David and Kathy

David Ferré and Kathy Childs Website

Greetings from Dave and Kathy. With our move to Europe from July to December, 2012, we're going to maintain a blog of what we're up to (see below). We'll return to the US in December to our winter home in Tucson. After enjoying a few months in Tucson, we'll head back to Europe in May, 2013, returning to the US in August, 2013. Our homes in Germany and France are via Home Exchanges with corresponding German and French families.

| July | August | Sept. | Oct. | Nov. | Dec. 2012 |

Slideshow of pictures (with music) - Click Here
(Click lower-right corner of show for full screen)

August 1

Day 13 of 17 - Kathy at the Church Concert, pianist Alexander Melnikov while David was at Master Class 1 with Masaaki Suzuki then Master Class 2 with Gábor Takács-Nagy. Evening concert was with Angélique Kidjo but we left early (too loud). We had both lunch and dinner at Restaurant Al Capone (pix) (best yet).

Today is Swiss National Day, for the founding of the Swiss Confederation in year 1291. All the Bénévoles (pix) wore some red or had pinned on a flag.

Kathy continues to be amused by the self-cleaning toilet seats, that when you flush, a cleaning mechanism cleans the seat as it rotates (Video).

August 2

Day 14 of 17 - Kathy at the Church Concert, violist Antoine Tamestit and Dave to a student concert of Stravinsky. With no further work for the day, we took off to explore Sion, Switzerland (pix), the oldest city in Switzerland. The entire Old Town is a pedestrian way with ancient buildings, interesting shops, and restaurants tucked back in quiet corners.

Then back to our home for some food shopping and a nap before heading to the Namasté Restaurant (pix), a place way outside of town and above Verbier. In the winter you have to luge or ski in because the road is closed. The meal was great, traditional fondue, made with, in particular, the local Fendant du Valais wine, which is essential to true Swiss fondue.

August 3

Day 15 of 17 - Kathy at the Church Concert, pianist David Kadouch (extraordinary), and Dave a double-shift of Master Classes for Gábor Takács-Nagy. With pianist Yuja Wang canceling her Verbier Festival evening concert, we had the evening free so we went to... a concert for classical guitar in the town of Nendaz. Featuring Polish guitarist Marcin Dylla, in the picturesque Chapelle du Bleusy (pix).

August 4

Day 16 of 17 - We both worked the Church Concert today, dedicated to the Academy Musicians. Wonderful stuff. We had lunch at home and then took off for Geneva, Switzerland for the afternoon. From the A9 expressway, we could see this lovely village right on Geneva Lake, so we took the next exit and ended up in Villette and wine tasting at Testus Wines (pix).

Then on to Geneva and the Old Town Square (pix), which we explored, and then a walk along the lake looking for the famous Jet d'Eau but it was turned off due to the wind. Then dinner at Restaurant Fifty-Fifty, a tiny place with 12 outside tables, each "Réservé" but the owner took a table from inside and put it outside for us!

August 5

Day 17 of 17 -We both worked the Church Concert today, dedicated to the Academy Musicians. Then lunch with another bénévole at Al Capone, our favorite Verbier restaurant. What a fantastic 17 days! Next we got ready for our Monday departure to Lake Como, Italy, then went exploring, finding the town of La Fouly (pix), very high up at the foot of glacier de l'A Neuve. Switzerland is the most beautiful place we have ever seen and this area, the Valais, is considered the best they have to offer.

August 6

Onward to Italy! We put our destination in the GPS and four hours later we were in Località Villa, Lezzeno, Italy (pix). When we drove from Como towards Bellagio, we were certain we were on the wrong road since it was mostly a single-track road weaving its way through tiny towns built high on cliffs, but this was the road (video).

After a nice lunch at Restaurant Aurora in Lezzeno, we met our landlady for keys and directions to our apartment. This was a find! An ancient building, right on Lake Como, with a private terrace (pix), views from every window, and bells calling the faithful to mass (video). We went into Bellagio, 3 miles further down the road, for groceries and found two supermarkets. Thus fortified, dinner at home.

August 7

Bellagio (pix) was our target today, to spend the day exploring the town. The biggest problem, we thought, would be to find a parking spot, but one magically appeared just when we needed it. After a nice walking tour and a stop for fluids at an Internet café, we found the Internet connection was so slow that we were unable to upload our blog from yesterday.

Next we hopped on the Petit Train and let them drive us around to the various sights, followed by a ferry ride to Varenna (pix) but due to some confusion, we ended up an additional two hours on the ferry as it went off to other ports. Once back in Bellagio, we explored some back streets and then dinner at La Fortuna restaurant (nice).

August 8

We decided to break the trip to Schwetzingen into 2 days so we left Lake Como and turned north. What a beautiful drive it was, with mountain vistas and dozens of tunnels, with the Gotthard Tunnel being 10.2 miles long. At the south end of the tunnel, they speak Italian; the north end, German. Lunch was in Airola, Switzerland. Then we stopped in Konstanz, Germany for the night, finding Hotel Schiff am See right on Lake Konstanz.

Our room had a terrace (pix) overlooking the marina, ferry dock, and harbor. While the hotel had two excellent restaurants, we had dinner at a fresh fish shop (pix) where you could buy fresh fish and take it home, or they would cook it for you and you could eat it there, which is what we did.

August 9

The day started with a fabulous buffet breakfast at the hotel, and then a ferry ride (pix) across Lake Konstanz to Meersburg, famous for their white wines and medieval city. We decided to save Meersburg for another visit and drove on using back roads to see small towns and the countryside as we continued to Schwetzingen.

After a nice lunch in Leonberg, a restaurant for a sports club, we arrived in Schwetzingen at about 4pm instead of the projected 6pm. The plan was to meet one of two families at 6pm, but one person was at home and in minutes we had the keys to our home at 7 Albert Schweitzer Strasse, Apt. 1, Schwetzingen, Germany (pix).

August 10

Time to explore our new home and to do some shopping. We were totally delighted to see the oldest shopping street in town had been converted into a pedestrian way (pix) with plenty of shops of all kinds, including seafood, ice cream, cafés of all types, bakeries, and on and on. No empty stores here and plenty of people around.

No space was wasted and when there was a passage way (pix), you would find fresh vegetables, fruit, and a few small restaurants tucked inside. We can't wait to try them all. Then a quick trip to the nearby IKEA store in Walldorf for a few items (and meatballs for lunch, of course), and food shopping at the large REWE market in Schwetzingen. We also made contact for some German Language lessons.

August 11

Slept in a bit today, then coffee and breakfast, and off to the Saturday Farmer's Market. After some strenuous shopping for strawberries, a second cup with snack, and why bicycles are so popular here (video). Kathy joined a health club and Dave got hooked watching the Olympics on TV. Finally, dinner at the Brahaus Zum Ritter (next to pix) and then some more Olympics before retiring.

August 12

Breakfast and then a 2-hour walk in the Palace Garden where we have a special gate and keycard to enter. This is a 300-acre garden designed in 1765 and is wonderful for walks. Kathy went to the health club and Dave started online German lessons. We had a great salmon dinner, which we enjoyed outside (pix). This is a terrific house in every way and we're very pleased to be here.

August 13

Leisurely breakfast then off to meet the director of the language school. We got all the details of the German course, and pretty much decided Dave would take the course, only. Then more shopping here and there, finding a great Italian deli, and then this "Grill-Stop" (pix) where we returned for dinner. Very inexpensive and good. Then an evening drive to explore the area. So much to see around here!

August 14

After three buildings and five people, we found the correct person to get the all-important Anmeldung/Anmeldebestätigung form, which states that we are official Schwetzingenians. Then we had a lovely invitation to dinner from Birgit Schillinger, whose daughter, Maybritt, is heading to Boston. This was a delight in every way and we met the entire family (pix) and enjoyed German specialties.

August 15

Our German instructor, Yasmin Seiraffi, showed up right on time. Yasi was born in Iran, speaks Farsi, English, and German, and is moving to Australia. We started our lessons at Café Leisinger (pix) to master proper German words for coffee, pastry, cake, kugan and traditional deserts. Then to Eiscafe Venezia to master the names of ice cream flavors and important words like "in a cup" and "in a cone."

August 16

The visa office told us we need to get a resident identity card with a microchip and photograph to extend out 3-month entry visa to 6 months. Since we want to do this towards the end of the first 3 months, we'll return to the visa office on Oct. 1st. We went for an extended bike ride to the town of Brühl, following one of the many bike direction signs (pix). We encountered some bike riders who were confused, but could offer no help (video).

August 17

Breakfast at Café Leisinger, then some shopping for short sleeve shirts and a swimming suit. Prices seemed a bit steep until we found a Second Hand store (pix), where everything was a genuine bargain, like (3) short sleeve shirts for less than $4. Caritas signals all money goes to those in need. We returned to the Brahaus Zum Ritter to watch Rush Hour, speed limit 6 miles per hour (video).

August 18

Happy Birthday Dave! Breakfast at Café Leisinger (pix) started with a Champagne toast and a hearty "Sto Lat" (Polish for 100 years). Then off by train to explore Mannheim, finding the Paradeplatz and surrounding shopping streets to be amazing. We even found a Starbucks. Then a light lunch, nap, and dinner in Ladenburg at Die Kartoffel, where you cook your own meal at the table.

August 19

At the St. Martin/Maikammer traffic circle, cars were parked and people were walking into Maikammer. We had discovered the yearly "Gartenmarkt" with every manner of plant, bird house and garden art on sale (pix), all within the squares and narrow streets of this ancient town. Dave loved the metal yard art (video). And there were food vendors offering everything from cookies (video) to sausages.

We continued to St. Martin (pix), a famous town in this wine region, in search of "Weingut" (wine tasting) signs and we found more than a few, but all closed on Sundays. St. Martin is a picturebook town of ancient buildings and winding narrow streets, where we found the St. Martiner Castell restaurant, taking a much-needed water and ice cream break. St. Martin is one stop on the Wine Road.

August 20

We explored Bad Dürkheim today, another town on the Wine Road. In 1935 this town tried to lure visitors with something special, so they created the world's largest wine barrel (pix) "holding" 1,700,000 liters of wine and then made a restaurant out of it (Dürkheimer Riesenfass). This restaurant is still in operation. Nearby is a Wein Dom selling local wines.

This town also has a Graduation Tower (pix) (video), which is a structure used in the production of salt. In operation, salt water runs down mats of brushwood and partly evaporates, increasing its concentration of salt. It is believed that inhaling the sea-like air on platforms by the mats has a health benefit and these days, no salt is produced, instead, it's a destination for those with respiratory diseases and related conditions.

August 21

Today Dave joined the same health club as Kathy so now we can go together to the workout machines, the swimming pool, and all the rest. Later we went to a nearby Blumen zum Selbstschneiden (Flowers for Self-cutting) field (pix) and cut (6) Gladiolen at .60 Euros each or about $4. You put your money into a kind of milk can. Dinner was at the Western Woodfire Saloon in Schwetzingen. I think it was the Buffalo head above the fireplace that made it.

August 22

After a leisurely breakfast, it was off to the health club and a 45-minute class of water aerobics (pix). And I mean every one of those 45 minutes. Whew. To celebrate this workout, we had an extra large lunch at the Grill-Stop, with 1/2 chicken each, plus fries and pop. Next, some quick shopping at the Italian market "Prodotti Italiani Da Tenace" where everyone speaks Italian.

After taking our bunny to the home of Gudrun Kloppe, who lives in Bammental, we visited the hilltop town of Dilsberg (pix). Dilsberg offers the visitor a lovely walk through cobblestone streets, plus a couple of restaurants (we loved the Pippifax Café) and castle ruins. We met some young students who were doing an assignment (video).

August 23

Smoking is allowed at outdoor cafés and there is a lot of smoking going on. A lot. Germany allows widespread advertising, outdoor Zigaretten machines (pix), and only a slight warning of "Rauchen kann todlich sein" (Smoking can be fatal). It just seems odd. Anyway, a relaxing day with dinner at Ristorante Piccola Serenata followed by an outdoor music concert at Cafe Montreux.

August 24

Last night, amazing thunder and lightning (Donner und Blitzen, like the reindeer). Kathy did garden work (pix with Hendrik, Birgit's son), then we all met at Video World where Birgit opened an account for us. Next, off to MediaMarkt with Hendrik (fluent in English) to buy a DVD player. Finally, a visit to the health club and relaxing at home for dinner. Movie tonight, "Das Wunder von Bern."

August 25

Off to the local farmer's market this morning and breakfast at one of the cafés. We were thinking of going to a larger farmer's market in Mannheim but the unsettled weather kept us here. Lunch at home, then off to explore the Kauflandcenter shopping mall just outside Heidelberg, where we also had dinner. Today's (pix) shows our parking garage, which is a double-decker affair! Pretty neat.

August 26

Chance of rain didn't stop us from exploring Weinheim (pix) today. From all the old cities we have been exploring, Weinheim, which celebrated its 1,250th anniversary in 2005, is possibly the most complete with two castles, gardens, Altstadt (Old Town), churches, timbered buildings, and a central square full of restaurants and cafés. The St. Laurentius Catholic church bells gave us a rousing welcome (video). Then a 2nd cup and fresh baked goods at La Panaderia.

We decided to drive further into the Odenwald mountains to explore some of the smaller towns. We noted some yellow signs with the word, Flohmarkt (Flea Market), and then the town Wald-Michelbach. Our GPS directed us to Waldmichelbach instead of Wald-Michelbach and by the time we found the error, the flea market was over. However, a sign (pix) was posted for the next market: in Beerfelden on Sunday, September 9th. We'll be there so check back to see what we scored.

August 27

Breakfast, bike ride, then a visit to the health club where the common areas such as hot tub, saunas, and outdoor lounges, are clothing optional. German men have taken this to heart. Swedish men less so. Lunch at Chiang Mai Thai. Next, hours planning a driving trip to Scandinavia, less Norway (Read Why). Great dinner cooked by Kathy followed by an evening video. Art (pix) is from a nearby garden.

August 28

We decided to explore Heidelberg by boat today. We arrived about 15 minutes before sailing time and got our tickets and went aboard. All the outdoor seats were already taken (pix) and most of the indoor seats as well but we managed to get a couple. But they kept selling tickets and selling and selling until it was standing room only. Not the least bit relaxing.

Off we went and 90 minutes later we arrived in Neckarsteinach and its four castles, built by four brothers around 1200 as a result of a family feud (video). Two of the castles are still inhabited. But best yet, nearly everyone got off (pix). The return trip was a delight and we even had lunch aboard as the scenery drifted by. Home for a nap and then dinner at Shahrayar in Ludwigshafen.

August 29

In Heidelberg, we started with lunch at the Nordsee Fish Restaurant and began the hike up the mile-long Hauptstraße (High Street) (pix) that defines the Altstadt (Old City). Imagine a 1-mile long pedestrian street filled with centuries-old buildings, some original to the 1,400s, with shops, restaurants, cafés, street musicians, and happy people.

You start at the lower end and with a gradual incline, end up at the Holy Spirit Church and Corn Market (pix) where you catch the funicular to the Heidelberg Castle, a trip we'll save for another day. The church has a 30-minute organ concert each day. We'll save this for another visit as well. And the bridges, the hillside walks, and more.

August 30

Lazy day today, Café Leisinger for breakfast, ran some errands, did some shopping, and generally stayed close to home. Dave worked on some websites, and Kathy took a few walks and a bike ride. Today's (pix) is one of Kathy's art shots. The mannequin in the store window is juxtaposed with some outside boxes. Great shot, Kathy!

August 31

We were guests today of Karl and Dagmar Fempel in the town of Rastatt. Welcomed at once with a glass of wine, we then took a lovely walking tour of Rastatt. For lunch, Dagmar prepared a truly memorable meal, of squash soup, German potato salad, and a kind of liverwurst meat loaf. A plum cake finished this wonderful feast.

Then we were off to Baden-Baden, possibly the most famous resort town in the world. Another walking tour brought us to the concert hall, the Trinkhalle where we drank glasses of the "miracle" water (pix), then on to the Kurhaus and Casino, which were decked out to the hilt in honor of the Grand Festival Week of horse racing.

Continuing through gardens adjacent to the River Oos, we came upon the Museum Frieder Burda of modern art (Richard Meier, architect) and crossed the bridge (pix) to stroll the Old City (pix), including the famous thermal Friedrichsbad (naked please) and the Caracalla Spa (suits please). Our sincere thanks to Karl and Dagmar for a memorable day!