view of Vienna!
The pastries are as fancy as the Baroque buildings.  The buildings sort of look lie decorated cakes – so the pastries and the buildings are both exquisitely ornate.  Not tacky or ostentatious – but elaborately decorative.

One of the gorgeous buildings in Vienna.
We first went to the Albertina Gallery where they had the Monet and Picasso exhibit as well as their usual art.  All of it was amazing.

Albertina Gallery
Then we used the walking guide on the map to find our way around the city and see as many historic places as we could.  We ran across an ice skating rink that reminded us of Lindsey, our own figure skater!

Ice skating in Vienna
We also saw one of Lindsey's favorite stores, Viennese style.

Shopping in Vienna
The last image leaves you with the flavor of Vienna in gelato, statues and the reflection of a building!

What a glorious day!

Klagenfurt, Austria

October 28, 2011
We woke up at 5 am – actually I’d been awake since 4:15 after falling asleep after midnight – to finish our last packing and cleaning (and e-mailing for Darrell) before leaving our sweet apartment at 23 Centralweg in the Lorraine District of Bern.  We left a little later than planned and ended up running to catch the train.  Not a great start to our trip – and hopefully the last time we have to do that for our trip!

It was hard to leave Bern as it is such a nice city to be in.  Especially with the changing colors of the leaves, and the changing mood of the River Aare…  I don’t think a day ever went by where I didn’t take a walk or a run along the river.

Our first stop with our one-month Eurail Pass is to Klagenfurt, Austria – where I met Sabina Kropfitsch 34 plus years ago!  I was 19 – she was 18 – and we met at her Grandmother’s farm where I went with another "Carl" named Marty.  His family had hosted Janko, Sabina's uncle, as an AFS student and he wanted to pay the family a visit.  Hence, Klagenfurt!

Darrell checking out how the train seats turn into a bed!
Sabina met us on the platform at the train station and took us to our hotel.  Then we had a lovely dinner at Sabina’s house.  She and her daughter Lea made us vegetarian lasagna, a beautiful salad, and an amazing raspberry fluff dessert.  Sabina invited Janko and his wife Christa as well as her mother Janja (who lives downstairs in the same building) and we had a wonderful time visiting and having memories of so long ago!

October 29, 2011
On Saturday, Sabina picked us up at 10 am and we went to the farmer’s market right by our hotel.  Then she took us to a medieval fort, Burg Hochosterwitz, built high on a hill.  The path that wound up the mountain to the fort at the top had numerous gates with towers and then a gate with a drawbridge near the top – so it would have been tough for anyone to get there unseen.

View of Burg Hochosterwitz from a distance.

It turned out Sabina had a connection with the tour guide at the fort so he gave us a private tour in English!  We saw lots of medieval armory – including the oldest cannon in Austria.  We weren’t supposed to take pictures inside – but I really wanted one of this amazing armor they had for a knight that was 3.25 meters tall.  The armor looked like it would have fit Hagrid!  It was so impressive.  He would meet anyone coming up to the fort and tell them he was the smallest one!
Sabina and I at the first gate on the path to the fort.

Dragon on the way up to the fort.
It was cloudy out and Sabina thought we might be able to get above the fog if we drove up to Magdalensburg where there was a wonderful restaurant, Gipfelhaus Magdalensberg, and normally an impressive view.  All we saw was mist – but it did lend to the mysterious and romantic atmosphere of the restaurant.  We had a delicious traditional meal of pasta stuffed with different cheeses and meats.

On Sunday, October 30th, Sabina picked us up for a hike up Dobratsch.  This turned out to be the same alpine hike I had taken 34 years ago!  But I didn’t know that at the time – though I did wonder as it looked somewhat familiar from my photos.  There were some geology trail signs with nice descriptions and samples of the rocks there.

Sabina on the trail up Dobratsch
We hiked up the “hunter’s trail” first – a more narrow path that wound along the southern side of the mountain.  We climbed out of the fog this time as we were at 2,167 meters (7110 ft) when we reached the top!  We had lunch at the hut – bratwurst, bread, and beer - perfect hiking food!

Sabina, Darrell and I at the top!
Our next stop was to St. Jakob v Rozu in Tesinja where her grandmother had lived.  I used the Slovenian spellings for this area because Sabina's family are Carinthian Slovenes.  Carinthia is this southern part of Austria.  She grew up bilingually German/Slovenian and it was so interesting to hear her speak the more musical tones of Slovenian with her family.  It seems the Slovene's have suffered some discrimination in Austria, like so many other groups in so many places...

Her grandmother's old house has been remodeled and it is where Janko and Christa now live in the summer.  Then her mother and her aunt also build houses near there on some of the property, so it is a nice family setting.  I remembered some views of the farm.

Sabina, Darrell, and Sabina's family farm.
The houses are also close to the cemetery where the grandmother and grandfather are buried.  Sabina’s dad passed away recently and is also buried there, with a beautifully simple gravestone.  All Soul’s Day is on Tuesday, so many people were decorating the graves at the cemetery.  I had never seen anything like it.  Many people seemed to have scrubbed the white rocks (like large gravel) at the sites, cleaned up (even re-engraved) the grave stones, and planted fresh flowers.  No plastic flowers here.  They also had red lanterns that were placed at all the graves and burned through the night.  We saw some later on the train from Vienna glowing along the tracks!

View of church from the farm.
Janja invited us for coffee and cakes.  She had made an amazing chocolate torte and a delicious apple streudel.  I'm learning where the cooking talent in the family comes from!  Yum.  I definitely ate too much!

Sabina's beautiful mother and her delicious apple streudel.
Sabina's aunt Ivi also came over and she remembered our jaunt up Dobratsch from so long ago!  She helped me remember more about my past visit.  Now we both need to look for our pictures from so long ago!

Sabina, Ivi, Mindy, and Janja
It was so wonderful being with this warm and loving family.  Thank you, Sabina, Lea, Janja, Ivi, Janko and Christa for sharing so much with Darrell and I!