Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Anniversary trip 2015

Daryl and I took a week vacation to Europe for our 36th anniversary.  We flew into Frankfurt, and rented a car. Then we drove - (well actually, Daryl drove - on the autobahn, wishing he had a fast car instead of the economy Opel we rented) to Rothenberg.  (Funny story about cars on autobahn, will be in separate blog)

 Our first day started at getting up about 3am for a 5 am flight from DFW to Miami.  Then our flight to Frankfurt didn't depart Miami until about 2pm Miami time, Arriving after about a 10-hour flight to Frankfurt at 630 am Tuesday morning.

We hadn't made a decision where we wanted to go when we left the airport, so we just plugged in a city and drove.

We first went to Mannheim, it was a pretty city, we didn't stop just drove around.
Then decided to head to Rothenberg, on the way we stopped in Waldenburg, because we had seen a castle from the autobahn, and decided to go visit it. Waldenburg was a beautiful tiny village, The castle was at one end of the town, I also got my first "German" pretzel there :)


Then we drove on to Rothenberg.  We were so totally worn out that when we arrived at our hotel at about 130 in the afternoon, we thought we would 'take a nap' then go to dinner.  We slept until about 10pm, woke up for a couple hours, then slept again until about 8am the next morning.. So our Tuesday of travel was really just used to recover from the travel there.

But on Wednesday we started our vacation for real -  after an amazing breakfast buffet at our  hotel, we set off for "Old Town" Rothenberg.

Rothenberg ob der Tauber is like a town out of a fairy tale..   Built about 1000 years ago,  it is an unbelievably beautiful little village.

We had a great day walking around this village. It was a lot bigger inside the fortress walls than we expected.

Markplatz Rothenberg ob der Tauber
The village had two thick tall stone walls, with lookout towers all around the village. We went into one of them, and saw some cannons that had been restored and on display. The Marktplatz was beautiful, and the Chapel we visited there was also quite lovely. There was a garden on one end, and it had some beautiful views of the village, and surrounding areas.

There were a lot of amazing shops... Bakeries, Butcher shops, Sweet shops, tons of souvenier shops. We also visited Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas store, and museum, Birkenstock shops, clothing, toys, so many shops, including a shop dedicated strictly to Teddy Bears.  We had coffee at a sidewalk cafe, and ate our supper at a bakery/cafe.  It was such a great place, we should have stayed longer.

Teddy bear shop

Schneeball bakery - a treat specific to Rothenberg ob der Tauber

Kathe Wolfhahrt

The next day we drove to Zurich to visit, spent a few hours there, shopping, walking around the central area, visited the Victorinox store, and ate at McDonalds there (Ridiculously expensive chicken sandwiches..   after the exchange rate our meal was almost 30.00 American for 2 sandwiches and drinks) 

I did get some pretty photos from there..  and there were some really cool shops. We did buy a gift at the Victorinox store.. a swiss army knife - directly from Switzerland.  

They had a toy store that was over 100 years old, and an amazing clock shop, as well as the sweet shops, and butcher shops that seem abundant in the places we visited. 

And there was this pretty overlook over the River Limmat.  

We drove on to Strasbourg France from there. Got in about 10 pm on Thursday night.
Strasbourg was my favorite place.  The town center was perfect. There was the Strasbourg Notre Dame cathedral, the Palais Rohan, and "Petite France"

Strasbourg Notre Dame Cathedral

Beautiful organ in Strasbourg Cathedral

Astronomical clock in Strasbourg Cathedral

La Petite France

La Petite France

Our second night there, we went to a light show on the side of the cathedral  It was spectacular. Celebrating the 1000th anniversary of the Cathedral.  

You can see a video someone else recorded earlier this summer here  - https://youtu.be/-haQy9GjVh8

On Saturday we drove back to Frankfurt, went to a Birkenstock store to see if we could find Daryl a comfy pair of sandals,  did not have any luck. He had tried some in Rothenberg and they fit well, and he liked them. But he wanted to look around and see if he could compare to other stores.  But he didn't. so we were regretting not getting them at the first store.

After our little unsuccessful shopping trip, we drove to our hotel for the night, and Daryl went to return the rental car - we stayed very close to the airport. Our flight left Frankfurt on Sunday morning at 10 am. so we got a cab from the hotel to the airport. And headed back to the states,

We had a good trip overall, there were a couple of things we should have done differently.

First of all, we should have decided exactly where we wanted to go before we left the car rental parking center. Instead we made an error and drove out of the way, and a 2 hour drive ended up taking almost 5.

Second - we should have just skipped Zurich. While parts of it were pretty, between traffic, which was either horrible, or REALLY horrible,  The thousands of people on the street walking, or on bikes. The enormous cost of a simple McDonalds meal, kind of really made that visit not very enjoyable.

Third - We needed to plan our hotels in advance. The Holiday Inn in Stuttgart was a great disappointment. The smaller boutique hotels were about the same or less cost, and were much better in our opinions.

We were so lucky to fly 1st class on the long legs from Miami to Frankfurt and back again, It made the travel much more tolerable.

We did not get on our first flight out of Miami, it was too full, but we did manage to get on the next one. Upon arrival at DFW, we were greeted by our welcome committee - complete with signs..  Michael and Jessie were there waiting to drive us home.  

We had a wonderful time overall, traffic stressed Daryl a bit, we wasted a day going down to Zurich, But it was a good trip. One that we will have memories from the rest of our lives.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Wedding Planning..

 We have been looking at a lot of venues for Becca and Michael's wedding next summer. 

There have been a few we knew were not right, pretty much immediately. 

 There were a couple we really loved. 

And so far one we think might work..  But we haven't settled on anything yet 

Here are a few we have checked out..  

I do think our final choice is in this list.    

Here are a few photos from the various venue websites
YWCA Ballroom


White Chapel Estates

Stockman's Club at theStockyards Station


Bell Tower Chapel

Monday, August 3, 2015

Quick DC Visit

My sweetie was on vacation this week,  he has to use up certain number of days before his anniversary date, or he will lose them..  So on my two days off, we flew with our girls toWashington DC.  we got up by 4 am, to get to the remote parking at DFW, then caught the 6 am flight to DC.   When we arrived, we picked up our rental car and found a place for brunch.  

We found a parking garage not too far from the where we wanted to be..  and took off walking towards the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

 On our way, we saw the National Archives (Made me want to watch National Treasure again!) We didn't go in, I wish we had, but we only had the 2 days there, and so many things we wanted to see

  and then there was this building that looked SO very secure, had guards, one with a guard dog walking around it, then I found what it was...   The J.Edgar Hoover FBI Building!!! How cool is that!!!

We also saw the Department of Justice building.  It had some beautiful architectural features.

Then we got to the Natural History Museum.  That place is amazing...  (And seeing the exhibits in person was so much better than seeing it on Night At The Museum 2)

Jessica wanted to see the mummies -  so we made our way to that floor and began our tour of the museum. We first went into what I think of as the "bone gallery"   skeletons of all sorts of creatures.

Then we went to the mummies, Insects, Dinosaurs and Fossils, then worked around to the Gems and Minerals..
 We didn't see everything there was to see there, we could have spent the entire time in the one museum. and still not see it all I think.

DumDum..    :) 

Containers that held brains, and organs of the mummified. 

Reading about Scarab Beetles (Yucky things!) 


Bird eating spider

Mammal working on fossils  ;) 

The Hope Diamond..  Photo does NOT doit justice. 

In the hall of Gems and Minerals.. my favorite area! 

HUGE chunk of Amethyst

After the Natural History museum, we made our way to the Smithsonian Castle.. such a beautiful building, and knowing that it was the "first" Smithsonian and now there are 19 museums and galleries that are part of the museum complex is pretty awesome.

Smithsonian Castle

Museum of Natural History

We were all pretty exhausted after that, and Becca wasn't feeling very well, so we made the trek back to the car, *only getting a little turned around*, and headed to our hotel.  After checking in, and seeing what food places were around,  Daryl and Becca decided on   Atlantis Pizzeria and Family Restaurant.   The hummus was very good, and my dinner was the Chicken Souvlaki Platter.  
It was very delicious..  I think they made a good choice.

Next morning we all slept in a little, had breakfast at the hotel, and headed to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

Side of the Jefferson with Washington in the background..  

After we visited there, then drove to the Lincoln Memorial, where we couldn't find a parking place anywhere, I dropped Daryl and the girls off, and drove around looking for parking. I got extremely lucky and found a very close spot.

In front of the Lincoln Memorial.. Looking down the National Mall

Our next visit was to Arlington National Cemetery..  

We paid our respects to our 35th President.

Then we walked to the Tomb of the unknown soldiers.  We got there right at 'changing of the guard' time..

Our last stop of our visit was the Pentagon.  
We met up with my nephew Justin, who just happens to be a member of the US Navy and now stationed there. 
 He took us to visit the Pentagon Memorial, honoring those lost on 09/11 at the Pentagon when the plane hit.
 The benches represent lives lost, ones facing the Pentagon were lost in building, facing away were on the plane.  A very somber reminder of all those lost.

We got in lots of hugs, and chatted a bit before we left Justin, then we piled back in our rental, to find the airport car rental return,  dinner, and wait for our flight.

Got home after midnight.. was quite a whirlwind 2 days, but saw some amazing things.  Probably our last little "vacation" with both our girls before Becca is married next year.

So - all recovered from that trip now,  Daryl and I will go in 2 weeks to Europe for our vacation. I have 10 full days off of work, not exactly sure where we will go yet, But we will go somewhere.