Die Schwarzwald

I believe that the last travel post I wrote was relaying the beauty that we beheld in Garmisch. We had been told how amazing it was to visit the Bavarian Alps, but our expectations were far outweighed by what we actually saw. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to experience the wonderful sights that we have seen while living in Germany for this past year. Recently, we took a short weekend trip in die Schwarzwald, better know, auf Englisch, as the Black Forest. It’s such a different feeling knowing ahead of time that you are about to embark on a journey filled with beautiful views, than it is when you discover that beauty on your own. I don’t know what I was expecting when we set out of the Black Forest, but as we got closer, I just could not keep my eyes off the magnificent country that we were driving though. (And of course I have no photos of the country side, so you’ll just have to go visit for yourself!)

Our first stop was a glass blowing museum that I had heard about. The museum part was great, but the neat thing was, that they will let you blow your own glass vase for a small fee! It was kind of a silly thing to do, but we thought it would be fun. They have a man helping you, who actually does the majority of the work, but lets you put your own breath into making the vase.

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After they are finished, the vases need to rest for a little bit, but once they were ready we took them to a another person, who grinds down the opening to make it smooth and even.

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After that stop, we made the rest of our way into the town of Triberg. This village is known for it’s Cuckoo Clocks, and Deutschlands höchste Wasserfälle (Germany’s highest waterfall). So obviously we had to check those things off the list. But before getting to that, we just took a stroll around the town and found some lunch.

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After a little Cuckoo Clock shopping, we headed to the waterfall and did some hiking up and around it, which made for a lovely afternoon. The weather was friendly and the waterfall and hiking areas were very beautiful.

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That night, because when in Rome (or die Schwarzwald), we had Black Forest Ham, and Black Forest Cake for dinner.

We had planned to spend the following day in Freiburg, which is boasted to be the sunniest city in Germany. We did go, however, it was cloudy and raining… go figure. So we decided to cut the day short and head back home, which we decided was justified since the previous day was so successful.

There were a few things that we had planned to do in other areas of the Black Forest that we just didn’t get to. But we were very satisfied with our trip and will maybe go back one of these days to experience the beauty of the Black Forest again. And we did not go home empty handed…

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We are now the proud owners of this hand-carved original Black Forest Cuckoo Clock. If you are in the market for one, I highly recommend Oli’s Schnitzstube in Triberg. They make all their own clocks and the craftsmanship and customer service is amazing.

Well, bis zum nächsten mal (until next time)… Auf Wiedersehen! 

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The Breathtaking Bavarian Alps and Neuschanstein Castle

When we started to tell folks that we were moving to Germany, we got a lot of the same responses and advice, especially from people who had been stationed here previously (which, by the way, was seriously great to hear some guidance and first hand experiences from other, so thanks to all of you!). One piece of advice that we received from just about everyone who had lived here, was to go to Garmisch.

Well you guys, we did it!

A few weeks ago we took a little “weekend” (it was not technically a weekend, but was essentially equivalent to one) trip to the little town of Garmisch that sits at the bottom of the Bavarian Alps. I have to tell you, this is one of the most peaceful and beautiful places I have ever experienced in my life.

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We took it easy for the first day and just enjoyed the town and the sites. The next day, I attempted skiing and ya know, sometimes things just aren’t your thing, and I’ll leave it at that. But C skied the whole day and really enjoyed himself, so it worked out well. The last day, on our way back home, we took a little detour to visit the Neuschanstein Castle. This Castle is the most famous in Germany and was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.

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It is a massive structure; incredible inside and out. (Unfortunately, no photos are allowed inside, so I don’t have any of those to share.)

And that, friends, was our short getaway to Garmisch. Here’s few more photos of our trip to round things up (about half of which C took while skiing).

Tschüss!

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End of the Year

So at the end of the year, WordPress sends you a link to this fun little stats page to review your year in blogging. And as I was checking out my stats for 2014, I realized that I kind of dropped off the face of the WordPress world for the last few months of the year. Although it is nice to see that some people actually read my blog every once in a while, I don’t particularly write posts so that I can see how many readers I can get; that’s just not what this blog was created for. It’s more so that I can track our journey through life and give anyone who wants it, a glimpse into what we are up to.

Since my husband and I jumped the broom 2 1/2 years ago, we have been farther and farther away from our loved ones than I ever imagined I would be. Thus, I wanted to start a blog so that if anyone wondered what we were up to way out here, then they could hop on over and read about our adventures. I suppose that means that I need to get better about writing about our adventures then, huh?

So here goes… a long overdue update of what’s been going on lately.

December in Germany is wonderful. When we first heard we were moving here, we decided that we wanted to stay in Germany for our first Christmas to experience how they celebrate the holiday. The thing that we enjoyed the most about this holiday season over here is the Christmas Markets. Almost any day that C had off work we would venture out to a new market. The Christmas markets consist of booths set up, usually in the city center or old town, where vendors are selling handmade Christmas decor, trinkets of all kinds, beautiful woodwork and pottery, a large variety of food and hot drinks, and so much more (depending on the size of the market).

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Christmas tree at the market in Strasbourg.

After the Christmas market season was over, we took a short trip down to Munich. The city is huge and there was so much to see and do, unfortunately we didn’t get to everything that we wanted to, because of time and weather, but it was still a great trip!

We started off our visit kind of on a somber note, by stopping by the Dachau Concentration Camp, just outside of Munich. It was definitely not a fun place to visit as it was very sad and surreal to see a place where such devastating events happened, but we felt like it was important to see. That night, once we got into Munich, we just walked around the city center and had dinner at the legendary Hofbrauhaus that has been there since 1589. The next day we checked out the BMW museum and Olympia Park, where the Olympics were held in 1972. After that, we visited St. Peter’s Church, ate a very late lunch, and headed home. It snowed while we were there, and the roads were bad on the way home, turning our 4 hour drive into a 7 hour drive… But we made it home all in one piece and now have a good trip to Munich to look back on.

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Dachau Concentraion Camp. “Never Again”

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BMW World and BMW Museum

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Front of St. Peter’s Church decorated for Christmas.

Day Trip: Prague

Taking a day trip in a major city like Prague was not an easy feat to accomplish, but we did it. And I’m so glad we did! We loved Prague! There was so much to see it was impossible to fit it all in, but we saw as much of the city as we could in the time that we had.

Prague, the capital of Czech Republic, is about a 6 hour drive from where we live in Germany. So for this trip to be a “day trip” we took a bus that left at 2 am Saturday morning, and returned at 4 am Sunday morning, basically book-ending our trip with two very uncomfortable nights of sleeping on a bus. The base coordinates trips like this all the time, and this is the 2nd we have done, and probably the last for a while! It’s great that the base offers trips like these; they bus you down to the destination, drop you off in the center of the city, and then you get back on the bus at the end of the day to go home. The time spent in the city is all yours, no planned tours, you have the freedom to see what you want. I’m all for taking advantage of this type of trip when a good deals comes around, but going for a full 24 hours really does take it out of you!

To start off our day in Prague, C had found this attraction called Mind Maze. The concept of it sounds kind of strange, and I’ll admit we were a little skeptical, but it ended up being one of the funnest things we did all day in my opinion. The idea of it is, your group is locked in one of two themed rooms (our room was the Alchemy room, based on the search for the “philosopher’s stone”) and you have one hour to use the things in the room to find your way out. Our group of seven found the “key” to getting the door unlock in 23 minutes, which was a new record!

After we finished the mind maze, we started to make our way around the city to see the major sights. Here are some photos from our day.

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Wenceslas Square

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Astronomical Clock

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Tyn Church

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Charles Bridge

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Vltava River

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Charles Bridge

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View from Prague Castle

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Prague Castle

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St. Vitus Cathedral located within the Prague Castle

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Strahov Monastery

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Petrin Lookout Tower (often called a smaller version of the Eiffel Tower)

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After walking over 13 miles (according to Fitbit) on cobble stones, my feet were extremely tired, but we saw some great sights and hope to go back to spend some more time in the city of Prague.

This past week my sister and brother-in-law visited and we took some wonderful day trips that will be posted soon!

Day Trip: Luxembourg (round 2)

This month we had two very full Saturday day trips. The most recent of those day trips was this past Saturday in Prague! But as I am a bit OCD, I have to go in chronological order, so I must first address the previous weekend, when we made our second trip to Luxembourg.

Soon after we moved to Germany, C’s cousin took us to Luxembourg. (If you missed that post you can find it here.) We really enjoyed our first trip, and so I was excited to go again. And this time, we visited all new places.

Our first stop was the National Museum of Military History in Diekirch. This museum was incredible! The main focus of the museum is the Battle of the Bulge. There were several displays to recreate the conditions during the battle, endless amounts of found objects from the war, a weaponry room, a large space displaying military vehicles, and a good portion of the museum was dedicated solely to the Luxembourg military and their history through the Battle of the Bulge and other wars.

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After a morning spent at the museum, we drove down toward Luxembourg City to visit the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial. While the visit here was very somber, it was good to see this resting place of the fallen soldiers who died with honor aiding and protecting. This is also where General Patton is laid to rest.

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Just down the road from the American National Cemetery is the Sandweiler German War Cemetery. Again, another very somber place to visit on such a beautiful day, but it was interesting to see the two cemeteries back to back.

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After the cemetery visit, we made our way into Luxembourg City for the rest of the day. We found a place to eat a very late and overdue lunch and then walked around the town, visiting a few shops here and there. Then after grabbing some gelato, it was time to head home. The museum and cemeteries were very interesting and I am glad to have visited them. If you ever find yourself in Luxembourg I recommend checking these places out.

Coming soon, our day trip in Prague!

First Visitors and New Day Trips (Part 2)

My parents are huge music buffs; my mom teaches private piano lessons, and my dad teaches music in the public school system of our hometown. And as they both have degrees in music, they are no strangers to Classical music. There are several big name Classical music composers who lived in Germany, and during my parents visit, they wanted to hit at least one hometown of a composer. The closest to us just so happened to be Beethoven’s hometown, Bonn. In Bonn, they have turned the home where Beethoven was born into a museum of his life and work. The museum provided a great glimpse into Beethoven’s life. Aside from the museum to honor Beethoven, there is also a monument that is very iconic, and several buildings in the city named for the great composer.

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Outside the house where Beethoven was born

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Beethoven Monument

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 And this is Bonn Minster – The Catholic Church in the Old Town (I’m not sure about the story of the severed heads).

After our morning of Beethoven history, we headed to Cologne (or Köln) which was just about a 30 minutes drive from Bonn. In Cologne, we went to the Ludwig Museum, which displays modern art including one of the largest collection of Picasso’s paintings. Then we visited the amazing Cologne Cathedral. Photos cannot do this Gothic architectural wonder justice.

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You could probably spend a weekend in each of these cities, but we packed it all into one day. So there are many things that we didn’t get to experience; however the things that we did see, were definitely worth it!

First Visitors and New Day Trips (Part 1)

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Last week my parents came to visit! We had such a wonderful time taking day trips, seeing new things, trying new food, and just spending time together. I really enjoyed showing them some things that I had already seen, as well as experiencing some new things with them as well!

The first day we took it easy, as my parents were weary from the their travels, but on day two, we visited Heidelberg to view the Heidelberg Castle and the sights of the Altstadt, or Old Town. This was my first time to visit Heidelberg, and I thought it was a very nice city. Everything that we read about it said that it was too much of a tourist city to enjoy, but we actually quite liked it! There was a lot of neat things to see including some amazing views of the city.

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Stairs up to Heidelberg Castle (there were 315 of them)

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Heidelberg Castle from inside the courtyard

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Heidelberg Castle

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View of the Old Bridge

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View of the city

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View of Heidelberg Castle from the city

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Bridge Gate

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The River Neckar (a tributary of the Rhine River)

A couple of days we just stayed close to home and did some things in the local area like eat schnitzel at our favorite restaurant, spend one morning at a Farmers Market, plant flowers at our house, visit another castle – Berg Nanstein, and try an authentic Apfelstrudel at a little cafe! We took a few other day trips as well – to Trier (you can read about our first time in Trier here), Mainz, and Bonn and Cologne (two cities in one day) – which I will share photos of in Part 2!