Apr 21, 2010

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Recapping the weeks highlights

Monday, April 12th, 5 pm: Arrived in Italy to beautiful sunshine and incredible scenery. Checked into the country house (amazing views) and devoured a Tuscan styled steak.

Monday, April 12th, 10 pm: Rob rolled the rental car down a 200 foot cliff while Elizabeth watched and screamed as the car continued to crunch. How this event even happened is a story that needs in person explanation and would take way too long to write in this blog.

Tuesday, April 13th, 1 pm: Driving in the new rental car back on vacation. Crazy. Spent the day in the town of Fano trying to figure out the culture and how it works. Aka, trying to find an open restaurant because Italians shut it down between 1 pm - 3 pm every day.

Wednesday, April 14th, 12:30 pm: Headed south to the Frasassi Caves, a place that makes you realize how great God is. Not to mention we were lucky enough to have a personal guide who took us through the caves. This guy was a classic who loved to repeat himself four million times and used the word "admire" more times than Randy Jackson says "Yo Dog." For some reason he loved poodles. Lastly, we spent the rest of the day in Urbino, a very cool Roman stronghold sitting atop a collection of hills.

Thursday, April 15th, 2 pm: Travelling through the mountains trying to cross into Tuscany, we were blockaded half way through our trip on the only major road going east to west between our destination and departure points. In order to save time and not have to track all the way back and around, Rob decided to take a small, one lane, dirt road up the side of the mountain while Elizabeth sat white knuckled on the brink of tears. Let's just say it made for an awkward and eerily silent drive.

Friday, April 16th, 9 am: Woke up in midst of the beautiful Tuscan hills of Chianti. Highly suggest a stay in this place whenever visiting Tuscany. The food was incredible; just ask anybody who looks at our stomachs. After spending hours trying to find and figure out parking, we arrived in Siena. Another Roman city known for its wealth throughout the ages. Although, somebody decided it would be a grand idea to drop a tourist bomb on this place because it was crazy. Besides that, it was beautiful.

Friday, April 16th, 10 pm: Finally turned on a TV just to check the news. Supposedly some volcano erupted and was causing problems. Like morons....We didn't think too much of it and prepared for our bike trip.

Saturday, April 17th, 11 am: We are looking sweet in our alien helmets riding bikes through the olive groves and grape vineyards on a beautiful Tuscan afternoon. Enjoyed a tour through a Chianti vineyard, wine and oil producer. Ended the trip with a well deserved gelato for a euro (that is not a typo). For those who have been in and around major Italian cities, you know that most gelatos run you close to five Euros. They say in Italy "The Italians have eyes like a fox." We guess so.

Saturday, April 17th, 10 pm: Started to realize this volcano was not messing around when we looked at Ryanair's website to see that they cancelled all flights until Wednesday.

Sunday, April 18th, 1 pm: Arrived at Florence central station to begin our quest back to Germany. The line did not seem too long.

Sunday, April 18th, 2 pm: Still waiting in line.

Sunday, April 18th, 3 pm: Still waiting in line, with a slice of pizza.

Sunday, April 18th, 4 pm: Still waiting in line, Elizabeth left for the bathroom for the fourth time (costs us more than the slice of pizza). Rob's lower back is done.

Sunday, April 18th, 4:30 pm: Received our travel plans via train back to Germany. Starting in Florence and ending in Dusseldorf with an overnight stop in Zurich.

Monday, April 19th, 12 pm: Went to Florence airport to return the rental car. Elizabeth was singing for joy upon the relinquishment of our automobile and Rob was crying looking at the bill (refer to Monday car accident).

Monday, April 19th, 3 pm: Spent the day trying to kill time before our train leaves at 5 pm. We had trouble enjoying lunch because of the teenage Italians basically having sex in the park outside the train station.

Monday, April 19th, 12 am: Arrived in Zurich after sitting on a train with no air conditioning, yikes! Walked to the cheapest hotel we could find and were greeted by a ninety year old man smaller than Elizabeth. According to the man, he had one room left and the other hotels within walking distance were sold out. Rob wanted to go see for himself to price shop but Elizabeth was not so keen. The old man demonstrated his wily salesman skills one more time by telling us that another couple called earlier and wanted him to save the room. However, he told us since we were there first, we could take it. Elizabeth was sold. In her defense, it was late, we were exhausted, and we did not want to risk sleeping in the train station.

Tuesday, April 20th, 10 am: We assume our flight to Chicago will be cancelled watching the reports on CNN before we catch our train. (Remember this later)

Tuesday, April 20th, 6 pm: Finally, our feet touched German soil. Who would have thought those words would ever touch our lips. After picking up our car from the airport, we go to a friend’s house to check the internet on the status of our flight back to Chicago. We soon realized we should have called Lufthansa earlier in the morning because our flight did indeed take off for the motherland. We could've been home right now.

Tuesday, April 20th, 10 pm: After talking to a representative via Skype, we were fortunate to get our flight changed without much damage to the bank account, but we will have to wait another week.

Wednesday, April 21st, 7:02 pm: We are done writing this blog.

Apr 5, 2010

Still Here in Good Old Germany

Sorry for our lack of posting...and very sorry for the previous post, it was neither funny nor entertaining. I am inadequate with words when Rob is not writing with me. And this post will also be sans Rob, while he's busy stretching, I thought I would take another stab at it.

We are still in Germany for another week because Rob is continuing to rehab his knee from his injury in early March. His team did not make playoffs and the last regular season game was March 21st. After this week, we are headed to Italy from April 12th - 19th. We will be staying in the Le Marche region for three days and then we head to the Tuscan region for four days. We are renting a car, so please say a lot of prayers for us (we hear the Italians are crazy drivers), and plan to drive through the countryside of Italy. We are staying at farmhouses where they raise their own livestock and make their own wines and olive oils. We can't wait to eat the food and experience the culture and lifestyle of the Italians.

Our plan is to fly back from Italy to Germany on April 19th and then head to Chicago the following day. We are still waiting for confirmation on our flight, but most likely, we are headed home on April 20th. We are looking forward to seeing everyone and are sincerely sorry for our weak effort with the blog this year. We promised to be better last year and we were not! When we get back we will post pictures from Italy as well as write a blog about the trip.

Mar 15, 2010

Wait for it, Wait for it...

We know y'all have been waiting for a post from us...so here it goes...

1. Rob's team, The Krefeld Penguins, have three regular season games left with the last one being played on Sunday, March 21st.
2. The team is in the playoff hunt, and in order to make the playoffs they have to place 10th or higher. Right now they are in 11th in a close race behind the 10th place team.
3. If they place 10th or higher, they will be playing a one-game play-in aganist team 7 or 8 depending on if they place 9th or 10th by the end of the season.
4. If they win the play-in game, then they make playoffs.
5. If they do not place 10th or higher, then the season is over March 21st.
6. Rob is currently injured(partial tear of the MCL) and will most likely be out the rest of the season, however, if the team makes playoffs, he will be back and ready to play.
7. When the season is over, we plan to travel to Italy. We are planning to visit Venice, and parts of Tuscany (Chianti, Florence, Siena, Pisa, etc).
8. Depending on if Rob's team makes playoffs, we could be home early to mid-April.
9. Our Hamburg pictures are up and ready to be viewed(sorry there is no blog to accompany said pictures).

Dec 4, 2009

The Highlands(part two)

We have been slacking. We know it has been a long time since we promised our second posting from our trip to Scotland, and for the record, we are sorry. But, do you know what its like to live in Germany and have so many errands to run.....didn't think so. Anyway, the second half of the trip is pretty much the coolest. It was our adventures in the "Highlands" of Scotland.

When people think of Scotland, the highlands are usually the first mental picture of what Scotland is like. Well, maybe after Braveheart and William Wallace. FREEDOOOOOMMMMM!!!! It truly is a beautiful country full of amazing history, rolling hills, and some of God's greatest handiwork. The land is so untouched by human contact that its almost as if you are entering into another world. Elizabeth loved breathing while we were there. I think she added 10 years to her life because of the air quality.

For our trip to the Highlands, we did something we normally tend not to do. We booked a tour guide to take us on a two day journey of the highlights in the Highlands. At the time of booking, we were both unsure of whether or not this would be a prudent decision, but shortly into our trip, we realized this was a surprisingly pleasant way to experience all the Highlands had to offer. We usually try to do things on our own, but having a guide take us directly to the hot spots and explain everything about these said hotpots is very convenient. Also, we got to listen to some sweet Scottish bagpipe music while looking at the scenery and meet some interesting people. Onto the Trip....

The Places

Loch Ness -- The deepest Loch (Lake) in all of Scotland. It is a very long narrow lake that "reportedly" is home to the famous Nessie. Rob did not see anything, but after a few starbucks, Elizabeth spotted her and some monster babies. SO, we are still undecided about whether or not the monster is real. Google claims to have spotted some kind of large shadow while capturing images for Google Earth. There is even a man who has sold everything and lives in a tiny old trailer hoping to capture a glimpse of the "real deal." Regardless of a monster or not, the area is drop dead gorgeous....like Elizabeth.
Inverness -- The capital of the Highlands and are place of lodging during our trip. This is a small city compared to U.S. standards, but it remains the central hub of life in the northern part of Scotland. They actually have grocery stores, a university, and shops which are hard to find anywhere else in the Highlands.
Glen Affric -- Our favorite part of the trip. The ride into this valley alone was worth the trip. We took a small hike and saw some absolutely beautiful stuff. Trees, waterfalls, the sun, hills all around, the trip was one of those...."you have to be there to understand what we are talking about." Rob tried and failed to capture some of the surroundings. We implore you to put this on the itinerary when visiting Scotland.
Urquhart Castle -- On the shores of Loch Ness, the castle is actually just a pile of ruins. However, it is what surrounds this pile that makes all the difference. Of the numerous castles throughout the country, many people claim this is one of the best. We wholeheartedly agree, even though we didn't see that many castles. Plus, we got to see some "fireworks" during our visit, but more on this later

The people

Richard -- Our one and only tour guide. A native of the Highlands he was a wealth of knowledge, not to mention the awesome accent which added to the aura of our trip. The entire trip he was decked out in his traditional family kilt, hiking boots, and knee high wool socks. If you were wondering, they typically do not wear anything under the kilt, so don't ask. He claims this is where the term "going commando" comes from. He was always smoking which is pretty common in the United Kingdom and he seemed to end up in a lot of our pics. A man has to keep his business running with some free marketing.
The Hong Kong Crew -- These guys were awesome. They barely knew english and passed out everytime our van started moving. They paid a lot of money to catch up on some sleep. We would be shocked if they did not have any neck problems because their heads were all over the place with every twist and turn in the road (which there were plenty). Trust us, our seats right behind them allowed for maximum viewing pleasure.

Something Random

The Engagement -- While at Urquhart Castle, love was in the air and fireworks were in the hearts of two young Scottish lovers. We were stationed on the highest point in the castle enjoying the views when the unexpected occurred. Rob took the opportunity to redo his lackluster proposal......just kidding. Seriously though, a larger younger man in a fit of sweat literally fell onto one knee. At first, we thought for sure this dude was having a heart attack or some other major problem judging by all the factors. However, after a few moments we realized that he was just nervously preparing for the rest of his life. We did not really hear all that he said to his girlfriend, but we could see the box and the look on her face, so we concluded this was a proposal. Naturally, I tried to get some camera shots and Elizabeth thought we were watching one of her romantic comedies, but this was real. We don't know if its a good sign or a bad sign, but the bride to be called her man a "sausage" before saying "of course I will marry you." Maybe its a Scottish thing, we don't know. But it was definitely a high point for us on that day and something we still laugh about even now. Rob should have been taking notes instead of pictures.....

That is but a small taste of the many things we did in our two days into this land. We wish we had more time and would suggest to anyone going to this part of Scotland to spend more time because there is so much we did not get to see. Until next time....