Friday, October 30, 2015

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I'm not sure how I missed writing the Amsterdam post, but I did! This should be the last post from 2013, unless I find another missed 2013 adventure that I didn't post.
The trip to Amsterdam was our first trip with Explore Europe Travel, even though it wasn't called Explore Europe Travel back then (they just recently changed their name). Explore Europe Travel is what they're called now, so it's probably a good thing I can't remember their old name.
In December 2013, we left the Grafenwoehr area, and headed to Amsterdam for a "day trip", but it was really a weekend trip. We left late Friday, spend the night on the bus, had the whole day Saturday to explore Amsterdam, got back on the bus Saturday night to get home Sunday night. It was quick and fun, but was for all intents and purposes; a "weekend trip". 

We awoke early in Amsterdam! We had to wait a bit to to meet our tour guide, but luckily we got to stay warm on the bus. Since it was December, I'm glad it was a bus tour. Actually to tell you the truth, once we met up with the tour guide, I was glad it was a bus tour because I was asleep during the tour. Haha. Drew stayed up to listen to the tour, and learn some facts about the city, but I just couldn't stay awake.
Once the tour was finished we had free time on our own until 11pm! Our first stop was at the Anne Frank house. If you're not there when it opens I would suggest buying your tickets in advance. I forgot our tickets on the bus, but luckily they we able to look up our reservations. Thankfully they were even able to let us in to an earlier tour.

The Anne Frank House is a historic house and biographical museum dedicated to Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank. The building is located at the Prinsengracht, close to the Westerkerk, in central Amsterdam in the Netherlands. For those not familiar, during World War II, Anne Frank hid from Nazi persecution with her family and four other people in hidden rooms at the rear of the 17th-century canal house, known as the Secret Annex, where she wrote in her diary about the life of her and her Jewish family hiding from the Nazi's. They were eventually discovered, and sent to a concentration camp. Anne died in the camp, shortly after their arrest. Unfortunately you are not able to take any pictures inside the Anne Frank house, but it is furnished with information tablets, diagrams, pictures, and even passages from "The Diary of Anne Frank". 
They said that after Otto Frank (Anne's father) came back after the war, he striped the house and all that is left is the actual house. For the most part, I'm glad we went. It is the 3rd most visited museum in the Netherlands!

 A canal near the Anne Frank House

Sidles' in Amsterdam December 2013

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Zugsptize, Germany

In January 2014, Drew and I headed down to Garmisch to go skiing! It was my first time skiing. I've gone snowboarding before, the first time I was pretty good at it, but the second time, not so great.
After our day on the slopes, we decided to head up to the tallest point in Germany, the Zugspitze. The Zugspitze is the highest peak of the Wetterstein Mountains as well as the highest mountain in Germany. It lies south of the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and the border between Germany and Austria runs over its western summit.

Pumpkin Carving 2015

Every year since Drew and I have been married, we pick up some pumpkins and watch The Nightmare Before Christmas and carve pumpkins! It's our yearly tradition, that we hope to one day pass along to our children.
 This year was no different. After a nice weekend down in Garmisch, we ended the weekend by clearing off the dinning room table, covered it and started carving pumpkins. This year Drew wanted to carve out a Star Wars Character, Boba Fet. I didn't want to do something that would take too much time. I wanted to carve out a bow, Drew suggested that I do something else, so after googling I found a cute little Mini Mouse Ears with a bow!
 My awesome hubby cut the top off of my pumpkin for me!

This was the first year that we finished before the movie ended!
I think it turned out pretty awesome!

Maybe next year I'll try something a little more complicated. Probably not.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ghent, Belgium

On our way back to Brussels from Brugges, we stopped off in Ghent. Rick Steves suggests stopping off in Ghent if you're making the trip out to Brugges. Since we got a late start, we decided to head to Brugges first and stop off in Ghent on the way back since it didn't look like there was much to do and it's only 30 minutes away from Brussels.
During the Middle Ages, it was one of the richest and most powerful cities in Europe. It was once considered the second largest city north of the alps, after Paris. Now days, Ghent is thriving as many young people choose to live here instead of in the countryside or the crowded city centers of Brussels and Antwerp.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bruges, Belgium

After our exciting day in Luxembourg, then checking out the night life in Brussels, we headed off to Bruges. Funny story, we didn't set an alarm clock because Rylie always wakes Drew up by 9am on the weekends, this time, she didn't even bother to wake us up. I woke us up because I had to pee! Guess we wore her out the day before.
After eating our sandwiches (we picked up groceries before heading to our hotel, it's a great idea if you wanna save some money, especially if your hotel doesn't have free breakfast) we grabbed our backpacks and Rylie of course and headed off to Bruges.  
Luckily Bruges is only a 1.5 h drive away. We've been planning this trip for a while and I'm a big fan of Rick Steves, in his book he suggests parking at the main bus station and catch the free Bus into the city. The best thing about it is that for 24 hours it's only 3.10 euros to park. Finding parking may be the tricky part. I think a lot of people know the secret, but we've we were lucky enough to catch someone in the front row who was leaving.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Antik und Trodel

Up the road from us in the town on Kulmain, there is an antique store that everyone loves. I've heard such great things about it. Before Drew left to play Army all summer we checked it out and he even picked up a Luxembourg Beer stein. Over the summer I spent a lot of time at the store getting to know the owner Udo and purchasing little knickknacks. Drew's been looking for a bar for quite some time and over the summer I had found one that was perfect, but there was one person a head of me and unfortunately we didn't end up getting it. But last week on their Facebook Page, Antik undTrodel Kulmain-Udo Willacker, they got another bar, but yet again there were 2 people a head of me. I didn't stock much hope into getting it. But on Saturday I got a message from Udo asking if I was still interested in the bar since the other 2 people weren't able to make it out and he knew I've been looking for one. On Sunday we were off, to check out the bar, and the other two knickknacks a big frame for my magnets and a rocking chair. Long story short, we ended up buying it all and it looks great it in our house. When I find a cute pillow for my rocking chair, and finish putting my Frame magnet board together I'll post pics!

The store is super cute! You can even see my rocking chair in one of the pictures!

Saturday, October 17, 2015


Starting on October 26, I will have some of my blog posts featured on
What is GermanyJa you ask? Its a place for people like me (American's living in Germany, both associated with the military and those who aren't) to go to to find out information not just about travelling (but that's where I come in), but about where to eat, things going on in their areas (there are 16 states in Germany!), on things to spice up your time in Germany, and the best part, you even find out information about living in Germany before getting here! I sure wish I knew about this site before we got here!
If you're new to Germany or if you've been here for a while, make sure to check it out!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Luxembourg American Military Cemetery & Memorial

Every month big Army gives the soldiers a 4-day weekend, usually they encourage travelling. Drew was supposed to be off playing Army in October, so we didn't make any plans to go anywhere. Of course, nothing is for sure in the Army, at the beginning of the week, Drew told me he wasn't going to be training so we could go somewhere if we wanted to. Since I had already taken Friday off we started planning a trip. We decided to go to Belgium, and Luxembourg, since we could drive and could take Rylie with us.

Thursday, after I got home from work, we packed up the car and headed off to Ramstein Air Base to spend the night. Ramestein is about 4 hours away from us and we wanted to get as much time possible over in Western Europe. Coming from the Graf area, it was a great idea to stop off for the night at RAB. We got a pet friendly, 1-bedroom apartment through Air-force Inns. We were able to grab groceries and even get Cinnabon for breakfast before heading out. (I would suggest stopping off here for the night, prices aren't bad at all either!)

Friday morning after packing sandwiches and stuffing our faces full of Cinnabon, we headed off to Luxembourg.

At first we were going straight to the Luxembourg City, since I knew Drew was a big History buff I mentioning to Drew that the American Cemetery was located just 12 minutes outside of the city, and since we were being spontaneous, we decided to check things out. 
Selfie before heading into the cemetery
Dogs aren't allowed in the cemetery, which makes sense, even if they were allowed we didn't want to disrespect the fallen servicemen, so after letting Rylie do her business, we left her in the car and checked out the cemetery. 

The cemetery consists of 17 acres of manicured lawn surrounded by 33.5 acres of woods. Entering through the gates, visitors see the impressive memorial chapel encompassed by a stone terrace directly in front of them. 

The chapel includes massive bronze doors embellished with gold leaf cartouches depicting military “virtues”, a sparkling mosaic ceiling and a colorful stained glass window showcasing the Army insignia's representing the men and woman that rest in the cemetery. 

We signed the guestbook!
 On the lower level of the terrace, two pylons face each other across a quote by Eisenhower about the sacrifice of military members.

There are so many names on these two walls.

The cemetery was established on December 29, 1944 while Allied Forces were stemming the enemy's desperate Ardennes Offensive, one of the critical battles of World War II.The city of Luxembourg served as headquarters for Gen. George S. Patton's U.S. Third Army. Gen. Patton is buried here at the head of the cemetery along with 5076 service members, many of whom lost their lives in the Battle of the Bulge and in the advance to the Rhine River.

 The design is a softly curving fan shape consisting of nine sections interspersed with four fountains, majestic trees, and expansive rose and rhododendron beds.

We found an Paratrooper
We found a Medal of Honor Recipient 

We found a female's grave

 There were graves as far as the eye could see

It was so humbling to walk through the cemetery, with the American Flag flowing in the wind and knowing that these brave men and woman died for such a just and noble cause, valiantly fighting to stop the advancement of the Nazi's. It makes me proud to say that I am an American.
We were lucky enough to have visited the Normandy American Cemetery last November, in France so we just jumped at the chance to visit another Cemetery. It's an amazing experience that just can't be explained. You just have to go and see it for yourself!

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Neustadt am Kulm Almabtrieb, Bavaria

About 5 minutes away is the town of Neustadt Am Kulm. It is a cute little village, that I drive through every morning to get it to work, that has it's very own traffic light! Those are very rare in the rural area of Bavaria where we live. When we first got here and I didn't know how to pronounce the town names, I gave them nicknames and called Neustadt, "the hill town with the traffic light". Haha.
Once a year the town of Neustadt Am Kulm has their Annual Goat Cattle Drive, where they bring the goats "home" from the mountains! It's actually pretty funny because the town doesn't really have goats, they bring goats in from another town, dress them up with pretty wreaths and flowers, bring them up the hill and bring them back! 

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Matron of Honor

My bestie is getting married! Along with my birthday present she sent me this awesome ask gift!

And of course I said YES!!

We met when I was 16 years old, working at my very first job AMC movie theaters. We bonded over "accidentally" breaking open the good candy behind concession stands and of course hating the same people. That's what girls bond over after all! Haha.
From our AMC days, we headed off to college together, becoming roomies at USF and bonding over reality TV shows, our love of Harry Potter and Twilight at one point (because who didn't go through a Twilight phase?) and of course, dealing with stupid boys and their stupid boy-dar!

I'm so glad that after college our friendship stayed strong. We've dealt with long distance friendships, from the Midwest, back to Florida, to North Carolina, and now across the Atlantic Ocean. We would visit each other and of course keeping in touch with one another through texting, Facebook, and of course now that I'm on the other side of the world, Viber! Thank god for technology!
I'm so excited that after 11 years of friendship, 
(Not sure if Robin will actually read this) I just wanted to say that I am so honored to be a part of your special day!