Thursday, July 17, 2008

June - a month full of adventures...

To quickly round out the month of May... After Jo's visit, I made a visit to the U.S. to see some family and friends (and our dog Brandy!) in TN & GA. It was a whirl-wind "tour" as these visits always are, but it was wonderful to see everyone. In addition to visiting, I also got the chance to do some biking with friends in the north Georgia mountains and Atlanta - Our friend put together a great story about it here called Hausfrau in the Holler (yes, I am taking the easy way out for this! she just writes so much better than I). More pictures from this visit can be seen by clicking here.

Then came June - The month of outdoor adventures! Since it's hard to describe all the experiences in words, and as they say "a picture is worth a thousand words", I'll just include links to the pictures and let them tell the story! (with a few samples here...)

It started with some biking at a couple local mountain passes: Pragel and Ibergeregg. As you can see it was still a bit winter-ish at the top...
Here in Switzerland you always have to be ready for different things to be crossing the road in front of you -- cows, goats, and sometimes a whole herd of sheep...
We discovered a backroad up one of the passes that hardly had any cars and was full of stunning Swiss mountain and village views that we had all to ourselves...
For more you can read our friend's write-up on this ride here, and more pictures are here.

The next day we did a "recovery hike" up (& down) the Gross Mythen mountain (definitely what I would call an "active" recovery!). It was a beautiful hike, and at the top we were greeted with some snowfall - That's June in the Alps for ya. Before we ducked into the hut shown in the background to warm up, Jeff did as any good Swiss (or Swiss wannabe!) person would do, and played a few tunes on the Alphorn across the valley below...
For more pictures, click here.

The following weekend we went to watch the time trial stage of the Tour de Suisse pro cycling race, which was being held on Klausen Pass. We decided to bike to the pass from home with a few friends, and along the way we "added on" a couple smaller passes, Albis and Raten. Once again we discovered some great backroads with no cars (just a few tractors) and incredible views...

For more pictures from that day (including ones from the local newspaper/website), click here, and a photo story on our friends' website here: Tour de Suisse.

The next day Jeff did another "active recovery" by going running in the mountains for 6 hours with a couple friends. (I guess that's "recovery" after you've recently run thru a desert for a week!?!) I think they got so distracted by the views that they just didn't want to stop...

For more pictures click here.

While he was out "Berglaufen", I was immersed in a full-day mountain biking skills course. It was all in Swiss German, but luckily I had our friend Martina to translate the important stuff for me. I learned a lot, and finally got over my chicken-ness enough to ride down a full set of stairs -- and survived to tell about it!
The following weekend Martina put me to the test again by taking me rock climbing in the mountains. It was the first time in several years that I had climbed outdoors, and the very first time that I did lead-climbing (where you don't have a rope above you the whole time and instead have to clip in to bolts along the way up). Martina is the best and most patient teacher!
Eventually I even got comfortable enough to enjoy the views from the top...After climbing we topped off the day with a refreshing swim in a nearby lake...
For more pictures, click here.

The next day we decided to branch out a little and check out some cycling in the nearby country of Liechtenstein. At just over 60 square miles for the whole country, it doesn't take much more than a day to check it all out! They definitely have the "castle theme" going there...
What we also found there were some wonderfully smooth roads for biking, and some serious hills including a good climb up to Malbun ski resort. It was a really hot day, and a steep climb that seemed to just keep getting steeper, so we plenty of breaks to, um, enjoy the view.

To read our friend's more detailed account of the day, you can click here, and more pictures are here.

The following weekend we stayed a little closer to home and checked out some more of the local roads... We feel quite lucky to have places like this within riding distance from home!
For more pictures click here.

After these long days of biking, running, hiking, etc., it's nice to top it off with a refreshing swim, and it's a cool feeling to just walk down the street and jump in the lake (sometimes very literally cool!).
So that's our month of June in a nutshell. The rest of the summer we will be staying busy with several visitors, so we'll be out and about a lot of the time, but mostly staying in Switzerland -- I think there's still enough to see here to keep us busy for a long time! Can't wait to share it all with more friends and family.

Have a great summer!!


Friday, July 4, 2008

A tribute to our visitors

We've had a constant flow of visitors ever since we moved to Switzerland -- It's funny how "popular" you can become when you live in such a beautiful place as this! ;) So, I've decided it's (way past) time to include a short tribute to each of the overseas visitors we've had here in Switzerland so far. Especially before the next round of visitors, which starts next week...

It all started off right after we moved here -- I mean right after, when we didn't even have any furniture yet! Our friend Brian was in the middle of his European bike tour, and his route happened to work out so that he visited us in both Amsterdam (before we moved) and Zurich (right after the move). He even helped us screw our new furniture together - Now that's a helpful house guest! We also checked out a local mountain pass on our bikes one day. Check out his blog for a great story on it all.

Next our friend Thomas from Colorado just happened to be in Berlin for a while, so he "hopped on over" to Zurich to spend a long weekend hiking with us. He brought some perfect weather with him, and we made the most of it by enjoying some incredible scenery. You can check out the pictures with this link.

After that was our long-time friend Sean... We've both known Sean so long, we can't really remember a time when we didn't know him. He and Jeff used to set things on fire just for kicks while playing in the woods as kids... So for our hiking trip I tried to keep them under control so they wouldn't try to "re-live old memories" and burn a whole Swiss forest down to the ground ;) Sean brought some perfect weather with him too, and we made the most of it with some great hikes and overnight stays in huts -- For more pictures you can click this link.

Then we had a couple months off from visitors, as we went back to the U.S. for a visit in November, and in December Becky headed to India for her brother's wedding reception.

No worries, in January we made up for lost time by having 14 friends visit all at once! Luckily we didn't all try to fit in our little apartment overnight here in Zurich - Instead we rented two adjoining chalets in the ski resort Verbier for the week. Here's a link to the pictures from the Verbier trip - What an unforgettable time with a great group of friends!
In February our long-time friends Michelle and Kevin came to visit with their two sons. It was great to spend time with them especially since it had been so long since we'd done that, and it was fun to experience all the differences here through the eyes of a 7- and 11-year old. A story about their visit is in this blog.
For March our friend Jim came out to do some skiing in the Alps... Unfortunately I couldn't be a personal tour guide for that endeavor since my ankle was still healing from "the incident", but luckily we have some friends here that were kind enough to take over. Kate and Mark, our tough "Abenteuer" friends, took him for a day of skiing at Davos, and uber-tough Martina showed Jim what Swiss ski-touring is all about (and it is not easy)... the good thing is he survived it all! Even with a smile.

In April while Jeff was gone running across a desert, I was kept from being lonely thanks to Pallavi and Geo who visited from Amsterdam. Watch out Zurich, it's Girls Weekend! We packed a whole lot into a short time. For more pictures from this estrogen-filled event :) you can click this link.

And last but certainly not least, in May it was Jo who graced us with a visit. She was only here for a few days, but in true Jo-fashion, we packed more in those few days than one would ever guess is possible, including a day-trip to the Italian section of Switzerland, and an ad hoc hike up a mountain (when we learned the train going up hadn't started running for the season yet!). For more pictures from that fun-filled few days, you can click here.

Jeff and I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to share the wonders of Switzerland with so many friends... and more to come this summer (including our parents)! It is the best way we can think of to make the most of this experience of living abroad.

Thanks for coming, and as they say where we're from, "y'all come back, ya hear?" :)


Thursday, July 3, 2008

In the news...

I haven't forgotten - I still owe the summary of the second half of May, not to mention all of June... We're really busy experiencing things, but not saving time to document/share them! For now I just want to share a couple recent news articles where Hillseekers have been mentioned...

Tour de Suisse: We biked up the pass where the time trial was held on Saturday, and brought along the Alphorns to help us cheer on the riders... Check out this online picture gallery and see if you see anyone you recognize ("subtle" hint: #'s 25, 26, and 35)It was in the Z├╝rich paper too, in the "Rad" section :) (cycling)

The other Hillseeker story was in the AJC today, about Jeff's weight loss 12 years ago... and how he actually has kept it off ever since. It really did change life for the better - for both of us - so we're glad the story can be shared in case it can be an inspiration for others to make a change and improve their life as well.