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!

Dublin, Ireland

Our trip to Dublin started in Frankfurt Germany. We spent the night at the Moxy hotel because our flight left at 6:30am. The hotel had a very modern and interesting atmosphere; definitely somewhere I’d like to stay again.

We met up with Nicolai and his group at the airport. At the Frankfurt airport you did not go through security until you entered your gate, and then you could not leave the gate. This made the security line almost nonexistent, but all the shops and restaurants were on the other side. it was a different system for sure.

We slept on the plane and were ready for a full day of sightseeing once we landed. We only had three days in the city so we woke up early and went to bed late to make the most of it. 

The first stop, the Guinness Brewery. Mostly because it was the closest attraction. The Guinness Brewery was a self guided tour with 6 floors. The top floor had a 360 view of Dublin. During the tour we learned that the roasted barley is what gives Guinness its dark color. We also learned how to correctly pour and taste a Guinness.

To stay with the theme, we decided to go to the Jameson Distillery next. This was our favorite tour. It was a interactive guided tour and had a lot of pretty lights and videos to make it extra interesting. At the end of the tour we had a taste test between Jameson, scotch, and American whiskey, which was actually Jack Daniels. Jameson was hands down the smoothest of the three. After the tours we took a carriage ride to the oldest Irish pub in Dublin, Brazen Head. 

The Airbnb was very modern and large with 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and a open kitchen and living room. Definitely a place to remember. This was the first time during our trip that we had a large group with us. This was a great benefit because each person had different places they wanted to see. So, Tim and I were able to know about and do more attractions than if it would have been just the two of us.

We started the next morning in the park and watched the very friendly and loud ducks. The locals must have thought we were even more crazy than normal Americans because we were laughing so loud while watching the ducks. Close to the park was a large shopping street that we walked through. We stopped at a gorgeous hotel/cafe for a quick snack and then headed to the next destination for the day; Howth. 

Howth is small fishing town not far from Dublin, about a 30 minute train ride. It is known for its seafood and typical Ireland cliffs. We walked the hiking path around the town and got to see all of its highlights. We even wondered off the path and found a local swimming spot. Nicolai and Tim braved the cold water and went for a swim in the Irish Sea, while I stayed warm and laughed at them.

Since we were in the Dublin area, we went to the famous temple bar street. This is a huge street filled with bar that are three stories or taller. Not somewhere Tim and I would have gone by ourselves, but it was neat to experience the nightlife. Showmen were on the streets trying to make a buck. Tim participated in a bike challenge where the bike’s steering was reversed. Tim failed and the showmen got to keep his money, but it was a interesting challenge and fun to watch others try and fail. One of the bars we went into was so packed, that brain literally had to push us through to get to the exit. 

It was nice to visit Dublin where the national language was English, I could listen to their Irish accent for days! But we could never get used to seeing a child in the ‘passage’ seat but to us it looked like the driver seat. A lot of times we would see the seat empty and have to take a double look, “wait how is that car moving? …ohhh that’s right.”

As much as we enjoyed Dublin, there was no denying that it was one of the more expensive areas. Just as an example, both Guinness and Jameson were much more expensive than in Williamsport, even though they were made in Dublin. If Tim and I ever get the opportunity to visit Ireland again we hope to travel to the North side of the country.