Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Berlin bound.

Pic via here.

This morning Beerbaumer and I are off to Berlin, Germany to explore and go to a ska show. I used to listen to Reel Big Fish back in high school but have never seen them live, so this should be interesting. I just hope we're not the oldest people there, that'd be creepy.

As always, any suggestions you have for places to go/see/eat in Berlin, we'd love to hear your suggestions! This will be my first time in Germany where I actually leave the airport - so I'll take all the help I can get!

A la prochaine friends...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A CERN photo-op.

Today I took Beerbaumer to CERN for the first time...

...and had the opportunity to knock something off of my CERN To-Do List...

...get a picture on the magnet! Doc always gets embarrased when I tell him I want a picture on the magnet, as every visiting student and tour group climb up there and take a picture like they're the first people to do so. Doc was in a meeting while Beerbaumer and I took our touristy must-do-pictures, so take that!  

Oh and we had the opportunity to sit in on a colloqium as well!

And I found myself in an even more surprising place than the top of the magnet - on a digital slideshow on a board for the CERN Photography Club! Big in Meyrin, yep that's me!

A la prochaine friends...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Jersey in the Jura.

Pic via here.

I'm so excited I could barf. One of my favorites, the always adventurous Beerbaumer, lands in Geneve today from New Jersey for a last minute week on our side of the Atlantic. A trip to Berlin on Wednesday, a weekend in Wengen, lots of cheese, and some CERN, Geneve and Thoiry exploring are in store, along with some Jersey certified grenade whistles (more on that later). For now we're off to pick my friend up at the airport! Bienvenue √† France Beerbaumer!

A la prochaine friends...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Snowed-in, Monchiero Alto, Italy.

As I mentioned in my Leaning Tower of Pisa post, we left Pisa to unknowingly drive smack-dab into a crazy snowstorm on the Mediterranean coast in Liguria. The snow was coming down so fast and so strong that emergency vehicules were being placed every mile to help stranded cars...

...and guess who still had on their summer tires.

Les Duggans.

And I quote a certain physicist who once said: "Pffft. It never snows in Italy!"

So needless to say, there are no pictures of the 6 hour drive from Pisa to Monchiero Alto as I was too busy holding my breathe, covering my eyes, and grabbing onto the oh-merde handle.

It was very pretty though.

We checked into the hotel at about 9:15 PM, and I think it was written all over our faces that we were exhausted and hungry. Our hotel was a monastery-turned-spa called Antico Borgo Monchiero, and the staff was the most attentive of any I've ever encountered. Not only that...

...but there were slippers and robes in our room. It really is the little things...

We were only scheduled to spend one night at the monastery-turned-spa (isn't that really just the best combination around?), but mother nature had other plans. Over a foot of snow was dumped on the little town of Monchiero Alto throughout the night and following day, and there was no way we were a) getting the car out of the parking lot and b) getting the car down the steep hill that we fishtailed the whole way up in the first place.

And as if I'm not thinking it as loud as I can right now, I will go ahead and say that this was not the worst place in the world to be snowed in either.

There were only two other people staying at Antico Borgo while we were there, and for some reason they didn't use the spa services at all, or at least not during the hours upon hours that we did.

My motto for the day was: sauna-whirlpool-repeat...

And all the while looking out the window at the snow just piling up.

It was incredibly surreal.

The deets on the place? The food was amazing and at a really great price. The staff was amazing and actually came to get us in the spa to let us know that the restaurant would be closing for lunch but "would we like a sandwich?" And the concierge even helped Doc dig us out of this mess without asking him.

We will definitely be staying at this hotel again, however, maybe in the fall when there's a less likely chance of snow...
A la prochaine friends...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

At the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

On our last morning in Pisa, after a too-late-night-out celebrating the conclusion of the week long school that Doc was teaching at, we decided to do what most people would do following a night of a lot of beer and a 1:00 am kebab dinner - pay 15 euro a piece to go to the top of a tower that leans hazardously to the left...or is it the right...depends on what direciton you're facing I guess...

...oh whatever you get the point.

We went to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

It was a very last minute decision as we had to check out of the hotel within the hour, and we hadn't bought our tickets yet, but we were lucky enough to grab the last few spots for the 10:30 am tour.

The way up was narrow, and the marble steps were beautifully worn down in the center. When you got to a part of the tower that leaned (because the stairs are a spiral to the top), it felt like you were being propelled downhill despite the fact that you were clearly walking uphill...

The Duomo and Bapistry behind me...

Bar Duomo down below...

If you ever get to Pisa, please please please go to the top of the Tower. Yes, it's 15 euro a person and yes you are sharing it with 40 other people on a strict 30 minute time limit, but it was worth it. In fact, I'm hoping this was not my last time going to the top of the tower.

After our descent, we grabbed a last minute gelato (it was the best walnut and pistachio gelato I've ever had), and went to the car to embark on the next part of our journey to Monchiero in Piedmont. What we didn't realize was that we were driving right into a huge freak snowstorm on the Mediterranean Coastline that would follow us to Piedmont...  

Duh duh duhhhhhhh!!!
A la prochaine friends...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Inside the Duomo in Pisa, Italy.

So one good thing about going to Italy in January? No lines, and either free or reduced admission to the sights. For instance, entry into the Duomo is free from November to February.

Unfortunately my pictures don't do it justice, but it is beautiful in this building. Even if you have to fork up the 2 euro entry free in the months that are not Novmeber - February, I say do it.

The paintings inside are big and bright and dark, in only the way that religious art can be beautiful and scare the bejeezus out of you at the same time.

And thanks to the Medici's, there is gold everywhere.

Like in this ceiling...'s 24 karat gold, because the Medici's were ballers.

Crazy stairs just below the dome...

Go to Pisa.
Go inside the Duomo.
And go to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
(spoiler alert)

A la prochaine friends...