Dear family and friends:
It's been 3 weeks since we got back from our trip to Europe so I thought that I might share with you the highlights of our trip (hopefully this will be better than watching the home movies!).
We left for Germany on January 11, taking British Airways from London to Seattle. Jennifer (Tim's Mom) and Robert (Tim's step-dad) were kind enough to take us to the airport. The flight to London was uneventful aside from the magnificent "northern lights" that were visible for over 3 hours. After a 4 hour layover in London we boarded another plane that took us to Cologne, finally landing 16 hours after we left Seattle. Geof (Tim's brother), Julie (Tim's sister-in-law), Charlie (Nephew) and Laurie (Nephew) met us at the airport where Lynda and I picked up our rental car. We had reserved an Audi, but fortunately they were out of them so we were upgraded to a Mercedes! What a way to start the trip!
We spent the first few days touring downtown Bonn and the area around Meckenhiem (Geof's hometown). We visited the birthplace of Beethoven, walked along the Rhien and toured castle ruins. We also drove to Koblenz where we visited a magnificent castle that is still occupied.
After a few days in Germany we drove to Neuchantel Switzerland where we stayed with the sister of an old highschool friend of Tim's. While in Switzerland we visited a famous watch museum in "Cheaux de Fonds" and drove up to "Le Veux de Alps" (please forgive the spelling). The weather here was great. The View of the Alps was unforgettable! You could see the mountains all the way from Italy to France!
After Switzerland we drove up to Paris where we met Geof, Julie and the kids at EuroDisney. It was on this leg of the trip that Tim got the Mercedes up to 223 Km/Hr. What a rush! We spent the next two days at Disneyland doing things like Star Tours (where all robots speak French) and Space Mountain (where you travel upside-down and through loopdeloops in total darkness). Although it was very cold (-1 to 4 degrees Celsius), we had a great time. There were NO lines to speak of at any of the rides and the prices were fairly reasonable. Coincidentally we were there for the 5 year anniversary of the opening of the park. There were special fireworks and parades that added a special touch to the trip!
Geof and family returned to Germany on Sunday afternoon, leaving Lynda and I to discover Paris. Over the next 2 days we climbed the Eiffel Tower (yes climbed it...no elevators for us!), saw the Arc de' Triumph, visited Notre Dame and the Louvre (saw Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Wings of Victory etc.), shopped the major garment area, walked along the Seine, saw the Bullet Trains and ate at several great restaurants.
After Paris we drove north to Luxembourg (stopping at the Notre Dame in Reims along the way). We spent the night in Vianden where we had a 50 room hotel all to ourselves! It was "off season", so although the hotel was open, the proprietors hadn't expected any guests. They called in the cook and a waiter and we had the BEST meal of the trip. It was seven courses that ended with homemade ice-cream sundaes with sparklers going off on the top. This place had tennis courts, a hot tub, tanning beds, workout room...the whole nine yards....and it was all at our disposal (we skipped the tennis part though!). They did our laundry for us, fed us a great breakfast and the whole thing came to less than $160.00! If you are ever in Luxembourg in the Winter I highly recommend this spot!
After Luxembourg we drove north through Belgium and ended up in Amsterdam, Holland. The next day we toured the city and then drove further north to windmill country. There we visited a small city that has kept all the old traditions and styles of the Netherlands. They still had working windmills, made cheese from scratch and wore/made wooden shoes. It was alot of fun, but because we were scheduled to leave for home in three days we began heading back to Germany.
On the way home, Lynda and I both came down with the worst flu we have EVER had. We got back to Germany and basically went to bed for several days. Well OK, we did play cards with Geof and Julie and made dinner one night, but by Sunday morning, the day of our departure, we were both so sick we canceled our plane reservations and went to the emergency room in Rhienbach. The doctor on call turned out to be a gynecologist who didn't speak English, however, with Geof's help, he managed to prescribe some medications and sent us to bed.
Since we were overdue picking up Rigel (our dog) and I was out of other medication that I need to take daily, I flew home on Tuesday and left Lynda in Geof's hands. I spent the next 4 days at home in bed recovering from this miserable thing. Lynda came home a week later. We are now STILL suffering minor symptoms (cough, voice loss etc.). What a trip!
We have roughly 150 photos and 2.5 hours of video tap so if you are in the neighborhood and want to see them let us know!