The journey home begins


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Europe » Germany » North Rhine-Westphalia » Dusseldorf
August 1st 2018
Published: August 29th 2018
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The journey home begins – Saturday July 28, 2018

We wake up to Leonarda calling for his morning breakfast, Kirsten is out the door with bread in hand. It’s like a baby calling for her momma. I call out, see what you’ve created, Kirsten smiles yea, I wish I could take her home with us. That wakes me up, not even no but...... #$&%!N(MISSING)O!

While were eating breakfast, Kirsten goes over our assigned choirs. It seems to me my list grew from last night assignments.

We’ve all finished our choirs are bags are packed and in the car. Yes, the time has come we’re sad, but all GREAT vacations must come to an end.

We’ve cleaned the house, changed the sheets, vacuumed the floors, cleaned anything and everything. The owners will be home tonight, and we’re leaving the house as nice as we found it.

Kirsten says goodbye to Leonarda. I watch from a distance and as Kirsten walks away the Leonarda raises her head, shows her teeth toward me as to say “See Yaw Sucker” back at you Leonarda.

We all pile into the car, Kirsten goes through her check list. Check, Check, Check yea, yea, yea we have everything. If we don’t then we’ll just buy it if we need it.

We’re off, our first stop is Chateau Chenonceaux. Kirsten hasn’t been to this chateau and wants to see it.

We arrive at Chenonceaux, as always Kirsten finds a parking space right up front, how she does it I don’t know, she just drives in and there it is.

Omi calls it the best chateau yet, Kirsten says the it’s her second best, me it’s a nice 5-bedroom 3 bath for the king’s mistress.

We visit for a couple hours all the time I’m getting hungry. Kirsten wants to find a cute spot to have lunch and after the fourth try she settles upon Amboise. Just an hour up the road, you might remember this village from past blogs. It has a nice chateau and Leonardo da Vinci is buried here.

We didn’t visit the chateau nor Leonardo today. However, we had a wonder meal at a café in the shadows of the chateau.

While sitting at the café and enjoying our lunch, we noticed crowds of people at the end of the street. Every 30-45 minutes a car would drive by beeping their horn, with a groom and bride in the back seat waving to everyone. Hello, its Saturday and weddings were happing at the Hotel DeVille “The Court House” in town.

Well Kirsten and Omi just had to go and be part of the celebrations. So, after finishing lunch we wondered down the street and mingled with all the wedding parties waiting to be married.

Now this next part is important, Omi is wearing a RED blouse and WHITE pants. One of the weddings color scheme is RED & WHITE. The bride was dressed in her White wedding gown with a RED ribbon lacing up the back. All the family members are wearing RED and WHITE along with Omi.

We’re standing in the crowd the bride is coming along thanking everyone for attending her wedding and she comes up to Omi tries to hug and kiss her check. Why because Omi is dressed in RED and WHITE. I couldn’t get my camera ready quick enough. it was perfect, Omi looking surprised at the bride, the bride confused as who is this lady.

I’m sure the bride is still asking her husband who was that lady.

We were laughing all the way to Troyes. Three hours later we pull into our hotel. Again, I find our hotel using Booking.com. This is way too easy, a brand-new hotel. Kirsten pulls in, I hop out and run into the front desk and check in.

Omi and I collapse on our beds in the hotel room. Kirsten is not having any of that, she rallies us up and loads us into the car. Were in a new town and dammit we’re going to go downtown for a dinner and drink, ok twist my arm.

OMG! This place is awesome, half-timber houses everywhere, nothing is square, it reminds me of the village Hogsmeade in the Harry Potter movies. Around every corner is another crooked half-timbered house. We came upon cathedral after cathedral, but only one stands out above all, it was St Marguerite’s cathedral, YEA, she has a cathedral in Troyes France. How cool is that!

After wondering, we find a plaza with nothing but people and cafes, now we just have to pick one. We did, we are seated, and I order one of my favorites meals the Pork knuckle, Omi orders mussels and Kirsten orders a pizza. And yes, we had a bottle of wine, you know we had to celebrate finding St Marguerite’s cathedral.

We stayed out until 11:30 pm we were so tried, so back to the hotel and into bed we went.

Good Night.



The journey continues - Sunday July 29, 2018

Kirsten and Omi were first up I just rolled over still needing a little more sleep and slowly going downhill. The door slams and I know it time to get up or be left in France. Hmmm, if I felt better that doesn’t sound so bad.

The Ace hotel was great, I will add that to my list of chain of hotels while in Europe.

I get down stairs and find Kirsten and Omi enjoying breakfast. I walk over, and Kirsten gives me all the details of what’s available. It’s all good she says. I finish my breakfast and like all good Germans we made our sandwiches for a snack or lunch.

Out the door we go to visit Troyes one more time before leaving. We visited three cathedrals and attended mass at St Marguerite’s Cathedral. We received our blessing and out the door we go just like any good Baptist.

We loaded ourselves into the car and we’re off, singing “On The Road Again”.

As Kirsten is snaking through Troyes working her way north, Omi squeals Aldi from the back seat. Kirsten locks up the breaks cuts the car into a sliding left-hand turn. Our car comes to screeching halt in the parking lot space. I see my life flash before me in a matter of seconds.

Omi and Kirsten are out the car before the engine has stopped idling. Kirsten calls back, are you coming. Yea, once I finish cleaning myself up. Omi and Kirsten have a cart full picnic goodies, where am I, getting wine of course.

Back into the car and on the road, Kirsten instructs me to take all the back-country roads. I set the Navi to avoid all toll roads and major highways. It worked we rode through Frances country side seeing fields of wheat, sunflowers and more wheat. We stopped in a small village and had our picnic lunch in their park. I just love these our picnics, sitting on park benches eating sandwiches drinking wine from a bottle. It seems to me everything tastes better when your drinking wine from the bottle.

During lunch Omi and I complained our asses hurting so much Kirsten decides to take the autobahn.

I get on-line and found us a Zimmer right on the border of France, Luxemburg and Germany. How cool is that. I load the address into the Navi and close my eyes for a well overdue nap.

Kirsten pulls into our guest house, Zimmer, Bed & Breakfast, whatever you wish to call it. I think Omi was more excited than Kirsten and me, she’s back in Germany.

The room is great, and the food was amazing I had a snitizel with mushroom sauce. Yea, it was really good and the beer was even better. After dinner we played cards on the patio while enjoying a few more beers.

After multiple hands and Kirsten and Omi winning we were off to bed. Tomorrow we follow the Mosel river north.

Good night



The journey continues on - Monday July 30, 2018

We wake up and have our first Zimmer breakfast.

It was a very good German breakfast, we ate our fill. Next, we made our sandwiches for lunch, Kirsten loves making sandwiches and wrapping them in napkins. However, I think Omi loves it even more.

Were on the road heading toward the Mosel, this is one of the main rivers running north to south in Germany. You’ve seen it, the one on the Viking River Cruises commercials. Ok, two roads run along the Mosel, one on each side. So, we wind along the Mosel seeing all the pretty castles and villages. Just like in the commercial except were driving.

Around lunch time Kirsten instructs me to find a scenic place so we can stop and have lunch. In a couple of miles or kilometers it’s all the same at this point I find an area with picnic tables on the river. Kirsten parks and out we go and have another road side picnic. Like I said before, this is one of the many things I love about vacationing with Kirsten, eating our sandwiches we made from breakfast and drinking wine from the bottle.

After lunch were back on the road, snaking our way up the Mosel. I get on line and found us a room in Cocham a fairy tale village on the Mosel. This is one of the villages we stopped at on our river cruise. Also, Omi wanted to stay here.

I found a five-star hotel for a two-star price. How could I go wrong? LOL, four flights of stairs and no AC later, that’s how you go wrong. The room was nice the view was perfect. We could see the castle and village from our room. No kidding we were 4 flights of stairs up sorry Omi. Basically, our room is in the attic of the building. Reminded me of when I lived Cresishilim Germany as a kid. That’s another story on another day.

Ok, back to Cocham, Kirsten, Omi and I are off to see the village. Me, I am looking for a beer. After three, yes three restaurants, cafes and/or bars I find one. WTF! It turns out just like Mont St Michelle establishments start shutting down after 5 pm. So, while I sipping (gulping) my beer I’m thinking how am I going to find a restaurant for Kirsten and Omi.

I’ll worry about that later, oh waiter ein Bier bitter.

Kirsten and Omi find me, oh yea did mention Kirsten uses find friends. Damn It! I need to come up with a way to hack that app.

We have a beer together again I order my first beer, the waiter is looking at me, I return my look and yes he gets it. We discuss restaurants and decide upon one overlooking the Mosel. We dined, wined and played cards on the Mosel this evening.

While walking back to our hotel Kirsten asked Omi if she could share some of Opa in Cocham. We had a moment of reflection while Kirsten left some of Opa in Cochem.

Once back to our hotel we climb the four, yes four flights of stairs to our room. Omi has remined me multiple times a five-star hotel is to have an elevator. Sorry Omi.

The bed was soft Kirsten and Omi are happy and I’m looking out the window staring at the moon over the castle. Pretty nice, I love my life.

Good night.



The journey continues on and on and on - Tuesday July 31, 2018

I didn’t sleep that good, I’m getting sicker and Kirsten is catching on that I’m not on my a game.

Kirsten has everything organized in the suit cases. Yea! go figure, and I thought I was organized. We shower, we dress, we pack and descend the four flights of stairs only ONCE. Got that!

Breakfast was another great German breakfast, Omi is talking with everyone and Kirsten and I are making our sandwiches for lunch.

We check out and into the car, Dusseldorf is our next destination. Well not exactly, Omi has a cousin. Yes, Omi has cousin’s everywhere. His name is Daniel, he lives right on the border of Luxemburg and Germany in this small village right over the mountain from Cochem. So, over the mountain we go. Now Kirsten and Omi have been sending messages to Daniel via Facebook while we’ve been in France. He and his family are on vacation in Italy. Long story so here are the key points, Omi want to see Danial’s house, she has only seen pictures of it on Facebook. It’s a very old farm house in a very small village. Yes, Kirsten rises to the challenge, yes Kirsten finds the house. Omi sends Daniel a picture of herself standing on his front porch.

Daniel was impressed we found it.

Ok, back to driving to Dusseldorf, we drive up and over another the mountain before I know it were on the Autobahn running around 200 KMH. Yea, that’s fast.

We stop in Colen to see their cathedral, this is one of Germany’s largest cathedrals. It just happens its lunch time, so we have our picnic in the Plaza in front of the cathedral along with all the locals. After lunch we visited the cathedral, this is where the Three Kings are buried. Yea, the three guys that visited baby Jesus, you know the whole Christmas story.

After saying good bye to the three Kings we’re back into the car going to Dusseldorf.

Ok, quick recap, we flew into Dusseldorf four weeks earlier. Now we’re listed to fly out tomorrow morning August 1st. from Dusseldorf. Wow, time flies fast.

Omi booked us a room at the Marriott, she used her Marriott points and reserved us a room in Dusseldorf. It has an elevator, AC and sleeps four. Thank you, Omi.

We check in and out the door we go to do Alstat Dusseldorf, that’s downtown Dusseldorf for all the non-German speakers.

I find one of my favorite breweries. Here you sit down, and they drop a bier in front of you and put a hash on your coaster. When you’ve finished that bier they bring you another and another.

Have I died and gone to heaven? Kirsten quickly slaps me and wakes me up. Hey, how are you feeling, I think I’m getting better. Kirsten looks me in the eyes and ask, “are you lying to me”. Oh no honey I would never lie to you, as I look off toward the cathedral for forgiveness.

After a few beers we Vonder up the Rhine Looking for a restaurant that meets Kirsten’s and Omi’s requirements for dinner. Has to be cute, some people but not too many, I’m on it....

We settle on this nice restaurant overlooking the Rhine river and order our meals. I have another pork knuckle, Kirsten has pork steak plater and Omi has a mushroom platter. Yea, mine was the best.

After dinner we made our way back to the Marriott. Kirsten checked the flights and it’s not looking so good.

Oh well I’m ok spending another day in Germany.

Good night.



The journey continues on and on and on – Wednesday August 1, 2018

It’s 6 am Kirsten is up, showered and dressed. I’m up, showered and dressed. Omi is up, showered and dressed.

I’ve checked the flights, there is no way I’m getting on. Kirsten and Omi look good. Kirsten and I don’t discuss it. Oh the joys of Standby Traveling!!

We check out and we’re in the car on our way to airport. I’m feeling worse and I’m thinking I have a slight fever. That or I’m having a hangover.

We check in and get our stand-by passes. We go through security with no problem, I find a café and we order some coffee and something to eat. We have about 2 hours before boarding.

Kirsten is constantly checking the flight to see if we are getting on. I lean over, its ok, I’ll get on tomorrows flight. She struggles to grin and says yeah I know.

This goes on for the next two hours, Kirsten is checking the flight, shaking her head, me .... I’m trying to rest. Omi, she’s ready to get on the plane. Kirsten and Omi’s names are called, Omi is at the counter in seconds flat. I’ve never seen her move that fast, I look at Kirsten and say GO, I’ll be fine. She is struggling with leaving me in Germany.

She gets up, Omi and Kirsten get on the plane. I wave good bye, I knew I wouldn’t get on, but the rules are you never leave the gate area until the plane pulls away.

Ok, so I move closer to the gate agent so to hear any updates. People are standing at the counter and some are getting boarding passes and boarding while others are arguing with the agent. Rule number two never argue with the gate agent, they’re your BFF “Best Friend Forever”.

Now, I have decided if by any miracle I get on, no matter even if it’s in coach, I will get on and go home, because I’m sick and I need antibiotics.

Now fifteen to twenty minutes have passed, I’m sitting there half asleep and I hear WAUGHAN, STEPHAN. I jump straight up and run up to the agent. Standing at attention, I respond WANGHAN STEPHEN, yes, Present, I’m here.

She looks at me with her stern German look and ask “Ares yous traveling alone?” I look at her and in my best stern German face I can muster I respond “JA!”.

She hands me my boarding pass, I nod, turn and do my best goose step toward the door. I don’t even look back nor at what seat I have, I’m getting on the damn plane. I enter the plane, hand my pass to the welcoming flight attendant and immediately turn right, I know I have a coach seat, this flight is full and I’m good with that, I have Credit, I have Euros, I have Dollars. I will get a drink or two.

The flight attendant jumps in front blocking me and says Mr. Vaughan not that way sir you’re in first class. I’m startled and look at the boarding pass. It’s a miracle I’m in 4C. I almost kissed the attendant.

As I’m walking up the aisle, I stop next to Kirsten. She is hammering on her iPad looking at the flight. I’m no longer listed and she’s thinking I’ve already listed myself on tomorrow’s flight. About that time Omi sees me and squeals, Kirsten looks up and I’m standing there smiling at her. Tears are in her eyes and she is either happy or pissed I really can’t tell. So, I go to my seat.

The flight attendant comes and ask can I get you a drink Mr. Vaughan, yes please I’ll start with a Bloody Mary and can you make that a double please. She turns and asks “tough day?”, no actually it’s a perfect day.

As the plane is lifting off I turn and look at Kirsten, she’s smiling. I say, I love you, she says back I love you more. I smile knowing that she really does loves me.

Yeah, where’s that Double Bloody Mary?!

Steve, Kirsten and Omi


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