Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Yes, I feel like I am back at school.
I've come back to so many responsibilities and so much catching up that it just sucks. I miss the days when I could wash, dry and put away four loads of laundry in one day... For this reason only the German system of "no dryer" sucks. My work has exploded, with two unforeseen things requiring my attention on top of the three big projects I knew I would come back to.

On top of this we spontaneously volunteered to host a book club party with three days set up time. Even in the event planning world, three days is NEVER enough. Our house had already been neglected enough, and now we need to catch up AND super tidy. Unfortunately I think that my fellow book clubbers will simply be faced with some piles of crap which have up to this point been happy waiting for me to get to them... and I think they will remain that way!

Eh, the book club folks are "real" people and I don't expect them to leave in a huff if the receipts from the last trip are piled on my desk! They might giggle behind my back though...

But hey, Frank will be on hand to entertain the crowd. Yes, Sir Himself has been blogging and has an even bigger head now that people have told him that he is beautiful and that he should be have a blog of his own. We haven't let him on the computer again though, which I think is a good thing. I had tuna in my keyboard! Can you imagine how hard it is to get that smell out of a keyboard!?! And I must say that what he did to the mouse was uncalled for. He must have been chasing the laser again and knocked it off the desk unintentionally. Opposable thumbs comes in handy in these moments.

So maybe someone is interested in what we did/saw. If not, skip to the bottom from this point.

It was a road trip... one that took us to places I've only read about up until now:
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Spyer, Germany
Schönau, Germany
Regensburg, Germany
Metzingen, Germany
Strasbourg, France
Colmar, France
We went through several other towns and cities, but there wasn't enough time to get a real feel for those cities unfortunately.

Of course I have tons of photos... 5Gb in fact. But the time to edit and share them isn't in my immediate future I'm afraid. As I get them edited down and loaded to Flickr, I'll post some here.

My poor N is so sweet about my picture-taking addiction. We will be walking along just enjoying the scenery when the mood will strike me to take a picture. She rarely gets any kind of clue that I am going to stop walking and spend a minimum of 30 seconds with no forward motion. Thankfully we've slowly worked into a system and now she can almost feel when I drop behind her. She waits patiently for me, trying to find interest in something else as I take as many as 10 photos of the same thing with different angles and focus. N certainly gets patience points.

  • I really like Amsterdam, even though we only had time to thoroughly investigate the old town area. The Anne Frank Haus is worth a visit, if only to put a human face on the horror which is the Holocaust. The Van Gogh Museum was exactly what I expected... a year by year representation of his life by looking at how his art progressed. I was disappointed to find that his most famous/best pieces are privately held or in another museum, and are not to be found in the museum which has his name. The coffeeshops are fun and interesting. Seeing all walks of life investigating Marijuana in an open and legal environment was worth an occasional laugh. It was also the first time I legally treated period cramps with the green stuff... nice.
  • We stayed in Zaandam which is just outside of Amsterdam city proper, and were not overly thrilled with this area. However, it must be said that it was clean and orderly and there is obviously money in this formerly powerful river town. We spent a day at the Zaanse Schans which is much like poking into the past of the area. This is where we encountered our only stereotypical full-size windmills which I had expected to see.
  • K.D. Lang's show in Amsterdam was lovely... as expected. I'd forgotten that she only performs barefoot, so that was a giggle moment for me. I would never consider this. Funny thing... another musician with the last name (Jonny Lang) has this barefoot on stage thing too. The crowd was great, the venue was lovely, the music spectacular, and the voice... ah, the voice was heaven!
  • Metzingen was visited solely for the opportunity peruse the outlet stores. In advance of our approach I was wondering if there would be a need for the rental of a trailer to take away all of the items N. would find worth purchasing, but alas, she only found a few things which struck her fancy. We were able to put these into the back of the C-Max with ease and carry on our way.
  • Speyer was next, and the first of the "Dom Visits". N has suggested that I picked cities which had famous domes or cathedrals, but she forgets that she picked most of the cities. This little town has a nice, easy feel about it. We enjoyed our time even though we stayed in what can only be called the Beetlejuice hotel as it was decorated in every possible place with black and white lines... UGH, and me with an astigmatism of the eye... the walls moved the whole time. Yes, it was just like the movie... I expected BJ to come along at any moment, grab me like a puppet, and make me sing and dance to the Banana Boat Song.
  • Beyond a cool Dom, Speyer has a fantastic Technical Museum which occupied the better part of one whole day. Really I think I could have spent two days there, but N quickly grows weary of my waxing poetic about walking on the wing of a 747 while the plane is perched on a pedestal three stories high.
  • Colmar was my first ever foray into France other than a few stopovers at Charles de Gaulle. The area is beautiful, situated in a lovely wine valley with mountains on the western edge. This small city was the birthplace of Frédéric Bartholdi who was the sculptor of the original Statue of Liberty. To hold on to that bit of history (and to get the almighty tourist dollar) the city erected a 1/4 size replica of Lady Liberty in a roundabout situated right in the middle of a long stripmall area... Geeze. We saw the thing by mistake and decided to hop out and take a picture. Photographing this statue twice in one year on separate continents was just too good of a thing to miss. As we were getting ready to leave, a young couple with German car plates tooled up, ready to do the same thing.
  • Strasbourg France was built up very large in our imaginations. We had both heard so much about it that we were quite excited to finally get a peek at its UNESCO World Heritage city center. What we didn't count on is that the day we had picked to visit, the city would be FILLED with what can only be called a junk market. Every single one of these beautiful and historic streets were littered with junk stalls. People selling crappy T-shirts, sunglasses, döner kebap, more T-shirts, one or two fruit stands, more sunglasses, the latest kitchen gadget, more kebaps, overpriced drinks, you get my drift. The only area not congested with the trashy white tents was the area directly around the huge Cathedral. What a beautiful cathedral it is, too. We walked around it to get the full feel, but were turned off by the whole Trödel Markt feel of the place. We even ended up going back to the hotel in Colmar early, tired and disgusted.
  • One place that didn't leave us disappointed was the The château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg which sits above one of the highest peaks in the Alsace wine route region. First off, what a spectacular view of the hills and valley! Second off... what a fascinating and beautiful place. We probably took 200 pictures. Once again, when I find the time I'll post some.
  • Schönau was a quick situation. We had decided to try to investigate a bit of the Black Forest. Oh MY! This place will certainly be visited again. Now I know why both my Grandfather and my Father fell in love with the area. Unfortunately Mother Nature didn't want to share her Schwarzwald beauty easily. As we drove to our destination we felt happy each time we would begin to again climb a hill because the amount of rain falling simply made me think about flash flooding. When we finally got to Schönau we considered long and hard if we wanted to spend the next two days in the horrible rain storms predicted. Eventually the answer was no.
  • Which brings us to the final stop in this wild road trip. Regensburg. Kinda ironic that we were working to escape rain by basically going to a town that is translated as "Rain City". But happily it was not raining there, in fact we had splendid weather to check out it's stunning cathedral. OMG! How do these little towns manage to be so charming? Our stop was just a quick one, but I'm certain that we will be going back. Sorry Cliff, we got there on a Sunday night and headed out by 5 on Monday.
Oh well, there it is. Now I feel like I need to come up with the visual aids for my "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" speech in front of the class. I promise the pictures will be coming soon... Maybe I should have Frank edit them.

Been reading:


Jul said...

Sounds like a great trip! Makes me wish we had a car...

Goofball said...

hahaha tuna on the keyboard. Well good for Frank. I bet he had hoped you'd be travelling a bit longer.

Sounds like a fun trip!

cliff1976 said...

Sorry Cliff, we got there on a Sunday night and headed out by 5 on Monday.

Thanks; I feel better. I yelled out "Dammit they were in Regensburg!" when I saw the itinerary summary but quickly took it back when I saw how little time you had. Glad you liked "our" town. See ya next time...

CrackerLilo said...

Glad y'all had a great time and got back safely! Two of my cats sometimes leave "definitive statements" as to how they feel about our absence in places that aren't readily obvious, so I'd take tuna on the keyboard. :-)

Diane Mandy said...

YOu were in SPEYER?!?! That is soooo close to me! I wish I had known so we could have met.