Saturday, September 29, 2012

I Heart Paris

Eiffel Tower

From the bottom...

And from the top...

Notre Dame


And out...

As you can see, it was raining most of the day.

Did we care?

We did not.

Arc De Triomphe

Weary travelers, the night before departure.
Paris Hilton
-- where I went to the Executive Lounge for a late night snack in my hotel slippers.  It was my turn to embarrass Janet.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Netherlands

Yep.  We stumbled upon the very same windmill we saw last year, simply by meandering through the countryside.  

In Maastricht, we took a cruise on the Maas River, where I think we all caught a little shut-eye.  Apologies to the Captain, but the breeze, the gentle water, and the monotonous babble of the tour in three different languages was just too much for these exhausted travelers to be expected to stay alert.

This woke Janet up.  An RV park on the Maas.  I guess she took pictures to entice Joe to make this trip some day.

(She also took pictures of a guy mowing the grass at the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  For Joe.  I'm sure he's packing his bags.)

Crepes for lunch!  Cheesy, delicious and HUGE.  When will we learn to share orders?

This is the look Sherry had every time we ordered a meal.

When Greg left to fetch the van, the four of us ladies walked across the town square.  A group of students were apparently having a video scavenger hunt and roped us into singing their school song with them.  We assured them we only spoke English, but that didn't seem to matter.  So there's a video.  Probably on YouTube.  With us singing a Dutch High School song.  I'm sure it's gone viral by now.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Verviers, Belgium

If you had asked me to describe Belgium after last year's visit, I would have said, "grey." That would have been wrong.  Last year it was cool, cloudy and rainy.  This visit was warm and sunny, and now I would describe it as "beautiful."

Last year

This year

See what I mean?

We stayed at the Verviers Vandervalk Hotel, which used to be a train station.

Very different from the hotel in the Netherlands where we stayed last year.  (Remember the story about breaking in?)

Anyway.  This hotel was quite lovely.  And we were never locked out.

Belgium has several American cemeteries, Henri Chapelle being the largest (if I have my facts straight).

After an amazing worship service on Sunday, we took a drive to the church's campgrounds. 'Cause we haven't spent near enough time in the car.

Then on to Malmedy for our Belgian waffles!

I quit after 4.  Carol would still be eating if they had kept the jam coming.

We had a wonderful visit with Jean-Marie and Suzanne.  Except for the slight hiccup when Greg ratted me out  announced that I was no longer attending the home congregation.  I thought Jean-Marie was gonna flip.  I'm thinkin' this is probably my last trip to Europe. ;-) Good luck photoshopping me out of all the pics.

Subtle.  Yet makes a statement.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Vercelli, Italy to Kehl, Germany

Last year, we all agreed that Switzerland was our favorite destination.  So Greg decided to just pass through on our way to Germany this year.  Huh?  Not even one night's stay? Well we added Italy this year.  I guess I'm okay with that.

So here is our whirlwind drive through Switzerland.

Verbania Lake

The Alps

The long and winding road.
(I'll spare you the video of Janet freaking out.)

It really is a long way down there.

She looks calm.  Because I'm downhill.  And--I'm holding her hand.

More cow bell, please. 

Well, Hello!

Now I'm freaking out a little. :)

We stayed the night in Kehl, at the same hotel as last year.  Pretty uneventful, except an awesome dinner.  The guests at the next table were very interested that we were American and practiced their English on us.  They also helped us order.  Pretty cool.

Next stop -- Belgium.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Italia - Conclusion

Absolutely HATED having to leave Rome.  But we had places to go and people to see.

San Gimignano

Driving through Tuscany we stopped at the sweet little town of San Gimignano, where we did lots of shopping.

Cool wishing well in the middle of the square.

Yay!  Ice Cream!  Braums has nothin' on Italian Gelato.   And believe me, we ate enough gelato on our trip to be qualified judges.

We saw (and posed with) more naked men in 10 days than we had seen in our lifetimes!

And we got to share toilet facilities.  Awesome.
(This in no way corresponds to the previous photo caption.)

We also made a short stop in Siena.

Olive Grove

Tuscan countryside


Loved it.  Wanted to stay longer.

Michelangelo's David
Well, at least a replica.  This was probably one of my biggest disappointments.  We didn't get to see the original David.  I was outnumbered 4-1.  Hello!  We're in F-L-O-R-E-N-C-E. Anyway.  I'm still in love with Florence.

 Ponte Vecchio

View from our hotel window.

Duomo di Firenze


You have to take this tourist-y picture.  It's a rule.

This is known as the Field of Miracles.  And it's a miracle the tower hasn't tipped right over after all these centuries.

There are actually people walking around up there!  Not my thing.


The Mediterranean

Brought back a few of these pebbles for my collection.

From here we drove to Vercelli in northern Italy for the night.  That's where Sherry was almost killed by a shattering shower door.  And where was the camera then, Carol, hmmmmm?

Italy was incredible.  But we need to introduce them to the coffee mug.  They serve the best coffee ever--but give me a the Venti instead of the cute, wee, little cup.  And forget about espresso.  Delicious, potent and for a mere 4 euros (5 bucks) you get two tablespoons of espresso in a toy.

And that, my friends, is the short version of our tour of Italy.