Sunday, October 31, 2004

Happy Halloween! 

Isn't he the cutest Tigger ever!!?? We had a great weekend, the weather wasn't too cold and we even saw the sun a little. Friday night we went downtown, as usual. Seems to be our standard Friday night entertainment. Always a good time though, and so enjoyable. Jacob knows his way around down there now, and runs straight for Tali's Kebap Haus.

Saturday we had some friends over for pizza and then trick-or-treating. Some of the Americans in our neighborhood got us organized and passed out a list of which homes were participating so we could just trick-or-treat here. It was so much fun, Jacob and his friend Jonas had the best time. A few of the German neighbors joined in and that was great too. Halloween is just starting to pick up here, mainly costume parties and candy. We didn't realize how much until Sunday!

Today (Sunday) we went to a bird show and then walked around the Hofgarten in Ansbach. They were the royal gardens at one time, and even in the fall are beautiful. We wandered around there for a while, then on home. Tonight we were visited by swarms of German kids trick-or-treating, apparently they have figured out how it works. It was fun, Jacob loved handing out candy. We put him in his Tigger suit and he roared at everyone coming to the door. The kids gave this long phrase in German, still not quite sure what it was. But then some of them said "Trick or treat - smell my feet - give me something good to eat" which was pretty hysterical in their German accents. And then they all said Thank you, either in English or German. We really had fun seeing them. I was finishing decorating some cookies and some of the kids saw them, so I offered them some. They took them, I guess they aren't afraid of the homemade treats like we are in the U.S. That's a nice thing.

The fall colors are pretty here, not quite as vivid as Tennessee but still nice. The vineyards look like patchwork quilts with their neat squares of green, gold and red. There is cabbage for sale everywhere, there are little wheelbarrows and crates all along the road. Red and green, for about 80 cents a head. Usually on the honor system. There is still quite a bit in the fields too, I can't imagine what they will do with all this cabbage! Kenny says "sauerkraut, sauerkraut and more sauerkraut!" He's probably right.

Now I have to get packed to head to Florida/Tenn! I probably won't post until I get back, since this is "Adventures in Deutschland" after all.

Monday, October 25, 2004

We had the greatest weather over the weekend, so we made sure to enjoy it. Saturday we had lunch downtown, and lingered over coffee and ice cream while it was still warm enough to sit outside. And then on Sunday we went to the Nuernberg Zoo which was really nice. We were surprised at the size of it, we really didn't realize it was so big. And it has a whole lot of animals, for some reason we weren't expecting the variety. It is landscaped like you are in the woods, and then all of a sudden there are some elephants. Very enjoyable to walk around. It was really crowded, and I was talking with a man that was waiting in line with us. I asked him why was it so crowded, and if it was a special day? He said, "the sun is out, it is warm and is October. It is a very special day in Germany". I thought that was pretty funny, although we were following along that same line of thought. The sun was shining so we had to do something, we were not going to waste a sunny day inside!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Bus Tour, Sunday afternoon 

Finally I will finish this up, can't believe it is taking me so long! But I want to get all the details in, and it just takes time to remember all of it.

We left the island of Mainau, and headed for the Rhine Falls by Schaffhausen. It is in Switzerland, but barely. Our tour guide informed us that since we were such a wonderful and punctual group, we had a little extra time and would make a quick stop in another town, Stein am Rhein. What a great place, even though we were only there for about a 1/2 hour. It had the most beautiful paintings on the buildings, the best that I have ever seen.

There are more pictures of the paintings on the photo site if you want to see more of them. They were so detailed, it was great. We bought some Swiss chocolate for the ride, and headed on to the falls.

We arrived at Rhine Falls pretty quickly, all of our stops were not that far from each other. Our driver was having a heck of a time parking the bus, we were positive that we were about to plunge off the edge of the hill a few times. We got off as quickly as we could, and walked down the path to the falls. The weather wasn't great, so we didn't take the boat ride out to the falls. But we were able to enjoy a view of them while we had lunch. And we watched some little sparrows that kept flying in the automatic doors and munching on crumbs left behind. We had enough time there that I know I would like to go visit again. Very beautiful place.

After the Falls, our bus took us to Triberg in the Black Forest. Those of you that have been reading my blog may remember that we had visited there in the summer. (Want to read it again?) I was glad that we were going to drive through the Black Forest a bit so Kay could see it, and we were able to do some last minute souvenir shopping there. Kay was able to hold off on the urge to buy a cuckoo clock, I was proud of her LOL Our tour guide had dinner arranged at a restaurant there, right across the street from the hotel where Kenny, Jacob and I stayed. We sat with a different group of people at dinner, they were Army Reservists that are keeping the US Army hospital in Wurzburg Germany staffed, while troops are deployed. Good conversation, and always nice to talk to new and different people.

After dinner we headed back to the Walmart to transfer buses, and then on home. There were people on our bus that had been on the "Beaches of Normandy" trip (said it was really great) and also on the Paris tour. We didn't get home until about 2 am, we were so tired!!!! But it had been a fun trip, and we saw a whole lot for such a short time.

The next morning we were up and getting ready to take Kay to Frankfurt to meet up with Adria, they were staying in a hotel by the airport Monday night. That way they didn't have to get up so early to make it to the airport on time.

Whew, that's finally the end!!! I'm sure I forgot something, and I didn't post all the things that made us laugh. Some of them you would just have to be there so I didn't want to bore you. Now, those of you that haven't visited, or aren't planning to ------ have you changed your mind?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bus Tour, Sunday morning (last day) 

We were on the bus at 7:45 after breakfast at the hotel, and on our way to the Island of Mainau. This is an island that has a moderate climate, so they have wonderful gardens all year round. I have wanted to visit it for quite some time, so was excited to finally be going there. It is located in Lake Constance, which is called the Bodensee here in Germany. It is a huge lake that has shoreline in Austria, Switzerland and Germany. There are lots of fruits and vegetables grown in the region, we were able to see that as we drove along the lake to the island.

Kay and I decided to walk around the island by ourselves, instead of going with the guide. We had a map and figured we couldn't get too lost, it wasn't a big island! We saw some nice statues, and beautiful views. The dahlias were in full bloom, and some of the trees were turning. We also visited the butterfly house, which was pretty neat. Tons of butterflies, and stifling heat and humidity in there. It felt like I was home in Florida for a little while. Our time on the island went by pretty quickly, and we were the last ones back on the bus. And then we were on our way to our next stop.

Remember I told you about the people sitting in front of us that had a little too much to drink? Well this morning two of them were sleeping, and the other two were awake and already drinking. Particularly one guy, he was guzzling from a bottle of Jagermeister. (If you've never heard of it, it is described as a "herbal-flavored bitter german liqueur, made from a blend of over 50 herbs, fruits and spices" Has alcohol level of 35%, pretty potent stuff) We knew this couldn't end well, he was drinking the stuff straight out of the bottle like water. He was pretty jolly when we got to the island, but when we got back on the bus, he was bent over a bag for the rest of the afternoon. His girlfriend kept talking about his motion sickness, we got a laugh out of that. The group of them was pretty quiet the rest of the trip, just sleeping off their hangovers I suppose!

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Just a quick update to let you know that I have finally gotten the pictures from Kay's visit up on our photosite. I will try to finish up the last day of the tour soon --- promise!

Also, there are a few new pictures of Jacob in the "Everyday Pics" album.

You can always go look at the photo album by clicking the link up on the left side of the blog, everything is divided up into chapters so it's pretty easy to browse.

We had a nice weekend, but it was pretty cold. We went shopping downtown and found Jacob a warm winter coat and a few other things. And then at the mall they were having a wine fest (inside!) and had a great band. So we listened to them for a while and then finished up some grocery shopping. (There is a huge grocery store in the mall) It was really crowded, the gloomy weather gave everyone the same idea I guess. Today we took the dogs for a walk in the field behind us, we don't always take all three at the same time. They love it back there, we let them off their leashes and let them run themselves all over the place. Jacob is usually in charge of holding Chloe's leash now, so it's not as hard to take them all as it used to be. Everyone went to sleep early, I guess the cold air and the exercise made them tired!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Saturday Afternoon, Austria 

We arrived in Feldkirch, Austria a little after noon, and had about an hour to walk around before our rooms were ready. We were all eager to get to our rooms to have a nap, it was a long night on the bus. We checked out a little bit of the town, and then claimed our room key. It was a nice room, and we took a nap until it was time to meet for dinner. This was the view from our window.

We met most of our group in the lobby and walked across the street to the Schattenburg Castle. We were taken on a great tour of the castle, through about 10 different rooms. It was especially nice because you were able to touch and inspect the furniture, wall hangings etc. Normally the rooms are either empty, or you can't really get too close to the furniture. Our guide gave us lots of info about all the rooms, and we were able to take our time looking at everything. After our tour we all went into the restaurant there for dinner, "Schattenburg Schnitzel". Their special preparation of schnitzel, which was tasty, but really just like every other schnitzel! We sat with a nice group of people and were nosy enough to find out a little about each of them. Very enjoyable evening. Afterwards, we walked back down to the hotel, into our room and off to bed. We were due downstairs for breakfast at 7am so we didn't want to stay up too late.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

What country are we in now? Saturday morning 

That seemed to be the question of the day, I can't even count how many times we asked each other this. We bounced back and forth between countries all day, and often had no idea which one we were in. Our tour guide did a good job of telling us where we were, we just kept forgetting!

We left breakfast and drove into Liechtenstein, pausing on the roadside to look at the Gutenberg Castle. The guide shared some info about it while were able to take some photos, and then on we went for a quick tour of Maienfeld, the town that Heidi lives near in the book. Very beautiful village, and surrounded by vineyards in the valley. Then there are meadows leading up into the mountains, absolutely what you picture when you think of Switzerland. We then drove up a mountain so we could get out and enjoy a view of the valley (or "walley", as our tour guide pronounced it).

It was amazing up there, you could see the valley below and hear the cow bells. It is surprising to see the cows all the way up there, soon they will come down for the winter. It sounds like it is quite the festival, the cows even get to wear flowered hats for the trip down. Here is a short movie clip so you can hear the alpine cow bells, it may take a little while to load. From there the bus headed slowly and carefully back down the mountain, navigating many hairpin curves, into the City of Vaduz in Liechtenstein. We had the option of walking around on our own, or taking a tour on the Citytrain, which included a visit to the winery, and a free glass. We thought that would be more fun than wandering around on our own, it is a fairly small town. The train ride was fun, if you followed the link, the fellow in the picture was our tour guide. The winery was interesting, and we got our souvenir glass. It was filled with some very dry wine, supposedly a very famous and respected wine. We passed on buying more of it, and got back on the train for the rest of the tour. We were able to get a good view of the Castle Vaduz, where the Count and his family often reside. They were there at the time, this was known because they fly a particular flag when they are present. Afterwards we had some time to look around in some of the shops before we boarded the bus again to head into Austria. We were going to hit all three countries before 1 pm! (No wonder I'm still tired)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Bus Tour, Departure and night on bus 

Kay picked a tour from the many flyers I had sent her, she chose the 3 Country Tour from Enjoy Tours. Kenny and I had taken a tour with them years ago, and they are usually pretty good. We would be picked up at 8pm at Katterbach (the post closest to us - 20 min from the house) on Friday night. Kenny was sweet enough to watch Jacob for the weekend, since bus tours just aren't meant for toddlers. We arrived at the bus stop in rainy weather, but kept our fingers crossed for better weather on the trip. The bus showed up about 8:15 or so, and we settled in. We were early for the transfer point, so we stopped at an autobahn rest stop for about 45 minutes. Then the bus headed for the transfer point at Mannheim. (There was a mysterious older lady that appeared on the bus when we got back on at the rest stop---- didn't notice her previously and she looked a little lost. Kay thinks she was one of the drivers' mom, I think she got back on the wrong bus. There was another bus at the rest stop at the same time. But we don't know what happened to her after the transfer point!) The transfer point is in the Wal-mart parking lot in Mannheim (yes - they've invaded Germany too), here you get on the bus for your tour. We almost weren't able to get on the bus, because our tour guide demanded our receipt and I couldn't find it. Even with our names on the list --- she was adamant. Kay and I were getting on that bus, whether she wanted us to or not. Luckily I found the receipt, and we didn't have to cause an international incident. LOL The bus was full but we managed to get some people to switch so we could sit next to each other. And then the trip finally began!!!

We were seated behind 4 military people, 3 guys and a girl. They were obviously drunk, and passing around coke bottles that had a little something extra. I also saw/smelled a bottle of Ouzo as well. Maybe a 1/2 hour down the road, one of the guys (we named him "Uncle Fester" due to his size and bald head) stumbled to that bathroom on the bus and didn't come out for some time. And then in his seat for a few minutes, then back to bathroom. Obviously he was having some problems handling his alcohol, much to our amusement. His other buddy was sleeping, Kay and I weren't sure if he woke up at all the whole trip. But at least they quieted down, they were either passed out or getting sick in the rest room. (I'm not sharing this to complain, it really didn't affect us one way or the other. We actually had quite a few giggles over them, you'll hear more about them on Sunday morning) We had a quick bathroom break on the road, and then back onto the bus. It's about 2 am at this point, and then we drove on into Switzerland, arriving at a Moevenpick Autobahn Restaurant for breakfast at about 6 am (Saturday morning). (the site is in German, but it has a picture of the place) It was located in a region of Switzerland called Heidiland, because it is the setting of the story. Everyone was a little groggy, just not a good nights sleep on the bus. So we ate some breakfast, cleaned up a little and got ready for a busy day. After breakfast, everyone seemed a little more awake, and ready for some fun.

Just wanted to put a quick post on the blog, but I'm not quite ready to post all about the trip yet. I have to sort through my pictures, and there are a lot of them. Kay and I had a great time on the bus tour we went on, although we were exhausted by the end. She flew out of Frankfurt this morning, and should arrive in Tennessee late afternoon today (Tuesday).

Jacob seems to be coming down with yet another cold, so we are just hanging out today. Watching tv, coloring, and playing with blocks. It's really sunny out, but only about 50 degrees right now. Pretty cool out there, but pretty. The trees are turning some, but they don't seem to get the vivid colors we got in Tennessee. Also, it seems like most of the forests are evergreens so obviously they don't turn.

I will hopefully post tonight about our trip!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Kay in Germany 

We are having a fun time, today was the first cloudy day. We've seen Nuernberg, Ansbach (of course), and today went to Rothenburg o.d. Tauber. Kay is having a fun time, and we are too. I will give more details after this weekend, we are going on a bus tour for a couple days. Going to Austria, Switzerland and Lichenstein. Should be lots of fun.
Here is pic from Rothenburg:

And then one of Kay watching/photographing the glockenspiel:

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Fun Zone pics 

Here are a few pics from the trip to the Fun Zone:
Jacob and Jonas hanging out

Julie helping the boys play basketball:

Is this kid having fun or what?

Monday, October 04, 2004

Chuck E. Cheese and Starbucks 

Friday Jacob and I went with a friend, Julie and her kids to Heidelberg. The post there has a place called "Fun Zone" that is like a Chuck E. Cheese, only on a much smaller scale. The kids were so good on the ride over there, they kept each other entertained. We wandered around the shops on post for a little while, then headed into the Fun Zone. The kids had a blast, and there were hardly any other people there. We were able to sit and eat lunch while the boys had the run of the place. It was great!

Then we left there and went to the Hauptstrasse in the city of Heidelberg. It is a huge walking area with lots of different shops. We were looking for one thing only --- the Starbucks! We found it quickly, and fed the boys chocolate chip cookies while we enjoyed lattes. It was really busy, and lots of American tourists stopping in. She stocked up on some whole bean coffee, so she could mail some to her husband in Iraq. The truck had that aroma the whole way home, not too bad a smell!

I will post a couple pics from the Fun Zone soon, just have to get them off my camera.

Kay arrived safely today, she came by train into Nuernberg. We spent a little while walking around the altstadt so she could see a bit of Nuernberg. Tomorrow we will look around Ansbach a little, and then Wednesday we will go to Rothenburg o.d. Tauber. Should be lots of fun. Always nice to experience things again, with people who are seeing them for the first time.

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