Europe Trip Part 1 of 5
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Kramer 2019 Europe Trip

Week 1 0f 5


It’s 6:30 AM on Sunday morning and I am currently sitting up in bed looking out my window into the Austrian Alps. The past week and a half has been a whirlwind and taking some time to blog and recap everything has a great way of bringing stability back into my day. I thought that it would be fun to describe each day so far as kind of a journal and then have a few extra fun things included like a song of the day, current morale, weather details, etc. These extras may increase as the trip progresses so stay tuned! My hope is to have these posted each Sunday morning, although now it’s Tuesday Evening our time. Also, in case you weren’t aware, Candice has been posting great pictures on her Instagram account @twigsnfigs and we both have been recapping each day on Facebook


Friday, June 14th– After many months of waiting, we finally departed from Oregon down to California for a few days. Our flight to Europe would depart on Monday evening from San Francisco and so we spent the weekend in Northern California visiting friends and family. We visited my cousin Tawni and her husband Bradd and adorable little girl Rozzi (Sorry, sadly we got no pictures). Then we continued on to my other cousin’s house near Placerville where we stayed for a few nights.

 

·     Song of the day:Horizon (A New Day) by Toby Mac

·     Weather:Sunny

·     Morale:8 – We were excited for the trip to begin but a long drive to California is not the most exciting thing to do. Plus we felt a bit rushed in packing as I was up in Portland for a few days for work.


Saturday, June 15th– We woke up to some excited kids. My cousin Jacinda and her husband Brennan have 4 kids and homeschool just like us. Our kids love each other and it has been really cute prior to the trip receiving and sending cards between each other. Jacinda and Brennan made up a wonderful breakfast for us already weary travelers. Late in the morning we departed for the Gold Bug Mine in Placerville. Then we went to a fun orchard for lunch called Hooverville and got a delicious marionberry pie. The ladies and half the group of kids returned back home to rest while the guys and the other half of kids traveled out to Coloma. In 1848 gold was first found in the American river in Coloma which set off the massive gold rush of 1849. We concluded the day with a nice visit out at my Uncle Lance and Aunt Cindy’s house.

 

·     Song of the day:Saturday Sun by Vance Joy

·     Weather:Sunny

·     Morale:10 – Happy kids, good company, good food, good experiences

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Sunday, June 16th– On Father’s Day we took our time getting up and then attended church with my cousin’s family and my Aunt and Uncle. After church we spent the afternoon at Promontory Park’s water fountains where the kids played for several hours while the parents chatted. Afterwards we went to a nice restaurant and got ice cream. Since we were leaving the next morning, we made a stop at Target for a few more items. 

 

·     Song of the day:Love Without End, Amen By George Strait (great Father’s Day song)

·     Weather:Sunny and hot!

·     Morale:10

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Monday, June 17th– Our time with my cousin, her husband, and kids was now sadly over. The silver lining is that we are already planning to have them visit us in Oregon in October! They are always great hosts and a common topic of conversation is how much we wish we could live closer together. I also love every opportunity I get to visit with my Aunt and Uncle. They are such great people. Leaving their house we seemed to make a dozen stops along the way. Our flight wasn’t scheduled to depart until 8:40 that evening so there was really no rush at all. A funny story is that we crossed the Bay Bridge from Oakland into San Francisco and needed to pay a $7 toll. The toll booth accepted cash only and I had purposefully just deposited every last dollar into our bank account for the trip. I wasn’t sure what to do. The guy was insistent that I had to pay but I had no means at all to do so. Fortunately Bailey had brought her saved up money and had a bunch of coins. The poor San Franciscans behind us had to wait about 3 minutes but we finally dug up $7 in change. We were seriously down to our last few pennies and we pondered what we would have done if we couldn’t come up with the money. Anyways….. We then dropped off our car at long term parking, traveled to the airport, and waited quite some time. Our flight was delayed by 1.5 hours and then once we boarded we sat there for another 1.5 hours making us 3 hours behind schedule. That’s about par for the course at airports in my experience. Finally it was wheels up and we were Paris bound!

 

·     Song of the day:Lights By Journey (I always listen to it when crossing the SF Bay.)

·     Weather:Sunny and hot!

·     Morale:10


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Tuesday June 18th– We landed in Paris, grabbed our luggage, and then met the Le Troadec family who were our hosts for the next several days. They drove us back to their place to drop off luggage and then we toured the area including Chateau de la Madeleine and Berges de l’Yvette. We returned home where Delphine had prepared a lovely outdoor dinner for us. Then it was off to bed in preparation for our busy next day.

 

·     Song of the day:You and Me by Dave Matthews Band

·     Weather:Sunny with some clouds

·     Morale:10

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Wednesday June 19th– Fighting through the jetlag we left for Paris around noon. Our first stop was Sacre Couer Cathedral at Monmartre. We ate lunch here and then toured the inside. We also saw an area near here that is famous for all it’s painters. Riding the subway we then came to the Arc de Triomphe where we walked up 284 calf busting stairs to the top to get a great view of the roundabout where 12 main roads of Paris meet. This was also where I got my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower in the far distance. What a cool experience to see for the first time. The view here was great and soon we descended the stairs and continued to our next stop. After catching another Metro we arrived near the Eiffel Tower and walked over to the river boat tours. We boarded this and saw a lot of neat sights along the river. We had awesome seats on the back but the downside was that it was almost too great of a view and many Japanese tourists were soon crowding us and taking selfies in front of random stuff. It was slightly annoying but also slightly funny to watch so I guess it’s a wash in the end. We disembarked the boat, grabbed some ice cream and a crepe, and then began to walk the Champ de Mars. Some sinister looking clouds loomed in the distance and were quickly approaching. Before we knew it we were caught in a downpour with absolutely nowhere to take cover. A vendor sold us a cheap umbrella for 10 Euros which saved us from getting completely soaked. We made the best of it though and got some fun pictures after the rainstorm in front of the Eiffel Tower. Then it was on to Montparnasse Observation Tower for a sunset viewing of the city from the 57thfloor. What a view and also a great way to end our first day in Paris.

 

·     Song of the day:Les Champs Elysees by Joe Dassin

·     Weather:Cloudy with scattered showers

·     Morale:9 – We were tired a good part of the day and the rain put a little damper (no pun intended) on things but overall we had a lot of fun. 

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This Girl loves to pose for the camera

This Girl loves to pose for the camera

Once again she stands and poses. Side note, a day before we left Oregon she decided to cut her some bangs. I can push them to the side but often times she has stragglers. Thankfully it wasn’t more that she cut.

Once again she stands and poses. Side note, a day before we left Oregon she decided to cut her some bangs. I can push them to the side but often times she has stragglers. Thankfully it wasn’t more that she cut.

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Top of Arc de Triomphe

Top of Arc de Triomphe

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Notre Dame

Notre Dame

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If you look closely my cardigan is soaked (From the sudden down pour) along with my hair and pants and Dennis is soaked too. A moment we won’t forget.

If you look closely my cardigan is soaked (From the sudden down pour) along with my hair and pants and Dennis is soaked too. A moment we won’t forget.


Thursday June 20th– Since we were out so late I didn’t get to sleep until 2AM but was able to sleep in until 10. It was then a quick rush to get ready in time for our noon scheduled time to visit the Catacombs. We arrived at 12:30 and bypassed the long queue because we had bought passes beforehand. The Catacombs were amazing and I would definitely recommend a visit. We then travelled toward the Louvre but we needed to eat something so we grabbed pizza. It was wonderful but set us behind schedule by an hour. But finally we made it to the Louvre. I had planned to spend 3 hours here but in reality we only stayed for 1.5 hours and focused our time exclusively in the antiquities section which is what I was more interested in than any other exhibit in the Louvre. One could spend weeks touring the Louvre and our time there was embarrassingly short. I want to go back one day and just take my time. The kids were especially tired so they didn’t care to press on to see much. Next we went to Saint Chapelle and took a rather short look inside. Normally those who visit Saint Chapelle would also visit the more iconic Notre Dame Cathedral but sadly due to the fire 2 months earlier there was no way we could even get very close to it. After Saint Chapelle we returned back to the Le Troadec home and enjoyed a great dinner and visit.

 

·     Song of the day:Raspberries, Strawberries by Kingston Trio

·     Weather:Cloudy but dry

·     Morale:8 – Having walked about 8 miles the day before, walking 6.5 more miles this day, and going off little sleep, we were tired and had a few cranky moments but the great thing about memories is that you don’t often remember how tired you were.

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It was hot and stuffy upstairs and the Louvre wasn’t as impressive to kids. One of these days hopefully they will realize where they were at and will want to go back and spend a full day here.

It was hot and stuffy upstairs and the Louvre wasn’t as impressive to kids. One of these days hopefully they will realize where they were at and will want to go back and spend a full day here.

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Friday June 21st-  Our last day in Paris was pretty low key. We “only” walked 3.5 miles this day as we visited Versaille. The most pathetic moment was when we all got ice cream and I turned around and saw that Brooklyn’s ice cream scoop had fallen off her cone. The nice ice cream vendor replaced the scoop at no charge so I gave him a good tip in his tip jar. We had another nice meal with the family and then began to prepare for our early departure the next day. 

 

 

·     Song of the day:Belle by Jack Johnson

·     Weather:Sunny with the kind of clouds you stare up at and find shapes

·     Morale:9 – We were all still quite tired but a shorter walk made things considerably easier.

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Le Troadec Family and us on our last night

Le Troadec Family and us on our last night


Saturday June 22 – We said goodbye to our wonderful hosts and then began our trip Eastward toward Munich. We took a train that traveled at one point 185 miles per hour. This day was something I had been fretting over for months. I knew there were a lot of connections to make in order to get to our rental at a reasonable hour. We also had a lot of luggage to haul around. I was excited that we got to every single destination at our ahead of schedule. We met up with Candice’s parents, Mike and Dee at the Munich airport. I remember thinking before this trip that there would be at one point a highlight of the trip and also a lowlight. I dread thinking about the lowlights. However, yesterday set that standard when we picked up the rental van. The van that we are renting for 3 week ended up being about twice the cost than what I had expected. This was a major punch in the gut for me. We had no other option because it was getting late and no other arrangements could be made. The memory is fresh in my mind as I type this and it sickens me that I had researched every other detail about this trip but overlooked the additional costs of renting the van. That lowlight was quickly remedied at least partly by a beautiful jaunt down into the Austrian Alps where we will be for the next few days before we go into Croatia and Bosnia.

 

·     Song of the day:99 Luftballons by Nena – Once we finally got the Bluetooth going on the rental car this was the first song I played as we cruised down the Autobahn

·     Weather:Cloudy with occasional downpours

·     Morale:7 – When I planned this trip, the thought of taking trains over the European landscape sounded very appealing. But we were tired and so much time spent up in trains and then later a car was tough. Also, see my above comments regarding the rental van. Ugh!

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First views of the Austrian Alps

First views of the Austrian Alps

Brooklyn and Dennis ordered tea and it came with the cutest timer.

Brooklyn and Dennis ordered tea and it came with the cutest timer.

View from our home for 4 days

View from our home for 4 days

Until week 2…Love from the Kramer Family!

Candice Kramer
Europe 2019
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Ten years ago Candice and I made the momentous decision that we would homeschool our kids. Over these first 10 years we have read many books and had many conversations about education. There are of course questions about whatour kids should learn and howthey should learn. But I've come to realize that the most important consideration is why they should learn. It is possible to teach a child all the right things and accomplish it through the most effective method and yet fail at educating them. This is because a child must learn to own their education, and to become a lifelong learner, by acquiring a desire to learn.


My first air travel occurred when I was 16. I flew from San Francisco to Brussels by myself to visit my brother for 2 weeks. During this trip I was able to see 7 countries. This experience opened my eyes to many important life lessons that you can't simply understand through a textbook. I realized how big the world is. I realized the small significance of my own little world back home. I realized how little I knew about the rest of the world and all that had happened before me. For the first time I saw an important correlation between my education and my own personal satisfaction in life. 

I’ll be returning to the Grand Place in Brussels 20 years after my first trip in 1999.

I’ll be returning to the Grand Place in Brussels 20 years after my first trip in 1999.


Upon returning home my whole outlook on life was different. I thought about things differently and eagerly desired to know more about the world around me. I found that I took the initiative to learn new things without someone else telling me what to learn or when to learn it. I was excited to learn and that has forever had an impact on how I live my life. 

Candice and I want that for our kids. We took Brooklyn to Israel and Bosnia in 2017 and she has become quite the bookworm ever since. She has Bosnian phrases taped up all around the house and she is itching to get back once more. Even a smaller trip to California last September prompted great discussions about the new surroundings our kids were being exposed to. 

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Last Spring Candice and I set our minds on getting our entire family of 7 to Europe. Since then we have spent many hours of planning this trip and counting the costs and how we would pay for the very expensive trip. One afternoon last Summer Candice and I walked into a used bookstore and our eye caught hold of a book on display called "Take Your Kids to Europe". We promptly purchased the book and I began reading through it. This book, written by a mother who travelled with her husband and kids to Europe for several months, gave me many additional reasons for taking our kids to Europe. There are certain life lessons that cannot be learned well without experiencing a trip like this. The author, Cynthia Harriman, includes the following:

1) Europe is the seat of Western culture. To understand where American society has come from, you must study European culture and history.

2) Europe is a living museum of history. What better way is there to learn, for example, about the French Revolution than to stand in Concorde Place in Paris.

3) Family culture is enriched. A trip like this with shared experiences draws a family together. Various experiences, inside jokes, and the many moments that will be remembered by our family for years to come.

4) You will get to know your family members very well. I know that our time with our 5 kids living with us is brief. I look forward to the 6 hour train rides with no electronics, and just having good deep discussions about anything and everything. Connecting to our kids mentally and spiritually is something Candice and I greatly desire.

5) Coping skills are developed. I am sure on a trip like this our kids will miss their friends, "normal food", and a slower pace. But sometime in life things get busy and this will be a testing ground and opportunity to learn new life skills in how to cope in sometimes uncomfortable circumstances.

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Finally, one thing we greatly look forward to on our trip to Europe is to connect with some friends In France and in Bosnia and to make new friends along the way. 

Going to Europe is an excellent educational experience but very expensive. We are not a super wealthy family and many sacrifices had to be made to afford a trip like this. I hope that by sharing our experiences with you that you can see the value of traveling, even if it is just one state over, or even to the local museum. Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. Those who learn from the past are destined to improve upon it.

In the coming days and weeks we will be sharing with you where we plan to go and what we will be doing. Then as the trip begins we will be sending you updates here on this blog and on our instagram accounts: 

 

Candice: twigsnfigs 

Dennis:dkitm