Thursday, September 29, 2011

European Vacation

I'm back from my trip to Europe with Brian's family.  It was a great time, and the sights and tastes were amazing!  We went to Switzerland, Austria, and Germany.  My favorite part of the trip was a train ride up into the Swiss Alps, to the highest train stop in Europe.  This magical place is called Jungfraujoch and is known as the "Top of Europe."  There was an ice castle (walls, floors, ceilings, tunnels and sculptures of ice surrounded you), snow activities (a couple of us went zip lining into the snow!), and breathtaking views of Switzerland, Germany, and France.  I bet I took 100 pictures or more just on this excursion, though due to technical difficulties I will have to rely on this one from the internet for now (once "Antonio" can help me get my pictures off my camera and onto his computer, I will share some personal ones -- geez, I sound so technologically impaired, don't I?).  Though honestly -- none of my personal pics look quite as good as this professional one, likely taken from a special helicopter:

Another highlight included Oktoberfest in Munich -- oh, the merry people in their festive costumes!  The German bier!  The singing!  The oompa-oompa music of the brass instruments and the accordians!  The giant pretzels (far better than any giant pretzel I've ever eaten in the U.S.)!  The German bier (oh, wait, did I already mention that...?)!  Due to knowing the right people, we were in a group of about 30 people from around the world at the Hofbrau Tent to celebrate Oktoberfest one afternoon, and it was a great time.

We also explored a few cities in Switzerland and Austria, and I loved seeing the rivers cut through town, the narrow streets, the sidewalk cafes, and the flowerboxes full of red geraniums on nearly every window of every house.  The views everywhere were amazing, and just so different from what I'm accustomed to seeing in the U.S.  There were so many interesting buildings, with such detailed architecture from a time long, long ago -- a time before anyone was building permanent structures in America. 

We missed Brian on the trip, to be sure.  We toasted him several times, once with cognac and Coke, at the suggestion of Brian's grandpa, who had sent his mom overseas with money and instructions detailing us to specifically drink cognac for him.  We met up with some long-lost relatives in Zurich, Switzerland and had a large family dinner at their favorite, off-the-beaten-path restaurant.  It was incredibly tasty, to the point that I found myself wiping the plate with my finger and licking it when no one was looking!  It's a shame he couldn't have met this cousin and her new husband; I'm certain he would have liked them, as well as their pets, a cat and two rabbits.

Once I got back to San Antonio, to the new house, "Antonio" had a business trip that prevented us from being able to spend the night together, with all three cats, for several days.  On top of that, I was hit with a nasty sinus infection that had me clogged up, messed with my sleeping patterns (which were already jacked from the time change and travel), and left me unable to talk on the phone for more than a few minutes without feeling woozy from the "wah-wah-wah" sound in my ears.  I missed Antonio terribly, and I missed Brian too.  It was the first time I've felt such a strong feeling of longing, of missing, of wanting, for both of them at the same time.  There I was, alone in the house with the cats, unpacking my things, feeling simultaneous excitement at starting a new life with my boyfriend (and for the wonderful home we are making together) and longing for my late husband.  I was laid up on the couch (my couch in Antonio's house, though now everything is "ours" and not "mine" or "yours"), wearing an old sweatshirt of Brian's, and I actually had dreams about them both while I was cooped up sick and alone.  It was a strange feeling.  I think sometimes pain is necessary to move forward though, and I do feel like experiencing that jumble of emotions was a step forward.  I'm making progress, though sometimes it's hard.

Last night, we finally had our first night together in the house as a family -- Antonio, the 3 kitties, and me.  It was wonderful, and today I feel as on top of the world as I did at Jungfraujoch, and I like the view just as much.

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