Europe 2007

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!Europe2007001 Europe2007002 Europe2007003

Heidi giving Gary some French language lessons.  Bonjour!Europe2007004

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.Europe2007005

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.Europe2007006

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.  Europe2007007

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.Europe2007008 Europe2007009

We crossed the river to the Ile de la Cite and over to Notre Dame.Europe2007010

We crossed back over the Seine, up the right bank and to the Hotel de Ville.  Europe2007011

There, we grabbed some sandwiches, sat on the fake lawn and had a great picnic.  Europe2007012

From there, we walked down the Quai for some photos (note the incredible weather).Europe2007013

Jardin des Tulleries.Europe2007014


Everyone was excited to see the Eiffel Tower in the distance.Europe2007016

We continued up the Champs de Elysses to the Arc de Triomphe.Europe2007017 Europe2007018

At that point, we were getting a bit tired, but we pushed on to the Eiffel Tower.Europe2007020 Europe2007021 Europe2007022 Europe2007023

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.Europe2007024

The next morning we got up early (relatively) and took the train out to Versailles.Europe2007025

The crowds were in force, but the beauty was still evident.Europe2007026

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.Europe2007027 Europe2007028

Taking a rest on the steps of Versailles, enjoying the beautiful weather and views.Europe2007029 Europe2007030 Europe2007031

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…Europe2007034

…The Louvre!Europe2007035

Heidi and I checked out the Luxembourg Gardens.Europe2007036

They saw Mona.Europe2007037

We looked at linens…Europe2007038

…and enjoyed some time by the Seine.Europe2007039

Heidi looking quite French while waiting for Glenda to drag my mom out of the Louvre.Europe2007040

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.  Europe2007041

The neighborhood of St. Paul.Europe2007042

Enjoying riding the Metro for a ride up the Eiffel Tower at night.Europe2007043

Judy felt more comfortable hanging out with the locals on the ground floor.Europe2007044

Gary was a bit nervous about the heights, but was happy nonetheless.Europe2007045

The views that night were spectacular!Europe2007046

Heidi was in her element.Europe2007047 Europe2007048

After we joined back up with my mom, we boarded a boat for a nighttime Seine cruise.Europe2007049

The next morning it was time to get our last tastes of Paris before we boarded a TGV for Germany.Europe2007050

Here we are in Karlsruhe, transferring to an ICE toward Frankfurt.Europe2007051

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.Europe2007052

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.Europe2007053 Europe2007054 Europe2007055 Europe2007056 Europe2007057 Europe2007058 Europe2007059 Europe2007060

Heidi and I drove to Neider Roden to visit her Aunt, Uncle, Cousins and their kids.  It was really nice seeing them.Europe2007061

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.
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One of the city gates.Europe2007074

View from our apartment.Europe2007075

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.Europe2007076 Europe2007078 Europe2007079

Next stop:  Oberammergau.  We spend one night here, too.Europe2007080 Europe2007081 Europe2007082 Europe2007083 Europe2007084

The next day was our first cloudy day, but we had a the opportunity to check out Neuschwanstein, or King Ludwig’s Castle.  Europe2007085

It was a bit of a walk up to the castle from the parking lot, but we enjoyed it.Europe2007086

The view looking west from the trail allows for a great view of the alps and Ludwig’s parent’s castle, Hohenschwangau.Europe2007087 Europe2007088 Europe2007089

Mary’s bridge, or Marienbrücke, was a great place to view Neuschwanstein from.Europe2007090 Europe2007091 Europe2007092 Europe2007093 Europe2007094

Marienbrücke from Neuschwanstein.Europe2007095

Our trusty A6 diesel just waiting to be driven fast.Europe2007096

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.Europe2007097 Europe2007098 Europe2007099

Our hotel was lousy, but the rest of the city was really great.Europe2007100

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!Europe2007101

On our way from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen.Europe2007102 Europe2007103


View of the Lauterbrunnen Valley from Wengen.Europe2007105

Our hotel room at the Hotel Bären.Europe2007106 Europe2007107

From our room’s balcony looking at the Jungfrau.Europe2007108

Looking east from Wengen up towards Männlichen.Europe2007109 Europe2007110 Europe2007111

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.Europe2007112

At the stopover at Kleine Scheidegg.Europe2007113 Europe2007114 Europe2007115 Europe2007116

Looking up at the Jungfraujoch.Europe2007117 Europe2007118

Looking back downhill toward Wengen and Interlaken.Europe2007119 Europe2007120

Looking across the valley at Mürren.  Heidi and I stayed in Mürren in 1996.Europe2007121

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.Europe2007122

Looking down the north face of the Eiger.Europe2007123

Looking out out towards Grindlewald.Europe2007124 Europe2007125 Europe2007126 Europe2007127

The oxygen was a bit thin up here.Europe2007128

Looking back towards Kleine Scheidegg.Europe2007129 Europe2007130 Europe2007131 Europe2007132 Europe2007133

Judy was a bit freaked out by the heights on the walkways.Europe2007134 Europe2007135

We did a bit of glacier walking.Europe2007136 Europe2007137 Europe2007138

Next we walked IN the glacier.  You could hear it creaking.  Pretty crazy.Europe2007139 Europe2007140 Europe2007141 Europe2007142

It was a bit breezy outside, but you know how I love Switzerland!Europe2007143 Europe2007144

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.Europe2007145

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.Europe2007146

The sun actually came out.Europe2007147 Europe2007148 Europe2007149

Looking down the cliffs at Wengen.Europe2007150

Looking across at the Lauterbrunnen valley with the Jungfrau in the clouds.Europe2007151

He’s still got it when it comes to reading maps.  Next week, we’ll see, he gets a bit confused (Rome).Europe2007152

Having an incredible dinner at Hotel Bären.Europe2007153 Europe2007155

Catching the train at Lauterbrunnen towards Interlaken.Europe2007154

Brienzersee near Interlaken, on our way to Luzern to catch a train to Italy!Europe2007156

Our first view of the Italian Lakes district (Lombardia) from the train.  This is Lugano.Europe2007157

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.Europe2007158 Europe2007159 Europe2007160

We checked into our hotel, Albergo Silvio, then walked through the Villa Melzi Garden into the town of Bellagio.Europe2007161 Europe2007162 Europe2007163

It’s a beautiful part of the world.Europe2007164


Glenda and mom enjoying the gardens.Europe2007166 Europe2007167

Tourists in the real Bellagio.Europe2007168

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…Europe2007169

Enjoying the Italian sunshine after the cool mountain air in Switzerland.Europe2007170 Europe2007171

Time to leave Bellagio and head to Venice.  Boats, trains and…trains.  My hair is hilarious.Europe2007172

This is the town of Varenna, where Heidi and I stayed in 2001 and where we were to catch the train to Milano.Europe2007173

After a few hour train ride, we were in Venice.  This is inside a boat taxi… since they don’t have cars in Venice.Europe2007174 Europe2007175 Europe2007176

The view from our VRBO rental.  Awesome location.Europe2007177

Yeah, I took this picture.  And then made it black and white to look all artsy and stuff.Europe2007178

I think they like it.Europe2007179

Apparently we do, too.Europe2007180

Dad found himself a new boat.Europe2007181 Europe2007182

Glenda in St. Mark’s square.  Pigeons and all.Europe2007183

St. Mark’s CathedralEurope2007184 Europe2007185

People feeding pigeons.  I don’t get it.  Gross.  But this was an awesome picture, I think.Europe2007186

One day we took at boat to Murano to watch some glass blowing.  Europe2007187 Europe2007188

Rialto bridge.Europe2007189

Mom was blending in with the crowds.Europe2007190

The Bridge of Sighs.  Look it up.Europe2007191 Europe2007192 Europe2007193

Gelato.  Best in the world.  ‘Cause it was invented here.  Europe2007194


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.Europe2007196 Europe2007197 Europe2007198 Europe2007199 Europe2007200 Europe2007201 Europe2007202 Europe2007203 Europe2007204 Europe2007205

Yep, I’m still on the couch.  Europe2007206 Europe2007207 Europe2007208 Europe2007209 Europe2007210 Europe2007211 Europe2007212 Europe2007213 Europe2007214 Europe2007215 Europe2007216

Judy getting serious on the roof of St. Peters.Europe2007217 Europe2007218 Europe2007219 Europe2007220 Europe2007221

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