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Howdy, I'm back! (extremely long, hopefully not too boring)

14 years ago

Hi everyone, thought I would not want to come home but I started really looking forward to it the last week in Germany. I love the country but all that driving around with teenagers who don't appreciate things the way you do gets old.

After we got there I drove to Hahn airport which used to be the old base I used to be stationed at and the roads around the base have totally changed so it was hard to figure out where things were. The day before we left Lauren and I went by ourselves to a lake to go paddleboating and we went to another part of the old base and found some old F-16 hangers and parts of the old flightline. It was pretty depressing seeing them crumbling, old barbed wire still overtop some of the fencing. I have no idea which maintenence unit it was because of the way it was situated.

The first day we also drove into the town I used to live in and couldn't find the building I lived in. The first place I lived off base was there, though. We then drove down to Traben-Trabach, which is on the Mosel river and walked around the castle ruin on top of the hill...I think it's called Grafenburg castle. Kids were not impressed, even by the beautiful views.

We spent the first two nights in a beautiful bed & breakfast run by a young couple on the Mosel River in a place called Beilstein. Will post pictures later.

The next day we drove to Cochem castle and took a tour of it. The next day we drove to Burg Eltz and went to the wrong area, never got to walk through the forest going the way I used to go, instead we walked down a long paved road. It was hot and humid that day and was pretty miserable.

We then went to the Rhein River and stayed in a youth hostel that is in a castle overlooking the river. We went to Rhienfels castle ruins and spent several hours with our little flashlights looking all over the place. The kids took off without me and my co-worker who went with us. We had a lot of fun hiking all over the place, through the little tunnels and stairways. The kids liked this castle the best since we were allowed to go almost anywhere that we wanted on our own.

The next day we went to Traben-Trabach to check see their wine fest which hadn't started that early in the day so we left for the Rhine to check into our hotel since we weren't going to be back until late in the night. We went to Rudesheim after to catch the boat for the Rhine in Flames cruise. Dinner wasn't great but the fireworks and ride were. We got down to the dock a little early to make sure we could get our tickets and find a parking space in time. Big festival going on because of the cruises, music in the town square, food booths. The kids played cards (yep, can you believe it?) while we adults went window shopping and took pictures around the town. They had two older guys singing and playing guitars too, they sang a few American songs in English, including Country Roads. I video recorded it with my digital camera. Later on the cruies they had a man and woman singing and guess what they sang too?! John Denver must be popular there. LOL!

Unfortunately my camera battery died on the cruise just as it was getting dark so didn't get a whole lot of pictures after it got dark. It would've been great to get some video of the fireworks, though.

The next morning we drove to Rothenburg and spent two days there. First place was a small B & B that had a beautiful and full garden with fruit trees. (I wanted to go back home and plant my cherry trees, she had a full sized cherry tree in the front yard.) We spent one day walking around the perameter of the wall of the city, going to the crime and punishment museum. Lauren went alone to the doll/toy museum. She hates creepy dolls and wanted to get creeped out she said. We also took the Night Watchman's tour, which was a lot of fun. We figured up how much that man makes per night, he does it 7 nights a week and has at least 100 people every night follow him around for an hour. He's making a killing and even joked about it. Second night we stayed in an apartment within the walled city which was nice. The first B & B's owner gave us the directions to a really good restaurant too, where we ate both nights we were there. Small, out of the way place, dark and interesting with wonderful food. We spent the later part of the next day shopping at Kathe Wolfort stores. They sell Christmas things there in case you were wondering.

The next day was horrible, driving to France, through Paris on the highway...Paris even on the major roadway was bumper to bumper nightmare. I thought it wouldn't be so bad staying on the highway but it was. For the next week all I could think about was having to drive back to Paris to find our hotel. I knew driving in Paris would be bad, had been warned but didn't think it would be bad going through it. We ended up not making it to the youth hostel in Dinan on time and stayed in an Etap hotel instead. It was like staying in a big porta potty with a bed in it.

The next day we went to Mont. St. Michel, a monestary that is a big tourist trap now. It was beautiful there and wish I had booked a night there so we could've walked around it at night without all the other tourists.

The boy's French teacher told them they should eat an omelete at the base of the monestary, which is famous for them. But, after touring the place there was a long wait for a table so we just left.

We stayed the next two nights in Arramanches, on the Canadian D-day landing beach. You can still see the concrete they put out into the water to make an artificial bay for D-day. They left them there. Our hotel was right on the beach but we didn't get to enjoy it much as it was very windy and cold. We did walk down on it for a little bit, though. Lauren and I got adventurous and tried their seafood plate, which we didn't know was raw. She wanted to try snails too, which were 50% of the plate. We split it so it wasn't too bad but we ended up wasting most of the snails. We also ate raw oysters and clams for the first time. Gag. I ate a few of them only because I had paid so much for them but they were awful. The only thing I liked was the crab and crawfish (I think these were cooked but they were cold). Snails not good.

The next day was a Battlebus tour of the American D-day beaches and American cemetary. The tour had 8 people on it and we went around in a minivan. Loved the tourguide who was from Scotland and very talkative. We took turns sitting in front with him and he asked everyone questions all the way to the next place we went. He gave us alot of history and a lot of it personal from the vets themselves. Very interesting and probably one of the best parts of the trip. Kids thought so too.

We then drove to Paris the next day. Nightmare trying to find out hotel. I was never a fan of Paris and even more so not now that I've spent three days there. The area we stayed reeked of urine, had bums living on the street and dog poop everywhere. The worst was the urine smell and the heat and humidity with the urine smell. The boys loved it though. They loved the food, Lauren and I weren't too thrilled with the food. In fact, I only remember one bakery that had really good pita bread sandwiches, but they were only open the first day we were there and never again.

We went to the Louve, which was packed with people and huge as I had heard it was. No way to see all of it even in a week's time. We went to the D'orsay museum but no one wanted to stand in another long line so we passed it and Notre Dame by. The last day we were there we went to the Catacombes but as usual the boys wouldn't get up early so I thought we'd let them sleep in and made it to the street in time, only to be told the wait in line was too long for us to get in before it closed. Only thing we got out of it was an interesting ride on the metro. We were sitting there and it reminded me of the night bus from Harry Potter, minus the talking shrunken head and chandeliers. LOL! When I asked Lauren what it reminded her of she said the same thing...and so did Alex who was sitting on the opposite isle from us.

The last day we were there, the kids slept in and we adults walked to the island and had ice cream and got some bread and stinky cheese and fruit to eat. I just picked a cheese I thought would be good, Munester, but it was soft stinky Munester and I had to throw it away. I should've asked to taste it first. The ice cream was ok, very overpowering flavor like Stone Cold whatever it's called here in the states, which I don't like either. So, after trying their chocolate and it being too rich, I started getting only vanilla flavored.

The boys ate mostly in bakeries and a nearby fast food Chinese place they thought was awesome (girls thought it wasn't that great and only ate there once). We ate in cafes and did find some breakfast open faced sandwich things that were pretty good. The last night we were there we went up into the Eiffel Tower which I found out later was the only reason Lauren wanted to come to Paris. We almost didn't make it to the top, though...they had it off limits for about an hour when we were standing in line. We went at night hopeing the lines wouldn't be as long and it still took hours to go through the lines.

Next morning we left for Dachau. No one seemed thrilled with this, only me and Lauren seemed vaguely interested. Ross (Alex's friend) was sick to his stomach so he was miserable the whole time and it was hot and humid.

The next day we took Judy (my co-worker) to the airport to catch her flight home. Her and the boys didn't get along so they were all happy to be away from each other.

Then we went to Rust in southern Germany, stayed for two days, went to Europa Park the second day. It was fun as far as amusement parks go. We split up and the boys road the big, scary rollercoasters and Lauren and I rode all the water rides and stood under one of them to get as wet as possible because it was so hot and humid. We stayed in a little Pension there.

We then spent the next two nights watching movies in Landstuhl near Ramstein airbase. The old Broadway Keno was still there, although, it now has theaters that are a lot bigger than they once were and it's not so nice as it once was. The glittery mirrored ceiling is still there, as are the red couches and lamps, and black tables but the disco ball is gone and the bathrooms aren't that sleek black and white tile it used to be. The piano is white and I remember there being a black one there in the center of the couches. It was really odd watching American movies with a bunch of Americans in a German movie theater. There were a few Germans but most were Americans.

The next day we went to Idar Oberstein and went through an old gem mine tour and the kids bought rocks/gems. We were staying in the youth hostel in Traben-Trabach. A big bus load of British boys were there too.

One of the last days we tried to go to a volksmarch but the town I was given wasn't having one that day. There are some towns with duplicate names so I'm wondering if I went to the wrong town or if they made a mistake when they gave me the information. The IVV sent me the info and they are the volksmarching people. So, never did get to do that.

We spent one of the last days going to the Koln zoo, which was ok. We drove by the Dom (big cathedral) but the traffic was a nightmare so I didn't want to try and find a parking spot. I never did see the polar bears or the giant catfish that they had some 20 years ago. The boys were giving me a hard time about the catfish.

The last two days we went to a lake with paddleboats, first just me and Lauren because Alex was being a butthead during most of the trip and so I left him and Ross to fend for themselves at the youth hostel. They weren't too happy about that but I wasn't going to let him ruin another day. Ross decided to stay with Alex. Lauren and I had a nice quiet day, first driving around the old base and taking pictures, and then we went paddleboating. We decided to come back the next day and go on the electro boat. They were slower than the paddleboats but not as much work. We took the boys with us and it was colder the second day so we didn't stay out very long with the electo boat, got our jackets out of the car and went back to paddleboat.

That was our trip. Didn't have that great of a time mostly because of the kids' attitudes, mostly Alex's. They were bored most of the time. I really think I should have just gone by myself. My next trip will be to Japan and I might take Lauren but doubt I'll be taking Alex or anyone else. I tried to get input from everyone who was going on the trip but everyone told me they would just do whatever I wanted, not so once we got there. We never did go to Trier because the kids didn't want to go, they thought it would be boring. They also hated getting up early to do things, wanted to lay in bed all morning. Hard to do when you only have so long and have so many things you want to do.

I'll post pictures later. Right now I have to shower and get dressed and go pick up some food and my mail. Will come back and catch up on everyone here. I couldn't do a whole lot when I was over there, as far as the computer was since we had to pay for all but one hotel internet service...and it was very slow...actually all of them were extremely slow. I'm glad to be finally home.

p.s. please excuse the typos and misspelled words.

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