Thursday, January 14, 2010

Recent Adventures

The furthest our Eurpoen travels have taken us so far is a 3 hour drive away. First to Stuttgart to pick up our car (POV=Privately Operated Vehicle), then to Salzburg which we actually traveled by train to see, but driving would take about 3 hours...then 2 weekends ago we drove to Grafenwoehr to do some shopping at a larger American base. On the way we drove through three different snowstorms and sat in a lot of traffic, due in part to the weather but mostly people returning from holiday. From the Autobahn we saw villages and which really caught my interest, so after shopping, on our way home to Garmisch we took a quick detour to check out Regensberg. It was amazing to see this little city that was once enclosed and had a main entrance that reminded me of Robin Hood or the Three Musketeers when they go racing in and out of the city on horses to take care of some important business. I grabbed this photo as we were stopped at a traffic light, just before driving through it. Sorry, it was dark, so the pictures weren't spectacular...especially from the car.

The thing that originally caught my eye from the Autobahn as Ben drove was the cathedral that you could clearly see from a few miles away. It took some searching in the old city with lots of one way streets and pedestrian only zones, but we finally found it and got out of the car for a few minutes to investigate. I definitely plan to go back and learn more and hopefully see inside.

If you follow us on Facebook you might have heard that we went night sledding last Friday. What a riot! They actually open easy ski runs and take you up in a gondola so you can sled down the partially lit ski runs. They don't use saucers-that would be a BAD idea. They use mostly 2 kinds of sleds. Ben was able to borrow a couple of "bobs" to use. You sit down, with your feet in the air in front of you and hold onto a joystick. You have to learn to shift your weight and use your arms and legs to steer and stop. It took us a few runs to catch on, but we had good teachers. Ben's supervisor, Sonya and her Husband Matt and kids Sara and Adam were there as well as a few others from their floor at work. I followed Sonya down the hill and watched her not only stay on the "bob" but take one of the kids on her lap...she's a pro!

So you get off the lift, get in a line, and go in small groups so that you don't create big mobs for crashes. It really was fun-and nobody got injured!

Below is an example of the other popular kind of sled. It looks like and old school wooden toboggan on rails. In winter you will see adults pulling children around town on these all the time. It's pretty cute. I didn't try this kind-I wanted to master the "bob" but Ben did, he said it was just as hard to, he went back to the "bob" too.

Here you can (barely) see what part of the sledding hill looked like. I would say there were about 5 different segments or hills connected together. Some spots were steeper or curvy and some spots were so flat you might have to push yourself along a bit. It was really fun until the end-it became really icy and there were moguls and jumps that it appeared people had dug on purpose-but if you couldn't see them you were at the mercy of the hard plastic slamming the ice as you landed on your bum, hopefully without falling off. We both fell off plenty of times but were not hurt except for some sore muscles the next few days. We also enjoyed a stop at the lodge (or Hutte) at the top of the run for some drinks, bratwurst and cheesy music. It was a fun night that I'm sure we'll repeat.

I can't remember if we mentioned that we had to take a driver's test to get a European driver's license. Well, we did. The Army requires that you sit in a class and take a test in order to have a German driver's license during your stay. We did that a few weeks after we arrived. Then we found out that you should get an International Driver's License also so that when you drive to other countries you will not have any problems. So we went to the German DMV with our licenses and our Euros and got our IDLs so we could drive into Austria which is right over the mountains. Sledding, by the way was in Erwald, Austria.
I had been looking forward to driving in Austria because Innsbruck is only an hour away. So, when my friend Corie had a day off last week, we drove down for the afternoon and enjoyed some shopping, food and sightseeing. Obviously, in one afternoon we didn't get much further than the Swarovski shop, but lucky for us, right outside was the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof). It is amazing to see things that are centuries old. Americans have such a unique history compared to places in Europe. What we think of as old has nothing on these cities.

The arcitecture and ornateness of it all is astounding. You really have to stop and think about what you are looking at and realize that people have been looking at and using these buildings for longer than you can imagine. How many people in history have had this exact view from where I stood as I took these pictures? Royalty, Peasants, Soldiers, Farmers, Merchants...Tourists. :)

Corie and I had a fun girls day out and really enjoyed the winter wonderland exhibit at the Swarovski shop. I'm not exactly sure what the chair had to do with it, but it sure was fun for taking pictures and goofing off.

One of the cool things about Innsbruck, and Austria in general, is that the buildings tend to have bright colors. This picture was taken late in the day with little sun, but you can imagine the bright blues, reds, yellows and greens that liven up the city.

So we still have a lot of Europe to explore, but considering what we've seen in just a few days and hours of sightseeing so far, it almost exhausts me to think of what we have planned for the next few years. Almost. Really, I can't wait!


Debbie said...

Ben & Esther:

I keep forgetting to suggest that you save all of your car license plates from your travels. I would be neat to have license plates from all of the places that you live!
I know what you mean about the oldness of Europe... I remember when we got our passport in Old City Phila and thought "why are we going to Europe when we have old historic places right here?" Then we saw the Dom in Cologne with original structures build in 300 a.d. Such old buildings and structures it's mind boggling!

Rebecca said...

I love seeing your photos and hearing the adventures. Mark's Haegele line is from Stuggart dating way back to the middle ages.