Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Part Two: Our visit to Germany

I took so many pictures when we spent two weeks in Germany in July/August, there's no way I can fit them all into one blog post.

So here is the second instalment of our trip. You can find part one HERE.

Do you know the movie "Sound of Music?" The hills are alive with music and all that jazz? Well, this is exactly the scene where I grew up. Words don't do it justice. Let me take you on some of our hikes. Look:

I adore hiking in the Alps, listening to the sound of cow bells, climbing to the highest points where the summit cross looms...

I love stopping in one of the little Alp huts, where you can rest your tired legs and order beer or cake or both.

There's nothing like the smell this region, with its lush pastures, fragrant with herbal undertones, mixed in with the sweet smell of manure. Honestly, it smells fantastic to me.

I'm so blessed that my sisters are equally obsessed with the outdoors as I am. Our visit was a very active one: hiking, biking, walking, swimming...

How wonderful it was to connect with all three of them.

Let me introduce you to the bunch. Manuela, aka "Manu", my two-year-older sister, on the right below:

Then there is Kerstin, aka "Pepe", one year younger than I am. People used to think we were twins, since we are so close in age and always inseparable. She's on the left below:

And then there's Isabel, aka "Belli", who has visited me in Germany several times over the years. She's the one on the right below:

Below is my Dad, who was in a coma a couple of years back and has made a fantastic recovery. He has lived in my hometown for 73 years and knows all the best bike trips, and he was our biking tour guide:

And my Mom, who had to have knee replacement surgery right after we left, poor thing. That's her with my hubby on our boat tour on Lake Constance (Bodensee):

And lastly, but not leastly, all my nephews and nieces, together for a photoshoot for the first time in our lives:

Next week, I'll show you the last instalment of our trip: more hiking pictures, and also scenes from the gorgeous cathedrals we visited (and climbed up onto until our hearts burst). 

Also, this is when I'll announce my newest exciting idea, and I'll want your feedback.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Our visit to Southern Germany - Part One - Back in my homeland

I hadn't been back to my homeland Germany in eleven years. So this spring, after talking with my Dad on the telephone and realizing that everyone is getting older, and there is no way of telling if we will ever see each other again, my husband and I made an executive decision: Let's go to Germany!

I had seen some of my German family members when they came to visit us in the US, but some of them I haven't seen in over a decade.

My dream came true in July, when my husband, three kids and I got off the plane in Munich, and when I set eyes on two of my sisters who picked us up, we all broke down, hugging, weeping, laughing... Finally, together again. Why the heck did we wait so long? Oh, right. Money!

I love my sisters. We have so much shared history, a blood bond that can't be replaced. Now that we renewed our connection, I can't even look at the picture above without tearing up.

So let me take you on a journey of our first week in Germany.

I grew up in Wangen, a gorgeous, medieval town in Southern Germany, with cobblestones and towers and fountains... It's like a fairy tale. A bunch of my family still lives there, so we started our adventure there.

We started most of our days in a bakery, because there are several bakeries in each town (and even the tiniest villages).  My hometown has a 500-year-old bakery called "Fidelisbaeck", where we bought our wood fire baked bread when I was just a baby.

It was incredible introducing my own children to the comfort food I grew up with. Leberkaeswecken, Seelen, Semmel, Bretzeln...

Here we are in the back of the bakery after a bike ride with my Dad and his wife, drinking Radler, which is beer mixed with Lemonade. Our 16-year old son Kai was eager to partake.  When in Germany...

We bicycled a lot.  You have to bike when you are in the region I grew up in.  Lots of rolling hills, lush pastures, cows grazing, views of the Alps in the distance, bakeries to stop at...

When we were kids, my family was pretty poor. Lots of my friends vacationed in Italy or Greece, but we made due with cheap youth hostels and biking and hiking trips.  I'm so grateful for these experiences. They instilled a huge love for the outdoors in me, and I'm passing it on to my kids.

My next blog post will show you pictures of our hikes, including cows with huge bells around their necks, and gorgeous scenery.  I have too many pictures to share, so I'll save these for the next blog post.

For now, I'll stick to the first week, where we explored the region with bikes.  We also day-tripped to Lake Constance, a super popular tourist region. We splurged on a ferry boat round trip on the Lake, which was so very, very charming and included a visit to Konstanz, a famous old town on the other side of the lake.

The whole trip was a great mix between nature and picturesque, charming towns. Everything always included tons of German food, of course. 

You know how people always want to see castles when they are in Europe? The world-famous Neuschwanstein Castle is close to where I grew up, but I refused to go there, with its insanely expensive entrance fee and wayyyy too many tourists. 

So we stopped by our local castle, the "Waldburg", and even found an English tour guide to give us some history. After climbing to the top for a windy view, we got to dress up in old-fashioned garb!

And of course, connecting with my sisters, parents, nephews and nieces was the most priceless of it all.

I'm gonna stop now before I start bawling again. 

Keep your eyes out for my next blog post, which will blow you away with its scenery.

Also, I will announce a new idea I have. You might really, really like it.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Homesteading in Paradise July 2019 Highlights

We spent half of July in Germany to visit my homeland. If you ever wanted to see the most beautiful part of Germany, watch this movie! July on our homestead also saw exploding weeds and garden produce! Abundance!

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