Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New York in the Fall

New York is beautiful in the Fall.
We are currently visiting Zev's family in beautiful Canandaigua this week. It really is such a beautiful experience, being out in the country, going for morning runs, catching up with family and experiencing the gorgeous surroundings.
Above are the four York girls: Judy with her two daughter-in-laws; Lauren and I, along with Lauren and Deven's daughter, sweet Emily.
Canandaigua is located in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Zev and I have gone running, caught up on reading just for fun, and enjoyed just hanging out with family up here.
Just like in Germany, harvest season in the country here means festivals celebrating produce like grapes or apples. We popped into a local grape farm in Naples, New York, to pick up some grape juice to later make into wine.
Dave was trying to get into his grape juice early...

Uncle Joe and I outside the grape farm...
Zev caught up with some of his cousins. Once upon a time, Zev was the "older cousin" and therefore bigger than these two boys. As you can see, they have definitely grown up!
Candi and Charlotte.
Newlyweds Christie and Bogdan.
Another wonderful thing about Fall is the beautiful flowers on the side of the road. I picked these up on my walk yesterday:
This Thursday, we head to Ithaca for Zev's 20th College Reunion at Ithaca College. Ithaca is another beautiful town on the finger lakes and is home to Ithaca College as well as Cornell University.
It is fun to be back in the States this week. Besides things like Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks or Zev being able to go shooting or hunting, we pretty much enjoy the same lifestyle in Germany as we would in the USA. It's funny to think of Germany as "home" but then again, we also think of upstate New York and Sydney, Australia as "home."
Until next time,
Zev & Fifi xo

Monday, September 20, 2010

Air Force Ball

On Saturday, September 18th, Zev and I attended the Air Force Ball.
We went with our dear friends, Hans and Gena, who were the most gracious hosts and gave us the five star treatment when we stayed over at their house.
Considering that we are currently stationed in a "joint" Command, the majority of the military folks here are Army. The "base" that Zev works at is not even called a "base" (like in the Air Force), but a "barracks." We love our Army friends, but sometimes it is nice to hang out with Air Force folks and their spouses. The Air Force variety show performers, "Tops in Blue" performed for us and it is amazing to think that these talented young men and women are actually active duty Air Force airmen. 
This year's theme is the Year of the Family. It's fun being a part of this family! We have "relatives" all over the world. Have a wonderful week. xoxo

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Bella Barcelona

Buenos Dias de Barcelona! (Or in Catalan: "Bon dia de Barcelona!")
We spent Labor Day weekend in Barcelona. So many words can describe Barcelona, but I think Zev said it perfectly when he said that Barcelona is a city of juxtapositions. Old and new. Traditionalism and modernism with a bit of cubism thrown in for good measure. Explosions of color from the Meditteranean and the art from Gaudi and Picasso juxtaposed with dark, endless alleyways and grungy bars tucked into corners.
You just need to look at who/what Barcelona is famous for, to understand what an amazing, beautiful, vibrant and edgy city this really is. And the best way to see this city was to do as the locals do- ride a bike through the winding, cobblestoned streets lined with churches and cafes serving tapas and sangria.
We took a "Fat Tire Bike Tour" through Barcelona, which was highly recommended to us by friends. Ironically, our tour guide, "Buddha" was from Sydney (Narrabeen Beach in case you're interested ;-)
We saw Gaudi's unfinished church, La Sagrada Familia.
Rode through the Arc del Triomph which was near our hotel.
Dipped our toes into the Meditteranean and enjoyed sangria on the beach.
After our bike tour we headed out to a late Catalonian dinner- tapas! Tapas are little finger food dishes that most of the cafes in the area serve. The cafes and restaurants were a tourist attraction in themselves.
The people in Barcelona eat late. Really late. After only two days we were getting up later, going for a run along the Meditteranean, eating brunch in a cafe and then dinner at around 9 or 10pm. I must add here that there are a lot of beautiful people in Barcelona. I know that might seem like an odd thing to comment on, and yes, beauty is only skin deep....but it was very noticeable. Beautiful, fit, brown, toned, slender, fashionable people. Everywhere. More so than Paris, Berlin or any other major city that I have seen. Really. Amazing. Must have something to do with the warm climate, outdoor nature and small meals! The coffee was also unbelievably good. Even better than Starbucks. Yes, you have that in writing. Just walking through the streets was so much fun. We discovered fun, lively, colorful cafes and restaurants in the most unexpected locations. Barcelona really comes alive at night. It is something to be walking along a dark alley way looking for a place to eat, when all of a sudden the street comes alive with light and shadows and laughter and music and the clanging of plates and the smells of amazingly good food.
Picasso, Gaudi and Dali left a major mark on Barcelona with their expressions of art. We visited the Picasso Museum in the old town of Barcelona on Sunday. All museums offer free entry the first Sunday of every month. Visiting the Picasso Museum is a MUST do in Barcelona. We saw the evolution of Picasso's style. From his early works as a student to the Blue Period, the Rose Period and of course what he is famous for- the cubist era.

Gaudi's impact on the architecture of Barcelona is unmistakeable. We took a "hop-on, hop-off" bus tour and learnt a lot about the different buildings and sculptures that Gaudi designed around Barcelona. These tours are "touristy" but well worth it. You learn a lot about the city you are visiting while being able to hop on and off a bus for an unlimited amount of times during the day. One of our favorite activities was riding the "last tour" on the top deck, while enjoying the last rays of sunshine and cool evening breeze at the end of the day.
We visited Gaudi's "Casa Mila" which were apartments designed by Gaudi and which showcase his style of art and architecture, modernism, a variant of Art Nouveau. The curved lines and unusual aspects such as mosaic tiles in Park Guell (above) or his bizarrely decorated chimneys can be seen on buildings across the city. It is sad to know that Gaudi dies alone and poor in a hospital, after being hit by a tram and not being recognized for three days. He was a devout Catholic and his most impressive work, his "cathedral" called La Sagrada Familia, was funded solely by private funds (the Vatican did not endorse the construction). Today at least is Gaudi's work appreciated and maintained by the Spanish people.
In the Gothic Quarter outside the Cathedral....
We lit candles for our grandmas in the Cathedral gardens...

Outside the Cathedral on Sunday morning we watched the traditional dance callled the "Sardana." Even some tourists joined in- check out the guy at the end of this video...
Another highlight was walking through the fresh food markets. We saw the freshest foods and tasted delicious fruits and juices including the local speciality fruit drink called the "Horchata."
Zev said that he could live in Barcelona, he liked it that much. I love my man.
"Denn also hat Gott die Welt geliebt, dass er seinen eingeborenen Sohn gab, damit alle, die an ihn glauben, nicht verloren werden, sondern das ewige Leben haben." Johannes 3:16.