Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Our European whirlwind

Doug and I went off for 10 days to the Netherlands, Germany and Austria and just got back yesterday. It was a whirlwind trip of visiting people, driving through the 3 countries, and doing touristy things. But we had a great time.
The first place we visited was Amsterdam, we walked the city and went to the Anne Frank house.
Our first hotel had chocolate croissants, mmmmm
I celebrated my first "mother's" day while on vacation and Doug had gotten me these cards. He calls me a mother, but I really don't feel like one yet.
It was really thoughtful and sweet.
We visited Keukenhof which is a large area they grow tulips.
On our way to Germany we went on a search for the city in the Netherlands that Doug's last name is from. And we finally found it! So that was cool.
The next place was Wurselen, Germany to visit my old host-parents from my exchange student days. They hung this American flag in the window to welcome us, awwww
After 18 years I was worried they could be old and possibly sick or something, but no they were still in great shape and looked liked they hadn't even aged.
They took us around Aachen to show Doug the city
We climbed this tall tower, and at the top you can see Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium
Our next stop was Hamburg, Germany where we met up with Doug's friend Tracy (living in Germany for several months for her husband's job) and then my old host-brother Malte who lived with my family in the US
The next day was the longest driving stretch down to Reutlingen, Germany where my host-sister Yvonne lives with her husband Martin. I loved having her for my big-sister when I was an exchange student, it was really nice to catch up even though it was just over dinner.
Our last German stop was Munchen. It was a dreary rainy day and we ate pretzels and explored the Englisher Gartens and saw the Glockenspiel, but not our favorite city.
Our next destination was Salzburg, Austria. We toured Salzburg on the way past the city to our hotel in the Alps. We walked around the city, saw the real Villa Trapp where the Sound of Music Von Trapp family lived and then went to our hotel.
The next day we went to Eisreisenwelt which is the biggest ice cave in the world. It was a lot of walking and stairs in a freezing ice cave but it was really cool. No pictures allowed, so here's an internet download. This was Doug's top thing from our trip.
and my pics
The second half of the day we went to Hallstatt, Austria to see the oldest salt mine
This tour was super commercialized and we didn't like it as much, but the sun came out as we were done with the tour so that was nice. Pretty city
Our last day in Austria we went to Castle Hohlenwerfen, which disappointingly turned out to be a castle that was mostly used as a jail. But one really cool thing was they had this falcon demonstration where they would send the birds out and they'd all fly back. The bigger birds sometimes took their sweet time returning. We were laughing because they had an American bald eagle and it fly right off and was gone like 10 minutes. I'm an American, I do what I want!
In the afternoon we headed down to Grossglockner High Alpine Road which is the highest surfaced mountain pass in Austria and was supposed to be really beautiful. We knew it was a last ditch effort since it was had been raining and was supposed to be possibly sunny, but also possibly rain. We had to pay a toll of 35 euros and pretty soon into our drive all we could see was snow.
Luckily at some point we turned a bend and the sun was out and it was gorgeous
can't really tell, but I'm pointing to Grossglockner mountain
They next morning we got up early and flew out. 3 movies and one nap later we landed, one long hour in customs where I randomly recognized our customs agent and small talked our way back into the US (not that there was any concern), and my parents picked us up and we are back home!

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