I cannot even begin to express the strangeness that comes with writing this particular blog post. Who knew that 1,133 days could go by so quickly. When we began our adventure in Germany the idea of three years in a foreign country seemed like an eternity. Now, though, I feel like I blinked my eyes and it is now time to say good bye. Oh, what an adventure it has been.
This farewell is a bittersweet one. It breaks my heart to leave this amazing country. I don’t know that I will ever be able to enjoy pretzels, fries, or brats again in my life. I don’t know that playgrounds will ever hold the same wonder for our kids. The amazing sights we have seen and places we have visited will forever be some of our most cherished memories. And the friends we’ve made here, who have really felt more like family, feel impossible to say ‘see you later’ to.
I think our future will hold some pretty amazing adventures ,too, though. Was are so excited to explore Alaska. What a treat it will be to be so much closer to our family! So, as we say so-long-for-now to this amazing country and the amazing people we’ve known here, I will do my best not to be overly sentimental as I share some of my favorite memories from our wonderful German Adventure.
I found this one especially fitting since Valentine’s Day was our last day in Germany. The girls on our first Valentine’s Day in Germany. We’d only been in our home a couple weeks. My, oh my. They sure have grown!
Our very first exploration in Germany to Heidelberg. It is seriously a wonder that we survived this trip! We had no idea what we were doing! The internet and travel resources have come a LONG way in three years!
Another hilarious novice travel experience. We paid a lot of money to basically watch a family show us their farm animals. And it was all in German so we had NO idea what was going on. It was still a lot of fun, though!
Stuttgart Zoo was also quite the learning experience. All that separated Lily from being a tiger-snack was a chain-link fence.
Trier was our very first Cathedral and completely took our breath away and started our Cathedral obsession!
Trier also fully made us aware to just how stinkin’ cool our German adventure would be. Here we are playing soccer on the grounds of an old Gladiator stadium… amazing!
Walking along the Rhein in Koblenz. The Rhein was SO flooded that year. Those are the tops of trees sticking out of the water!
Another from Koblenz. We literally just hopped in the car that day and wound up in front of the palace. I’m not sure what we were thinking. We didn’t even have a diaper bag with us!
Our first German Fest in down town Wiesbaden. Completely blew our minds! Nothing will ever compare!
Posing with some awesome graffiti in Frankfurt!
Our very first Christmas Market! Christmas will never be the same with out the markets!
A date night at the Wiesbaden Christmas Market and perhaps our best selfie of all time!
Bug went through an obsessive Tangled phase. So one day we dressed her up, hopped in the car, and found the tower that inspired the Grimm brother’s story of Rapunzel!
We went on a getaway with our closest couple-friends here to Cocheim… kid free! The past part, hands down, was being serenaded in the morning by Randy singing ‘The Sound of Music’ of their room window to the beautiful Moselle River valley. Never a dull moment with these friends!
And then there was the Koln cathedral. I literally gasped the first time I saw it. The Christmas Market and being on a date with my handsome Mister only added to the magic!
We went to the Black Forest and bought a Cuckoo Clock! Oh, and this was the first (of many) trip where one of our kids inevitably barfed during the road trip!
The Hannover Zoo! We went to A LOT of zoos! This one was definitely in my top 3!
We ate hamburgers in Hamburg! It was a fun little British place… they served the burgers on english muffins rather than hamburger buns!
And visited the Miniature Wonderland in Hamburg which was arguably one of the coolest things we’ve ever seen!
We visited the Berlin Wall. It was one of the many “I cannot believe we are HERE” moments of our time in Germany.
And saw the tallest dinosaur skeleton in the world in Berlin! If only this trip had happened AFTER Bug became obsessed with Jurassic Park and all things dinosaur!
Our first trip out of Germany was to Luxembourg City, Luxembourg! We love, love, LOVE Luxembourg! We even took a second trip back here because we love it so much!
And Chateau Vianden in Luxembourg might still be my favorite castle we’ve ever visited!
Somehow I convinced my husband to let me go to Milan with out him?! It was amazing and I wish we had gone as a family!
The Hays family took on Prague and fell in love! The Czech Republic might be my favorite country… its a tight race though!
… and lets be honest. Whats not to love about Prague?!?
We went cave exploring in Homburg! We are terrible at researching before we go. They weren’t doing any English tours that day. But instead of making us ‘suffer’ through the German one they were just like “Have fun… go explore!” Amazing.
This was our 3rd trip to Playmobil Fun Park! I think we took 5 total! It was definitely one of our favorites! There have already been MANY tears shed over not being able to go back here again. A certain 6 year old might just think this is actually a happier place than the happiest place on earth.
Nuremburg was also pretty spectacular! And having a friend from back home to be our local tour guide was an added bonus! We also got to experience just how much Germans LOVE their soccer that night. As we went to dinner restaurants had TVs place outside with huge crowds around. Every goal resulted in the city erupting with cheers. And when they won — WOW! Lets just say I am really grateful that we got to experience Germany winning the world cup in Germany! That was insanely cool!
We visited the Nazi Rally grounds and stood where Hitler address his troops. One of the more somber visits of our trip. I’m glad we can visit these historical places, though, that we’d otherwise only have ever read about in books.
Playing at the beach in Kolobzreg, Poland! Not a soul here spoke English. It was truly a hidden gem!
We went on a Reisling Rheingau Tour. These views. How can this be real life?!?
Our first trip into France — to Metz! Is it any wonder why we are Cathedral junkies?!
We went to Rome! Serious. We went to ROME! Another “is this real life?” moment!
Rudesheim is definitely one of my favorite places! And getting to share it with our family was an added bonus!
I love this picture my sister snuck while she visited. This is us traveling Europe in a nutshell!
Burg Eltz. If I could sum up Germany in a single word it would be MAGICAL.
The Olympic Park in Munich! It was so much fun. One of those places I can’t wait to tell the girls about when they are older. How many kids can say they have run around, playing tag at the Olympic Stadium in Munich?!
Neuschwanstein Castle. I love Bavaria. I want to move there after Alaska.
… and us squeezing onto a tiny, crowded bridge trying to get a picture with it. ha ha
Rothenburg Ob der Tauber! An old medieval town that we love to pieces.
My Dad at I at The Cavern Club in Liverpool, England. Taking my Dad on this Beatles trip was seriously one of the high lights of my time in Europe. It was SO stinkin’ cool. I can’t even.
Mister and I went away for our anniversary… and stayed the night in a castle! No big deal.
My sister took our family pictures downtown… right outside our favorite Gelato shop! Now every time I look at it hanging on our wall I can be reminded of how I am completely ruined and can never eat American ice cream again.
Playing at the beach in Oostende, Belgium! I love that we have touched the ocean in some many different places around the world.
We went to two billion Christmas markets. This one was the first of our second Christmas season in Germany — in Bonn! I will totally miss it being socially acceptable to be drinking a mug of warm wine at 10am.
Strasbourg, France! Exploring new places AND going to Christmas Markets are the best combo!
When you grow up in Germany you spend afternoons exploring castles. This one is in Konigstein.
Maastricht, The Netherlands. It was one of our favorite markets!
Brussels, Belgium and an insanely cool light show! …. and then later this night at the hotel we all came down with a stomach bug. It was awesome. Only not really.
Colmar, France. A random, hop in the car on a sunny day trip. I’ll miss being able to just visit France for the day.
Amsterdam! Another one of our more sporadic, unplanned trips. It was SO much fun though.
Keukenhof Tulip Festival! It was really very high on my list of places to see, but I am SO glad we made the time to go… other than Lindsey ending up being SUPER sick that day.
Reims, France! Nothing like taking a break on a long road trip to eat lunch next to this beauty. A lot of French Monarchs had their coronations here!
We surprised the girls with a trip to Disneyland Paris! Oh my word. It was SO much fun. When traveling with kids we didn’t always see all the famous sights or museums, but we had a lot of fun seeing and doing the things we did! I wouldn’t trade this trip in for the world!
This one still makes me pinch myself. We went to Thessaloniki, Greece!! Just the two of us. We went to literally every museum and saw so many things that just blew my mind. Things THOUSANDS of years old just sitting out for you to be able to touch. It was insane. I love Greece.
We visited Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora (aka- the bone church). It was a must with a Rad Tech for a husband. And this begun our long road trip in the Czech Republic. We stayed at a house in a tiny village in the middle of no-where Czech Republic. We didn’t really see any ‘big’ tourist sites… I think we came across Americans/tourists at only one of the locations we visited. I love just being and experiencing corners of the earth we never even knew existed.
We hiked around Velka Amerika in the Czech Republic! We didn’t need strollers! It was so awesome. Traveling has gotten increasingly easier and easier as our kids have gotten bigger.
Mikoluv, Czech Republic. We literally just picked a random city on the map… and it was seriously incredible. The drive there was breath taking. The city was amazing. We ate the BEST food here.
The Brno Zoo in Czech republic and THE best photo-bomb of all time. (Also probably my favorite zoo we visited in Europe!)
This was in Dresden. You can’t really see any of Dresden here, but this is traveling Europe with a two year old in a nut shell! Whether it be through barfing on the side of the road due to car sickness or leaving shoe prints on the wall… I think it is safe to say we left our mark on Europe!
Saafelder Feengrotten aka the Fairy Caves. Quite possibly THE best hidden gem we ever explored. I know, I saw that a lot. It was seriously amazing, though. The girls got to run and explore an awesome park area that was Fairy themed and got their faces painted by real fairies. And these caves… wow! Not for the claustrophobic, but completely worth the trek bent over through hallways barely wide enough for one!
Den Haag. Embracing our European life and enjoying the beach in undies… well, the kids anyways! I have no idea why we didn’t wear our swim suits to the beach this day. We are seriously the most random travelers of all time.
And these are just a few of my favorite memories. Can you imagine what I hold in my heart?
To all the friends and wonderful places and adventures… we will miss you!