Wednesday, August 28, 2013


So we did a big trip this year...we went to Germany to visit my sister and her family and also to see some of Europe.  We left July 28 and were gone for two and a half weeks.  It was amazing...and exhausting.  Brinton did awesome on all of our flights!   When we arrived in Germany, Shannon picked us up at the airport and we had about an hour and a half drive to her house.  Brinton didn't do so well on that part of the journey.  The first day there was spent recuperating from the flight and getting adjusted to the time change.  I can't quite remember the exact order that we did things...that first week anyway.

Tuesday we stayed around Shannon's home and spent some time visiting the village of Ramstein.  We also went on base and got visitor passes so that we could go on base and do the tour that Sam and I were registered for on Saturday August 3rd.

I think on Wednesday we went to Heidelberg.  There is a castle there and some old cathedral, etc.  I thought that castle was interesting.  It was big, but we didn't get to go inside it much.  It has a huge wine could hold 59,000 gallons of wine.  But I don't think it has ever had any wine in least from what I read about it.

Thursday we stayed much nearer to Shannon's house.  We relaxed most of the morning and then in the blazing heat of the afternoon went to a wilderness park.  We fed and got chased by goats.  Some of us tried our luck in a human sized hamster wheel, and we topped it off with a bird show (all in German).  The man doing the show would throw dead chicks right over the tops of the heads of the audience for the birds to catch.  If you like large birds up close and personal, I would recommend the bird show.  I really did enjoy it, but then again I didn't get any dead chick guts on me...I did get spat on by another member of the audience however.

The next day we went to Idar Oberstein.  We toured a jewel mine and visited the church in the rock.  It is literally a church built in the side of a mountain.  Pretty cool.  I enjoyed all the towns.  They mostly look just as you might imagine Europe.  Old (looking) with cobble stone streets (not the best for pushing a cheap stroller in case you wondered). This was maybe my favorite place.  I can't really decide, but I did enjoy the village and mine.

Saturday, Sam and I went on a USO tour to Paris.  We left at 4:00 in the morning and got back at 4:30 am on Sunday.  We rode a bus to Paris and they took us to the Eiffel tower, the building that houses the tomb of Napolean, the Arc De Triomphe, we drove around the Louvre, walked around inside and out the Notre Dame Cathedral, went to a fancy (and not all that delicious dinner), and then ended with a boat tour.  It was a lot crammed into one day.  We were glad to go and see some of Paris and grateful that Shannon was willing to watch Brinton.  Paris is HUGE!  You could easily spend a couple weeks there.  It is beautiful, at least the part that we saw.  I would never want to drive around the city of Paris...or any of Europe for that matter.  Their roads are narrow and crazy.

The next week Shannon and family and we drove to Prague.  I really liked the city of Prague.  It is really beautiful.  We were lucky to hook up with one of Jason's friends from when he was working there.  His friend took us around the city and we saw some of the sights of Prague.  I liked the changing of the guard at the President's home.  The money in Prague is crazy (they don't use Euros).  The exchange rate is like 20 kroners (crowns) to one dollar.  The meals we ate there were delicious.  I still regret not getting the pineapple ravioli for dessert at the first restaurant we ate at.  Ahh well....

From Prague, Shannon, kids, and we headed to Garmisch.  Jason drove home.  On the drive to Garmisch, we stopped at Dachau.  Sam wanted to stop and see the concentration camp.  He speed-walked through the camp and saw what he could on our short stop.  The rest of us walked the streets of the town (accidentally) and then walked through the barracks.  Most of us sat in the cool visitors center while we waited for Sam.  After the Holocaust museum in D.C., I wasn't too interested to see a concentration camp.  I looked at the pictures Sam took, and that was more than enough for me.  It is rather interesting that there are now houses built right next to the camp.  I don't think I would want to live that close to places like that.  It seems like there are tall trees around that camp, so I don't think the people living there look at it everyday, but still.  (There are tall trees everywhere in Germany.  So green!)  We then continued on our way to Garmisch.  Garmisch is a beautiful city, in the mountains, and so green all around.  We got there in the evening and didn't do much that night.  Sam and Jeremiah walked to a near-by store to buy some "cooks" (Brinton's word for cookie).

Our first full day in Garmisch most of us drove to see the famous castles near the city, Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau.  Our goal was to tour the Neuschwanstein castle, but that didn't quite work out.  It was crazy-busy!  Sam waited in line to get tickets for the tour.  I think he waited for an hour, got to the front around noon, and the earliest tour time was 5:30.  Since we had left Jeremiah at our temporary home (he was grumpy and didn't want to come), we decided that wasn't gonna fly.  We ended up getting tickets to tour Hohenschwangau at 2:30.  We ate lunch, and then Sam and I booked it up to Neuschwanstein (to see it up close...a 40 minute uphill walk that we did in 25).  We walked around the outside, took some pictures and then ran down the hill and then walked back up another hill to get to the Hohenschwangau castle on time to do our tour.  They sit opposite each other.  It is a beautiful area and there are great views over the valleys from both of the castles.  If you are going to Europe, and want to see the castles, be sure to get to the ticket office early to get tour tickets.  Also, try to avoid the busy touristy summer season.  The tour was interesting and the castle was beautiful on the inside.  You aren't allowed to take pictures inside the castle, so you can use your imagination.  When we got back to the car we ate some of the food we had packed for our trip.  Shannon had purchased an apple strudel from one of the bakeries in Garmisch.  It was so so delicious.  I could have eaten that everyday and every meal while I was there.  It's a good thing I don't live in Germany, because I'm pretty sure I would get fat off their baked goods...unless the bakery workers are mean in which case I would avoid that bakeries and get fat off the store bought chocolate and candy...mostly happy hippos, I'm sure.

The next day in Garmisch was rainy.  We tried to hike up some gorge, but at the starting place there were pamphlets with warnings and cautions and recommendations of clothing...and those were for a non-rainy day.  We decided to not do the hike and instead walked inside the old Olympic stadium (apparently the 1936-or there about- winter olympics were held there).  We saw some of the ski jumps, if you haven't seen those in person you would be shocked at how steep they really are.  The t.v. does not do them justice.  I don't know how anyone has the gall to actually ski down them.  They are very nearly vertical.  Crazy!  Then we took a fun driving tour around the shopping district of Garmisch.  After that, we decided to check out their fun water park (indoor).  There were like 4 or 5 pools, one of which was a wave pool, a couple of water slides, a kiddie pool, and some hot tubs.  All the water was really warm.  One of the slides was a tube that went in and out of the building, okay, it was only a tube on the outside parts.  Inside it was a half tube.  It was a fun slide.  There are no lifeguards and there were some crazy teenage boys.  They would jump on the spring diving boards like ten times before actually doing their "dive" into the water.  It was ridiculous.  I was just waiting for one of them to slip off the side of the diving board.  Their were pretty many kids in the kiddie pool and I don't think they believe in swim diapers there.  We didn't spend much time in that pool.  Overall it was a good time.  (I also loved watching the people down in the restaurant...the outside tables from our apartment.  I was sad it was raining our last night there and so no one was outside.)

Our last night there we got food from the restaurant and Irish bar we were staying above.  It was yummy, and they brought it up to us, so that's convenient.  They really like paprika in Germany, all the plates were sprinkled with paprika on the edges.  Strange stuff.  On our drive back to Shannon's house, we stopped at a lake.  It was a huge lake.  It would have been fun to spend more time there, but it was way, way busy.  It took us forever to find parking and then we walked to the lake (it wasn't that close by the time we parked), and we ate lunch by a guy sun-bathing in a speedo on one of the beachy shores.  We fed some swans that were close to us (Brinton thought they were ducks).  We also were treated with a couple that decided to wade into the lake in their undies.  The woman was wearing a thong...lovely.

The above pictures are all of Neuschwanstein Castle

This is the entrance to the Hohenschwangau Castle

 Our last Sunday there, Shannon and Jason got to speak in sacrament meeting.  Shannon was stressing and upset about it the whole time we were traveling because Jason was the one that said they would.  She was gone the whole week and didn't really have access to much for preparation.  So Saturday night she was up late working on her talk.  The next day in church, during the ward business the bishop gave about 15 young women awards (they had been at girls' camp the week we were in Prague/Garmisch so most of the awards were camp related).  Then after the sacrament, the bishop asked 4 young women to give testimonies.  So, the three scheduled adult speakers (there was also a high council man there to speak with Shannon and Jason) were left with hardly any time.  Shannon spoke first and cut down her talk quite a bit.  Jason spoke next and hadn't prepared anything because he thought they were speaking the next week...he later said he was wondering why Shannon was preparing so much a week in advanced and after a lot of travel.  And the meeting ended with the high council speaker.  I thought that was pretty funny. 

The last couple of days we were there we just chilled.  We did a little shopping in near-by areas and then we packed up to come home.  It was a great vacation!  Don''t think I need to go to Europe again.  The flight is tiring, even if you aren't traveling with a 15 month old.  Getting back was horrific to adjust back to Utah time.  It took ten times longer to adjust after getting home than it did when we arrived in Germany.  Hope you enjoyed this wicked long post...I guess if you didn't feel like reading you could just scan through the pictures!

This is the sign to the village where Shannon and family live.

Brinton loved the pillows on the planes.  He thought they were the greatest thing ever and he would give them hugs all the time.