Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dessert Night

At least once during every vacation, we have to have dessert night. On our trip over Christmas dessert night happened in Athens. We had had a large lunch, so we went two different places and devoured several of their famous desserts. At the second restaurant, we weren't able to finish the food, as there was too much . . . but it was sure good!

The top dish was a donut kind of pastry with a nutella-style chocolate drizzled over it. Served hot . . . wow!

This is four different desserts with ice cream in the center. The chocolate praline cake on the right was the favorite . . . to die for!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Go Packers!

I love football! I especially love college football! But suddenly, I am really excited about the Super Bowl.

As a young girl, we always went to the New Mexico Lobos football games. Then we would watch the Dallas Cowboys on Sundays - back when Don Meredith, Jethro Peugh, "Too Tall" Jones, and Bobby Hayes played. I loved the Cowboys until Tom Landry left, and I lost my passion for NFL football. I replaced that passion with college football.

Although I became a big K-State fan, I would watch pro ball but I never had a special team. I soon began to follow the Chiefs - sort of - and when Terence Newman was drafted by the Cowboys, I at least watched to see him play. I rooted (loudly, by the way) for Terence, but I just can't root for the Cowboys. And then the Packers (a team I have always liked because of their small market appeal) drafted Jordy. Jordy Nelson. KSU player Jordy Nelson.

I loved watching Jordy play at K-State. He was a bright spot in some rather miserable KSU football years. And then, after he was drafted, I got to meet him while at a Football 101 camp (that's Shirley Meissner in the picture with me). Jordy was exactly as he had been billed . . . affable, nice, a good kid. So I began to follow Green Bay. And I watched Jordy, who just kept doing well. As this season progressed, he was a consistent receiver for the Packers, and in yesterday's game, he had several key catches.

Earlier this year, we went to Leonardville to eat in his parents' restaurant, Nelson's Landing. I was told when he would come back to Kansas, he could be found working in the kitchen, serving food, and helping out around the building. How could you not help but root for him?

So in two weeks, for the first time in a long time, I actually care who wins the Super Bowl. I really want the Packers. Go Jordy!

Athens at Night

I love pictures taken as the sun is going down, especially over the ocean. I also love pictures at night, when they are taken with a camera capable of such shots. Fortunately, Kenneth and Melinda own a great camera for night pictures. When we were in Athens, they experimented with a few scenes, and managed to get some really nice photos.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Feeding Birds

I love to feed birds - except it brings with it squirrels, mice, and some birds I am not particularly fond of (and the occasional raccoon - a story for another time). So I am not always consistent with my bird seed.

Usually we get many sparrows, some juncos, a few cardinals, and some finches. But on occasion, a surprise awaits. Today was one of those days. I happened to look outside just in time to see a Cedar Waxwing on the Nandina bushes, chomping on some of the beautiful red berries the bush has on it. Then I looked again to see a whole flock (group? herd? gaggle? bunch?) of Cedar Waxwings in our Cypress tree. There were probably 50 of them.

I had never seen a Cedar Waxwing at our house before. They are gorgeous little birds . . . and they loved those Nandina berries. But as soon as they were here, they were gone again. Please come back pretty birds.

Friday, January 21, 2011


As I have been looking through our pictures of Germany and Austria, I found these that were taken first during the day then during the evening. I thought the contrast in this particular picture, with the sun and then the full moon, was interesting.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Across the canyon from Neuschwanstein is the "other castle," where King Ludwig was raised. Although not as spectacular as Neuschwanstein, it is still a beautiful building, and at night, with its swan brightly lighted, it makes an impressive statement.

On our next trip to Germany, we will visit this castle, too!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Full Moon

We never expected, when we went to Neuschwanstein, to have the privilege of seeing the castle as the full moon rose. If we were going to have only one clear night, this was a good one!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Commentary Not Needed

The scenery between Innsbruck and Neuschwanstein needs no description. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cinderella's Castle

I don't know where I have been all of the times I have gone to Disneyland and DisneyWorld, but somehow I missed the note that there is a real castle in Germany from which the Cinderella Castle was designed. So when Chuck Morgan suggested we go to Neuschwanstein, I was fine with it . . . even though I didn't know what it was. I found out soon enough.

The drive from Innsbruck was spectacular - pictures tomorrow. The day was the only crystal clear day we had, and thank goodness it was! Once we arrived in the town of Hohenschwangau and purchased our tickets, we climbed into the horse-drawn carriage and headed up the hill to
the castle.

The castle was built by King Ludwig, who some said was crazy but others just said was eccentric. Although it took over ten years to build, it was never completed . . . only four rooms were totally done. The trip was well worth it, however. Enjoy a few pictures of Neuschwanstein.

We signed up for the tour that was in English, and the guide took us through the throne room, the king's bedroom/office, the kitchen, and the servants' quarters. Seeing the mosaic floor in the throne room and the chandelier were worth the price of admission - and there was plenty more to see. This is one king who had good taste!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Where to begin? We saw spectacular scenery on our European trip. Some of it was subdued because of the cloudy weather . . . but even subdued, it was amazing! The sunset over quaint Rothenberg highlighted the old buildings, and the river in Nuremberg was gorgeous at night.

With the crisp December air and Christmas lights, the decorated cities helped create a festive mood for us.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An Ancient Stadium

One of the joys of our trip to Athens was visiting the Panathenaic Stadium, or the Kallimarmaro Stadium. None of us had ever been there, and it was well worth the time we took to walk to it (we walked about 10 miles a day while we were in Athens.) A wonderful audio tour is included in the price of admission, and as we listened to it, we were immersed in ancient Greece.

The stadium, built in the 300's BC for the Panathenaic games, was allowed to fall into disrepair until it was renovated in the 1890's for the Olympics. It was used in the 2004 Olympics for the archery competition, and the marathon also finished there. When it was redone in the 1890's,
the architects used marble. Imagine an all-marble stadium - it was gorgeous.

There were several very interesting architectural points in the stadium. First, the walls were curved so that every person in the stadium could see the action on the field. Second, the track around the playing field is about one foot below the playing field so that people could walk in front of the stands (between the playing field and the seats) without interrupting the spectators' line of sight. Third, the rows were not numbered but were lettered in the Greek alphabet, and the seats were numbered in Roman numerals. Finally, the tunnel into the stadium (that the gladiators used when walking into the stadium) created quite the entrance.

Diana and I took a picture while sitting in the Kappa, Kappa, and Gamma rows; we pretended to be winners of an athletic event; and I found our K-State football seats in section 16. Those seats are appreciably better than the ones at KSU - they are the equivalent of being on the 50-yard line!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Salzberger Nockerl

Saturday night we had some friends for dinner . . . so I decided to test some of my new European cooking on them. First, we had Greek kabobs, and although they weren't quite as good as those we ate in Greece, they were pretty good. Paired with tzatziki, pita bread, and a Greek salad, it made for a delicious meal!

Then I decided to try making another Salzberger Nockerl. I had learned some things in my test case, and so made a few changes. Although it would have been more authentic to serve it in an oval casserole, Don and I decided that we would make one smaller one for each person. So I rolled out my casserole bowls, and with the help of my two friends, we whipped up a Salzberger Nockerl. Mine didn't have three peaks per bowl - just one - but the portion was perfect. (The recipe says it serves 2 . . . but we easily fed 6 with it!) With the addition of a little more raspberry sauce, some lemon zest, and more understanding of how the dish is made, we decided that this is a pretty and fun recipe to serve!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Food, food, food

One characteristic about the younger generation that Don and I have noticed is that they not only appreciate good food, they take pictures of it. And then they write about it. A lot.

Not to be outdone, we joined the trend. As we toured Europe, we took pictures of many beautiful foods. Unfortunately, we can't always remember what the dishes were called. Nevertheless, we continued taking pictures of our meals. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of the foods with you.

Probably the most spectacular dish we ate was a Salzberger Nockerl. Unfortunately, we forgot to take a picture of that spectacular dish until it was nearly gone. It is a meringue dessert, filled with a sugary egg mixture and served with raspberry sauce, that, if cooked correctly, has three meringue peaks that represent the three mountains that surround Salzberg. The picture only shows one of the peaks . . . the other two were already gone!

We liked Salzberger Nockerl so much that we experimented with it Thursday, and I am serving it to some friends tonight (after a Greek dinner . . . more on that later). Yum. Especially when served with homemade raspberry jelly. And it isn't nearly as hard to make as it looks!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Abbey Road

When we found out our hotel was very near the iconic Abbey Road crossing, we had to go see it. Christmas Day seemed like the right time as traffic would be light. And it was . . . sort of. We were shocked at how many people were trying to take the same picture we were taking. Taxi after taxi drove up, spilling their contents onto the sidewalk for their version of the picture.

We waited and waited our turn . . . and we found out that many people don't understand that concept. One group that arrived after us jumped out at a very good break . . . and took the entire time to take their picture. Four other groups could have jumped in if that group hadn't been so . . . obsessed. Another group would take a picture, go off, decide they didn't like it, take another picture . . . it happened about 5 times. As it was, we finally got our picture, and we were delighted with the results.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Friendly Encounters of the Hat Kind!

Our hats were the subject of many comments as we paraded around London. On Christmas Day, we all donned our hats and went for a walk. Since one Starbucks was open not far from our hotel, we headed that way (while passing by some iconic intersections; more on that in a later post). After partaking in our favorite Starbucks drinks, the kids decided to extend their walk, but the four "old folks" headed back to the hotel.

Not far from our hotel, we saw four young people headed towards us, all wearing Santa hats. They were the second group of young people we had encountered in Santa hats, so as we walked by, I commented to them, "Nice hats." After passing them, one of them came back to ask if we would take our picture with them. One of the young women pulled out a tripod, put the camera on it, set the delay, and joined us for the picture.
The young people were French tourists who, like us, were spending Christmas in London. Two minutes later, after exchanging email addresses, we were on our way! It was such a fun encounter, and now we have some new French friends.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Hats Go Marching!

When we first went to Europe, we had an eight hour lay-over at Heathrow. Kenneth and Melinda were to meet us there, and when they arrived we saw this:

We decided that it would be fun for all of us to have the same hat . . . and so we embarked upon a mission to find them. Eventually we found them in H & M stores in Innsbruck and Salzburg so that, by the time we got to London, we all had a hat. Good thing, too, because it was very cold. We found that having the same hat was handy - we didn't have much trouble finding each other on the streets of London, and we got many comments. The hats aren't glamorous, but they certainly are distinctive:

Melissino's Sandal Shop

If you ever go to Athens, you must visit Melissino's Sandal Shop. It is easy to find, just off Monastiriki Square near the Agora. The shop was started by the grandfather of the current owner, but it was The Poet (the current owner's father) who made the shop famous, both because he was a talented poet and a good sandal maker.

When I met the Poet forty years ago, his shop had already been visited by the Beatles and he and his shop were well on their way to stardom. Since then such celebrities as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Sophia Loren, and Barbra Streisand have visited him, and during the 2004 Olympics, Katie Couric did one segment of the Today Show from his shop.

What makes his shop so unique? Well, aside from the plethora of sandals hanging around, the many leather bags on the wall, and the original artwork, it's the service you get. Each pair of sandals is individually fit to the purchaser's foot. Once a style is chosen, the current owner, Pantelis Melissinos, fits the sandal and takes it to his bench to cut, reglue, and nail the leather so that the sandal fits perfectly. It is not the kind of shop to go to if you only have five minutes, as it is not a process to hurry along. But it is an enjoyable time, as there is plenty to absorb. We marveled at not only the craftsmanship of the sandal making but also the talent of Pantelis, as seen in his artwork.

And then there's the price. He has three prices for his sandals - 25, 27 and 29 euros. That's it. (They were $3 when I bought 40 years ago.) Where else can you get custom fit, hand-made sandals for that?

A trip to The Poet's Sandal Shop is well worth your time. I hope you manage to get there someday!

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Sandalmaker Shop

When I visited the Athens sandalmaker's shop back in 1970, I purchased two pairs of sandals. One pair, I wore all the time; the other I saved for a rainy day (I guess). I couldn't throw the worn-out pair of sandals away, however - I loved them so much. And I didn't want to wear the other pair because I loved them, too, and didn't want to wear them out - I know, illogical and pathetic . . . but that was my thought process.

When we visited the sandalmaker's shop before Christmas, I saw he still makes the same pair of sandals I purchased in 1970 - except he adds a rubber sole now. So I purchased a pair just like my faves and brought them home. The scary thing is I walked right to my worn-out pair and pulled them out. They were such trusty sandals that served me well. I also still have all of my information about that trip in 1970, and I noted that the sandals cost me $3 (150 drachmas at the time). What a bargain!

Now I have another trusty pair, and although they didn't cost $3, they were very reasonably priced. I might finally feel like I can wear the other pair I bought in 1970, since I don't anticipate waiting another 40 years to return to Greece. So here is a picture of all three pairs
of sandals - 40-year-old new, 40-year-old old, and brand new!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Chance Encounters of the Sandalmaker Kind!

Forty years ago I was lucky enough to take a fabulous trip to Europe. When we were in Greece, we went to the flea market and found an awesome sandal shop. At that shop, our group met a group of boys from Texas. After talking with them for awhile, we figured out that one of the boys had been in the Holy Ghost and stayed in a cabin two doors up from us - when we were eight or nine. We had played kick-the-can and many other games during the summer - they were friends of the Noel family and spent the entire summer there. Turns out I went to school in Albuquerque with his cousins, and his aunt and uncle were good friends of my parents.

Fast forward forty years. While researching for our trip, I found out the sandal shop is still in business, and although the sandal maker who made my shoes no longer works there, his son is still running it. I was determined to find the shop, so we went on a discovery trek . It wasn't too hard to find, and the first night, we looked at all the different pairs of sandals he has to offer. Since most merchants in Greece only accept cash, we had to go to the bank before we could buy, so we decided to come back the next night.

When we returned the following night, the store was filled with young women, sandals strewn all over the floor. I popped my head in and told the assistant that we would come back. About five seconds later, one of the girls opened the door, leaned out and said, "Ken?" Kenneth looked up .... "Feng?" Turns out they go to UCLA together, and the three other women are also in the UCLA program. It was great fun for all of us to try on sandals and catch up on what everyone was doing.

I have decided the sandal maker's shop is a magical place for chance encounters - at least for my family.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

This date - 1. 1. 11 - is the beginning of another awesome year! We wish for our friends only good things throughout the year!