Friday, August 1, 2014

Germany and France and Family! Oh My!

This year has gone by so fast.  Before we knew it, 11 months had past since we'd seen Sam's family.  It's crazy how time flies.  We were so happy they were able to all come out to Europe and have a TRUE family vacation.  This was the first time since I became part of the family that we were all in one place for more than a weekend and it was SO MUCH FUN!!!!  While we hadn't been on a long family vacation in the past, we did manage to have fun and make memories.
House party circa 2007

Roger's graduation party

Red ,White & Boom 2009

The Nutcracker
Red, White & Boom 2011
Wedding shower

The BEST day ever!

Clarksville Beachaven Winery

Headed to the game

One of our many Sunday night dinners together; Oh, how I miss that porch!
No one can ever just have one drink at the Hey Hey

Nashville fun

Our trip to Vegas to pass time when Sam deployed

My long lost mixed sista from another mista
Yay, homecoming!

My favorite family tradition. Two years in a row makes it a tradition right?
Red, White & Boom 2013, and the LAST time we were all together :(
Are you all caught up on how much fun we've had together?  We haven't all been together in a while since everyone decided to become grown-ups and move away from home to be either married to the Army or live the DREAM in Chi-town.  Over the past seven years we've had some good times together, and I am so lucky to have been accepted whole heatedly into this family as one of their own.  

On this week long vacation in Europe, we had the full family experience by being crammed into our tiny on post apartment.  I was a little nervous about being in such close quarters but at the same time excited to get the chance to re-live my teenage years with siblings.  All of my siblings are either eight years older or eight years younger, so I basically missed out on the whole fighting with siblings over things.  It turned out to be great!  I got late night girl talk time with Stephanie where we talked about anything and everything or scanned the internets for celeb gossip/hilarious YouTube videos until one of us was literally falling asleep, and Sam got to share the couch with his bro like old times (we have the one they had in their basement growing up).  Although this time around there weren't any video games being played and The World Cup dominated their nights.   Luckily, there weren't any arguments over the one bathroom we shared, and I have to say that I'm happy to have missed out on that experience. 


When their planed landed, we didn't waste any time.  We began exploring Wiesbaden by taking our first funicular ride of the trip.  The Neroberg funicular railway is powered by gravity and the weight of water.  This takes you to the top of the Neroberg mountain where you will find Monopteros (a temple built in 1851), a Russian Orthodox Church modeled after the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, and a spectacular view of the city.  To get to the funicular, just follow Taunusstrasse toward the hill and you'll find a free parking lot on the left before the funicular.  Who knew free parking in Germany existed?  
On the funicular up the mountain 

Russian Orthodox Church

Exploring the hot water baths from Roman times

At our favorite tapas restaurant in Wiesbaden - Bodega

Now that everyone was over their jet lag we headed to Rudesheim for some Riesling and gorgeous views.  By the end of this day trip we had taken so many modes of transportation: car, car on ferry, sky bucket, walking, ski lift, boat.  If you do the Ring Ticket tour you will use these modes of transportation minus the car on ferry part (We checked the box for getting lost on a family vacation). 
Zum Wohl!

The next day we had one of the BEST days of the trip.  It involved the oldest street festival in Germany - Wilhemstrasse fest!   During this fest, the main street in Wiesbaden is closed, vendors sell hand crafted fare, bands play, German fair food is devoured, and of course there's beer and wine!  We had so much fun, and even forgot what time it was due to the never ending summertime sunlight here in Germany.  I introduced Moira and Stephanie to the oh-so-hydrating weinschorle. A weinschorle is a common drink at German festivals and consists of half white wine and half sparkling water.  Can we go back to this day, please?   

"Wait, is that the water?"

His favorite mixed chicks

Pearly whites and a faux mustache 

After we managed to effectively DO Wiesbaden by getting in a fest, we hopped on over to Strasbourg, France!  It's not a far drive and has gorgeous canals and great food!  We saw an enormous church plopped down in the middle of a square, endured a few French attitudes, drank wine from the Alsace region, and took in the beauty of France!  
"You'll pass the church on the left that popped up over night."

Emma begged us to take her back to France

ALL of us together for Father's Day in FRANCE!!
Next up we explored Heidelberg Castle.  I saw this with my mom during the winter, and it was nice to see in the summer too.  Heidelberg never disappoints!  I've heard people have hiked up to the top, but we took the easy way out and rode our second funicular up!
Walking around a castle

Brother and sister

We spent our final day at the market in Wiesbaden and of course did a little bit of souvenir shopping.  We celebrated Mark's Birthday by eating roasted chicken from the market and home cooked spargel (white asparagus).  Spargel is asparagus that hasn't broken the ground yet to soak in the sun's rays and Germans LOVE it.  All I remember is laughing the night away while drinking cocktails made by Roger.  It was perfect!

I love this market

Women be shoppin'...
Such a lucky guy to spend Father's Day and a birthday with his grown up kids in EUROPE!
What I've learned from this trip is that family vacations are so important and necessary.  It's a time where everyone gets away from their day-to-day stress and activities to catch up on things going on in each others lives.  We see how one another has changed over time, we strengthens bonds, and most importantly we make memories.  I can't wait until our next family vacation!  
An usie a day!

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