Saturday, February 8, 2014

A "true" German experience

Oh, the sweet, sweet sound of Bavaria.

When someone thinks of Germany, they typically think of beer, castles, and sauerkraut.  Ha, maybe not those exact things or in that order get the gist.  While Wiesbaden is so beautiful, it really is no Bavaria.  Since MLK weekend was a 4-day weekend for the military, we decided to jet off to the Alps for some skiing, sightseeing, and getting extra squishy from the local cuisine.  

Instead of staying at the famous "Edelweiss", we opted to stay at a more Mom & Pop type bed and breakfast and we are so glad we did.  I feel like most often, when you venture outside of the box, your experiences are much more authentic and it also challenges you to figure things out on your own so to speak.  Our hotel was family owned and they took care of every entity of this place.  It was nestled into a small town, about 15 minutes down the mountain to the popular ski and downtown area.

I think the U.S. literally stole all of the snow for Europe.  We are hiking the SKI SLOPES.......

This is on our way down to the ski slopes.  This is a monastery.  Most monasteries brew delicious beer as well as bottle and distribute to the local area.  Very neat to experience the differences in each little town.

We decided to hike (walk up a steep, paved road) up to Neuschwanstein Castle.  This castle, as I'm sure many of you know, was the idea modeled for Cinderella's castle at Disney World.

If you don't want to walk, you could always take a carriage ride to the top!

One thing I haven't touched on in the blog much is the fact that you have to pay to use the bathroom.  INSANE--especially when you don't have that dreaded 50 or 70 cents on you.  They come equipped with turnstiles, meaning there is no cheating (trust me, I've tried).  We came to know this when we first went to Italy last year..boy was that a rude awakening after a cab and an hour long train ride.  It's all about makin' memories I suppose!  Shiza.

Oh, the dreaded ski experience.  So, I've had a lot of anticipation (not the positive, exciting kind) about snow sports.  Let's face it, I'm a FLORIDIAN to the bone..meaning..I do things that are water related.  I love snow but I just had this feeling I was going to be an embarrassment to winter sports and boy was I right on the money.  It didn't help that for my very first time..I went on the slope I like to refer to as "Mount Everest".  I had zero lessons (which was my choice) but I also didn't even do the bunny slopes.  No, Brittany thinks it's a good idea to just give it a whirl and my butt was making me pay the next day.  There are so many funny stories of which I won't bore you with but to sum it up..I stopped the entire ski lift, cried 2 times on the way down, and Mike split his shin.  Good times had by all!  And no, we didn't return a second day.  We went to Munich instead...nonetheless, it was so beautiful and worth every second, tear, laugh, and memory.

Pretzels or Bretzels as Germans call them..the size of your face.  Only in Bavaria would you find them this huge!  I am a pretzel-holic so yes, that bad boy was eaten.

Typical German cuisine....

The beautiful Munich.  I didn't know this before coming but it is actually spelt and pronounced "Munchen".  No clue why Americans call it Munich.  Even Koreans called it Munchen, ha!  If they can get it right, something's certainly wrong.

Beer was only served by the liter at the biggest beer house in the world.  Oye.......

The atmosphere was incredible.  They had a traditional band playing, it was just the quintessential German experience.  Loved it!

Well, of course there are a ton more pictures and stories but that'll be all for now.  Just wanted to give a quick update.  We have one more trip left this coming weekend and then that'll wrap up our Europe extravaganza.  I keep joking that once we return stateside I'll start blogging about how I took a shower, went grocery shopping, and that I brushed my hair.  Exciting things coming people, exciting things.

Till next time....


Monday, February 3, 2014

YOW-ZA, it has been a while!

A leeeetle behind!

I wish I had a good, logical excuse for not blogging these past 2 months but I don't.  I'm just going to blame it on the fact that we are in Europe and are soaking up and loving every second.  Instead of recapping from after Switzerland until now, I've decided to go from NOW back to after Swiss wonderland.  Maybe that'll give me enough time to dust off the rust on my brain.

I suppose the most recent trip was the impromptu decision to do a day-trip to Paris.  I type that and laugh to myself, "A day-trip to Paris", WHAT?  That just seems so odd yet surreal.  Even when I was standing under the Eiffel Tower, inside Notre Dame, and on top of the Arc de still doesn't seem that this is real life.  

The Army puts together these day, weekend, or week-long trips all throughout Europe.  It's kind of like a giant tour-group.  A lot of people prefer to travel this way because it's typically a package group deal and they feel overall more safe as a group than traveling as a family.  I, however, do not prefer to do trips this way (nor does Mike) but since Paris wasn't on our list..I figured I might as well jump on it.  Mike didn't go (he wasn't disappointed in the least) because France is considered a "high-risk" country to visit because of...just all the weird things that happen?  Anyways, it ended up being a few girls I know and some of their friends.  We boarded at 2 A.M., yes, I typed that correctly, arrived in Paris around 8 A.M., boarded to leave at 6 P.M., and arrived back in Germany at 12:45 A.M.  Today is the first day that I haven't felt like a semi-truck nailed me in the face.  Very worth it though!

We decided to kind of "wing-it" as far as planning.  This was our ride for the day...the infamous red "Hop-on, Hop-off" bus.  By far the cheapest and most convenient option for a day in the city.

Though the day started out pretty rotten weather-wise, it sure turned out to be B-E-A-UTIFUL.

This photo was taken pre-almost death.  You see, we all know of that famous roundabout around the Arc.  If not, it's almost like a circular fan of automobiles with angry, angry French drivers behind the wheel.  So as the 4 of us, one who has a 3 year old in a stroller, are staring at this massive circle..wondering how in God's green Earth do we get across?  Oh, I know.  Let's ask a guy photographing this very spot.  "Oh, youz cross zee street.  Don't worry, zeh don't heit youz."  We look at each other and logically, we run.  FOR OUR DEAR LIVES.  Why?  Why would we ask him and more importantly, why would we listen?  All you could hear was "HONK HONK" and arms flying up in the windshields.  Whoopsy!  In our defense, people were doing it from every end.  So, I screamed as I ran, which I am sure he caught on his super-zoom camera lens.  What we didn't recognize was the underground entrance.  Live and learn I suppose!  Just glad we lived...but I have to say, that is probably a moment I'll never forget.

Notre Dame!  Very beautiful from the inside, out.  

This is a picture taken from the top of the Arc.  It was an amazing 360 degree view.  Totally worth the 9.50 Euro!

Paris definitely had an interesting flair to it.  It's architecture is nothing like I've seen anywhere in Europe before (which was to be expected).  We didn't have a chance to go into the Louve, which I can't say I was too heartbroken about.  A tip if ever in Paris...BYOD.  A Sprite was about $7.50 and let's just say there is no free-refills!  It comes in this tiny bottle.  Thankfully, I wasn't the one who made the mistake and ordered it.  It is outrageously priced there but then again, people will always pay that price.  

Well, that about sums Paris up in a nutshell.  I have a bunch of more pictures but I figured you had, had enough.  Next blog post will be about our trip to Munich, skiing in the Bavarian Alps, and seeing "Cinderella's" castle (Neuschwanstein).  It was a fantastic trip!

Until then....

Love to all!