Saturday, January 25, 2014

Switzerland- Crushed it!

Oh yah, we crushed it on this one.  We may not have seen it all, but we did a lot of fun things for a weekend. We decided to go with the scouts on their Klondike derby.
On the way down we stopped in Schaufhausen to see Europe's largest falls.

If you've been to Niagara- not that impressive, but still really pretty.  I wish the boats had been going so that we could have gone out to the peninsula and climbed to the flag.  You know one of my boys would have pushed or tripped someone; however, so maybe it's a good thing that wasn't happening.  I loved the little mill on the side with the small stream!

So beautiful. 
We also saw the Fortress- Munot. 

It looked like it housed lots of troops with it's large circle domed insides. 

It was built on the spot where an even older fortress dated back to the 1300's with a guard watching over the town.  No stairs up, just a spiraling incline to the top

where you had 360 degree view of the pretty town and river.

Rob hung his hat there

and we all danced on the stage and yodeled.

We also looked down the well- Maria captioned this picture... Bummer!  

We found some Swiss fish- 

not quite as good eating as Swedish fish, but still cool.
This was looking out from our Swiss Chalet- 

the view was amazing!

It is right across from the Scout center. 
Lots of ward members came down and spent the night too.  There were 4 levels of 5-8 person rooms.  Each family got on room and then the scouts had the 8 person room.  Joseph was one too many scouts and he was the youngest one there, so we had him sleep with us.  The families all shared dinners together.  There were fabulous soups and chili's the first night and Mexican food the next night.  There was also plenty of Swiss chocolate and other treats being shared.  We played games of spoons and The Great Dalmuti and we all went sledding as soon as the boys left for the Derby. 

The sledding wasn't your every day baby hill sledding.

You bought a lift pass and then you sledded down close to where the skiers were.  It took about 30 minutes of walking to get from the lift to the good sledding, but it was worth it when you got there.  Man, we crushed a few people on those runs!! You really had to know how to turn with your feet.  You had to drag your feet the entire time, because you were going so fast and then you had to dig in with the foot of which was you wanted to turn.  It was a fine balance of pressure.  The last run of the day we made a race and most of the kids and faint of heart were left at the bottom of the hill- except Max and Emma and one other kid who weren't about to get left with the babies.  That was one crazy, crazy sled run!  Besides being fast and having some 90 degree turns, it was now completely rutted.  You flew when you hit those bumps!  Also we had our share of wipe outs and those are hard to avoid when you are barreling down the hill right after them.  I almost took 1st place, but as I was edging the guy in front of me out, he heard me giggle, turned around and started to slowly shift his weight so that he pushed me off the run.  I went over a stump and off my sled.  In the end, Emma took 2nd and I took 3rd.  Rob had Max with him and Max made it so hard to turn!  I took Max down one run with me and we biffed it 3 times before he said, "I don't want to go with you again!"   I ended up with a huge bruise right on my derrière!  It's not pretty- but it wasn't from any falls, it was just from leaning so hard from left to right on my sled.  The scenery we were sledding through was so gorgeous that we had to stop and take a few pictures. 

The Swiss Alps are gorgeous.
The boys stayed out that evening and played in the snow for hours.  They built a snow fort with a tunnel and a little wall.

On the way home we stopped and saw Bern. 

We wanted to see their mascot- the Bears.  We looked everywhere and Emma finally said, "Their hibernating, Mom.  Even I know bears hibernate in the winter."  A few minutes later I found a sign.  I yelled out, "Hey, guys, guess what... The bears are hibernating!"  Ha ha- funny me.  So these are the bears we got to see. 

Bern has cool fountains all over town and the water is supposed to be lovely.  Here are the boys trying it.  Sam said it did taste very good. 

We saw the cool clock

 and the Cathedral with it's crazy relief.

See all the people popping in Hell?

Here is the other side for you.

We couldn't get the GPS to take us to the temple, so we just went to the middle of the town it said and drove around.  We had almost given up when I spotted the spire with Moroni off to the left.

We were trying to get the Swiss flag to flap just the right way, so that you could see it was Swiss.
Again- I really need to bring my tripod- so we can get a family shot!
On the way home we stopped at Cindy's dinner and had "American" hamburgers and fries. Recommended to us by our good friend, David L.  The cool glasses came with the kids meals.

This is European style "American," because they had things like cold slaw on them- not very American.  The one that was actually named the American burger had, as Emma predicted, bacon on it.  The Europeans think we can't eat a hamburger without it.  Rob made us a cake when we got home for Emma and my birthday.

Happy 17th birthday Dear Emma!
Karl said when we go to Switzerland we have to do...
and yodel after milking a cow with a big bell
Chocolate- check more than once
clocks- check
watches- well we looked at them, so check
knives- bought 3, check
yodeling- check, but there were no cows to be seen- or bears!
So over all I'd say... Vacation accomplished!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Rothenburg repeat

The Retrieval Man told us, after he saw our faces when he told us it would cost over 800 euros to retrieve our pictures, that he recommends we just go on holiday, again and take some more pictures.  Luckily, we did do this in Rothenburg already.
  The older two kids didn't go the first time, because they had tests at school.  We saw different stuff this time, but it's all still Rothenburg- right?
Pictures from the wall

We walked a lot more of the wall this time and found a cool park on one side that the kids had lots of fun at.  This was a merry go round that you just walked on to make it work.  Sam was the only one that could stay up and walk while it went around.
I have got to remember to bring a tripod every once in awhile so we can get a real family picture!

 The amazing wooden carving in St. Jakob's Chruch by Tilman Riemenschneider.  We got a private tour in English, because we were the only ones there at the appointed time! 
 More of the park- give me a break- I'm still trying to figure out how to use this new operating system!
 One of the many gates into the city.  Notice the man looking at you?   His eyes and mouth could spew some super hot nutella at you (as Rick Steve's says!) if you came to invade. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Sad Computer Tale

Once a long time ago in a land far, far away a husband and a wife wanted a brand new shiny Mac, oh so badly.  They found one on sale (What?  Mac's never go on sale!)  But their dear friend wanted one just like theirs at the very same time and the store only had one, so they agreed to take the floor model (with another reduction in cost.)  Well the husband and wife were feeling so happy about their purchase and they loved their Mac!  Until one day, 2 years later, that very Mac decided to freeze up and stop working without any warning!  The husband and wife had not been in their new house, far across the ocean, for more than 6 months and they hadn't gotten everything just the way they wanted yet.  They took their baby Mac in to an Apple doctor, hoping agains hope that it could be fixed.  It was only 2 years old, after all!  Alas nothing could save the Mac's hard drive and it had to be replaced.  The Mac is better now, but it's memory is gone.  Six months of precious pictures gone!  All the music- gone!  All the documents- gone!  The husband and the wife were able to restore the music with much patience.  They could do without the documents, but the pictures were lost.  You see, one of the things they had neglected to do, after their move, was set up the external hard drive.  There was one hope- a data retrieval specialist.  Alas, the data retrieval was over 800 euros- too high a price to pay for 6 months of non-backed up pictures!  There may be yet another hope.  Some of the pictures are actually stored on their blog and FB pages and they have friends that were with them as they saw London and Belgium and the Black Forest and Rothenburg, Hohenzollern castle and Munich.  They had family with them at the funeral of the husband's Father and during their two week stay.  If the friends and family all sent copies of their photos to the husband and wife it would bring them some joy.

The moral of this story is:  always print and back up your pictures!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Christmas, Trier, and Happy New Year!

Another good Christmas at the Kress house.

We enjoyed it at home, relaxing.
 Burning the candle Max made at the Christmas market in Stuttgart
 Oh yeah- sugar rush!  That's what Christmas is all about!
 American sauce?  What?
We had our traditional Prime Rib dinner
We did our traditional nativity play
 Emma the Angel
 Dad- Joseph
 Sam- wiseman, sheep, King Herod (he is multi-talented)
 Joseph- Wiseman
 Max- shepherd
Mom- Mary with my child, baby Jesus, played by Chocolate Chip the dog who is wrapped in swaddling camo and laid in a Reisenthal manger

and opened one present on Christmas eve.  This year it wasn't pajamas.  This year I found a place that wood burned names on wooden swords and things.  I bought the boys all swords with their names.  Sam and Max's said, "Sir Samuel" and "Sir Maxwell."  Joseph's said, "King Joseph."  Joseph has always been King Joseph since Sam made him the king when he was 3 years old.  Max wasn't impressed that Joseph's got to say king on it, however!
  Emma got a keyboard.  I had been looking for one for awhile to replace the baby grand we couldn't bring with us.  I found the one I wanted, but Amazon would't send it overseas and I couldn't guarantee it was dual voltage, so I didn't want to buy it from   Luckily, we found one (not the one I actually wanted, but oh well) at the PX last minute.  Emma tried to play all the songs that we sung during our play.  She did a great job for not having anything for over 6 months to practice on! 
 Waiting to be let around the corner.  Sam and Emma had to pass by the tree before they got to our room, but they closed their eyes.  Sam even blind-folded himself and ran into a few things on the way!
 Aca-believe it!
 Opening a family present together
Joseph reading Astrix and Obelix.  I love that they love the things we were into as kids!  Sam says he wants to get them all!

A couple days after Christmas we decided to go see some sites and visited Trier with some friends. 
Roman Column- I can't believe they let you just climb all over them, but they do.
I say we went with friends in a very loose sense of the words, because our friends left without us and we never caught up with them on the road.  We met up with them at the Black gate, but then we lost them exploring it.  We stopped at the center of town and had bratwurst and pommes and met them again.  We never saw them after that!  Ha ha!  I've decided we are way too decisive about what we want to see to travel with friends!
We saw the Porte Nigra- 

Since it was the black gate- we surrounded Max and Joseph as Orcs.  Max didn't look that concerned.  I guess he knows he will win in the end!
It's a Roman gate that was turned into a monastery/church for awhile and that is how it survived,

Look at the scroll work on the walls- that was all over!  
The basilica/throne room of Constantine
The Roman baths

The Dom church where they keep the supposed "robe of Christ" found by St. Helena (Constantine's mother.) 
It was beautiful- the church.  The robe is almost never on display, but you can see where they house it behind us. 

We lit our first candle in a Catholic church.
That is ours all by itself.
We saw the workers church also.  They didn't like the Bishop and so when they built their town hall they had two statues of soldiers set on the sides.  One was looking with his visor up over the people of the town.  

The other, with his visor down, ready for battle, is looking at the Bishop's palace!

The workers also made sure the tower on their church was slightly higher than the Bishops.  The Bishop then got mad and paid for one of his towers to be built just slightly higher than theirs.  
The Jewish ghettos. (They look pretty nice now!)

A keep- 

see how the door is up to second level.  Ok, maybe you can't see it- I was taking a picture of the pretty painted windows instead.  They would have wooden stairs that they could pull up at any time from the outside.
Afterwards we stopped on our way home and had dinner at Ramstein and bought everyone new shoes.

We couldn't decide what to do for New years- which usually means we do nothing.  Luckily one of our friends was having the missionaries and another friend who was newly diagnosed with cancer over, so we became their buffers- ha ha!  It sounded like such a fun night- we just couldn't resist!  The night was crazy with fireworks!

They just went off and off and off! 

The whole landscape, as far as you could see, was filled with them- and for about an hour, too!  It was a beautiful site to start the new year!