It’s hard to believe I’ve been here now for 3 years. Before we moved we thought we’d be here maybe a year, but three? To be honest I wasn’t even sure if I was going to write to you this year, but after thinking about all the places we’ve seen this year, here goes. I hope you enjoy this ride and maybe put one of them on your bucket list. I remember before we made the decision to move overseas, we thought this would be an adventure of a lifetime. It has been that and much more.
Before getting in the plane, let’s update my work status, since that’s the reason I’m here in the first place. This year I have really come up to speed and am contributing daily. The days go by fast and the weeks are flying by. I’m teaching and learning from my colleagues. And I recently heard this is going to be one of our best years as far as finances goes. In other words work is going sehr gute, danke schön. So buckle up and turn off all electronics bitte (please) and let’s go to where all roads lead, Rome!
A sale popped up for a round trip ticket from Munich to Rome for $50. There sure are benefits being here. So after returning from the US after the holidays we went back to Rome in January. A good time to visit, the weather was great and not too many tourists. Above is Michelangelo’s La Pieta. Again, I need to ask how is it possible for a human being to do this with a few tools? I’ve seen several Michelangelo’s, and every one of them is stunning. Soon I’ll share with you which one I was able to touch, but don’t tell the guard; he was looking away for a second. I enjoyed Rome even better the second time, and I wouldn’t mind going back again to see the Vatican and have some amazing Pizza and Carbonara.
Above is St. Peter’s Cathedral and it is so incredible you have to see it for yourself because words can’t describe it. I have trouble deciding which I like better, the Cathedral or La Sagrada in Barcelona. Also above is the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Since the sale also had cheap Barcelona flights, we ended going back there in March.
La Sagrada is another special place that is impossible to describe in words; you just have to see it one day. We also saw another Flamenco show in Barcelona, which I thoroughly enjoyed. And the food in Barcelona is great; Tapas and Paella and Sangria.
Above we saw the Prague Cathedral in March, and it took my breath away. We had savory Goulash this trip. For the first time we visited the Jewish Quarter with the famous old cemetery shown below.
In late April I was able to attend a conference in Denver and hook up with my children for some good times. I was really happy to be with several of my German colleagues for the conference to show them around our beautiful state for a few days. Before the trip I kept telling my colleagues in Munich how blue the skies are in Colorado. Sometimes Colorado weather can surprise you, no blue skies the entire week. Below is my good friend and colleague, Thomas. I showed him one of my favorite places in the Springs, the Trading Post. The Native American section is such a special place to look around. The Spirit is strong there.
In June I was able to go with Thomas to the Lausitzring DTM car race; what a blast! I spent the night in Dresden for the first time. Thomas shared with me what it was like living in the former GDR, where he grew up. This was communist eastern Germany which was gobbled up by Russia after WWII. In 1961 the Berlin Wall was built separating the city. Thomas told me everyone living behind the Iron Curtain at the time would NEVER have thought the wall would ever come down. History can also surprise you at times.
In July I was invited by Thomas to go to the Grossglockner highway in Austria. This famous road is similar to Trail Ridge road in RMNP. The difference is some German drivers like to drive fast (Thomas) and I was the passenger basically hanging on for dear life. I survived and what a beautiful drive it was.
In August we spent a few nights in our back yard across the Austrian border in the beautiful lake town Walchsee. Nadine kept asking me why is it so beautiful and green here? When it started raining and didn’t stop, she got her answer. But Austria is another special place. The photo below shows a parade that went right in front of our hotel room, what a special treat.
The above photo shows the Königsee lake. I would like to see this lake again, once is just not enough. The lake is close to Berchtesgaden, which was close to where we were staying.
Also in August I went back to Stuttgart to hook up with my brother from San Diego to visit the Mercedes Museum for the first time and re-visit the Porsche Museum. Thanks for making my trip so special Paul, you’re the best!
In September we went back to Paris to spend some time with the relatives there. For the first time we spent a few nights in a hotel in the suburbs and saw several new places. But as usual our favorites St. Chapelle (below), Notre Dame, and Sacre Coeur were all special. I also went to the top of the Arc de Triomphe with an incredible view of Champs Elysees (below). We went to the church La Madeleine for the first time with amazing sculptures (below). We also visited the Eiffel Tower again.
The photo above in the Louvre shows one of Michelangelo’s two Slaves. Keep this a secret… I touched one of them. I am now connected to Michelangelo and feel better about that.
And last but not least I’ve saved the best 2 places for last. We met our girls in Athens in October and had an amazing time there. I felt like I was in heaven on the taxi drive from the airport since the driver was listening to Greek music, one of my favorite genres. I need to buy a bouzouki one day. Nadine and I ate our first dinner on the roof of one of the restaurants next to the Acropolis. The photo below is the view from the restaurant showing the Acropolis at night and another photo shows the Parthenon which we visited the next day.
Here is an excerpt from my journal on our first day out in Athens to give you a taste of Greek life: Our hotel in Athens was a 15 minute walk to the train station. On our first walk there, we passed an Orthodox Church and entered since a Sunday morning service had just begun. This was a special treat for us since we are Orthodox. After leaving the Church we continued to the station. We entered a bakery on the way. The workers were so friendly and after a while they gave us some free bakery items. We have never had this happen to us anywhere. Then we just had to share a baklava, yummy. But we paid for it so we didn’t feel guilty 🙂 Continuing on to the train station we passed several Gyros shops, which we went to in the coming days. Cheap and tasty with fries stuffed in the Gyros. Later this day we visited a different bakery in a different part of town and rubbed shoulders with some of the locals while eating outside. These elderly men couldn’t really understand English, and it’s all Greek to me. But nevertheless we did communicate just enough and enjoyed our time with them. After our first day in Athens, it seems to me the Greek people are some of the friendliest in the world.
Now get ready for your perfect getaway escape to relax and recharge your batteries. After Athens we took a short flight to Santorini. Yes, you heard right, Santorini! If you’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about. And before I begin, I want to go back NOW! Just too many superlatives, I need to stop because I could go on for hours about this special island. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. But put Santorini on your bucket list if you have never been there. From what I hear, it’s hot and crowded during peak season. We were there mid October and things were winding down. The weather was perfect and the sunsets, oh my. I want to go back NOW! Below is the view from our hotel. The next 2 are at the Santos Winery, with perhaps the best place to see the sunset. The last 3 pics are Oia. What a special place. We had an amazing view for dinner at Kastros Greek Restaurant. What a trip! Poso S’ Agapo Greece! I hope to see you again one day!
I hope you enjoyed our travels for 2016; it sure set a record for most places visited in one year. I wish you all Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year in 2017. Auf wiedersehen!