Mar 21, 2011

Kim's Last Minute Trip to the USA

On Thursday, I found out that I had some meetings in DC the next week, and there's no way I was going to fly all the way across the Atlantic without going to Texas! So I booked a flight to head to Dallas on Saturday!

When I landed, my parents and my sister and Dave picked me up from the airport! I was so excited to see everyone - especially Kel and Dave who had driven all the way from Houston to spend the day in Arlington with the family. Yay!

We went straight from the airport to Kev's baseball game. Aunt Debbie, Uncle Bruce, and my cousins Lindsay, Taylor, and little Noah met us there because Lindsay teaches at the school that Kev's team was playing. We had a great time soaking up some sun and catching up with everyone! Unfortunately, Kev had played the last two games in the tournament, so this was his game to sit out - darn! But it was fun to support his friends, and we got to see Kev play on Tuesday.

We went over to Debbie and Bruce's house after the game. They're remodeling their kitchen, so we wanted to check out the progress!

Noah likes it!

The kitchen looked soooo different, and it's gorgeous! I can't wait to come over for a happy hour or pool party sometime in the future!

And was Bueno time. TACO BUENO - always a must within hours of my landing in Texas :) Dad went and picked it up while Mom and I hung out with Kelly and Dave. I loved hearing about their new life together in Houston - and hearing them play their new harmonica! Dave got Kel a harmonica for her birthday in January, and so they've learned a few fun tunes. When Kev and Dad got home, we feasted - party burritos, mexi-dips, and tacos galore!

My birthday was the next weekend, so Mom had ordered a red velvet cake for me! It was fun to taste test a new bakery's attempt to top Red Oven's red velvet. The cake was actually very good! Not as good as Red Oven...but still delicious enough to devour in a couple of days :)

My family was so sweet to have birthday presents for me, too! Kel and Dave got me a cookie press that I've been wanting for awhile (tested it this weekend - Brian has dubbed those cookies "crack cookies" because they're so delish and addicting). Mom, Dad, and Kev gave me a lot of things that I can't get in Germany, which was so nice. And Mom took me on an amazing shopping spree - more on that later!

After all of the birthday fun, we watched Modern Family as a family. I made it through the newest episode, and then I crashed - jet lag stinks!

The next day, Grandma drove in from Austin to visit, and Papa came over, too! Mom made tortilla soup, and we enjoyed a fun Sunday at home with the family. Kelly and Dave had to leave around 2 (sad), but I was so thankful that I got to see them.

Next, manicures/pedicures with Mom and Grandma at our favorite salon! I think any woman will agree that the company you get a mani/pedi with totally makes the experience, and I LOVE going with my Mom and Grandma. I got a gel manicure instead of normal paint, and my nails are still a perfect French mani - I highly recommend the gels!

Gap and Ann Taylor are in the same shopping center as our nail place, so I started my shopping spree on Sunday :) So great to be back in the USA where things are open on Sundays. Then the big shopping push was on Monday, and I shopped for all of the things that are difficult to buy online - sunglasses, jeans, costume jewelry, and some of those new, fun and flowy styles that either look like a PJ shirt or super adorable. I found some great stuff!

Monday night, I was rewarded for all of my hard work :) with a fun happy hour with lots of friends at Pappasitos!

Mom, Grandma, and me, shopped out and ready for happy hour

Catching up with friends is always a highlight of going home. And Pappasitos margaritas are a highlight as well :)
Denise and me

Kristen, Chad, Mckenzie, Joe, and Taylor came to hang out, even though it was a school/work night! I love this crew! I got to hear all about Kristen and Chad and Mckenzie and Joe's wedding planning - so many fun stories and details.

Love ya'll!

After Pappasitos, we moved to a new bar called Boomer Jacks.

The party crew that stuck around for happy hour part 2!

Joe stopped by too!

Tuesday was my last day in Texas. I had Taco Bueno one more time, went for a nice long walk with Mom and Dad, picked up a couple of things from the grocery store, and then we went to Kev's baseball game! I had so much fun working in the concession stand with Mom and Dad - I really admire my parents for dedicating so much of their time to volunteering for Kev's baseball team, so it was fun to help out for a night and see everything that goes into their work. Plus, I got to see some of my old high school teachers and youth leaders, and we had a great view of the game! Kev played really well!

On Wednesday, I flew to DC, where I had meetings on Thursday and Friday. I also got to see a few friends there - Andrea and Dave, our friends from Pakistan, had me over to their house to meet their little precious daughter, Leighton. My meetings went really well, too, which made the trip very rewarding!

Friday evening, I flew back to Frankfurt, where I was greeted by my sweet hubby and a huge bouquet of tulips! When we got home, he surprised me with an apartment decorated with balloons for my birthday, and he had baked a delicious cake! And, he had coordinated a birthday party for me that night - we went out to one of my favorite restaurants and then went to a jazz concert!

I know I'm spoiled - a fun trip to the States and then the perfect birthday weekend - can't get any better than that! Thanks so much, everyone!

Mar 2, 2011


*This is separate from Hamburg, but I wanted to post about it - Over Presidents' Weekend, Brian and his brothers figured out how to 3-way video chat, so we got to video chat with Eric and Alicia and Andrew and Kate! We had a great time talking with all of them! It was so fun to just hang out for awhile. Here's a pic of how it worked - pretty cool!

Brian had a project in Hamburg, so on Friday, February 25, I drove up after work to meet him there for the weekend! It was about a 5 hour drive, so I got in a little late that night. I had a little trouble with the GPS, which was weird because we've never had problems with Nancy, so I was a little frustrated by the end of the trip. Brian was so sweet and surprised me with a bottle of wine and some delish chocolate truffles when I arrived! That definitely took "the frusties" away :) Brian had worked about 12 hours that day, so we decided to stay in and eat at a restaurant that was connected to the hotel called Trader Vic's. The food was really great, and Brian and I shared a "barrel of rum", which was a rummy drink for two people with the biggest straws I've ever seen.

After the restaurant, we were on our way back up to the room and found these chairs in the hotel. I think they're the tallest chairs I've ever seen - apparently this hotel was on a mission to have oversized items throughout their property!

The next morning, we woke up to a beautiful sunrise and breakfast in bed/chairs beside the bed! We never have breakfast at our hotel, but the view from our room was too good to leave.

We spent Saturday exploring Hamburg! We made our way through downtown, stopping in shops that caught our eye or ones that looked like a good place to warm up when we were starting to feel like icicles. Hamburg is quite cold! But we were so thankful that the sun was out, we ate outside at this cafe.

The view was great and there were blankets to keep us warm :)

After lunch, we visited Hamburg's beautiful Rathaus, or city hall.

Inside the Rathaus

Rathaus courtyard

Then we continued our walk to St. Nikolai church. On our way, we passed the cutest ice cream shop that had old fashioned milk jugs as the light fixtures - super cute. I wish I had taken a picture, but going into an ice cream shop just sounded too cold to do at the time :)

St. Nikolai church was really cool to see. Unlike other churches in Germany that have been rebuilt completely after WWII, this church was left in ruins. So there really wasn't much of a church, but the bell tower/steeple still remained. It was a really impressive structure, and I think it's important to be reminded of how Germany looked after WWII.

We were walking around the church to see it from all angles, and the front of the tower is covered in bullet holes.

After St. Nikolai, we made our way to the harbor. Part of me really wanted to see it, but then the really cold side of me knew that the wind would be even stronger. Time to power through and suck it up! And I'm glad we went - the views were great.

As we were walking along part of the harbor and looking at the boats, we noticed one was open, and the sign said they had hot gluhwein! Warm drinks on a sail boat?? Definitely time to take a break.

After we left the warmth of the boat, it was time to make our way back to the hotel. On our walk back, we found a couple of fun kitchen stores that had all kinds of neat gadgets. Brian and I love looking through stores like that, but I have to constantly remind myself that I don't really need any of it :)

That evening, we had dinner plans with Jens and Barbara, Brian's dad's cousins who live close to Hamburg! They met us at our hotel and drove us to Rive, a gorgeous water-front restaurant. We had the best dinner, and I got to try lots of Hamburg specialties, including poached quail eggs and raw fish with corned beef mashed potatoes! Everything was delicious, and we always enjoy Jens and Barbara's company. After dinner, we all went back to our hotel and enjoyed famous Mai-Tai's at Trader Vic's bar. What a fun night!

The next morning, we enjoyed round two of a beautiful sunrise and yummy breakfast! Then we made our way to the Hamburg Dungeon, which we understood to be a famous haunted house. Probably not the most appropriate thing for a Sunday afternoon, but we really wanted to see it! So we waited in line, took a picture of me chopping off Brian's head (we didn't buy the pictures, sorry!), and started the tour through the dungeon! There was a group of 36 of us braving the haunted house together. As it turned out, this dungeon was actually a bunch of scary rooms where scary people told scary German. Needless to say, I was pretty lost most of the time :)

When we walked into the first room, scary guy #1 started yelling at us in German, and then he pointed at me, yelled "YOU!" and then continued to yell in German. I sheepishly told him that I didn't speak German, so he proceeded to yell in German and then quickly summarize what he was saying in English. I had to pick a button to determine what level of the dungeon we went to, and then I had to go into the new dark, scary room by myself. In the second room, after the other 35 people in our group joined me, scary person #2 started to yell at us in German, and she picked me out of the crowd again! This time I had to get into a torture cage and Brian had to sit in a torture chair. We decided to hide among the group in the rest of the rooms :) The dungeon took us about 2 hours to get through! Quite an experience.

We survived!

Next we made our way to Hamburg's Nautical Museum where we had lunch and enjoyed learning about boats and the ship industry. Jens had also told us that Brian's dad's family left Germany from the same harbor where the museum is located!

The world's largest collection of model boats

The museum also had nautical military displays. We thought this one looked really cool.

All of the model boats were so amazing! Brian likes this picture of his face in the glass, watching me creepily :)

Coffee break

This ship was suspended in the main atrium. It was huge!

Argh! Pirates!
After the museum, it was getting pretty late, so it was time to head home. I was really glad to have Bri in the car with me for the drive back to Frankfurt - he's such a great road trip buddy! It was a really fun weekend.