Friday, October 23, 2009

Two Days in the Sinking City

Venice, Italy September 4, 2009

When we arrived in Venice, it was very early in the morning. The sun wasn't up quite yet and it was a little chilly. We waited for the tourist information booth to open up so we could begin planning out our days. We got a guide from the information booth that stated the events day by day. Cody saw the concert for the Love Duets and signed us up for it.

After we purchased the tickets for the Duetti d' Amore, we went to San Marco Square and enjoyed a light lunch followed by a specialty dessert. Here is Cody's dessert and you can tell he was enjoying it very much.

Enjoying the live music and dessert.

That evening we went to see, Duetti d' Amore (Love Duets) in a palace. It was so great! This was my favorite event in Venice. We didn't take a Gondola ride and yes, I turned down that to go to this once in a lifetime event.

Imagine an evening in a wealthy rich home filled with antique furnishings, drapes, and, frescoes on the ceiling. Then imagine, two people who are singing and acting out the duets of love all sung in Italian. It was a beautiful evening with much anticipation from one scene and song to the next. Allow me to let the amazing photos tell of the magnificence we experienced.

These were the entertainers for the evening.

From the window of the palace, Cody took this amazing photo of the Venice Canal. He is a wonderful photographer and learned a lot from our trip with the new camera. Oh and I can't wait to get a larger print of this photo and hang this on our travel wall.

Standing inside the palace by the window.

You know the fashion in Italy........I'll let the pictures do the talking. They are so intricately done and I loved the one with the paper sculpture. Enjoy!

I took this picture because it was in the window for a clothing company and I loved the sculpted flowers.

The next day we walked around Venice and went to a couple of museums. On the way, we ate some lunch and took lots of photos.

Eating lunch.

These may look like flowers, but they are peppers. I loved the bright colors and the way it looked like flower bunches.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dachau Concentration Camp

Dachau Concentration Camp, September 2

[Amanda] Sorry it has been a while since we have blogged. We have been out of Internet range, so now we are submitting another blog today as we wait for our flight back to DFW. We have a 5 hr. layover here. So plenty of time to catch up on a few blogs. :-)

We arrived in Munich, Germany on Tuesday evening after leaving Berchtesgarden. On Wednesday we decided to take a tour of The Dachau Concentration Camp which was promoted by the hostel we stayed at. We got some food for the trip at the train station in a hurry, then met up with the group to leave. Our tour guide, Gordon, took care of all our tickets and we just paid our money for the entire tour. It was nice not having to figure out the bus and train schedule to Dachau as well as when the tours began once we arrived at the Memorial site.

Gordon explained to us that the only people who are allowed to give the tours are certified by the Dachau committee. Upon arriving, we walked along a gravel laid walking area with several new trees planted to hide the Bavarian Riot Police Headquarters, which are now in the former SS training buildings. They have also built a library there as well, which was off to the left. Then we walked down the road where the prisoners were initially lead into the camp, by foot. When I came here in 1996, this was not visible. Instead, we entered the camp through a side gate, by a guard tower. These changes along with the museum's presentations reflect the committee's ideas of being more focused on the prisoners and survivors, rather than the process of the prisoners, with the focus on the SS guards.

As we are standing outside the gate, it reads, "Arbeit macht frei", which means, work brings freedom. This was an ironic statement, as many who came here never saw their freedom again. Some did, moved away, and immigrated to a new country to begin a new life and start over. The reason Dachau is such a well-known name is because it was one of the first camps that was set up and later became the model camp for many, countless other camps and subcamps throughout Europe.

We also learned from Gordon that the gas chambers at Dachau were used on prisoners who were transported there from other camps. Those who were at Dachau were never put in the gas chamber there, only those who arrived at Dachau from other camps. The prisoners were constantly on the move. The creamatoriums were used so much that the original three were not enough for the many prisoners, so another, more efficient one was built. These burned at much higher temperatures. There were also spies who were hung on the rafters and then burned in the ovens.

The camp had prisoners of different nationalities, social classes, social, as well as religious and political beliefs, to name a few. The memorial site is a special place for us to remember, to remember the survivors, to remember what happened, to remember the courage of the men, women, and children, to remember that freedom did come to those who were left, to remember a past that must not be forgotten.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Granny Tot and my Crocheted Scarf

The first time I knew about crochet, I was probably around 8 or 9, sitting by my Granny Tot on her couch watching her make some pink-flowered, green-leafed, and white-squared granny squares for an afghan. I told her I wanted to learn how to do what she was doing, so she taught me how to make a chain stitch and then tried to show me something else she did to make those neat looking squares. I didn't understand what she was doing, but I sure could make those chain stitches and they looked like little worms through my young eyes of 8yrs old. I even glued on wiggly eyes, and put it on the Christmas tree that year.

Well, many years later, I still had that desire to learn how to crochet and make scarves, afghans, and other items. I took my first class to learn the basics of crochet at Joann fabric stores. I made my very first scarf out of a double chain crochet. It was so much fun.

Here is my very first project after one crochet class. I can't wait to make more items as it is very rewarding.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Berchtesgaden and the Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle's Nest)

From Berchtesgaden

Cody     Amanda and I were able to slow down and start off our week and vacation on a relaxing note with a little help from the people and scenary of Berchtesgarden.  This small sporting and resort community sits just outside Salzburg, Austria on the German side of the border in the wonderful Berchtesgaden National Park.  After sleeping in to catch up on some much needed rest from our traveling marathon, we headed out to get a better view of the mountains surrounding us.

Monday, August 31 - Kehlsteinhaus (Hitler's Eagle's Nest)
Cody     After just missing a city bus, Amanda and I grabbed a taxi and headed for Obersalzberg to begin our journey up to Kehlsteinhaus.  If I had a couple accelerometers on hand, a recording device, and a multi-million dollar buget, I believe I could create the next great ride at Six Flags.  As our driver zigged and zagged up the winding mountain rode in his little four-banger diesel engine, I wished the gang from work was with me so I could display proof that I'm not the world's worst driver!  At least they don't have to pay for my amusement rides.

Not only does the Kehlsteinhaus hold historical significance, but it is also an amazing engineering feat considering the time in which the different stages were completed.  The rode from Obersalzberg up to the top of the mountain gave me time to reflect on the terrain on which we fought the World Wars and what it took to overtake such posts.

From Kehlsteinhaus

With Amanda being in her second trimester, we decided to take the elevator up to the top.  The egineering in the  tunnel and elevator shaft is incredible considering the majority of the work was pulled off in a year.  I wished I had rubbed a little deorderant above my upper lip after crowding onto an elevator with 40 other smelly travelers.  At least no one was talking on their cell phone considering we were in the middle of a mountain.

From Kehlsteinhaus

At the top, we hiked the trail up to a viewing area and took in an indescribable panaroma of the Bavarian Alps.  I was hoping for some fresh air but it seems just about every other person in Germany can't live without their cigarrettes.

The actual Kehlsteinhaus is now operated as a restaurant and we took the opportunity to try some new German dishes.  I ordered Sulze, hausgemacht mit Essig, Ok, Zweibelringen und Bratkartoffeln.  It was good, but a weird texture.  Just imagine jello filled with meat, mushrooms, and vegetables soaked in vinegar.

From Kehlsteinhaus

After lunch we toured the other rooms of the house and headed back down to see what the night life had to offer.

Downtown Beer Gardens, Berchtesgaden, Germany

From Berchtesgaden

Cody     While Amanda took a short nap, I headed downtown to see what was stirring.  I found several bands playing and a crowd beginning together, so I went back to stir Amanda.  Monday night really cooled off as we headed down to the center of the market area.  We found a great place to grab some dinner and then headed for the gelato.  This started a trend that will continue the rest of the trip.  Braum's has met its match.

The highlight of the night was a great American cover band playing tunes spanning several decades.   When they started "Proud Mary", Amanda and I started swing dancing (alone nonetheless) and before long several others had joined us in creating a makeshift dancefloor in front of the stage.

From Berchtesgaden

For those following our trip, we have had a harder time finding Internet connections than expected and will be catching up the rest of our entries very soon.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Plains, trains, and a heavy backpack: Cody's transformation into a pack mule

Saturday, August 29 - En route to Berchtesgaden, Germany via Philadelphia, Zurich, and Salzburg

From Arrival in Zurich

Amanda    My parents took us to the airport and my dad had some English Muffins with egg and Canadian Bacon ready for us to eat when we got to their house.  Thanks Dad! These were delicious.
We checked in and went right to our gate. We flew to Philadelphia and had a short layover there. We stopped to get some Chik-fil-a, one of my favorite places. I was so hungry. I got a chicken sandwich and fries and my all time favorite Homemade Lemonade with easy ice. It's my favorite because it's so tart and sweet at the same time. Cody had chicken nuggets with fries and a coke. I was feeling kind of sick before we landed in Philadelphia; a headache and a little nausea. We both felt much better and enjoyed it. I had to pack up mine and take it with me to the terminal as we were about to leave shortly. When we walked up the the terminal, they were boarding, so we made it just in time. Yeah!! Once on the plane, I was finishing my snack and it began to rain.
Cody    A myriad of thunder and lightening began what became a 4 hour wait on the tarmac.  Just as we began to taxi out, the captain informed us that the entire airport was being turned around and to expect a 2 hour delay.  Just as the captain came over the PA to let us know we were now first in line to take off, Amanda leaned over and said, "It would be just our luck that they will turn the airport around again before we take off."  Sure enough, Amanda jinxed us (thanks Amanda) and the captain told us all the planes had to take off in the other direction.  One more two-hour do-si-do and we were finally Switzerland bound.
Amanda    He was definitely stressed out that we weren't going to leave when we had originally thought, and listening to the crying child didn't help either. 
At one point, I got up, stretched my legs, and walked around. I was so glad I had gotten something to eat before boarding as I wouldn't have made it that long. Eventually we ate dinner while watching a movie. Cody was smooth sailing after that and ready to catch some Zs as he said. I slept too after the movie was over and quite well for an airplane ride.
Cody missed it as he was brushing his teeth in the bathroom. When I woke up, I was trying to see as my eyesight was blurry. I used one of the masks you put over your eyes, like you always see in the movies, and I guess it pressed my eyes a little too much. This was the first time I've ever used one of these and it may be my last. I also think they were dry because of the air here. I can see just fine now; 5 hrs. later.
As we were coming in to the Zurich airport, we saw a wonderful view of the Matterhorn. Cody missed it as he was brushing his teeth in the bathroom. 
We took off to find our luggage which didn't take long at all to get from the plane. We headed to get something to eat and ate lunch a very relaxing delicatessen at the airport train station. We had tasty sandwiches. We called my friend Stefanie to let her know we made it okay. We validated our Eurail passes, headed to the Hauptbahnhof, the main station, and on our way stopped at our first restroom or water closet where we had to pay money to go in. There were turn styles and everything. It was like entering and exiting the Metro in Paris. It was called Mc Clean. They also offered showers and the like. You can see it below in the picture where Cody stood. I have to say they were really clean. There are people working there to keep them clean all the time.

From Arrival in Zurich

We got on the train for Salzburg, our first destination. We got on the train in 1st class even though we didn''t have a reservation. Some didn't have any reservations so, we stayed in the car and took naps. The seats pull out from the walls. We also enjoyed the scenery when got on as you can see from the lake and photos we took. What fun and what beauty God has created for us to see. Pictures cannot do justice for places like this. The best of all, is to see it for yourself. Just click on the photo above and you can see all the photos from the countryside while on the train. I am blogging as we are still on our way to Bertchesgaden, Germany.

From Arrival in Zurich

Oh, mom, thanks so much for the mini hand sanitizing wipes, these have already come in handy many times and it's only the 2nd day of travel. These are so great!! Thanks again. We are doing well and can't wait to get out and see the countryside, take a nice hopefully hot shower, eat some great German food, and take a nice/hike and walk in Bertchesgaden.

Album: Arrival in Zurich