Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mom and Dad's March Visit

In front of Como's cathedral (duomo). 
Finally I am getting around to blogging about my parents' visit this month! Mom and Dad came last week and it was so great to see them and spend some time together. I think they were much more comfortable this second time around, and didn't experience quite as much culture shock as they did in August. Of course, we traveled a lot in August, so it was a bit more overwhelming than this trip. As always, our place feels a little quiet and lonely when guests leave. We had a nice, relaxing week around Como - Eva got LOTS of attention! We fit in a little shopping, of course. Overall, the week went by way, way too quickly...

The obvious theme of the week was "time with Grandma and Grandpa!" 

A group of Cole's co-workers met us at one of our favorite restaurants, Birrificio Italiano, for dinner and delicious brews. The Birrificio has won tons of world-wide awards for their beer - and the food is excellent, too. We even ran into a guy from Tulsa, Oklahoma while waiting for our table. He was in the area for work.. it's a small world!

It was a cold and windy day - but we took the boat up the lake to Bellagio, a really scenic town on Lake Como (in the center of the lake).

Excellent views of the Alps surrounding Lake Como! But BRRR!

In addition to our Bellagio day-trip, we also took the train into Milan to see DaVinci's The Last Supper painting and the main cathedral there, as well. We had great weather for our day in Milan, much less windy and a little warmer, too!

While my parents were visiting, the new pope was appointed by the Catholic church. What an exciting time to be in Italy. It was really neat to watch the Italian news (understanding very little, of course) and see this momentous occasion unfold!

Mom's bought a new coat in Como... Isn't she lovely??? 

We are getting really excited about returning "home" in June, although it's a bittersweet feeling. While we REALLY miss our family and friends, and are looking forward to getting back into our normal routine, we have made some really great friends here in Italy - and have come to love some of the things that initially drove us nuts about this country. We know that the chances of seeing these new friends again is slim, and it may be many more years before we're able to return here ourselves... Our final Italian lesson is Tuesday and our tutor, Dilva, is definitely one of the people who has made this experience a great one... So many mixed emotions with our return to the US approaching quickly...

We're trying to enjoy the few months we have left, planning a few more trips with the vacation days Cole has available. And soaking in all of the Italian experiences we can in the meantime. Ciao for now! 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Menton France | Lemon Festival

Last weekend we took a road trip to Menton, France to catch the end of the Fete du Citron, a lemon festival held each February-March. Menton is located right along the Mediterranean coast in the French Riviera and the views were absolutely gorgeous! Our drive from Como was only about 3 1/2 hours long - and it went really smoothly. We're always a little nervous driving across the borders, and always have our passports, permits to stay, driving licenses, etc. out and ready to go, but we've never been stopped or questioned.

We arrived in Menton Saturday afternoon and checked into our hotel - and headed across the street for a walk along the shoreline and late lunch. Yep. Cheeseburgers and "French" fries. :) We couldn't resist. Don't worry - we later ate some delicious fresh seafood and yummy crepes, too..

The sea has a way of calming your soul - there's something about the sound of the waves that is so peaceful! Fortunately, the weather was sunny and warm, so that helps in the relaxation department, too...

Sunday we watched the most theatrical and elaborate parade we had ever seen! Many of the floats were made out of lemons and oranges. Others were groups of dancers or actors. This was the 80th year for the festival and the theme was "travels around the globe" so the floats were all based on different cultures from throughout the world.

One of our favorite things about the parade was the confetti! No candy was thrown - instead they tossed handfuls of confetti. It was a disaster  to clean up, I'm sure. But so much fun - especially for the kids!

We also walked through an exhibit of displays with some enormous citrus structures - again keeping with the global theme...

There was a fireworks display to close out the festival, as well. The fireworks were set to a dramatic narration and music - in French of course. We couldn't understand a word, but the overall effect was really neat...

Our Birthday Girl!

It's really hard to put into words how blessed we feel! Our hearts are just so full, and we know God has given us an amazing gift - and a huge responsibility - to get to raise Eva. She surprises us everyday with new sounds, funny facial expressions and an ornery sense of humor. Happy FIRST Birthday, Eva! Mommy and Daddy love you so much!