We took the train everywhere during our vacation with the Stueckrath family, and up until we were on our way home from Denmark, we had had a nice, easy trip. Once we reached the point where we knew we would be getting on the ferry again to cross the border into Germany, we were informed that because of a "black-out" there would be NO trains leaving the station on the other side of the port in Germany. Obviously, this set into motion a chain of events that would mean missing all connecting trains from that point forward, and meant that the Stueckrath's would have to wait for us in Hamburg. It meant that we really had no idea when we'd make it home to Kaiserslautern. I'm just going to skip all the details from that day because it's a long story and I really don't want to waste y'all's time, and anyway, we made it safely back to Kaiserslautern together, and that's really all that mattered.
The 4th of July is my guy's birthday! A full day of castles and cruising the Rhine River was on the agenda for a special day! I hoped that this would be a great way to show the Stueckrath's how beautiful Germany truly is, and give my husband a very happy birthday with great friends!
We started the holiday early in the morning and headed to Burg Reichenstein for breakfast and a tour of the castle.
It was a gorgeous morning. Actually, most all of Germany's mornings are gorgeous, they make forgiving all of the annoyances a little easier.
It's not often that photography is allowed inside a castle or a museum, so it was nice to finally be able to show y'all what we saw. I can't remember who exactly lived in this castle but I guess their marriage was an arranged one and they hated each other, so the husband spent all of his time hunting so that he didn't have to be at home with his wife. His hunting trips must have been legit because there were antlers everywhere!
I am still trying to figure out how to take better pictures inside of buildings with minimal light. Outdoors with natural light I'm starting to get the hang of, but indoors my pictures are coming out grainy and a lot of times I have to resort to using a flash (gasp!!). Also, all of my pictures on all of my blog posts are straight off the camera, there is absolutely no editing whatsoever, because I think photoshop is one of the most frustrating things to ever be on this planet! I really should look into taking a class....
Anywho... After the tour and breakfast we went to a wine tasting at Stefan's Wine and Christmas Paradise! Alcohol, again, at 10:30 in the morning?! He must have known the Schnell's and Stueckrath's were coming. ;o)
We all began tasting different wines and brandy's and celebrating the Fourth when Shilo told Stefan that it was Eric's birthday. A 4th of July birthday?! That was cause for celebration, Stefan said! So, he started playing music on a little music box and got the entire store and group of people we were touring with to sing "Happy Birthday" to Eric, and then gave the entire a bunch a heckuva deal on his wine and brandy! A seriously awesome deal; Buy one get one free on brandy, half off his best Eiswine, with traditional German wine cups for free! And a whole lot of other awesome deals!
Yes, you bet, we left with many bottles of alcohol. I mean, the entire deal we got was because of Eric's birthday so we kinda felt like we had to buy something.... Ooookayyy, so we probably would have left with many bottles of alcohol anyway, but with a deal like Stefan's we couldn't resist! ;)
The pictures are blurry because I got wrapped up in the excitement of cheering, shot-taking, singing, and getting a kick out of the many shades of red my husband's face had turned.
Next, we jumped on a cruise boat and sailed the Rhine River for a couple of hours. Since Germany is the "Land of a 1,000 Castles" (or something or other) we just sat back and enjoyed the view!
This is the boat we cruised on. It's turning around to pick us up since our group was so excited about Stefan's deal we were too busy buying alcohol to realize that the cruise was going to leave without us. We're pretty sure that Stefan bribed the boat drivers with a couple bottles of his wine to get them to turn around.
Eric and Eric!
Shilo & Eric are probably telling the girls some of their old high school stories.
The 2 hour cruise stopped in Rüdesheim (Rude-a-shime), which was perfect because I've been wanting to go there to try their kaffee! I don't have any pictures of the kaffee (coffee) I ordered because it happened before I could get my camera out of my bag (which is almost never not around my neck, but then I relax for just a second and a perfect opportunity went out the window). The kaffee is served with brandy that the waiter lights on fire and then stirs it for a little bit and the flame grows bigger and turns a pretty purple color, then..... oh you know what.... just watch this video, it's cooler if you can see it rather than read my rambling.
I didn't care that it was hot as heck outside, I just had to try it! Another thing that Eric and I both wanted to do was ride the cable car over the vineyards like in the movie 'GI Blues', have you seen it??
There goes the girls!
We were pretty excited that we went on the same exact cable car ride that Elvis went on in the movie! It was quiet and relaxing...and even a little romantic.
Birthday beers with the birthday boy in Rüdesheim after the cable car ride! The nice thing about Germany is that there are no open-container laws so we are free to walk down the street with birthday beers every day of the year!
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Rüdesheim, by the time the bus came a few hours later we were ready to get back home. Once we got home we stopped at Ramstein Airbase's 4th of July carnival (the same one we went to last year), but I was hot, sweaty, a teeny bit grumpy, my make-up had melted off, and basically just not feelin' it. I really just wanted to go home but I didn't want to tell Eric that, and I didn't care to bring my camera with. We spent a few hours at the carnival, letting the girls ride rides, and then went home to the most amazing showers ever, and more birthday beers!
Eric said that he had an incredible birthday and couldn't think of a better way to kick-off his 36th year on this earth than with great friends and birthday beers!! PROST!