Friday, May 27, 2011

Back to Germany: Vacation Day Six

After our trip to Amsterdam and the long bus ride home, we were exhausted. And my poor son-in-law had to return to work, even though Monday was an official German holiday. The Easter holiday in Germany runs from Good Friday through Monday. So, most every business in Germany was closed. And we were all tired, so we hung out at my daughter's house in Amsterdam.

My daughter lives in Eschenbach and it's a beautiful town. We visited once before in August 2008. So when lunch time rolled around, my husband and I offered to walk up down to buy lunch.
There's a Turkish Imbiss (fast food stand) on the other side of town that doesn't close for German  holidays.

So, we started off on our journey hoping we wouldn't get lost.

We walked through my daughter's neighborhood, and crossed the bridge. Our youngest daughter was able to go with us when we visited Germany in 2008 and we had taken a picture of her on the bridge crossing the creek when we were there before. It made me miss her and wish she'd been able to come with us this trip.

We saw the tunnel running under the street and new we were still on the right path.

After passing through the tunnel, it was uphill all the way, but such a beautiful walk.

Eschenbach, like so many German towns is a mixture of new and old, with some buildings dating back to medieval times.

In town, the streets were practically deserted. Which was a far cry from the last time we visited. In August 2008, Eschenbach was celebrating it's 650th anniversary and the streets were filled with street vendors and historical displays. But on this Easter Monday, all was quiet.
Even the Polizei (police) seemed board.

 But as we walked, we took in the scenery, wondering if the people of Eschenbach marvelled at the beauty of their town as we were doing. Or, did they take it for granted because they saw it every day?

We finally reached the top of the hill and crossed the street to the Imbiss.
And with the help of my daughter's notes, we were even able to order our food in German. Which greatly relieved the Turks who own the Babylon grill as they did not speak English. And the food there is amazing.
My husband and I ordered the doners: grilled lamb, goat cheese, a yogurt and cucumber dressing called tzatziki, on grilled flat bread. My daughter had the schnitzel with potato salad. Schnitzel is is a batter fried pork chop and if you've never had German potato salad, I highly recommend it. Yum!
We then place our food boxes in the cloth sack my daughter provided and started back toward my daughter's house on the other side of town. The walk home was just as enjoyable, even toting the food sacks.

After lunch, we visited with my daughter and played with her dogs. When my son-in-law got home, we played ladders in the yard and then my daughter fixed a fabulous supper. That night, we sipped wine (the men drank German beer) and we watched a movie. Season of the Witch starring Nicolas Cage. The movie was nothing like what I expected from having seen the previews. It was a good movie with a surprising twist. If you haven't seen it and you like the paranormal, I recommend it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Destination: Holland

Over Easter, my husband and I travelled to Germany to visit my daughter and her soldier husband. Previous blogs recap days one through three of our trip.
Day one we visited Nuremberg. Day two we went to Beyreuth. Day three was our misadventures in Pilsen Czech and our wonderful mountain hike. Then after the hike, we drove onto post and boarded a bus to Holland. It was a long, uncomfortable bus ride, but there were some interesting sites along the way.

Like this windmill at a rest area on the autobaun.

Our first stop in Holland was the tulip festival in Keukenhof.
We toured the festival with my daughter, her husband and some wonderful firiends of theirs. (Military people are incredibly friendly!)
The flowers were amazing.
And there was a beautiful mosaic of flowers.
From Keukenhof, the bus carried us to Amsterdam where we all piled onto a canal boat and toured the city by water.
Amsterdam is a city of canals, rivers, bridges, dikes, and levees...

It is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands. Settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the 16h and 17th centuries.
The river Amstel terminates in the city center and connects to hundreds of canals.  Amsterdam is connected to the North Sea through the long North Sea Canal and is a popular cruise ship destination.

 Beauitful buildings and architecture dating back to the 12th century surround the city. And because land is at a premium in Amsterdam, homes are built upward, with gabled roofs and pullies used to hoist furniture in and out of the buildings.
There are no doublewides in Amsterdam. No trailers or trailer parks. But there are houseboats that look like doublewides. These houseboats line the city canals on either side, one on top of the other. But unlike doublewides and trailerparks, it costs hudreds of thousands of dollars a year to live in a houseboat in Amsterdam.
After the canal tour, we headed to our hotel for a much needed nap. The views from the hotel were amazing.

Of course, there were rules we had to follow at the hotel. But it wasn't a problem. :-)  
After we rested, a group of us took a series of city trams across town where we ate at an Argentinan Steak House.                                            

 I loved Amsterdam. My favorite part of the trip was Amsterdam at night. It was a warm evening with a gentle breeze blowing over the canal. The streets were crowded and the city came alive.
There was music and food, and so very much to see. 

Amsterdam at night is truly amazing.

I didn't want the night to end. Walking with my husband along those streets was romantic. And spending time with my daughter, her husband, and their friends made me feel young and carefree.

Life is good.

And Sunday morning, was Easter.

After a scrumptious buffett breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and boarded the bus again for a tour of a shoe factory and cheese farm. There was a cheese and wine tasting at the farm, and honestly, Holland has the best cheese I've ever eaten.
After the tours, we drove back to the city and spent the afternoon in Amsterdam. We had lunch in a New York style outdoor cafe.

And we spent the afternoon walking through the city.

There was even a street fair outside the Royal Palace.

We even walked through the famous redlight district. Of course, it was Easter morning so the red lights were turned off, but you can see the light under the massage parlor sign. And we saw a lot of other oddities on that side of town.

Amsterdam is a unique and wonderful city.

I loved it.