Praha, You are Beautiful!

Tuesday began BRIGHT and EARLY with grabbing our bus to Prague at 7:15am

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We traveled on a nice double decker charter bus complete with chargers at every seat and wifi on board for around 4 hours.

The bus ride went quickly due to it being so early in the morning and us sleeping most of the way.

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When we arrived it was raining and freezing outside. We headed indoors into the train station to figure out a plan of attack to see all that Prague had to offer us and to exchange our Euros for Czech and crowns.

Figuring out their money system was an ordeal in itself. Once we actually figured out the conversion rate it got a little easier to know how much money we were actually spending on things. Example: Dinner was 1043 czech, expensive right?

Once we stashed away our backpacks into lockers once again we stepped outside with our umbrellas up and map out trying to find our way around. We wandered up the streets and found some beautiful sights that led us right to the city square that was fully alive with toursists and locals.

The rain was spotty, pouring and stopping over and over all day long. Pretty much like our Florida afternoon rain showers.

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After lunch, at a very fancy restaurant complete with a complimentary glass of champagne, we wandered through some shops and then decided to be tacky tourists again and hop on a tour of the city. These tours really are a great way to see the city.

The bus portion of the tour ride was quick. As the tour guide would tell you what you were seeing and looking at, we would have laready whizzed by it. Luckily, we were not on the us for too long before we made it to Prague Palace and hopped off the bus to see the magnificent fortress that it was.

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Prague Palace is huge!

I don’t know the square footage of the palace walls but I do know that we seemed to walk through doorway after doorway and didn’t even touch the entire thing. There was courtyard after courtyard we walked through¬†as well as two gigantic church’s right next to one another.

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Because every palace needs two church’s, right?

Prague Palace is where the president of Czech Republic resides. I can’t even begin to fathom living there. A lot nicer than the White House ūüėä

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Inside the walls of the palace the first church we came to was a gargantuan cathedral that was built in the 13th century.

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This one seemed bigger than the others that we have seen so far. Crazy to think that that was actually possible..

The palace church was beautiful with stained glass on every wall. Much of the stained glass told different stories out of the bible.

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The walking tour of Prague was very different with our guide speaking and translating the history into both English and Spanish for the people attending. It was a nice and small group of us on the tour, making it more personal. Two out of the other 5 people with us were from Miami, Fl of all places. Such a small small world we live in.

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The rest of the tour took us walking through the the rain down the hill back into Old Town Prague. The adventure had us cross the Charles Bridge which was built in the 14th century and is the oldest bridge in Prague.

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It is only a walking bridge now, no cars allowed, and it was bustling with people everywhere!

There are many statues along the bridge, one being good luck if you touch a certain guys head on the statue. As well as the crucifixion of Christ and a statue of Christian suffering in prison.

Through Old Town we went seeing all of the tourist shops and hearing what all of the building once had been. The guide warned us of how expensive and over priced things were in this part of the city and kept us walking through.

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In the town square was the astronomical clock. At the top of each hour the clock windows open up and statues rotate looKing out the window along with a skeleton ringing a golden bell repeatedly. Strange, but very cool! We grabbed a drink and sat to watch the clock go off at 6pm.

We wandered for a while once the tour was done, getting a snack to eat, and going up and down the streets. Once it was time to find our way back to the train station it seemed to literally be impossible. The streets did not make any sense what so ever and would repeatedly end in dead ends and turns taking you no where that you wanted to be. It was extremely exhausting at the end of a long day where our feet hurt and we were tired already.

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Finally we made it make to the main circle of town and decided to find a hotel room there for the night instead of walking to the opposite side of the city to ours. Luckily it wasn’t paid for just yet.

After finding our bags at the train station and walking back to the hotel, we were done. It was 8:00pm and we were tired, but still hungry.

Funny story: when we dropped our bags down in the room, we could not get any of the electricity to work for us. I was beyond frustrated that there were no lights working and was about to go to the front desk to let them know when I saw a big plastic box on the wall next to the door. Evidently you have to slide your hotel room card into it and the electricity then turns on. Funny funny. Oh Americans!

We finally ventured out into the city, literally 10 feet from our hotel, and found an “authentic Czech” restaurant. It looked like a tavern and the wait staff was extremely friendly and inviting. The dinner was absolutely delicious with mom ordering the goulash and I ate the lamb knee. Mmmm mmmm good! We were very happy with our restaurant choice of the night and completely enjoyed ourselves. I think it was one of¬†our best dining experiences yet.

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Fun tid bit of the day: For as long as I can remember my father has always said “Nastrovia” when he took a sip of a drink. He said it was from his Polish side and we would laugh or roll or eyes when hearing it. When we were at dinner in Prague, the waiter brought us our drinks and said “Nastrovi” and I could not stop laughing. Full circle, people. It’s the little things!

The next morning we walked the streets of Prague shopping and seeing some sights around the hotel.

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Then we hopped on a bus and headed out of town…..

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Prague most definitely stole my heart.

I cannot wait to go back!

Next Stop, Munich! 

Here I am on this rainy and cold Monday morning navigating the tracks of Germany on the Eurorail.

We were up bright and early today to catch our first train out of the local train station to find adventure in Munich, Germany.

As I sit here starting this I am in a first class seat on a high speed train traveling through the countryside. I have to admit, It is pretty great.

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Roomy and cushy reclining seats, outlets to charge your electronics, grand windows to look out of and see the beauty of this land, and attendants offering me coffee, pretzels, and the newspaper whenever I wish. Now this, is the way to travel.

Mom and I finally, after an hour or so at a train station, figured out the train schedule and learned how to read the train maps. It’s not so easy, let me tell you. We are officially on a two hour train ride on our way to Munich (Munchen) to see more of Germany and make our way to the Czech Republic to visit the city of Prague.

Munich is a city that reminded me much of New York City with buildings and people everywhere, a city.

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It is busy with people both tourists and locals alike, with a mission to be somewhere or see something at every moment of the day.

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I noticed right away how many tourists were in this city of Germany unlike any other city we have been to this far. Many people travel here to see the sites and drink at the Biergarten’s in the beer capital of the country.

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Once we finally stowed away our backpacks at the train station and stepped out into Munich.

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When looking at the map and seeing where all I of the sites were around the city that we wanted to see, as well as how widely spread out they were, we decided to do the tacky tourist thing and jump in a “hop on, hop off” tour bus.

It was the best decision that we could make.

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the bus took us around the city first stopping in a busy town square where we hopped off to find something to eat. We ate at a local street cafe where all of the chairs and tables were set up in row to face the same direction. It was oddly strange, but perfect for people watching and taking in the city sites.

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The waitress thankfully spoke English and was able to describe to us some of the menu items, since ALL of it was in German.

It was quite funny when she did not know the English word for goat and tried very hard to describe the animal to us complete with hand motions and sound effects. Comical to say the least!!

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Once we walked around the town square and took pictures in the garden, we hopped on the bus again to be taken to a different city square to do some shopping and take a picture under the Schneider restaurant sign. For those of you in the dark, Schneider is my mothers maiden name and our proud German/Austrian heritage. We had a pretty good time in this shopping district making our rounds around the square.

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On our tour of Munich, we were able to see the BMW museum where cars and manufactured and purchased from visitors personally coming to Munich to shop for the specific car that they want. Can you imagine traveling to a different country just to pick out your car? That is ridiculously crazy to me!

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The BMW tall building is made to represent a cars engine

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The other site that we saw, across the street from the BMW museum was Olympia Park, where the summer Olympic Games were held in the 70’s.

Fun fact: After WWII, the people of Munich took all of the rubble from inside of the city from buildings that were destroyed and piled them up in this field outside of the cit 200 meters high. When they learned that they were to be hosting the games, they decided to use this field, and the rubble, to build the stadium that they were held in.

The last sight to see that was pretty jaw dropping, was that of the Schloss Nymphenburg. This was their summer home.

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Um, hello? They lived here only TWO MONTHS out of the entire year.

If that wasn’t enough, they didn’t have enough room in their home, yea right, to fit all of their guests so they needed to add on and build all of these house around the other side of the circle on property that that are bigger than your average sized house.¬†We didn’t have time to go inside and explore but I took a quick peek outside the back window to see the garden view.
Huge! There were many locals running through the property and in the gardens. What a cool place to run, right?

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Once we checked into our hotel room, that had 4 twin sized beds in it, we were out the door for dinner later on that evening. We scouted around for a close enough Biergarten and at like the locals did. The entire menu was blood sausages, liver, kidneys, jellied beef, and other delicious sounding foods. We actually found a couple of things normal and found them to be absolutely delicious!

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We even indulged in the local beer. Which by the way you can get a liter of for only .55 Euros. Rob was flabbergasted when I told him that factoid! Dinner was delicious, as was the dessert (another cream puff). We have gotten really lucky and blessed with such good meals and great days so far.

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I am so very excited for all that is still to come.

Back to France We Go!

So that whole sleeping thing, I guess it’s for the birds because I haven’t been doing much of it lately.

I live on espresso here it seems. But you know that I don’t mind a bit :)

Sunday we woke up with the plan to go to Strasbourg, France.

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       It. Was. Beautiful.

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The drive there was 2 hours and the GPS lovingly took us on back roads the entire way which were absolutely beautiful through little villages that were all so very different.

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To be real, I only saw an hours ride worth of this beautiful scenery that I am talking about. I passed out about half way through. Sleeping is for the birds, however, I obviously am needing more of it.

When I woke up we were in Strasbourg.

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The city of Strasbourg is located on the RHein river. The river is actually all around the city which makes it stunningly beautiful.

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As we got out of the car and walked along the river I felt as though I had stepped back into time.  I am pretty sure that I was in the village that Belle lived in Beauty and the Beast. (I have referred to the movie twice now, I know. Can you tell it was a favorite Disney movie of mine?)

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But really, the architecture was so different than what we have seen in Germany. It was different from what I had seen in Metz, France as well. Another thing I love about Europe.

We decided that the best way to see the city and learn more about it would be to take a boat tour down the river.

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We wore our headphones and were guided along the river slowly but surely learning a few things about the history of the town. I know that the ownership of the city went back and forth between Germany and France about 10,000 times.

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The history was a bit hit or miss with the French man doing his best to speak English. I know that someone back in time who had been in trouble for blasphemy was supposed to have his tongue cut out and then be beheaded later on. However, some kind ol’ soul saved him from that misery and simply beheaded him instead. Fun fact, right?

One neat part about the boat tour were the locks that we went into in order to continue down the river. I had never heard of them before and was fascinated by how quickly they filled the lock to lift us up to the height of the river and then emptied the lock to bring us back down. So crazy!

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You can see the different water levels in these pictures if you look at the wall.

The rest of the day was spend wandering around the town in search of things to eat. It was Sunday so MANY things were closed down and the town was not all the hustle and bustle as a big town should be.

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We finally decided on a little French bistro that had just opened up for dinner. When we walked in 10 minutes after they had opened at 5:00, they looked at us like we were nuts. Crazy Americans eating at a normal dinner hour! (To be fair, we had skipped lunch.)

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Dinner was the true French dining experience. The menu was short and to the point. Ashley got the Fish and chips, her friend Jamie ordered the roasted duck, with mom and I ordering the gigantic meat and cheese plate.

IT WAS SOOO GOOD!

Salami, brie, mozzarella, tomatoes, prosciutto, pesto, and roasted peppers scattered across our meat and cheese board. Along with the Friench bread that they brought to the table. . . it could not be beat!

But let’s not forget about the chocolate drizzled cream puff, caramel custard, and fruit sorbet that we had for dessert. Holy Yum!

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We wandered back through the streets trying to find our parking garage. However, this seemed to be quite the feat and we circled around a few times before actually arriving there.

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Thankfully we did though because the city of Strasburg came alive at night! Every street that we wandered down had live music outside with a crowd surrounding them. Each muscician was louder than the next and we even heard “Susie Q” being played in English on one street. Although it did have some dirty lyrics that I don’t remember it having in the original.

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Seeing the locals come out and dance the night away on the streets was a really neat experience. I am so glad that we got lost! We decided to join them in the dancing :)

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Anyone want to come and join us on this adventure all over Europe? I promise that you won’t regret it!v :)

Mom’s In Town!

Mom flew in to Frankfurt airport on Saturday afternoon.

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Needless to say, she was ridiculously excited to get here so I knew that she would be wanting to “Go, Go Go!”

Once we picked her up, the weather was pretty stinky so we drove to downtown Frankfurt in hopes of it clearing up a bit. It was not the greatest weather, and traffic was pretty standstill for a Saturday so we high-tailed it out of there and headed to Mannheim instead.

Ashley had never been to Mannheim just like the two of us so it was a fun new experience for all.

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We walked around through the town to an old palace that was converted into the University of Mannheim. It was quite beautiful, and HUGE, to see.

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We found another grand cathedral as well, that was beautiful!

It was really neat to be able to see how  different the architecture was from the cathedral that we saw in France on Friday.

This cathedral was colorful and FULL of statues and paintings, everywhere.

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I enjoyed seeing mom’s awe and wonderment of being in Germany as I have been the past few days. It was funny how much I knew about the country already and was able to pass on to her.

After an hour or two in Mannheim, Ashley decided we needed to head back to Heidelberg, where I saw the big castle, so that mom was able to get a taste of it as well. We also wanted some yummy German food for mom to experience so a big city would give us just that!

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Heidelberg was as beautiful as it was on Thursday. I was so happy to be able to go back and experience the city that I had quickly fallen for last week. Since it was a Saturday a lot more was open around the castle. Gift shops GALORE and lots more history to learn about!

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After the castle we were hungry! A Biergarten it was for our dining pleasure and mom’s first authentic German meal!

The Biergarten was a very cool experience. It felt like we were almost in Gaston’s tavern from Beauty and the Beast. They brew their own beer there so you know that we had to take advantage and get the full experience.

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I ordered a wheat beer, which to be honest tasted like a wheat beer, and mom ordered a Hefeweizen ¬†“shandy”. Their shandy here is whichever type of beer that you choose mixed with “lemonade”. Fun fact: “Lemonade” here is simply lemon lime soda. ha!

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It was yummy!

I ordered the meatloaf that came with a pretzel and mom got the white chicken sausage with a pretzel. Ashley got fried ravioli. It’s amazing how what you think you order is COMPLETELY different from what actually arrives at the table. Their meatloaf is so very different from our meatloaf back in the states. Here it is a giant hotdog shaped in a “meatloaf” form. Funny huh? I only ate half since I am not a huge hotdog fan, although I am sure they are a lot healthier for you here than in the U.S. You beter believe I ate the entire pretzel though!

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It was delicious!

The entire Biergarten experience was really neat. One of mine, and mom’s, goals of the trip were met = Go to a Biergarten!

Now I want to go to 10,000 more!

I Think I Might Be Dreaming

Someone please pinch me. . .

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I don’t feel as though this life that I am living right now can be real.

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Friday we took a trip to a little country that I like to call  France, um what?

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Did this really all happen?

I walked the streets of France, bought a real French chocolate crossaint, which was ridiculously buttery and flaky by the way, and ate a deliciously fresh nutella crepe made right in front of me by the most typical French man that you could picture.

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This must be a dream, right?

The streets of Metz, France were beautiful. I thought Heidelberg yesterday was beautiful with it’s castle and architecture. France was right on par with that city. I couldn’t stop looking everywhere around me as we walked the city square.

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Shopping, eating, and more shopping are pretty much what you can accomplish in a day spend in Metz. The streets were filled with people shopping and kissing each other’s cheeks in greetings (Yes, they really do this! It’s not just something you see in the movies.)

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Everything that I have pictured of France came to life today. The men and women sitting and drinking wine on the cobblestone streets outside a French restaurant, pastries and chocolates galore, and stylish women walking in their stilettos which seems utterly impossible to me.

We walked for miles throughout this city. We were actually only there for a couple of hours in total. But I feel as though we saw everything there was to see in this busy, quaint, and heavily populated city.

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As we walked around each corner there were more pictures to take.

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We found this old Bridge Castle in the city that is still used today as a bridge over the river.

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The castle is from the 13th century used as a safe haven to cross the bridge in Metz.

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This is the last remaining bridge castle in all of France.

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They have it open to the public to walk around. They even have one of the towers open with a spiral staircase inside leading up to the top story of the castle.

On the other side they turned one of the towers into a class elevator that leads you down to the bottom floor art gallery.

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Pretty cool for an old bridge castle.

We knew that there was an old cathedral in the city somewhere from the postcards we had seen around the streets.

As we walked and walked we finally stumbled upon it.

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My oh my what a site it was!!

I don’t think I can describe in words how amazingly beautiful this cathedral is.

Fortunately I can give you taste of it through my pictures.

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Look at the intricate carvings EVERYWHERE!

Each person that you see carved into the building has a face  and a different facial expression on them.

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Completely amazing.

Needless to say, I LOVED this part of our adventure.

After a few hours in Metz, we decided to make the trek back home and grab some German food to eat.

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Roast beef steak, herbed butter, and croquettes.

 A delicious way to end out the day.

Unfortunately for my sake I am still wide awake here in Weidlerbach at 1:45am when I am going on 3 hours of sleep. I hear it takes a couple of weeks to get this time change thing down. Perfect timing to get back to the states and do it all over again!

Deutschland Day 2

Day two started out as being a low key sort of day and ended up all around adventurous.

I took a sleeping aid last night to hopefully help to regulate my internal clock and sleep when I  am actually supposed to. I think I fell asleep around 11:45 or so and woke up around 9:00am. Normal sleeping hours for this girl, woohoo!

I woke up to gloom and doom here in Germany. It was not the prettiest of days to be exploring around the city but I ventured out anyway in the dreary rain

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Its cool to match your umbrella ūüėú

I walked some of her city of Weilerbach¬†in the wet, cold, rain. Surprisingly there were many people out and about walking the streets next to me always saying a “Hallo!” as they passed.

I walked into a clothing store not far away just got the experience of it…

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Clearly I am missing the hat in my European style wardrobe

Once it started getting too rainy to not be soaking wet I walked into the grocery store to get a taste of the culture and experience something new. All in all, it looked and felt like a grocery store. Things seem a teeny bit cheaper here, surprisingly. They also have some different goodies than we have back home

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We dont don’t have these options, do we? I might have clearly missed them if we do.

I wandered the aisles and came out with a hodgepodge of items resembling someone who does not have any idea what they really want.

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The pretzel was DELICIOUS as was the coffee drink and half of the chocolate. It had whole hazelnuts in the chocolate bar, yum! I came home tonight to find that little Sammy decided to enjoy the rest of it….

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I’m actually pretty scared for the little guy.

When Ash returned from work we ran some errands on base, which has the exact feeling of being in America, complete with an American mall and a store like Wal-Mart. It’s so very strange to go there after walking the streets of Germany.

I asked for an adventure after our errands and Ashley, being as wonderful as she is, completely delivered on that part. She decided we should drive to Heidelberg, about an hours drive, to see another castle in which she deemed “Awesome”.

With friend Jamie in tow we made the drive there and let me tell you¬†“awesome” does not begin to describe it

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The many views were utterly breath taking. The pictures of the castle and surrounding Heidelberg do not do it justice. I could have stayed in that city, or just the castle grounds, for hours exploring.

I encourage any one who has a chance to go see this city and its homey feel to do so. Heidelberg is cute, busy, and has the true German feel to it. As we walked around the city streets it was as though I needed to pinch myself to be reminded that this was all real. That I truly am in Germany experiencing this and not in Disney world seeing a fake backdrop of a German town.

After the castle adventures, and finding where in the world we parked the car, we parked inside of the city square and walked the main streets to find somewhere German to eat.

Schnitzel it turned out to be, this time caprese style, once again before we ventured the ride home.

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This  country is beautiful. The countryside and mountains are truly gorgeous as we drive across the highways.

How blessed am I for this opportunity to be here to experience it all?.

I am also counting my blessings of having a wonderful friend who takes time out of her busy work days to tour me around and show me a few of her favorite places and things.

Germany Day 1

I’m here in Germany!

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Afterr a full night of flying, I made it to Frankfurt, completely jet-lagged and all!

After a tour of the air force base with Ashley, and a BIG cup of coffee, we headed on to her house to relax a bit and catch my bearing before it was dinner time.

I tried my first German schnitzel , delicious by the way, and enjoyed a German dining experience complete with paying in Euro’s. Thankfully I had Americans with me who helped me order flat water instead of bubbly, which¬†what¬†comes to the table automatically when you order water at a restaurant. No free water here! I wanted to try my first German beer but knew that I would be fast asleep on the table if I did!

My internal clock is completely out of whack. My body has no idea what time it really is. We are six hours ahead of Florida time here in Germany. It was 9:00pm when we decided to go to bed and I fell asleep right away, despite the fact that it looked like this outside my bedroom window.

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This is actually what it looks like at 10:00pm. The sun sets around 10, and doesn’t get fully dark until 10:45-11pm. Then it is up early starting to rise at 4:15 in the morning.

I slept until 1:00am and my body was ready to be up for the day, not the most fun. I watched Netflix most of the night until finally falling asleep after 5:00am.

Today, Wednesday, was a gorgeous day!

Once Ashley was off of work she came home and decided she wanted to show me a castle, I was completely down for the hike.

The entire trail was 4.5 miles. Beautiful views and quaint little villages.

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I saw my first real castle! How cool is that?

The castle was pretty neat¬†and I definitely want to live here now. ūüėä

70 degrees and sunny is the high and in the 50’s at night. No need for air conditioning, which Germans do not believe in by the way.

I think I am going to lean into my German heritage and stay here for forever!