follow the adventures of kim and kelly through europe! visit the places we see, meet the people we meet, take in the sights, and be amazed at the goodness of the Lord as he provides, protects and guides us!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

pinch me

July 18 we flew home from the trip of a lifetime. It's now December 18....Only 5 months, but it feels like years since I was in that sweet land with my even sweeter friend, Kelly. What a fun time we had, Kelly! I look at those pictures and I'm taken back to a dream. I can smell the croissants and hear the Italian inn keeper asking us for "da key?" The Florentine sunset!!!! And the Eiffel tower! Oh man... don't get me started :)

Something I'm realizing more and more is that I'm so thankful for the fact that the Lord allowed me to go with not only a good friend, but a friend to whom I feel so closely knit, and someone who I might as well have shared the womb with! Kelly, you are such a sweet friend to me and I am ETERNALLY thankful for you. What a rich time of adventure, sleep, food, sights, sounds, memories, times with the Lord, seemingly endless conversations that I'm different now because of them.

I love that we went. And I love that we kept this blog. Love you, Kell!

Friday, July 22, 2011

home sweet home.... but not done blogging!

Well, Kelly and I packed up and headed home... and are almost recovered from jet lag. We are so thankful for the Lord's hand upon us during our travels. We had absolutely no significant issues - no delayed flights, lost luggage, or anything! (there was the one train schedule issue, but we have almost forgotten about that). I think this is pretty amazing seeing as though we traveled on all of the following apparatuses while in Europe:

cogwheel train
cable car
moving sidewalk (ok, i know... but still...)

... and many of them more than once!

Needless to say, we are so glad to be safe at home. We both agree that it was an amazing trip. Perfect length of time, packed with lots of adventure, sights, sounds, tastes, and experiences. I would have done this whole thing ten times over. So thankful for this gift from the Lord and I know that I will be processing for a while many of the things I experienced. I'm thinking about writing a song for each city that we stayed in :) more to come on that....

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Paris - the Grand Finale!

Well, since just one picture is worth a thousand words, we figured we would best describe our time in Paris with these photos. We had a wonderful time! Spent 2 nights in a hotel in the city (my aunt and uncle live in the suburbs so it was easy access to the city for us to do it this way.) Hope you enjoy these pictures even just a fraction of how much we enjoyed the City of Lights! Thankful to the Lord for beautiful weather and safety throughout our time here, as well! We count it a work of the Lord that we have not had ANY pick-pockets or dramatic events while on this 3-week tour of Europe! God is indeed our protector!

Kelly and Kim waiting for the train into Paris from Aunt Barb and Uncle Harold's town

Arrived in the city on Bastille Day - July 14 - there were military parades all over the place!

Arch of the Triumph - built by Napoleon Bonapart to commemorate his victory against Germany - We have found out the French hold a pretty strong dislike toward Germay.... even today!

We climbed to the top of the Arch for a GRAND view of Paris! wowza! We just loved this!

(no caption needed)

(so... this guy got in the way as we were CLEARLY ready to take a picture and all i could do is make this face.... HA!)

There it is! One for mom's fridge!

Work it, Kelly! - this is a picture of Kelly - not of the Eiffel tower... in case you were wondering :)

Ok people... Bastille Day = ENORMOUS crowds! Music, concerts, dancing, drinking, and lots of cops! I tell you.... this was a bit crazy!

... and more people!

...we decided to get away from the crowds and take a stroll along the Seine River

...And stumbled upon this little church. You may have heart of it - "Notre Dame" - it was absolutely beautiful! Kelly and I both agree it was our favorite church along this European tour. There's another view of the church below - we saw it on our bike tour of paris.

In front of Chateau Versailles - a monstrosity of marble and gold if we ever saw one! Build by King Louis XIV this was a truly overwhelming thing to behold!

Who does all the cleaning, I want to know!

A garden on the Versailles grounds

Later we went back to the city and to the Eiffel Tower.. again :) this is from directly underneath.

We also went to the Louvre - and probably set a record - in and out in 20 minutes. We have a museum pass and all I wanted to see was the Mona Lisa (which we did!) and get some pictures here.

More Eiffel - Sarah Mikan, this picture is for you! I'm wearing your flower! (love!)

We took a REALLY fun bike tour our last night in Paris. GREAT way to see the city and it was SO fun! Also included a boat cruise! - and it was all in English! yay!

on a bike in Paris!

Another View of Notre Dame from the river this time - notice the Gothic architecture! I finally know what flying buttresses are!

More bike tour at the Louvre

Boat tour of Paris - yay for "Fat Tire Bike Tours" - they are awesome!

ready to get on the train to come back to my aunt and uncles.....

Then realized this was our last train ride in Europe... Doesn't Kelly have a cute sad face? I, however don't know how to be cute and sad at the same time.... especially when I'm truly sad.

Wow! What a whirlwind! We are still spinning with sights, sounds, smells and experiences of this trip! Cant wait to write more and post more! We fly back on Monday so thanks for your prayers for safe and uneventful travel. The Lord has been indeed very good to us and we are so thankful for this time! He has shown us much about his character and about his goodness and also He has reminded us that he is not limited by language, border, people group, possessions, money, time, or anything in all this world! So many more lessons to be learned.... I know I'm looking forward to being home though :) I'm also thankful that I have a life in Christ and people who I love that I look forward to coming home to! That's all for now...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Switzerland and Haagen Dazs

Switzerland - visiting the Hoch family!

On the train from Milan to Zurich - As if a switch was flipped, all the intercom announcements and the billboards and building signs were no longer in Italian - now it was Swiss German. As the train made a few stops along the way, the conversations I was hearing were turning more and more German than Italian, too. The landscape gradually changed, too. Now we were seeing lush, green foliage, tall trees, waterfalls, and hilly farmland.... quite a drastic change from the flat Italian countryside - however beautiful in its own way. Kelly made me laugh out loud when we were walking around the city our first day there. We were looking at billboards and signs trying to figure out what some of them say. Itialian was pretty easy for us - Kelly knows some Italian and I know Spanish, a close cousin to Italian. We did pretty well with that. But here was a different story. “Everything looks like it spells ‘Häggen Daaz’ to me!” Oh, Kelly. She’s so funny, isn’t she?!?

We arrived in Zurich, Switzerland on Thursday evening and Dalynn met us at the train station. I tell you - after seeing sooooo many unfamiliar faces over the past week, it was incredibly refreshing to see some people we knew!! I know the Hoch family from Harvest - I taught their daughter first grade last year and they just moved to Switzerland a week ago for her job. They were such great sports and very generous hosts to have us stay with them so soon after their move.

View from the Hoch Family's balcony :) I could get used to this!

Our first day in Zurich, Kelly and I took the bus down to the train/boat station and waited there by the shores of an incredibly clean and beautiful lake. We were going to take the boat downtown to Zurich. I grabbed my journal and camera and walked a ways down to a landing area and just sat in the sunshine and journaled, taking pictures of swans here and there as they floated by.

(Kelly here....) I stayed put, closer to the loading dock to keep a watch out and listened to my ipod (yes, an internal dance party :-))! As I am sitting there, three boys (about 13-15 years old) approach me and start speaking to me in Swiss German. Seeing as we had just come from Milan, I was suspicious about them asking for money or grabbing my purse. I have come to expect the unexpected! I asked them if they knew english and one of them did. He asked if I had a moment to speak with them. I said that I did. He proceeded to ask me what I knew about ghosts...what?!? I was incredibly puzzled..what in the world is he getting at? I asked him a few questions back and to be sure that I understood what exactly he was asking. He clarified that it was for an assignment for school. I wasn’t too helpful, especially as he was asking specifically about their city. I did share what Americans thought about this spiritual arena. Then I asked them about themselves. I learned that in Switzerland, by the age of 12, the path of all students is decided. If they do not have the aptitude to go on further in their studies, they will be assigned a trade and will begin a sort of vocational school for this. WOW - can you imagine that your path in life is decided for you at age 12! These boys were going to be working as a cook, in postage, and with computers. They spoke of it as a fact of their life and not emotional at all. Very different from the way our american seniors in high school agonize over their next steps during that season, here, it is all decided for you. Anyhow, it was a sweet conversation that I enjoyed very much and they were on their way. We were able to quickly adjust to this new place: no swindlers, no graffiti, and no pick-pockets.

(Kim again...)
The Swiss are very squeaky clean people. Everyone on the streets looks like they stepped out of a Banana Republic catalogue. In general, they are also a very responsible society. The family we stayed with told us that if a Swiss person sees a mark on a wall or door, they would rub it off. Even on the bus or boats, they don’t usually ask for your tickets- it’s all on the honor system. However, if you are caught without a ticket, they write your name down and report you to the government. You would be in BIG trouble. They very much are about their family’s name. You would not take someone’s wallet because you would disgrace your family by having stolen something that was not yours. Also, once you move to the country, you have to register your religion. It seems like a rather socialistic society. Every resident also pays a tax to their church. It was a very extreme opposite to Italy. I literally could leave my purse on a park bench and come back an hour later to find it still there (however, I did not test this theory because of my better than average common sense.)

Here’s a bullet point summary of 3 day stay in Switzerland:

Took a GORGEOUS boat ride to downtown Zurich and explored the shopping streets and tried not to walk around with our jaws on the floor due to the OUTRAGEOUS prices for everything.

Met up with the Hoch family for a truly Swiss German dinner - at an authentic restaurant. Mmmmm.... so good!

Dessert at a sweets shop that I’ve only imagined would be part of the “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” movie set.

Next day we took the bus, then a train, then a boat ride to Luzern (a town right at the foot of the Alps).

Kim and Elynn :)
Kim and Kelly with the kiddos on the train

NOw on the Cogwheel train going up the Alps!

Took a cogwheel train ride up to the top of the mountain and took in the view - WOW!

A little bit of a cloudy day but still VERY cool!

Had some lunch with the Hoch family at the restaurant at the top of the mountain and then started our gradual journey back down the mountain - stopped at a park where the kids played (and we did, too).

Riding the Cable car down the mountain.. just don't look down!

Once down the mountain, walked along one of the oldest covered bridges in the world

And... a teacher never really takes a break from school. This is my "Flat Stanley" who is traveling the world with me :) Getting pictures taken with him in various places to show my students :)

The Swiss boat we took to the mountain town

This is Easton... One day he said to Kelly "Are you married?" "Not yet," said Kelly. "Well, if I grow up real fast maybe I could marry you!" Easton's dad then replied that that was a significant compliment seeing as though Cinderella and one other pre-school girl were also in the running! :)
Too cute!
View of the covered bridge tower at sunset
Flowers on the covered bridge
One last walk down to the lake from the house on the morning we left town....

We are so thankful to the Hochs for their hospitality! We had such a sweet time with them! Kelly and I both agreed that it was so nice to be in a house - with a mom and a dad and kids! Praying rich blessings on their family as they adjust to life in Switzerland as they serve the Lord there!