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
· 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
· Morale:10 – Happy kids, good company, good food, good experiences
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!
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
Until week 2…Love from the Kramer Family!