Monday, August 26, 2013

Another Move - Heidelberg To Wiesbaden

Sorry that I haven't been writing much lately. It's not because of my usual excuse which is I have been traveling too much. It's because we moved. Again. If you are thinking that we just got settled in Heidelberg, you're right. We had only lived in Heidelberg for 11 months when we had to trek the 90 kilometers north to Wiesbaden. Even by Army standards, that is a quick. We moved (and all of the US Army in Heidelberg) back in July, but we are just starting to feel settled.

I didn't feel settled for awhile because we got to do this. Again.

And this. Again.

Actually, we didn't do it. The very efficient and kind German moving company did all this.

We just watched. And some of us did less than watch. Some of us napped.

After all the packing and such, we moved here.

And it looks pretty much the same as where we lived in Heidelberg (more lovely Army housing). And then we got to unpack. Again.

We didn't choose to do this. No sane person would choose to move twice in 11 months. The whole reason for the move is that some Burgermeister (mayor) and some Army general didn't see eye-to-eye about where to build some airstrip in Heidelberg. I think it went kind of like this.

General - "I think you should let me block off a road and build an airstrip here."
Burgermeister - "No. I zhink zhat you should do vhat I say and build it over here."
General - "No. I want it here."
Burgermeister - "Too bad. I don't."
General - "Well, maybe the US Army should just leave Heidelberg."
Burgermeister - "Vhat do you mean maybe?"
General - "Oh no you didn't!"
Burgermeister - "Yes! I did!"
General - "Okay, then we'll go!"
Burgermeister - "So go!"
General - "I am!"
Burgermeister - "Good!"
General - "Bye!"
Burgermeister - "Double bye!"

From what I hear, that is pretty close to how it went down. And the crazy thing is, is that neither the Burgermeister nor the general were working with the city of Heidelberg at the time the close down happened. They had both been moved to other positions. But because of the wheels set in motion by these two masters of diplomacy, the American Army left Heidelberg after being there for 66 years. My husband used to work in a building where Nazi troops were headquartered and stationed. (Read more about that HERE.) It is the end of an era.

Americans in Heidelberg Life Magazine 1947

The move also means that these four kids here had to start at a new school today. Again.

  It also means meeting new people and making new friends. Again. And that is an again that I want to say. Every where we have lived we have met amazing people who have become friends, and then more than friends. They've become like family. Let's hope that we are as lucky in Wiesbaden as we've been everywhere else.

Until the next move, Army.

Have you had to move a lot? What are tips and secrets you have used to get you through a move?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Day At Europa Park - Germany

We went to Europa Park recently. With all the traveling we have done with the kids, they were begging to do something FUN. It seems that castle and cathedral touring while yes, they are interesting, really aren't what my kids consider FUN. So, what is Europa Park? It is a theme park where the different sections are based on countries in Europe. What a great idea! If you want to see Europe, but don't have the money, just go to Europa Park! You can see architecture and taste cuisine from all over Europe all right in a little corner of Germany. 

You can go here. (Even though the real France isn't that far away from here.)

Europa Park - France

You can go here.

Europa Park - Greece

You can go here.

Europa Park - Switzerland

You can go here.

Europa Park - Russia

You can go here.

Europa Park - Austria

You can even go here.

Europa Park - Iceland

We never made it to these areas, but they are there too.


And some country called "Chocoland" that I've never heard of, but definitely going to try and find.

But in all reality, you are really right here the whole time.

Europa Park is a real time saver if you ask me.

We rode some rides and we ate some food.

Europa Park Swiss Ride

We, and by we I really mean Matt and Andre, got in a water fight in Iceland with some riders on boats.

Europa Park Iceland

We had a great time. Such a great time that I felt like Europa Park was kind of wasted on Europeans. Now, I don't mean that Europeans don't appreciate a great theme park. Europe was out in full force and enjoying the park. What I mean is that Europeans live, well, in Europe! They don't need to go to Europa Park to see what France is like. If you want to go to France, it is literally about 5 kilometers away from Europa Park! America is the place that needs a European themed amusement park. We need to be able to hit 10 countries in one day! So that has become my goal. To secure financial backing for a European themed amusement park for America. You're welcome my fellow European-culture-lacking Americans.

Some facts:

1. For our whole family for one day is was about €220,00. That's over $300.00. It isn't cheap. 
2. Europa Park is big. We didn't even come close to seeing it all. I would guess you would need three days to see and experience the whole park.
3. Europa Park is in a tiny little town called Rust, Germany. There isn't a whole lot there other than Europa Park and some hotels. You might find more options in places to stay in Strasbourg, France which half an hour north, or Frieburg, Germany which is half an hour south.
4. Europa Park is fun for all ages. They had kiddie areas which held rides for toddler aged children.

If you still can't decide if you want to go, check out the mix of pure fear and anticipation on these faces.

Doesn't it look like fun? 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Saarburg And Hangin' With The German Family - Germany

We recently traveled over to the little town of Saarburg, located near Trier in the Rhineland-Palatinate state of Germany.

Saarburg, Germany

Did you know that Germany has states? We used to live in Baden-Württemburg, now we live in Hessen. The state names seem to be much more of a mouthful than the state names in America, though. I mean really, Rhineland-Palatinate? Baden-Württemburg? Or how about Nordrhein-Westfalen? Or my favorite, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern? Back in America, you couldn't even get people to call California by its full name, it is often shortened to Cali (which I hate). Imagine cramming the state names of Germany into a song like we sing in America about our states. I don't see it happening.

Anywho, we went to Saarburg for one, to see it, and for two, to visit Matt's German Cousin, German Cousin's Wife, German Cousin's Daughter, and German Cousin's Son. German Cousin was really the only one that could speak English. German Cousin's Wife, German Cousin's Daughter, and German Cousin's Son could speak "a little" English and since we can speak kleine Deutsch we had a hard time communicating. So we turned to the international language of Fußball and food to communicate.

My daughter, Ashlenne, and German Cousin's Daughter were reluctant to try to use their language skills. So they reverted to a language every teenage girl knows. iPod's and Google translate.

Matt and German Cousin may have grown up on separate continents, but they have always been close. They laughed the same and had the same mannerisms. They even wore matching shirts.


The actual meeting of German Cousin was a little awkward for me. It was the first time in Europe that I got the "Two Cheek Kiss Greeting." And I was not expecting it. I was better prepared when we left, offering my own "Two Cheek Kiss Goodbye." I felt so European.

After lunch we went exploring the town of Saarburg. We climbed the 1,050 year old castle tower (it has been reinforced since then).

Saarburg castle, Germany

Climbing the tower gave us great views of the town of Saarburg.

Saarburg, Germany

German Cousin told us that Saarburg is known as the "Venice of Germany" because of the canals that run through it. You tell me, does it look like Venice?

Saarburg, Germany

Saarburg, Germany

Saarburg, Germany

We stopped and got some Spaghetti Eis which is vanilla ice cream squeezed out to make it into long noodle shapes and then topped with strawberry sauce and shaved white chocolate. It is really good.

I tested German Cousin and tried out my sense of humor on him. Don't worry, he laughed. You were right blogosphere. There are some funny Germans out there.

We rode a chairlift to the top of a nearby hill. Our doggie, Minkie, even rode with us. And she didn't even try to jump off once.

We played and relaxed at the top of the hill. 

That beer is Minkie's, not Alexander's. See how tipsy she is?

Then we hiked back down the hill through the vineyards of Riesling grapes that cover the hillsides.

All in all, it was a pretty good day in Saarburg.

When we got home, I checked another little corner of Europe off my list.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Deluxe Day In Luxembourg

We went on a day trip to Luxembourg yesterday. You might be saying 'what is there to see in Luxembourg?' Some of you are probably saying 'where is Luxembourg?'

Map of Luxembourg

Luxembourg is a tiny land locked country that is squished between Germany, France, and Belgium. It is one of the last countries that is a grand duchy. They don't have a king or a president. Luxembourg is ruled by a grand duke! They speak French, German, and Luxembourgish. Don't worry, I had never heard of the language of Luxembourgish either. Its a High German language. But mostly walking around Luxembourg City, we heard French. Luxembourg's cuisine and culture, however, are the perfect mix of Romance and Germanic Europe.

We started our day at the Luxembourg American Cemetery. Interred here are American soldiers who died fighting in World War II. Most of those buried here died in the Battle of the Bulge which was fought nearby in the winter of 1944-1945.

Luxembourg American Military Cemetery

The cemetery holds the remains 5,076 American service members, 101 which are unknown.

Luxembourg American Military Cemetery

General Patton is interred here, per his request to "be buried with his men."

Near the American cemetery sits the German cemetery which holds the remains of the German soldiers that died during the same time period.

Sandweiler German War Cemetery

This is the Sandweiler German war cemetery. The cemetery was started by the American War Graves Service during the war. It holds the remains of 10,913 members of the German military.

Sandweiler German War Cemetery

As we left the German cemetery, I felt a quietness descend over me.

I thought about the two cemeteries. But I didn't think about "Americans" and "Germans." I didn't think about the good side or bad side, or soldiers or Nazis. I thought about sons. I thought about brothers, and uncles, and fathers, and grandfathers. I thought about WWII which shaped my family and Matt's (both my grandfathers were American soldiers in WWII and both of Matt's parents grew up in Germany during and after the war.) The youngest birthdate I saw in the German cemetery put the German soldier at the tender age of 17. That is only two years older than my son, Alexander.

Sandweiler German War Cemetery

I looked at this peaceful grove of trees and thought the words that Patton said right before the car accident that led to his death. "How awful war is. Think of the waste..." - Gen. George S. Patton.

After the cemeteries we headed to Luxembourg City, the capital of Luxembourg. Luxembourg is a very rich country that deals with banking.

Here is a view of Luxembourg Castle which was the first settlement here. The city and eventually the whole country of Luxembourg sprang up around it.

Luxembourg Castle

The city is built on a gorge where two small rivers (Alzette and Pétrusse) meet. The gorge is quite deep in places, up to 70 meters (230 feet).

Luxembourg City

This is part of the old town which dates back to the 1500's situated down in one of the gorges.

All over the city of Luxembourg there were these elephant statues. They are there as part of an art exhibit to support saving the Asian elephant. Seemed kind of strange.

Luxembourg elephants

You could buy small copies of the elephants as souvenirs to take home. When I think of elephants the small country of Luxembourg really doesn't pop to my mind. But it probably will now!

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

The view from one side of the gorge over to the clock tower.

Notre Dame cathedral Luxembourg

This is the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg, and the only cathedral in Luxembourg.

As Luxembourg has a heavy French influence, we knew we could get our favorite French thing. Pastry!

Luxembourg cuisine

But apparently the difference between French pastry and Luxembourgish pastry is that French pastry lacks bees. Mmmm... Luxembourgish Bee pastry is good. I pointed it out to one of the girls working at the pastry counter and she said "Eh, it is dead. It won't hurt anybody now." Seems those Luxembourgers are pretty lax about bugs in their food.

Adolph Bridge, Luxembourg

Here is one of the many bridges that connect the two sides of the gorge. This is the Adolph Bridge.

Adolph Bridge, Luxembourg

If I couldn't see the buildings in the back ground I would think this picture was taken way out in the country side with all the trees in this city.

Luxembourg City

We hiked down to the bottom where the sides of the gorge walls were lined with little caves from years of flooding rivers running through them. Remember, this is right in the middle of city. Amazing.

Luxembourg City

Plenty of buildings, like this little church, are built right into the sides of the rock walls.

Luxembourg old town

More of the old town of Luxembourg.

Something that I found quite funny about Luxembourg was that their gas and cigarettes were much cheaper than the neighboring countries of France, Germany, and Belgium. Luxembourg had all these little convenience stores situated close to the borders where it would seem every European in a 200 kilometer radius went to fill up gas and buy cigarettes by the kilo. So the next time you are in Luxembourg, remember you can drive and smoke to your hearts content.

Luxembourg old town

We walked around old town Luxembourg (not smoking or driving, we really wasted our opportunity to stock up on cheap Luxembourgish gas and cigarettes) and just enjoyed the views and the people.

Luxembourg may be small, but it is unique and if you are in the area, it should definitely be on your travel list.

Travel on my friends!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...