beautiful barcelona . . .

We have been on a travel whirlwind these days. With summer fast approaching it’s time to visit some of the places we have been putting off in the name of finding better weather. Barcelona is one of those cities. Walking off the plane, we were both hit with a sensation we haven’t felt in a long time; humidity. Oh, sweet, sweet humidity!

We took the bus from the airport to downtown (so easy and inexpensive) and were in awe. It’s like Europe and Miami had a baby. We felt immediately at home. We stayed at a little hotel in the Gothic Quarter that was within “Berra” walking distance to everything we most wanted to see.

We got to the hotel in the afternoon and made our way down to the water to get what we’ve both wanted for way too long, seafood. Mainly, paella. Stuffed and happy it was time for beer day!  First stop, the Ale and Hop bar. Germany has a limited selection of beer types so getting our fill of other options was high on the list.  I had to laugh when I saw this Tulsa Twister (for Megan) and the Star Wars beers. It was lots of fun! We didn’t have long because we needed to get over to Edge Brewery for a tour and tasting.

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Edge Brewing is a new brewery in Barcelona where they brew American Style craft beer. Since we have a really hard time finding it here in Germany (meaning we usually only find it when guests bring us some bottles in their luggage) we couldn’t miss it.  It’s a small brewery with tasty beers and we even ran into one of the international representatives of Founder’s Brewing. It was nice to talk to him about his favorite beers and breweries around the world. It was a short tour but the tasting was informative and the beer was great!

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It was after 8:00 when we finished so it was time for wandering and tapas. We loved strolling through the streets and stumbled upon a great little tapas place for jamon, cheese, olives, calamari, peppers, and cava!

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Matt loves selfies, clearly, ;-)

On Sunday, we had no plans. First, we went down to the beach (naturally). The weather was perfect. We strolled along and stopped for brunch at a beach bar. It felt like the tiki bar all over again!

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We spent the rest of the day walking, eating tapas, drinking cava, eating more taps, visiting the Dow Jones Bar (a bar where the prices change like the stock market). When you order a drink, the stock (and price) goes up! It’s pretty clever and fun. We ended up watching a soccer match and see the Guinness stock rise.

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Later that night we walked back down to the beach, just to get our fill, again! We ended up at another beach bar where we had the best cava sangria we have had in our lives. It was a beautiful evening!

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Monday was our last day in the city and we had booked tickets ahead of time to see La Sagrada Familia. If you go to Barcelona, please get tickets online before you go so you can make sure you can see the inside! It was breathtaking. Better pictures will be uploaded in our photo gallery later but in the meantime you can enjoy some of them here.

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Naturally, when we were finished with our tour (get the audio guide, it was informative and we would have missed quite a bit if we had wandered around ourselves) we went back down to get our last view of the water and our parrot friend. He loved (or hated) the pigeons. We watched for far too long!

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Sadly, it was time to make our way back to the bus so we could get to the airport. We left knowing that we will return. Barcelona is such a cool city. The weather is great, the food is unbelievable, and the people are friendly! We had no problem with pushy people trying to tell to tourists like you do in some cities and it’s very easy to navigate. If it’s not on your list already, it might be time to add it!

fun with pete and katie . . .

Matt and I were so happy to find out that Pete and Katie were coming to Europe on their Honeymoon and even better, they wanted to visit us! They arrived on a Friday and stayed through Tuesday morning. We had a fabulous time.  I can’t tell you how fun it is to be able to share all of our most favorite things about living here with two people who enjoy them as much as we do. Every minute I spend with Pete, I know why him and Matt have been friends forever. I also have to say that I’m super thrilled to have Katie “in the family” so to speak, she’s fantastic!

We spent Friday night catching up over beers and Greek food. Fabulous!  Saturday was our day trip to Strasbourg, France and it couldn’t have been more perfect. The weather was great, the food was fantastic, and traffic was light. We made it home in record time!

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Sunday was a typical German Sunday. We hit both of our favorite biergartens in one day! First, we hiked to the Barenschlossel in the woods near our house for afternoon snacks and drinks. Second, we went down to the largest biergarten in our state for the best chicken nuggets in the world.

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On Monday we went down to the Black Forest to see the falls, the museum, and find the best Black Forest Cake. Sounds perfect, right?! Well, it was!

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So much fun in one weekend! We are so, so, lucky to have such awesome friends who want to visit! We love sharing our life here with others. If you want to visit, come on over! We’d love to have you! :-)

Monday

amsterdam adventures . . .

Ah, Amsterdam… what a wonderful city! We were happy to have a long weekend to explore with not much on the agenda. It’s nice when you can visit a city with a loose agenda and lots of time built into the schedule for eating, drinking, and walking.

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Matt and I left for this adorable little city on a Friday morning.  Our flight was at 6:00 am and we landed by 7:30. That left us an entire day to explore.  After dropping out bags off at the hotel, we went over the the Anne Frank House. We were there by 9:30 and the line was already wrapped around the block. We stood for about an hour before a worker came to pass out brochures. We heard her tell the group in front of us that it would be another 2.5 hours before getting in so we got out of line and made plan b to come back the next day and get there well before opening.  We tried to get tickets online ahead of time but they were sold out until mid July. If you’re planning an Amsterdam trip and want to see the house, you need to get online as soon as possible or get there between 7:30 and 8:00 in the morning to get in line. It’s worth it, and more on that later.

Plan B involved getting lots of delicious eats and touring the Heineken Factory. We’ve toured quite a few breweries in our time but this one was quite different! It wasn’t very educational and was very multi-media and interactive. There was a 4D beer experience where the floor shook and bubbles rained down on us. This line was long too, so be sure to book ahead online!

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The next morning, we work up early to be at the Anne Frank House by 8:00. The doors open at 9:00 and we were within the first 100 people in line.  We were in the door by 9:30.  I was so happy that I read the Diary again before visiting. I remember reading it in High School and it being so powerful, but there’s something even more overwhelming when you read it from an adult’s perspective.  If you haven’t read it in a while, I suggest you try. I think it should be required reading for everyone every 5-10 years. Truly.

We took a long walk after visiting the house and stopped for lunch. Matt tried some new to us beer and I ordered this amazing mint tea! I can’t wait until our mint grows enough that I can make this all the time.

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After lunch we walked some more. It was cold and it started to rain so we ducked into the Hard Rock to warm up. Somehow, we always end up there! It’s like it knows when we need a place to stop to warm up, dry off, and get free wifi. I used to be a little embarrassed about going to the Hard Rock when we live over here and have so many other great places to enjoy, but there’s something so “home-like” about it and considering how much time we spent at the Hard Rock next to Ford’s Theater in our early 20’s, it seems fitting.

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Full of a little more liquid courage, we made our way to the Red Light District, ya know, you have to see it. It was like nothing I’d seen before.

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The last stop on the agenda was to visit the windmill brewery. It’s fantastic! The beer is actually brewed in the windmill. We tasted quite a few local brews and enjoyed the company.

 

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On our last morning we had a leisurely breakfast and then took a canal tour before heading out. The canal tour is about an hour and a perfect way to see the city on a sunny day. It was lovely! All in all, Amsterdam is a great city.

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unlce tim makes it to germany!

A few months ago, my Uncle Tim told me that he would be in Germany for a festival that wasn’t too far from us.  Of course, we had to arrange for a visit!  We only had a few days together so we had to pack in as much fun as possible. Our first day was really nice. We got to catch up and we took a walk around our neighborhood.  We saw the cutest lambs!

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After our walk, we all went out for some delicious German food at the local Weinstube. I couldn’t believe that my picky Uncle Tim was eating German food!  I guess I couldn’t be that surprised. Like he said, wienerschnitzel is essentially chicken fried meat, and he’s from Texas, so…yeah, a natural fit!

We woke up pretty early the next morning to head out to the walled Medieval city, Rothenburg ob der Tauber. We had a wonderful time walking around the wall and wandering the streets.  After lunch, we took a walking tour of the city and learned quite a bit about the history of the area.  If you’re heading over there (even on a Sunday), you may want to check out the walking tour. It meets in front of the town hall.

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After the tour we had to go up the tower. You know, Matt and I always go up things, towers, spires, steps, and mountains.  This trip couldn’t be different.  The tower climb was incredibly narrow and steep! Although it wasn’t the tallest thing we’ve climbed in Europe, it was the smallest and steepest. The top didn’t feel very safe, either.   I, of course, loved it as I love all things heights.  I think Uncle Tim and Matt warmed up to it a bit later.

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You couldn’t beat the view!

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The day finished by going to tour the Reichsstadthalle.  It was an awesome museum. It had all sorts of Medieval and historical items. You could wander around there for hours.

On Monday, Uncle Tim and I went up to the Ludwigsburg Residental Palace. They were having a straw festival, so we had to see it.  It was quite like the pumpkin festival, but with straw!  I love Germany.

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After wandering through the festival and gardens, we went on the guided tour of the Palace.  It was incredible. If you haven’t taken the tour yet, do it! It was almost two hours long and the tour guide was very knowledgeable.  In some castles and palaces you visit in Germany, you only see 5-10 rooms, at the most.  Here, we visited 73 rooms.  It was beautiful and we learned quite a bit about the history of the palace and surrounding area.

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Uncle Tim left on Tuesday to head to his festival. It was sad to see him leave but we had such a great time showing him around the area. Uncle Tim knows so much about Medieval history and culture so he taught us quite a bit! It was a nice change to him to play tour guide for us! :-)

Uncle Tim, you can come back any time you want!

lake como, part 3: lazy long lunches . . .

On our last full day in Lake Como we woke up rather early, despite the shenanigans at the “Irish Bar” the night before.   Matt and I decided to head over to Bellagio to soak up all of the food, wine, and good weather we could manage. After hiking all day the day before, we needed a lazy day.

Not much to report except for gorgeous views, amazing food, and wine…oh, the wine.

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The view from our room.

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If you ever get a chance, please do yourself a favor and visit Lake Como. It is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It is worth adding to your bucket list. It’s got it all, snow covered mountains, lake, palms, Italian food, Italian wine, and a general loveliness that can not be duplicated.  I think what makes it so special is the fact that it isn’t really “touristy.”  There is no one pushing you to buy things and you don’t feel as though you are a tourist. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy life.