Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lausanne hockey playoff game...and some crazy fanfare!

Facing off!

Our mascot, the Lausanne Lion!

The die-hard, crazy fan section!

So, Mark loves hockey...okay, a little more than love...he is, what I would call, obsessed with hockey! Well, after a couple of failed attempts, we finally made it to a hockey game. Lausanne has a pro hockey team called the Lausanne Hockey Club. The team made it to the playoffs this year and we attended Game 1 of the 7-Game series. The Swiss take their hockey pretty serious and each town's team has a "crazy fan" section....Lausanne is no exception! It was pretty entertaining to watch these fans chant, play drums and wave flags for the entire game. The visiting team's fan section, although small, also had drums and flags! There was no shortage of cheering going on! ( Check out my video below.) Lausanne played well and won 5-2 so we had lots to cheer about. Go Lions!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Weekend in ROMA!


Raphael's School of Athens on display at the Vatican Museum

The Vatican Museum courtyard

It wouldn't be a complete trip to Italy without pizza!

Piazza San Pietro and Basilica

The Pantheon

Looking out onto the square from the Pantheon

Trevi Fountain

Spanish Steps

Our Valentine's dinner

Inside the Colosseum

The Colosseum!

The Forum

Mark surprised me with a trip to Rome for Valentine's weekend! Italy is at the top of the list for enjoying a week-end d'amore!

We took a short 1 and 1/2 hour flight to Rome and arrived at our hotel, the Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese, late on Friday evening. We started our day of sightseeing early on Saturday at the Vatican Museum in Vatican City. We booked tickets in advance online, which I recommend doing in order to avoid the queue. The museum collection is very impressive and includes Egyptian artifacts along with an unbelievable collection of Renaissance art, including its "crown jewel", Michelangeo's Sistine Chapel. It's a jaw-dropping experience to stand in front of works of art that you stared at in a text book in school and have lasted for hundreds of years!

After leaving the Vatican museum, we headed over Piazza San Pietro and the Basilica, also known as St. Peter's. Rome is one of those places where you run out of adjectives for "amazing" pretty quickly! Once again, I was blown away by the architecture in the piazza and the detail that went into every single inch that decorates the interior of the basilica. Michelangelo's famous sculpture, the "Pieta" sits behind glass here. The papal alter is beautiful as well. I recommend just sitting in the square and taking in the view.

We left St. Peter's Square and headed towards Castel Sant'Angelo, then headed on to Piazza Navona, which has multiple famous art/architecture located there, including Bernini's famous Fountain of the Four Rivers. Our next stop was the Pantheon, an amazing temple dedicated to the gods and known for it's dome that has an open oculus that allows light into the building. We continued walking until we came to the site of the Trevi Fountain, which is an unbelievable site. The size and detail of the fountain is truly magnificent! We stopped to take pictures and throw a coin in the fountain, which the legend ensures will ensure our return to Rome. :) Our final sight for the afternoon was a walk up the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna before heading back to our hotel for a break.

Saturday evening, Mark and I enjoyed a romantic Valentine's dinner at Ristorante 4 Colonne in Piazza Navona. Our hotel made the recommendation based on our craving for a seafood dinner! It turned out to be a great restaurant. We were one of the first patrons of the evening at 8:30 pm, as Italians are known for their late dinners! We started off with a class of champagne, and an appetizer. I had some delicious fried pawns. Along with a very nice bottle of wine, we chose the seafood risotto. It was fantastic! And just when we couldn't eat anymore, our very nice Italian waiter comes over and says to us "Va benne?! You make room for dessert!" He brings us back a plate full of bite size pastries, a shot of grappa for Mark and a shot of limoncello for me! Well, when in Rome....!

Sunday was dedicated to checking out the ruins. We took the metro to the "Colosseo" stop. The Colosseum is a sight to be seen as you walk out of the metro exit. It is pretty fascinating to see the interior and picture what it must have been like when the citizens of Rome came to watch the gladiators fight. Once we left the Colosseum, we headed over to the Palatine Hill and the Forum to see the ruins. With a creative imagination, you can picture yourself in the middle of the ancient city of Rome.

The Forum was our last stop of the day, as we had a flight back to Geneva Sunday evening. I already can't wait for our next trip back to Roma! It is such a historical, cultural and romantic city!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Snowboarding in the Swiss Alps


Mark showing off his moves

Amazing sunset views from our hotel room

After getting ourselves prepped for winter athletics (see my Snow Clothes Shopping post!), Mark and I headed to the Swiss Alps last Friday night. We took the train up to Villars, about one and a half hours from Lausanne. It was snowing pretty hard that evening and the next morning , which made for some great snow conditions! Friday night we checked in our hotel, Hotel du Golf and went down to the restaurant to enjoy a nice dinner.

Saturday morning we woke up early to get ready. We put on all of our snowboarding gear and then went to the ski store, McBoard, to pick up my board, boots and helmet that we had reserved. At 9:30 we caught the mountain train up to Bretaye, the top of the mountain where the ski runs are located. It was cold and snowy when we first arrived, but we lucked out and had pretty nice conditions during our time spent on the mountain.

We reserved a lesson for the two of us with an instructor from Ecole Suisse Ski and Snowboard. Our instructor's name was Guillaume, an extremely friendly and patient man! He helped me out a lot, as it was my very first time. Mark had been before, although not for a number of years. After our start though, the moves came back to him! He did really well! We started off just learning how to push ahead with one fit locked in and one foot loose. Then we practiced standing up...that is really hard! Another lesson we learned was the "floating leaf" which is the general practice for learning how to snowboard! It's how you move the board back and forth going down the mountain by shifting your weight.

I have to admit that after a couple of hours, I could barely stand my legs were so sore. You use a lot of muscles that you don't use on a normal day! After our lunch break, I did a couple of more runs before my legs completely gave out. Yes, for all you hard-core snowboarders out there, I'm sure you will laugh at that statement. I hate to admit that, but it has given me motivation to get back in the gym and do a lot of weight-training to strengthen my legs and my back!

We took the train back down to Villars and had a relaxing rest of the day. I enjoyed a massage at the hotel spa as well as a dip in the jacuzzi. Sunday morning, we had breakfast and returned my gear before heading home. It was a fantastic snow weekend! I can't wait to continue my lessons and hopefully improve my skills! It doesn't get much better than snowboarding in the Swiss Alps!