Saturday, July 2, 2011

Europe Part 3

The start of our trip is here in Europe Part 1 and continued in Europe Part 2 here.

Munich, Germany
Munich was by far the most emotional time of the trip. We chose to take a day trip to visit Dachau, one of the worst concentration camps of WWII. There is no way of describing the absolute evil that was once in that place. The museum itself is a great tribute to those who experienced its horror – we spent hours walking on the grounds, reading the victim’s stories, and thanking the Lord for how blessed and fortunate we are living in America.

Around Munich we walked the Karlsplatz Stachus – a strip of shops, restaurants, and cathedrals. We also visited the Propylaen, Munich Obelisk, Konigsplatz, Konigsplatz, Alte Pinalothek (art museum), and Muncher Stradtmuseum (an amazing museum free on Sundays).

Aside from Dachau, we spent a good chunk of time at the Deutches Museum. We arrived right as the museum opened and stayed late into the afternoon.  This is the world's largest museum of science and technology so of course we had to visit it! The museum has 50 different exhibitions covering 6 floors and 47,000 sq. meters. They had fabulous mining and petroleum exhibits and a beautiful view of the city from one of the rooftop balconies.

Strasbourg, France
We only stayed in Strasbourg for a short time and had the impeccable timing of being there on a Tuesday, when all of the museums are closed except one. We attended the Musee Historique, a museum about the history of Strasbourg. We visited the city’s Christmas markets and toured the Cathedral Munster and saw its  Astronomical Clock.

Paris, France
With the limited amount of time we had in Paris, it was hard to decide what to visit. In the end we opted to do a walking tour of Paris. We didn’t go inside the following places, but we walked them as we hiked across the majority of the city:  Notre Dame (we did tour the inside of this historic cathedral), Pantheon, Palais du Luxembourg, Les Invalides, Petit Palais¸ Grand Palais, Obelisk du Luxor at Place de la Concorde, Arc du Triomphe, Trocadero to name a few.

We did save time for visiting The Louvre museum. A must-do in Paris! There are over 35,000 exhibits in the museum; it would take weeks to fully visit and appreciate the museum, but going and hitting the highlights is definitely worth it. We were able to find an entrance underground through the mall area – a significantly shorter line than the one wrapping around the grounds outside. We opted to take a formal tour that would guide us to the main exhibits – the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace and then walk around leisurely the rest of the time. Definitely stay together in the museum. It’s not fun trying to find one another if you get separated…

We definitely wanted to see the view from the Eiffel Tower! Again the lines were ridiculous (probably because we were so close to New Year’s Eve). However, again we found a short line… the stairs. The longest lines around the tower were for the elevator and since we’d been carbo-loading the entire trip we figured a few stairs wouldn’t hurt us.  1,652 stairs later we arrived at the top of the second level. It was too foggy to go up to the next level, but we enjoyed the view from where we were at!

We spent New Year’s Eve watching fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. We watched them from the Pantheon, a short walk from our hotel. It was SO cold!! We brought dinner with us and – get this – Dr. Pepper! It’s not a common drink in Europe and a small and sketchy convenience store by our hotel had a can (no comments on its expiration…) that Jason had to have due to his withdrawal. This year was the 25th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower so in addition to fireworks at midnight there were light shows every hour. We had a wonderful midnight kiss in Paris!

Zurich, Switzerland
Our last stop in Europe was Zurich. We had two or three days in the city before our flight home and it was a great chance to catch our breath and relax (yes, we somewhat know the definition of the word…). The city is mostly a business city so there isn’t a ton to do or see. We did take a day trip out to see Kyburg Castle in Winterthur, Switzerland. We also walked around Bahnhofstasse and visited a botanical garden at the Universitat Zurich.

We tried roasted chestnuts, caught up on sleep, and I did my final 12-mile taper run. And my water bottles froze while I was running. It was just a little cold…

All in all the trip was absolutely amazing! We got to see so many different sites, places, and experience some amazing food and culture. We can’t wait to go back and visit Europe again someday!

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