“It’s been a long time…”

“Shouldn’t have left you, left you… with out a dope beat to step to, step to… ”
“So this is August, and what have we done”…  Well, lets see, the last 6 months have gone quick, after Berlin we’ve had a pretty relaxing time.  Maybe the stop at the Tropical Islands Resort kicked it off a theme for this year.

To compile this post I decided to utilize my photo library to recap the time by month:
January:
The flag collection was hung, and currently stands at 16 (11 pictured).
Enjoyed some great Pho at Saigon restaurant just around the corner from our apartment
Sampled some fine Belgian beers at La Petit Belge.
February:
I traveled home for a short weekend to say goodbye to my dear Pap Knepper.
During which I was able to see Tai and perform a Chevy de-badging with Sean.
In the State College airport there are photos of Cinque Terre, the coastal Italian towns we visited last winter.
We received a name plate at the front door to our apartment building.
I traveled to Chamonix France with my friends Aaron and Rob for an incredible ski weekend.
March:
We helped clean up the church grounds
My sister and niece came for a spring break visit.
We saw many of the best sights in the Rhein Valley, Bacharach, Sankt Goar, Rheinfels, Marksburg, Loreley and of course Wiesbaden.
The following weekend we drove to Bruge to see the sea, the sights and to consume some mussels (Ava) and a few Belgian drafts.
We went for an evening bowling and the next day surprised Ava with a trip to PlayMobil park.  We had to watch out for frogs on the way home!
The following day our household goods arrived along with Tom (Audrey’s Chevy Cruze)
We naturally took him immediately out of the container and straight to the autobahn and on back woods logging roads en route to Heidelburg.  We even spotted a frog!
After their bittersweet departure I promptly set to converting our grill from the US fitting to a German propane tank.  In preparation for our first BBQ w/ friends, Simon, Rob and Trish, Aaron and Shelby and Steven (Salmon!  Yum!).  We have been grilling about every week since.
April:
Aside from unpacking and organizing not a whole lot.
My friend Aaron and I decided to partake in some mountain biking (since my bike also arrived).  We researched a trail head a few miles out of town in the hills and decided to explore.  We ended up riding all the way back down hill to town and decided to return for the car we left behind with a second vehicle.  We did this for a couple weekends in April.
The church held a time and talents auction where I offered landscaping services and Audrey and I offered a castle tour for four.  We won a tour of WWII sites, which we are going on in October.
May:
We rang, or rather walked in the great month of May with a friends wine hike
Audrey’s Uncle, Gary and girlfriend Cindy joined us for a few days, we took them to the usual spots.
It hailed!
I arranged and performed my auctioned landscaping services, phew!
For Memorial Day weekend we traveled to Bratislava and Vienna, both very unique and very cool cities.  We saw a celtic/roman/gothic AND Renaissance ruin, a beautiful church, awesome architecture and numerous statues.
June:
Our friend Meagan (met her and friends at Henley regatta last July) came for the Wilhelmstrasse fest.  We went to Oppenheim to see the underground labyrinth.
In the following weeks we experienced a lot of heavy rain storms, many towns in Germany flooded including Wiesbaden.
We took the auction winners, Jim and Elaine, Andy and Lisa on our castle tour, of course is poured but we had a great time.
July:
We returned home to see family and friends.  We got to have lunches and dinners with many of our NoVA friends.  Spent some time with Audrey’s parents.  Drove to State College for a 4th party at Sean and Jenna’s, coffee, lunches and dinners with my mom, family and friends, an evening walk around campus with Audrey (where we saw a skunk at the hub!).  Witnessed a baby hawk in the birdbath.  Next we headed to the Poconos to see my brother and family and my dad and little sister drove from Colorado.  Audrey got to hold a rabbit, go for a 4wheeler ride, shoot clays and swim in the Delaware.  From there we headed to Rehoboth for Chris and Kera’s wedding. So much fun!  It was a great trip home.
Upon returning we did some shopping for the apartment, some sun prevention and visual/wind barriers.
Just a few weeks ago we went to a celtic burial site just an hour away.  It had some very neat and unique artifacts and we had lunch in Hanau along the Rhein.
The last weekend in July we were traveling again for a second wedding, this time in Interlaken Switzerland.  We made a stop in Thun to see the town and castle.  Then to Interlake where we met up with JJ, Abby, Erik, Coubrough, Tardivo and Sarah for an evening out.  Saturday was Ben and Nadine’s wedding and the reception was held at a great open barn venue with an incredible view.
Sunday we headed home early because we had tickets to see Sting!
And lastly I leave you with a double rainbow from a couple weeks ago.

 

 

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Berlin & Tropical Islands

In January we felt we needed a little sun given that it doesn’t show itself very often here from approximately November to March.  Audrey had not been to Berlin yet and since it is full of history we decided to go there for a long weekend.  To satisfy the sun part, because it was C.O.L.D. in Berlin, we split the weekend at a place called Tropical Islands just an hour away from the city.

While in Berlin we stayed near Check Point Charlie and were able to see quite a few key historical locations in just a day and a half.  We also had some great food and visited two museums.  We knew we were going to relax the following day so we packed in as much as we could in the city.   Saturday evening we saw CPC, passed through Gendarmenmarkt square and went to the DDR museum.  Sunday morning, we booked an early time slot for the Reichstagsgebäude (the parliment building where we had a 360 view of the city – in the snow), saw the Holocaust memorial, the Brandenburger Tor (gate) and the aquarium in the Radison hotel.  Afterwards we went to museum island to stop at the Pergamonmuseum and Neues Museums filled with ancient artifacts.  On the way back to the hotel we experienced being pick-pocketed when a group of kids rushed us with clipboards in hand, getting in our face and asking us to sign a petition.  One of them grabbed one of our phones but amazingly, they gave it back.  It all happened in less than a minute and we are still perplexed that they returned our phone.   Either way, it demonstrates why it is important to always pay attention to your surroundings.

Berlin was great, but quite cold so the moment we walked into Tropical Islands we were pretty excited.  It is an old Zeppelin hanger that was converted to a climate controlled (70 degrees and humid) resort with pools, waterfalls, palm trees, mini golf, water slides, restaurants, rooms, sun decks, shops and a spa.  The place is taller than the statue of liberty and is the length of the Eiffel tower on its side.  Pretty neat and since we went on a Sunday it was empty.  We received a nice dose of much needed vitamin D.

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December, new year, new Apartment

Well, here it is March already.  Right, I know, I promised to post more often…

A brief attempt to catch up (but not too much):

Since the last post… We experienced the following.

Travel home:  Just prior to departure for a long trip home in December we found ourselves a new flat (apartment).  City center, amazing view of the city, three times the space of the old place, 5th floor… no elevator.   Now that we’ve had two months of hiking up the stairs, we are very happy with our decision.   For most of December we traveled home (VA and PA) for Christmas.  We had a lot planned, from getting prepared to ship more of our household goods, to getting VISA’s for the cats in Richmond all while visiting as many family members and friends as possible.

New Years:  It was a great trip home but we were also looking forward to coming back, picking up our keys and having a post new years move in party with our friends (who we cannot thank enough for their help).  We had an interesting flight, ourselves and the two cats as carry-on was quite an experience but once we arrived they were a-ok.  We enjoyed new years from the balcony of the new (still empty) apartment.  It was the standard european new years eve chaos.  Fireworks were being lit from every direction and went on for at least an hour.

New Apartment:  Moving took a little less than 3 hours, down three flights of stairs and up five was quite a work out but our friends were awesome.  Unfortunately one individual did not quite adjust to all the commotion and found a passage into the wall.  Miss Mallie went missing for 5 days in the various elevated and boxed out spaces of the bathroom.  At one point there were 10 firemen at the apartment armed with flashlights and cameras trying to find her (this was day 3).  Finally she had enough and she came back to an access tile under the bathtub (day 5).

So once we got everything set up, rescued Mallie and built a shelf/hanger unit for Audrey the new place was a little more like home.  We also purchased a fest table, our first semi-dinning room table!

More pictures on the next post I promise – My iPhone died and I have a new phone (Huawei).  Yea, I went the way of the Droid.

Is it too late to say Happy New Year!?  Prost all, Z

 

 

Budapest

<I just realized today when I said “I haven’t blogged in a while” that I never posted this>  Sorry readers, now that the holidays are over and we are settled into our new apartment I will resume posting.

We went to Budapest for Columbus day weekend.  It was a great city, even with the wet and chilly weather.  It reminded me of Prague, the river, the old city on one side and the castle on the hill on the other.  We saw the worlds most ornate McDonalds at the central train station, visited the central market, rode the hop on hop off bus and boat, visited two cathedrals, enjoyed a dip in the thermal baths, ate numerous delicious meals and stood at the foot of the parliament building.

September/October

We took it easy for the months of september and october.  After our family visits and the two big trips we wanted to explore some more local activities.  The three big highlights were the, Frankfurt auto show, October fest with our friends Ben, Nadine, Kasia and Steve and the ring with Rob, Tricia and John.

 

Family visit – Switzerland

The next week my mom arrived and we spent a couple days here in Wiesbaden before jumping in a rental car and heading south to Switzerland.  Our destination was Interlaken, a town set on a lake in the center of the country.  We stayed in an old chalet on the edge of town with an amazing view of the area.  We did not get the chance to see the view until the next morning because we stopped in Strasbourg and Basel along our drive.  It was worth the wait.

On our first day there we drove to and spent the day in Lauterbrunnen, a small town and area famous for its huge glacial valley, cows with bells, base jumping and paragliding and beautiful waterfalls.  We essentially hiked through the valley taking it all in.  At the southern end of the town is a waterfall that has carved its way into the cliff creating a cave like system.  Engineers have created tunnels into the mountain that have walkways and windows that allow you to see the power of the water.  I can only imagine what it is like in the spring with a higher volume of water.  Later that afternoon Audrey, my mom and I took multiple cable cars up to a ~9,700 foot summit of the Schilthorn (a setting for James Bond’s “On Her Majesty’s Service”).  Unfortunately, the clouds rolled in as we approached but we did get to see Murren and get up above the tree line.  Very cool and at one point pretty scary as our only view was of the cable fading off into the clouds.

The next day we spent some time in town waiting for my Mom’s friend Nancy to arrive.  We picked her up at the train station and took a drive along the lake for a lake side lunch at a small village about 20 minutes away.  The water was a vibrant blue color and the weather was great.  After lunch we reconnected with Jeff and Kate and took a train ride up to another peak for the view and a quick tea break.  The train ride took us through trees and meadows with small farms, a very pure setting.  It was mentioned that the area reminded some of us of the grandfathers property in the movie Heidi (which we watched once we returned, cute movie).  Once back down to lake level we dropped off my Mom and Nancy to continue their travels and the rest of us headed up the funicular on the other side of the valley for a view of Interlaken and dinner.

The next day we departed early and headed east making stops in Leichtenstein (for about 20 minutes) and at castle Nueschwanstein before returning to Wiesbaden.  (Check out the road/tunnel we traveled on while heading to Leichtenstein)

The two-ish weeks during our time with family was great.  Just to have them here and to make a few new friends and see some amazing new places as well made it even better.

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Family visit – Poland

In September Audrey’s parents and my mom came to visit us.  We took two amazing trips, one to Poland with Audrey’s parents and the other to Switzerland with all five of us.

Poland was a great experience.  We flew to Warsaw where we met up with Jeff and Kate’s friends.  They are are diplomats living there for a few years.  They were wonderful hosts and we got to see a lot of the city which is quite large.  The first day we went on a tour of the “old” (rebuilt) city center, ate some amazing food and went on a vodka/restaurant tour where we learned about traditional food and drink as well as some Polish history.  Saturday we visited a museum and took a stroll through the main park in the city.  Sunday we attended church with the family and then headed off to the train station for a countryside train ride to Krakow.

Unfortunately, on Saturday night there was a slight complication during the trip, I scratched my eye and by Monday AM the pain was bad enough that we decided I needed to go to the ER.  Once we found the ER, the experience was good, the doctor spoke english and the cost was <$50.  It turned out I had developed an eye infection and walked away with five different eye drops that had to be taken multiple times a day.  After a couple days I was feeling better and once we returned from both trips I made it to the eye doctor.  He explained the situation in more detail and that my vision could have been seriously impaired, a pretty scary reality.

We were still able to enjoy Krakow though and again, the food was amazing, lodging, food and attractions were inexpensive and we had plenty of time to explore the city in just two days.  We saw the central castle with a beautiful cathedral, the central square with an underground museum depicting the infrastructure from 100’s of years ago and did some amber shopping.

Many of the photos I have are from Krakow, Warsaw was just as interesting but for some reason I wasn’t taking as many.

Enjoy!

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