September 6 to September 29, 2007.
Paris, Frankfurt, Rudesheim, Rothenberg ob der Tauber, Oberammergau, Munich, Wengen, Bellagio, Venice, Rome.
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Kelly Enriquez loaded all five of us into her Pathfinder and drove us to Sea-Tac airport on a beautiful, sunny and relatively hot day in early September. We took off in the early afternoon feeling very excited after planning this trip for a year!
Heidi giving Gary some French language lessons. Bonjour!
After a 9 hour flight to Copenhagen, a couple hour layover and a short flight to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, everyone was feeling (and looking) a bit tired. Here we are waiting for the TGV train to take us to the St. Paul area where our landlord was waiting for our arrival. A major soccer tournament was happening in Paris, so the Metro was super crowded and slow and we ended up being a few hours late.
Heidi hit our bed as soon as we arrived at the apartment, but she was intent on using some of her French skills that she had learned over the past 24 hours.
The next morning I jumped out of bed at 8 am, ran across the street to buy some chocolate croissants, orange juice and some coffee for Heidi. My mother was over the moon that we were actually in France! As you can see, we had a fully functioning two bedroom apartment with a kitchen and two bathrooms.
After breakfast and showers, we headed out on our first epic walk of the trip. From St. Paul, down the Rue de Rivoli and out to the Seine River.
We crossed the river to the Ile de la Cite and over to Notre Dame.
We crossed back over the Seine, up the right bank and to the Hotel de Ville.
There, we grabbed some sandwiches, sat on the fake lawn and had a great picnic.
From there, we walked down the Quai for some photos (note the incredible weather).
Jardin des Tulleries.
Everyone was excited to see the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
We continued up the Champs de Elysses to the Arc de Triomphe.
At that point, we were getting a bit tired, but we pushed on to the Eiffel Tower.
From there, we jumped on the Metro and headed back to St. Paul. Our friends John and Donna were living in Geneva and just happened to be in Paris. It was really great to see them and Raoul.
The next morning we got up early (relatively) and took the train out to Versailles.
The crowds were in force, but the beauty was still evident.
The gardens were as gorgeous as ever, the weather was perfect. We walked out through the gardens and to the end of the lake in the distance, where we had another picnic.
Taking a rest on the steps of Versailles, enjoying the beautiful weather and views.
Feeling good walking back to the train station in Versailles.
The next morning, Heidi and I took off while my parents and Glenda went to…
Heidi and I checked out the Luxembourg Gardens.
They saw Mona.
We looked at linens…
…and enjoyed some time by the Seine.
Heidi looking quite French while waiting for Glenda to drag my mom out of the Louvre.
The stairs to our apartment look a bit dilapidated, but this is very common in European cities. Focus seems to be more on the interior and fashion.
The neighborhood of St. Paul.
Enjoying riding the Metro for a ride up the Eiffel Tower at night.
Judy felt more comfortable hanging out with the locals on the ground floor.
Gary was a bit nervous about the heights, but was happy nonetheless.
The views that night were spectacular!
Heidi was in her element.
After we joined back up with my mom, we boarded a boat for a nighttime Seine cruise.
The next morning it was time to get our last tastes of Paris before we boarded a TGV for Germany.
Here we are in Karlsruhe, transferring to an ICE toward Frankfurt.
Our rental car was in the process of being secured, so we had a few minutes to walk around in Frankfurt. The bad news was that our car wasn’t ready, the good news is that they upgraded us to an Audi A6 diesel. It was awesome and very lucky because that car was perfect for 5 people with luggage and fuel around $7 a gallon.
We made our way out to Rüdesheim, secured rooms for all of us and got an afternoon boat cruise down the Rhein. The next few photos show the beautiful castles along this portion of the Rhine River.
Heidi and I drove to Neider Roden to visit her Aunt, Uncle, Cousins and their kids. It was really nice seeing them.
Here’s the hotel we stayed at in Rüdesheim.
The next day was beautiful, but unfortunately we had a limited amount of time to see all we needed to see along the Romantic Road.
Packing the A6 for our trip.
We drove straight down to Rotenburg ab der Tauber.
Here’s Heidi translating the poems written on the walls of a restaurant.
The famous town hall at Rotenburg.
We took a night watchman tour, which was actually very interesting. He spoke a lot of what living in Europe in the middle ages was like. The guy talked and acted like Jerry Seinfeld. Hilarious.
Hiking around the ancient protective walls of the city.
One of the city gates.
View from our apartment.
After a relatively late start due to our enjoyment of this beautiful town, we drove down to the Wieskirche. Heidi and I had been here, but I figured my mom couldn’t miss it.
Next stop: Oberammergau. We spend one night here, too.
The next day was our first cloudy day, but we had a the opportunity to check out Neuschwanstein, or King Ludwig’s Castle.
It was a bit of a walk up to the castle from the parking lot, but we enjoyed it.
The view looking west from the trail allows for a great view of the alps and Ludwig’s parent’s castle, Hohenschwangau.
Mary’s bridge, or Marienbrücke, was a great place to view Neuschwanstein from.
Marienbrücke from Neuschwanstein.
Our trusty A6 diesel just waiting to be driven fast.
That afternoon we drove back to Munich to drop off our car, get a hotel and prepare for our trip to Switzerland the next day.
Our hotel was lousy, but the rest of the city was really great.
The next day we grabbed a very early train and headed towards my favorite place in the world- Switzerland. We skirted Austria on the way there. I also almost lost my camera, but the nice people at the train station found my camera bag and gave it back to me. Whew!
On our way from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen.
View of the Lauterbrunnen Valley from Wengen.
Our hotel room at the Hotel Bären.
From our room’s balcony looking at the Jungfrau.
Looking east from Wengen up towards Männlichen.
We were going to wait for a couple of days before taking the cog wheel train to the Jungfraujoch, but the weather forecast was looking great today and not tomorrow, so we went for it.
At the stopover at Kleine Scheidegg.
Looking up at the Jungfraujoch.
Looking back downhill toward Wengen and Interlaken.
Looking across the valley at Mürren. Heidi and I stayed in Mürren in 1996.
The train stops in the middle of the Eiger mountain and allows visitors to get off to look through the holes that were made in the North Face in order to dispose of tunneling debris.
Looking down the north face of the Eiger.
Looking out out towards Grindlewald.
The oxygen was a bit thin up here.
Looking back towards Kleine Scheidegg.
Judy was a bit freaked out by the heights on the walkways.
We did a bit of glacier walking.
Next we walked IN the glacier. You could hear it creaking. Pretty crazy.
It was a bit breezy outside, but you know how I love Switzerland!
After we got back down to Kleine Scheidegg, Glenda, Heidi and I decided to jog across the ridge trail to Männlichen and ride the tram back down to Wengen. Here is a view of the north face of the Eiger.
We thought we had to make good time to avoid missing the last tram, so we hoofed it pretty fast. You can see Männlichen in the distance.
The sun actually came out.
Looking down the cliffs at Wengen.
Looking across at the Lauterbrunnen valley with the Jungfrau in the clouds.
He’s still got it when it comes to reading maps. Next week, we’ll see, he gets a bit confused (Rome).
Having an incredible dinner at Hotel Bären.
Catching the train at Lauterbrunnen towards Interlaken.
Brienzersee near Interlaken, on our way to Luzern to catch a train to Italy!
Our first view of the Italian Lakes district (Lombardia) from the train. This is Lugano.
Once we got to Como, we had literally the best (at the time) gelato that we’d ever eaten. It was ridiculous. From Como, we hopped a ferry to Bellagio.
We checked into our hotel, Albergo Silvio, then walked through the Villa Melzi Garden into the town of Bellagio.
It’s a beautiful part of the world.
Glenda and mom enjoying the gardens.
Tourists in the real Bellagio.
Serious shopping. We had shipped home two weeks worth of goods from Wengen. Mom’s bags were empty and begging to be filled with stuff…from Italy…
Enjoying the Italian sunshine after the cool mountain air in Switzerland.
Time to leave Bellagio and head to Venice. Boats, trains and…trains. My hair is hilarious.
This is the town of Varenna, where Heidi and I stayed in 2001 and where we were to catch the train to Milano.
After a few hour train ride, we were in Venice. This is inside a boat taxi… since they don’t have cars in Venice.
The view from our VRBO rental. Awesome location.
Yeah, I took this picture. And then made it black and white to look all artsy and stuff.
I think they like it.
Apparently we do, too.
Dad found himself a new boat.
Glenda in St. Mark’s square. Pigeons and all.
St. Mark’s Cathedral
People feeding pigeons. I don’t get it. Gross. But this was an awesome picture, I think.
One day we took at boat to Murano to watch some glass blowing.
Mom was blending in with the crowds.
The Bridge of Sighs. Look it up.
Gelato. Best in the world. ‘Cause it was invented here.
After catching a train to Rome, we arrived at our amazing VRBO apartment. I attempted to chase the landlord to accept an offer for a future ride to the airport and fell. Yep, my ankle was as bad as it looks here. I was done for the rest of the trip. Everyone else, though, had a fabulous last 5 days.
Yep, I’m still on the couch.
Judy getting serious on the roof of St. Peters.
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