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Welcome – Wilkommen – Bienvenido – Bienvenue – Benvenuto – Bainvegni

Once in awhile it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” – Alan Keightley

Welcome to our travel site:  More 2 Explore.

We hope this site inspires individuals to live the lives they were meant to live; to get out into this vast, beautiful world and explore more. To realize there is more to this life than the traditional 9 to 5.  We also plan to share our travel, cultural and educational experiences with our followers.

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Our Followers have asked for it, now the headers include where the image was taken…

The Tuscan Table

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While sitting down at a Tuscan table several years ago, a local bottle of Chianti served in modest glasses, our conversation quickly started to flow. Memories washed over us  and we slowly began to remember. We recalled our college days, the grueling and humble moments that taught us the value of being perpetually broke, of being leveled in a vast playing field, in the reality that hard work doesn’t necessarily gain merit and that heartbreak is part of this uncertain life. Our educations were valued, but genuine life lessons were the treasures we gathered in our baskets of life.

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As minutes dissipated and wine glasses were refilled, it was hard for us to grasp that our days at university, though still fresh and vivid in our minds, were now moments of our sacred past. 2015 commemorates our 15th year anniversary from our undergraduate life. 15 years since we lived in to small dormitory dwellings, showered with flip-flops, carted around shower buckets, and lived among students eager to make their mark in their new world.

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20 years since my dear Father dropped me off at my humble dorm, embraced me in a lingering hug, unable to believe we had already arrived at this place and time and looked deep into my eyes and quietly said, “Get involved Melinda, it will make all the difference.”

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And so it was all those years ago. I got involved, I sat in class, I read the books, I joined teams, I welcomed strangers into my life, organized spring break trips with the support of wonderful friends, I volunteered, worked, laughed, loved, cried, and grew as an independent person, free from the wings of my parents encapsulating protection. Such simple, yet powerful advice; get involved.  The same words I fall back on each time I pack up my life and move to a new home whether in another state or an unknown country.
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Naturally, I miss the people who entered my life and slowly faded away, as each individual played an integral part of making me the person I have become today. The joys of the first “hello” and the sorrows of the final “goodbye” still crisp in my mind. Some final departures I long to repeat having spoken lasting words that would carry us each through the years of silence. Held that person in a deeper, longer embrace thanking them for making this life all the sweeter, but goodbyes are inevitable and final. It is hard to believe that some of those people who left such an impression on me, whom I spent countless hours with, have now drifted into the makings of their own lives so distant from my own.  The trend of friends coming and going has now become a normal, though hard to swallow cycle in our lives.
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It has been 15 years since we eagerly, yet hesitantly received our diplomas from college unable to believe that five years had passed as quickly as the turning of a page and now at 15 years, it all feels like a distant dream. It has been 15 years since the remarkable, life-altering journey began.

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Now we look to the future – the very future that holds her arms wide open for us – her prospects endless and her days the greatest mystery of all.

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This posting is dedicated to all of our friends from our incredible college days.

May your lives be rich, your journeys vast and your hearts full.

Gear Review – Jack Wolfskin

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We travel to the Alps quite a bit, and even for normal hiking.  I was in need of a new Jacket, but I was looking for a good quality soft-shell which would not break the bank. I set a few mental “must-haves” while looking; at least 3 zip pockets, water repellant, and slightly long in the arms. Personally, if the sleeves are slightly longer it wears better with base layers or when carrying a backpack. I looked a many different brands (i.e. Mountain Hardware, North Face, Patagonia, Mammut, Haglöfs, Marmot, Salewa, and Berghaus) but many of them were made with special technical fabric which either set the price well above 200 CHF / USD or felt cheep which troubled me considering the longevity.

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I was surprised to find the Jack Wolfskin Nucleon Jacket. It is wind resistant, water repellant, fleece lined, three zip pockets, Velcro wrist straps, fixed hood with elastic adjustment in the hood and waist. The sleeves are cut slightly long with thumbholes, accommodating neck space, and bi-direction underarm ventilation zippers.

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I’ve worn this, with or without base layering in varying temperatures but would recommend it from 13ºC down to -4 ºC (~55 ºF to 25 ºF). The underarm zips are great, because you can open them up from either direction which is perfect while wearing a backpack, or a small child.

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This is a great jacket when it is windy and the hood is a good shield without the need for a beanie. In fact, during a recent windy snow hike, I was too warm hiking up hill, shed the beanie, and used the only hood. The stitching is high quality, and the seams, Velcro, zips, and drawstring points are well designed. I wasn’t looking for an orange jacket, but this was a fun color with nice blue accents.

The only negative: the fabric is perhaps so good; they could not get their logo to stick on the back right shoulder. But perhaps it was from the sling bag I’ve been carrying (i.e. potential abrasion).   All in all, it’s my new favorite jacket.  Get one if you can, I haven’t see this on the Jack Wolfskin website, but if the rest of their products are as good quality as this one, you should not be disappointed.

Another review can be found here.

Fasnacht Fever – February 23 – 25, 2015

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Photo_Week_20130215_Fasnacht_Feb_2012This year Basel will celebrate Fasnacht on Monday, February 23 through Wednesday, February 25, 2015.  The event always takes place the week after Ash Wednesday and for exactly 72 hours, Basel lets her hair down and embraces Fasnacht aka carnival. The theme for 2015 is, “We Don’t Fit in a Drawer.”

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With a rich mix of non-stop, crazy parties, fueled by local happenings, and floats that are so intricately crafted and well – made, onlookers cannot help but partake in the madness of it all. With the official opening of Fasnacht taking place with Morganstreich at 4:00 a.m. on Monday, February 23, the fun and good times get underway, as the lights of the city are shut off the cliques march with lanterns through the city streets!

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With candy, roses, and oranges lining the streets, confetti so deep on the ground you will still find remnants of this three– day party for months to come. The piccolos and drums will ring in your ears and the smiles will dance across your face just long enough to keep your warm throughout the winter months.

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If this is your first time celebrating Fasnacht enjoy this memorable event, but please remember to keep your children close by, as the floats (Wagen) are dangerous for little people. Oh, and if you didn’t purchase your carnival badge (Plakette) and have it visible prepare to be bombarded by confetti.  This year we will be visiting a Cliquenkeller, which will be a memorable event and helps support the local cliques.

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Dates to Remember:

School Parade – February 12 at 17:00 – Local Kindergartens will participate in a walk through the streets of Basel.  Over 5,000 school children from the Basel area marched down Freie Strasse in beautifully hand – crafted costumes.  Our son and his Kindergarten class were Pippi Longstocking, such a loveable character!

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Lantern Exhibition –Tuesday, February 24– on display at Münsterplatz. The lanterns are lit in the evenings.

Exhibition of Floats – Monday through Wednesday – Kaserneareal in Kleinbasel to view the floats up close

Gugge Concerts – Tuesday evening from 19:30 – 23:00 in Marktplatz, Barfüsserplatz and Claraplatz

Children’s Day – Tuesday is dedicated to the children – dress your children in their best costumes and roam the streets gathering oranges, and sweet treats from the floats, but please use caution when approaching the wagons with small children!  Wagons cannot see small children.  Please keep your children within arms reach! A great place to watch the parade, without getting trapped in the maddening crowds is near the Kunstmuseum.

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For more information on Fasnacht, please visit the following website:

www.fasnachts-comite.ch/en/carnival/general/

Sugar Out

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From time – to – time on More2Explore we talk about health and fitness. Mostly because we are more than a one-dimensional, traveling family. We also enjoy workouts at the gym, mountain bike rides (despite our circa 1997 Yeti), road rides (on a bike newer than the Yeti), runs, hikes and a little CrossFit just to spice things up.

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In addition, I also spent a year studying nutrition in New York City, so the topic of nutrition is very dear to my heart. I firmly believe what we put into our mouths has a huge impact on the way we feel, think and our overall health.  Despite consuming mostly organic foods and doing our best to feed our family healthy treats, there are times we allow a bit more junk into our diets and we need a little revision. We are currently in revision mode.

This week, we are doing a little experiment in our house to cut out all sugar. An important aspect of that, however, is that we are not filling our bodies with sugar substitutes made in a lab. No Splenda, Equal, Truvia, Sweet n Low, Sweet Leaf, etc. I have strong opinions on artificial sweeteners and for the sake of keeping this blog relatively simple, I will just say, artificial sweeteners have NO place in the human body, so do yourself a favor and steer clear of them!

Now that we have covered that topic, we are eliminating sugar for a week, if not a lot longer.  Goodbye Swiss chocolate, sugar in our coffee, honey (we will keep the honey for the children though), maple syrup, jam and all those hidden grams of sugar that make their way into our mouth each and every day and weaken our hardworking immune systems.

Instead of feeling deprived, however, we are feeling a lot healthier. In place of sweet snacks, we are juicing a lot more. In fact, we just whipped up some delicious juices you might want to try at home if you have a juicer.

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Celery/Apple

Orange/Carrot/Ginger

Cucumber/Lemon/Ginger/Apple

If you don’t have a juicer, no problem, dust off your blender and get busy. Throw in bananas, avocados, orange juice, rice milk, ice and chia seeds. Blend until smooth and enjoy for breakfast or lunch.

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Need some inspiration over dinner. Well, Robert has just mastered the veggie burger, full of broccoli, carrots, ginger, onion, garlic, cilantro, kidney beans, and couscous, which goes great with pesto on a roll. Throw in a little spinach salad with cranberries and walnuts and a healthy dinner has been served.

When that pang for something sweet hits hard, we run for the dates. Oh dear, those little gems are perfect to satisfy any sweet tooth, and oh, boy do I have a sweet tooth. To whip up a “candy bar” simply split your date in half, spread on almond or peanut butter and sprinkle with coconut. Delicious and there is no guilt in feeding these snacks to your children!

If you are looking to make changes to your current diet, don’t become overwhelmed by all the fad diets out there. Here are a few helpful tips to help you jump on the health wagon and feel amazing.

  1. Drink more water
  2. Get fresh air and exercise
  3. Eat whole foods – what are whole foods you might ask? Great question. Whole foods come from the earth, are not created in a lab and do not naturally arrive at our tables in shiny packages and plastic coverings. Whole foods are nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables; some would say dairy, eggs and meat.  Vegan, vegetarian, meat – eater, whatever, eat more of the real stuff!
  4. Start somewhere. If you elect to drink more water, eat a salad each day, or commit to juicing everyday day you are doing it and that is awesome!  Remember all changes start with a “single step.” Get stepping and implement that change.

Here’s to feeling great, living large and being healthy!

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