Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Trip to Baden Baden

Jaap has a friend who was getting married in Baden Baden, Germany so we made a weekend trip out of it. Baden Baden is on the tip of the Black Forest in southwestern Germany and is known for its spas and thermal baths. The town is picturesque. I kept thinking we were walking through Disneyworld. It was really beautiful.
On Friday afternoon we rented a car from Maastricht and got to experience what it’s like driving in Germany. The average speed limit on highways is at least 75 mph, meaning that most German drivers were traveling between 85 and 100 mph. A little scary, but Jaap seemed to enjoy it. J When we arrived in Baden Baden, we had dinner downtown and enjoyed some good German beer and local Riesling. And of course, I couldn’t visit Germany and not have some schweineschnitzel. It reminded me of Vienna. Not as good, but still very yummy.

Lichtentaler Allee

Before the wedding on Saturday, we walked down Lichtentaler Allee, which runs along the Oos River and is lined with luxury hotels, spas, beautiful gardens, and museums. We had breakfast downtown and walked through some pedestrian streets. Before the wedding, we got a little lost on the way to the ceremony and ended up in a Russian Orthodox Church. Ooops. Luckily Jaap’s German is very good and when we asked a church employee if this was the Christus kapelle we got an assertive, ‘Ja!’. It wasn’t, but we found the church in time for the ceremony.

Altes Schloss

View of Baden Baden

On Sunday we visited Altes Schloss or the Hohenbaden Castle. It was built in 1012 and was occupied from the 11th century through the 1400s. Much of it is in ruins, but there were some amazing views of Baden Baden and the Black Forest from the top. It was really stunning. Visit Baden Baden if you’re ever in the area. Tschüs!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pardo BBQ, Kate & Joe's wedding & NY farewell

Hello from Maastricht! Jaap and I arrived safely on Tuesday morning. Thanks to Jaap's parents and family I feel very welcomed in our new Dutch home. (Pictures to be posted later).
Two weeks ago was the Pardo family picnic. Festivities included the annual water balloon toss (which Jaap and I placed 2nd in), wiffle ball game, some good Puerto Rican BBQ fare, and of course lots of yelling and screaming. (Mostly over a forgotten cheesecake that was accidentally left in Queens).
Special thanks to Cathy and Chris Pardo for hosting the shindig and Titi Vivian for some excellent rice!
We went to NYC on Monday to visit friends and NYC. We visited the MOMA and had dinner with Shannon, Michael, Amanda, and Susan in Hell’s Kitchen. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures that night. :) But, here’s a pic of Jaap and me at the MOMA with Starry night in the background.
On August 19th, Jaap and I traveled to Foxboro, MA for Katie and Joe’s wedding. Congrats to my dear friends who are currently enjoying their honeymoon in Alaska! ‘Extreme weddings’ continued complete with repeat performances of Poker Face and of course Since You’ve Been Gone. Meaghan and Caroline treated the newlyweds to a special treat of some Irish dancing. (You can see Meaghan below choosing some tunes with the DJ). Congrats again to the newlyweds! It was a beautiful wedding.
Last weekend Uncle Vinny, Aunt Carol, Shannon, Lee, and my nephew Joey came over for a good-bye dinner. Aunt Carol brought the famous chocolate mousse cake. J Joey opened up his barbershop and gave Shannon, Jaap, and myself some haircuts. Rates were very reasonable. $2 for a haircut and customers receive $150 back in fake money.
I taught Joey how to play a few three-note tunes on the recorder and he gave a short recital to the family. Later on, Jaap taught my parents how to play Kolinisten (aka Settlers of Catan). It was a great weekend spending time with family and friends before our trip to NL.