Happy Easter 2020

Meg’s 2020 Easter decorations

2020 Easter is not like most others, but we managed to make it as nice as we could. In particular Meg went out of her way to try to make it as nice as possible with lots of decorations, and she even came up with some fun games for us. She hung up some candies from our loft, which we had to jump and touch, in order to get them. We also had a race trying to hold easter eggs on a spoon. Meg was the only one who didn’t drop the egg.

We also kept up some old traditions, in particular making hot cross buns. Meg helped a bunch. She has been practicing making pizza dough the last couple months, and she is getting pretty good at kneading. We are lucky that we had enough flour and yeast, which have been hard to find during the Corona-virus crisis. We also lucked out with the weather. It has been sunny and around 70 F all week long. We enjoyed our Easter dinner of ham, green beans, and potato dumplings on the balcony.


While Clare were doing the wine tasting on Monday, we asked the honeymooning couple what their favorite thing was in Sorrento, and they said taking a boat tour of Capri. This hadn’t really been on our list before, but we decided to try it, and indeed it was one of the favorites of everyone. It was one of the most expensive things we did, but it was worth it. The boat ride was very relaxing. It left from the port just a 2 minute walk from our apartment, the guide was great, the weather was beautiful, and seeing the coast of Sorrento and of Capri up close from a small boat is surely the best way to enjoy its beauty. Capri itself was not that interesting to us. We enjoyed a nice pizza lunch near the harbor, searched for the funicular to the top of the island for 20 minutes, finally found it, and then just did some souvenir shopping.

Monday in Piano di Sorrento

We got a relatively slow start again on Monday. After breakfast, we got dressed and headed up the elevator to town. There happened to be a market going on, which we perused, but nothing caught our fancy. We went to the basilica, which was fairly unassuming from the outside, but very beautiful inside.

After the basilica we found the train station, which we would need to use later, and then headed further into town. We found the Deutsche Bank ATM (just down the street from Hotel Klein Wien), and a very nice Gelateria right across the street. After some window shopping, we headed to the grocery store, and then back to the apartment.

After some lunch we had a little time for some swimming at the beach. Then we made some food for the kids, and Clare and I went off to a wine tasting in Sorrento. Our first experience with the so-called “worst train in the world” was actually not too bad. We did end up getting back after the elevator had stopped operating (after 8 p.m.), which meant we had to walk down the switchback road, but it actually was not too bad because there was not much traffic by this point. We stopped at a different pizzeria this time for another tasty treat to enjoy at home with the kids.

Piano di Sorrento

Sunday morning we slept in and had a lazy morning. After the long day of traveling on Saturday, we planned to simply relax and hang out at the beach. We decided to go to the private beach right by our apartment. We were worried it would be expensive, but it turned out to be only 2€ per adult; the kids were free. Whenever I told one of my colleagues at work we were going to Italy in October, they said it would be too cold. I think what they really meant, was that it would not be too hot. The water was a little chilly, but refreshing.

We spent several hours at the beach in the morning, then came back in for awhile for lunch. After some relaxation, we took the elevator up the cliff to the botanical garden to see the sunset. They also have a free museum there, with some Roman art they have discovered in the area. The sunset was very beautiful. They also had a large checkers and chess board, which we enjoyed.

After we enjoyed the beautiful sunset, we headed back to the elevator. As we were getting on, a man was getting out with some takeout pizza which smelled wonderful, and even though we had already eaten dinner, we suddenly had hunger again. We stopped at the restaurant right across from our apartment to get some takeout pizzeria margherita. We discovered that the waitress there lives in the same building we were staying in, and we were happy to support the ultra-local economy. The pizza was not quite as good as the one we had in Naples, but for 4€, it is hard to complain.

Buongiorno Italia!

Saturday we woke up around 3:40 a.m., quickly got dressed, packed up a few snacks, and hopped into the car, heading to Charleroix airport in Belgium. We took a couple wrong turns, but made it there with a few minutes to spare for our 6:55 a.m. flight to Naples. The flight was fine. The kids like it when we go down onto the runway and up the stairs.

We got into Naples airport around 9 a.m., got a taxi to the (sea)port, which turned out to be much bigger than we originally thought, so we sort of wandered around aimlessly for a bit trying to figure out exactly where our ferry was leaving from. Eventually we found it, and also found the place to store our luggage. We got some breakfast at a small cafe, then headed over to the castle right by the port.

One thing we can say about Italy is that everything is even older than in Germany. The “new” castle (Castel Nuovo) was built in 1279. One of the coolest parts was a room with a glass floor exposing Roman ruins underneath the castle.

After touring the castle for a bit we headed to the Piazza del Plebiscito, a famous square in Naples, and then we looked around for a place to get some pizza. We walked through the narrow streets of the old town and ended up at a place that was really great.

Once we finally paid the check for the pizza, we moseyed back down to the port, stopping for some gelato first, which was incredible, and also fairly reasonably priced – 2.50 for 2 scoops. Our ferry was a few minutes late, but not too much. The ride was very pleasant and scenic.

Once we got into the main port of Sorrento we took a taxi to our apartment, which ended up being a bit pricier and longer than we expected, but it was worth it. One thing we hadn’t realized so much is that the ports around Sorrento are all surrounded by cliffs, which means getting into and out of the port itself is somewhat challenging, especially by car. After we got to the apartment, our host gave us a number of good tips, the best of which was that there is an elevator to get up the cliff, which means that you don’t have to walk down the narrow winding road that cars use. The elevator is 0.50€ – well worth the money. After settling in, Clare and I walked to the grocery store and picked up some things for the first couple days. We were all exhausted, and went to bed early.

Back to Germany, back to work, back to school

After a great 3 week vacation in the USA, it was time to come back to Germany. We spent most of Sunday morning packing, then enjoyed lunch with Drew, Haewon, Grandma, and Grandpa, and then Drew drove us to the airport. We said our farewells, got on the jumbo jet, and had a mostly uneventful flight. We all got a little bit of sleep even. We sat near the end of the plane where it curves down a bit, which meant we had 2 rows of 2 seats per row instead of 3, so we had a little extra room to stretch out, which was really nice. We caught our train at the airport with 20 minutes to spare, and were back in Aachen before we knew it. We managed to stay awake the whole day, to unpack, go grocery shopping and such, and watch an episode of Modern Family before heading off to bed.

Tuesday Rob went back to work, while Clare bravely took care of the tired and cranky kids, getting them prepared for the first day of school on Wednesday. Meg started 3rd grade at a normal time, but since Spencer is starting a new school for 5th grade (Gymnasium), he started at 15:00 with a special celebration put on by the older kids. It is a tradition in Germany to get kids a Schuletüte on their first day of 1st grade. It is a big paper cone which you fill with candy and other goodies. Since both of them did their first day of 1st grade in the USA, they missed out on this, so Clare decided to get them some mini ones this year. They liked them.

Another interesting occurrence on Tuesday was that our next door neighbors moved out. The moving company built a mini-elevator / electric ladder up to the balcony to move a bunch of their stuff. Much easier than the way we did it – trudging everything up 51 stairs of the winding staircase.

American pastimes – football and grilling

For our last full day in Colorado, we had another busy day. Spencer’s old flag football team let him play in a game. The coach even had a spare pair of cleats that fit him! They lost, but played well. I ended up holding the down marker for the game, so Bret took pictures. He got some great shots.

After the game Clare met her friend Nancy for coffee and picked up some more veggies to grill. Bret made his famous home made black bean burgers. We also had lots of ribs left over from the previous barbecue, plus eggplant, corn, coleslaw, and cucumber salad.

Band, custard, pfannkuchen, and farewells

Monday morning Sadie and Erika came over to hang out. More cards were played. Sadie had a golf lesson at 2, so Rob and Spencer went with and hit a few more balls on the driving range while she was doing her lesson (thanks grandpa for getting us set up with clubs!). While we were golfing, Erika and Meg did some cool art projects with some blow paintings.

After golf we all met for frozen custard at Bob Jo’s, a Wyandotte staple since 1947. In the evening we stopped by the end of Sadie’s marching band practice. It brought back lots of memories. After that we played another round of hell, this time with Sadie and Clare (and almost Meg) tying with 10 points.

Tuesday morning it was time to pack up, but we were still able to enjoy each other’s company for a bit longer. Clare and Rob made Pfannkuchen (german thin pancakes) for breakfast, and we played a few more rounds of Hell before saying our final goodbyes. Thanks everyone for a great visit!

Fun with the van Kampens

On Sunday we were scheduled to visit Will and Casey at Whitmore Lake and go out on their boat. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate, so we ended up going to their house in Saline instead. We still managed to have a great time, and the weather there wasn’t too bad until a storm blew in after dinner. We enjoyed their pool, some croquet, and some more corn on the cob and some tasty salmon.

Imagination Station and card games

Saturday we continued our lazy morning habits of coffee, bagels, conversation and cards. Then we headed off to Toledo to the Imagination Station, and met Sean there, who had just moved to Ft. Wayne to start a program for physician’s assistant. Unbeknownst to us, it was also the day for the Toledo Pride festival, which made parking a little tricky, but also provided us with some additional fun atmosphere and colorful costumes to admire (not to mention some nice architecture). Sadie had been there before, so she showed us all the coolest parts, including a bike suspended on a tight wire on the second floor, held steady by some very heavy weights. Meg and Spencer were both tired and fell asleep on the way back.

After we got back to Trenton we fired up the grill with some fresh Michigan corn and brats (and then cooked everything inside after we ran out of propane). We took the opportunity of all being together to take some group pictures.

We topped off the evening with the traditional Goold/Felty card game Hell. We called it a night when it got too late, and declared Sadie the winner with 8 points.