Final travel tips….

Image#7 – Always know where your train ticket is taking you – We purchased two tickets from Annecy to Switzerland. We realized in Annecy, that our train ticket wasn’t only a train ticket. We boarded a bus in Annecy. The attendant in Annecy told us that after a two hour bus ride, we would board a train. We attempted to spend the last of our Euros before heading to Switzerland because we figured we would need Francs instead. Well, the bus dropped us off on this steep hill in some Swiss city with no train station in site and no German dictionaries in site. We walked towards the metro tracks that we could see, and hoped to find our ways to the train station to get to Zurich. We found the map and determined which way we needed to go to get to the train station, so we started walking. We figured we could follow the tracks until we could find a place to get some money exchanged to ride the metro. We probably walked ½ a mile before exchanging our money, then we boarded the busiest tram ever. Thankfully, it took us to the right train station to finish our journey, but boy were we taken off guard.

#8 – If you’re flying Swiss Air, check in as soon as possible via the internet. Jon and I arrived at the airport a couple hours early to give us time to get through security. When we checked in, we were told we were on standby. I have flown a lot in the US, and standby means you may or not make your flight, so I pretty much went in panic mode when we were told we were on standby. After I finished freaking out on the inside, I went and asked the lady what the standby notation meant on our ticket. Basically, seats are assigned when you check in which you can do up to 24 hours before your flight, so she said we definitely had a seat on the plane, but that Jon and I might not be able to sit together. WHAT? A 10 hour flight by myself? Well, no need to panic, Jon and I were able to sit together, but I did have a momentary panic wondering if we would get home, and my meal was a lot better than the first flight.

#9 – Travel as much as your budget will allow. Seeing the world has definitely been something Jon and I enjoy doing together. I know people look at us and think “they’re loaded” (i.e. Becki in case you’re reading that’s for you) J, but in reality, Jon and I try hard to budget in advance for trips like this. We try to go on a larger vacation every two years to allow for the ‘ol budget to catch back up, and for my Dave Ramsey readers, we NEVER take a vacation on a credit card. We may pay for a vacation with a credit card, but it never stays on the credit card past that billing period. If we don’t have the money, we don’t go. That’s why it’s nice to plan ahead for our trips. In addition, this trip was a culmination of three years of audit travel points. So, Jon and I spent a LOT of time apart to come up with enough points to pay for our hotel stays while we were gone, and if I can say so myself, but some of the rooms were AMAZING!

And now, for our final travel tip and probably our favorite.

Image#10 – Remember that some of the best things in life come from Switzerland. Jon’s Grandpa Sutter instilled in him a love for Switzerland, so we were really excited to get to experience it for ourselves. To commemorate our trip, we brought home LOTS of Swiss Chocolate and passed it out to family members and kept some for ourselves. There is still some Lindt chocolate in our cupboard which we periodically savor.

To our surprise though, we brought more than just chocolate home from Switzerland, and we couldn’t be more thrilled!!! Due to some uploading problems, you’ll have to wait until a future post to see what else we brought home. 😉

 

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European Travel Tips…Continued

#4 – Bring very good walking shoes. When we weren’t riding a bike we were walking. I bought a pair of Sketchers that I thought would be pretty good. I was aiming for somewhat stylish (i.e. not big shoes with white touristy socks) but still comfortable. I wanted something versatile that could match with all of my outfits since we were backpacking and extra shoes meant extra weight. I quickly found out that my shoes, while they matched with everything were not the best for walking in Europe.

One evening, we went to the Imperial War Museum (“IWM”). It was a free museum and was SO neat. It covered so many wars and some great displays. They even had a display about 007, and the real Spy network that Britain had. The IWM was not the only War related museum we visited. In London, right below where they played Volleyball during the Olympics, were the Winston Churchill War Rooms. Pretty amazing! They were the bomb shelters from World War II. They claim that at the end of WWII that they just closed up the War Rooms and never touched them again until someone came to preserve them. In the situation room there was a big map on the wall, and you could see a pencil drawing of Adolf Hitler. I’m not a history buff, but I did really like both of these museums. Made me wish I remembered more from my History classes so they could mean that much more.

Anyway, you might be asking what that has to do with shoes…I got side tracked. When we went to the Imperial War Museum, we had a great time, but unfortunately, we arrived an hour before closing, and the tram wasn’t too close. So we started walking towards London Bridge so we could see it. According to Google maps, it was a mile away, so you could imagine my disappointment when we got to London Bridge. See, I always sang the song as a kid “London Bridge is falling down, etc.” So I always thought the beautiful bridge in London was “London Bridge.” Well, no, that’s Tower Bridge. So then we went down by the Thames River to walk to Tower Bridge and maybe find some dinner. It was another mile to Tower Bridge. It was on this walk that we captured (“we” being the royal we since we were in Britain and all) some amazing pictures. We passed up all of the restaurants on that mile walk, crossed the bridge, and started coming back towards our hotel. Wouldn’t you know our hotel was another 2.2 miles! Our poor feet were so tired when we got back to our hotel, but it was such a beautiful evening, and on the way back, there were NO restaurants. We found a really nice Pub near our hotel. If you asked me to picture a British Pub, it was exactly as I would have imagined, and the food was incredible! I just started thinking that I may have to do a separate post about our favorite meals. Jon and I still randomly say, do you remember that meal….ah, the food was good!

#5 – Know what you are ordering – After Paris, we boarded the train to some small French cities, Grenoble and Annecy. Grenoble is known for the French Alps and the Bastille which we were able to ride the gondolas to. It was a beautiful city and a small city. The farther we got from Paris, the less English people spoke which made me more nervous, but we managed. We sat down one day to lunch at a Pizza place. I was pretty much in charge of ordering our food because I would practice each evening how to order it. I ordered “une pizza margarita pour duex.” The man responded with a question in French to which Jon nodded emphatically and held up two of his fingers. I definitely didn’t understand. Don’t expect me to understand when you talk back to me unless you can speak slow enough for me to look up each word in my French dictionary. J I was ordering one pizza for Jon and me to share. Whatever the man asked was something different, so we ended up with two really big pizzas. Oops! We carried a big pizza pie around the rest of the day and ate the rest of it high above the city at the Bastille.

#6 – Don’t ask the lady to “cut the cheese.” – Okay, so I was just looking for a way to say “cut the cheese,” but after Grenoble, we boarded the train again and headed for Annecy. From what I understand, Annecy is the place the French vacation, our Florida maybe? Annecy was breathtaking! The little town is situated right next to Lac D’Annecy (Lake Annecy) which was surrounded by beautiful mountains. This was another great place for pictures. Just be sure you know what you are taking pictures of especially if you are using the nice zoom lens your husband bought you a couple years ago.

When you’re near water that photo tip is very important. You have to be very careful because the French definitely have a different modesty standard in relation to their birthday suits swimsuits. We zoomed in on a few pictures only to find that they had to be deleted. Oops! While in Annecy, we took advantage of the outdoor market that they had and bought our lunch. We felt very French since our lunch consisted of grapes, cheese, bread, and a fruit tart. Buying the cheese was funny, because Jon asked in a few different ways and a few different hand gestures for the lady to cut the cheese so that we could eat it right away. She cut one piece, and stared. Jon nodded, and asked for more. In the end, it was one of our favorite meals.

You’ll have to come back for our last three travel tips that relate mostly to our time in Jon’s motherland or is it grandfatherland since that’s the relation? See you next time…

Birthdays, Haircuts, and Hiking

Last Monday, I mentioned that we were taking our dogs and my mom hiking at one of our favorite spots in Carolinas. Pisgah National Forest. It’s the easiest trails with the most beautiful scenery. When we went camping last, we learned that the girls like swimming, so we thought it would be fun to let them do it again. In the pictures, it looks like they may not feel the same excitement, but I contend it was because of the powerful waterfalls. If anything, we did succeed at filing their nails. My mom even enjoyed it too. Getting from the bank to the middle of the river was a little tricky since the rocks were so slippery, so Jon wanted to throw in some added difficulty by trying to photograph her while she did it. Out of respect, I only posted a couple of pictures of that adventure.

The week was filled with appointments which isn’t rather exciting, but the week ended with a highlight. My sister from Virginia came into town because she missed us so much. Well, that’s what I tell myself. She came into town because she had a dentist appointment, and she happened to get to see us too. While she was here, we decided to celebrate Dallas’ 36th birthday (My brother-in-law). It also happened to be haircut night. We have a pair of hair clippers that we were given, and my sister is trying to save cash, so Dallas and Ethan both got haircuts. Jon didn’t think he was up to cutting his hair like the other guys. I didn’t complain (see pictures). As you can also see from the picture, Ethan wasn’t too excited about his haircut either, but thankfully, Madelyn was happy with the new dress I bought her for her “potty present.” She has needed much encouragement, but she has finally mastered the art of using the restroom in a “big girl potty.” I also got to paint her nails which she just LOVES doing. Girls are so much fun! I also must mention that my sister from Virginia was promoted last month to the District Area Rental Manager for Penske Truck Leasing. This means nothing to you, I’m sure, but it means a lot to all of us, and to put the icing on the cake, her district was #1 her first month in charge. Nothing like setting expectations a little high, eh?

I continue to be an addict of pinterest.com. I have been gathering so many ideas. Just wish I had time to implement even half of them. If you haven’t heard of Pinterest, then you must get with the program. Just kidding. I actually just learned of it a few weeks ago, but it saves me from having to have a thousand favorites on my browser. There are so many neat ideas that I would love to remember, but sadly depreciation schedules and tax rules are what fill my mind at the present moment. It’s either that or blogs. I have come across so many inspiring blogs recently. One the couple had their baby, and he passed away 10 days after birth due to a congenital heart defect. They knew early on in the pregnancy that the baby had these defects, but since they were believers they carried him to term knowing the outcome. Well, she’s pregnant again, but this time with TWINS! Can you imagine? I’ve realized I might have to start weeding out some of the blogs I read, but there are far too many good ones. I don’t even know where I would begin to cut. AND, they give me a nice little break during the workday or on my lunch break.

I don’t usually mention when I am taking a break from the blog, but since my house won’t be empty, I’m not too concerned. I’m headed to New Jersey for work on Tuesday. Lately, travel just burns me out, but thankfully, I will get to see Jon’s Grandma, hopefully, some aunts and uncles, and then I will end the trip with a visit to Long Island to see my beautiful new niece, and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. The only downside is that I won’t get to see Jon again until Sunday evening. What makes it even sadder is that I will leave again the following Tuesday for work and again will be gone through the weekend. Ugh. SO looking forward to the day when I don’t have to travel, BUT I am very thankful for technology. Jon and I are able to e-mail most of the day, and I can usually snag a 15 minute phone call in the evening with him. Not sure how people did it in the olden days when their husbands were off to war with only letters to look forward to.

In honor of my absence, I will leave you some beautiful sites from our hike last week. I will definitely be checking them out this week while I’m away and missing my little family.

Piano….

As I write, I have the sweet music of birds in the trees and my husband playing the piano. Can I just say I love listening to Jon play the piano? When he plays, it’s full of emotion, but also lighthearted and SO enjoyable to listen to. I could easily be serenaded to sleep because it’s so enjoyable to listen to. Lexi isn’t too used to us playing the piano since we haven’t had time to do much of it since we got her, but both Jon and I got a chance to serenade her this evening. She just stared at us wondering when dinner was going to be served. She’s looking forward to Sunday though. Jon has begun feeding her, her very own Sutter Spaghetti dish. She gets noodles (which she loves cooked or dry) as well as some french bread and sauce. She is always the first to finish.

So, by the mere fact I’m listening to Jon play the piano, that means I’m home from my business trip. I’m so thrilled that the Lord has carried Jon and I through another busy season. Being apart as much as Jon and I have since we’ve been married just makes me more thankful for every second we are together. Thankfully, I have traveled for the last time until June or July…..How wonderful!!!! Now it’s just full swing taxes. My hours will pick up a bit since we have a big deadline in a couple of weeks and then to work on all of the returns that we had to extend their deadlines.

Other than that, nothing too exciting is going on here. We are slated to have a big Easter Egg hunt here at the house after church on Easter Sunday (big is definitely an exaggeration, but I’m really excited). Jon also bought me some egg painting kits last year, so hopefully Ethan, Madelyn, and I can do that together since I’ve never done it before. My sister, Brandi, is coming in from Virginia, so we’re looking forward to seeing her. Still praying though that she finds a house soon.

Well, off I go. Early morning tomorrow, so I better start dinner and be preparing for the morning. Love to all.

Running, Jumping, and Who knows what else

Short update. This week is a bit slower. Time for me to catch up on family taxes, our own taxes, and extensions for clients. I am almost done with the family ones assuming you have told me you want them done or need help. Ours are close to being finalized…yeah, and today is extension day at work for all of my audit clients. So it should be a pretty fun day. Since Jon is away all week, I’m also catching up with some friends who have been neglected during the heart of busy season. I’m very excited about Thursday night. My maid-of-honor, Analeisa is coming over, and we are having a play date with our “kids.” I’m very excited to wear Lexi out with her dog Cooper.

This weekend is going to be a bit different. On Saturday, I will be running in a 10k (6.2 miles). It’s the longest race I have ever done. My girlfriend and I from highschool have reconnected over the last year, and we started running earlier this year. For me, it was running again, but for her it was running in general. It’s very exciting that we are both going to run and finish this race. We went out Saturday to practice on the course, and wow was it long! Thankfully, the weather is supposed to be gorgeous Saturday (hard to believe with snow in the forecast today, but that’s SC weather). We are expecting a great race and a successful finish. We have hopes of doing a half marathon at the end of April. This is our test run to see if we are on track since this is half-way through our training. We saw how well my 2009 goal of running a half went, so we are being more cautious this year on making that the end-all, be-all goal…especially since I don’t really like running, and I don’t really have time to do the long runs associated with the training. So, we’ll see. You’ll have to check back for pictures of our grand event. Or you can check my friends blog every Tuesday when she posts our progress. She’s working on trying to get healthy this year, and she’s been blogging about it for accountability. Her Tuesday posts called Triumphant Tuesdays can be found at www.simplesavingsecrets.net The only downside is since I’m running in the morning on Saturday it means I have to work in the afternoon/evening on Saturday to make up my hours, but on the upside….we’re nearing the end of busy season so hopefully that means less Saturdays too.

Until next time……

Day 1: San Francisco

IMG_0815Jon and I decided that blogging is relaxing for me, SO to relax, I will keep our blog readers updated on our vacation. So here it goes…hope you enjoy.

 Our trip had a very exciting beginning. It wasn’t exciting at the time, but now it was hilarious. Jon and I had to drive about 1.5 hours to the airport in Charlotte, NC. We had just parked at the airport, and we were unloading our luggage when I asked Jon (in a very panicked voice) if he saw my wallet up there. He calmly responded no. As I begin feel my blood pressure rise, I call my mom to see if she saw my wallet on her counter (we left from her house, and I had written her a check before leaving). She said no. Let’s just say I was about to break down into tears…well as I was asking my mom to look in other places I had been in the house, I remembered that I had put my wallet in Jon’s glove box because he didn’t want me to take it with us, I had put my id into my camera back. DISASTER AVOIDED…..

 Due to my fiasco, we were late getting to the ticket counter, SO the lady didn’t charge us for our bags (YEAH, $15 saved) because she said that she didn’t want us to miss our flight. She did tell us not to tell anyone because she didn’t want to ruin her image so her name has been withheld to protect her identity. Flights were incredible. Each landed about an hour earlier than scheduled, each gave us three rounds of drinks and multiple (like 2+) bags of prezels a piece…who said the economy was struggling? AND, contrary to what usually happens to Jon and me, all of our luggage arrived when we did!

 SO, on to Day ONE in San Francisco…..We started the day by getting our rental car, a Jeep Patriot which is a pretty cool SUV. It’s small, but comfortable and perfect for our purpose. On our way to buy a charger for our Garmin (we forgot it in the car during the wallet fiasco), we found that there is an “Arlington Cemetary of the west coast.” Since is Memorial Day weekend, we wanted to visit and pay our respects to men who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms. Jon and I remembered men in our lives that have served in some form in the military (Grandpa Buecher, Grandpa Avery, my cousin, Walter Osteen, and a cousin of mom Sutter). It was really neat to see all of the flags that had been placed in preparation of the festivities on Monday. Boy & Girl Scout troops worked together to honor each fallen soldier. After visiting the cemetery, we decided we needed to find some heavier clothes. We knew it would be “chilly” in San Francisco, but we didn’t even comprehend how chilly. We went to Goodwill and threw some items together to make us a warmer…what a great idea! You’ll have to check out the pictures of our styles….Jon even got complimented on his awesome coat.

 Bound for the Golden Gate Bridge, we got onto the infamous California 1. We had plans of walking across the bridge, but that quickly changed with the 54 degree weather and the wind chill. What a beautiful view. We drove around some scenic ways so we could get some better views.

 We checked into our hotel and then headed out to see Fisherman’s Wharf and get some food. Did you guys know San Francisco is one of the hilliest cities in the World. Well, Jon and I had a grand idea of walking to the Wharf (2.3 miles). Well, check out the pics for the hills. OH MY WORD. Definitely got a good thigh and calf workout. We ate some amazing food at a seafood restaurant. I had trout stuffed with crab meat. Jon took a “great” picture of my meal. After supper, we conveniently walked another 2 or so miles back to our hotel where we both vowed to take advantage of the hot tub for our very sore muscles. Thankfully, we had asked our waiter for a flatter way home, and it was much easier to handle.

 I have uploaded all of our pictures to picassa, so please browse them. We have really enjoyed my new camera, and Jon is turning out to be quite the photographer with it. I’m so proud of him. http://picasaweb.google.com/ashleigh.sutter/Personal?authkey=Gv1sRgCK6p_IW6h5fcKw&feat=directlink