Our 1st guest! More, please!

Happy Halloween errbody! A couple of weeks ago Kenny and I played host to one of my very best friends (and future bridesmaid!), Laine Mello. She stayed for a short week and I missed her as soon as she was gone… It was so nice having her here. Some of you might have seen the album I posted on Facebook of our little trip to Paris: a magical experience that I cannot wait to have again! After we returned, Laine, Kenny, and I had the amazing opportunity (thanks to Dave Mello and, of course General and Mrs. Repass) to visit one of the locations for the US Army in Stuttgart: Patch Barracks. It truly was a mini-America; it was almost like being home! It was really cool to see how those who serve America live, it was like a small town within Stuttgart; they have one of everything they need. Plus, it was really nice (and strange) to hear English all around us! General Repass explained to us a bit of what he does on a daily basis. It was really incredible to hear how much these guys deal with that we, as citizens, don’t even know about. The Repass’ showed us around Patch, cooked us a delicious meal, and even gave us gifts of things that Kenny and I have been missing from home, little things like (REAL) Diet Coke and (REAL) Ranch dressing. Lastly, Mrs. Repass (whom I decided may or may not be Superwoman) took us “thrifting.” -Mom, I cannot wait to show you these places- There are several dirt-cheap amd authentic antique stores around Stuttgart! I seriously could have spent hours in there. The Repass’ were very wonderful and down-to-earth people; we cannot begin to express our gratitude for such an excellent day!

After Patch, Kenny and I wanted to take Laine sightseeing. One of our favorite places near Stuttgart was the mountain from our previous posts that holds the Collegium Wirtemburg Weingarten and the Grabkapelle Rotenburg. Kenny and I have always wanted to go back to the winery during opening hours and buy a couple of bottles!

First we drove up the mountain to the Chapel. I know I have already posted many pictures from this place, but we arrived just before sunset, and the view was remarkable.

We walked around the “Chapel of Eternal Love” a few times appreciating the views before we asked Kenny to be our photographer…

Then a nice old German lady took a picture of the three of us!

Stupid bags in the picture. Now… to the alcohol! We were all very excited to discover that the Weingarten was having a wine tasting, only €5 to taste 5 different wines, and generous portions I might add! Laine (proudly) took this little beauty when we sat down…

It was a lot of fun trying the different wines! Lainey, whose alcohol repertoire consists mainly of vodka and more vodka, even liked a few of them!

We passed around our wines in an orderly fashion so we each got a chance to try them all. Laine and I have quite opposite tastes in wine, and Kenny, true to form, pretty much liked them all. Before we left we stopped to enjoy the view and have a few more pictures taken by photographer Kenny.

Then, Laine took some adorable pictures of my darling husband and me:) Thanks Lainey!

That’s not an endearing kiss people, he is about to lick my face.

That’s better! Why was he holding two wine glasses in the pictures you might ask? Because the wine was awesome. Until next time! Cheers!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOMMY! …also, Schloss Lichtenstein

First and foremost, before I begin, I would like to wish my beautiful mother a very happy 27th birthday. I could not ask for a better role model and friend. Your daughters and husband love you very much and are lucky to have you!

On to Schloss Lichtenstein! I am not going to lie to you people… these pictures are fantastic. This is largely thanks to Dr. Fritz (The Fritz’s are a very nice German family we have come to know), as he let me borrow one of his amazing cameras, that of which takes very high quality photographs. We also had a very beautiful subject. The castle of Lichtenstein seemed to have been plucked right out of the Middle Ages. It was not as grandiose as others we have seen, but it certainly had the most character. The castle is perched atop a stony mountainside. It being contrived mainly from stone as well, giving the illusion it has simply sprung up from the mountain itself.

Am I right??

As per usual, Kenny and I arrived just as the internal tour was starting. Naturally, the tour was entirely in German, but due to dumb luck, a woman in the tour was whispering translations of the whole thing to her two friends, whom of which (if my eavesdropping skills are up to par) were from New Zealand. Apparently, there has been a castle in this location since 1200. However, it has been destroyed twice and the current structure has only been around since the 1800’s.

Side note: forgive the horrible quality of the photos from inside the castle… picture-taking was frowned upon, thus, we had to be sneaky again.

The first room we entered had painted murals from floor to ceiling.We also found these rather interesting paintings on either side of the room. The first is Count Eberhard I, Duke of Württemburg and the second is Count Herzog Ulrich von Württemburg. Each painting features a peculiar phrase at the top.

“Attempto” meaning “I dare”

“Stat Animo” meaning “I have it in mind”

How embarrassed must Count Herzog be? What a lame caption to be eternally associated with. At least Count Eberhard gets to be daring…

Anyway! The next room was really beautiful. It boasted gorgeous stained glass windows overlooking the valley below, as well as sundry suits of armor and weaponry.

Apparently, according to the New Zealand lady, boys as young as 12 and 13 were made to fight as well (Kenny and I had originally deemed them midget-armor). The following armor was designed to fit children (not for Tyrions).

Oddly enough the coolest part of the room was a rock…This is a part of the mountain from underneath the castle; they literally built the castle around this chunk of mountain for fear of disrupting the mountain’s foundation.

The next room was the “gentlemen’s drinking quarters”. It featured more elaborately painted murals and all sorts of old-fashioned drinking paraphernalia. But first, this room had the most beautiful hearth I ever did see…

What a pretty green color!

The room, in itself, was comedy. The mural depicted men doing manly things… which in these times (still accurate if you ask me) meant drinking, hunting, fighting, and smoking a pipe… Believe it or not, this tubelike thing is a champagne flute. It takes 4 men to wield it and holds up to 3 bottles of champagne, if memory serves. These guys clearly liked to party.

The next rooms we saw were the part of the castle that the owners would use to entertain their guests. These rooms were more elaborately decorated than the rest, gaudy even.

Side note: what people did before technology… Below, there is a small, fancy sort of gate opening at the top of the wall. There is a hidden room through the tiny gate where musicians would sit and play during parties for hours on end… rough gig.

Lastly we entered the castle’s chapel. This really was a lovely chapel, except my pictures turned out awful because it was really dark and we were in stealth mode so using the flash was not an option. Thus, all you guys get is a photo of their stained glass window behind the mini alter… Es tut mir leid.

After the tour we spent a long time just taking in the view. The leaves were starting to turn and the sun was hitting the valley just so… it truly was perfect.

Stunning, right?

Also, I had to post this picture. This “C’mon Emily” pose is nearly identical to the picture from Tübingen when I was taking too many pictures…

Unfortunately, there was nobody around to take our picture together so this is the best we could do…

Until next time! Cheers!

Further (albeit random) updates***

Guten Morgen! Ich möchte sprechen Deutsch. Wir haben gelernt, ein wenig. Act like you’re not impressed. Kenny and I officially began our German lessons last week. Slowly, but surely we are learning the language… it really is exciting. We, including a few of Kenny’s American teammates (basically whoever shows up), meet every Tuesday at the office for lessons.

Also, today marks the start of my new job: Kenny’s chauffeur. For those of you that haven’t already heard Kenny got a speeding ticket the other day. Germans do NOT mess around with speeding. Not only did we have a very hefty fine, but also Kenny has to give up his license for a whole month! I mean c’mon Germany – no warnings or nothin’?? …Pretty unreasonable if you ask me. Anyway! If he gets caught driving without a license it is a whole month’s pay and possible jail time! Again, Germany… really?! Needless to say, we are not risking it. Thus, begrudgingly, I am his driver.

Despite my frustrations, I will say this on Germany’s behalf, though they are pretty ridiculous with some of their laws and customs (do not get me started on separating garbage); I have never seen a safer, cleaner, or more environmentally conscious place.

Anyway! That is all for tonight/today! I will leave you with a few pictures I took of the fields behind our village when I was on my run a couple of days ago:)

Plus, we have a horse in our back yard…

I named him Phillip.

Also, one last (and even more random) thing: I am proud to say, Kenny and I finished our Disney puzzle! Here is proof:

TA-DAA! Our next posting will be about our visit to the beautiful Schloss Lichtenstein! Cheers!

Just one more quick post before I take a break…

…Kidding! Hang onto your brains fellow babies because I’m back! I would like to informally apologize for my extended absence… I really don’t have an excuse aside from pure laziness. However, I love my grandma, and G-Money requested more entries so here we are! Clearly we need to play a little catch-up… so I am going to begin with our trip to the Italian/French festival in Tubingen a couple of weeks ago. This festival takes place twice a year over a sequence of four days; once in the fall and once in the spring. It was truly an awesome experience. Vendors filled the streets of Tubingen selling everything you can imagine. A few notables being: an exquisitely hand-carved wooden chess set (€200 BTW!), brightly colored yard ornaments reminiscent of our Family Farm Froggy at the lake, some lovely clay pottery – so lovely in fact, that we purchased two coffee mugs (except I broke mine and am still upset about it) and last but certainly not least, an array of French and Italian wines, all of which you could carry freely throughout the streets because Germans are cool. Here are a few visual aids to help you understand the enormity of this festival…

At every corner I was greeted with a different form of amusement. The entertainment was primarily musicians playing from their culture and background… However there was this guy…

Now, I can’t say for sure if he was supposed to be a mime or a robot, and although he was rather amusing, he failed either way. The rest of the corners were great, though! Very festive!

Kenny was at practice so I was exploring the festival for a couple of hours by myself and happened upon the best Gummy Bear store I ever did see. 

And… true to German fashion…

Lastly, possible cake for this August?

Just kidding, sorry Aunt Lorraine;))

Then finally my darling husband joined me in my explorations!! Look how cute he is:)!

We set out together window shopping and found this nice quirky fellow selling a various assortment of colorful clay creations. I – being a caffeine addict – really loved his coffee mugs. Kenny and I bought a sea-foam green one and a blue one! The sea-foam green mug became a favorite part of my morning routine! Until I broke it. I was so upset, you would have thought my puppy died; luckily, Kenny is used to my emotional overreactions.

Next we tried a bit of yummy gelato. Here is Kenny standing outside of the gelato stand while holding my empty glass of wine (that I forgot to mention) and looking miffed by my incessant picture taking…

We sat down on a bench and enjoyed our gelato while taking in some excellent people-watching. We were making our way for the car when I saw it…

Iced Coffee!!! Except not really…

But it was still really tasty:)

The festival was a really great time – we can’t wait until there is another one!

Before I sign off I wanted to post a picture of the festival at night! It was beautiful!

Cheers!