Saturday, November 20, 2010

Girl Scout hike

We finally got to take our Girl Scout hike up in the mountains 2 weeks ago. It was a really nice day 30 minutes down the mountain in Almaty and much more snowy than we expected higher up. But worse than the snow was the mud since our hike took us across the sunny side. It wasn't as cold as you'd expect so other than the mud it was a very nice little trek.

This is the after shot. Most everyone is still smiling. If we had all the parents who hiked in the picture there would be less smiles. The adults were definitely less tolerant of the mud and mess than the girls.
It actually was not an easy hike. Our guide decided to leave the trail and do a little "bushwhacking" for fun. I think this is when she lost the adults enthusiasm.

At the top of the hike there was a nice flat spot used as a helicopter pad. Lots of snow and a good place to stop for a drink and snack before heading back down.

I think we'll hike again in the spring. It was a hit with all the girls. Not sure we'll get so many parent volunteers next time!!

Halloween, Part II

We lucked out when we returned to Almaty when we found out that the Almaty International Women's Club trick-or-treat would be the Fri AFTER Halloween due to the school holidays the week before. At first I decided to hide this fact from the kids and just let Halloween be for the year. But, then I decided they deserved the chance to really dress up and really go out to trick-or-treat. We met some friends and went as a group to the pre-arranged neighborhood.

Pictured below: Marcy (dressed as a nerd), Jordan (Jesse from Toy Story), Olivia (China girl in my spooky Rome mask), Emily (a rock diva), Soehyun (spider-woman) and Hailey (Cruella Devil) and down in front starring Caroline as the litte chicken. (not pictured - James as Curious George.)

It was as close to a real American event as you can get here. Lots of people out, houses decorated, jack o'lanterns glowing, and plenty of candy. Well worth it!!

Oh Canada aka an Ode to the Everetts

A big "thanks for coming" goes out the Everetts for joining us in Rome. Would not have been the same without you!!

Couldn't resist the photo-op under the Canadian flag outside the Canadian Embassy near the Vatican:

Or the photo-op of Chris and Cori under the US flag on our night out on the town:
Being that we had Canadians with us we could not avoid beer or hockey. We had many games of mini-hockey and the sticks now reside in our living room turned mini-hockey rink in Almaty:

One more beer in hand, we finally thought we ought to have a photo of just the adults!

We'll have a cold one ready for you on your arrival in Kimberley! Can't wait to see you all soon!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Last day in Rome

While we were at the hotel for our last night Frank found a magazine that had an article about the most photographed places in Rome. Of course we expected to see Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Forum, Piazza Navona. We had seen and photographed all of those. But, among the most photographed was also Piazza de Popolo. What was that??? It gave us our final outing in Rome. It was very grey and rainy but there were lots of churches in the area to duck into and since I had wanted to see more churches this was perfect. (Frank did remind me not to force too many churches on the children since he has heard many times the stories of Wowa dragging us all around the missions in San Antonio when we were kids.)

The centerpiece of Piazza de Popolo is this Egyptian obelisk (alot of these in Rome-apparently they were fascinated by Egyptian art.) We are those tiny people on the bottom right:
Here's a view from the park above the piazza:

We stopped for one more serving of suppli before we could get no more. I decided we neede a photo of this treat. (We also had one more serving of gelatto!)

And while making our way to the train to head back to the hotel we came across this Chevron manhole next to a street-side gas station. Chevron sold all its business there long ago and this had obviously been an old station of theirs.

Couldn't have asked for a better trip. Certainly have to give a posting in Almaty points for providing us the opportunity (and the finances) to see this part of the world. Next stop - Spring Break 2011 - Israel!

A day at the beach

We didn't end up making it to Venice as planned. After much back and forth on what we should do with our last 2 days in Italy we decided to just stick around Rome. We went and stayed at a Sheraton near the airport. The beach was a 20 minute train ride and we had some decent weather so we headed out.

The train was much less crowded and much more relaxing as we had a seat and no one was freaking out about the pick-pocketers. (I think our children have been scarred for life by Mary's unfortunate experience.)

The water was freezing and the beach was deserted but we walked a pretty good length of it, collected some shells, and the girls dug in the sand for awhile.

The little beach town was very nice and I bet it is a great spot in the summer. There were some great views.

We ate lunch at one of the few resort spots that was open. When the sun stayed out from behind the clouds it was nice and warm. Frank and I had planned on a beer-free day but the setting called for one more cold one! We also both ordered seafood risotto which was a refreshing change from daily pasta and pizza. I had to snap a photo of the friend on my plate that thoroughly disgusted our seafood-averse children.

Overall a nice day and a great use of an unplanned day in Rome.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wow - I can post

Found a proxy I can post with. Now just have to figure out how to get pictures in here! Hopefully it will work. If not it will have to wait a few more days. I have more Rome to post and now Halloween Round 2 and the rescheduled Girl Scout hike. Check back soon!