Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008 ~ Koblenz

After a good night’s sleep we all woke up a bit earlier today and when I came out of our room, there was Seth, Elizabeth and James playing a game of “Settlers”. They had wanted to get a game going for several days now and this was a good time to do it. Dan got up, showered, ate breakfast and got ready for another day. Alisha ate and then got ready to head to the pool and I got caught up on my journaling. When the others were up and ready we headed down to Leiwen, the little town just below the Landal Sonenberg where we were staying. We had driven through it many times as we came and went but all we had done was admire the beauty of the town. It has magnificent window boxes bursting with flowers of every color. The homes are mostly stucco and are painted all different colors. The doors are large and very majestic looking. We had a wonderful time walking the streets and taking pictures.

The streets were cobblestone and the cemetery was a flower garden. I loved the way they laid out the gravesites. Instead of a cover of grass, they framed the spot in stone and then planted flowers completely within the frame with a head stone at the end. It was absolutely beautiful and I wondered if I would be allowed to have flowers on me instead of grass.

After our sweep of the town we went back to our condo and gathered up things for the days adventures. Again, we packed a picnic lunch, our cameras and our jackets. Seth drove us today, as he knew just where we were going. First, he took us into Klonbitz which is a fairly large city. James, Elizabeth and Alisha waited at the train station while Seth and I hurried around the City Center trying to find a bank that would exchange dollars for Euros. It took some time but we were able to find one. In fact, it was a City Bank like we have in the states.
When we got back to the station we found out that the cost of the train were almost twice as much as we had been told so we decided not to take the train. Instead, we found a place where we could sit down and eat our lunch. Dan headed back to rest in the car and we went shopping. We were looking for some gifts to bring home and needed the “just right” thing. We actually found several books for the grandchildren there at the train station. Then we wandered around the city streets and in and out of shops. The boys had fun in the toy stores and the book stores. The girls found a beautiful linen shop and admired so many wonderful pieces of stitch work on fine linens. Being unsure of what else was out there, we went on.
Seth showed us a fantastic cathedral, so we took some pictures and went inside for a few quiet, peaceful moments.

We were going to head back after that, but then Seth asked if we wanted to go into a nearby mall. This was the place we were looking for. It didn’t take long for us girls to find exactly what we were looking for and we beginning selecting what we wanted. Alisha even found a hooded vest that she liked. We bought a ring for Elizabeth’s baby since she had been given a ring by Aunt Paunie when she was just a baby. It has a little lady bug on it and is adjustable. It will be perfect for her little girl. Elizabeth picked out this one for herself and we bought a few more rings for some of the others, as well.
On our way back we stopped at the linen shop again and picked out several items for my mom and sisters. The ladies there even wished me a Happy Birthday when Seth told them that it was my birthday today. They spoke in German so I don’t know if they said I looked that old or not. I decided not to ask Seth.
After we left Klonbitz, Seth took us out to look at castles. We found the first one just before dark and were able to get several fun pictures. We hiked up a little hill just above the castle and took pictures of the castle and of each other. We even found a little path and took pictures there, too. We got up nice and close and took pictures of the court yard and then more pictures from below. I’m glad we took so many pictures since we weren’t able to find any other castles after it got dark.

We enjoyed a quiet, restful ride back to Landal and finished off our day with bowls of potato soup, ravioli, pizza and a delicious apple strudel that James and Elizabeth bought especially to celebrate my birthday and their 3rd anniversary. It was a wonderful day!!! and I’m headed to bed because we have another fun-filled day planned for tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 ~ Landal & Trier

Everyone slept in till at least 9:00 AM when James and Elizabeth got up and headed to the pool. I slept on the couch until 10:00 AM. Dan got up and went down to the Lodge to ask about check out times. We may leave before they open. I added our pictures to the file and Seth and Alisha are still sleeping.
Later that morning, Seth and I went down to the lodge and bought some stamps for our postcards. Everyone else came down in the van and picked us up for another day’s adventure. We headed out for Trier again. We did some internet, tired to do some money exchange but were just minutes too late and then we did some more grocery shopping. Alisha bought herself a new pair of shoes. Can you imagine?

Before too long we were headed back to our place to fix another yummy dinner of pizzas and breads.
Elizabeth and James had brought a movie DVD with them so we watched that while we ate dinner. I think everyone was pretty tired and headed to bed soon after the movie. I stayed up and watched another movie that I had brought with me; Mary, Queen of Scotland. I had seen it once before many years ago and remembered it to be a really good movie. I remembered correctly and really enjoyed it once again. While I was watching it, Dan came out into the living room and gave me a birthday card from him, and another one from Tessha. It was just after midnight and the start of my birthday. It was so sweet of him to think of me ahead of time and have a card with him in Germany. What a nice surprise!! When the movie was over I went to bed, too. It felt good to have a day of relaxation amongst all the fun, busy days.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008 ~ Paris, France

Just as planned, we got up at 4:00. Alisha was the first one up and woke everyone else up so we could get going. We ate a quick breakfast and headed out the door for Paris. When James and Elizabeth agreed to go with us to Germany, they asked if we could spend a day in Paris. It was a dream of theirs to see the Eiffel Tower and visit the Louvre Museum. We all thought it was a great idea. James took the wheel first and ended up being our driver all the way into the city. Most of us slept for a while in the morning but eventually everyone was awake and hungry. The toll roads in France were getting rather spendy so we decided to try the back roads. This turned out to be one of the best decisions of the day. James kept us headed for Paris but there were times when we had no idea where we were. We traveled through some beautiful farm lands, vineyards and small towns. We stopped at one town and bought a few groceries to replenish what we had alredy eaten from our picnic lunch that we had brought with us.
We bought more breads, cheeses, drinks, cookies and crackers, then jumped back into the van and decided to look for a picnic spot along the side of the road. We almost pulled over when we saw a small bench, however, not knowing if a bus would stop and try to pick us up, we decided to go on. James saw a sign that pointed us back towards the AutoBonn, so we went that way. We would have never guessed that it was leading us to the highway because we drove through another small town, out into the country, and up a hill towards a huge statue. We saw many grape pickers out in the vineyards along the way. And then, all of a sudden, along the side of the road was a picnic table and benches. There was also a most amazing view overlooking the valley below with vineyards up one side and down the other of every rolling hill. It’s hard to explain it so I’ll just include a picture here with the note that this was the absolute, very best, most fantastic picnic spot ever.
I couldn’t help but think of my dad and mom and the “French picnics” they took us on as kids. I remember wondering what a “French picnic” was and hearing Dad tell us that all you take is “bread, cheese, some fruit and a drink.” "That’s what the French people take on their picnics", Dad would say and I have very fond memories of Harmon Family “French picnics”. Dad would have been so proud of us today; having a French picnic in France on our way to see Paris. He might have even had a bite to eat with us as we sat there next to a vineyard high above a little French town. We had some bread and cheese that we “just broke off” like they really do on French picnics, some grapes; which we brought with us- not picked off the vine there, some cookies, crackers, salami, brats, chicken and pops. It was more than our usual French picnics but we were feeding some pretty hungry people. After taking several more pictures, we loaded back up and headed on our way. We even found the AutoBonn again but best of all was that we made a memory from my past come alive and enjoyed the present moments, too.
Coming into Paris was a fun experience as we tried to take pictures of the freeway signs.
We arrived safe and sound in downtown Paris and James did an amazing job of finding a parking place not too far from Le Louvre. Walking into the museum brought back all kinds of mental pictures I had from reading Dan Brown's, "DaVinci Code". The story begins at Le Louvre and speaks of the Pyramids inside, but outside of the museum. I was amazed at the memories I had from reading the story as I looked around me. I had never dreamed that I would actually get to see the place in person. Dad and I have truly been blessed with numerous opportunities to see the wonderful things of this world.

Today was one such day as we wandered the corridors marveling at such sights as the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, the Winged Victory and the Venus statues. Everywhere we turned there was another one of history’s treasures. We had four full hours of treasure hunting before we met up with James, Elizabeth, Seth and Alisha again. Just imagine Dan and me alone in Le Louvre for four hours. What a dream!

As we left the museum, everyone was ready for a light dinner and some souvenir shopping. To add to our Paris adventure we decided to have dinner at a little outdoor café. So, the six of us found three tables and six chairs on the sidewalk outside the Chez Alexandre Grec Grill and Pasta Café. We ordered two pizzas; one of which was Regina. Alisha ordered spaghetti. Sound familiar, Will? Sure enough, we ate every bite. It was a wonderfully warm, breezy evening and we just sat there till everyone was ready to go. We did a bit of shopping and ended up getting post cards to send home to friends as we made our way to the car. We thought of so many people we would have loved to bring something home to, but we never did find the “just right” things.
We got our van out of the parking garage and Seth drove us over to the Eiffel Tower. It was a dream of Elizabeth to actually see it in person and this was the night for her dream to come true. Again, words can’t explain it so; here are pictures so you can see for yourselves.
It was just starting to get dark as we got back into the van and Seth drove us out of Paris, back on the Auto Bonn and headed back to our little castle on the hillside just above Leiwen, Germany. We may have slept in the car before we slept in our beds tonight, but we will never forget our trip to and our day in Paris, France.
On a side note, we almost ran out of gas on the way home, so James drove very slowly for about 2 hours until we were finally back in Trier where we found a gas station open at 2:00 in the morning. After that Seth drove us home quickly and we hurried to bed. We decided to take it easy the next day so we could recuperate from an 18 hour, amazing day trip to Paris.