Tuesday, February 28, 2006
The French Riviera was not at all what two sheltered college girls were expecting. The year is 1981 and my college roommate and I are touring Europe. (Click here for details.)
The first shock was that their beaches have pebblestones instead of sand. Not exactly conducive to laying out on your towel. So, DJ and I thought we were so clever "sneaking in" to the roped off area of the beach that had beach chairs. As it turns out, the guys running the place turned a blind eye because we were blonde American girls out having a lark. Plus, I think they were highly entertained with our reactions to what the French consider a one-piece swimsuit.
Every other person on that beach (and I mean everyone) had on one-pieces. Except theirs were one piece of a two-piece, if you know what I mean. Didn't matter the age. Didn't matter the size. Didn't matter the sex. Nobody had on a top (except for me and DJ). Young, buxom 16 year old girls and old shriveled up grannies alike ran, played and swam along the shore.
DJ and I were shocked right down to our very toes and quickly focused our attention on our card game. Later that evening, we were on our way to dinner when some rambunctious fellas whistled and shouted and tried desperately to get our attention. The two of us had become quite accustom to totally ignoring such outbursts and continued walking by engrossed in our own conversation.
It wasn't until we heard one of them yell, "Gig 'em, Aggies!" that we ground to a halt and turned around. American boys! Not only that ... but American boys from our very own university: Texas A&M!! We were so happy to see them (though we'd never met them) and boy did they give us a hard time for being so hoity-toity in ignoring them.
We went to dinner with them at a French cafe. Everyone in France takes their dogs everywhere. The waitress even came to our table to get our order with her red lab at her feet. She picked him up by his front paws, waved one of them to us and said, "Bonjour!"
Amazing. We ordered burgers and fries (of course) and when I asked for catsup, the boys waved their hands in the air saying, "No, no! She didn't mean that. She's just a silly American." Seems asking for catsup is an insult to the chef. I was not a happy camper. I am a catsup fanatic and eat them on every single fry.
We assured the boys they could join us the next day at our loungue chairs on the beach for no charge. After all, we'd been there for two days now and had never been charged. So, they stopped by the next morning for a round of Spades. Hadn't even finished dealing the first hand when those waiters showed up and charged the boys, but not me and DJ. Ha!
Tomorrow ... two American girls in Paris.
posted by Deeanne at 12:06 PM
Monday, February 27, 2006
Vienna & Venice
We are backpacking our way through Europe in 1981. I'm on the far left, my college roommate is on the far right and the two girls in between we met in Vienna. We visited St. Stephen's Cathedral and a beer garden that was located in an old nunnery. Ha! DJ and I loved the ceramic mugs they had for sale there. We bought 16 and mailed them back to the states (only two of them made it unbroken, so we each have one).
The next day we headed on over to Venice, Italy. We had saved up our money because we both wanted genuine Italian spaghetti. When our order came, it was this gigantic plate of spaghetti noodles with two meatballs on top.
I couldn't believe it. Where was the sauce? Well, that was the most expensive plate of noodles I've ever had in my life, but I ate as many as I could and quickly decided I liked my mom's spaghetti better.
The gondolas were everywhere, but too expensive for our budget, so we just watched, walked the town and looked at many of the famous landmarks. For my shadowbox, I bought a beer stein from Austria and two charms (for a bracelet)--one from Austria and one from Italy.
Tomorrow ... Nice, France.
posted by Deeanne at 10:43 AM
Friday, February 24, 2006
Hellbrunn Castle in Salzburg
I absolutely loved this place. It totally appealed to my wicked sense of humor. (Hello to any new comers. We are retracing some footsteps my college roommate and I took across Europe back in 1981. Click here for more details.)
An Archbishop had this built in the 17th century. He was an expert in hydrodynamics and invited all the aristocracy to his gardens for dinner and for a demonstration of his "water gardens." The extravagantly gowned guests would convene around a table on the grounds, eat dinner and for dessert receive a rather shocking surprise.The Archbishop would signal his bulter to pull a trigger and water would shoot up from the middle of each seat, soaking the backsides of his unsuspecting guests. (Notice in the picture above that the seat at the head of the table where the Archbishop sat had no water coming out of it. Ha!)
He would laugh and laugh, then offer to take his guests through a tour of his gardens while their fancy attire dried. One of their first stops was "Neptune Grotto." But to enter, you must pass the rather innocent looking deer mounted on either side of the door. Once more, the Archbishop would give his butler the nod. (The tour guides here clearly enjoyed their job. If I had ever lived in Austria, I'd have applied to work here. What a hoot!)
Inside the grotto was a crown "floating" in the air via the application of an exact amount of water pressure. It was really cool to watch that crown rise and lower in a perfectly straight manner according to the water pressure. In order to exit, you must go beneath an archway made of water. That wasn't so bad, though, because you didn't get wet. Still, folks on the tour would hustle down the path until finally some arrogant soul would saunter through (because he knew he wasn't going to get wet).The Archbishop (or in our case, the tour guide) would give a nod. The water turned off (soaking the person on the walkway as the streams lowered) and then came back on (soaking him once again as the streams lifted). Hilarious.
On Monday we will hop over to Vienna. In the meanwhile, we have a new contest posted. Our winner of the last contest failed to respond to her notification :( so we have sent notification to our first-alternate winner. :) As soon as our jaunt in Europe is over, I will announce last month's winner to you!
posted by Deeanne at 11:41 AM
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Here's a map to help you see where we are going on our "day trip" today. (For those of you just joining us, it is the year 1981, and we were in Munich and have just overnighted in Salzburg. Click here for further info.)
We are heading to Eagle's Nest (Kehlsteinstrabe) which is the luxurious living quarters of Hitler way up on the top of Kehlstein (a mountain). The house was built for Hitler by his treasurer as a birthday present. Here is a picture of it from the town of Berchtesgaden looking up. (I circled where it is at the peak of the mountain.)Here it is from the top looking down:The mountain road leading up to it is about 13 feet wide, ascends a total distance of 2330 ft and passes through 5 tunnels. Long story short: It was one scary bus ride, but an unbelievably gorgeous view once you reach the top.
Tomorrow: A wonderful romp through Hellbrunn Park--the home of a rather unconventional Archbishop who had a very unique sense of humor.
posted by Deeanne at 12:11 PM
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
***THE HILLS ARE ALIVE!*** Yep. That's me. On the hill that Julie herself sang on. And, yep, I sang the song. Right out loud. For those of you just joining us, we are reminiscing about a backpacking trip through Europe that my college roommate and I took in the 1980s. So far, we have traveled through Norway, Denmark and Germany.
Today, our stop is in Salzburg, Austria. We visited Leopoldskon Castle (where some of the patio and outside scenes of the film were shot) the opera house (where the VanTrapps sang So Long, Farewell in the festival), Mirabell Garden (where Maria & kids cavort while singing Do-Re-Mi in their matching outfits), St. Peter's Graveyard (where they hid when the Nazis were after them), Resident Fountain (where Maria splashes the "sea" horse while singing I've Got Confidence), and--of course--the Summer House (Sixteen Going on Seventeen).
A close-up inside the Summer House:Here I am splashing the "sea" horse at Residence Fountain. If the picture looks blurry, that's because it is. I was a college student and had a cheap camera.
We are going to overnight a couple of days in Salzburg while we take a few day trips. Tomorrow, we visit Eagle's Nest, so stay tuned!
posted by Deeanne at 11:37 AM
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Austria ... almost
After catching the train from Norway to Denmark to Germany, DJ and I had become pretty competent travelers. So, at the train station in Munich, DJ went to buy us some pizza and I went to check the train schedule to Salzburg. The pizzas took so long to make that by the time we received them, we had just enough time to run to the train and jump on before it left.
We made it to the platform, began to jump on board when DJ grabbed my arm. "Dee, we don't have our backpacks!"
Sure enough, our backpacks were still locked up in the lockers at the train station (which was our standard practice so we didn't have to lug them around unnecessarily). As twenty-year-olds sometimes do, we laughed and giggled about what ninnies we were, then looked up at the departure board. It read Strausburg instead of Salzburg. That brought our giggles up short.
We retrieved our backpacks, sat down at the platform for the next train to Salzburg, ate our cold pizza and began writing letters. I wrote one to my boyfriend (who is now my husband of 23 years) and I don't know who DJ wrote to. Fifteen minutes later, she said, "Our train sure is late."
I looked up at the clock. "Ohmygosh. We just missed our train!"
Yep. We were both so enthralled with our letters that a 30-car, noisy train pulled up and left with us still sitting on that bench completely unaware. We had just enough time to run to the next platform that had a train going to Salzburg. We literally jumped on the train and actually made it to Salzburg later that day.
Tomorrow we will discuss if Salzburg was worth all that trouble!
posted by Deeanne at 8:45 AM
Monday, February 20, 2006
Well, I just wanted to thank everyone who commented and sent me emails and cards. What a wonderful bunch of folks there are out there on the world wide web. You are so very special to me and you brought me great comfort.
Our look back at the whirlwind tour of Europe I took in college will start up again tomorrow. My then-college roommate and I tried to catch a train to Austria and ran into a bit of difficulty. Stay tuned!
Grace and peace,
posted by Deeanne at 11:10 AM
Friday, February 10, 2006
"You're the mother I received
The day I wed your son;
And I just want to thank you, Mom,
For the loving things you've done.
You have given me a gracious man
With whom to share my life;
You are his lovely mother,
I am his lucky wife.
You used to pat his little head,
And now I hold his hand;
You raised in love a little boy;
Then gave to me a man."
My precious mother-in-law passed away yesterday. What a wonderful, amazing woman she was and an incredible blessing to me and mine. Though I will miss her terribly, I cannot tell you how comforting it is to know that she is no longer shackled with pain and is instead celebrating life with our beloved Lord and Savior.
Goodbye, Mom. See you on the other side.
I am going to take a week to see to my family. I will return Monday, February 20th.
Grace and peace,
posted by Deeanne at 7:48 AM
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
After visiting Norway and Denmark, we took a train to a little town in Germany called Bacharach. See that castle in the picture? That is now a youth hostel, but by the time we arrived it was all filled up.
We walked the streets of Bacharach knocking on doors until we found a pension that would take us in. The sweetest couple by the name of Hans & Dorothea Paske rented us a room on the floor above their drug store. They didn't speak English and we didn't speak German, but we managed to communicate in a charades-type style.
The hardest thing to ask was "Where's the laundromat?" Have you ever tried to pantamime a washing machine? Anyhoo, Dorothea figured out what we were asking and washed our clothes herself, then hung them up to dry. What a sweet woman! It was the first time either of us city gals had line-dried clothing. It was a big moment for me.
From there we hopped on a boat and floated down the Rhine to Munich. While sitting in the lobby of our hostel, some Egyptian boys sat down with us and tried out their English on us. I don't remember much of our conversation, but I remember them being vastly entertaining. Before DJ and I headed out for the day, they wanted a picture. I have my backpack on and my rain pancho over it. DJ is peeking out from the back row.
This is Town Hall with the Flockenspiel, St. Mary's column and the Frauenkirche Cathedral in the distance:
For my shadow box, I bought a tiny little wooden train:
So, with clean clothes and happy souls, we will head out tomorrow to one of my all time favorite spots: Austria.
Meanwhile, don't forget that we have a new contest going and if you haven't signed up for our quarterly newsletter, you might want to do that as well!
posted by Deeanne at 12:25 PM
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
From Norway, we went to Denmark, stopping off in Copenhagen and Billund. Denmark produced Kirk Christiansen, the inventor of Lego bricks. In his honor, the Danish have put together a theme park consisting of elaborate attractions build from Legos. It was one of the most memorable stops of the trip for me.
The only way to truly appreciate the scale of these sculptures is to find the people in the photos and compare them to the size of the exhibits.
Above is a replica of Amalienborg Palace (the real one is located in Copenhagen). Every part of the structure is made from the same Legos that you and I played with as kids. The buildings, the lamp posts, the statues, everything.
A replica of a royal hunting lodge called "The Hermitage" with horses, dogs, castle, bridge and train all made of legos):
And the piece de resistance, a replica of Mount Rushmore--all legos and set into a rock boulder. Look at how small DJ and I are compared to it. I heard that California has a Legoland now. I haven't been, but if it is anything like this one, it is a must-see.
Here is what I picked up from Denmark for my shadow box:
Tomorrow, we travel to Germany.
P.S. Our contest winner has been notified and the new contest is up. When I hear back from our winner, I'll give you the details and the correct answer to last month's question.
posted by Deeanne at 8:46 AM
Monday, February 06, 2006
In 1981 my college roommate, DJ [the blonde on the far left] and I [the kid in the baseball cap] bought us some Eurorail passes, put on some backpacks and spent one month touring Europe. We started in Norway. We went from train to bus to ferry and back to train again to reach our first destination, Flam.
The ferry ride down Naerofjorden:
We overnighted in Flam in some cabins on the far, far right of this photo:
Next stop, Oslo:The above photo overlooks Oslo's Royal Palace and the fjord. The thing I remember most about Oslo, though, is Studenterlunden Park. While lounging on one of its grassy slopes, DJ and I watched the 12 year old boys throw the 12 year old girls in the public swimming pool. Great entertainment, until they decide you are 12 and a prime candidate for a dunking.
Yep. I was twenty at the time, just over five-feet, weighted in at a whopping 89 pounds and looked about 12 or 13 years old. They grabbed me and started hauling me to the poolside. I struggled, and though it slowed them down, it wasn't until I hollered, "No! No! Wait!" that I got results.
The English coming from my mouth brought them to a standstill. They released me. I scowled and said, "No Norsk!" (Which means "no Norwegian." The best I could do at the time for "I don't speak Norwegian." Since then, I have become fluent at that particular phrase.)
For the shadow box, I collected these trinkets and stowed them in my backpack:
Now, I will tell you a secret. DJ is out there lurking. So, if you are wanting her perspective or see in holes in the story, you can try and coax her into posting. DJ and I send Christmas cards each year, but haven't seen each other in over 20 years.
Tomorrow, on to Copenhagen.
posted by Deeanne at 8:50 AM
Friday, February 03, 2006
I had to put some things up in our attic recently and stumbled across an old shadow box I made while I was in college. My roommate and I had spent a summer backpacking across Europe and since everything we owned had to be kept in a backpack, all my souvenirs had to be teeny tiny.
When I returned home, I put them in this shadow box. It brought back many wonderful memories and good times. So I got it out, dusted it off and hung it up in the kids' gameroom.
Maybe next week I'll tell you about a few of our more entertaining adventures. Perhaps even treat you with a photo or two. Until then, have a great weekend!
posted by Deeanne at 12:28 PM
Thursday, February 02, 2006
I'm trying to find a traditional recording of the hymn Amazing Grace. I'd like it to include vocals (as opposed to instrumental only). I went to our local Christian bookstore, but had a surprisingly difficult time finding one.
Anybody know of one that is particularly nice? I suppose if I was a teenager, I'd download it somehow. But before I venture into those uncharted waters, I thought I'd ask you first.
posted by Deeanne at 10:16 AM
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
The Christian Blog Alliance's feature of the month is Pink by Marilynn Griffith.
"Pink is about a fashion designer struggling to recover her faith--in God and in herself--after making a mistake. (And dating one.)"
Here's what Stacey Hawkins Adams (author of Speak To My Heart) had to say:
"Looking for a sassy, engaging read that keeps you turning the pages and recalling your faith? Look no further. Marilynn Griffith won't disappoint."Griffith is a wife and mother in Florida and has also authored Made of Honor and Jade.
posted by Deeanne at 11:22 AM
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