Saturday, October 26, 2013

Home to Snow

After 32 hours of travel, we arrived home to 8 to 12 inches of snow.  Also, for those of you considering an overnight train ride in Europe.... Don't... It is a brutal experience!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Overnight Train to Paris

We boarded in Milan at 11 PM and should arrive in Paris at 9:30 AM.  The cabins are like being on the boat.  Our two cabins are joined by a connecting door and we have 3 births in each cabin.  Spencer and Johnny could of joined us and it would be really cozy.  The only down side is someone had lots of veggies for dinner and they keep fumigating our tight quarters.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Vitrum Milan

Arrived in Milan this morning as the glass show opened.  Ron and I will spend the next two days at the show with employees and customers.  The girls will have some time to rest and catch up on homework (Victoria).  This is our FeneTech booth shortly after the show began.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


The girls went shopping and dad was soft.

San Gimignano

Today the weather was pleasant as we walked around this Tuscan hill town.  The whole town was picturesque and very mideviel.  The Italian cookies and pizza consumed at the local shops were delightful.  We were going to visit a local winery, but ran out of time.  Not a single drop of rain today!

Monday, October 21, 2013


The forecast today was thunderstorms and they arrived in force.  We drove to Sienna in rain and then walked (swam?) around for a few hours in torrential rain.  Soaked to the bones, the most enjoyable time was sipping hot chocolate in a cafe.  I was concerned about flooding and our ability to get back to Florence, so we cut our day short and returned. Water was everywhere and the Arno River was roaring.  Oh well, maybe the weather will be better tomorrow.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Steak Fiorentina

So when in Florence..... Eat the local specialty;  T bone steak grilled in olive oil with ground pepper and salt.  Simple and tasty!

2 Out of 5 Ain't Bad

Today we went to the Cinque Terre, which is 5 small towns on the Ligurian coast.  We took a train from La Spezia to Monterosso and then hiked two hours to Vernazza.  The hike was beautiful and rigorous as we weaved among vineyards and olive groves tiered on the steep slopes.  The intent was to see all five towns today.  However, it began raining and the trails became treacherous.  We will just have to come back to see the other three towns.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Galileo Gave Us The Finger

The last time we were in Florence we saw all the recommended art museums and got an A in culture appreciation.  This time we followed our engineering instincts and visited the Galileo Science Museum....  It was full of intriguing scientific devices and was more interesting than paintings and sculptures....  Galileo even had his middle finger on display (also his index finger, thumb, and a tooth). 

Finally in Florence

Our van ride took us almost 11 hours and we arrived at midnight pretty tired.  So... we slept in and then walked 10 miles around Florence seeing the sights...piaazzas, churches, shopping, and consuming excellent local food.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Infinite Tunnel

What a bonus, the change in our travel plans now allows us to see Switzerland and the Alps!  We went through the longest tunnel I have ever experienced.  It was 17 km (10 miles) long and there was 3,000 meters of mountain above us.  The temperature rose from 18C outside of the tunnel to 35C halfway through the tunnel.  The air was pugnant with exhaust fumes.

General Strike

Well it's worse than we thought.... The entire Italian transportation system has stopped.  All trains, planes, busses, and boats are idle until further notice.  Private vehicle is the only way to get around now.  Maurice, our driver, is also our tour guide as we speed through the Alsace region of France.

Victoria's Legal!!!

Well at least in Luxembourg where she can have a beer at age 16.  Victoria is enjoying her first beer in a bar (at least I think it is..... right Victoria??).  The beer was Diechstein, one of three beers brewed in Luxembourg.  She must of liked it, because it went down fast.

Off To Work We Go

We spent Thursday with FeneTech Europe at their current facility and then viewed their new facility.  Our Europe business is growing, so the new facility will be over double in size.  A spirited evening with all the employees kept us out late.

Trains, planes, and automobiles!

This morning after a very scenic hike of the valleys of Luxembourg, we were informed that the workers at the Milan airport had just gone on strike. We had plans to take a plane from Luxembourg to Milan and a train from Milan to Florence. Well that sure wasn't going to happen anymore! After great assistance from our friends at Fenetech Europe, we were able to find a mini bus and driver willing to drive the 10 hours to Florence. We will be traveling through Switzerland on the way! Maybe we can find some chocolate or stop for a ski break on the way through the alps... 

Pandora Beads

Victoria and Olivia wasted no time finding a Pandora store in Luxembourg Center.  They added the Eiffel Tower and Luxembourg Castle to their collection.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Choo Choo to Luxembourg

We are on the early morning train to Luxembourg.  Victoria didn't get enough sleep last night.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Eiffel Ascent

One month ago we reserved our lift tickets for the ascent.  Fortunately, the weather cleared for a spectacular view of the city.  Our lift did experience an "energizer failure" which induced passenger anxiety.  After a thermal or circuit reset, we sputtered upward and my confidence in French engineering was restored.

Underground With Dead and Living

After spending time with tens of thousands of the dead in the Catacombs...... We conquered the subway and enjoyed time with the living beneath Paris.  However, it wasn't without mishap, as the jaws of death (subway car doors) nearly sent Tammy to the Catacombs.

French baguettes

Victoria and Dad have this habit of eating a whole baguette by themselves...Since we're in France and the baguettes are abundant, of course they had to get one! This time, however, they were kind enough to share some bread with the others.

French Catacombs

So many funny bones for not such a funny place.

Famous Ohio Artist

It rained this afternoon, so it was a good time to visit the Center Pompidou Modern Art Museum (Wow! What a place). We had to travel all the way to Paris to see native Ohion Roy Lichtenstein's special exhibition of amazing graphics and sculptures.

Ferandi Culinary School

Victoria visited a top French Culinary School which she may attend for a session.  This school has a student exchange program with Johnson and Wales, which she has applied for admission.  The baguettes were really good!

The triumph of the arch

Thought we'd press our luck and grab some tickets to climb the famous triumphant arch regardless of the fact that the lift was broken. After about 10 miles of walking already completed that day, climbing the what seemed like infinate loop of stairs ended up being quite the challenge. But  boy, the view was worth it!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Champs Elisyee March

After a 3 hour revitalizing nap.... Ron and Tammy marched us down the grand boulevard for an ascent of the Arc de Triomphe.  We had an exceptional view of the city of lights and then dinner street-side at a local cafe.

Babes on Seine

We wandered all about Paris today.  We saw the Louvre, Notre Dame, and a plethora of monuments and statues.  At the end of the day our pedometer tallied 13.45 miles!

Our First Purchase

We needed a picker upper to keep us from slumping after being up so long.  What better than a sugar infusion from some macaroons.  They were good and very pretty.... Just like our future chef who picked all the vibrant colors.

Americanized French Food?

Apparently the French took the American favorite, 'hot dog and fries" to the next level. Dad decided to try it out. We were more than surprised by what he got.

All Night Flight

Just landed at Charles DeGaule in Paris. The girls are pretty fresh after our 7 1/2 hour flight.

Monday, October 14, 2013

On Our Way

The girls are off to Europe with us.  Unfortunately, the boys and grandma won't be joining us this trip.  We have a two hour drive to Pittsburgh for our direct flight to Paris.