Tuesday, June 21, 2011


D and I arrived in Munchen from Brussels by train. we have decided that train is by far our favorite way to travel. It's easy, relaxing, and you get to see some beautiful scenery. And, for those who are rich and thirsty, they even have a bar car where you can chug booze until your heart is content. I love Europe.
We made it to the place we were staying with no problems at all. The city wide transportation system was the easiest we've found so far (although we learned by our host that we could have been in a world of trouble because we didn't activate our tickets properly that first ride to her place). And that first night we decided to hit up the most well-known beer garden in all the world: Hofbrauhaus. All the waiters and waitresses were dressed in traditional German clothing and musicians played traditional German music. Seating was seat yourself family style... meaning you normally sat next to strangers on a long bench. I guess after a few beers you don't really care who you sit by. Daniel ordered schweinshaxe (grilled beef knuckle... I don't think it is actually knuckle, unless pigs have huge knuckles) with a liter of the original brew, and I or the HB sausage platter with saurkraut, pretzels, and a half-liter of a Radler (half original beer and half lemonade... perfect girl beer). The beer house was an awesome experience, and we were both really glad that we spent our dinner there. After dinner we walked home. After we told our host what we did that night and that we walked home, she looked at us with a surprised looked and exclaimed, "Are you guys really American?!?!"

The next day we spent exploring the BMW museum, dodging the rain, napping for 2.5 hours, and then finding the only restaurant open after 8pm (that wasn't sit-in)... Subway. I'm going to let Daniel enlighten you about the BMW Museum in the coming days. We both had a great time, and for different reasons.

On Sunday we decided to take a short train and bus ride to the Dachau Concentration Camp. Unprepared for what we were going to see and learn, we left the site with a completely different understanding of WWII. The unjust treatment of innocent people was the hardest part for me to understand. How could anyone purposefully torture, humiliate, and kill innocent people on a day to day basis for years? Daniel and I left the camp in awe and wonder. Why didn't God intervene? The pictures, videos, and places we saw are forever engrained in our heads. Though we left with heavy hearts, we still strong encourage anyone to go if you have the opportunity. It brought a new, very real, aspect to the treatment of "others" during WWII.

Sunday night we decided to get off the train at a random stop downtown and walk until we found dinner. One thing we have found that we love about Munchen is the fact that there are always festivals, good food, beer, and markets. It took about 50m of walking until we found a huge festival with multiple musicians set up along the street and awesome food to be had. That night we experienced schnitzensimmel (flattened pork, breaded, and grilled/fried on a wonderful bun) from two places. The first one was horrible and cold... but once I saw a man carrying one from another place that was hot and crispy... I had to try it again. We also got another radler from the beer garden. We continued walking around. Daniel got some roasted cashews from a man that made fun of my accent, and we stopped to listen to an Irish rock band perform before taking the train home.

Munich was an amazing city. Daniel and I both agreed that of all the places we've had the pleasure to visit, that Munich felt most like "home". We loved the culture, the people, the food, the music, and the city vibe. We really hope that we can return to Germany again in the future.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Europe Trip Pt 1 (a poem by Irene)

Brooklyn giggles at D's fun
His biking antics are no where near done
In Brussels we ate tons of Frits
Irene was very much a ditz
Em bought a billion choco eggs
We all think she has really nice legs
In Paris we saw tons of art
For dessert we had a brown sugar pop-tart
Once we ate nothing but bread and cheese
We think the Heredia's are the best bee's knees.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


We spent a day in the lovely town of Brugge. A quaint little tourist town, it was a lot like that Market Square in Brussels, but just smaller. Daniel decided that they had the best Frits. And the best frits is a very important and prestigious award. Belgiumites take their food seriously.
ALSO, Daniel got a HAIR CUT!! It was really about time, and not many people can say that they got their hairs cut by a Lebanese in Brugge, Belgium. He was the best hair cutter... ever. Edward Scissorhands personified. The whole time the girls just laughed and laughed as hair was falling to the ground and the hair man cut away. Good news is that Daniel's hair looks great!
The first part of the day we walked around Brugge and took in the sights by foot. The Gothic architecture is amazing, and the old cobble stones add to the old-time feel. After we ate lunch in the main square below the famous bell tower (and Daniel got his hair cut), we rented bikes and saw the rest of Brugge by bike. We saw 4 windmills, and lots of cute alley ways with colorful homes! We all agreed that biking Brugge is the best way to see the little town, and we all had so much fun doing something besides walking!
The train ride back to Brussels was filled with "would you rathers", funny questions, and great fellowship. I feel so blessed to be able to travel the world with some of the best people on this planet. Stay tuned for more pictures!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

....True Story....

For a true story of our adventure... click HERE!

Market Day!

Head to Irene's blog for an awesome account of our market day in Brussels!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

So One Time...

So one time I got shoved from room to room in the Chatau de Versailles. True story. Louis XIV knew how to do bling. Everything from the entrance gates, hallways, bedrooms, and kitchens...nothing was dull. As the King of Bling, he also housed many partners, diplomats, and important visitors. It was so awesome to walk through various rooms and a chapel and just look at all the detailed decorations. Elaborate paintings filled the cielings, gold plated crown moldings, deep colors on the walls, and marble floors were plenty. I've never been in a more beautiful building. And apparently no one else had either... and they were extremely eager to get through each room. At one point, as hundreds of people were filing into another room, a lady began pushing me from behind and using me as something similar to a riot shield. I think people lose their manners in large crowds. We've all experienced being shoved into one place or another so that some other tourist can have our spot. In the words of Stephanie Tanner, "How rude."

The Hall of Mirrors was one of the most spectacular rooms that I've ever been in. As you can see crystal chandeliers line the whole room, magnificent paintings scale the roof, and mirrors line the walls.

So one time I went to the Eiffel Tower after visiting Versailles. Upon seeing the monument, D was impressed with the "structurally efficient design." It was bigger, and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I kept having to remind myself that I was actually there and NOT just seeing a replication somewhere in the US. It acutally exists. So strange. To save some cash money, we (actually they) decided we were going to hike up to the second viewing landing. That wasn't my idea of a good time... but I have to admit it was a good one! E didn't kick our butts by running up because she's is scared of heights... so she ended up going at a pace that I could hang with. as we began to rise over the city, the view became more and more spectacular. Paris is beautiful. The city is so old. Every building had character and wonderful details.
WWIII at the Woman's bathroom on the second landing almost broke out. It was pretty intense. There were Spanish ladies in front of use, Indian ladies behind us, and one French lady bathroom cleaner involved. At the tour they don't let many people into the bathroom at one time, so you have to wait in a line outside of a glass door. Well... a French lady was making the Spanish ladies mad because they had been waiting in line for at least 20 minutes to use the WC. And the French lady wouldn't let them in. Just as the French lady opened the door, an English lady squirmed her way though the long line with her daughter (all freightened and such) as her excuse and proclaimed " Excuuuuse me, my daughter... it's an emergency, she just can't wait any longer. AN EMERGENCY!" So, the Spanish ladies didn't get in after all! We all just kind of looked at one another, and half heartedly joke about our bathroom situation being an "emergency"... but it was about 10 minutes when a shade came down the bathroom window explaining in French that the lady was cleaning the bathrooms. Really?!?! While there are many many many people in line? When the Spanish ladies were already upset? And thats when everyone turned on the French lady.The Spanish ladies began banging on the glass door, the Indian ladies began laughing and yelling, and the English lady never came out of the bathroom... We left the line and decided to take the elevator to the top.
What. A. View.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Jet lag.


We've made it to the City of Love, just in time for the 3rd anniversary of D and I!! All four of us are a little (more like a lot) tired, but that didn't really spot us from exploring our little side of Paris.

Our flight was really interesting. Thankfully Rene brought 5 bags of grapes, 6 bags of goldfish, and assorted other snacks along... otherwise we would have probably died. We all took sleeping pills, but found that they only made it painful not to be asleep and not necessarily helpful in the sleeping process. Interesting.

After arriving in Paris at 6am and heading through the non-existent customs, we made our way through the subway system and the twisty roads of Montmartre, and finally discovered our adorable little flat that we've rented for the next few days. It's perfect for us! Two bedrooms, one bathroom, full kitchen, living, and dining room. Perfect.

Sacre Coeur. We walked to it today. It was a loooong uphill hike. And Daniel and I are still uber sore from waltzing through NYC. But we made it, and it was worth the hike! We have never been to a building so old (constructed in the 1600's) and beautiful. It looks over the whole city, which gives it an added bonus. And it's free! While there we ate really good crepes, and looked at some local art! D bought me a beautiful little piece for our anniversary. I'm the luckiest.

I tried to think of a hilarious quote of the day, but after about zero hours of sleep... everything seems hilarious and my decision making skills have gone out the window.

Tomorrow we hit up Versailles and the Eiffel Tower.

Pictures to come tomorrow...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Relief in the midst of crowds.

So, it has been decided that Midtown is nuts during the summertime. I don't remember so many people when I was living there! I mean... you pretty much can't wait without running into someone who randomly decided to stop in their tracks and look up. I guess I can't blame them. The Concrete Jungle is awesome on the streets, but the skyscrapers hanging above you are nothing less than impressive.

Today we traveled Midtown by foot. Starting in northern Times Square, zigzagging our way through festivals, famous expensive music stores, stopping in awesome shops, eating gigantic food, touring the NYC library, then ending in Grand Central Station (with Magnolia Cupcakes). It was a lot of fun, and we really enjoyed the tourist hotspots, but we are REALLY looking forward to a relaxing day in Central park tomorrow.

48th Street near Times Square was a highlight for D. He spent some time looking through musical instruments that he would never have permission to buy, and he even tried a different type of guitar that he already owns (I know I screwed that wording up, D... sorry:). An interesting part that I found amazing was a picture that was posted in one of the stores (I know, it wasn't one of the amazing guitars). It was of the owner and his wife in front of the twin towers... and it was dated 9/10/01. That's crazy! How quickly things change.

We hit up the M&M store in Times Square. I LOVED IT!!!! We both did, really. Not a color of M&M was missed, and you could create your own bag full of them... in whatever color you wanted. So cool. Though crowded, that store was a highlight for sure!

We ate at Stage Deli in Times Square. Biggest sandwich and cheesecake ever... New Yorkers know how to do food. It's a fact. Take a look!

We ended the day with spending time with another B&D. They are the best. They JUST got married in April of 2011, so it was so wonderful hearing about the wedding, honeymoon, and life as a married couple in NYC. So cute and in love, I couldn't have picked a better way to end the day. I feel so blessed to have friends that I can still connect with even after we haven't seen one another in a long time. We ate at a fancy greek place on the west side called Kefi. It was really spectacular, and kind of exotic (for us country folk, at least!). We swung on swings in Central Park, reminisced days of old, and ate ice cream together. It was perfect, and I'm so excited for them to come see Cincinnati sometime in the not too distant future! Thanks D&B for a wonderful night and great eating choice. We love you guys.

Favorite quote of the day: "You know how there are big groups of people standing on both sides of the crosswalk waiting to cross.... and everyone meets in the middle... well, I like that you can let a huge one rip right there and no one would know." -D

We realized today that it would have been WAY MORE cost effective for us to have each purchased a 7 day unlimited Metro Card. Note to self... don't make that mistake again.

Tomorrow is a lazy Sunday in the City, I&E come, we prepare and pack for.... EUROPE! Woot.


Prayer Requests:
-I&E arrive safely tomorrow with not complications
- D's persistent cold

No, we didn't grab the bull by the balls.

Yesterday was another great day in the city. We felt more like tourists yesterday (much to my dismay) since we hit up more touristy things. I wanted to make sure Daniel didn't just come to NYC and hang out at neat local places, but that he got to see all the iconic scenes that make NYC popular.

Our first stop was Ground Zero. I was pretty guarded when we arrived because when I went there 5 years ago, St. Paul's Chapel was a really emotional memorial for 9/11. I was surprised to see that much of the memorial material was gone, and only few stations were set up for memorial. I had mixed feelings about this because before the story was moving, brought people to tears, and made the whole day of 9/11 so much more real. Real people. Real situations. Real heroes. But now, it shows the way that people around the world united together during and after the tragedy to help in relief efforts. I like that it emphasizes the unitedness of nations. I missed the hard reminder of what took place in our nation, and the strength of our nation to move on. However, an AMAZING organ player was playing in the church while we were there, and that was the highlight of my Ground Zero experience. What a treat to hear classical organ played so perfectly.

Another pleasant surprise at Ground Zero was the half built Freedom Tower! It's awesome. When I was there before they were still in the process of clearing out rubble, and digging for the new tower. Though they had much of Ground Zero fenced off so you couldn't see it, I found a crack and saw so much improvement. They are building a fountain memorial/park and the new Freedom Tower where the two towers stood before. The Freedom Tower is so neat, and I encourage you to go look at wtcprogress.org see the plans. After a little reflecting, I decided that it was probably for the best that most of the memorial was removed from St. Paul's. The Ground Zero site itself is covered information about the Freedom Tower, and the rebuilding of the Transportation Hub. It really gives a sense of hope and takes the focus from the tragedy to the future. Though what happened there will never be forgotten, it is neat to see that they are picking up the pieces and building an absolutely beautiful building.

From Ground Zero we walked through the World Financial Building, walked along the bay, and then headed over to Trinity Church and Wall Street (which was packed). Just off of the hustle and bustle, we found a cute little pizza place in which we indulged in fine NYC pizza. Daniel experienced first hand the fold-your-pizza-into-a-taco technique, and I think he is sold on the idea. NYC just knows how to do pizza.

The rest of the day consisted of Bowling Green Bull Balls, Street Performers, Walking by the Water, Resting on Pier 17, water and ice cream at McDonalds, Street Performers, More Street Performers, Brooklyn Bridge crowd dodging, shameless self portraits on said bridge, and riding home to our perfect little place in Harlem. Order out Chinese, french bread and brie, strawberries, and good books. We were beat. I don't think we've ever walked so much... but we are so excited to explore more today!! Times Square, Empire State Building, Old Navy (for forgotten flippy-floppies), Grand Central, Central Park.

Prayer Requests:
- Daniel's cold goes away quickly.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sometimes it is just best to stick with what you know...

Day 1 of the epic adventure-of-a-lifetime, and I'm already overwhelmed with happiness. I LOVE traveling. I don't know what it is about traveling that I love so much... I just love it. The people, the sights, the newness, the adventure, the mishaps and happenstances... it is all so wonderful.

Yesterday (June 2nd) D and I arrived in NYC. There were a few anxieties about that particular leg of the trip. #1: I haven't navigated the subway system in a long time... let alone with two backing packs, and a camera bag. #2, Daniel has never been to The City, and is a crowd-o-phobic. I didn't know how he would handle the hustle and bustle, the switching trains quickly, and chronic personal space invasion by New Yorkers. Praise be to God that everything went so smoothly yesterday as we found our way to The City.

We had a little hang-up with the Metro Card. I remember first trying to slide my card to get through the turnstile back when I was here for college. Too fast = don't get through. Too slow = nice try. Fast beginning swipe, with a slowed finish = negative. Juuuuust right, the New York way = Permission to enter. I felt bad as I stood there on the other side watching D try over and over to get through. I knew saying too much would be upsetting to him, so I mostly watched. People behind him were frustrated, he was flustered... but once he switched lanes... he did perfect! Way to go! It will take a little getting used to... but I think he is a New Yorker at heart.

After we got settled in to our place in Harlem (which I love, btw), D decided he wanted to see Chinatown. What?!?! The place I purposely avoided while living here?!?! Where crowds are thick, the stinch is horrible, and cheap crap is abundant?!?! Okay. So we did. and it was wonderful. We ate at A-Wah (I have no idea how we ran across this place). We shared fried dumplings, General Tso's Chicken, and Lo Mein Hong Kong Style. It was.... different. As in, sometimes you should just stick with what you know. Tso (which they pronounced the "t") was good... the sauce was out of this world... and the rice was amazing. Hong Kong Lo Mein... not so good. I was hesitant in the beginning to get the dish, but we decided that we HAD to try something different. We walked away deciding that we were happy to try something new, maybe Chinese food isn't something we necessarily want much variety in. And I'm okay with that. I like my noodles sauted, and my meat completely cooked.

We made our way by foot up Manhattan, and stopped at a Chinese bakery to try some Bubble Tea. We asked that young girl her favorite tea favor, and she told us watermelon was the best way to go. She was right! I'm not sure all that goes into bubble tea... you drink, and chew, and suck up slimy gummy somethings all the time. It is frozen, sweet, and fruity. D LOVED it! I was cracking up. Every drink there would be a surprised little "Ah!". Another slimy gummy something popped into his mouth. Best quote of the day: "I bet this is the perfect drink after getting high on pot and you get the munchies." You drink, you chew, and you enjoy.

We walked all the way up to Union Station, grabbed groceries at Trader Joe's, and began the subway journey back home.

Favorite moment of the day: waiting to get the keys to our place in Harlem at a Dunken Donuts. The whole time we were practicing our German and French phrases, and it was SO hilarious. Vous pouvez m'aider? Nothing is pronounced how it is spelled... and we sounded and probably looked, ridiculous. Wir sprechen nicht Deutsch. -- True story.

Today... we don't know what we want to do yet. Maybe Wall Street, Brooklyn Bridge, Freedom Tower, and then some Midtown action...Rockefeller Center...Piano Bar...Grand Central?

Prayer Requests:
- D's cold gets better
- I wouldn't get sick
- We would continue to grow closer and enjoy this time together.


P.S. - D loves NYC. I was worried... but he loves it.