Monday, December 14, 2015

Double

 The day after leaving Vienna, we were able to sail to two different cities.  We arrived in a small village overnight and toured through it early in the morning.  No one was about and it was very windy and cold.
 It seems every city, big or small, is built around it's church.
 Tiny alleyways to us are their major streets.
 The village is named Durnstein and it is a farming/wine community
 This is one of my favorite doors - it opens into one of the wineries. 
 We got back to the ship and just before lunch set off for Melk.  
 We arrived early afternoon and took a walking tour through the Melk Abby.  It is famous for it's renovation during the Reformation - basically the time the Catholic church felt that their people were leaving to join other churches, so they beefed up the goods and made everything over the top to encourage people to stay.
 And I mean over the top.  Everything here was beyond opulent.
 There were gold statues and artifacts and so much finery it was overwhelming.



 We walked across a courtyard to get to the famous library, where no pictures were allowed.
 We ended in the chapel area.  Un. Be. Leivable.



It is still in use today.  This is their advent wreath that they use each Sunday in December to celebrate Christmas.

We boarded out ship and again had a wonderful five course meal and set sail for Passau.  We decided to sign up for the optional tour of Salzburg.  In the morning we would board the bus for a two hour drive through the mountains to see the city of The Sound of Music!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

So I Lied

 Yes, I was going to be super blogger and do a daily post to get through our vacation, but I failed.  Ha.  This may be a long and painful process.  
One of my favorite places in Vienna was Schonbrunn Palace.  We were able to tour the inside, and afterward, we visited the Christmas Market located in the courtyard just outside the main gate.
 Here is where my obsession with the European Christmas Tree begins.  These Noble Firs are everywhere.  The shape.  I die. I want.  I want.  I want.
 This was one of my favorite Christmas Markets.  It had the most unique booths.  These hanging decorated branches were everywhere.  I must copy this.  Now.
 I couldn't resist taking a photo of the woman with the Christmas hair.
 Gingerbread everywhere.
 Such nice people!
Martin and I tried roasted chestnuts for the first time.  Very popular street food.  Meh.

After our adventures every afternoon, we would go back to our ship and have a five course meal.  We were very spoiled.

We tried to get to bed early because there was something planned for us each morning.  We would sail at night and arrive in a new port for the next day.  Our two days in Vienna were awesome.  I told Martin that it would be no problem to go back and just do a vacation in Vienna.  It was more beautiful than I expected.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Vienna

 Let's be honest here.  Martin gave me the chance to choose where I wanted to go in Europe and I said I wanted to go to the German Christmas Markets.  We had heard of a River Cruise that sailed the Danube River and visited all the Christmas Markets along the way.  Beyond that I didn't really investigate our trip.  Martin booked everything and I thought we were headed to Germany.  Well, half of our trip was spent in Austria.  Who knew it was such a wonderful place?  Not me, but I found out quickly that it is spectacular.  The architecture alone was killer.
I don't even know what half of these building are, but I couldn't just let them pass by without getting their picture taken. 
 Our cruise consisted of nightly cruising and daily touring.  We had several guided tours as well as free time.  
 Our guides educated us on the history of Austria and what the significance of what these building are.  This is a government palace.
 Just outside the palace grounds there is a Christmas Market.  I didn't know this either, but there are many markets in each city.  Each with a different flair.

 We didn't have time to shop this one - just passed through on our way to the next event.
 Everything was so romantic and Christmasy.  Horse drawn carriages were everywhere.
 We rounded a corner and came upon this street that was totally decked out for Christmas.  There were hanging chandeliers every ten feet or so all the way down.  At night they were lit up and were so fabulous.  
When our free time came, we had to try the street food.  I have never seen so much sausage in my life.  Martin was in heaven.

I was absolutely taken with Vienna.  I had no idea it was such a beautiful city with so much history.  I don't want these posts to get too long and out of control.  It's hard to squeeze it all in without overdoing it, but I'll try.

Tomorrow - Schonbrunn Palace!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

It's Just Thanks

Martin and I are taking a vacation to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.  In September we celebrated our 16th anniversary.  Last year on our 15th, we decided to book a vacation that would be spectacular, but we wanted to save up and plan for it.  So, we made the plan last year and now we are leaving the day after Thanksgiving to go to Austria and Germany to do a River Cruise and visit all of Germany's Christmas Markets.  We are excited!  And Ready.

The boys will be staying with friends while we are gone, so there will be no one around to eat leftovers.  Wah.  So I am abbreviating Thanksgiving to just "Thanks" this year.  Only one pie.  No homemade rolls.  A turkey breast with a few mashed potatoes on the side.  Evil, right?
  
I thought about this long and hard.  I didn't want anyone to feel like we were skipping Thanksgiving - I mean, I live in a houseful of men!

Everyone seems to be ok with it - probably because I started decorating for Christmas a week ago and pushed past the gobble gobble.

That said, I am very excited to spend tomorrow with my family in Thanks.  I love being with them and watching them grow and become wonderful young men.  I love watching Martin spend time with them teaching and recreating and helping them understand their worth as men of God.

I  am THANKFUL!

I wish you all a very wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Up to Speed

 So just to keep everything in tact, let's review.  Favorite things list from summer, 2015 to current date.
1.  Favorite food from this summer - S'mores pie.  Duh.
 2.  Favorite fam activity - Jackson Hole.  Double duh.
 3.  Family reunion!
 4.  First ever visit to Cake Carousel.  This is the cake mold room.  You can rent these for your next special occasion.  Unbelievable.
 5.  Jimmy came to visit - We toured Cowboy Stadium.  Jimmy had his own press conference.
 6.  This guy came into our lives.  We love Banjo!
 7.  Marching band took over our lives even before school started.  Here they are at a football game.
8.  Here they are competing for a chance to go to the State Competition.  They actually made it for the first time in the history of our school and placed 12th among 200 schools.  Way to go, Royal Pride Band! (Seriously, I don't even know what I'm talking about.  This was a completely new experience, and I totally loved it.  I did not, however, love the fact that Henry was gone from 6am to 7pm everyday with mounds of homework - out until midnight every Friday and Saturday for three months straight.  Yikes.  He loved every minute of it.)