Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Something I should have posted a while ago

Greetings. I wrote this a few days ago while I was on the plane, then forgot to post it. Oh well, here it is anyway. We started school today...
Hi. I’m typing on a plane (flying the rest of the way home, having stopped for a few days in Iowa with Keith’s parents), and I have realized that this is a difficult task in coach, when the person in the seat in front of you puts their seat back. The screen is tilted towards me, so I can hardly see it. Otherwise it would be too close to type.

Anyhoo, I realized that I never bothered to put up any pictures of our new god-daughter, Elizabeth! Well, I did, but that was from before we went to meet her. She’s very cute (I would have said “sweet,” but that joke’s getting old), and I managed to hold her without her screaming! Yay! We went to her baptism and had a very nice time with the family.

I also gave her this sweater that I made. Hopefully it will be the right size later this winter, or maybe around Easter. That would be appropriate, since it’s yellow.

We’re looking forward to being back in our own apartment, sleeping in our own bed, using our own kitchen… I really missed my kitchen and our nice closet, where I can put my clothes so as not to be constantly packing and unpacking.. I also missed cold coffee (frappucinos and the like) and Mexican food, but I had Mexican food for lunch and went out for coffee with Ilene on Wednesday, so I feel better now. I will, however, miss German bread and breakfast, the ready availability of cheap, excellent wines (other than the 11 bottles we brought home with us), bratwurst, French farmer’s markets, and the beauty of the towns in the countryside in all three of the countries we visited. Of course we will also miss our wonderful friends in Europe!

That’s about all for now, I’ll post this when we land…

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Home again (sort of)

We're back in Iowa with Keith's parents again. It's a nice, relaxed place to recover from jet lag and general weariness of traveling... although I will be very glad to not be living out of my hiking pack any more. Same old clothes all the time! I figured I'd better get my last Europe-themed post off before school starts next week. I look forward to it (school, that is) and dread it at the same time. We've had a really good summer with lots of traveling, so being back in our own apartment and with friends will be great, but I'm still not sure if I'm ready for studying again just yet. Luckily, I have learned to knit without looking, so that means I can knit while I read my textbooks, thus keeping me awake. Very nice! That reminds me... I need to do another knitting post soon!

So, first some pics from England, which I never managed to do before, due to slow connections and lack of time... Unfortunately, my camera was on the fritz for most of the trip. The exposure was all messed up, and I don't think it had to do with my skills as a photographer. Just about every outdoor picture was over-exposed. Need to get that fixed! Anyway, enjoy the pictures. :)

My first act upon starting our 4-day, 35-mile walk was to put Keith and Rebecca in the stocks... just kidding. We walked through the Peaks District National Park, through farmland and wilderness areas, and made stops in the towns of Tideswell, Eyam, Bakewell, and Monyash.

We saw lots of sheep. The sheep themselves were fine, but certain parties who had never had the pleasure of cleaning up after horses disliked all the poo. I, on the other hand, really didn't care.

We also saw lots of heather.

On day 2, we walked along a ridge (Froggatt Edge) with some spectacular views.

We visited Chatsworth House, where Elizabeth Bennett went on her summer vacation.

Day 3 of the walk was very wet. The next morning, our clothes still weren't dry!

We did, however, stop for crumpets and tea, which made everyone feel better.

Some cows decided to follow us on day 4. They were curious, we think. This did not please Rebecca.

Every morning, we had a lovely English breakfast! Keith and Rebecca, the non-eaters of breakfast, discovered that a hearty breakfast really does get you going in the morning. They are now reformed in the ways of breakfast eating.

Back to where we left off last time... In Trier, Germany we visited Roman baths, gate, basilica, and amphitheater! There were fun tunnels in the baths.

This is the Roman Amphitheater. The evening before, when we first tried to visit it, it was full of goths attending a concert. Keith expressed his interest in attending said concert wearing a green and white striped shirt with Tigger on it.

Keith with a beer. This picture is for Joseph. (Oh no, don't show Mom! Rebecca has one too!)

We visited the Mosel River valley, where vineyard after vineyard of Riesling grapes are grown to make wine! We picked up a couple more boxes. They grow grapes in some of the craziest places!

We had dinner in Cochem. It was very pretty there.

In Köln (Cologne), we visited the cathedral (the tallest in the world) and the German-Roman museum, which contained Roman artifacts from the area. In the cathedral, we climbed up into the tower, stopping to visit the belfry, where the world's largest swinging bell is! (It's supposed to be in the background of the picture below.)

Also in Köln, we visited a bakery selling "Berliner," a type of jelly-doughnut. JFK made them famous (at least to German students) by calling himself one in his speech in Berlin: "Ich bin ein Berliner!" He should have said "Ich bin Berliner," thus calling himself a citizen of Berlin rather than a jelly-doughnut. The indefinite article makes all the difference. Incidentally, I taught Keith to conjugate the verb "to be" in German using this phrase. But I digress...

We visited Familie Kabelitz in Wernigerode and Kassel! We met Fabi (René and Helge's baby) and Dominic, Franziska's boyfriend. It was great to see the rest of the family too, as we had not seen them in several years! We also played a special German game a couple of times. Perhaps some of you have heard of it? It's called "Die Siedler von Catan." :)

So, the impetus for the whole trip: Rene and Helge got married! We had a lot of fun all weekend long, since many of the family and friends spent the whole weekend in a castle together celebrating. The ceremony was at the Rathaus (town hall) in a nearby town; in the picture below, they are arriving at the Rathaus. Fabi is in the carriage. Following the ceremony was a happy (noisy) caravan back to the castle, then lots of food and various "tasks" for the bride and groom to complete...

In this task, René tried to pop coin-filled balloons, while Helge caught the coins with a bucket. Other stuff happened too, but I don't have too many pictures, since I was busy eating and talking to people. There was a lovely buffet and a roast pig! Wow! So delicious! (So, if you are reading this, René and Helge, congratulations again! We were so happy to see you, and we had a great time!)