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Traveling Europe

Traveling Europe

A Kid-Friendly Christmas Market at Schloss Guteneck

December 15, 2015


After all of the hype about how magical Germany is around the holidays, it’s time to actually experience it! Our family of five spent a really fun afternoon at the Weihnachtsmarkt Schloss Guteneck a couple of weekends ago (get more information and directions here), and the boys enjoyed it almost as much as Thane and I did. It reminded us of some of the Renaissance Fairs we’ve seen in the states, but a little more authentic. And in addition to the incredibly quaint, romantic beauty of all of the lights and shops and Christmas decor, our favorite thing about it was it’s size; it’s small! And for a family with three little kids, small is a good thing. Getting there is easy, parking is easy, and walking around it is easy (we took our double stroller).

There were all kinds of beautiful, beautiful handmade decor items, yummy food (try the long fried stick of chicken wrapped in crescent roll dough, just do it), plenty of hot gluwein to go around, and camel rides for the kids! We- of course- stood in line for twenty minutes so Asher could have a turn, only to get to the front of the line just in time for their break. That was disappointing, but seeing the camels up close and getting to pet them was pretty amazing! I wish I could have snapped a photo of every little thing I saw, but I got what I could (without being that totally awkward and annoying person with the camera taking way too many photos of other people’s merchandise). Oh, and by the way, my favorite thing about the town of Guteneck? The red and white striped window shutters! What more can you ask for at a Christmas market in December?

Christmas-Town-CafeChristmas-Town-Peppermint-Windows Donkeys-in-a-manger Christmas-Town-2 Christmas-Town-3 Window-Tree-Schloss-Gutteneck Star-Ornament-Red Old-Wagon Silas German-Iron-Sculptures-Christmas-Market Asher Camel-Rides Christmas-CamelPeppermint-Windows Mossy-Tree German-Wall-and-Foliage Medieval-Helmets Finn-2
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What a fun, family-friendly way to ring in the Christmas season! It’s hard to be so far from home and we miss our family dearly, but I’m so thankful to God that at least the five of us are together this year together making some beautiful holiday memories. In Army life, that’s not something to take for granted.

Family Adventures, Traveling Europe

Prague, Y’all

November 20, 2015


Wow. Prague! These photos truly don’t do justice to the stunning– almost magical- bohemian flare of this city. There were so many striking features to the architecture- the mix of gold and black was unlike anything I’ve ever seen and being there was like walking the pages of some ancient, dark fairy tale. I mean, really, look at this cathedral! I know Dracula supposedly lived in Romania, but I’m pretty sure this was his house…

Cathedral-of-PragueAnyway, we were here for just a day trip and one day was not nearly long enough to enjoy it to the fullest! But we managed to do a lot of fun stuff, like see a handful of street performers, a Dali art exhibit, a chocolate museum with a live demonstration, the biggest, funnest candy store we’ve ever been to, and a beautiful bride and groom being photographed in front of the orloj- Prague’s medieval astronomical clock from 1410 (the third oldest in the world).

Orlaj-Clock-Prague-Wedding Orloj-Clock-Prague street-peformers
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I’ll stop there for now, but there’s a whole extra batch of photos of the boys and some of the other fun stuff we enjoyed on the trip still to come!

Photo*journal, Traveling Europe

Saturday Morning Meandering in Pressath, Germany

November 12, 2015


Thane and I went out on a Saturday morning date a couple of weeks ago and walked around the little town of Pressath, Germany. Usually when we’re in Pressath, we’re there for OBI (the German equivalent of Lowes) and we don’t take the time to explore the old side of town. But this time we wandered through the streets for a little while to kill some time before Antiquitaten Rothballer opened- the most beautiful antique shop I’ve ever seen- and so of course I took full advantage of the chance to capture some beautiful details of old German architecture.

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Between all of the colors, textures, and quaint beauty of these old towns (especially the small ones!) there is never a shortage of things to photograph.

Traveling Europe

Living in Europe is Neat, Assuming You Survive the Move

July 31, 2015


Well it turns out that Germany is pretty amazing, but I have to admit that in the months leading up to coming here I thought it would be smooth sailing once we got through the flight. Haha, WRONG. The trip over was definitely nuts, but our first month here has been a huge up-hill climb. It seems like we’re nearing the end of that climb, but in case you’re never experienced a move to a foreign country, it may go a little like this;

Disclaimer: this isn’t meant to be a rant, but take it as you will, hahaha.
> Find out you’re being sent to Germany when you thought you were going to Georgia. What?!
> Spend several months getting passports updated, medical checks done, selling off things like cars, washers and dryers, large household items that won’t work well in Europe, selling/renting your home out, finding a new home for the puppy you got right before you found out you were being sent overseas, etc.
> Spend 26 hours traveling when the long awaited “moving day” finally comes.
> Step off of a plane in a totally new place {that’s still a four hour drive from your final destination} with no working phone, no local currency, no way to get around, and no guarantee that the people you interact with speak English.
> Spend three hours in the airport you landed at waiting on luggage, filling out a lost luggage report for a missing bag, finding that lost bag on another person’s luggage cart, and waiting through a variety other very time consuming hassles.
> Finally get out of the airport and wait in a long line at the {very conveniently located!} hotel across the street only to {very inconveniently} be told that you’re not allowed to stay at that hotel because you have too many kids.
> Load up all of your kids and bags and head outside to figure out a way to get to the “family” hotel across the base even though there are no shuttles running because of how late it is. Flag down the one random cab that drives up, accept Euros from a total stranger to pay for that cab, finally get to the right hotel, and realize that you and all three of the kids only have about six hours to try to sleep before you have to be up and ready to go again.
> Get up early the next morning, get on a van and travel to the final destination {we were SO lucky we didn’t have to take the bus!}, and when finally settled in the hotel at the final destination, start attempting to put your life back together with no way to call anyone or get anywhere other than on foot.
> Wake up every morning for the first week only to realize that you missed the hotel’s complimentary breakfast because you’re still too jet-lagged to get up before 10am, and be extremely disappointed even though all you’re missing are stale bagels and crappy cereal.
> Walk all over God’s green earth trying to accomplish an extremely long laundry list of tasks, like getting a new address set up, signing up for a new plan with a cell phone service provider and having SIM cards switched out so that your phones work, opening a new bank account in order to pay for the new phone plan, studying to take a driving test in order to get a new license, buying new cars {which turns out to be extremely complicated when you have to fit three car seats into whatever you buy}, getting through the customs, registration, and inspections hurdles, getting a house {site-unseen} lined up through the zoo housing office, all the while attempting to coexist peacefully in the hotel together for weeks on end.
> After many hot, non-air conditioned hours of standing in line {thanks, Thane!} get confirmation that you do, indeed, have a house lined up! Except you can’t move in for another month, and oh, by the way, your husband is going to be away on a business trip when it’s time to move in, so just plan on staying a whole extra week in the hotel.
End rant.

It’s been a huge challenge, but I’m so thankful to God for getting us through these tenuous few weeks! I can tell that He’s been giving us the patience and contentment we’ve needed while working towards getting settled here, because {for once} we’re doing a decent job at taking things one step at a time. But even when we’re feeling fed up with things, we’re doing our best to be thankful for the little blessings of each day- like working air conditioning in the hotel {which houses don’t have}, some amazing new friends, and really delicious local food to enjoy.

And I have to brag on Thane. He totally rocks it when it comes to being proactive and getting things taken care of as quickly as possible. It’s been almost two whole months since we moved out of our house in New York, but getting settled again is at least in sight! Until then, I’m just praying that we weather the next two or three weeks graciously. It’s been hard. But despite life feeling like a scattered mess of puzzle pieces, we know that the Lord holds all of the details in the palm of His hand and is putting our life back together exactly as He sees fit.

The photo above was taken in the town of Locket, Czech Republic. See more from that town here.