18 July 2018

Europe Trip: Day 3 (Prague, Freiberg, and Dresden)

At about 4 AM on Saturday some loud Germans in our hotel retired to their rooms, and woke us all up in the process. I never managed to fall back asleep. I let the guys sleep for a little while longer, and then we got up to spend a little more time in Prague before returning to Germany.

We wandered around and eventually found an open place to eat breakfast. Maybe because it was Saturday, maybe because it's Bohemia - I don't really know why - but there was not a lot happening in the historic district of Prague at 8 AM. After breakfast we found the Freud statue. Apparently people call the police for him quite regularly.

Then we popped into this little church. I don't want to pic favorites, but I did really love this one. I loved the paintings on the ceilings, and I loved the swirly carvings, and I loved the gold.

Then we drove back to Germany to attend a session at the Freiberg Temple. Eric's parents greeted us at the doors. It is a simple temple, built during the communist era of East Germany, but it is still beautiful inside.

After our session we met some of Eric's parents' friends, we ate lunch, and we all piled in their car to go to Dresden. I was exceptionally tired at this point, having been up since 4 AM and still not completely over the jet lag. I learned that after World War II some German cities opted to rebuild and maintain an old look, while others went more modern. Dresden took the old approach.

Their church in the heart of Dresden (the Dresden Frauenkirche) was destroyed in the war, and the Soviets officials wouldn't allow the Germans to rebuild it. The Soviets left the rubble in the square as a sign to the people of how terrible the Americans and British were. As soon as communism fell, the locals had the church rebuilt, using some of the bricks from the original church. President Uchtdorf spoke of this church in a talk in 2016. We just barely got to peak inside because there was a concert going on. On the left you can see the statue of Martin Luther; those Germans sure love him. (And I do too!)

We wandered over to the museums and the gardens. We got there too late to enter any of the museums, but it was still nice enjoying the architecture. (Except, let's be honest, I may have been a little grumpy from being so tired.)

Then we ate dinner and went back to Freiberg for a good night's rest.

I would really like to visit Dresden again. It is a beautiful city, and we just barely got a glimpse of it. (Which can be said of every place we visited on our trip!)

15 July 2018

Europe Trip: Day 2 (Nuremberg and Prague)

We woke up bright and early and much recovered from our previous day. I was amazed at how beautiful the sunrise was over our little area of Nuremberg.

We headed out, not really knowing where we were going. We bought some baked goods from a truck and started walking. We got lost because Eric was very turned around. Thankfully the first three of four people that we asked "Do you speak English?" (actually, Eric asked it in German) responded with "Of course." A lady who had worked in Hawaii for several years took us to the historic area, and then we were good to go.

Honestly, I already don't remember a lot of specifics of Nuremberg. It still has some of its old town wall standing.

And there is a cool church. It is St. Lorenz, or Lorenzkirche.

The stained glass windows at this one were pretty amazing.

I also loved the art in all the churches. After a while it was like "Oh, ho hum, another church," but at this point, I was still amazed by the churches since it was only my second.

Then we drove to Prague. When we got to our AirBNB we tried to check in only to learn that our apartment was under construction and our host failed to cancel the booking. We ended up staying at a hotel across the street, but the whole ordeal took extra time to sort out, and we already weren't going to be able to spend a ton of time in Prague.

I immediately loved the architecture in Prague. I really like big cities, so that appealed to me too. Rothenburg was full of tourists as well, but they seemed to be more Germans, and they skewed older. Prague had more international tourists and more young tourists. (We saw many children in Prague but very few in Rothenburg.)

The famous clock in Prague is being renovated/repaired, so it was all covered up. We considered going to the Jewish synagogue (the oldest synagogue in Europe), but we were short on time and instead went to the St. Charles Bridge and up the hill to the castle and St. Vitus Cathedral.

It was a beautiful day.

We made wishes as we touched this sculpture. (It's a thing. I don't know why.)

We went up up up the hill to the castle and cathedral. There were great views of the city.

And then the cathedral was closed early, so we had to admire it from the outside. I am still really disappointed we didn't get to go in because it is huge, and I can tell from the outside that the inside has to be amazing. One day we'll go back.

And we went on a little river cruise, which was relaxing and nice.

After that we ate goulash and returned to our hotel for sleep.

06 July 2018

Europe Trip: Day 1 (Flight and Rothenburg ob der Tauber)

Before I get into the details of the trip and the many (MANY) pictures, let's discuss the nitty gritty and the whys. Eric's parents are serving a mission at the LDS Temple in Freiberg, Germany. We went with Eric's younger brother, Andrew, to visit them and to visit other places in Europe. Eric did a six-week study abroad in Ukraine before we met, and then he traveled a bit with his parents for a few days after the study abroad ended. Andrew had been to Europe twice before, both times because his dad was leading a study-abroad, but the last time Andrew had been was 13 years ago when he was about 13. I was a newbie to Europe.

We flew in and out of Seattle because Eric's sister and her family live in Seattle and she very graciously (foolishly?) offered to take our kids for us while we were away. We drove to Seattle on a Tuesday and flew to Germany the next day.

We all thought we would sleep on the plane and arrive in Frankfurt feeling somewhat refreshed and ready to be amazing tourists. Andrew and I even wore glasses because we don't like sleeping with contacts in. Here we were, thinking this was going to be an amazing flight.

We were idiots. We sat on the very last row, and Eric got so ill that he had to use his barf bag. Getting our rental car took much longer than we expected, but we finally got on the road. Eric was the only one allowed to drive, but even as the driver he became car sick and had to pull over for a vomiting and sleeping break. Andrew and I didn't want to be around him, so we wandered on this dirt road near where we had pulled over, and we found a cherry tree and ate cherries.

After Eric had a little nap, we hit the road again headed for Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It's a medieval town that is still in really good condition, and it has a wall all around it and such things. We took pictures at the adorable house that's on two streets. We marveled at the narrow streets and the speeds the cars took on the narrow streets. We looked at little shops, checked out a church, walked along the old town walls and the other defensive buildings for the city. We watched the machine-man drink the giant beer in the clock tower, and we climbed to the top of the tower to get great views. We ate lunch and learned that we would end up spending a ridiculous amount of money on water over the course of our trip. (Do Europeans never drink tap water? This is a legitimate question.)

We were pretty tired at this point and needed to drive a couple of hours to our AirBNB in Nuremberg. Eric had mapped out a slightly longer drive that was more scenic, so we told the GPS to send us on that route, which she did. It ended up being a terrible idea because we were all so tired and didn't even care about the scenery and just wanted to go to bed as quickly as possible. We made it to our AirBNB and learned it was on the 7th floor, so then we had to lug all our stuff up there. So that was fun. I would rank that AirBNB the lowest of all the ones we stayed in during our trip, but it was still nice and we slept hard and woke up early the next day, ready to check out Nuremberg.

04 July 2018

Felicia is One!

Felicia turned 1 on Sunday, and of course I can barely believe it. Our little girl is cheerful and friendly. She loves to be around people, and although she isn't saying any specific words, she has a lot to say.

She still loves baths, and I love to let her play in them.

Felicia's favorite hobby is, without a doubt, climbing the stairs. She will babble the whole time she crawls up, and if somebody is alongside her or cheering her on from the top, she will giggle the whole way. She has, miraculously, not tumbled down the stairs yet (besides the fall a couple of months ago on the garage steps). She seems to be aware that she lacks the skills to go safely down the stairs, but she will peek her head over the top stair, which scares me to death. One of the most oft-said phrases in our house right now is, "Shut the door so the baby doesn't fall down the stairs." We also use a baby gate to try to keep her away from the stairs.

Other hobbies include: emptying cabinets, playing in or around any toilets, eating anything she can find, eating actual food, walking while holding on to furniture, being held, waving, and peek-a-boo.

Physically, Felicia is tall-ish and skinny for her age. She still only has two teeth, and I don't see any new ones coming in any time soon. She pulls herself to standing frequently and sometimes will stand for a few seconds at a time without holding onto anything. Today I even saw her get into a standing position all on her own, with nothing to hold on to. When we try to help her walk, she usually plops down on her bum so she can crawl instead.

Felicia is a great sleeper. She should probably take two naps a day, but our schedule with older siblings makes that challenging, so usually she just gets one rather long afternoon nap. Plus she usually sleeps until about 8, so putting her back down for a morning nap about 9 just doesn't make much sense.

For her birthday, we had a little family party and invited Uncle Andrew, Grandma Great, and Uncle Robert (Eric's uncle). We had a store-bought cake because I am neither a great cake maker nor a great cake decorator, and because our local grocery store gives free cakes for birthdays for kids 12 and under. This is a no-brainer.

Felicia really enjoyed being the center of attention. She knew that we were all singing to her, and she relished it.

Usually when I put food on Felicia's tray, it's cut up into manageable bites, but we just slapped down a whole piece of cake and watched her go to town.

And go to town she did. When she was finished she squawked for another piece, and we obliged.

I missed my little baby so much while I was in Europe for 10 days in June (posts to come). At the last minute I started to think maybe we should just take her with us, but then I remembered she didn't have a passport, so that wasn't a viable option. (She did great with Eric's sister while we were gone, and she still remembered me when I came home.) She gives the best snuggles when I get her out of bed, and she is so easy-going and happy. Her older siblings adore her (most of the time) and are confident that she is the best baby in the world. I'm pretty sure they are right.