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Kelly's European adventures

If you have newly arrived to this Blog then be aware that there are several days worth of adventures placed one below the other, then I started a new set of days stories above the previous.  It does seem a bit disjointed but it can be read if you are aware that you need to scroll down the page about half way to find the February 14-19 beginning of the story. There are pictures throughout the stories that tell about my European adventures.  I have now filled this page of the site and have started on another:  More blogging posts! Hope you enjoy the stories!

March 1

 

Astrid was kind enough to lend me her ‘horsey jacket’ to keep warm when we headed off to the stable.  On our way we stopped and I bought a double layer jacket since it appears that it is still winter here!  Astrid’s first lesson was to teach me about how to hold a bow, notch an arrow, draw the arrow back and release it.  I was glad it was a light weight bow or I might have had difficulty drawing it back.  I discovered my left arm was not steady so I was definitely erratic in my aim.  Astrid saddled up Dude the resident “head horse” at the stable (a real Shadow—can do everything on him).  She demonstrated how to shoot while moving, first at a walk and then at a lope.  Unfortunately I got so cold I had to go in to the coffee room and cuddle up to the wood stove to get thawed out.  Astrid saddled and exercised her horse, Joy, while I was getting warm.  Once warm, I went out and got on Dude and tried putting half a dozen arrows in the target from a standstill—5/6 stuck and I was getting closer and closer to the center dot.  Astrid mounted Joy and we went out on a trail ride in the snow.  We rode for 3-4 km around through some fields and side roads.  At one point we saw a flock of 7 big white birds (storks?).  I enjoyed riding on the sheepskin covered saddle wrapped in Matt’s raincoat to keep the wind off me.  On our way back from the stable we stopped at the equivalent of a big Greenhawk store and looked at the different tack and clothing.

 

In the evening we traveled on the U-bahn (subway) and trams to meet Lydia near the Nymphenberg Castle.  We walked beside the canal that leads to the castle in what was Lydia’s playground in her youth.  She even pointed out the house she was born in!  We traveled some ways from the canal to a little pub that she used to frequent when she was a student.  Matt came from his work and joined us at the pub as well.  We had a good visit and a good supper, which we finished by sharing a pancake like affair that was cut up and then you dipped it in apple sauce—delicious!  Afterward we took Lydia to the Hbf (main train station) so that I could have a look to know where to go on Thursday.  We finished off the evening back at the apartment tasting several kinds of liquors that Matt and his Mom had made—we decided the Elder flower one was the best.

 

March 2

 

Off on the U-bahn again to the Olympic park this time.  Atop the Olympic Tower I realized that Munich is not that large a city despite its population.  Astrid was able to explain the different areas that we looked down on.  In particular I wanted to take a couple of photos to show you the difference between my photography and that of a pro.   Matt has a couple of photos hanging in their front room that i thought were exceptional.  My photos are on top and on a cloudy day, Matt’s, on the bottom, were taken at sunset in the summer I believe.

 

Next we decided to just go have some fun at the aquarium, Sea Life, which is right near the tower.  Since Matt and Astrid are scuba divers she was able to tell me a great deal about the critters we were looking at.  There was a station where I got to play in the water and try to hold a hermit crab, it was unimpressed by being disturbed but does not pinch or bite.  There were fish from the local river and from oceans and seas around the world.  There was even a display of dino type critters, crocs and other left overs from prehistoric times.

We went back downtown and walked through the old city, saw the King’s castle that is now a huge museum, looked into the biggest church in town, saw a monument of the first king—Max somebody or other.  The streets are much wider than in the old cities that I looked at previously.  We did see a gate that dates back to the 1300’s—Munich was not on the OLD trading routes.  The rain really started to come down and I got to use my “Canadian” umbrella that my daughter told me to take.  However the wind was also nasty and eventually destroyed the umbrella!  Thank goodness my new black & blue jacket is waterproof and has a hood!  We met Matt downtown, rode on the subway, walked up a winding trail to a famous brewery where there was a ‘lenten’ Beer Fest.  The beer at the middle of Lent was brewed with a higher alcohol and I think energy content than during the rest of the year.  Hence a good reason to have a Beer Fest.  The locals dress up in appropriate Bavarian costumes—the guys in lederhosen and the gals in flouncy dresses with aprons.  There were some very picturesque couples but I felt too uncomfortable to photograph them.  The most overwhelming aspect of the whole affair was the din—it was a VERY NOISY HALL!  People were packed in worse than on the subway, I have no idea how the waiters & waitresses ever got to the tables.  Of course at the front of the hall there was a German brass band playing Bavarian beer drinking songs.

 

March 3

 

I got to try my new subway orienteering on Thursday morning as I made my way to the Main Train Station (Hbf).   As I traveled north from Munich I noticed that the fields were larger but they were still very green.  We did travel through some fairly long stretches of forest which had small sloughs but no lakes that I noticed.  DB trains were on time and I was met by Melanie at the Cottbus station.  After we dropped my luggage at the apartment we walked through the city center & then picked up some groceries.  For supper we went to some friend’s apartment.  Tomas, Jana, Annika (4.5 yrs) and Isabelle (2 yrs) live just a couple blocks away.   The two couples have just purchased 2 parts of a tri-plex very recently and are excited about finishing the interior of their respective homes.  They spent a good deal of the evening discussing the kitchen appliances. 

 

There are pictures in the stories below. Sometimes I forgot to take out my camera and take a good pictorial reminder--sorry!

February 26

 

Since Petra and Lisa had time off, they were my official guides and took me into Freiburg to the market, where we had a wiener on a bun, apparently very German.  We walked around the old city and saw buildings with 700 inscriptions!  Lots of them had dates from the 1100’s.  Freiberg was a crossroads for trading routes so there is a large mercantile culture in the city.  The unique aspect to the Freiburg streets is the little canals that run down even some of the very narrowest of streets.  There are ‘street cleaners’ whose job it is to keep the water in the little canals clean.  There are bigger canals beside which certain merchants were grouped.  One street had leather workers and clothiers, and at the beginning/end of the canal there was a laundry that is still in business today.  Another street was originally the fish mongers but I did not see any fish advertised as we strolled by. 

 

The ladies dropped me off at a Starbucks so I could connect to the internet and get some mails written.  They went shopping and Lisa found some nice sweaters, one was a very good buy.  When they returned we went to a European food court which means none of the vendors were chains but sold specialty foods from different ethnic regions.  We returned to the Gundelfingen Farmer’s Market and purchased cheese, bread and veggies.  Unfortunately the dairy producer was sold out of butter and quark.

 

We attended a special musical Lenten presentation at the big church that Jakob told me is forever being renovated because of its soft sandstone building material.  During WW II this church was left standing while the greater part of Freiburg was heavily damaged.  The church officials were wise enough to remove the windows and cart them away to safety, so after the war the windows were restored and the original glass is still in the building.  The music was from Bach and while it did not impress Petra, I was able to relax and meditate. 

 

We returned to the house and while Petra prepared potato soup I tried out the new internet connection that she added to their existing one.  After Tom returned from work we enjoyed our supper that included raisin cheesecake made with quark.  We did some reminiscing about Lisa’s first visit to Winning Ways and had a bit of a slide show.  Then I showed off photos of my tour thus far.  Bedtime at midnight!

 

Feb 27

 

I went to the ‘Coffee House’ at a local church to meet/greet newcomers with Petra and Lisa.  I met some of the Syrian refugees and there were folks from several different ethnic origins in attendance.  We had juice, Turkish tea, quiche, bread pretzels and a variety of sweets.  Petra played piano and Lisa and Karin sang “Hallelujah”.  Then they taught us a German song and we all got up and did actions to the song as well as singing it as a two part round song.  We also learned and sang a West African song.  There were drummers and that really fascinated the children. 

 

After lunch we traveled up the mountain, Kandel, to the ski resort and a ‘jump off’ for hang gliding.  Then we went down the mountain to St Peter to view the monastary church.  It is a Baroque church that was built by the Zahringer knights/nobles and they ruled the surrounding country-side.  They founded many towns including Freiberg.  Their small canals or ditches with running water to keep the streets clean are characteristic of the towns they started.  We traveled some more winding, twisting back roads to go to the stable where Petra and Tom take riding lessons.  I talked to some of the owners of horses boarded there.  While at the stable Tom joined us (he came out on the train.)  We went to a restaurant in the same village as the stable, close to where Tom had grown up.  We HAD to order Black Forest cake since we were in the Black Forest.

 

Tom drove back through the little village where he had grown up and eventually to the town where he and Petra met.  Everywhere there are crucifixes and small chapels, even in the restaurants there are “Christ corners” with a crucifix prominently displayed.  For supper we went to a special restaurant where they frequently have live music.  We were lucky and could listen to typical German music for most of our supper.  I enjoyed fresh trout and potatoes, Lisa had her childhood specialty—fries, schnitzel and salad along with a Cola.  Petra & Tom ordered liver—treat away from home.  Upon our return to the house we had a nightcap of schnapps or homemade wine.  I slept very well.  :>)

 

Feb 28

 

Lisa was wonderful—she went out early and brought back fresh bread/buns from the bakery across town that has the best selection.  I got to try more cheese on the fresh buns—I am eating very well!  We set off on a new adventure in a new direction—south and then west.  Staufen has a castle which we got to climb up to and look over the ramparts at the country-side below.  The tower was there in Roman times and then the Zahringers built the castle itself.  It is on 400 m and then up another 80 m to the look out.  It is located at the beginning of the Black Forest so the land is level to the west but rises abruptly behind the castle into the Hills.  We walked down into the town and saw the area where they tried drilling down to do geothermal heat transfer but something went terribly wrong.  The water got into the gypsum layer and caused the ground to rise as the water soaked into the gypsum causing expansion.  The area near the drilling site has risen nearly ½ m.  and caused many huge cracks in the surrounding buildings.  One building is demolished and the walls have ‘bandaid’ signs “Staufen shouldn’t break apart”.  Before we left we had tea and cake at a Backerei with restaurant.

 

We traveled west toward the Rhine to the city of Breisach am Rhein.  We walked along a retaining wall that is to prevent flooding further north.  There is a lock there and we watched the River Police boat come up the river.  The large/deep channel is a bit further west on the French side of the river and that is where the shipping channel is.  On the way back we traveled through an area noted for its vineyards and wineries—Kaiser stuhl.  We entered Gundelfingen from the west & approached the house from that direction. 

 

After a bit of tea and bread, Petra, Lisa and I went across the street to the Refugee camp.  We went to Waleed’s room where we had tea/coffee and fresh cake.  I asked many questions about what it was like to come as a refugee and found out some interesting things.  Waleed tried to ‘read’ Petra’s coffee cup—there are grounds in the coffee Syrians drink.  Apparently his aunt is a great ‘cup reader’ but eventually he gave up.  However he took a picture so he could send it to his aunt so she could make a good reading for Petra.  Lisa enjoyed playing with Waleed’s two sons and the little Walheed who is about 14 mos and just learning Arabic & German.  The little guy, whose dad is Osama, is a favourite in the camp and is frequently not at home but visiting/traveling with someone else.

 

Petra and Tom prepared a supper of fried potatoes, gyros—chopped, sliced pork and ‘winter salad’, which we saw them hand picking in the fields on our way back from Kaiser stuhl.  For dessert we had a French wine Clairette De Die.  I am becoming quite cosmopolitan, wine with my meals and nightcaps in the evening.

 

Feb 29

 

I spent the morning finishing more correspondence and posting.  Petra and Tom took me to the Bus Station since that is by far the cheapest means of transport—only 15 Euros from Freiburg to Munich!  My seatmate spoke English so he told me some stories about the country-side as we traveled. The weather had been threatening to precipitate earlier and now it did, first as rain and then a driving snow.  Perhaps the bus was a bit slower because of the weather but it arrived late into Munich and I’m sure Astrid was beginning to think I was lost.  However she did find me and we drove back to her apartment in very slushy snow.  Matt was there to greet us and we visited  late into the evening, after we had a bite of supper.

 

February 24

After scraping ice off the car on Wednesday morning Andrea took me to the train station to start the next part of my journey.  I traveled by train around the end of Boden See (Lake Constance) through Austria and on into Germany.  I can officially say I was in Austria but only very a very short time.

 

My next host, Kathrin, met me at the train station and we dropped off the car on a side street and strolled around Ravensburg.  We stopped in a little cafe where there were huge stones for the flooring and big beams holding the ceiling up.  The way to the wash closet WC or toiletten was thru a small door (people used to be shorter), a winding corridor and up some steps.  You can definitely tell that the buildings were not designed with WC as a priority.  We had lunch at Turkish donair with a very tasty “sandwich” that had meat and salad in it.  As we toured the old city we passed a ‘merchant house’ that was dated 1106.  We saw the towers for which Ravensburg is famous and shopped for bread at a little market with different self-made items.  The towers were built in the 1400’s to defend the Hapsburg family who were merchants & traders to as far as Barcelona.  [Of course I forgot to take pictures!]

 

In the afternoon we went to the farm where Kathrin and Carsten live, right across from a dairy barn that is still operational.   Kathrin took care of Luca, her faithful old dog, and I got to do some more correspondence.  It takes me some organizing of hosts to keep this tour going!  As Marilyn and I always say the Universe is unfolding as it should.  Carsten was our cook for the evening and I got to try “maultashen” which is a vegetable filled pasta similar to perogies. After supper we showed Carsten some photos from Meadow Lake.

 

February 25

 

We awoke to a very white world on Thursday, about 12-15 cm of snow!  Kathrin took me over to the dairy and I got so see how the milking parlour was arranged.  The cows have a loafing barn where they can eat and lay down and they just seem to wander into the parlour whenever they want to get milked.  After considerable sweeping and clearing of snow from the vehicle we were able to drive to the stable where Leiko lives.  He seemed to be a very well behaved fellow and was glad to get his treat of mineral mash.  Kathrin lamented that at this new stable, although there is a great indoor arena, the opportunities to go trail riding are not so good.  She prefers to ride out but not on pavement.

 

We drove to Ravensburg and after lunch Kathrin put me on the train once more.  I did not find the country-side nearly as interesting once it was covered in snow.  The train was late into Basel and so I did not catch my next one on time.  Thank goodness trains run every hour or so.  Lisa phoned me to find out where I was and I told her I would be an hour late!  The train that took me to Freiburg was OLD and did not have any digital readout that lets you know where you are or where the train will stop next.  I was very glad that I only had to go to the first stop on the route so I did not have to try to figure out what the German train driver was saying.

 

On the platform I looked around for familiar faces but there were hardly any people about so I headed toward the station and suddenly there were two tall ladies coming my way.  Petra and Lisa found me! (They didn’t know that I travel in the first class section of the train.)  We drove to Gundelfingen and I visited with them as Petra made supper.  I was a bit apprehensive when I was told that we were going to have wild pig for supper but it turned out very tasty.

 

February 22

Nadja was off to her first day of the next semester and Monica dropped me off at the tram station on her way to do the shopping.  Again I found my way to the Meeting Point and this time Jonas found me.  Jonas does not look a great deal different than when he visited Winning Ways 10 years ago!  He and some of his classmates formed a company when they graduated and work in environmental studies.  He also works in the preparation of materials for technical classes for school children.  Jonas remembered “the best cream filled doughnuts in the world” were once found in the Meadow Lake Bakery.  He felt that the croissants we had for our lunch did not compare.

 

The train from Zurich to Sargans stopped inexplicably in the middle of a wide spot in the train yards, perhaps it was to let another train pass in the opposite direction.  In any case the 4 minute stop ensured that I DID NOT make my connection and thus was late arriving in Heerbrugg where I was to meet Andrea.  Fortunately she persisted in looking for me and eventually found me forlornly wandering around the station in search of her.

 

Andrea whisked me away to her home in the little village of Widnau, where Michael and their daughter, Sophia, and Maple (Alex’s sister) were waiting.  Andrea & I visited while Michael, who is the cook in the household, made the ‘Farmer’s Wife supper’ of mashed potatoes, covered with a stew of veal & veggies.  I got to be the Canadian grandma and entertain Sophia for a while.  The family lives in a duplex that is fairly old and I have included a couple of photos of the original “central heating system”.  The stove and oven (pictured) are in the kitchen and the almost fireplace looking unit is in the dining room and backs into the living room (pictured).  Of course there are vents to allow the warm air to rise into the bedrooms above.  The whole unit now has hot-water heating registers in every room so the temperature can be very controlled. 

 

February 23

 

On Tuesday morning everyone was loaded into the family car, including Maple, and we set off to the Appenzeller District.  This is the area Michael grew up in and he is very familiar with its twisty roads.  We went to Schaukaserie which has a show area, where we watched the cheese being produced, a restaurant, where we had brunch and a shop to sell cheese.  Brunch consisted of several kinds of bread, different ages of cheese, ham, jelly, pickles and grapes.  They brought you a hot drink at the beginning of the meal and another one at the end (you could choose from tea, coffee, hot chocolate).  All the while there was Swiss music playing and when Sophia got fussy, Daddy danced her around the restaurant, which we had all to ourselves.

 

Since there was a good brochure of the Schaukaserie, I did not take pics but perhaps this photo of it will help to explain the cheese making.


After brunch we went winding, and switch-backing on our way up another hill to a lookout point from which you can see the whole area on a clear day.  Back at the house, we had nap time for baby, grandma and mommy.  I think daddy went shopping.  Later I worked on my computer.  Michael provided 4 kinds of meat & 4 kinds of cheese for the raclette along with small boiled potatoes which you could smoother in freshly melted cheese.  Sophia was fairly fussy so Andrea put her to bed early and was able to enjoy the evening.  We played a couple of different card games, I could tell Michael’s grandpa had taught him well! 

 

February 20

 

This morning the sun is shining and it is not cold.  I walk to the tram station, ride to Zurich Main Station to catch the train to Kandersteg via Bern.  By the little city of Olten it is cloudy/snowy and that continues all the way into the mountains.  Even before I reached Kandersteg I feel I am in the Rockies, these are big mountains with snow covered caps.  Of course the Alps are impressive!  Martina meets me at the station and we walk around the corner to her car & drop my bags and then walk a few steps to the stable where she rides.  I meet the Shetty (Shetland pony), the grey Arab cross gelding and the mare that she rides in competitions.

 

At Martina’s apartment she outfits me with a pair of ski pants and heavier jacket.  Since my feet are bigger than the biggest snow boots she has I wear my cowboy boots (very successfully—my feet stay toasty warm).  We ride up, up, up.....in the gondola and I study the terrain of the mountainside above.  No way was I going to look down!  At the top of the lift we step out into a white world, strap on our snowshoes and pick up our poles and off we go to see the sights.  This area has more guided trails than the other side she explains and this is where the snowboarders are doing their runs this weekend.  Her boyfriend was asked to guide for the Snowboard Festival so that the tourists won’t get into trouble.

 

After an hour & half of snowshoeing I am glad to return to the chalet and sit down for a cup of tea.  Once back at Martina’s I realize I am probably suffering from the altitude. Kandersteg is nearly 1200 m, but up on the mountain it is close to 1900 m, so a poor flat-lander like me should be a bit dizzy.  (Afterwards I hear I should have probably been up there 3 days before I tried hiking around!) I crash for about 3 hours, Martina starts to worry that I am not going to wake up, but I do.

 

Martina’s friends organize a fondue for her birthday supper and one of them made her a cute cake.  We get to sing her happy birthday in English. When we finish supper the girls go out to a party being held by the Snow Board Festival companies.  Martina’s boyfriend will be there too, so she gets to celebrate with all her friends. I get to catch up on some correspondence on my laptop.

 

Sunday February 21

 

The sky is blue and somewhere out beyond the mountains the sun is shining.  After breakfast with Martina and the girls, Martina and I go on another gondola ride up another mountain on the other side of Kandersteg.  Martina goes back after she has me safely on the hiking trail, to do some skiing with the other gals.  I am hiking into the mountains to the Oeschinsee.  This little lake froze before the snow came and ‘black ice’ was created, which means you can see through it to the bottom of the lake. Yes the water runs very clear here.  The ‘black ice’ created a wonderful skating opportunity and many tourists came in the fall to skate on this natural ice rink.  When I reach the little chalet near the lake I sit down in the shade!  The sun came over the mountains and now it is very, very warm. 

 

Some of the guys on the hiking trail have taken off their shirts and are sun tanning—the snow glare could burn you I think.  I see many families, couples both young and old, dog lovers and individuals just out enjoying the beautiful day.  On my hike back to the Gondola Station/Chalet I take several rest stops on the strategically located benches and one on a stump close to the intersection of the trail and a ski run.  I watch the skiers glide past while the hikers mostly march down to the lake.  I walk back through Kandersteg and see yet another avalanche as the water-weighted snow slides down the mountain. I collect my luggage at the stable where I had left it and board the trains back to Bern, Zurich and Egg.

 

Once more I visit with Carlo and Monica before we enjoy a supper of Cordon Blue prepared especially by Monica.  Since it was such a lovely afternoon Nadja spent it out trail riding on Foote. She joins us for supper and tells us that Foote was good today.  Again after supper we discuss the health care systems in the two countries and future plans.  That evening I say good bye to Carlo, since he will leave early in the morning for work.

 

I just had to take a picture of the cute cow on the milk container!  Nadja was kind enough to be my helper and display the 'bottle' in front of her green fridge.

February 14 - 19, 2016

Well......I’m on the way!!  We’re going to fly...... (written as we move away from the gate.)

Other folks read I write....

Somewhere over the Atlantic it got rough...my seatmate is very uncomfortable.

It has been pleasant so far: early departure, pleasant attendants, tasty chicken supper, interesting discussion with the young lady from Russia and even an early arrival in Barcelona!

I left Winning Ways on Saturday morning in overcast conditions, not quite snowing but there was snow swirling on the road. Since I was pulling Vawn’s trailer with Diesel, one of Tara’s newly acquired horses, I chose to go cautiously.   I met Vawn at her friend’s where I was to leave Diesel near Tofield.  He was a good boy and went well when Vawn rode him.

When I arrived at the McLeans, two grandgirls immediately took me to their “skating rink”.  Chris had found a small pond back in the bush near the house they have rented, he cleared it and it has become a great source of enjoyment for the whole family.  The girls excitedly put on their skates as Chris cleared the last of the new fallen snow.  The girls practiced their skating and waited impatiently for Vawn, who had stopped for groceries, to arrive.  When she did, the “show” could go on.  Caslyn introduced the presentation in true MC fashion and told me that this was a special show just for me.

 

I was treated to individual skating and then a “skit on ice”--Cinderella.  Vawn was the narrator and ‘voice off stage’.  The whole story including finding the “lost glove” as opposed to the glass slipper was played out by Caslyn as the main character and Elissa in many supporting roles.  Great imagination!

 

After supper on Saturday evening, I got to be the ‘fairy God-mother’ or I suppose the gifting Grand-mother.  I had brought gifts for the girls since Caslyn’s birthday was just past and Ellisa celebrates hers while I am traveling.  Of course I had books for the girls and I got to read the two Robert Munch books I had given Ellisa, with her curled up on my knee.

After church on Sunday, where Chris was one of the leaders of the service, we went to an Italian restaurant and tried out the Italian menu.  The restaurant also had a little store where you could purchase items to make your own Italian meals.  I saw huge wheels of cheese and knew that I soon would be able to taste real European cheese (and I have!).  The McLeans dropped me off at the airport and I truly started my adventure.

 

 

 

In Amsterdam I was very glad the travel agent had given me lots of time to change planes.The lines through the Passport check were very long. However it was not intimidating and once I reached the officer I was soon stamped to enter the EU. All the staff and airline folks I met in Amsterdam and with KLM were very friendly.

I felt really jet-lagged, sleepy and a bit headachy in Amsterdam, due to my sleepless night on the trip across the Atlantic.

I managed to sleep most of the trip from Amsterdam to Barcelona and since I had an aisle seat and could not have seen anything that was just fine.  At El Prat, my bright green CANADA strap made my bag easy to find and I was off to the Arrivals door.  That was when I got my first shock!  Standing at that door were several soldiers ARMED WITH RIFLES!  They did not appear to be unfriendly so I asked if it was usual to have large guns; the soldier said he did not understand English but guns were usual!  I walked through the doors and looked at the faces waiting for their friends and family and immediately saw Nuria waving at me.  I was very happy, I hope that I find all my hosts that easily.

 

Nuria and her Poppa took me along the seacoast to do a bit of sightseeing.  I got to see the statue of Christopher Columbus and then we stopped so I could see the Mediterranean.  We drove down an eight lane street that might have been wide enough in Canada for five lanes and then turned into a small side street where we took out the luggage and went into the building that Nuria has called home all her life.  Her parents bought the flat when they first married and this is where they raised Christina and Nuria.  It is very close to the city center and almost across the street from the Subway station.

 

After Nuria had finished her tutoring lesson for one of the neighbours, we went for a short ride on the Subway to the downtown area.  We walked miles and looked at all the buildings lit up for the evening.  It was very comfortable with my jacket on and the air did not smell polluted.  I was surrounded by history—we walked over stone streets and past buildings that have been there since Roman times!!  Some of the walls and walkways were over 2000 years old.  It was a very strange feeling for me.  Oh yes, I saw rifle armed soldiers again and once again I was a bit uncomfortable.  Nuria explained that the terrorists have threatened this city and some have been arrested here.  She told me she feels more secure with the soldiers on the streets especially after what happened in other parts of Europe.

 

At supper, after our walk, I discussed politics with Nuria’s parents.  Nuria was very busy translating back and forth.  Earlier she told me that she was afraid she might not understand me but was very glad to find that she did not have much trouble.  Supper was a traditional Spanish one with potato omelette, different types of pork sausage, little pastries filled with flavoured pork fat, quince/goat cheese cubes, tomato/olive oil covered bread, lovely Havarti cheese and of course olives.  To finish Momma, Merce, supplied cream puffs!  All very tasty.

 

When I fell into bed at midnight I slept and slept and......yes for 9 hours straight through!  Then I didn’t get up I just turned over and slept for another 3 hours!  WOW I was in bed for 12 hours—I was tired!  When I finally got up, I was given breakfast by Merce and I said hello to Josep who was in and out.  Josep is retired but very politically active and works for the Catalonian state.  Merce is unemployed right now and is working on studying English while she is searching for a job. 

 

Nuria took me to a Supermarket which was not very large by our standards but had many similar items to our grocery store, just a different label.  We went to the big train station “Sants” where I was able to purchase my reservation to Valence.  We looked at much of the moderinista architecture.  We ventured into a “farmers market” where there were fruits, vegetables, meat, nuts, flowers, eggs, candy and of course fish (some of it still alive).

 

   

Down at the marina I took a few pictures and Nuria even reminded me that I should have one of me in front of the Christopher Columbus statue with the lions.

 

 

 

The sailing craft have to go under the rising bridge where I photographed Nuria.

 

We had our supper of salad, followed by rabbit. This was a very tasty meal.  We exchanged more stories and I showed off my grandgirls skating. 

 

February 17

After breakfast Wednesday morning, Merce, Josep & I ventured on to a more crowded subway on our way to the Museum.  Josep wanted to show me the Roman streets and walls and then visit Santa Maria Del Mar church which I had seen the first evening I arrived.  The church was built in the 1300’s but has had to be rebuilt many times.  Many priests & others are buried under it’s floor.

 

At the Catalan Historical Museum we saw the prehistoric to modern day.  The area around Barcelona has long been inhabited and there were many maps showing the invasions by conquering leaders.  When we got to the area describing the knights of old, there were a couple of wooden horses, one with a rider and another you could ‘ride’ on.  I got a picture to prove I was there. I also had to take a photo of Merce beside the little car that she said looked just like the first one she ever had.  As I read the many different articles about the frequent changes of government I   began to see why the Catalonians are very interested in independence.

 

 

At lunch we went to a buffet, Fresco, down along the marina, near the aquarium and rising bridge.  Then we used the subway to go to Sagrada Familia.  We snaked along to purchase a ticket for me—Senior.  We entered the huge Basilica filled with light (& people).  Although it will not be finished for another 10 years it is very beautiful inside.  Apparently in the 1930’s it was vandalized, partially destroyed and some of Gaudi’s work stolen!  Terrorists today would love to do the same (and kill some tourists!)  Now I understand the great security presence, the guards and police.

 

The supper Merce prepared was delicious—paella.  This is typical Catalonian food.  A bed of rice on which there are pieces of rabbit, clams in their shells, and huge shrimp.  After supper I was even able to visit with Cristina via skype.

February 18

 

Poor Josep slept through his alarm, or it didn’t go off.  At 8 am I walked into the front room to see if there was anyone awake, he heard my footsteps and realized he was late getting up.  Still we managed to catch the train at the subway as soon as we arrived and now I definitely know how cows feel in a fully loaded stock trailer—squished!

 

The train is nice to travel on but I would prefer a forward facing seat! The French country side was full of agriculture but the soil looks dry and hard—very much clay.  But still I see green fields and even the occasional blooming tree! Around Perpignan there were orchards, vineyards, greenhouses and even some equines being fed with large (well at least med. size) round bales.  Wind mills are to be seen on the high hills. While agriculture continues to dominate the landscape, the soil is terribly rocky!

 

 

At Valence I grabbed a Ham/Cheese to go and eventually found the Gate 2 at which I was to depart.  I only waited about 4 minutes and off we went again, this time on a Regional Train.  Still comfortable but slower (we went 300 k/h on earlier train), noisier and rougher than the Hi speed train. From here we climbed and then turned along the lake shore to eventually travel through some tunnels. Finally I have seen herds of cattle—white Charolais I suppose.  Eventually I saw an Equestrian Centre with both indoor and outdoor arenas, and large paddocks for the horses done with e-tape. I noticed the further we went the lower the population density.

 

Again a train change in Geneve, I asked which was first class & was steered to the yellow banded train coaches.  Found my way to the businessmen’s section, where guys are talking about million $ deals. But it is for “working with the notebook” so its the right place.  Lots of city to travel through on the way out.  More English on the signage thank goodness.  Spain was good, almost always English at the bottom. In France the announcements were only spoken in French and signs only in French, don’t like tourists I guess! 

 

I can see the mountains in the distance again.  It appears we are climbing back into them. There appear to be some bush lands in small areas.  Before Geneve there was a great deal of forest and wild land. Now it is dark and I no longer know what I travel through—pity.  But it seems to be dark a great deal of the time and I don’t think we go through that many tunnels.

 

Nadja, Hannah & Carlo met me on the platform in Zurich, for which I was very glad.  We traveled by car to Egg where the family lives in a very modern house.  There was a wonderful supper prepared with a cream of celery soup with apple in it—very delicious.  We visited and exchanged stories, both of Nadja’s parents speak English so I could converse without a translator.  As usual it was late when I got to bed.

 

 

February 19        

 

In the morning we went to the local tram stop and I obtained some Swiss franks from the ATM.  A day pass cost 21 franks—things are expensive in Switzerland.  We went back to Zurich and took a City Bus Tour, thank goodness it was enclosed and not one of those open double decker buses, but we still needed blankets to keep warm as it was not heated.  We saw and heard about a great deal of the history of the city center and went past the University where Nadja goes to classes.  Apparently there was a competition a few years ago to decorate a cow (plastic ones) and use them for advertising.  So there are cows in many colors with many designs in the weirdest places.

 

After a lunch from the famous corner sausage/bun stand we returned to Egg.  Off to the stable to visit the horses and go for a carriage ride. The Swiss warmblood mare that pulled us was very energetic, although she is 20 years old, and she is very well trained.   The driver, like Nadja, is not the owner but spends a good deal of time at the stable with the horses.  He explained about the surrounding country side and the agriculture that I could see.  Unfortunately he did not speak English so we had to converse with the girls translating.  I got to see storks and even one high up in its nest.  My fingers were nearly frozen so I didn’t take any photos—sorry.

 

In the evening I traveled back into Zurich to The Meeting Point under the big clock.  It was fascinating to watch folks meeting—young lovers, older couples, friends, siblings and probably even business people.  I was a bit early so I got to watch the passing parade for a few minutes before Noah appeared.  He hadn’t changed much so I easily recognized him.  We went for a stroll through the old town with its narrow streets and small shops.  We stopped at the Johanniter Restaurant and had  Zurigschnatzlets mit Rosti.  That is a fantastic meal--veal with a mushroom sauce served with grated/fried potatoes.  We continued our stroll and soon found a Starbucks where we could sit and visit over hot chocolate and a brownie. 

 

Spring of 2015

The spring of 2015 seems to be passing very rapidly with calving, lessons, and horse activities including The Trophy Show in Saskatoon, the Meadow Lake Rodeo in the ML Arena and Horse Day at Winning Ways.  We have had great international helpers who have had an opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of ranching activities and some have had various adventures in the community.  Winning Ways students have been attending riding lessons and some of them have had a chance to demonstrate their horsemanship skills at events off the ranch. 

We were fortunate this year, since the weather warmed up fairly early, there were not many days when the crew rode in snow but of course there is always one last bit of snow to remind one of winter.  Branding day is one of the ranch activities that is looked forward to by all the crew and the helpers from the other hosting ranches.  We had a good day in the middle of May and got the cows vaccinated as well as getting the calves all ready to go to the pasture.  A week later we had a cattle drive and took the herd to the North Ranch.  Two Bar C and Meeds Meadows crew helped us on both occasions.

Several of our helpers got to attend a Pow Wow and one of our visitors even got a plane ride right over the ranch and she saw a bear and a cow moose by Nesset Lake.

Students prepared themselves for a couple of competitions and the Rodeo parade.  Cassidy and Shrek went to the Hunter/ Jumper show at Ebon Stables in Saskatoon.  Ashley, Ava, Autumn, Piper and Seth all rode in the Extreme Trail Challenge during the Meadow Lake Rodeo.  We even had an international Rodeo Rider in the "Local" Ladies Steer Riding during the Rodeo; Pauline stayed on the 'steer' longer than some of the cowboys stayed on the bulls!  This year the bulls made a clean sweep--not one rider stayed on for the full 8 second ride.

Horse Day Open House was lots of fun for our many young riders.  A big thank you to Kelly's Angles and the rest of the Winning Ways crew for all the time they spent with the young people and their parents.  Thanks to all the folks who promote Winning Ways as a great place to learn about horses and ride.  One van came with 7 little people who were all excited to ride!  After the newcomers had an opportunity to ride, a few of the Spring Lesson students rode and demonstrated their skills, including negotiating obstacles and jumping fences.

The Winning Ways crew were all sad that the Fire Ban is still in effect and we cannot have our wood fire barbeque.  However Julia made some oven fries and Kelly fried up some steak and we had a very tasty  end of the day meal.  At Winning Ways there are new experiences everyday for everyone and this evening  was no exception.  Haribo, the orphan lamb, joined us at the table we had set out on the lawn, he even tried out the lettuce salad!  We think he has an affinity for alcoholic beverage bottles as that is what the crew uses to feed him his milk.  He was greatly fascinated by the table cloth and the wine glasses and once the wine was opened we feared he'd upset the wine bottle.   

Cool  Yule at Winning Ways!

Yellow Dog: "They said we were going hunting.......but for trees??!"

Is it better to have the tree above or below you Dominic?

Jana was the official tree decorator with assistance from Dominic.

Christmas Eve the hoar frost on the trees was a gorgeous sight,

Darma was NOT impressed with a Christmas HAT!!

Creamsicle enjoyed his treats, Buffy checks out Jana in a hat.

Dominic: "Look THAT WAY!!"

Christmas Buffy

Dashing thru the sno' in a two horse open sleigh, o're the fields we go......

Christmas Eve at Millar's


The Winning Ways crew headed up to the Two Bar C for a fantastic meal, lots of visiting and of course the highlight of the evening "a visit from Santa!"

Christmas morning opening presents with Hobo watching

The 3 Wise Persons out for a walk with their "beasts of burden".  All the on-looking horses and cows ran to the fence to see what was going by!

November 8, 2014