4.19.2011

Hallo & Bonjour from Germany & Paris!

I just got back from the trip of a lifetime! I am sitting in the Chicago airport waiting for my flight back home from a wonderful trip to Germany and Paris with my Mom, sister Ali, and two nieces, Maddie and Sophie. We went to Germany to visit my cousin Jon and his family who are in the air force at Ramstein Airforce Base about an hour outside of Frankfurt.
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While I was gone, Nate took the kiddies back to Idaho to see his family, so they were well taken care of while I was away. It was so hard to leave them, but at least they were loved and spoiled while I was away. Thanks Sally and Richard for taking in my family while I was away! You are the best Mimi and Papa ever!
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After our red eye flight out the states, we landed in Frankfurt early in the morning and had a full day of fun. We drove to Jon and Janene’s house and got settled in. Then we headed over to the Air Force Base to check things out and get some lunch. They introduced us to our first taste of real German food and I dove right in and ordered the Curry Wurst. I felt like a real German, but that one brat was enough for me! We also ordered the classic German dessert, Apple Strudel and Ali and I dug right in to the strudel but were very surprised at the taste. It was disgusting! It had this strange spicy hotness to it and it was all I could do to not spit it out. Janene then took a bite and about died because they had accidentally put horseradish sauce on it instead of the yummy vanilla sauce. Needless to say, we quickly got that fixed and the new apple strudel was to die for! I’m glad we had Janene with us. I just would have thought those crazy German’s had strange taste buds!
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From there, we hung out at their house and then that night went to a fun little gelato place for dessert. I swear we ate gelato every single day! My waistband is hating me, but it was sure fun.
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Janene also introduced us to one of the most amazing things I have ever eaten. It is called Speculoos and it is this biscotti cookie spread that resembles peanut butter but is soooooooooooooo much better! I seriously couldn’t get enough of it and it was my favorite European find!
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Heidelburg!
Sunday, April 11th, we woke up early and loaded the cars and headed to Heidelburg, Germany. Jon’s oldest son Bowen had his patriarchal blessing there so we decided to make a day of it. While they were in the patriarch’s house, we found a cute little pastry shop along a cherry blossom lined street. Germany is beautiful and the pastries aren’t too shabby either! We got there just as everything was blooming and the whole country was coming to life.
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After Bowen’s blessing, we headed out to find the Heidelburg castle. Parking was a nightmare because there was a marathon going on downtown. Thankfully, we had a carload of girls, so we were able to use the women only parking!
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We had a quick lunch there and Maddie showed off her ballet skills in front of this darling fountain in a little square. She miscalculated how long it would take to take the picture and ended up totally falling into the fountain. It was probably my favorite moment of the whole trip!
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After lunch, we hiked up to the castle which was built in the 1100's.
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One of the 4 turrets on the castle was hit by a bomb at on point and half of it fell down. It was so amazing to see!
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Inside of the castle they also had this enormous wine vat. How anyone could drink that much wine is beyond me!
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The view from the castle was amazing. The city of Heidelburg overlooks the River Nectar and there were the most beautiful, ornate houses on the waterfront. The Europeans sure know how to build beautiful buildings!
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After our trip to the castle, we walked down the main street of Heidelburg and did a little shopping, gelato eating, and cathedral gazing. It was the perfect start to our German adventure!
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Burg Eltz & Trier
Monday brought with it another castle adventure. We visited the Burg Eltz castle which was built in the 12th century and is still owned by the same family today - 33 generations!  While we were there, they were renovating the roof of the castle, so sadly it had scaffolding all around it, but we were able to tour the inside of the castle and it was so interesting to see how they lived 1,000 years ago. I was completely intrigued by the family hierarchy and the daily lives of the people that lived there and while it was so interesting, it made me eternally grateful that I live when I do!
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After the castle, we hopped in the car again and headed to the city of Trier. Trier is a beautiful city and while we were there, we were able to see the Porta Nigra and explore some ancient Roman bath ruins that are over 2,000 years old and were used by Constantine. We totally got in trouble because we were climbing on the ruins. Oh well – it made for some great pictures!
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From there, we walked through the streets of Trier and saw the Palace of Trier and the Der Dom cathedral. It is just so amazing to me that these beautiful buildings have been around for so long. The architecture and craftsmanship are unmatched!
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While there, we hit up the local H&M (of course) and had a bit more gelato. I wasn’t joking when I said that we had it almost every day we were there! Trier was one of my favorite stops on the trip and a place that I would love to return to.
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The Bavarian Alps
Tuesday morning, we headed off to the southeastern tip of Germany into the Bavarian Alps to the town of Berchtesgaden. The air force has lodge there that we were able to use and it was quite the adventure! Even though it was Spring Break for everyone, as we drove into town and started up the mountain to the lodge, the snow started falling. Who would have guessed I would spend my spring break in the snow covered Alps! I felt like Maria in The Sound of Music. It was filmed about 2 hours away from where we were in the city of Salzburg, Austria.
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After we got settled into the lodge, one of the other patrons there explained more of the history of Berchtesgaden. While we knew a little of the area’s history, we were all astonished to find that it was the center of the Nazi regime during the height of World War II. Hitler himself stayed at our lodge and it was the home of one of his closest conspirators, Dietrich Eckart. In fact, Hitler dedicated part of his book Mein Kampf to Eckart and there is a picture of Hitler in front of the very lodge we stayed at. Creepy!!!There was also some pro-Nazi propaganda carved into the rafters of the main room. It was very interesting to stay there, to say the least!
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Just above our lodge is the famous Eagles Nest, which was built as a birthday gift for Hitler’s 50th birthday. Sadly, it doesn’t open until May, so we weren’t able to visit it.Hitler also had a home there, but it was bombed during the insurgency. Every old home there has some Nazi story to tell and the town is crawling with history. While there, we visited the Documentation Center which is an entire building dedicated to the history of the Nazi party and WWII. It was so sobering to hear first hand of the atrocities that were carried out during this time in history and I learned so much from my experiences here.
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Yet, one thing is for sure, Berchtesgaden is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I can see why Hitler would choose it as his home base – it is just so sad to know that this beautiful place is haunted by such horrible ghosts.
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Berchtesgaden
Wednesday, we headed off to downtown Berchtesgaden and went on a tour of the Salz Zeit Reise Salt Mine. This mine has been in operation since the 1500’s and it is still a functioning mine today. We had to dress in these sweet mining suits for the tour and we rode a little train deep in to the center of the mine. It was pretty interesting to learn more about the mining of salt, but the best part was the wooden slides that you got to slide down from one level to the next.
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After the salt mine, we explored a real German grocery store and I was totally grossed out by their bottled meats. They were disgusting!
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That night we walked down the hill from our lodge and passed a little home that was build in 1492 – you know, when Columbus discovered America! Two little women had lived in it for over 60 years, even during the Nazi’s rule of the town. During WWII, the Nazi’s overtook Berchtesgaden and kicked everyone out of their homes, yet for some reason, they allowed these two women to stay in their home. They are still there today.
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The next home down the hill is where we ate dinner. It was definitely an authentic German restaurant! I had snitzel and apple strudel and almost got felt up by the local restaurant owner. It was quite the experience!
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That night we went sledding down the hill in front of the lodge and then I had my first experience blowing eggs so that we could die them. You learn something new every day!
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Dachau Concentration Camp
Thursday morning, we headed home from Berchtesgaden and on the way we visited Dachau Concentration Camp. It was such a sorrowful but enlightening experience. Dachau was the first concentration the Nazi’s opened and it remained open from 1933 to 1945 when the American troops liberated the camp. Some of the most atrocious acts ever committed against the human race happened there and the camp is still filled with such a somber feeling. It was an experience that I will never forget.
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Bonjour from Paris!
After our long day of travel Thursday, we woke up bright and early on Friday and did it all over again. But this is the part of the trip that we were all the most excited about – PARIS!
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After we found our hotel (the driving in Paris is crazy - no lanes, no rules!) we took our first trip on the Paris subway and headed down to the center of town. We were all starving so we found a darling little French café and stuffed ourselves silly. We had amazing French crepes and crème brule and then went shopping down one of the most amazing little streets that I have ever been down. I swear, you could spend a year in Paris and never see it all. Two days was so not long enough, but I guess that means I will have to go back!
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We then headed to the Notre Dame Cathedral only to have missed the last tour by about 10 minutes. We took a few pictures and decided to go back the next morning to tour the inside.
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We then hopped on the subway again and went to see the beautiful Eiffel Tower. Sophie has been waiting her whole life to see this and her face was so classic! She was overwhelmed with joy and was so excited to have one of her dreams come true. We went clear to the top and while we were there it changed from day to night, so we were able to get the best of both worlds – views of Paris in the daytime and nighttime.
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We then walked down the stairs and got some fun pictures in front of the tower. It was such a magical night.
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Saturday, we woke up with the birds to explore more of beautiful Paris. We had a yummy breakfast, but I think Ali was the smartest. She waited for a pastry and fresh squeezed orange juice that were to die for. We then headed back to Notre Dame and walked through it. It is just so amazing to me that so many of the building in Paris are so much older than our country is. There is so much history and character in the city. It is amazing.
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From Notre Dame, we walked the streets of Paris for a while and then went to the Royal Palace and the Louvre. This is what I was most excited about seeing and it definitely didn’t disappoint. I have a soft spot in my heart for beautiful art, and what better place to go than the Louvre. We saw the famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, sculptures by Michelangelo and so many other treasures. It is a day I will never forget.
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After the Louve, we headed to a darling little French café for lunch and then to another bakery for macaroons and the most amazing lemon tartlette. It is a good thing I don’t live in Paris! Their pastries are way too good and I don’t have enough self-control!
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We ended our short tour of Paris with the amazing Arc de Triomphe built by Napoleon in 1806. It was an amazing 2 days, but we were so tired by the end of it. Sunday in church, we were all falling asleep - our heads were bobbing!
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Jon put it well when he said that vacation and traveling are two very different things. A vacation entails relaxing on the beach while traveling requires a vacation afterwards. I will totally agree! I could go for a few days of relaxing on the beach right now especially since I will be awake for 24 hours straight because of my day of traveling and the time change!


Sunday, we relaxed and enjoyed a day at home. We went to church in the afternoon and then Ali cooked amazing Café Rio salads to bring a little bit of Utah all the way to Germany. We then packed our bulging bags and hit the sack.


Auf Wiedersehen & Au Revoir
Monday morning, we woke up at 4 am (9 pm Sunday night Kansas City time) and got all ready to head to the airport. Our flight left at 8 am Germany time and we then had our 9-hour flight over the ocean. We flew into to Chicago airport at 10 am and from there, we said our goodbyes. It was so sad to say good-bye to my Mom, sister, and nieces but it is so nice to know that in just a short few months I will be so much closer to home. I am now sitting in the Chicago airport on a 5-hour layover before I head back home to Kansas City.
While my trip was one never to be forgotten, I missed my babies and hubby so much! It is so true that distance makes the heart grow fonder! I am beyond excited to see them in a few hours and hug and kiss them to death!
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A huge thanks to Jon and Janene and their darling kids for an amazing 10 days. You were so hospitable and the best tour guides we could have ever asked for. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

6 comments:

Ali said...

could we print this? Your writing and descriptions are the best - I am not a writer. I miss all the details. Will you check on that? Have you printed a book off your blog yet? Let me know.

aLi said...

Wow!
Speechless.
The food!!! You killed me with your pictures of the food!!!

Lacey. Kellen. Beck. said...

Looks like you guys had a blast! Awesome pics. You all look so beautiful! Can't believe how old your nieces are now!

AngelaMuir said...

SO fun! i loved Heidelburg so much, glad you got to go there, what an amazing trip. I'm so jealous your weather was so nice! and of course you look so chic in every picture :)

tara said...

I want to go to there. Oh my goodness! Your pictures are beautiful! What an amazing trip-So glad you made it back safely!

maddie said...

i did not miscalculate how long it took to take a picture! you miscalculated how long it took for you to press a button. if you took a normal picture i would have been fine! i promise!!!!