Friday, September 30, 2011

rapalje reunion

Where are the Rapaljes?

Well, I successfully made it to Blacksburg! Ride wise, it all worked out.

A successfully made it back to Germany, it all worked out.

The dogs... well, they are stuck in Atlanta :( STUPID DELTA overbooked the pets on the flight and my dogs are stuck, in their crates, in Atlanta. Guess how happy I am.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"10k Chick-fil-A"

"10k Chick-fil-A, 10k Chick-fil-A!!" -- this is what A has been shouting when we talk about our upcoming (tomorrow!) trip to America. What is he excited about?! The little vegetarian man I'm married to, excited about a greasy chicken biscuit. HAHAH. Typical. He already has extensive plans about waking up on Saturday morning, running (literally) to CFA and eating "at least 4" chicken biscuits!

What am I excited about?! Our WHOLE TRIP! We start it off right, attending a cocktail party for Matt and Laura's wedding, hanging out with Jesse & Shannon (who I'm SUPER excited to meet even though it feels like we already know each other!), John & Kim, Matt & Laura -- med school friends. The next day, we will be watching football in DT Chapel Hill, followed by Matt & Laura's wedding.. more hang out time with great friends. Sunday morning we PICK UP MY TWO PUPPIES - FINALLLY!!!!! Boston and Riva, at last! They will come with us to Benson, where Mrs. R will be having a mini-Welcome Home from Afghanistan Cookout for A. We get to see good friends (Brad & Anna & REID!) and all of A's family (all 4 nieces, two of which we will be meeting for the very first time!). We will be there until Wednesday, when we head to Atlanta to see my Grandparents and Aunt. A flies out of Atlanta with the pups on Thursday and I make my way back to Blacksburg, where even more excitement is going on. I will have the pleasure of seeing Brett play football, Ali play soccer and volleyball, the Hokies play Clemson AND Miami, the newly floored house, drink and hang out at Mill Mountain (my FAVORITE spot) Bhatta!, my Dad's coming to town, bff from highschool, myfav ex-Mill Mountaineer and her adorable daughter, seeing beautiful Blacksburg in the Fall, and much, much more. Can you tell that I'm excited?! And that this is going to be an extremely busy trip?! Guess I should start my packing.. considering our flight leaves in... 24 hours!!

In other Rapalje Recently news... we went to the FC Kaiserslautern vs. FC Mainz fussball game over the weekend with Sean and Erin. Man, it was like an NFL game. The crowd was HUGE, the fans were so into it, they got there early to tailgate, all sporting the famous scarves, lighting the scarves on fire, spilling beer when we scored, etc etc. And to make matters even better, FCK (the home team who we were rooting for) won!! After the game, we high-tailed it out of there and trained home. Next day, we find out there was a HUGE riot (we did notice the hundreds of police dressed for battle) and most fans didnt get home til 1am (we got home at 930!). WHEW. Glad we missed that one! Mainz and K-Town are HUGE rivals, less than an hour away from each other, both in the Budesliga and fighting to stay in. Big, BIG deal!

On Tuesday, we also went up to Sean and Erin's for Kate's first birthday party, their youngest daughter. A went to fly at Ramstein so I got to hang out ALL DAY with Erin and the girls. So much fun! We played, decorated for the cookout/party, etc. I just love that we live close enough that I get to be a part of their lives!

Fussball Club Kaiserslautern vs. FC Mainz

Erin & I at the game.. pre me having beer spilt all over after the 2nd goal

Hanging out with the McMurry girls all day - Pushing Kate in the swing and she fell asleep! TOO CUTE!

1st Birthday Party

Claire and Kate

And now...


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

La Gruyère: The Cheese AND the City - A Travel Recommendation

As you know, we were recently in the land of cheese, Switzerland. While we were there, we had some amazing... yes.. cheese! And other meals that were for the most part, based around cheese.

The first night, we ate in Les Evouettes, where our B&B was. We found an AMAZING restaurant. Yes, it was Switzerland, so it was expensive, but well worth it. We started off with some local wine and bread. The chef brought out a 'wish from the kitchen' which was a delicious mini piece of quiche. Then we ordered the Fromage plate. This is a dessert for the Frenchies, but we were in the land of cheese, so we had to taste them, and not AFTER our meal (this is just not something I can get used to culturally). The amazingly delicious fromage plate was followed by fish with potatoes and vegetables. My fish was served in hollandaise sauce. A's was with Béarnaise. He claims to have never had either. I know I have had both, but these renditions were exceptional. For the life of me, I cannot remember OR find the restaurant name online, which is a shame because I would certainly recommend it to all (these Euros are a bit behind with their websites). What I do know is that it was in Les Evouettes along the main road, Route Cantonale. It is in an old house, right on the road, has a sign outside with the (French) name and says Cafe, Terrasse, Restarant, as well. I CAN find it on Google Maps, but still can't read the sign (someone needs an advertiser, ahem).

The next night, after biking 20 miles, we decided to sit on our terrace and have some bread with local wine and cheese before dinner. What a delicious mistake? We were both so full we didn't eat dinner, but the cheese and bread was delicious! We hit up a local restaurant anyways and just had some wine.

The last day, on our way home, we stopped in the town of La Gruyère. We saw signs for it on our drive to the Lake Geneva area and decided to wanted to see it. We left with plenty of time to stop for a tour around the city and a meal. We drove TO the city (but not in - not allowed) which was so picturesque. Surrounded by Alps, the medieval city is built up on a massive hill with almost fake looking green grass surrounding. There is a cheese museum and restaurant below which we wound up spending all of our time at. Most were dining on Swiss Fondue, but we had a potato, cheese, pear melt. MMMM.

The Town...

La Gruyère

La Gruyère

So fresh and Green

...And the Food...

FROMAGE plate. Always a winner. Always. Yes, the French (and French-Swiss) eat it for dessert. Not us. Come on now, a cheese plate is an appetizer. So, we take on the stares, have no shame, and eat it FIRST, as an appetizer.. and with BREAD!

My dinner on the first night. FIsh w/Hollandaise sauce...delicious Frenchy meal!

A's dinner the first night. Fish (can't remember what kind now) w/ Béarnaise sauce.. we were in the French speaking part of Switzerland!

A stop in La Gruyère for cheese and beer, of course!

The original Pear/Gruyère/Potato Goodness that we had in La Gruyère. AMAZING. Bad service. Good food.

La Gruyère Fondue. We brought home a block of (expensive) Gruyère and had a fondue dinner with friends. It was DELICIOUS!! I'd totally do it again except that we ate all the cheese... of course!

A's Re-Creation of the Pear/Potato/Gruyere Goodness... Good, but not Swiss good!

Also, FYI, Gruyère is a STINKY CHEESE - Pepe la Peyuh bad, but man does it taste absolutely A-mazing! Also, the name of the cheese (and town) is Greyerz in German.. I've since bought the cheese at the local market, it's THAT good.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


yes, it's that time of year again - the landlord has even turned on the heat!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lamb Jello?!

Yesterday afternoon, I was talking to Svenja, a 17 year old girl who lives down the street and watches the dogs for us when we travel. She recently got a job at a restaurant in the neighboring town (walking or biking distance away). She randomly asked if we could come eat at her restaurant. She is just so sweet and so sure, why not?! After telling us, It's Upper-Class and expensive for the region, she made us reservations at 7. Lots of places in Germany do NOT accept credit card, so we searched the house for cash, just in case since we knew it was going to be a little more expensive of a meal.. It is UPPER CLASS :) So we biked down the road to Grünhäuser Mühle in Mertesdorf (right on the bike path beside the pool), parked our bikes, and walked in. There was a Michelin sticker in the window.. hmm curious. We got excited for our meal!

Usually, Svenja just sets the tables, serves the drinks, serves the food, clears the table, etc.. bus girl.. but more, kind of? But in this case, her boss knew we were her friends so she was able to WAIT on us! This was a big deal. You could tell she was a little nervous. Cute. She did an excellent job and got our orders right :) We both had some local wine... of course, we are in wine country you know! Alex ordered the 5 course menu. I ordered an appetizer (upon Svenja's recommendation) and meal. But since we were Svenja's friends (I assume) the chef sent us extra "wishes" from the kitchen! What a nice touch!

Our first "wish from the kitchen." Umm, I don't know how you say it in German, but this was lamb jello. Weird, very weird. Being vegetarian, I only had a bite (I had to taste it!). It was super meaty tasting. A loved it. It was served with horseradish sauce. He ate both of ours... obviously!

A's Vorpeisen. SUPER DIFFERENT. Are you ready for it? Apple Curry Cream Soup. Yes, sounds weird. But it was a good weird. The more we ate it, the more we liked it.

Mein Vorspisen (appetizer). Salads with Shrimps. The Germans here REALLY know how to make a salad. Their dressing is always so much better than the dressing at home. The shrimp were smoky tasting, different, and the salad itself had tons of fruit on it! Yum!

Our second "wish from the kitchen." Homemade Sorbet served in Mirabellen liquor. Also delicious. More along the lines of dessert...

My main meal - Pfannkuchen.. basically a DELICIOUS vegetable crepe topped with Pfefferlingen Creme Sauce served with more veggies that were DELICOUSSSSS

Alex's Main Meal - Salat and Pasta with Salmon & Pfefferlingen - Nothing crazy

And then by dessert, I was off my game and DIDN'T take pictures. Can you believe it?! Homemade ice cream served with homemade meringue cookies, served with homemade cream topped with fruit flavored liquor. Not really MY cup of tea, but the presentation was nice.

Dinner was delicious. I just love Pfefferlingens, so anything with Pfefferlingen Cream Sauce wins in my book. Throughout the meal, A finished EVERYTHING on his place AND mine. He said how good it was and went so far as to LICK THE PLATES (haha jk), however after, he said, oh well, that was good. PSH. It was more than good when you were cleaning both plates!! Yes, it was German food, which is different, heavy, rich, not what we're used to (still!), but it was VERY good for German food. We were BOTH impressed, I am just the only one who's going to admit it after the fact. Either way, I'd go back AND take guests there who want a real German meal outside of schnitzel!

The Restaurant - Grünhäuser Mühle

By the way, what DOES the Michelin sticker mean if it is NOT Michelin rated? Just that it was considered?! I just google that! Who knows, maybe they just put that sticker up there for kicks!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

B&B Views - Les Evouettes, Switzerland

Farms, Vineyards, and Alps surrounding

Alps in front...

...and Alps behind

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lavaux Vineyards, Switzerland: A Travel Recommendation

I read about Switzerland's Lavaux Vineyards in National Geographic Travel ... saw pictures.. and HAD to go. What a choice. The whole trip for us (minus the GPS) was good luck after more good luck. I found a last minute studio/B&B to rent which was in an awesome location and MUCHHHH cheaper than all the hotels we looked at. The studio turned out to be much more than we imagined. On top of that, it was originally supposed to rain Friday and Sunday. The weather turned out or as A likes to say, it blew over. We had perfect sun, few clouds, and 26C, a perfect weekend to bike. On our first night there we found an awesomeeeeee typical Swiss restaurant and had an AMAZING meal (pictures of that to come later!). Best of all, our car window was NOT busted in - woo!

Friday night, we arrived later. So we checked into the studio, went out for an awesome dinner (cheese, bread, quiche, fish with hollandaise sauce, fish with bernaise sauce), hung out, talked, drank local wine, and then went back to the studio for some US Open action on TV. Sounds boring, but it was quite fab. Saturday morning we got up and sat on our awesome private terrace drinking coffee, supplied by our studio (they had this bad.ass coffee maker... and now we want one!). The area was so peaceful and the view was just unbeatable. Alps in front. Alps behind. Perfection. We took our bikes to Chatea de Chillon and started biking from there. Every town, country, state, EVERYWHERE, should have such a bike path (Germany does as well - what is America doing?!). Anyhoo, we biked through all the linking towns, stopping to take pictures, to eat lunch, to have a drink, to get a pastry at a bakery, walk through the vineyards, asking about wine tasting, etc. We biked around 6 or 7 hours, but this is LEISURELY biking (Bike.. eat...drink = Europe!). All in all, we only biked about 20 miles. Following our bike ride, we headed back to the studio, got ready for dinner, and went out again. Our meal wasn't nearly as extravagant because we had appetizers at the studio - local cheese with a freshly baked (still warm) baguette. Yes, we spoiled our dinner. But man, the cheese there is just to die for - TOTALLY worth it! We went out to a restaurant anyways, had some more local wine and an appetizer. Again, nothing crazy exciting (this is small town Switzerland!), but EXTREMELY enjoyable night, followed by more US Open. Sunday we got up, same great view, same great coffee, same great silence. We headed toward an area of the Lake that we hadn't made it to the day before - Lausanne. Same story - great views, great weather. We biked around, took some pictures, ate some lunch, walked through the farmer's market, etc. We left a little earlier in the afternoon BECAUSE we wanted to head to La Gruyère, Switzerland - home of the infamous and absolutely deliciousssss cheeeesssseeee (pics & info to come!).

We liked the area so very much that we are thinking about going back in August for the Jazz Festival... We'll see. Either way, this area is a MUST SEE! Perfect place for my favorite kind of weekend getaway - on a bike!

Lavaux Vineyards overlooking St. Saphorin, Switzerland

Lavaux Vineyards overlooking St. Saphorin

my favorite view!

lone rose

Vineyards as far as the eye can see!

Sorry, Kasel. Switzerland has you beat!

This was MY favorite view from the trip - Alps, Water, Vineyards, Town. LOVE it!

I could NOT stop taking pictures... obviously.

Cool Gate along the (very uphill) hike through the vineyards

Monday, September 12, 2011

Château de Chillon, Switzerland

Starting off our bike tour at Château de Chillon

East side of Château de Chillon - Early in the day

Later in the afternoon, on the bike back to the B&B

West side as the sun goes down

West side of Château de Chillon

Up close at the castle

Château de Chillon is absolutely gorgeous from the outside. The inside I can't speak for. It was a beautiful Saturday and we didn't want to spend a second inside, so we skipped the tour which was 10-12 euros depending on if you got the Montreaux Riviera discount from your hotel/B&B. The Château is set on a picturesque part of the Lake filled with super clean blue water, Alps in the background, flowers surrounding, and right on the extremely convenient bike path which runs along the entire lake.

what did you do over the weekend??

i (we) biked vevey!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tom is not bomb

Don't ever, EVER get a Tom-Tom. Worst GPS ever. Stick to Garmin. TT stinks.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

We have many upcoming trips planned - flights, hotels, what to do, etc. (America, Budapest, Tuscany, oh my!) Why can't we plan this weekend... which starts... TOMORROW?! We've spent the last week knowing where we are going over the weekend and NOT finding a hotel. Bike Trip to: Lavaux Vineyards and Lake Geneva, Switzerland (not the city of Geneva). We never have this much trouble finding a decent and affordable place to stay. We both have looked and looked. The hotels are expensive and not at all impressive - these two should not go together! The B&Bs are book. We are debating on just going, no reservations. That is SO not my style - I am a planner, but at this point, it may be in our best interest. After a bit more hunting today, our final decision will be made - I'll let you know when we get back how it goes. We may wind up sleeping in our (partially window-less) car?!

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. - St. Augustine

Wednesday, September 7, 2011