Sunday, September 25, 2011


After the most beautiful train ride through the emerald green mountains of Switzerland, we made our way to Venice. I have been here two times before (twice with Becky and once with Dad) but I continue to fall more in love with this magical city every time. The walkways through the city are so enchanting and mysterious....they are like a giant maze that zig zag over the glistening is so picturesque.

We arrived around 4pm and were able to find an incredible room at a good rate. The room looked like Don Draper's bed room (from Mad Men) was so ornate with chandeliers and gold accents, it rocked.

We walked the city a bit and Niko LOVED it... it is so romantic and beautiful. At sunset, we found a local wine bar where everyone stands outside and gabs while sipping glasses of was so inexpensive (which was glorious after being in Switzerland) and such a nice way to get immersed into Italian culture. We then found a charming trattoria (typical Italian eatery) and ate the best pizza I've ever had and drank some Chianti (of course). We walked around hand-in-hand through gazing at the city and then eventually met a couple on their honeymoon. We had some drinks with them and enjoyed some great conversation about life, food, wine, politics, September 11th, etc. The woman was from Albania and he was a MIT grad working in finance from Puerto Rico, which made for some interesting dialog. It was fabulous.

We only stayed in Venice one night, which was perfect...short and sweet. The next morning we walked the city some more and went to Piazza San Marco and saw the's so incredible. The entire interior is mosaics (Mom - you would've loved it!).

Niko and I both LOVED Venice and I'm so glad I got to return to the city that I adore so much.There is, of course, a ton of tourism, but it manages to maintain its unique character and charm. It is so romantic and beautiful...I hope to return again! Next stop.....Istria, Croatia!!! Love to all...xoxoxo

Basel, Switzerland

Basel Switzerland is the home of the world's best watches, banking, the Matterhorn clock, Roger Federer, and the legendary Dan Cohen. We arrived in Basel on Saturday (Sept 10th) to visit our friend and gracious host, Dan, and we stayed 4 nights in this lovely town that is nestled along the Rhine river.

The first night we arrived via train from Paris and Dan was off hiking in the Alps so we settled into a park nearby and relaxed, enjoying how peaceful it was to not in a bustling city. We were able to find a pizza, beer and wine, and hung out in the park for a few hours until Dan made it home. We loved it.

The next day we rode bikes along a beautiful bike path that extended through the woods and along a river for about 20 miles. We actually rode into Germany (only a mile or two away) and were able to see a castle, beautiful gardens and enjoy all the locals staring at Niko since he was riding a bright orange cruiser bike. That night we were thrilled to cook, although it was simply pasta, it was so nice to not eat out.

The next couple days Dan had to work, so we slept in, walked around the cute downtown area, went for a run, ate sausages, did some research on our travels and hung out by the Rhine river where we watched people float by and bask in the hot sun.

The third night Dan treated us to traditional fondu, which is absolutely delish. Thank you Dan! 

Dan's Birthday happened to be on Sept 13th so that day we explored the Novartis campus and had lunch. That night we went out to dinner to celebrate with about 10 of his friends, one of which (Josh)  is friends of friends from Boulder...small world! All of his friends are great, friendly people and most of them are from other countries, so it was really nice to have such international company.

Overall, we really enjoyed Basel and spending time with Dan. Switzerland is EXPENSIVE and the food is generally mediocre, but it is a very clean city with interesting people, great architecture and a beautiful river running through it. Great stop along the stop Venice, Italy!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

J'aime Paris

Oh how I love Paris! We flew into Paris on Thursday at 11am and took the tram to our hotel, which was between the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower in the Trocodero district - beautiful! We immediately went to a quintessential Parisian cafe and ate pate, poulet and pomme fritte (roasted chicken and french fries) and drank a glass of cote du rhone. Of course, after that we went to a pastisserie (bakery) and got an almond/chocolate croissant accompanied with an espresso.

We walked around a bit and enjoyed the incredible architecture and noticed how much more "European" Paris felt than London. It's simply gorgeous. After we explored for a bit we got ready and walked to a cafe by the Eiffel tower where we had $15 martinis and watched the sunset. After more walking we stumbled upon the most romantic French restaurant....the lighting was perfect and the ambiance was like a scene from a movie. We ordered incredible trout, lamb, a decanted bottle of wine....all followed by a cheese plate that was out of this world. Ohhh Paris.

The next day we had quiche and cafe au lait for breakfast and then walked the entire city for about 7 hours. At one point we thought we were at Notre Dame and after spending 20 minutes inside, we realized it was not, in fact, Notre Dame. Woops. We ended up going to Notre Dame and it was incredible (and free), the Louvre, walked through parks, the Pompadou, and walked back to our hotel via the Champ de Elysse (famous long tree lined street) and ate Nutella filled crepes along the way.

The last day we went to another pastisserie (of course) and took the train to the Montmarte district (which I loved) where Monet, Picasso, Toulousse-Lautrec, Dali and all the wonderful artists all hung out back in the day. There we went to an incredible church on the hill (that a Parisian waitress in Danville recommended) and went to the Moulin Rouge (yay). That night we walked back to the tower and watched as the lights sparkled above... then had another incredible dinner (although a bit too rich) and called it a night.

Unlike London, we had incredible weather in Paris - it was partly cloudy but about 80 degrees and humid.

Clearly, we LOVED the food and ultimately concluded that Paris truly is the city of love and lights.

Next stop = Basel, be continued! xoxoxo

London Calling

After a seamless and luxurious flight on Virgin Atlantic, we arrived in foggy London town last Monday afternoon (9/5) and headed directly to our hotel which was conveniently located between Hyde Park and Notting Hill. It was a beautiful hotel and from there we walked the entire city. Some of the main attractions were walking through Hyde Park, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, eating amazing French onion soup and having champagne. For dinner we met our friend, Dan, at an incredible restaurant where I ate the most incredible duck I've ever had. We ended the night having a beer with Dan and his colleague. One of my favorite drinks is Guinness mixed with cider beer and evidently that didn't go over so well with the locales. I digress. It was a wonderful first day/night.

The next day we suffered some MAJOR jet lag and slept until 3pm! We still managed to get in a ton of walking and sight seeing including walking the city: National Gallery, SoHo, Houses of Parliament, Picadilly Circus and had Indian food for dinner in our cute neighborhood. 

Day 3 we woke up at 4am and continued our tour - we went inside Westminster Abbey (Charles Darwin, William Blake and some others are buried there), Buckingham Palace, ate fish & chips, etc.
That night we ate dinner at a fabulous Persian restaurant in Notting Hill and called it a night early. We left London on Thurs be continued. 

We loved London, particularly the architecture, friendly Britts and the great (non-Brittish) cuisine. Despite being extremely expensive, London was the perfect way to kick-off our travels and ease into the European way of life. 

I'll send pics via Picassa, but here's a few in the meantime...