Thursday, September 20, 2012

Home again-getting the arm moving

Nice to get back into action. One wall of our rink needed to be repainted because the new video projectors required a different size screen. So
this took a day and a half and two
coats were needed in some spots.

It's over when it's over

It's 8:30 a.m. Sunday U.S. time and after having 8 hrs sleep and being awake for 26 hours the day before--it's back to usual except for all those beautiful memories of the past 15 days on Margaret Egli Thomson's (grand) painting tour. Last night's sleep was no exception because I dreamt of mountains, valleys and very green hillocks and the sound of cow bells. I'll unpack shortly then it'll be life as usual except for memories of the excellent adventure provided by two fantastic people.

Second last day of our trip

We were up at 4:30 a.m., ate quickly and hit the road to the Zurich airport. A smooth check-in and preboarding process and we're flying home. It was a good flight in a somewhat older plane-not the best setup for watching movies. Landing on time, we discovered we had two delays before boarding for Boston from Philly. In Philly the arrival into the U.S. process was very crowded but proceeded well considering a few of our group were stopped for a thorough check and a couple of things were confiscated-Carol's corkscrew and Cindy's sausages.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

3rd last day-Appenzell

A drive to Appenzeller's cheese factory for a tour and movie about the wonderful area and cows and how cheese is made, followed by a visit to the cheese store was the first activity of the day. The majority of the day was spent in the town of Appenzell, shopping and having lunch. Carol and I saw two farm families' time-honored procession through the town with their cows (one also had sheep or goats) when they bring their heards down from the summer pastures up on the mountains to the winter grazing down below. Then we went for a walk-about and saw another parade forming high up in the mountains. The cows come right through the center of town, past the shops (think wild west) with the family in their traditional dress costumes hearding them along. This has been the culture for hundreds of years and then the residents have a festival the following day. Then--the Maestrani chocolate factory in Flawil!  A special tour with samples and a movie about where it comes from and how it's made preceeded the visit to the company store where we could purchase at very low rates.  I tried and purchased Chili Chocolate--and a whole lot more.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Swiss-Day 3-Zurich

It was a little cold as we started out this morning but was just right for walking the old town. Arwed was a great guide as usual, then 3 of us went off to the Kuntathaus (the art museum). It has a fantastic collection and a special exhibit of Alberto Giacometti. The architecture of this seemingly new museum was very exciting. Margaret and Arwed treated us to coffee and cake at a famous coffee house called Sprungli. Later on we enjoyed a salad at the Coop. Saint Sandra was hungry.

Swiss-Day 2-Lucern

Today's trip was to Lucern, a city on the shore of Lake Lucern where the famous covered wooden bridge from 1168 links both sides of the old port city. It was a cold and rainy day. As a group we took the tour trolley to get our bearings then visited a very fine example of a 360 degree painting called "The Bourbaki Panarama". While this type of painting was somewhat popular before the advent of motion pictures as a form of entertainment, there are only about a dozen remaining in the world. This is a masterpiece of artistry and is almost hard to look at as it portrayed the pain and suffering at the end of the war and the rescue of the 87,000 defeated French army soldiers who were interned in 1871 in Switzerland. The town was assisted by the newly formed Red Cross and 188 localities who provided accommodations, food and medical help, this was a logistical miracle. The painter , Edouard Castres, who was with the Red Cross, and another painter, Hodler, were commissioned to do this work in 1881 which was first exhibited in Geneva then in Lucern. I highly recommend seeing this extremely moving and impressive masterpiece. After the panarama I went off from the group and visited the two major art museums in Lucern-one the new contemporary museum and the other The Sammlung Rosengart Museum. I happened upon a very nice underground shopping area below the major intersection near the new museum. They have you descend electric stairs to cross the street and this leads to a very interesting sub-culture. This is located right beside the lake that has a strong current-an amazing feat. After walking over the famous wooden bridge and some shopping in the old district we returned to our hotel.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

1st day in Switzerland

First stop was the historic city of Rapperswell on Lake Lucern, and a visit to the Cupucian Monastery and the Schloss Rapperswell. Lunch followed at the most gorgeous modern residence of Natalie, daughter of Margaret and Arwed, a most gracious hostess who provided a delicious luncheon and gave a tour of her home--an architectural masterpiece of modern design and the ultimate in domestic technology that should be highlighted by a modern architectural magazine. I have never seen anything like this in any such magazine. Afterwards a trip to the Einsiedeln Abbey for a private tour by Brother Thomas of the Church and Abbey and famous library--this being the home of the Benedictine order dating back to 934 A.D. and where pilgrimages are made to the Black Madona. Of course no day is complete without a ride through beautiful mountain passes which brought us back to our hotel.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Travel day to Switzerland

We had another unbelievable bus trip today, we sat in the front row with all the comforts of home and a bird's eye view. Everyone has single rooms here at Hotel Lowen in Wattwil (Pronounced Vhat Veal). We drove over two passes similar to the Dolomites, passing through Liechtenstein making this a 5-country trip.
I filled my iPad's capacity to download photos, so will post photos later.

Free day, getting ready to leave Austria

A wonderful relaxing day with everyone saying goodbye, some heading to U.S. and others to Switzerland. Carol and Barbara flew off the mountain.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

At the farm--Last painting day

With the road cleared from the washout and being a warm and sunny day, it was a gorgeous day of painting at the farm of our very gracious hosts Maria and Hans Rogen and their very industrious son, Gerhardt, and his wife, Sandra. The countryside and view of the mountains and glacier from the farm were very inspirational, and evidencing the life on the farm with a peek into their daily lives, extended family, little ones, sheep being herded and cattle escaping their fields, made for an incredibly peaceful and rewarding day. A hardy lunch of barley soup and variety of homemade breads, wines and beers, served on the back of a wagon and cake and coffee later on kept us well fueled. The granddad lead the little ones up the field with a tarp and cushion and RAN down dragging the SLEIGH behind much to the delight of the children. Carol went hiking and tried out the new poles. The exhibition of everyone's masterpieces occurred during dinner and had our final gourmet meal with everyone in attendance. A few left today and tomorrow one part leaves for the U.S. and the other for Switzerland.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Last Austria travel day

It was a home run today with three great spots--an early Austrian farm museum, a shopping spot, and a spectacular castle. The farm museum was built with authentic buildings moved to this spot and reconstructed. The oldest was from the early 1400s. Our guide was very informative. The old city of Rottenburg was very pretty and I got a lot of good deals. Our lunch was very good as well. Then we went to Tratzberg Castle, up a high hill by train. We had a good audio headset-guide through the nicest castle on the trip. It is hard to qualify this comment as they are all excellent in their own way.

Painting day confusion

We were all set, come hell or high water, to travel to the farm to paint--so there was a land slide that blocked the road! Margaret did a demo at the hotel for the group while we waited to head if the road was clear (no pun). After several alternatives were investigated, none of which appealed to me, I hit the trail again, and it felt good immediately when we started out to climb another waterfall. I also got an hour of rest, a first for the trip, before going to dinner. After dinner we were serenaded by the Stubaier Freitagsmusig 3-piece band. Many painters painted on the deck or in the dining room.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Top of the Dolomites-Italy

Driving to Pietra Alba Monastery in St. Petersburg, we traveled on the new Brenner Pass and on the old one on the return trip. The high point (at about 10,000 ft) was on the Rosengarten in the Dolomite Range. A shopping stop at the quaint old town of Stertzing rounded out the day. 10 1/2 hours.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Well, another non-painting painting day.

WIth the low lying cloud cover, our visit to the farm was postponed, and I decided again to join the non-painters and we took the local bus to the end of the valley and first hiked up a waterfall area (2 hours straight up--mud and rocks) then went to the Stubaier Gletscher (a glacier)--taking the cable cars to the Top of the Tyrol (10,560 ft.) We had a very full day.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Castle, Oberammergau, church

We spent a lot of time in the bus but went to very nice places and went winding through forests very high above valleys far below. The sides of the road went straight down. More pics later.

Day 7, Hiking and photos

This was really a painting day but after doing some drawing Carol and I headed up the mountain across from our hotel. The views were outrageous. The night before we attended a local orchestra.