Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Best of Europe 2011

I have been thinking about our Europe 2011 trip for days already, wondering how would I answer the question, "what did I like the best?"
I have come to the conclusion that I cannot pick one thing, although I may be able to narrow it down to 1 thing per area.  And in order to avoid repeating my POTDs, I may be able to slant this list with the most surprising of the bests or simply a representative shot rather than the obvious.

And so, here they are, the highlights of my trip:

Trastevere - This Roman neighborhood felt so real, with real shop owners scrubbing their sidewalks and washing their store and cafe windows, and very chic people waiting to eat in tiny chic restaurants, and tons of people out in the park for Republic Day.
 Buying a rosary in the rooftop gift shop of St. Peters.

Having Sunday dinner with the family.

Not only did we have a lovely balcony with a great view of the Bay of Naples, but the Settimo Cielo had the best shower, ever!

Amalfi Coast
Every town and every view was sublime, but sensual overload was experienced at the ceramics factory, seeing the most beautiful, giant ceramic tables coming to life, wishing I could have one in my back yard.

Successfully buying cheese and strawberries for our picnic lunch in Anacapri.

The extent of this large city in ruins was an overwhelming experience.

Dinners at Trattoria del Moro Aronne.
Sitting in the piazza in front of the duomo with the sun shining on the facade.
Tearing through the piles of hand-sewn vintage linens at the market.
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Sipping spritzes on Piazza Bra. Watching the throngs of people in Juliet's courtyard.
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Seeing the throngs of people willing to stand in long lines for the chance to touch the tomb of St. Anthony.
Witnessing the crash commercialism of the church and the surroundings.
Seeing Giotto's frescoes at the Scrovegni Chapel.

The first morning boat ride, the villa on Isola Bella, the grotto and garden in the villa on Isola Bella.

Discovering Gimmelwald in the sunshine, full of flowers and gnomes and real people. Loved the little hike from Murren to Gimmelwald so much I did it twice.

Taking the long walk from our hotel to the Chateau Chillon along the lake.

Riding on the La Suisse steam paddle wheeler.

Loved this adorable village, speaking French, eating salade de chevre chaud.

The Hotel L'Oustelet was oerfectly adorable, and speaking French once again! I loved the cross-stitched door labels and the key pockets and everything that looked lovingly hand-made in the hotel.

Seeing the Matterhorn, and everyone's reaction to the Matterhorn, was awesome, but what I enjoyed the most was our hike to Zmutt.

Our hike from Muottas Muragl to Pontresina, our trip up Piz Nair, and my walking tour of Samedan, I was especially touched by seeing the beautifully tended graves in the Protestant churchyard.

I love the European politeness which demands that every person be greeted, the public transportation system that lets you get everywhere, the lifts and conveyances that make good use of the mountains, the concept of gathering in the public squares, the passegiate, taking afternoon naps, eating late multi-course dinners that end with espresso and limoncello, tiny crooked cobblestone streets, lacy-curtained windows dressed in geraniums.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 29 The Return

All good things must come to an end, and so it is with Europe 2011. It was a long day, starting out in Zurich, tram to the train station, train to the airport, flight to Washington DC, flight to San Francisco. But at least we got to do some of it in style, in our United pods, playing games and watching movies while being served a 5-course meal.
And so my photo of the day is...Tod in a pod.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 28 Zurich

Almost the last day, almost the last train ride, tomorrow it is off the to airport to return home.
Meanwhile, it was HOT in Zurich, and so a boat trip on the lake was in order to kill some of the hot time.

Monday, June 27, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 27 St. Moritz

St. Moritz itslef was a bit of a disappointment, but the area is fabulous fir mountain views and hiking. While most of our hiking was "light" on this trip, it was still plenty of exercise, necessary to work off all the cheese and chocolate.

This photo was taken at Piz Nair, at 3056 meters. I am very proud of having taken the cable car up to this height. No, we didn't hike down, but we did hike down from Mogus Morghul earlier in the day, and perhaps we will do this hike next time.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 26 Pontresina

After all day in a train, the Glacier Express, supposed to be one of the most scenic train rides in the world, or at least in Switzerland, a day in which I have conclusively confirmed that long scenic train rides are not for me, we arrived in Pontresina and were met by the nice man from the Hotel Bernina.

It was so good to be on solid ground, to have fresh air, and to find the lovely old hotel full of wonderful little folksy details, like fresh sunflowers.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 25 Zmutt

Another 100+ picture day, about 30-40% of them of the Matterhorn, which was never as clear as it was yesterday, yet it was irresistable to take pictures of it. But this is the picture I like the best from today. At the recommendation of a fellow Rick-nick in the breakfast room, we hiked out of the southwest end of town toward the hamlet of Zmutt. It was about an hour away and 1000 feet higher than Zermatt, so it was a good hike. Zmutt was just a collection of buildings and huts, all weather-worn wood and lichen-encrusted slate roofs, but it was filled with flowers and gnomes and gingham (or lace)curtains with trays of mushrooms drying in the morning sun and the smell of cheese in the air. It was, in a word, delightful!

Friday, June 24, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 24 The Matterhorn

They say this is a one-mountain town, and they are right. If it's clear, you can see the Matterhorn and everyone is happy. When we arrived in Zermatt this afternoon, it was clear, and the weather report is for clear and sunny skies for the rest of our stay here. Lucky for us!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 23 Macarons

How pleased was I to find macarons in Chamonix! I had actually found a Laduree in Lausanne, but the macarons were about 3 or 4 Swiss francs each, which is like $4 for a cookie!
At only .90€ each, I was able to get 2, and use up all my small Euro change.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 22 Chocolate Train

I love this photo of Tod on the Chocolate Train, which we took from Montreux to Gruyere, with visits to a cheese factory, the hill town of Gruyere, and the Cailler chocolate factory. We rode in these beautiful vintage cars and had a day full of trains, cheese and chocolate...what could be better?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 21 To Lausanne

A wonderful boat trip from Montreux to Lausanne on the steam paddle wheel boat La Suisse was the highlight of the day, so how to best represent that?
With a picture of La Suisse?
Certainly, it is a beautiful boat, one that harkens back to the era of elegant travel.

Pictures of the family on La Suisse? Good idea, too bad I don't have the best pictures.

How about the thing that surprised me the most...miles and miles of terraced grape vines from the shores of the lake to the tops of the hills, looking like a wonderful patchwork of green, interrupted only by the ribbons of the roads and the railway lines, and the occasional village, complete with church steeple.

Monday, June 20, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 20 Montreux

Several years ago we changed trains at the Montreux train station, picking up the Golden Pass panoramic train to Lauterbrunnen. Today we did that journey in reverse, and are spending a few days on this lovely city on Lake Geneva, sometimes called the Swiss Riviera. I like this picture because it shows the lake, the Alps and France in the background, beautiful flowers, and me, looking pretty happy.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 19 Gimmelwald

The last time we were here in the Swiss Alps, it rained for the hike from Gimmelwald to Murren, and so we missed some of the primitive splendor that is Gimmelwald. We were able to rediscover it the other day, and I enjoyed it so much, that we repeated the short hike this morning when we found we would have a few hours free.
It is not just the splendid views and abundant presence of gnomes, but Gimmelwald is a tiny village where real people farm the land, raise cows and make cheese, grow beautiful flowers among their vegetables, and decorate their village with a colorful array of flora and fauna. Once discovered, Gimmelwald is sublime.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 18 Lauterbrunnen

As I noted the other day, it is all about the weather here, and unfortunately there is not a lot to do when it rains, and unfortunately today we had quite a bit of rain. But, the trains are warm and dry and on time, and covered by our Swiss rail pass.

This is a classic shot that Tod took, of the Lauterbrunnen train station looking up toward the valley, with Staubbach Falls in the distance.

Friday, June 17, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 17 Mountains & Flowers

Another day, another bunch of flowers, another mountain. Oriental poppies are growing beautifully everywhere, and this mountain, not sure of its name, is seen from Gimmelwald.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 16 Mountains & Flowers

Mountains and flowers, mountains and flowers, how many pictures can I take of mountains and flowers, oh and waterfalls?
A lot, and I will never tire of looking at them, over and over. This one was taken in Lauterbrunnen, from the path behind the cable car station at the end of town.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 15 Murren Gnomes

The Berner Oberland is known to harbor many friendly gnomes, and so it was not difficult to find a few in the quiet little village of Murren, high in the Swiss Alps. Many of them are hard working gnomes, tending the lovely gardens of flowers and vegetables, fishing the cold mountain streams, and some even help with the tending of the cows and making of the cheese. And they are not at all shy, happy to pose for those willing to take the time to find them.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 14 Stresa

Our full day in Stresa was another day of too many pictures to choose from, so I'll go with the first picture in the day that I love. The lake was calm and beautiful and the morning light was lovely, the temperature was perfect, even on the fast-moving boat, I loved watching the wake off the back of the boat, in the far distance are the mountains of Switzerland, and in the foreground is the Italian flag. It was the start of a beautiful day.

Monday, June 13, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 13 Padova

I love to visit markets, even if I don't buy anything, although I am getting a lot braver about ordering things in french and italian. The markets in Padova this morning were a little sparse because of the slightly rainy weather, but still they were colorful and smelled fresh!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 12 Verona

I love this shot taken from the museum of the roman arena, since you can see roman ruins, towers, the bridge and the river...very Verona!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 11 Verona

Ok, so it is not real, there is no evidence that Gulietta lived here in this little courtyard in Verona, but it is here, it is cute, and i could not resist taking a picture with the statue of Gulietta, although I did not rub her breast as you are supposed to do.

Friday, June 10, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 10 Orvieto

There is so much in this one picture that says Umbria/Tuscany/Orvieto - great views from a hill town, cypress trees, olive trees and grape vines.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 9 Orvieto

Orvieto was charming and cozy and perfect for wandering, peeking into the narrow and curvy side streets and alleys, and then, crowning the highest point in this very high hill town, was the magnificent duomo, full of spires and statues and marble and mosaics.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 8 Ciao Sorrento

On our last night in Sorrento, we were treated to the most beautiful light as the sun set out in tne Mediterranean and cast a golden glow over the colorful buildings of Marina Grande below the cliffs of Sorrento.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 7 Capri

I like to find beauty in the details when we travel, finding things off the beaten path, something special showing how people live. Thus this entry to a house on Capri caught my attention, saying so much about the region...the beautiful flowers, including many that grow in our similar climate in California, the hanging chili peppers and garlic, the bowl full of the different lemons and oranges of the region, and a couple of comfortable seats. Perfectly lovely!

Monday, June 6, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 6 Amalfi Coast

Once again hard to choose, as I took so many pictures, each one beautiful and special to capture this special day of the drive along the Amalfi Coast, but this one captures a few special things. Of course, the scenery was beautiful, and obviously it was warm, and I was greatly enjoying the day.

7 Days in May - Day 6 True Story

The challenge for Day 6 of the Jessica Sprague 7 Days in May challenge was to create a layout with the theme of True Story.  The word art was provided but optional.

I'm a firm believer in 'the first thing that pops into your head' as well as efficiency.  I also wanted to do one of the last challenges I would have time for before heading off on our European vacation, a scraplift challenge at Design House Digital.

So I thought of using a Harry Weber photo/postcard, and it was all downhill from there.

Have I mentioned that I love my own work?  Well, I do, I  love my artwork.  I love layouts like this, with lots of stuff going on, things tucked into every corner,stamping and blending and oh how I love texty-looking things like newsprint.  I'm getting better at overlapping, and even attempted a little cluster here.

The true story, while not particularly incredible, is about how Harry Weber traveled to places in 1930, the same places we have traveled to, and oh by the way, we will be in Lauterbrunnen again in a little over 2 weeks.  Those mountains just don't change much.  I love having these old photos and postcards and being able to create 'then and now' layouts like these.

Eiger Munch 7DaysMay6

Word Art by In the Making Designs courtesy of Jessica
Jen Maddocks Parchment, Venerable and Tell Your Story kits, Robyn M's Kraft Party paper and tag, Karen Funk Make It Count striped paper, Jen Allyson Vintage Findings paper, Karen Funk Bloghop stitched scallop, Celeste Knight Weathered Overlay, frame from Jopke Designs Evergreen.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 5 Sorrento Surprise

At the end of a long day of travel, first the train from Rome to Naples, then a metro to Anna's house, a lovely but exhausting visit with the family in Naples, then an impossibly long car trip to Sorrento, finally we arrived in Sorrento, and were treated to fireworks over the harbor, which we could see clearly from our balcony at the lovely and welcoming Settimo Cielo hotel.

7 Days in May - Day 5 My View

Another template was provided for Day 5 of the Jessica Sprague 7 Days in May challenges, with a theme of "this is love".  I decided not to spend any time thinking about this, just grab the photos I took yesterday, of something I love, and scrap 'em!

I love templates like this with grungy masks, and the background paper provided was a perfect complement to the picture of my 'golden hour'.  I didn't actually know that's what it's called, that part of the day when the sun is setting and casting a golden glow on things.  I was going to title this 'Alpenglow' but I looked up alpenglow, and that's not really what's going on here, although I have seen alpenglow.

So, the difference...alpenglow is when the sun is behind the object you are looking at, like snow-capped mountains, and you see the sun reflected off clouds behind you, or glowing behind the object.  The golden hour is more about the setting sun shining directly on the subject, as here.  There is something in the San Jose hills, must be a big window or something, that shines like a bright orange spotlight!  I love seeing it!
I took the small picture relfected in the kitchen sliding glass doors.  There is a bit of golden hour reflected in my hair :-)

Sunset 7DaysMay5

The template is called ez-pz template 09 by LivE Designs.  All the additional elements are from Jen Maddocks Venerable, Jen Maddocks Parchment and Anna Aspnes ArtPlay Palette Finding My Way.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 4 Rome

I like this Picture Tod took outside St. Peter's. It was still early in the day, not too hot yet, the line to get into the church was not too long, and I was still fresh.

St. Peters is an impressive church inside as well as out.

7 Days in May - Day 4 Pirates

Now this is some fun scrappin'! Day 4 of the Jessica Sprague 7 Days in May challenge was to use this template, with whatever supplies or to scrap whatever theme or topic we wanted, as long as one of the blocks contained a picture.

I've been wanting to play with these Pirate Kits I got from a No Pirates Allowed blog train, and I've been wanting to use my POTD from May 20 when Tod and I went over to Oakridge to see Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides. One thing I like about Oakridge, they often have props in the lobby for taking photos. Which is fun :-)

On Stranger Tides?  Well, it was fun and cute, and Johnny was Johnny, which is always a good thing, but it's hard to follow up such an original with 1, 2 or 3 sequels.  Still, worthwhile entertainment, especially at half price thanks to Visa Signature.
My favorite part was Keith Richards returning as Captain Jack Sparrow's father...classic!

Pirates 7DaysMay4

All the papers and elements were from the No Pirates Allowed blog train, including designs from Jen Reed, Amelia, Shel Bell and Sherwood. Also used an associated kit from Jen Reed called Pirates Code.

Friday, June 3, 2011

7 Days in May - Day 3 Color Challenge

Day 3 of the Jessica Sprague 7 Days in May challenge was to use this color swatch for a layout.  When I opened my picture import folder, the pictures with the right colors jumped right out at me, taken in front of the clubhouse at Silver Creek.

That doesn't mean it didn't take me a long time to craft a page. I'm still not sure this one is done, nor am I sure I like it.  The template is from Jessica Sprague Photoshop Friday #11, the papers provided in the challenge from In the Making Designs.  That part, and adding the photos in storyboard fashion was easy, then I futzed for hours.  My favorite part was taking the swatches and laying them over the background, then repeating this, altering the opacity with each successive one.  I think the left side is too heavy...I am not a clusterer.  But for now, this is as it is.

Flower View 7DaysMay3r

Papers, brushes, work art and overlays from Anna Aspnes ArtPlay Palettes Seafoam and Find My Way, word art is Anna Aspnes Descriptive Word Transfers.

POTD Europe 2011 - Day 3 Rome

The highlight of day 3 in Rome was visiting the Vatican Museum. Unfortunately, this experience was dominated by the impression of being squished among throngs of tour groups following someone holding a shabby umbrella or twisted scarf on the end of a telescoping pole.

Still, worth it for the chance to see the Rafael paintings and the Sistine Chapel. While I did get a couple of non-flash decent photos of Rafael's School of Athens, and we even have a couple of cell phone shots of the Sistine Chapel, one of the most fun things was buying and sending postcards from the tiny Vatican post office.