In Flanders Fields…no poppies grow, between the crosses where the mowers mow!  At least not in the Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial in Waregem, or around the town of Ieper, where the In Flanders Fields museum is located.  Still, both are worth a stop and made a good start to our “military history trip”. Read the rest of this entry »

Stacy on June 20th, 2010

It was an easy drive of just a few hours from our house to the hotel in Brussels.  The skies got grayer and the temperature chillier as we drove, but fortunately it didn’t actually rain on us while we explored a few of the sights. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stacy on April 16th, 2010

We stopped for the night in Dresden on our way back home from Poland.  Unfortunately, it was chilly and rainy and gray, but we took the bus from our hotel to the Altstadt just to see some of the sights.

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Stacy on April 14th, 2010

The weather turned colder and rainier on our way to Krakow, but the road was not nearly as bad as we had expected, until we got off the highway and drove into Krakow.  Read the rest of this entry »

Stacy on April 13th, 2010

Spring Break 2010!  This year, we decided to go east and visit Poland. We were a little concerned, since the day before we left there was a tragic plane crash which killed the Polish President, his wife, and a significant number of the top government and military officials of Poland. Still, we’d made all the reservations already, so we packed up the car and headed east. Read the rest of this entry »

Stacy on December 18th, 2009

We took our Christmas vacation early this year (I’m covering work for someone else during the holiday week).  So, for our early Christmas/celebrating Rebecca’s 13th birthday, we went to Rome. Read the rest of this entry »

Stacy on November 28th, 2009

For Thanksgiving this year, we took a train trip to Berlin.  We’ve now mastered the intricacies of public transportation in Stuttgart—caught the 0607 bus from the stop around the corner, to the Böblingen station to catch the S-Bahn to the Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof, and on to the train, where we discovered it is indeed easy to make a very short connection at the Hannover train station.  We arrived in Berlin in early afternoon, about seven hours after leaving our house. Read the rest of this entry »

Stacy on November 8th, 2009

I got a chance (work-related) to visit Israel, and it was an incredible experience.  Most of the time there was spent working about 14-16 hour days, but since our Israeli partners don’t work on Friday or Saturday (due to Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest), we got a chance to take a couple of tours on those days.  I hadn’t planned on this, but I had brought our old camera, just in case we got a chance to see something–I was really glad I did. Read the rest of this entry »

Stacy on September 17th, 2009

Driving through the rain today,
watching the miles slip by,
on my way back home again
from another TDY,
Started thinking somehow of my life,
where I’ve been, what I’ve been through.
Tomorrow is my birthday,
and I’ll turn 42.

I’ve seen Dixie in the springtime,
and Paris in the fall,
watched moonlight on the Arabian Sea,
looked down the Canyon’s wall.
I’ve stayed up all night long
and watched sunrise tint the sky,
heard the desert’s night song,
seen bats and eagles fly.

I’ve raised my hand, signed my name,
and followed Uncle Sam,
crossed the seas a time or two,
held judgment in my hand.
I’ve loved a man I shouldn’t have,
and been what I shouldn’t have been,
I’ve said I do, and signed I don’t,
and I’d rather not do either again.

And there are days I hate my job,
and everything around,
and everything’s against me,
and it all just takes me down.
But I have a man who loves me,
he is strong–and also sweet,
and a precious growing daughter
who makes my life complete.

Although I’m not always quite sure
I guess I’m where God wants me to be,
so I’ll hold on to what He says
while I look toward 43…

Stacy on September 5th, 2009
Heidelberg Schloss from the Theodor-Heuss Bridge (new bridge)

Heidelberg Schloss from the Theodor-Heuss Bridge (new bridge)

Three times a year, Heidelberg has a castle lighting event.  The Heidelberg Schloss is lit up to look like it’s on fire, in memory of the three times in history (1689, 1693 and 1764) when the castle actually was on fire (twice under attack, finally destroyed by lightning).  It seems that thousands of people converge on the Neckar River in Heidelberg three times a year for the castle illumination and fireworks.  We decided to go to Heidelberg for Labor Day weekend, to see a little of the town and the castle, and stay for the lighting.

We got to Heidelberg in early afternoon, and I think the crowds were already starting, as we had to look around for a place to park.  The parkhauses in Altstadt were already full.  We found a parkhaus close to the new bridge across the river, which worked out quite well for us.  The weather was pretty nice, so we walked along the river towards Altstadt (old town) and the Schloss (castle).

The Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Ghost) in the Marktplatz is one of the few buildings to have survived the many wars over the past several hundred years.  The foundation was laid in 1398 and the tower completed in 1544.  This church has been used by both Catholics and Protestants, and had a divider from 1706 until the 1930s, so both could have services there.

Roy and the Heidelberg Bridge Monkey

Roy and the Heidelberg Bridge Monkey

We walked through the Brückentor (Bridge Gate) to the Karl Theodor bridge or Old Bridge (Alte Brücke), built by Prince Elector Karl Theodor in 1786 to replace the latest of several wooden bridges at this location which were destroyed by ice, snow, and high water. There are really nice views of the castle and the city along the banks of the Neckar River from the bridge. We also saw the Heidelberg bridge monkey. This monkey statue is either a legendary symbol to remind the city-dwellers and the people who lived outside the city that neither is better than the other, or it’s just there for the natives to laugh at the tourists putting their heads in it to get a picture…

We rode the funicular up the mountain to the castle grounds. Much of the castle is in ruins, but a lot of it is still standing. Apparently it’s free to walk around the grounds and the gardens, or you can pay the entrance fee to go into the courtyard area. We overheard a guard saying you could get into some of the buildings with a guided tour. Evidently you can also get married at the castle; we saw a couple having wedding photos taken.

With the entrance fee to the courtyard, you also get entrance to the Fasskellar (the wine cellar, with the world’s largest wine cask) and the Apothecary Museum, which has historical displays of medical scientific items, especially pharmacy items, actually pretty interesting!

Heidelberg Schloss

Heidelberg Schloss

We also walked around the castle garden areas. There are several statues, and a lot of green open space and trees. You can also get some really gorgeous views of the castle and overlooking the city.

We rode the funicular back down the mountain and went back into Altstadt.  There was a craft fair or market of some type in the Kornmarkt, so we walked through that and then back along the main street in the old city to find something to eat. Then we went back along the river toward the area where we parked the car. It rained a little bit, but not too badly. Our plan was to stay around and see the castle lighting, so we positioned ourselves along the bank of the river with a few other people, close to the parking garage. The weather cleared up and it was nice watching the boats cruise along the river waiting for the illumination, but it really wasn’t worth waiting around three hours for. It got really crowded as the time got closer, which wouldn’t have been so bad, except that when the illumination started, people immediately starting standing up and crowding right in front of us. We watched the illumination and about five minutes of the fireworks, and then beat feet to the car, so we could get out of the city before the massive crowd started going.

Heidelberg Schloss and Altstadt are worth a visit; it was a nice day trip for a reasonably fair weather day.

View our Heidelberg photo gallery.