Sunday, July 30, 2006

Tom heads home.

Gil and I say farewell to our friend Tom, as he set sail for the shores of the USA! We'll all miss you Tom!
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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Laura and Anna visit!

A week after the visit from Uncle Jim and Aunt Kathy, our good friends from Seattle came to visit. We had a wonderful time sitting around the table encouraging each other, and it made us miss Seattle quite a bit.
All the more to look forward to when we finally go home!Around the table.
The lovely ladies eating gelato.
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UJ and AK come to visit!

This June Aunt Kathy and Uncle Jim came to visit Italy with their friends Rick and Margie. We showed them around some of the lesser known (but equally cool) areas via car, and had lunch with the Portinari family that Sunday. We had a great time with them, and it was special to us that they could experience what our life over here is like. Drop dead sexy!
Two families collide
"Welcome to Italy. May I show you around?"
'The neck' with UJ and AK.
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A Volksmarch with Juls

Lovely countryside.
Relaxin' after a hike.
"We like cherries!"
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Krakow, Poland, May 2006

Krakow was a city that was both regal and down to earth all at the same time. The expansive main square had a grand feel to it, but the people, the atmosphere, and the food were relaxed and homey.
One of our favorite places to eat were at Bar mleczny (Milk Bars) all around town. In communism days, the government subsidised the Milk Bars, and workers could get a cheap, hearty, home cooked meal for lunch. After the fall of communism, the Milk Bars stuck around, for the most part maintaining their low prices (Two can fill up for less than 5 dollars!), cafeteria setting, and traditional Polish dishes.
It was pretty amazing to wander around the main square and to think that - just 15 years prior - communism kept all coffee shops, eateries, and for the most part, people, off of the beautiful main square. St. Mary's church
Communism's gift to Poland: the Trabant
The Town Hall Tower
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Some very tasty pierogi! Plum and pork.
The square at night.
Inside a fancy milk bar.
Two Polish boys eagerly awaiting the Pope. (Note the 'Pope flags' in hand.)
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Part of Wawel Castle.
"We're excited to be in Poland!"

Krakow has a Jewish district, where we went to listen to traditional Klezmer music. (As a side note: Prior to WWII, the area had 65,000 Jews. After, there were only a few thousand that remained.) All weekend long Krakow was dry (no alcohol for sale) because the Pope was in town. As we had heard that Poland has good beer, we were a bit bummed about this. When we arrived at our restaurant for our table, we noticed other folks with a 'beer-like' substance in their glasses. We asked our waiter, "Is that beer? And can we get some?"
"Oh no," he told us, with a wink. "That's apple juice. But it is very good. Would you like some?"
We nodded, and our 'dry' weekend ended while listening to Klezmer music.
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"Ooops. Excuse me."
St. Mary's at night.
Krakow's main square at dawn after a rain.
The Chapel of the Blessed Kinga in the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow. Everything in this picture is either carved of wood, or salt. The floor, stairs (not the railing), walls, and even the chandelier are hand carved from salt by mine workers. The mine has been in operation since the 1000s.
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Mandy in Venice

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Provence, May 2006

Our trip through Provence was filled with flora and fauna, and all the sights and scents that accompany those things.
Roussillon is situated on, and built out of, a magnificent cliff of Ochre. This gives the entire town a beautiful, red hue. Just don't press up against it, or you clothes will end up the same color!
The ubiquitous lavender of Provence.

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This little girl was so cute and 'French'.
A little Provencial picnic we had in Avignon.
Très français!
Châteauneuf du Pape:
A sunset over the vines that Pope Jean XXII planted in the 1300s.
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Market goods.

The Grand Canyon of Europe. Who knew they had one, too?
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