Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cainan goes skiing

Even though we moved from the north part of America - we are no skiers.  None of the kids ever had much of an interest, and Mat and I haven't skied since we were kids.  Being in Switzerland, we find that everyone skis.  Everyone.  All the schools - public or private - take a 4-5 day ski trip each winter with their students.  This achieves two things - gives kids a chance to ski/learn to ski, and gives kids a chance to be away from their parents.  Part of the school curriculum is that kids have to start spending 1-2 nights away each year from their parents to teach independence.  That increases to the 4-5 days away once a year once they reach 4th grade.

Cainan is first up on a ski trip.  It has been in the planning since the fall - the school held a meeting with all the parents, and we had been given a packing list, and all the details we needed.  The kids did not need to bring their ski equipment - even if they had it - it was all part of the cost for the trip.  So that was a relief.  Even if Cainan likes skiing, the chances of us taking this up as a sport with our family is slim. 

This morning at 8am I had Cainan at the train station to meet the rest of his class and the teachers and adults that were going along.  He was more excited than nervous.  He was excited to spend a few days with his friends. 

They got on the train and headed to Davos, Switzerland.  Yes - that Davos.  It is a 4 hour train ride from Basel.  Then they were going to ski this afternoon before settling in for the evening.  They will ski in the mornings and afternoons the next two days, and then once more Friday morning before heading back to Basel Friday evening.  Can't wait to hear what he has to say.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Basel Walkers

It has been a quiet few weeks.  Pretty typical for January, right?  It is now after the holidays - work and school has resumed.  The weather is cold and blah, and all you want to do is curl up on the couch with a book and a cup of coffee.

I did go with the Basel Walkers group this past Monday.  We got a break from the winter rain, and it was a cold, yet beautiful day.  We did a walk through the southern part of Basel countryside.  There was frost on the trees and grass, which made the scenery beautiful.  Not a bad way to spend a January day.

Friday, January 5, 2018

London for the New Year - Day 3

Happy New Year's Eve!  Today was our last day in London.  We started the morning at the Winter Wonderland London had set up for the season.  It was huge.  There were tons of rides (more than Herbstmesse here in Basel), and booths, and food.  It was wonderful.

We went to the indoor ice sculpture exhibit and it was really cool.  The kids enjoyed it quite a bit, and even got to go down an ice slide.

We wondered around the booths tasting the food and enjoying the sites before leaving.  Our next stop was going to be Abbey Road to see where the Beetles recording studio was, but we got side tracked.  We ended up walking through several beautiful parks.  We fed the ducks and geese, and enjoyed watching dogs run around and play.  The parks were huge.  It is always fascinating to me that big cities have these large green spaces that have remained untouched.

We ended up coming to Princess Diana's memorial.  It was very beautiful - serene with flowing water.  I am sure she would have loved it.

The park walk led us to Kensington Park which led us to Kensington Palace.  We missed seeing that the last time we were here, and I did know this is where Prince William and Princess Kate reside.  We went to check it out.

We came across this monument near the palace that was in place for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Turns out, you can tour a certain part of the palace.  It was a wonderful find.  The girls definitely wanted to go inside, and Cainan was indifferent, so we went.  We got to see the preserved sections of the house where some of the Kings and Queens lived a few centuries ago.  We learned a lot about the royal family - like it basically died out and they had to hunt for someone to take over the thrown.  (Which they found. In Germany.  Because they wouldn't allow a Catholic on the throne)

 Playing some old fashioned board games in the Palace

 This was the music room.  Handel (yes THAT Handel) taught the children of the Queen music lessons

 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and their 9 children

The palace was beautiful.  We even got to hear a brass quintet play while we walked around.

After the Palace, we did head over to Abbey Road.  One of the Beetles famous covers is them on the cross walk near their Abbey Road, so Mat wanted to see it.  And so did many many other tourist.  Funny part is that this is still a main road.  So we enjoyed watching people run out in the cross walk to have their picture taken, but then get beeped at by cars coming down the road.  We chickened out putting the kids out there at first, and just went to see the studio and then to have some dinner.

On our way back, it was dark, so the cross walk was slightly less busy.  So we ran across while Mat took our picture from behind.  He panicked and therefore didn't think that he was on the wrong side of the street to get the picture, but whatever.  The idea of this was lost on our children anyway.  (Beetles?  What is that?)

We were home by 7pm and the kids could not have been happier.  We stopped at a local convenience store and grabbed handfuls of snacks to eat while we waited for midnight.  The apartment we are staying in has the perfect view of the firework show London puts on on New Year's eve.  It was amazing being in one of the biggest cities in the world, having front row seats for the fireworks and doing it all in our pajamas on the couch.  It was beautiful.

It was a wonderful trip.  I am so glad we decided to spend the New Year in London.  It was actually a little refreshing to hear English spoke by just about everyone, and see signs and menus in English for a few days.