Stop it Switzerland!

Hi there. How are you? 


My family and I took an unforgettable trip to Switzerland this summer. It's so damn idyllic there that it was difficult to whittle down the photos to a manageable number for this post. In true Johnson/Johansson style, this trip was jam packed with activities. 

Read on.....


Our trip started in Stettlen, just outside of Bern, to visit these two cuties (my niece and nephew) and their parents.  Even the view from their house is lovely. You can see the alps in the background. 


Matt and I were the first of the family to arrive, so we got to enjoy a private tour of Bern with Matt's brother Luke, his wife Cindy, and their kiddies, William and Kendall. 

Celebrating Jack

Next to arrive was Jack (my stepson) and Matt's parents. They had just finished up their week long trip to France and Germany. (That was his high school graduation present. How cool is that?!?) The celebration of Jack's graduation continued in Switzerland with tacos and ice cream cake. ( A very traditional Swiss meal. HA!) 


We took a walk around Solothurn, and hiked the 249 narrow stairs up to the top of the St. Ursen Cathedral for some spectacular views. Then it was a quick drive to Stansstad to visit a lakeside WWII era bunker. I had to snap a photo of the typewriter that I saw there. In fact, it was the only photo I took there. 


We ended the day in Lucerne, where we picked up Carrie and Rick who had just arrived in Switzerland. (Matt's sister and brother-in-law.) We had a lovely Swiss meal filled with sausages, pretzels, potatoes and beer. 


The following day we had another adventure, albeit a soggy one.  The pouring rain couldn't keep us from a trip up in the Bernese Alps. We took the gondola up to Murren, which even in the rain, was adorable and majestic. 

Stop it Switzerland

The rain started to subside a bit, so we decided to hike down the mountain to Gimmewald.  The views were so unreal and I kept saying "Stop it Switzerland." The beauty was totally overwhelming. I felt like I needed to stop every few feet to take a photo. The further down we descended, the more it cleared up. It made for some killer views! 

Cue the deluge of beauty.......

Seriously. Stop it Switzerland! 

A Break at the Pub

By the time we reached Gimmelwald the rain had ceased and the clouds had lifted. We stopped at an adorable pub for drinks and then took some more incredible photos outside. 

Kendall is my Muse

Can you tell I love snapping photos of my niece Kendall. She loves to pose for me! 

Well, that was just the first THREE days of the trip.

I'm exhausted from going through all these photos and reliving this unforgettable trip. I'll have to finish up this recap in another post. 

That's all for now. Ciao! 

4 Mullins and a Swede: a Travelogue of Italia In October - Part 2

Hi there. How are you?

I'm back this week to fill you in on Week 2 of our trip to Italy. Click


to read about Week 1.

Next stop on our Italia tour was Pompeii, the ancient Roman city near modern-day Naples that was buried by ash in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. 

Pompeii was truly fascinating. It's amazing how well preserved the painting and architecture is. You truly get a feel for ancient Roman life in this massive archeological site. We spent 2 hours exploring and could have easily spent more, but it got a little "burny" out. (It was in the 80's for much of our trip.)  

After a night spent in Sorrento, we drove south all the way to Reggio-Calabria (the very tip of the boot.) After much trouble finding the port and buying a ticket, we took a ferry over to the island. This was quite an expedition! It's a major pain to get to Sicily this way. I wouldn't recommend it! 

Our first night on Sicilia was spent in Taormina, a popular tourist destination on the north-east coast of the island. We celebrated Matt's 40th birthday here with a fabulous dinner featuring seafood and canoli. 

Our next destination with Aragona, the hometown Great Grandpa Carl Cacciatore,  my mother's paternal Grandfather. I'm sure if we would have done some research, we could have dug up some far removed cousins (my great grandfather left Aragona around 1905). We did make a stop in the town square and visited the church that my great-great grandparents were married and came across this World-War 1 monument. If you're from Rockford, you probably know most of the names on this list. So many families from Aragona have emigrated to Rockford in the last century! 

After so much non-stop sight seeing, we needed a little break. Agrigento was perfect for that. Lovely beach, lovely people. We were the only tourists on the beach there. Such a great day! 

Our next stop was Marsala, the hometown of my mother's maternal grandparents. To be honest, there wasn't much to see there, so I didn't take any pics there. We stayed in a lovely resort built out of a former villa.

Our last Sicilian destination was Palermo, the capital of Sicily. It was heartbreaking. The streets are dirty, the air is polluted. The city is literally crumbling. There is just no money to properly take care of things. I hope that something can be done to save the architectural treasures there before it's too late. 

Now, not all of Palermo was bad. We witnessed the most epic Sunday evening "passeggiata" of all time! (Passeggiata is an evening walk.) After spending the afternoon walking around the mostly deserted streets of Palermo, we were amazed at the transformation that took place as the sun started to fade. The people came out in droves! Young and old alike crowded the closed off streets. The outdoor cafes were packed. There was even a pop-up concert!  I'll leave you with a little snip I captured on my i-phone. 

Hope you enjoyed my travelogue. Until next time. Ta-ta.

4 Mullins and a Swede: a Travelogue of Italia In October

Hi there. How are you?

This autumn has been a complete whirlwind. I'm not quite sure how it's November already. Maybe the fact that we spent about half of October traveling may have something to do with it! 

I was lucky enough to spend 2 weeks in Italy with my brother, parents and husband. (This is where the goofy blog title comes from. My maiden name is Mullin and as my lovely readers know, my husband Matt is a Swede.)  I wanted to share some snaps that I took during our most excellent of travels.

Our trip really began at the Dublin airport, at 5:00 AM on a Thursday. We drank Bulmers ciders in an incredibly rowdy airport bar. There must have been 100 people drinking there. Ireland truly lived up to the stereotypes in that regard! 

Mom, brother Kyle, me and Dad (4 Mullins)

Our first stop in Italia was Rome. We spent 4 days in a great apartment near the Vatican. We did our fair share of site-seeing along with much excellent eating and drinking. 

There's my brother and the Swede (Matt)

This guy was posing for me on the roof of the "Typewriter."

After Rome, we rented a car and headed to Tuscany, my favorite part of Italy! I love the small hill towns and the slower pace of life there. Of yeah, and it's breathtakingly beautiful too! 

We stayed in an agriturismo (working farm with guest rooms) near Volterra.

Podere San Lorenzo

is an olive farm on the site of an old monastery.  Meals were served in the old chapel. We had some of the best meals of the trip here.  This is the natural pool. Had it been warmer, I would have been in it in heartbeat!

As always, I was on the hunt for good chairs. Italia did not disappoint.

This concludes Week 1 of my Italian travelogue. Stay tuned for Week 2 adventures in Pompeii and Sicilia. Thanks for reading! 

Have you ever traveled to Italia? Tell me about it! 

Ta-ta for now.

PS: If you'd like to read about my 2010 trip to Italy, check out these posts on



Verona and Florence



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