S: Europe: May 20th-June3rd, 2011
BC: The end of a great trip with the best company!
FC: EUROPE | 2011 | FRANCE GERMANY ICELAND
1: We had been saying for a few years that we would like to go to Europe "someday". James finished graduate school in December 2010, so we thought it would be a good time to go and celebrate both of us being done with school! We started planning with the first purchase for the trip in February--tickets to the French Open! We had about half of the nights booked for places to stay and a general idea of where we were going to visit before we left; the rest of the trip was unscripted! What a wonderful getaway and 2 amazing weeks of being together! We are so blessed!
2: Traveling | Our first night in Paris we stayed at Tim Hotel. We walked from our hotel to see the Eiffel Tower | Beautiful sights, beautiful night!
3: 5.21.11 After a long day of traveling we went out for supper. We both had crepes with chocolate, almonds, and ice cream. When we finished the waitress asked if we wanted dessert!
4: 5.22.11 We left Paris around 11:30 am in our little rental car. The roads are a maze! We took the "scenic route" to the Bed and Breakfast and missed more than one exit along the way. We found ourselves on a toll road with no Euros and our credit cards wouldn't work! About 4 or 5 hours later we finally found our way to the Chateau Chamboard near Bloise, France.
5: We didn't have time to tour this Chateau because it was about to close, but we spent about an hour touring the grounds before heading to the B&B in Restinge. | Chateau Chamboard
6: What a view!
7: 5.22-5.24.11 We stayed with John and Sue Dunkerly at their B&B. They were very nice people and great cooks! We had 4 course meals both nights with local wines and, of course, huge breakfasts! We were the only house guests, so we were spoiled!
8: The B&B was surrounded by vines., which made for a nice evening stroll.
9: A peaceful little town in France | Narrow streets and beautiful architecture
10: Chateau de Montsoreau
11: .5.23.11 Chateau de Montsoreau was about a 45 minute drive in our rental car from the B&B. It sits in a beautiful valley where two rivers meet, the Loire and the Vienne.
12: Abbaye De Fontevraud | .5.23.11
13: 4 monasteries were housed here in the 12th century. | After the Revolution, it was changed into a maximum security prison housing more than 2,000 prisoners. | The Chapter house was where the religious community met. Scenes from Christ's Passion are painted on the walls. | Beautiful, detailed scenes were painted on every wall.
14: The architecture and history of the Abbaye was so interesting. The grounds were beautiful too. It's hard to believe it was a prison at one time!
16: This cave houses about 4 million bottles of sparkling wine. It was nice and cool in the cave. We tasted the wine after the tour and bought a bottle of a rare, sparkling red wine. The process of making the wine was interesting--and it takes so long! Pictured above are the cave entrance and the "tasting room". where the wine makers used to hold tasting ceremonies. | Louis De Grenelle Winery Samur, Frnace | 5.23.11
17: So much wine, so little time!
18: 5.24.11 | Villandry | Ornamental Garden Water Garden Sun Garden The Maze Herb Garden Vegetable Garden | Before heading back to Paris, we spent a few hours touring Villandry Chateau and Gardens. It was incredible! The gardens were absolutely amazing and the Chateau was still furnished with fine 18th century furniture. It was originally built in the 15th century during the Renaissance period.
19: There are 6 full time gardeners to take care of all these plants!
22: View from a hill-side trail near the Chateau
24: 5.24.11-188.8.131.52 Our humble little apartment in Paris. We stayed here for 3 nights.
25: After we got back from the B&B and checked into our apartment, we had a few hours to stroll around the streets of Paris. It was a beautiful night for a walk and the scenery doesn't get much better! | Springtime in Paris
26: Cathedral of Notre Dame Next time we visit Paris, we will make time to tour this! It was getting late and about to close when we made our way over to the area.
27: Sights around Paris
28: THE FRENCH OPEN 2011 | Our tickets were for Suzanne Lenglen court the first day, the middle-sized of the 3 main courts. | Court Philippe-Chatrier | 5.25.11
29: We bought our tickets in February 2011. Of course we had no idea who we would get to see play. The first match we watched was Roger Federer! This was a dream come true! He is so amazing! | Federer vs. Teixeira
30: Day 4 of the French Open Second Round Matches | Llagostera Vives, ESP (below) beat Cornet, FRA (above) | Bartoli, FRA (above) beat Govortsova, BLR (below) | Tsonga, FRA (above) beat Andreev, RUS | 5.25.11
31: We left the stadium to go see some American's play. J.Isner/S.Querrey ended up losing in a tie breaker for the 3rd set! It was fun to sit so close--we had front row seats on the outer court! | Adreev, RUS | Watching Tsonga play the night match was especially fun. The whole crowd was into the match and he sure seemed to have a great time out there!
32: Day 5 of French Open, 2nd day of Round 2 Matches. Kimberly is so ready for tennis to start! We were one of the first ones there! | James posing in front of our seats! We had such a great view! Love that his UMD hat made it all the way to the French Open! | 5.26.11 | Kvitova, CZE | Zheng, CHN
33: Davydenko, RUS | Verdasco, ESP | Malisse, BEL getting angry! | Broken racket! | Clement, FRA | Berrer, GER
34: When Grandpa Weber told us that his brother, Wilmer, was buried somewhere near Paris, we decided to see if we could find his grave and take some pictures for Grandpa and Grandma as a little gift to them. Wilmer was killed in the war in 1944 and is buried at Lorraine American Cemetery in St. Arvold, France, which is about 4 hours from Paris. The cemetery has 10,489 American military members from World War II buried there, making it the largest American Cemetery in Europe. It was very peaceful and beautiful. The grounds crew was preparing for the Memorial Day Service, which was going to be held that weekend. | 5.27.11
35: DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER "HERE WE AND ALL WHO SHALL HEREAFTER LIVE IN FREEDOM WILL BE REMINDED THAT TO THESE MEN AND THEIR COMRADES WE OWE A DEBT TO BE PAID, WITH GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF THEIR SACRIFICE AND WITH THE HIGH RESOLVE THAT THE CAUSE FOR WHICH THEY DIED SHALL LIVE."
36: Nueus Rathaus (New Town Hall)
37: In Stutgart we got pulled over by 2 female German police officers after James turned right on a red light. They let us off without a ticket but were quite annoyed that us "Americans" think we can drive how we want and not obey local traffic laws. We spent the night in a hotel near Stutgart, Germany on 5.27.11.We had an amazing German meal at a local resturant in Echterdingen. On 5.28.11 we made it to Munchen after getting stuck in traffic (again) for more than 2 hours. We spent 3 nights in a hotel just outside of town. | Views from Heiliggeistkirche, a church bell tower in Munchen.
38: Views from the Church Bell Tower in Munchen | Munchen
39: 5.29.11 After doing some much needed laundry, we walked around downtown for a few hours. Most of the shops were closed, but it was fun to look at all the old buildings and churches.
40: Starnberger See | A beautiful day for a walk alongthe lake | 5.30.11 We drove out to see this lake, which is about 45 minutes outside of Munchen. We walked around for an hour then had some pizza at a little shop before heading back. | When we got back to Munchen we headed downtown on the train.
41: Hofbrauhaus, Munchen
42: 5.31.11 Even though we knew it wouldn't be a "fun place to visit" we thought we should see a WWII Concentration Camp before leaving Germany. We drove to Dachau, which is about 30 minutes away from Munchen.
43: The stories we read about were definitely disturbing and shockingly horrible. This was the first and one of the largest concentration camps in Germany and it was overflowing with more than 63,000 prisioners by the time the American's liberated the suriviors in 1945. It was built to house 6,000. More than 41,000 people were murdered here. | The crematorium and gas chamber
44: 5.31.11 We flew from Munchen to Coppenhagen to Iceland. When we arrived in Keflavik around 10 pm, it was still light outside! We took the bus to our hotel in Reykjavik. 6.1.11 we got up early and booked an excursion to Gullfoss Geysir. The week before we got to Iceland a volcano was erupting and many flights were cancelled. The Icelandic people were annoyed by the media because they did not think it was big deal at all. The landscape was pretty barren with mostly lava fields, very few trees, and small towns along the way. The Geysir erupts about every 10 minutes. The weather was about 45 degrees with partial sun at times and some rain.
45: Geysir tour
47: Gullfoss Waterfall
48: Here is a rift valley in northern Iceland. The water was so clear and clean. The church and school house on the right are literally in the middle of nowhere. It's very barren---and not very green! | 6.1.11
50: Reykjavik, Iceland
51: After our first day excursion in Iceland, we headed downtown to eat. This restaurant was recommended by the hotel clerk for having the best lobster soup in the world. It was a little hole-in-the-wall place along the harbor with wooden tables and barrels as bar stools. The soup and the fresh fish cabobs were very good. It was nice to have a hot meal after being outside in the cold all day! Everything is so expensive in Iceland. This simple meal was around $40.00!
52: We booked a tour to Akureyri, Iceland before we left for Europe. We walked to the airport in Reykjavik in the morning to board a plane that took us to Akureyri in northern Iceland for the day. From there we got on a tour bus with about 10 other people and spent the day in northern Iceland. We really didn't know what we were going to do or see, but it was an adventure! | 6.2.11 | Views of Akureyri, a beautiful city not far from the Artic Circle!
53: Dimmuborgir or "dark city". The early settlers believed in trolls and this lava field had many formations in the rock formations that looked like troll heads! | Lava tube left by hot magma | Pasture land overlooking lake Myvatn | This crater was created by a single volcanic eruption.
55: Godafoss Falls. This waterfall was surrounded by nothing but barren lava fields.
56: These volcanoes erupted from under the ice pack of a glacier forming a flat top. These volcanoes are due to erupt anytime, but the people of Iceland are excited about it because they expect it to be a "tourist friendly" eruption where they will be able to bring tourists right up to the volcano to watch it erupt. How cool would that be?
57: Halfway through the day we stopped at a little rest area that over looked lake Myvatn to have some lunch. We shared some smoked salmon on bread that had been baked for 24 hours under ground by the heat of the earth in a "natural oven." It was very good! We were also happy that Icelandic people know how to make good coffee! We were surprised that good coffee was hard to find in Europe!
58: Namafjall Hverir | We spent about an hour walking around these high temperature geo-thermal fumaroles and mud pots. It was hard to breathe because it smelled so bad! It made you choke!
59: Cold ground water seeps into magma intrusions where it is heated into steam and then comes back to the surface. | Steam and fumarole gas rise, which contains sulfer hydroxide and produces the smell | Fumarole gas rises through the surface water producing sulfuric acid, which dissolves rock and soil, making mud | Trying to keep warm and breathe clothing-filtered air.
60: Myvatn Naturebath We had no idea that our day excursion was going to end with a swim in a geothermal pool. It was such a nice surprise because we had been freezing all day!! | The geothermal pools are heated by steam rising from the earth and contain a mixture of minerals, silicates and geothermal micro-organisms. They actually have to cool the water before it's piped into the pool because its too hot to swim in. | 6.2.11
61: We spent about an hour and a half in the pool and saunas at this nature bath site. It was so relaxing and wonderful. We had to "rent" a swimsuit though since we didn't have ours along, which was kind of wierd. It was worth it though!
62: On our last day of vacation we took a boat from Reykjavik out to Puffin Island, which was about 15 minutes from the city, for an hour tour. The puffin is the most common bird in Iceland and they nest on this island. | Puffin Express Tour | 6.3.11