Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Weekend With the Cartwrights!

During our short time in Michigan we were blessed with many friends whom we met through church.  Two of those friends recently moved to Bad Soden, Germany, outside of Frankfurt.  So, Dustin and I took a high speed train to visit them for the weekend!

We met Fred and Beth at the train station in Germany and then set out to explore Frankfurt.  Here we are standing in front of the Euro symbol, which is in front of the European Central Bank. 

A cute square in Frankfurt.  These buildings were actually destroyed during World War II and were reconstructed in the early 80s.  

Dustin and Fred at lunch in Frankfurt.

This is the longest escalator of a European shopping mall...150 feet long!

View from the top of the mall!

Doesn't this sound appetizing?

We walked to see the Opera House and found this "beer mobile".  Fred and Beth explained that people sit on the bike seats and actually pedal through town while drinking.  Crazy Germans! 

In front of the Opera House in Frankfurt.

Dustin lounging on a statue in a fountain...

And here comes the "beer mobile"!  They were coming pretty fast on this thing...as a pedestrian, you really needed to be alert!

On our second day in Germany, we went with Fred and Beth to check out the town of Ruedesheim.  To get there, Fred drove us on the Autobahn...YIKES!  I was NOT a fan of going so fast, but our destination made it worth the anxiety it caused.  :)

In Ruedesheim, we got on a chair lift that took us up over vineyards and gave us a spectacular view of the Rhine.  

After getting off the chairlift, we took a hike to the other side of the mountain.  It was so nice to be out of the city and strolling through nature!

On the other side of the mountain, we got on another chairlift to go down towards the river. 

The view was even better on the way down!

Our next stop was a boat ride on the Rhine.  

The boat dropped us off at this castle.

As we were hiking up to the castle, Dustin and Fred stopped to take in the view.  :)

Do you see the basket hanging from the tower of the castle?  They would put dead bodies in it as a warning!

After a long day of exploration, it was time to head back to Fred and Beth's apartment.  Their apartment is in an amazing building built by Hundertwasser, who is a very famous architect in Europe.  He uses very bright colors and you will never see a straight line or corner.  The building is actually a tourist attraction in their town!

My favorite part of the apartment was the bath tub...of course Fred and Dustin decided to pose together for this shot.  :)

Thanks for a great weekend, Fred and Beth!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Monet's Giverny

Giverny is a quaint town about 50 minutes west of Paris by train.  It is also the place Monet decided to move after the death of his wife in 1883.  He rented, and then later bought, a house in this adorable town.  Monet then set out to create the gardens that inspired many of his paintings, including his water lilies and Japanese Bridge. 

Last weekend, our friend Kate was in Paris visiting us.  She currently lives in Germany, so she was just here for the weekend.  Since she had already "done" Paris several times, we decided to head out to Giverny on Saturday for a bike tour. 

We met our guide at a train station in Paris, along with twenty of our fellow tour buddies. After a quick introduction, we jumped on the train and headed west.  We got off the train in Vernon, a town that borders Giverny.  We picked up our bikes in Vernon and then rode to a market to pick up various things for a picnic lunch!
Kate with her bike.

Me with my bike!

Dustin picking up his bike.

All of our bikes chained together at the market.

The market in Vernon was pretty much the same as the markets in Paris...except for one thing.  Can you imagine going to the market and coming home with a chicken or a duck?  Or something else that is ALIVE?! 

We had to ride our bikes to our picnic spot.  It was a bit of a challenge to attach all of our purchases to the bikes.  Here is our attempt at securing our fruit pastries!

Picnic on the Seine in Vernon.

After our picnic, we rode our bikes along an old train track that was paved over (for my Indy readers, think Monon trail).  That path took us to Giverny.  When we arrived, we were greeted by one of the cutest streets I have ever been on!  It really makes you feel like you have stepped back in time.

Our next stop was Monet's gardens. 

Next, we visited Monet's house.  It was pink with green shutters!

Finally, after wandering around the town a bit, we rode our bikes to Monet's grave.

I'm so glad we had the chance to head out to Giverny.  It was a wonderful break from the big city!  Thanks to Kate for planning such a fun day!