Monday, April 21, 2008

Europe!!!



(Pictures from left to right. TOP row: Castle in Germany, Neuschwanstein, Roman area in Verona Italy, Italian street, crossing a bridge in Venice, 2nd Row: Church in Venice, chasing pigeons in St. Mark's plaza Venice, riding a gondola across the grand canal, our gondola. 3rd Row: Santa Maria de Salute Venice, Cathedrale in Florence, Riding a carrosel in Venice, camping, leaning tower of Pisa. 4th Row: Ceiling of Pisa Cathedrale, riding train to Cinque Terre Italy, One of the cities of Cinque Terre- 2 pictures, the walk between the cities. Last row: Hiking to Burg Eltz Germany, Entering Burg Eltz, lunch of chickpea and cheese pizza and stuffed spinach pie in Cinque Terre, duplicates of first pictures.)

Well at the last minute we decided to take advantage of one of the perks of being in the military and take one of the AF flights to Germany. We flew to Baltimore and spent a great day in DC with my brother and his wife and then the next day crossed our fingers that we'd make it on the flight to Germany. We did!!! And had a great flight over-- nice regular plane with two meals and Henry almost the whole way and Dell and I did too. So when we hit Europe we were ready to go.
We rented a little compact mercedes with a navigation system that we promptly named Lisele-- she had such a calm voice. "Please take a u turn" whenever we messed up following her directions. And then we headed east and south into Germany. We drove through germany, austria, northern italy, and switzerland. (though we just drove straight through austria and switzerland since it was cold and rainy in both of those countries. We'll linger longer next time. We had a wonderful trip and Henry was a star. He adjusted quickly and was a real sport about long walks through cities and long drives through countries. We played a lot of tag and I Spy and ate a lot of ice cream. It was a great trip!

Jumping the Jeffeson Memorial steps







Washington DC

Dave and Margaret were kind enough to let us stay with them and show us around their city while we waited for our AF flight on Sunday. They live in the most adorable little urban apartment and we had a blast walking to metro, riding the metro-- Henry thought it was pretty cool, and seeing some of the sights of DC.

My wonderful brother and his wonderful wife. I've got great family!

Eating Italian ice on the steps of the Jefferson memorial while listening to a band. The cherry blossom festival was going on and though some of the blossoms were already gone you could still smell them. After the Jefferson memorial we walked back to Dave and Margaret's apartment. So fun! Then we walked to a darling little pizza place down the street where we had an amazing arugula and procutto pizza. Then we went back to the apartment where Henry got to wii bowl to his hearts content. Thanks Dave and Margaret for an amazing time. It was the perfect way to start our trip.

Camping in germany

We drove for several hours after landing at Ramstein AFB (sweet base by the way-- would love to be stationed there.) It was getting dark and rainy so we thought we ought to find a place for the night. Since the hotels were super expensive we pulled out the camping gear and slept at this little camper ground. It was cold in the night-- I slept with my IVF medicine so it wouldn't freeze, but Henry was super bundled and slept great. And we learned that you really can camp in almost anything-- even practically freezing rain.

Henry in the morning. One of the other campers came by and in his German accent said "it was very fresh last night no?" Fresh, what a perfect word for the weather. 2 degrees C is definitely fresh.

The wonderful kids bathroom at the campground. Isn't it cute. Henry never used it since we only discovered it after he was dressed. The mens and womens bathrooms also had the most wonderful showers of our whole trip. Sigh. They were perfect.
Where the snow line was in the morning-- about 30 feet above our camp.

neuschwanstein


It was chilly the morning we went to neuschwanstein and we cursed ourselves for leaving our jackets on the flight to baltimore and cursed Continental Airlines for not finding and returning them. (They're still missing!) BUt doesn't the castle look magical in the mist.
Hiking up to the castle in the SNOW! Henry loved the hike up and the snow. (and the horse poop along the way from the horse drawn carriages that take those not so cheap up to the castle. He calls this the poop picture. Is this a fascination all three year olds have or do I need to be concerned?)

camp darby (this post is not in order sorry)

After our quick stop in Florence we drove to an Army base south of Pisa and set up camp in the dark. It took Henry a while to settle down. (He'd had lots of fun doing his job of clearing the site of pine cones while Dell and I set up the tent-- we had headlamps for each person. Henry found and moved a lot of pinecones in the five minutes it took us to set up.) We slept great since Italy is lots warmer than the German mountains and in fact Henry slept so great he slept through a chain saw across the street, Dell going off to shower, me going off to shower and us taking the tent down.




When we got tired of waiting for him to wake up we each grabbed a side of the mat and carried him outside-- he didn't stir.

Close up of sleeping Henry. Don't you love how his hat (great for keepin him warm while camping in April) covers his eyes. Maybe that's why he always slept so well in the tent. It's like a sleep mask-- and it covers his ears.

Still sleeping and the tent is down. Henry finally woke up when we put him in his car seat. His first words were "I want to keep camping." What a cutie.

Venice

Venice was our favorite spot on this trip. It was great to be in a city with no cars. And while hauling the stroller up and down the bridges was a little bit of a pain, the beautiful views more than compensated.
Eating yummy pizza. We got a slice of pizza at three different places so we could get a better sampling of flavors. The first place was our favorite with the most flavorful fresh sauce. Mmmmm.
Gelato!!!
St. Mark's plaza with the Doge's palace on the right.
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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Florence

It took us a while to find the cathedrale here. Lisele (the name we gave our gps navigation unit) lead us astray and the street in Florence-- whew! I'm glad Dell was driving. Luckily the cathedrale was tall and Dell's sense of direction excellent so we finally found the place as it was getting dark.
The carvings on the building were amazing. And the colors! I loved the vibrant colors of the different stone. Not what I expected, but absolutely charming.
Loved the sky above this square.
In the square was a merry go round and Henry was in heaven riding it. That night he said it was his favorite thing and considering that we'd been in Venice and Florence that day that's saying something.
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Cinque Terre


North of Pisa is a fun cluster of five little towns hugging the mediterranean sea. There are walking trails between each town and while we only walked three of them the views were fabulous (and so was the food.)


the second town we visited (forgot the name-- will post later)
Riding the train to the first town. Henry was so excited to be on the train and in "astronaut" chairs