I am linking up with 5 minute Friday. You can read more about it HERE. This week’s prompt is “dive.” I’m starting with a 5 minute write…then adding photos of 2 weeks of wandering in Europe with my oldest daughter and my youngest daughter.
Dive in! That’s easy for me. I love to experience new things, meet new people, go new places, try new foods.
Yes, it can be stressful when I’m someplace new. What if I’m on the wrong train? Where do we get off? (I can’t read the signs. After all, they are in German, an unintelligible language to my ears and eyes.) What landmarks do I need to remember to get back to the hostel? Where will I find friendly people who are happy to help poor, confused me?
But…there is a thrill in just diving in. If the water is cold, it is also refreshing. It makes the adrenaline pump, adds excitement to my life.
And this trip? Aaahhhh…I get the fun of traveling with two of my kids. They can enjoy the “dive” with me. And if they get nervous or afraid, hopefully my pleasure can help them overcome their discomfort. Perhaps this is a gift I can give them… Come to think of it, with the ways most of my kids like to wander the world, I must have already given them this gift!
Are you ready? C’mon! Let’s DIVE!
Here are a few photos for each day of our wandering in Germany, Alsace France, and the Netherlands. Photo-evidence of our DIVE In To The New in Europe!
Day One: Travel Day (Tuesday, Dec 18th)
At the airport, ready to DIVE!
Just when we were getting bored in the Philly airport (delayed flight), SANTA appeared!
Day Two: Frankfurt Germany (Wed, Dec 19th)
We wandered the streets around the youth hostel, and finally met up with Celia late in the afternoon.
An evening in Frankfurt: exploring the Jewish Museum, wandering along the river walk, and finding yummy Indian food for supper…
Day Three: Travel to the Rheingau (Thurs, Dec 20)
We rented a car and drove to the Rhein River region. We walked around Frauenstein…and Anna discovered a FAIRY TREE!
We also laughed at what we later realized was the first Santa decoration of many that seemed to be breaking into a house…
We drove to neighboring Erbach (home of Emmelhainz ancestors) and found the family church.
And we walked the streets of Erbach…where Emmelhainz ancestors had walked for generations…something special about that!
Day Four: Christmas Markets in the Rheingau (Fri, Dec 21st)
Our German host took us to Rudesheim in the afternoon, to introduce us to a lovely Christmas Market.
Christmas Markets include yummy food, lots of people, wonderful booths of crafts and decorations, and…did I mention the food?!!
In the evening, our host took us to the huge Christmas Market in Weisbaden. I didn’t like the crowds…but the lights were beautiful…
…and Anna loved her ride on the 2nd story of the Carousel! (Did YOU know there was such a thing??)
Day Five: Emmelhainz Heritage (Sat, Dec 22nd)
We met German Emmelhainz relatives…still living in the family town. They shared stories and old photos.
And we were shown the Emmelhainz Haus, an old winepress originally used by the Emmelhainz wine-makers, and other area landmarks related to family.
Day Six: Castles and Roman Ruins along the Rhein (Sun, Dec 23rd)
Castles line both sides of the Rhein River…
We explored Rheinfels Burg in St. Goar, still majestic even as ruins.
For an extra adventure, the tunnels under the castle could be explored by candle light. (And some were pitch black and low-ceilinged…)
I always enjoy taking photos at the same places as daughter Celia…and seeing just how different our “eye”s are for what makes good pictures!
One of the things I find most fascinating in Europe is the Roman Ruins scattered throughout the countries outside of Italy. (This is a mix of old and older in the riverside town of Boppard.)
Day Seven: the flooded Rhein and a drive to Alsace Region of France (Christmas Eve)
Castles tower above riverbank towns and one castle is in the MIDDLE of the river! (usually the island is visible…)
A German friend tried to convince us that wild and crazy Germans like to picnic in the water. We thought he was joking…until we actually saw some guys climb out to some tables for the fun of it!! (ha-ha!)
Since the rain finally stopped, we took a break for Anna to play on the awesome playground back in Erbach.
When we finally got to the hotel in France, Anna got her traditional Christmas Eve PJs. (Fortunately she had mentioned the importance of this in the morning…when I had time to run around like a crazy thing in the small town where we stayed; looking to buy some PJs. Whew! Found some!)
And for a mix of old and new…I did the traditional sewing of doll clothes late on Christmas Eve, this time with HAND sewing!
Day Eight: Ecomusee (Living History Museum) in Alsace France (Christmas Day)
The day started with a pile of mixed Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers. How weird to not have stockings! How weird to not be with more family! How weird that I had no gifts to open! (This trip was already an amazing gift…)
Then we explored the village: with live farm animals, peacocks, and real-true-living-STORKS on the roofs!
It was fun to imagine how my maternal ancestors might have lived in this area of France, before emigrating to America. The buildings were fascinating. If only I could have understood the signs (in French and German).
We finished the evening walking around the museum (in the rain), following actors in a Christmas play, carrying candle lanterns to light our way. It finally FELT like Christmas when we had a community carol sing—the songs still felt right, even when sung in French.
Day Nine: Travel Day (Thurs, Dec 26th)
We spent this day driving back to Germany (easy to do with a GPS), returning the rental car, and taking a train to Celia’s friend in the Netherlands.
Even with spending so much time together, we got along pretty well. (It was cool for Anna to get to know her big sister better…)
Day Nine: Maastricht Netherlands (Thurs, Dec 27th)
Maastricht, another fascinating city with a mix of medieval and roman history still visible…
According to the stories, this beautiful gate had a horrible use—to kick anyone who was sick completely OUT of the town to try to survive all alone. It was called “Hell’s Gate.”
Although we don’t know much about Catholicism, we DO know about the beauty of candles and the wonders of prayer. Anna lit a candle and prayed for some friends while we visited the Basilica in Maastricht.
I delight in noticing little scenes and gardens and doorways along the streets. I always wonder who else notices these little bits of beauty…
Day Eleven: Valkenburg Netherlands (Fri, Dec 28th)
We started with a tour of the human-carved maze of caves under the castle ruins…
Over the generations, the caves were used for defense, for hiding, for storage, and eventually decorated for victorian tourists. The various drawings and carvings tell the history of the area.
From the man-carved depths of the hill, we moved to the man-made fortress above the town.
And since we brought umbrellas, it wasn’t rainy on this day…it was COLD instead! (But we enjoyed time together and had fun with Celia’s friend.)
Day Twelve: Amsterdam (Sat, Dec 29th)
Ohhh…how I loved historic Amsterdam with its canals, houseboats, leaning rows of old houses, and bicycles everywhere…
Even the modern buildings sprinkled through the historic area had charm!
Did you know Van Gogh was from Amsterdam? Nope, neither did I. But the museum exhibit was AWESOME! (loved the mix of sketches and paintings)
And the “Illuminade–Festival of Light”? Pure magic as we wandered along a trail of art from lights throughout the historic city…
Day Thirteen: A Vineyard Church Service and a Castle (Sun, Dec 30th)
We enjoyed worshiping in Dutch and English with friends at the Vineyard Church in Amsterdam. The music was inspiring…and the end of the year celebration of what God has done in people’s lives, set to a jam-session of joyful blues music, was enthralling…
We definitely DOVE into this lovely city…and took time on this day to soak up a few last views of canals and leaning houses. (Do I have to get out of this “water”? Can’t I stay and “swim” awhile longer?!)
For our last night of wandering, we stayed at this genuine castle with a real moat around it! (So sad the exhilaration of “Diving In” is coming to an end…Let’s not talk about staying in the servants’ quarters instead of the castle, dealing with a very flat tire on the friend’s car, and saying goodbye to daughter Celia…okay?)
Day Fourteen: One Last Travel Day (Mon, Dec 31st)
We started our travel day at the fanciest Starbucks I’ve ever seen (in the beautiful old train station in Amsterdam)…
It was a day spent riding trains and snacking in the train stations…
…and pondering all that we experienced and enjoyed from our DIVE IN TO THE NEW of Europe…
And what’s next now that our DIVE is over? Daughter Anna and I are spending the next 7 weeks living with friends as they add a newborn to their active family. (Hmmm…maybe this is aother opportunity for DIVING, after all?!)
More things to do and places to explore? What FUN!