Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Something personal

If you were hoping this was a new post about one of our travels, it's not. Sorry. I have pictures from  a few more trips in Europe to post but they will have to wait until another time. What you're going to get isn't even going to be a very well written post. Today I want to tell you about someone very important to me that I have to say goodbye to.

Most people my age aren't lucky enough to still have all their grandparents. I won't go into exactly how old I am, but lets just say I'm getting up there. I don't know if it's like this for everyone but I tend to get people stuck in my head at a certain age and that's how old they are to me forever. For my brother it's three years old. I will always remember him calling the kittens at my grandma's house, "Here titty titty titty!" with his squeaky little voice. For my mom, she's continuously 36. I'm not sure why she's stuck at that age, maybe that was the year I became aware of her age. Anyhow I'm getting dangerously close to her age...that can't be right! My grandpa will always be about 65 in my head. Even at 65 he was still building houses, golfing every weekend, teaching us to shoot with a bow and arrow in his backyard. My grandpa played games with us. He has always been a practical joker. He likes puzzles and Where's Waldo. He could make anything out of wood. I still have several pieces that he made that have now been passed down to my daughter. Last year he turned 91. It seems hard to believe. It hasn't been that long since he quit golfing and building things. My grandma and grandpa recently sold their home and moved into an assisted living facility. Last Monday my grandpa had a massive heart attack and was put into CCU. We were told he may not live much longer and made an emergency drive up to visit him. Thankfully we got to see him and he has stayed pretty stable during our visit. He was transferred to hospice care yesterday. I don't know how much longer my grandpa has to live but I know exactly when I have to say goodbye. We have to leave on Friday morning. Tomorrow night I have to go say goodbye to my grandpa for the last time. We won't be able to come visit again anytime soon and probably won't be able to come back for his funeral so this is it. I wish I could stop time. One day just isn't enough to say tell someone how much you love them and say thanks for all they have meant to you your entire life.

If some of my friends see this and are upset that I didn't call you while we were here, I hope you can understand why. This visit was about family. We didn't know how much time we would have and didn't want to make plans. Very few people knew we were here.

I love you Grandpa.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"There's a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hallAnd the bells in the steeple tooAnd up in the nursery an absurd little birdIs popping out to say, "Cuckoo"Regretfully they tell us but firmly they compel usTo say goodbye to you
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good nightI hate to go and leave this pretty sightSo long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieuAdieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu
So long, farewell, au revoir, auf wiedersehenI'd like to stay and taste my first champagneSo long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbyeI leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye, goodbye
I'm glad to go, I cannot tell a lieI flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I flyThe sun has gone to bed and so must I
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbyeGoodbye, goodbye, goodbyeGoodbye"

We are officially in PCS mode. We've gotten our orders to leave Germany and go back to the states. I've been trying to put off this post as long as I could but our movers are coming in two weeks and I don't think I can ignore it any longer.  I've been making lists for a while, and purging but we finally sat down and physically sorted through our belongings last night. Our cat is freaking out thinking we are going to leave him behind. He keep sneaking into our suitcases!

We still have a little bit of time left before we actually have to get on a plane so hopefully we can fit in one last trip somewhere. For those of you just arriving my advice to you is apply for your tourist passports as soon as you find out you're coming. (I know you get no-fee passports from the government but you can't use those to travel in Europe. See my previous post about that here.) Start practicing for your USAEUR drivers license and taking the practice test online over and over until you can pass it without any wrong. That way you can get out and travel as soon as your vehicle gets here. There are a lot of four day weekends here. At least one a month. You can do a lot of travelling on four days without even having to use any leave! Make a list of all the places you want to see and try to make it happen. I'm grateful for all we got to see and experience. Do a lot of reading about the places you want to go. Most of all be open and prepared to change. Things aren't exactly like the states, but that doesn't mean it's bad. People spend entirely too much time complaining and comparing and forget what an amazing opportunity they have to see what others will only dream of. It's scary but exciting!

We're sad to be leaving, there are still a lot of things we would like to see but it's time for us to go home. We're both excited to get back to familiar stores, air conditioning and family and friends. I'm excited to get back into an actual house and out of this stairwell. We've made it ours during our time here and it has served it's purpose but I won't be sad to say goodbye to Apt 1A. It'll be a lot harder to say good-bye to Europe.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Idar-Oberstein Castle Ruins and Church in the Rock

In the town of Idar-Oberstein there is a castle atop a cliff. Part of the castle is in ruins, but part of it has been maintained and is furnished. You can tour the castle for free although they do accept donations and have a few items for sale in the lobby. There is a modern pay toilet in the basement of the castle. You can drive right up to the castle and park in the courtyard. There is also a touristy souvenir shop right next door but they have very good prices on their items.

There were grapes growing inside the courtyard.

There was a birds nest inside one of the windows. 

This was one of the original toilets 

We made sure to sign the guest book.

The lady at the souvenir shop was very helpful. She gave us a map and directions to get to the church from the castle. We drove down the road a little way and were able to park fairly close to the church so we didn't have to climb the hundreds of steps up the mountain to get to it.

The prices for the church

There were still a lot of steps to climb to get up inside the church

Inside the church

Out on the balcony

We signed this guestbook too

The view of Idar-Oberstein from the balcony

Friday, November 9, 2012

Homburg Castle and Schlossberg Caves

The Schlossberg Caves are definitely worth a visit. It's only about a 45 minute drive from Baumholder. There is a large castle ruin to explore with lots of stairways, tunnels and paths to explore.

This was on top of the hill . It reminded me of pet cemetery :)

Around the end of the ruins is a hotel/restaurant. To get to the caves go down the stairs by the hotel and follow the signs.

You can join a tour group (tours are available in English) or explore the caves on your own. There was only one floor open when we visited but they told us they were planning to open more in the future.

For more information about the caves click on the links below,