Friday, June 29, 2012

The Montreux jazz festival begins

Tonight is the beginning of a beautiful 3 year affair with the world renowned jazz festival. At least we hope! We should be in good shape for tonight as we are kicking it of USA style/ whiskey and coke.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dusseldorf: Home of the Alt Beer

What a great cheap trip!  Dusseldorf was my first Germany experience and I loved it.... sign me up for Oktoberfest!  I should first explain why we chose Dusseldorf.  Well, you know those in flight magazines that everyone can't help at least flipping through?  While flying on some trip (can't remember which) Nicole noticed a short article on the city.  The article said some good things about the city which included museums, beer, and nightlife....enough said, I think that fills a weekend destination requirment.  We found cheap flights and a cheap hotel and off we went. The first night we watched a soccer match in a very cool restaurant. Good food, good beer, and a great soccer atmosphere. So far so good.  The next day we attempted to shop but wound up getting tired of the crowds and headed for food and drink instead (surprised? probably not) We found a pub crawl on the internet and had a great time following that for rest of the evening. Sunday.... the day of one of the Germany Euro2012 games! We started the day with "activities." The Neanderthal Museum was really interesting. We also went to an art museum with an amazing collection including several Picasso and Salvador Dali paintings. After spending most of the day on required activities, we began searching out a game watching spot. This is were the real fun begins. Picture a cobblestone street with restaurants and bars on both sides. Every single place had a tv turned to the street for the game and the entire street was packed with people wearing Germany gear and face paint. I felt like was at a rock concert or something. Awesome! Skipping ahead, we finally made it back to our hotel a little after 3am. and Nicole consider ourselves somewhat of drinking/partying veterans if you will. We, however, made three seriously rookie mistakes. I will list said mistakes in order of severity:

Rookie Mistake 1. No water all night.
Rookie Mistake 2. No food before, during, or most importantly, late night. 
Rookie Mistake C. Mixing way to many types of alchol and "Shooting"* beers every time a bar flickered there lights when it was time for everybody to leave and move on to the next bar.

*Basically chugging with a little flare.  The glasses are the size and shape of a typical juice glass in the U.S. You hold you hand up, pointing like you are shooting your finger pistol and balance the glass between your thumb and forefinger....bottoms up!

There are several reasons that these mistakes occurred.  No water...never mind no excuse there.  No food....we decided that it would definitely be better for us to skip dinner and go to this extremely local bar that we discovered on our pub crawl the day before. We walked in and immediately began taking Underburg shots (ridiculousy strong black licorice liqour served in tiny little bottles wrapped in paper) with a giant German man named Henry.  Henry's entire english vocabulary was based solely on english music lyrics. He kept yelling things like "SWEET HOME ALABAMA!" and IT LONG HARD NIGHT!!! HAHAHAHA" etc..... After Henry left, looking a little green and in a hurry I might add, we met Mathias who was celebrating his 28th birthday with a few buddys.  After exchanging the purchase of a few rounds, we all became fast friends.  This leads me into why there was no late night food.  Around 3AM, our new little group were meandering around looking for food or perhaps another bar and then food.  Mathias was suddely violently shoved out of the street by a police man, apparently for being in front of a parked police van for about 20 seconds.  Mathias got angry and smacked the window...uh oh.  The police piled out of the van like it was a clown car, slammed him up against a wall and arrested him.  Nicole had her "OMG someone is actually getting arrested face on," which is basically her standing very still, looking a little pale, with her mouth shaped in an "O" and speechless.  I first saw this face in Rocky Point when Mason and I were forcibly pulled from our parked truck and searched for "knifes" and "drugos".  Most of you know we had neither of those things, so they let us go. I digress....sorry....I tend to get sidetracked.  Needless to say, we went straight back to our hotel to let the hangovers begin....I will let you know when it ends. 
The old man in the back was dubbed "wounded soldier killer." He would hover outside and drink everthing, and I mean everything, that was left on the table.  He provided ample entertainment for me and Nicole so we took a sneaky pic of him. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Catching Up

Well....where to begin. There are pictures (in no particular order) of the gorge hike behind our house, a tiny beer festival in Vevey, and a weekend trip to Dijon, France. I apologize for falling so far behind in my blogging duties! Let's see...I believe the hike was first...we decided to go for a longer hike up the gorge and have a picnic with a bottle of wine and some sandwiches. From start to finish it took about four hours with a one hour picnic. We followed a trail called "Sentier de Narcisse," which was amazing due to the amount of flowers that were blooming. Not bad when you consider that we started our hike from our doorstep! The following day, Nicole found out about a small beer festival in a nearby town. Well, those of you that know us probably know that if there is a beer festival close by, we are on the next train! It was very small, but had Nicole's favorite beer, "Kwak" on tap. The weather was nice, and in Switzerland you don't have to stay in the festival with your beer. We would grab a beer and walk down and sit by the lake, much more peaceful that way. This was the first time we actually had good beer in Switzerland. This is where the story takes a turn for the worse. The bad tidings began with Nicole's dooming statement, "neither of us have been sick since we moved here." About three days later Nicole had an extremely bad migraine that had here in bed for a day or so. Luckily she was recovered before we left for our weekend trip to Dijon. After about a three and a half hour drive we arrived. We had a great dinner that night and really enjoyed walking the city the next day. Somehow Nicole discovered an exhibition on the other side of town at a place called La Consortium that we ventured to. I'll have her describe it real quick before I move on:
It was a giant open building with several rooms and completely white washed walls and ceilings. The theme of the exhibition was based on a French novel that was very "Atlas Shrugged." Man, Nature, and Industrialism. No single piece stood out, but the collection did a fantastic job creating a sense of man and machine. It mixed 17th century oil paintings, with Tapestries, wood carvings, bigger than life photos over 15 feet tall, and modernist paintings. Super interesting.
I'm you are probably thinking that I was being overly dramitic with my "dooming" talk, but things are about to turn south. We went to a very nice restaurant and we each ordered tasting menus. I had the seafood option, while Nicole wisely chose the meat option. About four hours later I came down with a vicious bout of food poisoning. This went on throughout the night and into the morning. We left around 10 am. Nicole can't drive stick so I had to drive the entire way home hunched over and stopping every now and then for powerade and crackers. Five hours later we finally made it home. I started feeling better on Tuesday, right about the same time Nicole had an allergic reaction to some medication her doctor gave her. Now it is her turn for powerade and crackers! She was completely out of commision until Thursday. Well, I guess life can't always be peachy. We are now both back to normal, feeling great, and ready for our next adventure in Dusseldorf, Germany.