Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Visit from the Parental Units...

This week my parents came to visit in Düsseldorf and we did a mini-road trip of the Mosel Wine Region, our little homeland town, Langenfeld, and a short excursion to Amsterdam. It was a really fun week and with a little help from my parents, my apartment is starting to look less like somebody else's leftover junk and more like my own place! 

Marv and me in front of Jan Wellem in the Düsseldorf Marktplatz. It was COLD!

We then took off for the Mosel River Region in our rental car. I'm definitely getting the hang of the German Autobahn and think I got into the 90 mph region this time. Our car was a stick shift this trip (automatic last time) and I was nervous that I was going to be stalling my way through Germany. Turns out I only stalled twice and it was within 20 seconds of each other after I'd already been driving for a few days.

The Parents on the Mosel.
 But, not surprisingly, for how much we all like wine, our relatives emigrated from just down the of another major German wine region...the Mosel Valley. It was beautiful and sunny and full of delicious Halbtrocken Riesling (Half-Dry, that means...I'm fully a wine snob at this point...but would drink out of a box if necessary, so not too snobby!). I bought another 12ish bottles of wine and am getting quite desperate to buy a wine rack!
Another adorable view of another adorable wine region.
Berg Eltz. The only part without scaffolding. 
We also got to visit a few castles. But, this was further proof that I actually have a curse. The castle was like 1000 years old or something, but wouldn't you know it, it was covered in scaffolding. What? They couldn't wait a few more weeks until I am not there? It was been standing for 1000 years...surely it could have made it a few more weeks. This is the same thing that happened to me when I went to see the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the Acropolis in Athens...cursed. Cursed I tell you.
A relative on my mom's side immigrated to Michigan from Langenfeld in the mid-1800s.
It is now a town full of giant vacation homes in the hills. I am pretty sure our illiterate farmer ancestors were not the owners of one of them! It was a twisty, switch-back filled drive to the top of the hill but I did not stall!

A few of Langenfeld. Really steep hills everywhere around the town. You can see why a bunch of farmers with huge families had to leave, there just wasn't much farmland to be had.

The Catholic Church in Langenfeld. It was not there when the immigration occurred but was quaint and pretty nonetheless. 
There was also a castle down the hill from Langenfeld. This is probably where our family would have worked as poor peasants and not as actual inhabitants of the castle! 

No scaffolding but also closed for the day randomly.
It is a curse. 

In conjunction with our visit to Langenfeld, we also visited the city of Koblenz. Apparently, Koblenz means "confluence" in Latin and wouldn't you know is the exact spot where the Rhein and the Mosel Rivers come together...a "confluence" if you will. We stayed over night here and spent the morning freezing and walking through the town.
This monument is at the "Corner of Germany" where the two rivers come together. 
With the heat blasting, we drove back to Düsseldorf. I had asked that we devote one day with the rental car to making large purchases that I cannot manage on the tram. I needed to buy a ton of stuff at IKEA. I've never actually set foot in an IKEA until now and I am sold. I can see why people were camping out at the one in Denver before it opened. They have EVERYTHING and it is seriously easy to spend a lot of money there. I got all new kitchen stuff so that I didn't feel like I was living in a college apartment anymore and also finally got some curtains which my mom then spent about 6 hours hemming so that they would fit my windows! (THANKS!!!)
My friend Chris was not nearly as excited about IKEA as I was.
I love how organized it much better than American Furniture Warehouse in Colorado because you don't have to see every item at the same time, making it way less overwhelming. Plus, they serve meatballs in the snack bar....take that Jake Jabs. (This will only make sense to Colorado people!)
We spent the day getting lost in downtown Düsseldorf, even with the GPS as I am not accustomed to driving around here. I'm much better on foot, buses, and trams. It was actually pretty stressful having to drive around downtown because I am forever scared of sharing the lane with trams. My house looks much better now though thanks to all of this scary downtown driving. And, when I have Thanksgiving at my house, people will be able to use matching silverware AND plates. Yahoo!

Our next adventure was a 2.5 hour train ride to Amsterdam...or Hamsterdam as a partially-illiterate, stoner 8th grader whom I used to teach, called it. He told us that school wasn't important because he was going to move to Hamsterdam and sell weed. Good luck, buddy. The law is changing and only Dutch citizens will be able to buy it. And here I thought that he'd might have actually made it there...NOT. (His dad also liked to remind me in some super tactful, but regularly sent emails that his tax dollars paid my salary. I wanted to remind him that my tax dollars paid for drug prevention programs that were obviously not working either.)

Yay for sun! This is the first trip here where I've seen blue sky!
You can totally understand why Van Gogh freaked out the first time he went to the South of France and saw the sun!

We had a great time in Amsterdam, stayed at a wonderful hotel, ate delicious sandwiches (twice from the same place they were so good) and went out for AMAZING Indonesian food with my friend Jonathan who lives there. I could totally live there. We did all the typical stuff...Anne Frank House Museum, Van Gogh museum, canal walks, and of course, a canal boat tour (where, as usual, I fell asleep just for a quick is just so warm and rocks you, I cannot help myself.).

And, most importantly...WE FOUND THE SHOE!!!!
It is so dorkily touristy but WHO CARES! It is so fun!
Amsterdam is such a great city. I've been three times in the last year and would go back tomorrow (but annoyingly, I have to go to work instead!).
Nice hat.

The Swansons also LOVE cheese.

Dutch Milkmaids are We! 
Our new shoes. They just don't pack well, though.

$10,000 Delft Tulip Vase. I bought three.

Dutch Mini-Van.

SUNFLOWERS! Van Gogh needed some meds...badly. Who knows if his painting would have been as good, but he might have lived a bit longer. Poor guy. 

Cheap Heineken at our fave sandwich shop. 
My dad and I have eaten Magnums across Europe. THEY ARE THE SHIT.
They are also probably a billion calories. We didn't eat any on this trip. Sad day. I'd have to run a few miles before and after. 
If you thought I was a wine snob now...I'm not. Plastic cups still do it for us!
We did bring our own bottle on the train, though! Always thinking.
Score again for Germany!
It was a great trip. We had a fun time and I'm looking forward to Christmas break when we go skiing in Vail. Oh, my life is rough!


Anonymous said...

You summed it up perfectly, Miss. Thanks for a fabulous trip.

Anonymous said...

Glad your trip went so well! And sun!!! We now have Magnum icecrean in the states! J.

Bryden Blabbing said...

No worries on putting my Christmas present on the blog. The vase will look amazing in my apartment! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hello, Is the Delft tulip vase $USD 10,000? Or is that 10,000 Euros? Or something else? I am thinking of purchasing one when I go to Europe. Thank you for the information. Sandra