Welcome to our life!

Hi, I'm Allison! I'm a thirtysomething, freshly baked, stay-at-home mom. I'm originally from Connecticut, now living in Germany, hence the name of the blog. I live in southern Germany with my German husband and our baby boy. Life has turned out to be nothing I ever expected, and am so incredibly happy with it! We certainly do have a lot of laughs! I hope you will enjoy following our new experiences raising a little half American/ half German in a little German town.

Sonntag, 31. August 2008

Pictures and MY Schultüte!

I said that I would post pictures from the awesome fireworks festival last week Sunday. Well, here they are:

The balloons that were flying above our house earlier in the day.

The show with the dancers with fire

The tightrope walker

I also didn't remember to post about my own Shultüte! My friend Iris, who is German, gave me my own Schultüte to commemorate my first day of first grade. Even kinder, she got me a PINK one! I really love my first Schultüte ever! Thanks Iris!

Samstag, 30. August 2008

My first week of first grade

Sadly, Joern is away, putting a new muffler on my car, and has the camera. This means that the card, with pictures from last Sunday are with him. But, I really want to post now for three reasons:
a) one week is ridiculously too long to post
b) now that I am back to work, I want to get back into a better posting rythm
c) I have time now while I finish watching last night's missed episode of my German soap opera, Gute Zeiten Schlechte Zeiten (GZSZ.)
When Joern gets back, I will post the pictures. But for now, enjoy the stories.

On Sunday night, after checking the internet to find out why all the balloons were floating over our town, we discovered that it was for the Flammende Sterne (Flaming Stars) festival in Ostfildern. We had seen advertisements for the fest, but didn't really pay attention, until of course, the sky was filled with balloons. The fest was actually a fireworks festival. Germans absolutely adore fireworks, and most fireworks displays here make the one I've seen at home seem quite embarassing. This fest highlighted three international teams, Friday was a show from an Australian firework team, Saturday a team from the UK, and Sunday was the German team. We decided that even though it would mean a late night, going to see the German fireworks would definately be worth the draggy day on Monday.

Joern, Marcel, and I arrived at 9:30 pm, and found an amazing festival. It was HUGE! Definately not what we had expected. There were three music stages, tons of food tents, and people everywhere. The only drawback was that the tickets were quite expensive- 20 Euro per person, and there was no way to purchase a ticket only for the fireworks (the 20 Euro ticket was for the entire day.) Forutnately, Joern and Marcel were surprised to find the sister of their friend Fabio working at the ticket booth. She helped us out- even though we still couldn't get in for free. But, it was well worth it. The fireworks show began at 10:30, and there was a huge crowd. We stood by a beer tent, and I had to stand on a beer crate, otherwise the entire show would have been a bust for me. The first part of the show was actually a display with a tightrope walker and people dancing with fire sticks, drummers, and specially timed fireworks. Sadly, I still had trouble seeing, but it seemed like it was good.

The fireworks themselves began around 10:45. There are no words to describe the show. Definately Macy's quality, if not better. The show lasted about 40 minutes- HA! Fairfield's last about 15. Of course, it was all set to music. The fireworks were huge, and absolutely filled the sky. INCREDIBLE!

Of course, we got home at 1:00 am. I had to be up by 5:45 in order to get ready for my first day of work. I was quite tired, and knew Monday would be tough, but I am so glad that we saw those wonderful fireworks!

Work started on Monday morning. I skipped Kindergarten, and am now in first grade. It is all a big change for me. My new teacher, Andrea, seems really great. We get along quite well. On a sad note, I really miss last year's teacher, Stefanie who was so much fun to work with. But, I think that the year will work out pretty well.

Our week was filled with meetings. We got to know our new school director, a fellow New-Englander, much better. I had a little time to catch up with my friends and meet new colleagues. And, I got to work in a pair with my principal- lucky me! But, overall, the first few days of school worked out well. I guess it is kind of nice to be back.

The kids started on Thursday. It was a little hectic on the first day, things didn't go according to plan. But our class seems great. We have quite an international group which represents: the US, Germcay, Korea, Japan, Australia, England, Russia, the Philippines, and Mexico. Some of our kids speak fluent English and some don't speak a word. There are strong personalities as well as very quiet kids. Some are new to the school, and some, I have known for 2 school years now. I was so surprised to see which kids ignored me and which ones lit up when they found out I would be in their class this year. We had a few tears, but those dried up pretty quickly compared to the 4 year olds.

The highlight of Thursday of course was the German tradition of the Schultüte, or School Cone. In Germany, the first day of first grade is highly celebrated, as Kindergarten here is more of a pre-school, and kids do not formally enter primary school until first grade. As a means of celebration, and helping with homesickness, the Schultüte is filled with favorite candy and new small toys and school-related items. Normally, Schultütten come from home, and some of our kids did have theirs from home. But, since our school is an international community, the German department of our school sponsors the Schultütten. At the end of Senior Kindergarten, the students decorate their own Schultütten to prepare for first grade. They are then filled with sweets and school suppies. All first graders received them in the morning. You could tell the kids were excited and proud to receive theirs.

Friday went quite well, and we were provided with lots of opporunities to learn lots about the kids. I also visited one of the Senior Kindergarten classes, the kids I worked with last year. It was wonderful to see their faces when I came in, and I really enjoyed talking with them about their summers.

So, I am excited about this year. Hopefully, it will be full of changes. It seems to hold lots of surprises!

Sonntag, 24. August 2008

Outside my window

I spent the entire day thinking about how to fashion my "last post of Summer 2008" post. While scrubbing the corners of the rooms, mopping the floors, and schlepping the last loads of laundry up and down the stairs, I thought, "how can I best capture the spirit of my summer?"
As I finished the floors, I walked back to my bedroom, and this is what I saw outside the window:

Okay, it is not totally uncommon to see one or two hot-air balloons fly by our windows, although usually not so close. As we watched the Ritter Sport balloon lower periously close to our neighborhood, we ran to the front window to see where it would land. Here's what we saw outside our front skylight:

What a perfect way to sum up my wonderful, relaxing, travel-heavy summer break. I'd imagine that this summer was like flying in a balloon. It wasn't until the sun set that my feet, ready for new challenges, touched the ground.

Mittwoch, 20. August 2008

Where on earth is Mulhouse anyway?

In one final hurrah, Joern and I spent Monday night in France. He has a lot of customers lying along the French border, so it made it simpler to stay overnight. Of course, it is much more enjoyable when you get to stay overnight somewhere together, otherwise, you tend to spend your evening getting a quick dinner and then alone in your room.
So, we spent most of Monday along the French border, a beautiful area, bordered by the Black Forest on one side and the Rhine River and Vosges Mountain range on the other side.

It is also beautiful wine country. Okay, I know I can't drink now, but it still makes for beautiful landscape.
We made it over the border, the Rhine River, by driving over a bridge with a simple sign that says France (but in German, so actually, the sign says "Frankreich.") That's all. The open borders in the EU is really a lovely concept.
The area of France which borders Germany is called Alsace, or Elsäß in German. The region was disputed between the French and Germans for hundreds of years, and the area finally came under French control in 1945 following World War II. Driving over the border to France is really interesting. There is no transition. You drive onto the bridge in Germany, and when you drive off the bridge, there is no doubt that you're in France. But Alsace is incredibly charming, and when you look a little deeper, you can clearly see the German influences that still exist.
We stayed in a small town, Mulhouse. Driving along the border of the town, it appears an industrial town, as there is a large Peugot factory along the outskirts. We quickly learned that the center is quite the opposite. There is a charming center, with cute hotels, and a wonderful atmosphere.
We stayed in the Hotel de Bale. It was a charming hotel, with unbeatable rates.

After getting our stuff settled in the hotel room, we walked towards the town center. The town center is full of winding streets lined with shops and restaurants. The exact center, Place de la Reunion, was incredible! The town hall, or Hotel de Ville, an amazing, albeit slightly tacky, over the top pink building covered with Trompe-l'oeil painting.

It was so enjoyable to just stroll around the adorable town center,

to gawk at the Hotel de Ville and to admire the towering spires of the cathedral.

By the time we decided on one of the many restaurants, it was already dark. Our dinner was amazing! I had salad with warm goat-cheese, and Joern had a Flammkuechen, a traditional Alsactian pizza-like dish.

We sat outside, and were amazed that the later it got, the more the center filled with people. And what a spectacle for Germans, the restaurants were all full!!
On Tuesday morning, we had a lovely breakfast at the hotel, of croissants and bread with butter and jam. The hotel had a wonderful breakfast room.
After breakfast, we headed back to Germany for Joern's work day. He was finished by 4, and back over the border we went, this time to Geispolsheim to our grocery store. We love going to grocery stores in foreign countries, and we frequently visit this one grocery store.

We bought lots of great food, like goat cheese, quail eggs, baguette, croissants, Diet Coke with orange (!), mustard, pastries, and oh my gosh, lobster bisque! It was a wonderful few days, and I feel so lucky to be able to spend some of my vacation time with Joern. It really wrapped up my vacation in a special way!


Today there was a plane crash in Madrid. It was horriffic. I am sure that most everyone has now heard, they think over 140 people died, that there are only 26 injured and they are the only survivors.
As someone who has to travel, it is really difficult to learn of these situations. While I was not immediately impacted, I feel deeply for those who lost loved ones today. The flight was to bring 166 people to bring people to relaxing happiness in Las Palmas. Now, there is sadness and suffering.
I am deeply saddned and sorry for the tragedy which has occurred today.

Romantic weekend in Venice, Friday & Saturday

Joern really surpised me last week Wednesday by telling me that he booked a hotel in Venice for 2 nights. Since I am still on break, it worked very nicely. I went to work with Joern on Friday morning. Joern planned his route for the day so that his route brought us to the Swiss border, in the direction of Venice. We were able to start our trip around 2 pm. We drove through Switzerland, through the Alps, and through the St. Gotthard tunel. Our drive got a little worrysome as the lightning started really strong as we neared Venice, and there was a huge accident which really slowed traffic.Since our hotel was on Venice Lido, one of the Venetian islands, we had to take a ferry over to the island, and we were a bit concerned about time (we got to the ferry dock at 10 pm,) and the weather. But, we were lucky, and got on the ferry at 10:15, and made it to Lido by 11:00 pm.

Our hotel, Hotel Ville della Palme was really everything I could have expected from a hotel in Venice. As this was our first time staying directly in Venice,it was a pleasure to stay in a converted mansion. The rooms had high ceilings and huge windows, and the walls were covered in a beautiful jaquard fabric.

The hotel also had a wonderful rooftop terrace that affored amazing views of Venice and the Alps beyond on one side, and the Meditteranean on the other.

On Saturday after breakfast at the hotel, we headed out to the beach. The great thing about Lido is that it is the beach of Venice. Our hotel was about 7 minutes from the beach on foot.Plus, walking from the hotel to the beach took us on some quiet, lovely streets and through the center.

Although it is part of Venice, it hasn't been taken over by tourists the way Venice has, so we were able to appreciate the quiet Venetian charm. We really enjoyed relaxing at the beach and swimming in the marvelously warm Mediterranean.
In the afternoon, after getting showered and changed, we hopped on the Vaporetto and headed over to the main island of Venice. It is truly amazing to me that no matter how many times I see Venice, my heart skips a beat. I find it so incredibly romantic there.

We meandered through St. Mark's square, and made our way over to the Museo Correr,which served as a home to Napoleon.

From the museum, we met our tour guide for our tour of the clock tower. We really enjoyed the tour clock tower in St. Mark's square. Our tour guide was very informative, and with only one other person on the tour, it was very personal. We learned all about the clock and the tower, that was completed in 1499. Much of the clock remains today as it did in 1499, which is simply amazing. We wound our way up beautiful iron spiral staricases to see the mechanisms of the clock, and to find breath-taking views of the city. Most amazing of course was the top of the clock tower, where the two Moors (named so because of the dark copper used,) ring the bell over the city.

It was beautiful! After the tour, we wound our way down the main shopping passage to the Rialto Bridge, one of the oldest bridges in Venice.
We returned to Lido for an amazing dinner of Carpaccio di Bresola, pasta with arugula and tomatoes, and pizza with ham and mushrooms.

Romantic Sunday in Venice

On Sunday, we left again for Venice at 10:00. We decided that we would make use of our 24 hour Vaporetto pass by trying to find a good seat on a water bus and ride around. Our first boat took us from St. Mark`s Square to the northwestern part of the island, where the Grand Canal begins.

We walked along the Grand Canal, went by the Rialto bridge again, and did some window-browsing. We found a shop with amazingly beautiful costumes for Carnivale, which piqued my interest in returning to Venice for Carnivale.

Then we decided to get on another boat that would bring us by some of the beautiful buildings along the canal such as the Grand Casino and the Ca d'Oro.

We then made our way back to Lido, to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing at the beach.

We were sad to leave at 6 pm, but knew we had to go.
The ferry ride back to Tronchetto was wonderful. We even got to enjoy the lovely church bells at 7:30.

One of the highlights on the ride home was watching Friends in Italian on the TV in the car.

Even more amazing though, we got to see the beautiful sunset over the Alps which brought our trip home to a beautiful ending.

Mittwoch, 13. August 2008

Vermont- Part IV

We spent the weekend after our Massachusetts trip at home. I figured that it made more sense to be home on the weekend, so that Joern could visit with more of the family.
So, after a fun weekend, including a cookout at my godfather's and a night at the races, Joern and I headed out for Vermont on Monday morning. The drive took us up through the middle of Connecticut and Massachusetts. It was quite a nice ride. We also drove up through quite a bit of Vermont, to Stowe, about one hour from the Canadian border. The coolest part, to me, was the rest stop in Vermont. It was so unlike any CT rest stop. It was quiet, clean, they had tons of information about the area, and FREE Green Mountain Roasters coffee!

The ride was about 4 hours.
When we got to Stowe, we decided to check-in to our bed and breakfast first. Wow! The B&B, the Timberholm Inn, was the quintessential Vermont B&B. Nestled in the mountains, the Timberholm was amazing.

Our bedroom, the blue room, was so cozy. The owners were extremely kind and accomodating, it was so enjoyable just to talk with them. Sadly, while we were checking- in, and checking-out the B&B, it started raining, so we left most of the exploratory activities to either in the car, or indoors.
Stowe, itself, is a winter-sports heaven. But, in its other life, it is a traditional, charming small New England town. The center is adorable. The skyline is dotted with simple church steeples, unlike the highly ornate church spires in Europe.

After looking at some maps and brochures, we decided to head out to Ben & Jerry's, which is actually in Waterbury, but located along route 100, just like Stowe. We were immediately drawn in by the cow print bus and gigantic factory with those distinctive white puffy skies on a blue background. Yeah, it was like heaven. We were so excited to take a tour, only to find a sign that stated ice cream is not made on Mondays on the desk of the ticket-seller. Of course, we could tour the factory, but where would the fun be in seeing a video instead of the real thing?
Dejected, we left Ben & Jerry's determined to return the following day to see the full show.
We drove back along the main road, and found a shopping center, with all Vermont products. We went to the Cabot Cheese sales annex, and enjoyed many samples :)

I also went into the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, and finally got to see them in person. After doing some shopping, we decided to head out to Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Although I was disappointed to find out that we could not tour the factory, there was quite a bit of information available on the coffee and the region. Plus, they had many, many flavors of coffee available that were quite difficult to find in the stores. I bought two packages of my new favorite, Wild Maine Blueberry, and some Hazelnut. Yay!
While we were in getting coffee, the weather cleared. We decided to drive towards the mountain area. What we encountered first really made us laugh. As one drives out of the town center towards the mountains, you encounter many little shops and hotels, all with Austrian names. There is a heavy Austrian influence, beyond the Trapp family, that exists here. Unfortunately, the area resembles much less the Austrian Alps, and much more the Black Forest. Weird, huh?

We drove through glorious mountain forests, and stopped to enjoy the sun and a little babbling brook.

From there, we drove toward the Trapp Family Lodge, yes, the Sound of Music Trapp Family. It turns out that it is a lot more than a lodge. It is a huge hotel, with rental villas and now a growing community of private villas. Their property is huge and glorious! The funny thing was how very Austrian the hotel looked. I realized just how spoiled I am when I remarked to Joern, "why would I stay here, when I can stay in any hotel like this in Austria?"

Boy, where did I come from?

We finally made our way back to real life, and got dinner at a great restaurant, Gracie's.
We decided to head back to the B&B after dinner and enjoy the relaxing common room. There are couches and plenty of reading available, and of course, incredible sunsets. Also, they provide homemade cookies and tea at 4:00 in the afternoon. The owners keep the leftover cookies out, so we had to indulge. They also offer hot chocolate and tea until about 11:00 pm. In the common room, we also met another woman staying at the B&B, she was from Canada. We had a very long and interesting converstaion that wove through Canada, the housing markets in the US and Canada, and all the way to talking about our families.
It was a lovely, relaxing evening, just what I was expecting from Vermont.
Of course, the major surprise was what we came upon when we entered the dining room of the B&B on Tuesday morning. Breakfast! The owners of the B&B are hobby chefs, but incredible hobby chefs! Breakfast consisted of fresh pressed orange juice or fresh Vermont cider, a homemade sweet potato bread, and the most incredible ham quiche I have ever eaten made with fresh eggs from the owner's chickens. It was amazing! After we had stuffed ourselves silly, one of the owners came out and asked if he could get us anything else, Joern said, "sure, a little more quiche." The owner explained that he couldn't give us more quiche because he had made only enough for all the guests, but instead he made a ham and cheese scramble. Joern only regretted asking because he was stuffed beyond all means by the time we left the breakfast table!

These are some of the beautiful Vermont natives who showed up on the balcony while we ate breakfast.

As we waddled our way out of the B&B, we decided that due to the extreme cloud cover, going up Mount Mansfield would not be a good idea. So, we returned to Ben & Jerry's for our factory tour, which on Tuesday, included seeing the acutal production process.

The factory tour was really cool. After a brief video about Ben & Jerry, the co-founders, we went to the production area. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take pictures, but what we saw was really cool. You can see the entire process, if you are there long enough. We got to see the cartons being filled. And towards the end of our stay, we got to see a huge vat of ice cream pushed over to the swirl filling area. They added a caramel swirl- yum! After seeing the production, we went downstairs to the sample area. Samples are free, you get to try one of their newer ice creams. Ours was One Cheesecake Brownie. Okay, not really my favorite, to me it was an odd combination. But, it was free, and it was Ben & Jerry's, I am not complaining. After the samples, the tour is complete. You can return to the gift shop, where we bought a few t-shirts and an ice cream scoop :) Of course, we then went to the ice cream shop, where Joern bought Cinnamon Buns ice cream, and I got Coconut Seven Layer Bar. Both flavors were EXTREMELY delicous!!!
Before we left, of course, we made our way to the Flavor Graveyard, and paid our respects to flavors like, Cool Britiania, Economic Crunch, and Wild Maine Blueberry.

Since our tummies were now extremely full, we decided that since the sun was shining, we would take the gondola ride up to the top of Mt. Mansfield, the highest mountain in Vermont. The gondola ride was a little expensive, $20 a person, but to do once was definately well worth it! The ride goes up to the summit of the mountain, which is 3625 feet above sea level. That is amazing to a girl from a seashore community. The view was unbelievable! It looked like a wonderful place to start a hike- yes, since I am not the most active of all people, hiking up would be a bear! I would be willing to hike down. We walked around for a while, just taking in the incredible scenery, and letting nature hit us full on.

We decided to go to the Cliff House Restaurant. The restaurant, which is also at the summit, has won many accolades, and was named an Editor's Choice Restaurant in Yankee Magazine. Since we weren't very hungry, but had to take advantage of one last Vermont food opportunity, we split a Vermont cheese platter. It was so delicious!
Afterwards, we headed back down, and enjoyed the views of the Green Mountains, Stowe Mountain Lodge, and the mountain.
Before leaving for CT, the clouds started coming in again, and since we weren't ready to leave cuddly little Waterbury, we stopped at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill. Vermont is well known for cider, and the Cold Hollow Cider Mill is the number 2 most visited attraction in Vermont after Ben & Jerrys. It turned out to be a gigantic store, with all Vermont made products, which was actually pretty cool. The cider press is in the back of the store, and they offer free samples of the sweet, cloudy drink. It turned out that we spent quite a long time there, and bought many Vermont treats, like a maple syrup sampler, maple walnut pancake mix, maple mustard, and honey which was also made at the cider mill. These small memories of Vermont are serving us well here in Germany, and every time we see them and use them in our kitchen, we begin discussing our wonderful trip this summer!

After the Cold Hollow Cider Mill, we decided it was time to go home. We desperately want to return to Vermont, as there was so much that we didn't get to see and do. Our two days simply whet our appetitie to return and experience all that the Green Mountains have to offer.

How do you spell love? J-A-C-K-I-E

While packing for our weekend adventure (yes, I should post about that soon,) I decided to throw my new Jackie cardigan from J.Crew. I thought, sure it's warm in Venice, but Joern loves air conditioning. About 20 minutes into the trip, I was so glad I brought it. And, I was so extraordinarily surprised!
The cotton cardigan is luxiourously thick. The buttons are perfectly placed. And the sleeves are just the right length. I want to wear it all the time! Who would have thought that I could be so in love with a simple cardigan?

My next task? Purchase many, many more!

Dienstag, 12. August 2008

Salem and Cape Ann - Part III

The trip from Boston to Salem takes about 45 minutes. So, we were quickly out of the city, and into the adorable, yet infamous, town of Salem. After parking, we walked through the town and made our way over to the Salem Witch Museum. Since I had been to Salem before, I suggested to Joern that the witch museum would be a good introduction to the history of the city and the Witch Trials. As I remembered, the museum did not disappoint. I was reminded of this dark period early in our nation's history. The Witch Trials seem to be a study in mob mentality, as well as highlights some of the beliefs and prejudices held by Puritans living in Salem.

After the museum, we explored the adorable town center. We also witnessed part of the show, Cry Innocent, a re-enactment / audience participation Witch Trial. We decided not to go to the part for which you needed to pay, even though I wanted to see it. But, I will put it on my list of things to do by myself, or with a bigger spender, next time I am in Boston.

After a bit of miscommunication, we decided to head out to Cape Ann, which turned out to be a wonderful decision. Cape Ann, on the northeastern coast of Massachsetts is absoluely incredible. We first drove into Gloucester to find a hotel. We found a beautiful hotel, the Ocean View Inn. Our room had an absolutely fabulous view of the Atlantic!

After checking in, we drove around, and found ourselves in Rockport, known for being an artist's colony. We wandered around the downtown area, and out onto Bear Skin Neck, lined by adorable shops, and out to a lookout point in the harbor. We even thought about going on an evening schooner ride, but unforunately, we couldn't find anyone in the office- which is one of those wonderfully quirky expriences only to be found in small town America.

We had a difficult time finding an open restaurant, but finally settled on the Portside Chowder House. It was awesome to enjoy my lobster while looking out at the harbor.

On Wednesday morning, Joern, battling jet lag awoke to a beautiful sunrise over the Atlantic and shot some beautiful pictures from our hotel balcony.

Once I was up, we set out out for the beach. We went to Good Harbor Beach in Rockport. The beach far exceded any expectations. The sand was soft, the beach was gigantic, and the Atlantic was COLD! But the cold didn't seem to deter anyone. We joined the hearty souls, and spent a good 20 seconds in the water before our feet started to go numb.

After enjoying the sun, and finally going for a 10 minute up to my waist swim, we headed into Gloucester for the afternoon. Our hotel works with a whale watch company, Captain Bill and Sons. They booked us onto an afternoon whale watch. We arrived from the beach about half an hour before the whale watch, which gave us some time to explore this wonderful, historical port city.
We explored along the water as well. Saw the Fisherman's Wives Memorial, the Fisherman's Memorial, and the sign for Gorton's.

The whale watch took off from the dock at 1:00. We were told that they had good sightings in the morning. Since this was my fifth whale watch, I thought good sightings meant sighting a dorsal fin, a fluke print, or in a really lucky case, an actual fluke. I had no idea what an incredible show we were in for! Once we left the harbor, we started seeing water-spouts from the whales about 40 minutes out. The tour leaders decided not to stop for these whales though, as we were not yet in Stellwagen Bank, a site known for excellent fishing and whale feeding grounds. As we entered Stellwagen Bank, again, more water-spouts. Sadly, this is also when the camera battery died- thank goodness the company offered a CD with pictures from the trip! This time, we neared them, and found a pair of humpbacks. They were beautiful! As we moved on, we came upon another humpback feeding, and we were just in time to catch it's fluke as it dove. As we watched this beautiful whale, off in the distance, a whale was breaching. As the boat drove towards the whale, then past it, I figured out why. We could get much closer to another breaching calf. Okay, he wasn't a total baby, one of the crew said he was like a teenager. It was amazing, he must have breached 10 times! We were able to see so much of this whale's face, and gigantic body. We were up so close to the whale, you could feel the impact as this incredible creature crashed down into the water. There are no real words to describe the sight, but it was an experience I won't soon forget!

After the whale watch, we went to get dinner. After dinner, we returned to Rockport for some delicious ice cream. We spent a lovely evening on the deck of our hotel enjoying the beautiful moon and the sound of the waves crashing.

I awoke on Thursday feeling completely relaxed yet quite sad that our lovely break was coming to an end. We returned to the beach for a few hours. This time, we spent about 20 minutes in the water. It was actually a lot of fun!

From the beach, we returned to Gloucester, so that I could buy a sweatshirt. We then went back to Rockport for the rest of the afternoon. We did some shopping, enjoyed a coffee at Helmut's Strudel (Helmut immigrated to Rockport from Austria- what a life!), and tried hard to file every last sight, sent, and sound into our memory banks.

Our trip from Boston to Cape Ann was really a wonderful look into some of the wonderful places in New England! I think Joern really enjoyed it. I know I did!

Boston- Part II

We left for Boston on Monday the 14th of July. Boston is really close to Fairfield, it was about a three hour drive. When we first arrived, we drove to our hotel, which was not directly in Boston, but right outside in Saugus. To our surprise, the hotel offered a shuttle to the airport, from where we could pick up the T (the subway system) into Boston. This made me VERY happy as we drove with my father's car, and I wasn't too excited to drive the car into the city.
Although I have been to Boston quite a few times, and taken the T, I never realized that it was the first subway system in America. One thing I adore about Boston is the history!

Once we arrived in the city, we got off near Boston Common. We wandered around until we got our bearings straight. Joern had it all planned out- his #1 destination? The Bull and Finch Pub, better known as the inspiration for Cheers. Since it is across from Boston Common, we quickly found it. After snapping countless pictures outside the pub, and singing the theme song from Cheers, we descended those famous steps into Joern's heaven.

After Joern got to enjoy a beer, and we took another thousand or so pictures of the interior, wooden Indian included, we made our way upstairs to the obligatory gift shop.

From Cheers, we decided to head over to Quincy Market. It was a wonderful walk, which gave us a good feel for the city. Unfortunately, we didn't have that much time, nor did Joern have that much interest, but I would have adored going on a Freedom Trail Tour. To me, walking around the city, being fed bits of information on the founding of our country, with a person from the 1700s (they must be really old people,) would be my heaven. Boston and history geeks seem to be the perfect meeting point!
Some of the highlights that we saw, that I can't wait to visit included: the Granary Burial ground (where Ben Franklin and many other patriots are buried), the Old South Meeting House, the Old State House, and Faneuil Hall.

Once I wiped all the drool from my face, we made our way through Quincy Market. There are an incredible number of shops in Quincy Market. Joern, of course, was most impressed with the numerous food options in the central market building!

In Quincy Market, we decided to book one of the coolest things we did on the entire trip: a Duck Tour! The Duck Tour departed from the Science Museum. Fortunately, we bought day-passes for the T, because we really used them! The Duck Tour was great! Our driver was spirited, although a bit whacky, but overall, good fun. We drove by many cool places on the tour. Some of the amazing sites: Trinity Church, Old South Church, the Bunker Hill Monument, and the Old Navy Yard containing the USS Constitution and the Old North Church (One if by land, two if by sea...).

After our tour, and the tiring day, we headed back to Saugus for dinner. What really made me laugh was the GIGANTIC themed restaurants that lined the street where we were staying. I felt strangely like I was in some Disney restaurant theme park!
We finally settled on Fudruckers, a classic burger chain. To my burger-loving husband, this was better than eating in a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Tuesday morning, we headed back into Boston for breakfast. We decied that we couldn't go wrong at Quincy Market, and we were not disappointed. It was also wonderful to walk around Quincy Market without the throngs of tourists you find in the afternoons. Before we left, we found the replica Cheers bar, also located in Quincy Market. Alas, Joern was not half as impressed as he was by the Bull & Finch.
We left Boston by 10:00, and made our way out to Salem.