Thursday, August 20, 2015


In March Jake and I went on a chilly four-day weekend excursion to the charming city of Heidelberg in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region in Southwest Germany.

Walking on the streets of the historic city center.

One of the main attractions in Heidelberg is the castle ruins.  Here is a view of the ruins before we headed up the hill.

I wish I could find a condensed version of the history of the castle, but it's been through quite a bit.  The earliest structure was before 1214 and it had been expanded by 1650.  This castle was a player in numerous wars and attacks including the Thirty Years War and underwent major destruction at the hands of enemies.  After peace finally came to the region the castle was left unoccupied for many years and craftsmen and builders began using materials from the castle.  In 1764 a German ruler entertained the idea of establishing his court there, however, a lightening bolt hit the court building twice starting a fire.  He took this as a sign and moved his court elsewhere.  The castle remained empty and was in danger of being demolished by the Grand Duke of Baden until a French count took an interest in the building and served as a voluntary castle warden until 1822.  He put together a tour guide of the ruins which brought many tourists to the area and has helped make Heidelberg the tourists attraction it is today.

A view of the city from the castle grounds.

...and here we are making our way across the river.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Flossenburg Castle Ruins and Concentration Camp

So, we are pretty behind on our blogging, so it's time to get caught up.  Back in March we went on a short little hiking excursion to the Flossenburg Castle Ruins about 40 minutes from us.  In the town of Flossenburg there also was a concentration camp, but unfortunately we didn't get any photos of the camp.  Maybe the atmosphere just felt too somber to take any pictures.  The camp was interesting to see however, as Flossenburg is located in a rocky region.  The camp was primarily a labor camp where prisoners worked in the quarry.  Here is some info about the camp.  After having just spent a winter in Germany, I can imagine how harsh the conditions would have been for the prisoners.  It is always an enlightening experience to learn about some of the harsh realities of history.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Austria Sledding Over Valentines Day!!

So for Valentines Day we had a long weekend!! I love being stationed in Europe!!  We went to Goldegg, Austria and visited the ski town of Bad Gastein.  My Goal was to surprise Whitney with a little get away, but she found out and ended up helping me book the hotel (Thanks Babe, love you).  We stayed at this amazing Guest house in Goldegg,  Hotel Zur Post Goldegg.  The first night we ate at the hotel and I had a local dish of venison stew with spaetzle.  Amazing!  

We did a small sledding hill and tried the traditional sleds for the first time.  They were actually hard to steer, but it was fun.  I would have really pushed to ski, but winter has not really given us a ton of snow here and I just can't justify spending the money to go now slush and ice. 

Oh what did we find at the top of the chair lift?? 

We took the Gondola up to the top of the Gastein Ski resort and walked around on the top of the mountain. 

We then decided that we should try the Alpine Therme.  It was our first time in a European spa, this means co-ed and clothing free.  I think one time is good enough us two Americans.

 Bad Gastein Waterfall and Goldegg Castle

Wien (Vienna) Austria

So we had a long weekend at the end of January!  Yes, my work schedule here in Grafenwoehr has been so nice! With no further ado, here are the highlights of Vienna, Austria and  little bit of the history!
We stayed at the Falkensteiner Hotel.  It was decorated so cute that Whitney took a photo to remember it.  It also had a really nice breakfast smorgasbord!!

St. Stephen's Cathedral.  It is right down town Vienna.  We did a tour of the catacombs.  It was interesting because they had the royalty tums here.  In Vienna, they removed the organs from the bodies and placed the heart in one urn and the other organs in another and then sealed the bodies in their coffin.  The organs were then taken to another church's catacomb and the heart was taken to a third church.  In that way, royalty could be remembered at three churches in the city. 

Hofburg palace home to the Habsburg family.  It is now converted into museums and classical concert halls.
The Palace in the background as we walked the shopping area!

The World Famous Demel Chocolate shop.
A little bit of America here in Europe!!!

Figlmuller- the best Schnitzel I have ever had!!!
An Almdudler is a soda that is made here in Vienna.  Tastes like a ginger-ale with a herbal after taste.  Not Bad, but not amazing!

Sacher Tort: World Famous and really good.  It has a chocolate apricot flavor.  Me saying it is good says a lot because I (Jake) do not like apricot anything.
These chocolate hazelnut wafer cookies are amazing and addicting!! A must try in Vienna!
Whitney using the guide book to figure out where to go next!!  I love that she loves guide books and helps me discover a new city!!
Um... So we are definitely a couple.  You know those couples that dress the same but you know they didn't coordinate their outfits, well after 5 years of marriage that is Whitney and me!!  And if you couldn't pick out the tourist traveling through your city,  just look for the bright red couple in the midst of all the other people wearing black!! lol
The sign says "Freedom!" It is made out of the tubing that is on the industrial car vacuum cleaners at the car wash.  Traveling for me is freedom!!

The pictures above are in the Austrian Parliament building.  It was completed in 1883 the neo-Greek style popular during that time.  The fountain in front of the building is the Athene Fountain, or the Athena Fountain.
The monument to Empress Maria Theresia in Maria-Theresien-Platz.
 Another view of the monument with the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Art) in the background, which was built in the neo-Renassiance style.
Some statues we spotted along the Ringstrasse.
Oh what did I find Whitney standing by?  A Defender 90!! Still my dream car!!
Just a sticker that was stuck to a bench, but I love the saying.  So many times we get stuck behind the camera that we forget where we are, and why we are at that place and time.  This just reminded me to follow my passion!!  Love, life, family, travel, and good times!