Sunday, January 21, 2018

While the kids were snowboarding...

Ian and I spent time together. Because Garmisch is a lovely town.  Small, with roughly 10 huts in their Christmas Market, and art around every corner. It helped that it had snowed the day before we arrived and everything was gorgeous. While we meandered the little market, flurries added to the awesome wintry scene.

Lots of painted historic buildings.

The Garmisch Bären.

On one day we went to a café Krönner for brunch.  While the food was excellent, the service (for us at least, others went in and out), was molasses slow. It's a cute little spot to go on a date. 

Wednesday we headed to Dachau with Katherine.

There is no such thing as a good photo of a concentration camp. It was as sad and horrifying as you'd expect as Dachau was the blueprint for the system. Jonathon went to Sachsenhausen concentration camp when he took a class trip to Berlin last year. It's not something we ever want to revisit.

Sunday, January 14, 2018


We had the kids in snowboarding for 3 days while in Garmisch (Katherine went for 2).

Seems they spent a lot of time sitting in the snow.

Originally, upon their request, they were signed up for 2 days.  But after 2 days, they wanted more, so I guess it was a success. The great thing about the Edelweiss Lodge and the ski lodge/lessons they manage is that everything is available to rent.  We have a good assortment of items but as everyone knows all that stuff takes up a whole lot of space on a long-distance car ride. The lodge rents out what you need aside from gloves. It's pretty great.

And they've asked if we can go back again.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

And then Ian and Becca went to...

Because why not?
I wasn't there, but I did grab a lot of Becca's Snapchat photos. Apparently they really liked the Tour Eiffel.

And they spent a lot of time walking, visiting art museums, and eating food. One dinner stop they made was at Le Tournebievre, our favorite place the last time we were in Paris. There was one condition, and it totally broke Becca's transition to vegetarianism that day. She had to try an escargot.  She choked it down but will never need to eat another snail ever. But if  you ever have the opportunity, do so, have the escargot and don't pass on dessert, especially the profiteroles.  They are divine.

Near to Le Tournebievre is Shakespeare & Company. There are 2 doors. One takes you into a packed, tight, wonderful bookstore, where people have to sidle past each other to see the spines of modern thrillers and classic children's books, and hard to find copies. And I believe there's a cat lurking somewhere. Every bookstore should have a cat.  Through the other door is the room of First Editions, signed editions, and books that are no longer in print. Last time Ian purchased a James Bond novel.  This time he picked up a first edition of A Handmaid's Tale.  We've ruthlessly cut our book collection and moved largely to Kindle versions, but when a beautiful or remarkable book comes along, we simply can't resist.

Enough on that. Photo commentaries by Becca from her artsy snaps.

They tried to go to Notre Dame and the line was down the block, therefore...

Required photo.
Every time Ian goes through Paris he brings me back a box of macaron from Ladurée at the airport (this time was no exception, but instead it came from....), so of course they went to the original café on the Champs Elysees. 

The macaron is normal-sized.  Do not adjust your screen.
A quick trip.  It's Europe.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Becca came home right after Thanksgiving

Katherine wasn't due to get back until December 17, and when she did we hopped right in the car and made our way to Garmisch.  Becca has a very long winter break, in time for Thanksgiving actually (though the hurricane was messing with timing of everything again, just like last year), but this year she had a stopover in NYC to spend Thanksgiving with her best friend.

It's awesome our kids are all grown up.

On the 26th she arrived in Frankfurt (see previous blog post) and the following weekend was her 20th birthday so we spent the day in the walled city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.  It's only 2 hours away, but there's not much daylight at the end of November so we still ended up driving part of it in the dark.

We checked out the market at the main square.

It is a charming town with some really good restaurants, and it's the home to Käthe Wohlfarht stores. If you haven't heard of them, count yourself lucky.  People line up outside in order to shuffle slowly through the perpetual Christmas wonderland of ornaments and decor. At just about every large Christmas market there is a pop-up Käthe Wohlfart display.  We always go in because it's one of the few enclosed and heated shops at the markets, but they are all the same year to year and with so much packed in it's overwhelming and overly kitschy. In Rothenburg there are TWO Käthe Wohlfart stores across the cobblestone street from each other, and somehow we lost Rebecca. She may be 20, but I was still imagining what a missing child report looks like in Germany.

On our way home we stopped at the outlet stores at Wertheim Village about an hour outside Frankfurt. They'll be worth going back to when the weather is nice, but we did pick up a couple gifts for Becca before heading home for cake.

Ah, the cake.  I'd asked a friend on the compound to make her an awesome coffee, chocolate, salted caramel creation and it was delicious.

But wait, you ask, why does it look a little.... off.

Oh I'll tell you why it looks a little off.  That morning I went to pick it up and stupidly brought the dog with me.  On the way back, carrying a cake, she walked in front of me and stopped, and... the cake met the sidewalk. The dog didn't even have the where-with-all to look ashamed.  In fact, while I was visibly Not OK, she started to lick the frosting off the pavement.  Not.  Cool. Don't tell me dogs are man's best friend.  If she was she wouldn't have ruined the cake.

So I got home and went about trying to fix it.  I put on 20 little candy bees I'd ordered, stuck in candles, and melted some while chocolate into a flower mold.  It wasn't what I wanted, but it's what we had. And she was lovely about it.

So now we're up to a 21 year old (almost 22), a newly minted 20 year old, a 17 year old, and a 16 year old.  One+ years until becoming empty-nesters and watching all our little birds fly.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Way back to Thanksgiving 2017

For the long Thanksgiving weekend, we decided to head out of town and get a change of scenery.  For those who don't know, we also managed to adopt a dog in September and we decided to bring her along for our trip. We learned that she gets car sick.  Thankfully we'd put a blanket down in the car, but it didn't catch quite everything. It was awesome.

We stopped here, a little village along the Mosel River, to give
her some fresh air.
Her name was in limbo for months.  It wasn't until the girls came home for the holidays that we all kinda sorta agreed that Mokka would be our choice.  We have a general policy that our pet names are food-related to the country we adopt/rescue - ergo, Tandoori from India, Falafel and Shawarma from Jordan. We tried out all sorts of things, but German does not make nice sounding words in general. The best I could come up with was Seehunde, which is definitely not a food. Nothing rolled off the tongue. But now we have our German Mokka.  

We actually got her from FAPF, a rescue in Hungary (and attempted to come up with a Hungarian name when German wasn't being fruitful). Why, you may ask? Many rescues/shelters in Germany won't adopt out to Americans.  Take a guess why.... oh I'll tell you... because so many of the animals in the shelters come from Americans. They are a little burned by us.  So we adopted from Hungary via photos, a questionnaire, and a hope that it would be a good match.  She came to us scared of pretty much everything. And not house-trained.  Well, maybe she was house-trained with an accessible yard, but not so much to a 3rd floor apartment. I had my moments of questioning why we adopted a dog.

Yet here we are 3 1/2 months later and the dog that was scared of going outside, roads, parks, other dogs, noise, pretty much everything, is slowly gaining her confidence. Though we were told she's over a year old, she still behaves like a puppy, which I guess she kind of still is. She adores the cats and would love if just one would be her friend, but so far no luck.  Tandoori just stares her down until she warrants a hiss and swipe.  Shawarma meows his warnings when she gets too close. Falafel tries to ignore her.

She's settling in.  The girls were thrilled to meet her when they were home for the holidays.

I guess we'll keep her.

So back to my story, we took her to Biersdorf am See for the weekend.  She threw up in the car multiple times there and back. So our first night we left her at the little cottage when we went to get dinner in downtown Bitburg (home of Bitburger beer) at LouM Steakhouse. A fabulous steak that comes with a "salad bar" salad.  Pass on the salad bar salad unless you're a huge fan of various shredded cabbages and carrots in various mayonnaise and vinegar solutions.

Our Thanksgiving Day dinner.
The dog thought we'd abandoned her forever.  A horrible ride in a horrible car to a new place she'd never seen, and then left behind for 2 hours... absolutely abandoned.  And then we came back! And all was well!

Meanwhile Becca was having Tday
in New York with her best friend.
Biersdorf am See is not much bigger than a hamlet on a little lake.  There are hiking trails all over, but it was November which means it rained most of the time so the dog was walked but the hiking trails stayed a mystery.

Friday we spent in Luxembourg at the Christmas markets. And we brought the dog. It was only an hour away, and yes, the dog threw up. Again.

Luxembourg is lovely with history hidden around every corner. One place we really wanted to check out was the American Cemetery and Memorial where General Patton is buried. DYK that Patton died in a low-speed car crash? He wasn't wearing a seat belt. But we couldn't visit because... wait for it... no dogs allowed in the cemetery. I tell you, trying to do the right thing by the dog leads to missing out on stuff... *sigh*

The Luxembourg markets are not worth traveling all the way to Luxembourg for.  Sounds harsh, but there's no charm to them, and little more than liquor and some food. Seriously disappointing.

The Feuerzangenbowle was pretty awesome though.
We went "home" to our cottage, got take-out from the nearby pizza place, and built a fire.  The hosts of our holiday rental were great, leaving wine, fruit, milk and eggs, candy for the boys, and dog treats for the dog, along with firewood for the fireplace.  How many people does it take to start a fire? All of them, and lots of trial and error when there is not real kindling. Here's a tip you don't want to try at home but finally worked and got some steady flame.. rub kitchen cooking oil on a small log, wrap in paper towel, and light.

Saturday we tossed up the idea of taking the dog to Trier vs leaving the dog at the cottage and dealing with less vomit.  We left her behind, which worked out best for everyone as it allowed us (ok, me) to enjoy the Library Treasury and then take on an Escape Room.

Of course it was raining.

We registered to do the Motorradwerkstadt room. And were out in 15 minutes.  Someone before us had scribbled on the wall so we ended up skipping several steps and it wasn't any fun.  They let us take on another room, the Photolabor.  This one we actually got a couple hints but overall didn't think it was well-designed, and they charged us for it as well, so...

The dog thought we'd really really abandoned her for real this time oh my gosh we were never coming back and then we did and why did we leave her and she really needed to pee.

Taking the lessons from the night before, we made an awesome fire that roasted the entire room and it was glorious. I thought when we moved to Frankfurt that we'd have a fireplace in our apartment and we don't and it was kind of sad. So we all just stared at this one and burned our retinas for a while.

The next morning our plan was to head to Bitburg to visit the Bitburger brewery and get home after lunch.

A text from Becca said "Landed!" to which I replied "Where are you?" and she said "Frankfurt" and I cursed badly in our cottage in Biersdorf am See 2 1/2 hours away and Katherine laughed and laughed and laughed through her messages from Virginia. Family chat groups are awesome. And when you ask your spouse what time your child is arriving be sure to clarify that the date matters too.

Choosing between her options she waited at the airport for us to arrive with barfy dog in tow.  She's a great sport.

But we did miss the Bitburger brewery.