Friday, September 20, 2013

The Romantic Rhine

Last year, about this time Kyle and I took an amazing trip to the Moselle River Valley.  It was such a nice, relaxing trip in a gorgeous location, so I was anxious to relive that trip!  This time, we decided to head to the Romantic Rhine since we had not seen it yet.  We just did a quick overnight trip, but it was pretty awesome!

We started our trip at Koblenz, a pretty big town at the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine rivers.  The town suffered a lot of damage during the war, so not a lot of the historic town survives although it's been inhabited since about 8 BC.  It's a beautiful setting, and was a great place to start our trip.  The main site to see in Koblenz is the Deutsches Eck (German Corner).  It's a piece of land right at the confluence of the two rivers where there stands a huge monument of Emperor William I.

After a lunch in the Weindorf (wine village) and a brief walk around the town, we headed back to the car to drive along the Rhine.  The Rhine is in a very steep valley.  As you drive along the river, you see quaint small towns, and amazing terraced vineyards.  It seems like you pass a castle overlooking the river about every 5 minutes!  It's absolutely gorgeous!

We stopped for a coffee in the quaint little town of Boppard.  There is a very nice riverside promenade where we stopped to caffeinate.   We enjoyed watching the slow moving ships, although there were a few too many bees for comfort!

We continued along the riverside until we reached our stopping point for the evening.  We were staying in the picture perfect town of Bacharach.  We checked into our hotel, then headed out to see the town.  I don't think a town could be any cuter!  There's a beautiful church in the town center, and all of the streets are lined with crooked old half timbered houses.  It's surrounded by terraced vineyards and is overlooked by a castle.  Wow.

The Rhine River Valley vineyards are known for their dry Rieslings. There are no shortages of wine tasting rooms to try them out!  We stopped at a tasting room for dinner in a secluded little courtyard.  We had a white wine sampler and had a wonderful little evening.  After dinner, back at the hotel, we checked out the pool and sauna.  As it turns out, I'm not a sauna person.  I can't take the heat!  I felt like I was suffocating in there, not to mention the burn coming from my lips and hands!  I'll take the pool or hot tub any old day over the sauna!

Tired boys!

The next morning we walked up to the cathedral ruins that hovered above the town.  I have to say, in the morning light it was pretty majestic!

We headed south along the river and decided to stop at one of the beautiful castles.  Since we had passed about 20 of them, how could we not stop to see one??  We stopped at the 13th-century Burg Rheinstein.  We parked and hiked up the steep hill towards the castle, and were very grateful when we found out that they allow dogs!  We had some wine and coffee overlooking the river before touring the castle.

Gizmo refused to go up the last stairs to the top!

After touring the castle, our plan was to head towards home by a leisurely drive down the German Wine Route.  (When in doubt, always take the scenic way!)  We drove though Germany's wine country, passing through tiny towns with more than their fair share of tasting rooms.  Lucky for us, one of the towns we were passing through, Bad Dürkheim, was celebrating opening night of the world's biggest wine fest!  We had a couple of hours to kill before the festivities began.  We had lunch in a quiet town square.  As we were eating, it became pretty obvious that a parade would be passing through!  ( I was much more excited about this than Kyle.)  We thought the parade would be starting at 5:00 pm, so we walked around the town and found a good spot along the sidewalk right at 5:00.  It was actually pretty hot, and we waited and waited, and the parade still hadn't started.  It finally started a half hour later, and it was well worth it!  This parade was definitely for adults instead of children.  Instead of throwing candy, the floats and people in the parade poured glasses of wine for the crowd!  Best parade ever!!  (Gizmo, however, was not very fond of the marching bands.  Add parades to the list of things that he's scared of!)

After the parade, of course we had to go check out the fest!  It was huge and a lot of fun!  They had a lot of rides and food like a state fair, but the difference was all of the wine booths and tents!  They actually served wine by the pint glass!  We thought that drinking wine by the pint could lead to a bad drive home, and a bad morning, so we each had a weisswein schorle ,which is white wein mixed with sparkling water.  It's very refreshing!

We headed home after hanging out at the fest for a few hours.  Gizmo was very happy to be home. As it turns out, fests aren't his thing.  Kyle and I had a wonderful time.  I guess the river valleys have become an annual September trip for us!  Not a bad tradition to have!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Back Home Again in Indiana

Last month, Kyle and I were very blessed to be able to take a trip home to visit family and friends in Indianapolis.  We hadn't been in the States since April of 2012, so it was really nice to be back for a short two weeks that absolutely flew by!

Goodbye Stuttgart...

Hello, Indy!
It was a little bit weird being back after having been gone for so long.  There were a few things that really stuck out to us.  The first thing we noticed up in the airplane on our flight as we were nearing Indy was how long and straight the roads are!  I don't think any of the roads in Germany are straight for longer than 200 meters in one stretch!  Leaving the airport on the interstate, we felt like we were driving really slow, and we couldn't believe how many pick up trucks we saw!  You just don't see those around here!

Whoah!  Free water...with ice!

We stayed back and forth between our parents' houses most of the time.  At Kyle's parents' house, we loved having coffee in the morning outside with Kyle's mom while chatting and checking out the birds and squirrels.

Sadie enjoyed morning coffee too!

We were really happy that we caught the tail end of the State Fair!  We hadn't been there in a few years, so it was a lot of fun to walk around and eat some tasty fair food. It was a beautiful evening with great company!

World's biggest hog

Very long line for deep fried treats.  Deep fried butter, anyone?

We loved checking out all of the updates and new stuff that Indy has to offer.   It's awesome to see everything that they've done.  It really is a great city!  We were even lucky enough to check out all of the people in town for Gen Con.  That's people watching at it's best!

We didn't have a big list of things to see for this trip.  Our list of what we wanted to do mainly consisted of things we wanted to eat!  Mexican food was at the top of the list!  Germany (and Europe in general) just doesn't do Mexican the right way.  We also were craving American steak, sweet corn, micro brews, and deep dish pizza.  We managed to take care of all of those cravings!  Were were also lucky to hit Indy during Devour Downtown, when a lot of restaurants offer a special 3 course menu at a lower price.  We made it to two places for Devour Downtown:  St. Elmo's, which is an old city favorite, and Bluebeard, which is an awesome new place for foodies.  They were both excellent, and the best thing about them was eating with great company!

An aperitif with my sis!

Just looking at this is making me hungry!

The shrimp at St. Elmo's is drenched with horseradish cocktail sauce!

Mmmmmm, crabby mac!

Perfection on a plate

I stole these St. Elmo pics from Mary, Amy, and Lydia.  Thanks guys :-)

The horseradish is getting to my hubby!

While we really enjoyed seeing the city and eating our favorite foods, the whole purpose of the trip was to catch up with the people that we miss so much over here!  Our great friends Jason and Lydia were kind enough to host a party for us so that we could have some fun with long lost friends!  As usual, the food and drinks were spectacular, as was catching up with everyone! (Sorry, we didn't end up with any good people pics!)

A delicious spread!

Kyle's Aunt and Uncle, the Wilson's, hosted a lunch for us and our families.  We had a wonderful time relaxing, eating an amazing home cooked meal (with our favorite Delicious Potatoes!), and visiting with family.  They are such wonderful hosts, and we're so thankful for their hospitality!

Jim is almost finished building the incredible Wilson Theater!

The guys are ready for the show!

We got to catch up with my extended family at Kari's very belated birthday party!  My mom made an amazing dinner, as usual, and we had a great visit.

Kari and I trying our hand at wasn't one of our better ones!

Luckily, the timing of our trip was absolutely perfect.  We were so blessed to meet our new nephew, Kristin and Richie's son, Isaac, when he was just a couple of weeks old.  He is such a perfect little thing, and I can't get enough of him!  I'm so excited to see him again in December!

A little 5 pound bundle of preciousness!

Checking out baby surprises from Germany!

Uncle Kyle and Isaac!

Isaac is checking out Aunt Kari!

We had such a fabulous time, and we are so thankful that we were able to take the trip home.  There are a few people that we didn't get to see, but the good thing is we'll be back at the end of December!  Putting together the blog, I also realized we didn't have any good pics with our parents, so we'll have to get some good ones next trip!  Our time in Indy flew by quickly, so we're definitely excited for our trip back in a few months.  Thanks to our family and friends for all of the Hoosier hospitality, and we'll see you again soon!  Next up: the Romantic Rhine, Berlin, Paris, and London!