A dreamy destination in Pontresina: Grand Hotel Kronenhof

Nestled among Swiss mountain peaks, in Engadin valley, lies a paradise getaway, the Grand Hotel Kronenhof. The area boasts a number of luxury resorts but the impressive architecture of the Kronenhof in Pontresina will leave you feeling like you are in a fairy-tale. Magnificent views, gourmet dining and luxurious accommodations all contribute to your magical vacation.

We have visited the Engadin area during the summer, so of course the draw of winter sports had us wanting to return. Just a few kilometers drive (or train ride) from St. Moritz you arrive in the beautiful village of Pontresina. The Grand Hotel Kronenhof is the only 5-star hotel in town and delivers a true 5-star experience, sweeping you into a wonderful world of fun and relaxation.

Read more

Surfing in Portugal

During the summer we visited Portugal and enjoyed a week-long surf camp and this year we thought we’d try our luck at spring surfing.  Portugal is known for its waves and has even been referred to as the European Pipeline. We are not seasoned surfers, just vacation surfers, so of course we knew we would not be surfing the giant waves of Peniche, Portugal.

img_1588

Instead, we settled for a quaint little surfing town just outside of Porto, Portugal. Matosinhos proved to be the best home-base for surfing/city exploring while in Portugal. The surfing town is connected to Porto with the tram, which makes it very convenient for surfing in the morning and exploring Porto in the afternoon.

As we are a family of 5, and all different surfing abilities, we decided to sign up for a week of private lessons. Unfortunately, the weather did not corporate and we were only able to get 3 days of lessons in. But with that said, we had a fantastic time learning to surf as a family.  We surfed with a small surfing company called Surf Adventura.  They were incredibly friendly and even set our littlest surfer up with her own trainer. Check them out if you decide to surf around Porto.

Adventures in Akihabara

 

2015-07-10-13-58-542015-07-10-16-45-00

If you find yourself visiting Tokyo, you must not miss out on a visit to Akihabara. When we travel we like to find a local who can give us a guide around town. We used Akibaland Tours and were rather impressed. We signed up for the day tour around Akihabara. We met with our tour guide that morning and it was just our family. . The tour guide was very knowledgeable and I must say it was quite interesting.

2015-07-10-16-29-05

 

This was one of the kids favorite days in Tokyo, so many things to do and see. We finished our tour with a lunch at a Maid Cafe.  Now, if you have never experienced this I would put it on the list. We found it so fascinating. Because we had booked with the tour we were able to get immediate reservations. Some of the cafes are booked out for months.

Inside the cafe we were waited on by beautiful girls dressed in maid outfits. The kids were adored by the staff. Our tour guide communicated for us as we do not speak Japanese. With our meal we also got to take pictures with the maids. Now for the weird part, they brought a book with all the ladies, we had to search through and point to who we wanted the photo with. hmmmm. Our daughter picked the top one and we had to pay a premium for the photo. We all had a good laugh.  I forgot to mention we had to sing to our food before eating it. Oh Tokyo, we love you. What an day to remember. I would highly recommend a tour around Akihabara.

 

Our Move Abroad

A few years back I was bitten by a travel bug and this is how it came about.
Our first trip to Europe was over 11 years ago
We traveled to Italy with my parents and  Fell.in.love.
Then 6 months later we found ourselves living in Europe.

I know we sound crazy and looking back I think we were crazy but wouldn’t change it.

A time-line of how our move abroad came to be……..
 

March 2007 – We took our first trip to Europe and loved it but my husband wasn’t quite sure he wanted to move.  We lived by family & friends, had a great job and home and loved where we lived. But it couldn’t hurt to send out a few emails, right?  I started to send out emails all over Europe, focusing mainly on The Netherlands. I spent a lot of time on IT Job board.  I must have sent out a 100 emails.  We started hearing back, most with a response like below sent in April of 2007.
 
Do you have a work permit to work in Europe? That was the million dollar question. And of course, our response was no, we needed someone to sponsor us.
April 2007 We received emails from 3 companies in Germany and Switzerland, all wanting to set up phone interviews.  We had never considered Switzerland and knew nothing about it besides the Matterhorn was there. Screenings went well, followed by more phone interviews. They wanted to meet face to face.
 
May 2007 My husband made his journey out to Switzerland to interview with the companies.  He called me after the interview and I asked him, “So what do you think of Switzerland?” His response, “It’s ok, it’s kind of cold” but by this part I was sold. I wanted to go.
June 2007
Offers were made. We weighed our options between Germany and Switzerland.  Besides the 2 day interviewing we had never been to either country, neither of us spoke German, we knew nothing.  No company at this point could guarantee a working permit either.
July 2007
We submit all passports and documents to start the process to see if we could get a working permit. We still had no idea if this would be a reality. I spent a lot of time on the English Forum, a forum for expats in Switzerland.  I read all about the permit approval process and people’s stories of getting denied, the quota of permits they give out, etc.
 
August 31, 2007
After 8 weeks of waiting we woke up to this email……
 
And just like that, we were moving to Europe! We were on a permanent local hire, so that meant we were moving ourselves.  That also meant, no relocation package, no car, no shipment,nothing.  Most people who move abroad, transfer with companies and get relocation packages. I became our own personal relocation specialist, we spoke no German, making the whole process a 100% harder.  But hey, it was the adventure we signed up for and the reason we decided to move to Europe in the first place, to give our family the experience of living abroad.
September 2007
We sold almost everything we owned, kind of a liberating feeling. We purchased our one way tickets to Switzerland. We said our goodbyes and flew out the last week of September. This is our story of our move abroad in a nutshell.
cropped-dscf1086.jpg
   Yes, that is all of the luggage we took to move abroad, 8 bags

Città Sant’Angelo

Città Sant’Angelo is a quaint little hill Italian town in the Abruzzo region of Italy
 Daddy is a sucker for his little girl. She can’t seem to get a shoulder ride out of her mommy but a small “bitte” from his little girl, and he has a new passenger.
 Città Sant’Angelo is a small town but has a lot of charm. Many of the restaurants opened onto the town square making it a perfect place to enjoy great food and people watch.
 Our kids are magnets to all things gelato. They have special gelateria radar built in.   I might add, they are amazing little travelers, so we like to reward them (and ourselves) with gelato 🙂
 An extra big scoop
 He appears to be not excited about his gelato. But trust me, it was well received.  And is there something about being a teenager(almost) and not wanting to smile on demand?
 Just checking to see if there is anymore ice cream in there.
 An ice cream face I could kiss all day.
 Walking the streets of Città Sant’Angelo.  And it seemed, once again, we were the only tourists here. The kids were a hit, almost as much as the dog.
 The Saint of Città Sant’Angelo?
 Taking a break on the steps of a church
And what to they see??
 A view below.  It was a little hazy but to the left is the Adriatic.
Why must they grow up so fast?