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Come and gone…

15 Jul

Our first visitors in our “new” house (since moving in Janurary) just left today.  My parents were here for just over a week and it was fantastic.  Of course the time always goes too quickly and there is always more you wish you could have fit in- but, I am grateful for the time they were able to spend here.  I enjoyed every second of their visit and am so happy they had a chance to see our new surroundings and experience a bit of our life in Germany.  We spent time in Frankfurt and Heidelburg, shopped in a nearby town of Bad Homburg, rode bikes, and went to the zoo (among other things)!  Here are a few pictures (mostly taken by my mom) of their time here.  I wish I had time to write a more detailed account of the last week but this will have to do for now.  Life is good and having family here to share it with is even better!

Frankfurt Roemer Platz

Dom Cathedral in Frankfurt

Grandpa and Quinn in Frankfurt

Grandma and Quinn at the duck pond

Quinn loved the bike trailer we rented! And so did Kitty.

Opel Zoo

Is it just me, or does this giraffe look surprised?

Definite style points Quinn. I like the approach.

"I'm just 24 years old, leaning up against this fence. What? You don't think I'm getting back in that stroller do you?"

Heidelburg

Part of Schloss Heidelburg

Hotel Gummersbach is the hot place to stay this summer.  My sister is booked next and so we’re on to ready the house and prepare the suite, ha!

 

 

 

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Brussels continued…Grand Place and Christmas market

1 Dec

So, where did we leave off??  Ah, yes, I think it was with the chocolate elephant.  So continuing right along; We visited the Grand Place (French) or the Grote Markt (Dutch term) a few times during our stay because it was close and well…just so darn pretty!  It is the town square basically of Brussels and the buildings are AMAZING.  It is absolutely gorgeous.  They hold events there throughout the year but mostly people just walk around and enjoy the beautiful architecture, decadent scent of chocolate and perhaps a Belgian beer on one of the lovely patios.

Here are some pictures of Grand Place during the day:

Setup had begun for the Christmas season

The amount of detail is unreal

I think this was my favorite building...love it

And at night it was so incredible.  I mean really just absolutely stunning.  There was a Christmas light show projected onto the buildings which I took video of because it was seriously just so magical.  I’m not sure my pictures adequately convey how pretty this really was but hopefully you get some little sense of it.

Beginning of light show; Yes that's Joe's head, I'm not a photograper people!

More light show

My favorite building again

There is so much I couldn’t capture!  Like I completely forgot to take pics of the huge nativity scene…Doh!  The light show encompassed multiple buildings and was set to music…pictures just can’t accurately portray what it was like.  But, you will just have to take my word for how awesome it was.

This is probably true of the Christmas market as well.  It was beautiful, charming, cozy…everything that would make you want to stay out all night despite freezing temperatures.  Again, my pictures don’t do it justice.

Okay so a bit blurrry, but this was on the way walking to the Christmas market

Getting closer...approaching the Christmas market

The little wood "cabins" on the right are some of the vendors for the market

Ice Rink

Not sure why no one is skating....hmmm

The food at this market was out of this world.  The smells…intoxicating.  I mean, it was unbelievable.  It was absolutely freezing (don’t worry, Quinnie was bundled appropriately and when I got her back to the hotel and peeled off all of the layers she was quite toasty in fact), though no one seemed to mind.  People were milling about sipping on hot beverages, smiling, laughing, simply enjoying the night.  The feeling of merriment was so thick in the air you felt you could almost reach out and grab it.  Stick it in your pocket and take it home.  Really it was just wonderful.  All the little booths had their various goods for sale, ranging from Christmas related things, to food items, to toys and everything else imaginable.  I wished several times that night that I could transport my family and friends there to experience it with me.  You will all just have to visit!!!

Brussels Part one…

29 Nov

Well technically this is part two if you count the little “preview” I posted yesterday.  But, let’s not split hairs and just get down to the business of our time in Brussels.  It was awesome.  It was very hard not being with our families during the holiday.  We missed our families, friends, and let’s be honest…the food.  But, in lieu of Thanksgiving home with our loved ones we had our own mini holiday in a new city.  Here are some pics from our trip-

We arrived to a very rainy Brussels

Some pictures taken from our hotel room right after arriving

Despite the rainy (actually at this point almost sleet) weather we decided to walk around just a bit and get something to eat. Couple more pics of the area right outside our hotel-

Forgot to mention when I posted this yesteday that this building is the Brussels Stock Exchange

Advertisement for the Christmas Market we ended up going to the next night

Yes that is a Pizza Hut on the right, not sure if you can see the sign due to the light.

We did not eat at the Pizza Hut; I mean come on, that would be such a waste of time.  But, I will say- that place was packed every time we walked by.

 

Home during our stay

Upon returning to the hotel…

Quinn tried to phone home to wish her loved ones a "Happy Thanksgiving"

We spent a lot of time just walking around the city and enjoying the architecture, the people watching, and of course- the smell of chocolate and waffles.

The tops of the building peeking through in the back is from the Grand Place which you will see more of in a bit.

One word for the smell coming from this place...divine.

This picture is not the greatest, but every single menu item at this restaurant came with fries. Um I think that's what the menu in heaven looks like.

This was an inside gallery or row of shops we walked through.

It is here where I saw these shoes:

And yes, that would be 100 Euros for those kids shoes. Nice of them to put candy in the display though...I suppose to distract from the outrageous price of the shoes!

More of the Grand Place peeking through in the background.

Adorable little street with tons of amazing restaurants.

 

Notice how close the awnings are? They practically touch.

One of our stops to try chocolate.

Quinn was not about to be left out of the chocolate sampling.

Elephant made of chocolate outside of Chocopolis.

Gotta break here folks!

This is just a portion of our trip.  More to come, including The Grand Place (at day and at night…so pretty!) and the Christmas Market.

Brussels to come!

28 Nov

Most of you know that Joe, Quinn, and I went to Brussels over Thanksgiving for a mini get away.  We had a wonderful time and I managed to take quite a few pictures.  This is just a little preview, but I will be posting more in the next day or two.

view of building directly across from our hotel room

Grand Place at night

Quinn taking it all in...the view from our room

More to come soon!!

Nanstein Castle

5 Nov

This week we took advantage of some lovely fall weather and drove to an area about an hour or so outside of Frankfurt called Landstuhl.  There we had lunch and then visited the Nanstein Castle.  The first legal reference to the castle in a document was in 1189, but it is said to be older than that.  Pretty impressive.  Of course it’s not fully intact anymore but there have been restoration efforts throughout the years and those are ongoing.  It’s situated on beautiful grounds and there is an amazing view down into the town of Landstuhl.  In fact there is a little restaurant there with a beautiful view which we plan to visit again in the summer.

It’s sort of amazing to walk through a place like this and think about the people who were living there and what their life was actually like.  Despite the grandeur and luxury we associate with castles, that had to be a rough life!  What was Franz Sickingen (the last lord of the castle who actually died defending it) like?  Did he have a sense of humor?  Did he have time to have a sense of humor?  I mean, thinking about what life in general was like in the 1500’s (when he lived) is crazy enough but then adding the responsibility of protecting a town.  Wow, that’s intense.  Anyway, enough rambling…these are the things I thought about as I walked through the castle.

part of the front of the castle

side view of the front...to the left is the little restaurant I mentioned

Quinn and I in a little nook...doorway to an area in the front portion of the ruins

sign showing all the important points in and around the castle

pretty view...this was a great time to walk the grounds, leaves were gorgeous

statue of Franz Sickingen

Joe and Quinn...couldn't get Quinn to look at the camera!

 

I'm pretty sure that's a room you didn't want to be spending time in...looks like a torture chamber (not that I really know what that looks like).

Red rover, red rover send Franz Sickengen right over...

You can see the town below here...

I love this view

Quinn loves castles!

Another scary room

very old stone carving

View into Landstuhl from the base of the castle

Another view from base of castle...where the restaurant sits

The Zeil

1 Nov

Friday was a nice little outing for us!  We managed to take the strassenbahn from right in our neighborhood to the Hauptbanhoft (Frankfurt’s main station) and then get on the S-Bahn heading into a part of Frankfurt we hadn’t visited yet for some shopping and walking around.  This felt like a huge success because we not only learned how to purchase the correct ticket but we also were able to change trains and arrive at our intended destination without getting lost!  Wow.  There is an area in downtown Frankfurt with many outdoor shops and restaurants called the Zeil and there is also a mall that has been added to the area as well with lots of indoor shopping.  We just went to the outdoor area and walked around and then found a bite to eat.  It was lovely.  Anyone who visits- we will be sure to take you too!!

part of the Zeil

We stopped for a warm glass of gluhwein!

The outdoor seating comes with blankets! I doubt you can see them but they are draped over the chair backs.

All of the bikes have fenders and baskets....not really related to the Zeil, but this is something we see everywhere.

 

Visiting Mainz

11 Oct

Seeing as we are still on a quest to find a place to permanently settle into, that and our social calendars aren’t exactly brimming full these days; we decided to spend yesterday in Mainz.  The city actually has a pretty interesting history which I won’t go into too much detail about.  I mean you people know how to use google if you are that interested right?  I’d rather not risk boring you to death.  But, I will say it is one of the three oldest cities in Germany and much of its inner city was destroyed by bombing during World War II.  It is an interesting mix of old and new.  There are still several historical sites and buildings in tact, but obviously much has been rebuilt as well.  We drove around to get a sense of it all and enjoy some of the scenery.  (As a side note, the leaves are changing here much like in Ohio this time of year so the foliage is quite beautiful right now.)  Anyway, after driving around a bit we got out and walked around the pedestrian market square area.  It was Sunday so all the shops were closed but many of the little cafes and restaurants were open and there were still lots of people milling about.  Which brings me to another side note- patios are open (and full) even in quite chilly weather.  Yesterday was beautiful and very sunny, but very cool.  I wished I had a jacket over my sweater and still lots of people sat outside to have their lunch, coffee etc.  Here are a few pics from yesterday:

*Warning- you are about to be subjected to my crappy (mediocre at best) photography.  After the pictures Kim took of the sites these will pale in comparison.  But, what’s a person to do??*

 

Hmmm a bit cut off, but this is St. Martin's Cathedral

 

 

Near the city center, you can see the cathedral in the background

 

 

part of the Mainz theater

 

 

People eating outdoors in the market square

 

 

More outdoor dining

 

 

Pedestrian market square

 

 

small church I liked

 

This city is located along the west bank of the Rhine river.  It was absolutely beautiful driving along the edge of the water.  I wish I would have taken some pictures of that!  There were also lots of little streets with shops etc. that I failed to capture.  We will just have to go back again!

Visiting Oberursel

29 Sep

So, as you can probably imagine, deciding where to live in a new country can be quite a daunting task.  Right now we are in temporary housing in Frankfurt until our things arrive from the USA.  I was quite opposed to this initially, wanting instead to just have a place to settle into and get down to the business of “moving in”.   I am  publicly admitting that my husband was right when he assured me temporary housing would be a good thing.  I am realizing that we have so much to learn and consider in order to make the best choice possible.  So, I wanted to start taking advantage of this “research” period right away.  Once again, Kim was a great sport and accompanied me to Oberursel ( a small town in the Taunus region just outside of Frankfurt that was recommended to us).  It was of course ADORABLE and I sort of fell in love.  Here is why:

 

view from what resembles a "town square"

 

 

another angle from the town center

 

 

chocolate shop....always a good sign

 

Pretty cute right?  Okay, so it’s definitely not settled that this is where we’ll be living.  We still have LOTS of looking/researching to do.  But, if everywhere is as charming as this town, we might have a very tough decision on our hands.

On a mission to see a castle…

29 Sep

So as you all know my good friend Kim was visiting me all last week.  In fact, she just left yesterday morning.  Boo!  She was an excellent companion during her stay with us and really helped foster the spirit of exploring our new surroundings.  So, on Saturday we took a drive south to Heidelberg.  As we heard from a couple Germans- “This is the city all Americans love to visit”.  I can see why.  It’s the image we all have in our mind of historic buildings, cobble streets, little shops crowded close together along narrow roads, and of course…castles.  Although, once again, the castle seemed a bit elusive.  How could it be so hard to find a castle???  Well, I can’t exactly answer that for you.  But, I can tell you we did ultimately find the Heidelberger Schloss and had some fun along the way.  Here are some pictures from our outing that day:

 

Here is the ADORABLE little Italian place we had lunch at....so cute and delicious!

 

 

Kim, Quinn, and myself on the streets of Heidelberg

 

I forgot to mention that upon arriving in Heidelberg and driving around a bit to get a sense of the town, we stumbled upon a little festival going on.  It was sort of a very mini Oktoberfest.  So there were lots of people milling about in the streets, lots of music and different food and drink vendors were set up as well.  We tasted the most delicious mulled wine while we were there.  Actually called Gluhwein, it was the perfect thing for a chilly, rainy day.

 

Gluhwein in these terra cota mugs....so yummy.

 

 

Since Quinnie couldn't have gluhwein to keep warm, we had to bundle her up!

 

 

At last....the castle ruins.

 

And here are some views from the castle once we reached it.  We had to climb LOTS of stairs to get there.  How many do you think Kim??  But once we made it to the top the view was beautiful.  See for yourself:

I think you all know by now, but the pictures from our outings with Kim…well, they are all taken by Kim!  I can’t compete so I won’t even bother posting my mediocre photos when I’ve got the work of a professional at my fingertips.  Thanks Kim!!

Trying to find the Sachsenhausen…

26 Sep

So, as I mentioned earlier, my friend Kim has been visiting since Tuesday.  She arrived exactly one week after Joe, Quinn, and I did and she has been a great sport in  helping us explore our new surroundings.  One area I had heard about was the Sachsenhausen-an area along the riverbank near many of the museums etc.  There are also supposed to be a lot of restaurants, and cider houses and it’s an area that is easy to walk around from place to place with lots to do and see in between.  It sounded like a perfect spot in Frankfurt to see for ourselves and take a visitor!  Well….I don’t think we exactly found what we were looking for.  We did land somewhere near the water and we did have a great dinner at an adorable German restaurant.  Somehow these “must-see areas” (implying they cover a large amount of space and are somewhat obvious and easy to find) can be pretty elusive.  I guess this is part of the exploration of a new city.  You don’t always find what you set out looking for….but you do find something new!  Below are a few pictures of our time out that evening.  Again-these pics are all courtesy of Kim, which I think is pretty apparent right away, but still feel should be mentioned.  Enjoy!!

 

The Gummersbachs on our walk before dinner.

 

 

After our light (haha) German meal.

 

 

Full moon, view along the River Main

 

 

Crossing the bridge over the Main River

 

 

Another view of the river and the bridge...beautiful.