Germany

Where do we start? We are extremely thankful that we were able stay over a month in Germany and experience so many great adventures. This was a huge park of our trip where we saw great provision. Europe was added and removed from our travels multiple times. We thought about holding off on Europe entirely and saving it for later in life. It wasn’t a final destination until Nicolai asked Tim if we wanted to go to Oktoberfest with him. Soon after we decided to travel to Europe, my sister Jenny applied for a job in Germany. Not only did she get the job, which was in the same town we were meeting Nicolai in, but her and her family were already there by the time we were scheduled to fly over. We couldn’t have planned it any better.

Germany is centrally located and was easy to explore other countries in Europe. We were able to take a train to Prague, Paris, and other neat towns in Germany including Munchie, Tubingen, and Frankfurt. The train system was very interesting and convenient. It was incredible to watch the country side out the window as we traveled.

We timed our visit to attend the Stuttgart Oktoberfest festival, called Cannstatter Volksfest. This fair / festival is the more local German version of Octoberfest. Although we did spend a day at the Oktoberfest in Munich just to cross it off the list. Volksfest had more of a family feel. We spent one evening inside of a tent with Nicolai and his family where we were able to watch and listen to the local Germans sing and dance. We had a great time eating, drinking, and riding carnival rides. Although the bumper cars could be quite dangerous after 9 PM. 

During our visit we were able to help a local farmer and pick grapes for a Vineyard. My sister Jenny signed us up through the Army Post with around 20 other Americans. For our hard work, we got a free lunch and a few bottles of wine. We also got to tour the processing garage. It was a great learning experience.

It was so nice to spend some quality time with my sister’s family. In addition to the Volksfest, we also went to the Mercedes-Benz and the Porsche museums. We even were able to tour the Dachau Concentration Camp. I could go on and on about each of these places, but there is too much to mention. I will say that seeing an concentration camp was such an eye-opener. The things we saw and learned there will will not be forgotten.

The food in Germany was absolutely amazing and it was so nice to meet up with family and friends and make new friends along the way. Tim and I visited the local bakery down the street quite often. My sister did not have Wi-Fi yet so we went down to the bakery to use the Internet. The owner became quite fond of us and even gave us a couple free treats. 

The language barrier was the least of our worries. Costa Rica had already prepared us, but a lot more people spoke English then you would have realized. Sometimes they were very helpful and tried to teach us German words. Other times you would be sitting on a train asking questions and trying to figure out what was happening and we would have to flat out ask ‘do you speak English?’ for them to help at all.

Overall it was a beautiful city and a beautiful country. We are so excited for my sister’s family to grow up in such a neat area.

Paris, France

Tim and I were able to spend three days in Paris and it was wonderful! The city of lights is one of the most popular cities in the world and a huge bucket list item for most people. We are grateful that we were able to see some of the highlights of this beautiful place. Even Tim would admit that the city blew away his expectations.

We followed the Seine to the Louvre Museum to see the famous glass pyramid. The court yard was filled with tourists trying to get their best photo. We even saw two couples getting their wedding photos taken there. We walked through the front garden, slowly making our way towards the Eiffel Tower.

I didn’t realize how excited I was to be in Paris until I caught my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. In that moment, all of my little girl dreams came rushing back to me. Neither of us were interested in climbing up the tower, so we walked to the park and sat in the grass taking in the view.

We took the metro to our room that was only a couple blocks from Notre-Dame. Due to the recent fire, the front sidewalk was blocked off and the side and back of the building was covered with scaffolding for the construction.

When I booked they Airbnb I did not realize what a great area we would be staying in. There were countless shops, restaurants, and cafes right under us. Both nights we ate at one of the nearby restaurants and ordered a three course meal for the same price of a meal in Williamsport, PA. I had escargot both nights. We even got to experience a piano bar all within a block or two from our room. The famous Shakespeare and Company cafe was also right around the corner.

It rained all day the second day in Paris. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to waste, so we grab the umbrellas, nicely provided by the Airbnb, and started walking. We walked up and down the famous Champs-Élysées street with all the shops. Tim was happy because he got to see the new iPhone at the Apple store.

We reached the traffic circle at the end of the street and saw the Arc de Triomphe for the first time. The 360 degree view on the top of was absolutely breathtaking. The sun even came out to shine and we had blue sky while we looked at the city.

We didn’t have the best expectations for Paris. We thought it would be extremely expensive and we weren’t sure what we could do with such a short time frame. Thankfully those expectations were proven wrong. Of course we would have loved to spend a couple more days there, but we are grateful for the experience we had!