Monday, February 24, 2014

Christmas Family Vacay: Part IV - Swiss Christmas Day & Boxing Day

Christmas Day: Zürich
After a night of drunken revelry, it came as no surprise that Christmas Day ended up being quite chill. We were very good little boys and girls, and started the day off by attending mass at our beautiful neighborhood church (even though it was in German I say we still get points for going).  Afterwards we enjoyed a champagne brunch, followed by gift giving and a Christmas movie marathon.  The night was ended with fondue and raclette; a perfect finale to our Swiss Christmas Day.
Champagne Christmas
Mya Santa
Don't you love our matching red shirts & white sweaters?  Such nerds.
Alan, tell us more.
Merry Christmas!
Boxing Day: Davos
The 26th marked the last day of my family's vacation, so we decided to go out with a bang and give sledging (Swiss sledding) a go.  I'm sure you're all well aware by now, that I am a chickenshit when it comes to heights.  However, I was going to play it by ear and take a look at the sledge run before I fully backed out.  Well it turns out that sledging isn't anything like my childhood memories of sledding down Virginia hills.  This ain't no hill your sliding down, it's the freakin' Alps.  Speeding down a 6km bumpy run, in a wooden sledge with only your feet to steer you round the icy corners, praying that you don't loose control and fly over the edge is far from my idea of fun.  I happen to value my life and the use of my limbs.  So surprise, surprise I wussed out.  Why can't it be summer already, so I don't have to feel like such a loser all the time?
The brave ones
After our day of sledging (and not sledging), the time had come to say goodbye to my parents, Matt, and Susie.  Although it's alway sad to say farewell, the memories of our great family vacation will always put a smile on my face.  Love you guys! xx  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Christmas Family Vacay: Part III - Swiss Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was a glorious drunken celebration filled with lots of laughs and Christmas cheer. Kevin's brother Alan and his lovely girlfriend Sam had just arrived.  To welcome them, we kicked off the festivities in style with champagne and apps on our rooftop terrace.

At this point in the vacation, Mom was like, "I'm so over all this European walking".  So she decided to stay at home and relax with Mya, while the rest of us headed over to the lake for a boozy boat ride to enjoy the Alpine views and the Züri Christmas miracle of a sunshiny day.  
Alan and Kevin being European
Susie, Matt, Alan, Kevin, Me, and Sam
Susie, Matt, and the Alps
After the boat ride we took a bottle (or two) as roadies, and went for a stroll through Old Town to grab a bite to eat.  Bellies full but not quite ready to return home, we decided to head over to Widder Bar to enjoy their fabulous cocktails.   
Young Love

Münsterbrücke Walk-off
 (I think Alan won)

Dinner & Cocktails

Now that we were good and proper drunk, the Christmas spirit was coursing through our veins.  Ergo, Susie and I felt inspired to share our merriness with every single resident of Old Town.  Everyone knows the best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.  So we of course did just that.  Hand in hand, skipping through the cobblestone streets, we sang - at the top of our lungs - such great Christmas classics as "Jingle Bell Rock", "O Come All Ye Faithful", and "O Holy Night" (and you know we nailed that high note at the end...voices of angels I tell you, descended from the heavens; we even got a standing ovation from some locals relaxing on their balcony).  The power of our divine voices had worked their magic, and by the time we reached the tram stop our Christmas cheer had spread to the entire group.  Spirits soaring, all six of us proceeded to belt out Trinidad's favorite holiday hits --"Santa Looking for a Wife", "Drinking Anything", and "Trini Christmas"-- our fellow passengers were lovin' us.  As we stumbled back home into the apartment, Mom could clearly tell we thoroughly enjoyed our Christmas Eve shenanigans. 

Uh oh, die Polizei have caught onto us, time to make a move.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Christmas Family Vacay: Part II - Germany & France

December 20th, 21st, & 22nd: Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Twenty-four years ago my dad (now a retired Colonel of the US Marine Corps...Oorah!) was stationed in England.  We lived there for three years, and during that time my parents seized the opportunity for us to travel Europe (By the way, kudos to them for traveling with a 5 & 8 year old in tow.  Sounds a bit horrifying to me).  One of the places we visited was the Bavarian mountain town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.  My dad had to attend a NATO meeting in Garmisch, and we all tagged along for the ride.  We had such a fun time that my mom has always dreamed about returning one day for a repeat family vacation.  Well it may have been 24 years in the making, but we finally did it.  This time with son-in-law, daughter-in-law, and grand-puppy in tow.  Check out our Garmisch Family Vacation 2.0......
Hotel View

First Night Fun
We ate a yummy dinner at a great authentic Bavarian restaurant called Werdenfelser Hof.  It had fantastic atmosphere. Two kids dressed in lederhosen danced in the traditional Bavarian style accompanied by their Granddad on the accordion.  It was fun (albeit touristy, but who cares?, we're tourists).  After stuffing our faces, we headed down the street to the pub pictured above.  We shared some laughs over some great beers (...and Kevin's red wine) before heading home.  Awesome first day!  We were off to a great start.
As a Christmas present my parents purchased a ski lesson for Matt, Susie, & Kevin (I have ultimately succumbed to my fear of heights, thus abandoning all hopes of ever learning to ski).  So while Matt and Kevin were comically struggling on the bunny slope (Susie showed them all up), my parents and I headed over to Oberammergau - a small town within the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.  It's basically Christmas there 24-7, 365 days a year.  Every shop sells Christmas paraphernalia.  Above we are posing at the start of the shopping stretch.
We took a break from shopping to visit the St. Peter and Paul Church.  The ornate interior truly was stunning.
Almost every building in Oberammergau has a mural facade.  It was fun to take a walk through town to check them out.
After a tough day of shopping we joined the ski bunnies for some drinks at the Armed Forces Recreation Center - The Edelweiss Lodge and Resort.

Having a very high tolerance for Christmas Markets, we just had to see one more before heading home to Zürich.  So we took the train over to Mittenwald to check out what Christmassy-ness they had to offer.

Mom & Dad welcome you to Mittenwald's Christmas Market!

It's not a purse, it's European!

December 23rd: Strasbourg, France
From Mittenwald we trained it back home to Zürich, but we didn't stay for long.  Not having quite reached our max-capacity for Glühwein consumption and Christmas Market strolls, we decided to take a day trip to Europe's ultimate Christmas town - Strasbourg.  Not only is Strasbourg the capital city of the Alsace region of France, but it is also (according to them) the Capitale de Noël (the capital of Christmas) - so you know they mean business when it comes to their markets.  I have to say the nickname is well deserved.  The city has 11 markets with over 300 stalls (it's huge), and practically every inch of the town is covered in unique and festive decorations.  Check it out...