After arriving on Cologne airport (2nd country in 24 hours) we were planning to goto a beautiful German castle in the Moselle region, famous for its castles, wines and the river Moselle. However, the castle 'Burg Eltz' is only open from March 31 through October 31 so it was closed. The drive to it was very nice through lots of small towns, with small, small roads and we stopped at a beautiful vista overlooking the valley with the castle. So after a couple pictures (will be uploaded later) we went looking for a place to get some breakfast (it was only 9am...)
We found a very nice hotel with a restaurant that was open and set down overlooking the Moselle river. We had a very friendly German owner and a delicious breakfast. My Dad and me had a Schnitzel (Country fried steak) and Jen had something that was a mix between waffles and pancakes. Both were very, very good!! After driving through Cochem (a tourist town completely overrun by tourists in the summer) we decided to press on to Luxembourg (3rd country in 24 hours).
In Luxembourg we went to the capital city named... Luxembourg. We strolled around a bit through the city and did some window shopping and also bought some small souvenirs. Then Jen found a bookstore...
The bookstore only had French-language books and since Jen is looking for a couple of langauge versions of the book 'Goodnight Moon' she went looking for it. They didn't have it. However, they did have a book for little kids telling them about parents getting divorced and how to handle it. So buying that one was a no-brainer.
Then we decided to quickly pop into France to up the country-count for the day (4th country in 24 hours). We didn't do much in France this time (more to follow on Monday and Tuesday) other then to drive into it on the Interstate, turn around at the first intersection and drive back into Luxembourg on our way to another castle in Vianden, Luxembourg. We took some awesome shots and went to visit a big water reservoir on top of a hill. Some exercise on a first day in Europe is good to kinda fight-off jet-leg.
At the reservoir Dad took some funny pictures of us and those will also be uploaded a little later.
Time to move again and this time to Belgium (5th country in 24 hours). Here the plan was to visit a big American WW II cemetery and memorial site. We got there at 5.30pm and since the site was officially closed at 5pm the buildings were closed, but the grounds were still open. We had some good talks between us on how pointless was is most of the time, but how much of the current freedom in Europe is a direct result of that. Dad pointed out that the engraving "In memory of those who fought and died for their country" was actually incorrect. It should have read "In memory of those who fought and died for the European liberation". They weren't defending the USA, but liberating Europe. Countries most of them hardly every heard of. It made the sacrifice all the more meaningful... since the love of Christ for his Church was a sacrificial one...
It was time to add one final country to the list, the Netherlands (6th country in 24 hours). We stopped at a grocery store to buy some local candy and get some cash in order to pay a co-worker who had graciously bought a German version of Catan for us. So nice to have people who wish to do little things for you that mean a lot to you. Thank God we still have those people around in our increasingly self-centered society.
It was getting late and time to head to my parents place. I handed over the wheel to Dad - too tired - and don't remember much of the drive to my parents place. Just a blissful sleep. Very nice!
At Mom and Dad we had a very gracious welcome with a beautiful gift for Jen. My Dad had a hanger made which he designed of two Chinese symbols (we think it means good luck and prosperity). Dan, Sara, after the pictures are up just let us know what it means...
The final part of this long, long day was some home-made, ultra-fresh Dutch Apple Pie. With some tea and honey that was our cue to call it quits... Tomorrow will be a very relaxing day with nothing planned but a family dinner at night.
ps.: hanger = necklace (thanks Jeff, sorry to confuse!)