Sunday, February 26, 2012


Germany was the trip I was most looking forward to. I wanted to go to Rothenburg ob de Tauber, the city I remember visiting my grandfather in, and Berlin my mom's hometown. Well, then Samuel threw in his desire to see his favorite soccer team Bayern Munchen play in their home stadium in Munich. So basically I was looking at 3 cities far from each other. After countless hours on the computer and trying to figure out things logistically, I decided that Berlin would have to be a separate trip. I'm glad I did because after a week of snow and temperatures around 18 Fahrenheit, we were ready to go back to sunny Italy which was hovering in the high 40's. I took a million pictures because everything and every place looked so beautiful with the snow :)
 To keep warm I wore tights, two pairs of socks, undershirt, long sleeve shirt, sweater, jacket, knitted scarf, ear muffs,gloves, and of course shoes and pants. Layering is the way to go!.
                     In Marienplatz in Munich, Germany. Notice the frozen water in the fountain.
Had to take a picture of the Apple store for Joshua.
                          Ok, I'll take a picture now that I have my Starbuck's hot chocolate.
                                    Marienplatz in Munich
                                      I think the cold is getting to them!!!!
 The entrance to Dachau concentration camp. It was the first Nazi concentration camp opened in Germany, on March 22,1933 to it's liberation by the U.S. Army  on April 29,1945.  It was located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory.
                             One of many memorials- Never Again written in many languages
                                             Walking through the center yard.
Where now you can only see the foundation there once stood 68 barracks for prisoners.
            The concentration camp was surrounded by an electrified barbed-wire gate, a ditch, and a wall with seven guard towers.
 Hitlers motto Arbeit Macht Frei translates Work Makes Free or Work Liberates. It was a somber day, but one I'm glad the kids got to experience. The horror of the Holocaust must never be forgotten, and now they will pass on what they learned.

 Opening ceremony before the soccer game between Bayern Munchen and FC KaiserSlautern. Samuel didn't get to see this because he was getting hot chocolate for all of us :)
                         Leaving the stadium with all his soccer memorabilia, he was one happy boy.
The town of Rothenburg ob de Tauber. Rothenburg is the country's best-preserved medieval walled town.
Looking into the valley below. One of my favorite pictures, probably had to do with the snow :)
Sarah standing in front of a Sneeball (snowball) store. Sneeballs are a specialty of Rothenburg and are pastries that look like snowballs. You can get them with a variety of toppings.

Loved all the detailing on the houses.
St. Jakob's Church, built in the 14th century
               Sarah couldn't resist making a snow angel in the fresh snow.                                                        
One of the six entrances to the town. In Medieval times the entrances would be blocked during times of war or invasions.
The last time I came to Rothenburg was around 18 years ago for my grandfathers funeral. It was also winter so they didn't have a headstone for him. The kids and I came to the cemetery to try to find it now and of course it was futile.

                   The next three pictures were taken in the Burggarten or Castle Garden. I have been in the gardens many times during the summer, but for the first time got to see the beauty in the winter.

                                         In front of one of the many restaurants.
Thus ended our trip through Munich and Rothenburg. If I could have comprehended how cold it would be, or that we would have snow the whole time, I might have delayed it. Lucky for me I didn't delay the trip because the snow made everything so beautiful.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Art Masters payed off-thank you Amy: Barcelona,Spain

 Waiting in the rain outside the Pablo Picasso Museum,notice JT in the gray jacket :)
              Johanna, Joshua, JT between their heads, and creepy looking Samuel in the background. The kids were always trying to be funny(ruin) my posed pictures. Now its kind of funny,at the time not so funny.
        In front of the museum. We wondered why the line was sooo long, we had to wait for about an hour to get in. When we got to the cashier and tried to pay she told us that on the day and time we were there the museum is FREE!!! We saved  50 Euros so about $70 bucks. This museum has the best collection in the country of the work of Picasso, especially his early works since he spent his formative years, ages 14-21 in Barcelona.
              Christopher Columbus Monument, 200 feet tall built in 1888 for an exposition. It is at the point  where Ferdinand and Isabel welcomed Columbus home after his first trip to America.
                                     Most of the countries we went to have an area where they allow graffiti
       Sarah and JT went up in an aerial gondola and took this city view. I missed out because of my fear of heights :(

              Many visitors come to Barcelona for its Modernista architecture. The most influential name is Antoni Gaudi(1852-1926)  Gaudi's most famous and unfinished landmark church is the Sagrada Familia or Holy Family Church. He worked on the Sagrada Familia from 1883 until his death. Since then construction has moved forward in spurts since the church is funded exclusively by private donations and entry fees. It is not expected to be completed for another 25 years.                  
The rest of the church has been inspired by Gaudi's vision but designed and executed by others.
              It is amazing to see all the different artists interpretations in this one church. Everywhere you look its amazing, you notice different details.
              Not your tradition Catholic church, but a very modern version.
In mid September we headed off for Barcelona,Spain. Why Barcelona,well Joshua's friend JT had mentioned he would like to go there,and it was a cheap non-stop flight on Ryan Air. Bought our tickets, rented an apartment, and off we went. The flight was fine and we caught a bus to take us into the city. Then we needed to catch the Metro and upon exiting, walk a couple of blocks to our apartment where the landlord would be waiting. Well needless to say, do to ALL the involved parties, we got lost. Luckily this was in the afternoon and we didn't have much luggage, because the catch to flying Ryan Air is you are only allowed one piece of carry on luggage,basically the size of a man's basketball shoe box. Oh and if you have a purse, that needs to fit into the shoe box :) Ok back to the story. Well thanks to JT and his Iphone and whatever app you use to navigate,we found the place. When we were outside the apartment we called the landlord and let him know we were there. He proceeds to exit the bar next door and all the introductions were made. Lets just say he had been at the bar for a while and was really happy to see us, show us around the apartment and talk. The kids thought it was hysterical until he got too close to you. We finally got him to leave and were trying to leave ourselves when we decided to test the door locks. Basically, if we left the apartment we would be locked out because one of the tumblers on the lock was broken. We called the landlord immediately and lucky for us he was still close by, that's right, in the bar downstairs!! After him telling me how much it was going to cost him to have a locksmith come out,as if it was my fault, the lock was fixed and we were off. That was our first 3 hours in Barcelona...haha
Back to the title of this post. Art Masters is an art program purchased by our school.The lovely, lively, and knowledgeable Mrs. Amy Donfrio comes into the school, gives a lecture with slide show to the students about a particular artist, and later in the week comes into our classrooms and does an appropriate art project related to that artist. All eleven years I've been at Los Altos, Amy has been our Art Masters instructor. When we got to Barcelona, there was art everywhere, in the buildings,on the walls,the architecture and of course in the Pablo Picasso museum. I have sat through numerous slide shows where we have been instructed to look at the art and "notice the lines, follow the curve of the brushstroke, take in the colors, take in the lack of color" I have been prompted to ask myself "why did the artist: use shading, lots of color, only black and white, focus on different objects, use hard edges, use exaggeration, do close-up, do distant " you get the idea. Well the instruction that was suppose to teach the students, was actually teaching their teacher :)  As I was looking at the art of the city of Barcelona, I could hear Amy's voice prompting me to "SEE" all that was around me. Thanks Amy :)
                                                  The view from our front balcony.
                             A Tapas restaurant, that's ham hanging from the ceiling.

                                        Enjoying a good meal.
                            Stained glass windows of the Sagrada Familia

We had a great time!!!    Sorry the pictures are out of order, I didn't have Joshua to help me :)