Sep 26, 2010

Black Forest

We've had great fall weather the past few weeks, so Brian and I took advantage of it and went to the Black Forest for a weekend. It was sunny and in the mid-60's, so we packed up the motorcycle and took off for a nice weekend ride. We took the autobahn to get there quickly, and then we took our time once we were there, driving the windy roads and taking in the view. Brian even took us on some roads that looked more like trails, which were pretty cool! We enjoyed a day of driving through the gorgeous forest. The trees were really dense and the hills were much more dramatic than I expected. Around 6pm, we decided to start looking for a place to stay for the evening. There were a lot of really cute bed and breakfast-type places, so we picked one on a river in a tiny little town. This tiny hotel was adorable! We really enjoyed our stay, which included a delicious dinner and a wonderful breakfast spread. The next day we continued to sight-see in the forest for a couple of hours and then headed back to Frankfurt.

Our hotel

View from our balcony

Main street

View in front of our hotel

Getting ready to hit the road!

The Black Forest was the perfect way to spend a nice, relaxing weekend.

Sep 18, 2010

Johnmark and Holly Visit!

Our friends, Johnmark and Holly, came to visit us over Labor Day weekend! Brian and I were so excited to see them, and we were completely impressed by how much we accomplished with them and how much fun we had in such a short amount of time! Before I get started, I'd like to thank JM and Holly for coming to visit and for being such great photographers :) They took all of the pictures in this blog, and they all turned out awesome! As you can see, I had a hard time narrowing them down!

As I just mentioned, we did a LOT in a short time - here was the itinerary:
Saturday - Frankfurt in the morning, Rheinfelden in the evening
Sunday - Drive to Binn, Switzerland and spend the night there
Monday - Drive to Interlaken, Heidelberg for dinner, and then back to Frankfurt
Tuesday - JM and Holly depart :(

Whew! It sounds crazy, but we had the BEST time! And here's how it went...

Johnmark and Holly flew into Frankfurt early on Saturday morning, and we didn't waste any time. We brought them back to our apartment for coffee and pastries, and then we took them on a tour around Frankfurt. Even though they spent the night on a plane with no sleep, they had no problem walking all around the city!

Holly and me in front of the Alte Oper

We made our way to the Kleinmarkthalle (small farmer's market) and bought some fresh, delicious treats.

Check out the size of these gourds!
Time for lunch! The weather was perfect, so we sat outside at the Romer Platz for a delicious welcome-to-Germany-the-land-of-pork-beer-and-potatoes lunch.

So excited to consume this food!

After lunch, we crossed the river and found a flea market. One of the things I love about Germany is how the people really take advantage of good weather. When it's nice outside, activities outdoors are always packed, as you can see in the picture of the flea market below. We looked around for a good find, and JM and Holly found a glass pitcher that was adorable and only 1 euro! What a steal!

We made our way back to the apartment so that we could hit the road for Rheinfelden. Before we left, Johnmark or Holly took this picture of our apartment. When I was going through the pictures from the weekend, I realized I don't think I've ever posted a picture of our completed home! So here's our living room/dining area.

The drive to Rheinfelden was quick and easy - only 3 hours - so we were there in plenty of time to explore and to find a place to eat dinner. We had decided to share a family room on Saturday night, which turned out to be a fun slumber party! Here's the happy fam in our quaint, "kind of dingy but it did the trick" room in Rheinfelden :)

And adorable Rheinfelden was fun to explore, once we found downtown! The river serves as the border between Germany and Switzerland, so we stayed in Germany but had dinner in Switzerland.

This little town was not a hot tourist destination, so it was very quiet and comfortable. As we were walking around, we found a little live jazz concert in a little courtyard, and we were lucky enough to catch the last song. I love fun finds like that!

For dinner, we found a restaurant that had a great view of the river. The plates that we ordered on the menu said "Fire cooked" so we assumed that meant grilled. But we were very surprised to see a little fire actually on our plates! We tried roasting our chicken on our little fires, but it really didn't change the taste much. The chicken was already grilled when it came out, so we guessed that the fire was just for effect. It was a fun surprise, though!

Johnmark and Holly were SUCH troopers on Saturday night. We stayed out till 10pm on the evening they flew in after walking them all around Frankfurt, and they didn't even act tired! Brian and I were impressed.

The next morning, we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel and then jumped in the car to head to Binn!

Our fearless driver for the entire trip - thanks, B!

Saying that the drive to Binn was gorgeous is quite the understatement. We had a joke by the end of the day that we couldn't drive more than 10 minutes without wanting to pull over to enjoy the view!

We did stop quite a bit, but this is why -

Isn't it amazing??

Johnmark and Holly were great traveling buddies. They were loving the drive and just taking in the outdoors as much as we were.

We got to the top of this mountain pass, so of course we pulled over!

After that stop, we came across this cute hotel and a cafe with outdoor seating. We all agreed that we could enjoy a cappuccino along with the view. Little did we know that this stop would lead to a fun adventure! When Holly and I went inside to look for a bathroom, we found a ticket booth for a walk to a glacier! So after cappuccinos and cake, we went for a little stroll to see a huge Alpine glacier. Just a typical coffee break, right? :)

Then it got better! How could a hike along a glacier get better you ask? How about a walk INTO the glacier?? Yes, we went inside an ice cave!

Super cool - ba dum ching :)

We had a great time wandering around and exploring. Every view was breathtaking!

It was time to continue on toward Binn, but the drive just continued to amaze us with the views!

We made Brian pull a very tricky U-turn to get pictures of this little hotel. When we drove past, it was so adorable with every window bursting with flowers - we just had to get a photo. I decided to step inside to get a business card in case Brian and I wanted to come back to this area, but I took two steps inside and realized that we would never be staying there. Bri isn't a fan of Victorian decor, and this place was absolutely filled to capacity with Victorian trinkets and furniture. I wish I had taken a picture of the inside - it was comical!

After some very windy, narrow roads, which Bri handled like a pro, we arrived in Binn! It was a sleepy, adorable town - exactly what we had been hoping for.

View from our hotel room

Once we were settled into our rooms, we went for a walk around town.

I've never seen a cemetery like the one that was outside this church. I loved how uniform and colorful it was. Someone obviously was very diligent about taking care of it.

View of Binn from the church

Exploring made us thirsty, so we sat down to consume some beers at a little cafe next to the river. Then we returned to our hotel for dinner. What a day! I loved sleeping in our hotel in Binn because with the windows open you could hear the river. It was so peaceful.

The next morning, Bri and JM woke up before sunrise to take some pictures as the sun came over the mountains. was cloudy that morning. Bummer! But that didn't stop us from enjoying our coffee and breakfast outside! The view was still gorgeous.

Our hotel in Binn

On Monday, it was time to head back to Frankfurt, but the vacation was far from over! We drove a different route on our way back so that we could swing through Interlaken. On our way, we came across this awesome dam. I love the color of the water - it was so unique.

Dam! :)

As we continued on our drive, the view kept us very entertained! We came upon one of the lakes of Interlaken, and it was gorgeous.

And Interlaken did not let us down - we purchased plenty of Swiss chocolate and enjoyed a delicious pizza lunch in this adorable town. For some reason, we were all craving pizza for lunch, but after some wandering, we found the restaurant with the best pizza in town, and it really was great!

Adorable Interlaken

After Interlaken, we started to head out of the mountains and back toward Germany. The autobahn wasn't nearly as fun as the mountain roads. But we did stop in Heidelberg for dinner! One more destination before returning to Frankfurt :) Heidelberg is always a fun city to visit. We showed JM and Holly the highlights.

Town Square

Church - I love this pic of Brian and me- thank you, JM!


Family photo on the famous Heidelberg bridge

After giving the tour of Heidelberg, it was time for one more German dinner for JM and Holly. The guys looked around and found this restaurant that had all of the German delicacies we were looking for. Brian convinced Johnmark to get the pig knuckle meal!

After dinner, Holly presented JM with a "special gift" that we had found in a gas station earlier in the day. German gas stations usually have some pretty weird, funny stuff, but Holly hit the jackpot with this item :) JM obviously found it hilarious as well!

We walked through Heidelberg one more time to enjoy the glow of the city.

We spent Monday night at our apartment in Frankfurt, and then sadly, JM and Holly had to leave on Tuesday morning. What a whirlwind weekend! We had the best time with them and can't wait to see them again in December!

Sep 12, 2010

Rhine Valley

On Saturday, 28 August, the weather was looking a little crazy. It would be sunny for a little while, but you could see major rain clouds in the distance. Brian and I decided this was a perfect day to take the Honda and visit a vineyard on the Rhine River so that we could enjoy a book, a glass of wine, and some rain showers.

I had found a couple of possible choices online, but when we went to the first one and it wasn't quite what we were looking for, we decided to just start driving around that region to see what we could find. We drove up and down some tiny, windy roads with amazing views of endless vineyards.

We ended up finding Schloss Vollrads, the perfect spot we were searching for. This vineyard had umbrellas outside in a nice garden area where we could sit and enjoy a relaxing afternoon.

When we first arrived, it was sunny outside, so we wandered around the beautiful property.

Then we picked our table and just relaxed! It was a perfect afternoon. We enjoyed some sun and some great rain storms, too.

After a few hours, it was time for dinner. We wanted to go back to a really great restaurant that we had previously visited in that area in December 2008. Because it was a couple of towns away, we thought it would be cool to drive the tiny roads through the vineyards instead of taking the main "highway". The roads were mostly paved, but some of them looked like this!

They all had great views

On our drive, we discovered an abandoned castle! I mean, it wasn't hidden or anything, but only one tiny road leads up to it, and the brush surrounding it is overgrown. Royalty obviously hadn't lived there in a long time :)

We couldn't just drive by, so we went inside to check it out. We had a great time wandering through it - castles are way more fun when they aren't touristy!

The view from the top floor was amazing!

Of course Bri wanted to go higher to see if he could get an even better view :) This man sure loves to climb!

A serious hail storm moved in, so we left the roof-less castle in a hurry. On to dinner! We made it to the little restaurant in the town Assmannhausen (funny name, right?) and ate a delicious German dinner of pork and potatoes, of course. I love the country, homey feel of that place - I wish I had taken pictures or could remember the name of it! It's made of all rock and wood, so it just feels old and comfortable.

On our way back to Frankfurt, we got stuck in traffic behind a big group of bicycles, so we pulled into this place for a cup of coffee and dessert to give the traffic time to clear up. I think it was a great reason to extend our day trip just a little longer :)