Monday, July 28, 2008

Fondue: Switzerland's national dish

After 4 solid days of solid hiking, I put all my weight back on with one night of fondue goodness.

Mailing List folks..

I made a few linking errors with pictures. I believe I have fixed all of them, but the automated emails will still show the mistakes. If a picture does not make sense, you may want to check on the actual blog site:

God and the mountains

I read in a Lonely Planet: California book that God did a test run on the Alps before he created Yosemite. I am guessing that the author never left Interlaken to properly see the Alps.

...and I am sure as hell that the author did not go to Gimmelwald.

Happy cows do not come from California

They come from Switzerland.

Wildlife in the Alps: Well... not really

Oink Oink

Moo Moo

On a side note, all animals that roam such as sheep, cows, donkeys and goats wear a bell around their necks. As a result, the entire mountain rings with bells. The cows are everywhere and they usually sit on the path you need to walk on. They dont move when you walk by them. They just look at you.

Not every day

that you see a rock split in two with a tree growing on top.


Four days on the trail equals beautiful pictures

One of our favorite hikes involved a descent into a alpine valley complete with water falls, glacier ice and a wall of rock.

Many Kittys in Switzerland

Because of the farms, Switzerland is filled with many cats. We must have pet a dozen of cats looking for attention and a good back rub. We even had a cat walk into our bed room on two occasions just to check us out.

...and on to the Mighty Alps

After a boring 3 days in Bruges due to rain, public holiday and a Sunday we caught an early morning train.

Our day consisted of one very long journey consisting of 5 trains, 1 bus and a gondola.

We arrived in the town of Gimmelwald after taking a gondola up a steep cliff. I had my eyes closed the whole time. Our hostel was what most would call rustic, but we were committed to the ultimate alps experience.

Partially by pure luck and partially by good research, we found our heaven.

These are the tables outside of our hostel.

Switzerland and the alps is more beautiful then we ever thought and this tiny town of about 10 houses, a few farms, a hostel and B&B seemed like it was in the middle of all this glory.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Belgium - lazy days

After sending my mother off in London, we caught a train to Belgium. We arrived in Brugges on sunday evening to find everything closed but a sweet little italian place with great manicotti.

Wow we were lazy in Belgium. Our first day, we walked into town to find out it was a public holiday. Everything was closed but the tourist joints that charge 5 euro for a beer. We did have time to visit another Kitty:

In the evening, we found a chinese food place. Chinese places never closed and of course the chinese women reminded me of that as I walked out with my Kung Pao Chicken. We had a drink at a local pub. They were open because they are always open. They list their opening hours on the window. Basically, they are open at 14:00 and close at ... every day. I guess they could give a damn about the holiday.

The Belgians have been the most curious about us and the most forward. I think this is because we are away from the main tourist area and we are drinking beer with the locals. One lady said to me, "They say all Americans are filthy rich. You are not rich, are you?" or I hear. "I think Bush is a, how do you call it...., a bastard. That is what he is, a bastard. I dont like McCain either. He is ugly with a thing on his neck" Do you see what I mean about forward? Most of them want to talk about Obama. We always listen and try to give them new insights but we are always careful not to insert too much opinion. These comments are not harsh or directed towards us, they are purely for friendly chats over a beer or passing by when they hear our english.

At the bar, I asked about their holiday. It was their independence day. I said, "Well, happy Independence day" That was the wrong thing to say. I got caught up in a tirade about how this is not their true day of independence. I think, this area which speaks Flemish, would prefer not to be connected to Belgium or at least associated with the french side of Belgium. I have quite a bit to learn on Belgian history. Regardless, the beer is good. Good food, good drink and great talk is what makes the world go round.

London - rainy wonderful days

We spent 4 rainy days in London with my mom, but we still had time to do some sight seeing

Look how cute we are:

Look how mean this guy is:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Joe's video

Joe took the opportunity to film the midnight sun. Keep in mind that the sun did not set that night.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Trolls are Norway

Trolls are all the rage in Norway. We went through Troll Canyon, Troll Fjord and even Troll Road. We were even in what they called Troll country. The gift stores had troll pencils and troll figurines.


We did a tour of a dog sledding training center. We were supposed to be learning the details of dog sledding:

For those of you who know me, you would know I probably was not paying attention. I wondered off to pet the puppies:

Fjord's and our Captain

Our captain was an old pro with this big ass ship. In fact, I believe he paralleled parked the MS Finnemarken while in port. To amuse us all, the crew practically buttered the ship up and squeezed us through this:

On top of that, we hit a dead end and the ship did a three point U-Turn. Our bow was within feet of the fjord wall.

Music Video Fun

I finally have blazing fast internet and a good opportunity to put up some videos.

I have experienced some things on this trip where a picture cannot possibly describe how I feel. However, sometimes listening will come close.

I got a video of a mass in St Peter's. The video is absolutly useless. In fact, YouTube posted it sideways. However, the sound (not perfect on my little camera) was beautiful.

Another shot I caught was in Krakow. We stumbled upon 3 guys playing accordion. They were in such sync that I thought it could have passed as a full church organ if they brought it down an octave. Once again, it is all about the sound.

A guest post from Mom

(Posted by Mom Renee)

Well here I am in jolly ol' England having a jolly time with Mauri and Joey. Today we did a London tour and saw all the historical sites including the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey. Tomorrow we are doing Joey's favorites: all sites war related. We will also see a play in the evening. The weather has not been great but the company is wonderful. Joey and Mauri look great. Two more days and I am on my way back to Los Angeles. It was fun seeing Mauri and Joey and spending some time with my friend Carlene.


What better picture is there than with you and your mother

...and a big ass glacier in the background.

Kittie in Norway

The cats in the Scandinavian countries are a bit bashful. We still see them from time to time.

Our first excursion - Fjord Tour

We boarded a bus with all the oldies on the cruise to enjoy a neat scenic ride through the Fjords.

Here we are with our boat below heading to Molde.

It was weird to see our boat leave without us when we left on these excursions. Since the cruise is a working ferry, it does not have time to wait around for us sightseers. As a result, our excursions usually require transportation to the next port.

Next up on our bus tour were waterfalls.

The water was so blue everywhere we drove. It was breath taking. Unfortunately, a guy next to me spoiled my fun when he flung a cigarette into the water. The water is so pure that you do not need to treat it before drinking and that bastard tosses a cigarette into it. His wife or girlfriend was smoking too and as her cigerrette went down to the nub, I was thinking of begging her to give it to me so that I can toss it correctly. Luckily, she was a bit smarter than her counterpart and I was spared from making a huge scene.

More rushing rivers, but this image does not do as good of job of portraying the blueness of the water.

The water was so blue, I could have sworn the rivers belonged to a mega mini golf course.

Joe would now like to show you where this water comes from.


If we go high enough to see snow pack, you know that there is only one place to go to get back to the ship. Down

Obviouslly, the cruise ship is not clever enough to run up the water fall to pick us up. The criss cross path was our route. It was pratically one way and we were in a big ass bus. Mom almost had a heart attack and had to look down. Despite my fear of heights, I was okay for some reason.

We all needed some drinks after we got back on the ship.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cruising Norway and the Fjords

The boat we took is an actual working ferry ship with cruise aspects. The boat weaves in and out of islands, fjords and open ocean to get to various secluded cities. They put people, cars, mail, soda pop and anything else that these small towns require. In addition they hold about 500 people that are just there for the ride such as us.

We are heading into Garinger Fjord.

Inside the Fjord, the water is as still as glass. I was amazed.

Here is our ship.

It looks like a cruise ship, but its a bit smaller in order to maneuver through some of the narrow inlets and fjords.

We really enjoyed the cruise and seeing bits of Norway that are very hard to get to. We passed many beautiful waterfalls and I wished I could jump off, swim ashore and hike. The water would have been a bit cold.

Back from the Top of the World

A week ago we boarded a cruise bound to the very top of Norway. Internet was non existent with only enough patience to check my email due to the slow connection.

After 7 days of rest, relaxation, excursions and eating, eating, eating, Mom, Joe and I are back in civilization. Carlene has moved on to Iceland. Lucky her.

We are in London for four days and it is good to be back in an english speaking country. I guess now is as good of time as ever to update my blog. I apologize now to the mailing list people who may get slammed with email as I post 10+ entries in the next few days.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I called my father a few days ago. He told me that his favorite pictures are of Joe eating.

Here you go dad. This is Joe eating whale.

Made it to Oslo

I always told everyone before my trip that I would randomly show up in Oslo on 7th of July. WE rolled into Oslo on time and found Carlene, my mother's friend at the hotel. Mom was in London Heathrow after arriving there four hours earlier from LAX. I jumped on the internet to check my mother's flight status.

Dang...delayed 2 hours. I got comfortable and started to straiten up and then checked the internet again. Dang... delayed 3 hours now!!!! My poor mother. She almost was not able to make it due to a stomach flu she had the week before.

Mom's delay did not stop us from having a good time.

We went upstairs and had some drinks.

I came back to the hotel room and saw my mother's flight was canceled. Luckily, after a while, mom called. Her cell phone was broken and they put her in a hotel. The poor thing was exhausted. I pushed the train to leave at 4pm the next day instead of 10:30 to allow my mother ample time to get to Oslo.

The next morning, I got a call and Mom's flight was canceled AGAIN!!!! Now, our train at 4pm was affected and our hotel reservation in Bergen was as good as gone. So we stayed over the next day and I sat in my hotel room completely stressed out while I watched my mother's flight slowly get delayed 15 minutes at a time to another 2 hour delay.

Finally mom arrived and she was not happy about the whole situation but very relievd to get there. We surprised her at the airport.

Here we are. The foursome is complete and we took the train the next morning to Bergen:

Norway is pretty:

We were so happy to be all together that we splurged big time at a seafood restaurant.

Sweden with a Family

We stayed in Odense in a hostel next to the train station. I thought it was a marvelous idea until I heard announcements of train departures over and over plus the screaching of trains as the stopped.

The next morning we departed to Sweden to meet our host family in Uddevalla.

How wonderful would it be to have a house near here!!!!


we found a cat.

There he is:

Our host family was wonderful and took us around the area for the day. Unfortanatly, the heavens opened and a cold rain came down all day.

We still had a good time.

Here is Joe on the car ferry:

......and the cozy little coastal villages

....and finally US

Friday, July 4, 2008

Denmark...we are in Denmark

We are flying through countries so fast that it is hard to enjoy them. I am looking forward to seeing my mother and spending longer than a few days in the countries we see.

We stayed with Hanne in Denmark outside of a city called Odense. Odense lives in the shadow of Copenhagen. So as a result, this is a great little city without the crowds. On top of that, they have great shopping. Everything is on sale.

Hanna took us around on bikes and showed us her town.

Cow with a comb over

An after dinner fire and good conversation.. thanks Hanne.

And of course.. a kittie in Denmark (not really)

and just to make this post interesting:
a pretty denmark neighborhood: