Saturday, August 21, 2010

Livorono to Liechtenstein and home to Belgium

It's hard to believe that one week ago today I was in the Alps staring at this...

and this...
(Matt thought this toilet was "the most ingenious toilet ever" because it's an "all in one" jiffy john. Basically, the toilet seat raised itself up after you finished your business, and a soap and water dispenser were strategically located, so that you could wash you hands into the toilet bowl. What can I say? Sometimes it takes very little to impress him.)

So we sadly ended our vacation in Tuscany. However, the grim faces didn't last long, because driving through northern Italy, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein was utterly gorgeous. As if nature made an in car entertainment system for us. There wasn't a moment when we weren't calling to attention a waterfall crashing over the mountains, or a little chalet perched high up into the peak of a mountain, or the clouds, swiftly moving in over the mountain tops. Truly beautiful land.

As I snapped these shots at a rest stop, somewhere in the Alps, I couldn't help but to think about how naive these kids were. They had no idea how lucky they are to travel the world as they have. And to play at a rest area in the middle of the Alps was almost surreal for us, but just a day's work in the life of a kid to them.


We arrived in Liechtenstein, (the smallest German speaking country in the world and the only country contained completely within the Alps) in the early evening. Enough time to get our bearings and find dinner. Though based on the previous night's escapade, we were relived to have a hotel where there was a restaurant. This was the view from the hotel window...

However, when we checked in, the receptionist told us that the hotel restaurant was closed, because of a village festival. All restaurants would be closed locally, but we could catch a bus, and enjoy the festival, and find dinner there. With no choice but to join in the festivities or eat raisins and juice boxes out of the car for dinner, we followed the crowd to bus stops and found ourselves at the citywide celebration, in the rain.
We completely stood out- walking around in sandals and shorts, while the locals wore jeans, coats, even scarves.

We found it entirely amusing that what other activity should they have at a festival in the Alps but winter sports? Watching the locals try out in bobsled "time trials" was a hoot.

Another challenge to find dinner. Eat in the pouring rain, having the kids stand and hold a bratwurst? Or find a nearby cafe which might host us. We ended up squeezing into a little tent and enjoying bratwurst with the locals. Finishing the course with fresh crepes topped with apricots and cinnamon and sugar. Not the most well rounded meal, but it beat McDonalds.

The journey home continued at a relatively good clip the next day. We arrived home safe and sound, exhausted but exhilarated from our week long adventure. This trip certainly made us look forward to the next.

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