Sunday, July 31, 2011

Belgium, Germany, Austria, and a hint of Italy

Saturday, June 11 (day 5)
We had a full English breakfast and then met the Cosmo tours and got on a bus to Dover. We saw the white cliffs of Dover, then boarded the ferry and crossed the English Channel to the mainland. I took some Dramamine since I got sick once on a short cruise to Ensenada, Mexico. I was so tired I could hardly keep my eyes opened, and dozed off and on. We had our last scone, jam and clotted cream with some hot chocolate and a sausage roll. Once we arrived in Belgium we checked into our hotel, washed some clothes, then off on the bus to tour Brussels. We went to an arch celebrating an anniversary of the monarchy and by the royal palace and the American embassy before going to the city square. We saw the guild halls and the famous statue of the little boy peeing on the street corner. We saw the museum that houses all his clothes too. We had some Fantastic lemon drink at the ale house. Then bought some Belgian Liege Waffles with strawberries and Belgian chocolate. We went to two different chocolate shops and bought two chocolates at each place. We got some Belgian fries with Andolaise sauce--mayonnaise, ketchup and peppers. We then walked around the square and each got a Belgian waffle, mine had cream, hazelnut and Belgian chocolate. I couldn't finish it though because it was SO rich and sweet. Then headed back on our touring bus passing by a couple cathedrals on our way to the hotel.

White cliffs of DoverThe English ChannelBelgian royal palaceFamous statue in Belgium, Manneken PisBelgian waffles - not like the typical waffles we have for breakfast, they are a dessert, much more sweet and dense.Belgian fritesSunday, June 12 (day 6)

We had breakfast at our hotel. Great pain au chocolate. Then it was off for another day of touring. We drove through Brussels past some of the same things we saw the night before. Then on to the autobahn known for it's lack of speed limit, although there are some areas which do (about 47%). The fastest speed I saw was 130 kilometers per hour (81 mph). Here and there you could see beautiful vistas. We crossed into Germany, had our first paying bathroom break, then stopped for lunch and shared a bratwurst with mustard and a roll. When we got back on the bus we ate our Nehaus hazelnut chocolate we brought the night before in Brussels. Now on to Boppard for the Rhine cruise. We wandered around Boppard for a few minutes before boarding the boat, and I bought a Christmas ornament and a small toy for Courtney. We boarded the boat for a wonderful cruise. The weather was perfect too. We saw quaint villages, beautiful castles and vineyards lining the hills. After the cruise we got back on the bus for our trip to the Ulm area. Next a bathroom stop in Germany, the second where we had to pay. This time there was a machine and it was €.70 per person. The toilet seat had an automatic cleaner where the seat turned and molded around under a cleaner. Some of us couldn't figure out how to flush it and accidentally pushed the self-cleaning button first. We got to our hotel and had dinner across the street, then walked into the town center of Gunzburg. We left our hotel window open to air out since it smelled of smoke, but came back to a bug filled room.

Bratwurst lunchCruise shipBeautiful scenery along the Rhine RiverMonday, June 13 (day 7)
After breakfast it was a drive through Bavaria, the largest area of Germany. There was a lot of riding on the coach since we are seeing a large area in a short amount of time. The Tyrol area was beautiful with aqua colored water, trees, mountains and lots of wood sheds all over and neat stacks of wood everywhere-most with tarps over. We saw the beautiful alps on our way to Innsbruck, Austria. After arriving in Innsbruck we saw the building with The Golden Roof-the most important symbol of the city. The tour took us to the Swarovski store where my mom and I both bought a pair of crystal earrings. We walked back toward the place with the Golden Roof and each got a linen, lace edged table runner made in Austria. Musicians were playing from the balcony when we walked back. We asked a couple shop clerks for good quick places to eat and they kept telling us McDonald's (rudely)--like all Americans want and like to eat there. We stumbled upon a small supermarket where we got a delicious sandwich with cucumbers to share. We also got a salad which was labeled a Waldorf Salad but was more like a mayonnaise rich Cole slaw with some pineapple which I thought was ghastly. We also got a package of Kinder cookies which were layers of chocolate, hazelnut and ice cream wafers. We sat on a window ledge and shared it, then we bought a warm apple strudel. We walked back to the bus seeing the river that ran through the city. We then drove through beautiful mountain scenery, crossing into Italy. The Dolomite mountains was the location of a two year fighting period during World War I. The mountains were very rugged and high. We stopped in Cortina, an elite ski village where we walked to the church in the city center. Then it was down to the Po River Delta towards Venice. We crossed one of the highest bridges in the world, higher than the Eiffel Tower. The buildings changed drastically from Swiss style to Italian. We checked into our hotel, had a dinner of risotto and swordfish then took a bus to the boat to travel to St. Mark's Square. We enjoyed a lemon soda and ice cream and a wafer at the Florian Cafe in the Square which had a date of 1720 in it's salon inside. We were entertained with music while we sat there. We then made a quick trip to the Rialto Bridge, then back to the Square for a boat and bus ride back to the hotel.Innsbruck, AustriaYummy, warm apple strudelInnsbruck Golden Roof Dolomite mountainsCortinaSunset and vineyards on the way to VeniceVenice at nightRialto Bridge

Saturday, July 16, 2011


More Europe updates to come next week! But I thought I better catch up on other happenings.

Brady celebrated his 6th birthday while I was in Europe. Brock took the kids to costco and Brady choose pizza and some danish pastries (complete with a birthday candle on top later that day). Brock did a wonderful job making sure he did something special for Brady, since I wasn't able too. He even took pictures!
Then they had a birthday dinner at Red Robin's with Brock's family where he got a light saber, star wars lego set, and some clothes. We had a really small birthday celebration the 5th of July with Allison & Curt, Elaina, Lance & Issac, and my mom. Allison and Curt were here visiting and decided to spend 1 evening with each family and it was our turn. We had a delicious dinner, then he got a box of Lego's - something he really loves and some $ from grandma Venita! The cake I made him was a Lego's cake too! He thought it was pretty cool. It always takes forever to make the kids cakes. . .even if they don't look like it! Next was Lauren's birthday on July 12th. She turned 4 and had a fabulous party with her cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. My kids still haven't had a friends party yet. Maybe next year??? She choose a princess crown cake. It took a while to do too, but it turned out pretty well. I also made a delicious homemade carrot cake from a recipe Allison gave me, it was delicious! It always takes a lot of work, but the kids enjoy having everyone over. She got a barbie, and barbie stuff, and a barbie scooter and barbie helmet. . .notice the trend? She is WAY into barbies right now! She got some gum which she shared with all her cousins. Art supplies (which the kids have had a blast with the last few days), strawberry shortcake doll, clothes, books, and an adorable tutu AKA 'marry dress' as Lauren calls it that Becah made for her.