Sunday, September 14, 2008

A 60 Day Catch-up

Ok, so I leave on a jet plane over 2 months ago and never come back to blog? All I can say is that I'm sorry blog readers-- I was simply having too much fun on vacation these last 2 months to try and capture it all in blog form. And now if you'll bear with me (for I have no idea how long this will take) I'll see how well I can catch you up on all that has happened: (And here are some pics to help.)

Day 1 (July 15th): Rob dropped me off at the Frankfurt Airport. The flight to Detroit (where I had a layover) was great. The food was actually quite delicious and I had my own little TV that had over 30 movies for me to choose from for viewing.
Day 2 (July 16th): I did not enjoy my hour and a half in Detroit. I didn't like having to wait in line after line, claim my bags only to check them again and wait in more lines-- all with needing to pee and no bathroom until after customs. *Arrg!*
Then I made it home (Washington will always be "home") and was able to borrow a cell phone to call mom & dad to come pick me up. We went to Applebee's for dinner (their oriental chicken salad is awesome!) then it was off to bed in my garage suite. (The king size Sleep Number bed doesn't fit in my parents' above the garage apartment so I had it and a 1/2 bath to myself in the box filled garage.) I slept like a baby at setting #75.
Day 3 (July 17th): Was simply a day seeing the work done on my parents' new house on Angle Lake near the airport. (More updates to come on this I'm sure.)
Day 4 - 6 (July 18 - 20): The Pickolts (A combo of Pickett & Holt) went to the Oregon Coast. I was able to see my brother, Chris', house as we picked him up. Then it was like we were kids again as we shared the backseat on our way down to Seaside- just as we did every summer growing up. (Pic on the right is my brother Chris and me.)
With trips to Pig 'n' Pancakes, Norma's seafood restaurant, arcades in Seaside and art gazing in Cannon Beach-- along with tax free outlet mall shopping as well-- we crammed a lot into those 3 days and a lot into that car trunk when the shopping was done.
Day 7 (July 21): My best friend Kristen had her 2nd little baby boy today- Aaron James.
Day 8 (July 22): Went to Cherokee Bay Clubhouse for a wedding tonight. Mom and Lorna had made the wedding dress for Cindi, the bride (Lorna's sister). All the food and even the cake were in bit size servings- making it tempting to try a little of everything.
Day 9 (July 23): Happy Half Birthday to me! I celebrated by having dinner and watching the movie 21 with the in-laws.
Day 10 (July 24): I spent the day in Seattle shopping while mom worked. I went down the Pike Place Market and bought some Seattle-ish items for the home so now friends visiting won't have to guess where Rob and I are from.
Day 11 (July 25): The Southcenter Mall I grew up with is now Westfield Center and today was the grand opening for the new expansion that more than doubles the size of the mall. I was able to get pictures of the opening dance ceremony done by people hanging by ropes and running and flipping around on the new 90 foot high glass front. Unfortunately, you won't get to see these pictures since my camera was stolen at the mall after I had only had it a week! (But later I was able to buy an even better refurbished camera for much less.)
Day 12 (July 26): Can't recall what I did this Saturday. (Isn't vacation wonderful this way sometimes?)
Day 13 (July 27): Visited Kristen and her mom and was able to see the new little bundle of joy- Aaron James! Later Chris came over for dinner.
Day 14 & 15 (July 28 & 29): Nothing written down in my calendar for these days- probably doing some yard work at the house.
Day 16 (July 30): I spent the day with Rob's brother, Mike. I enjoyed the time we were able to talk and catch each other up on the Holt families while going in circles in the paddle boat on the lake. As good as it was to see Mike I wish I could have seen Wendy and my niece and nephew- Kaylie and Matt.
Day 17 (July 31): Happy 4 year Anniversary to Rob and me! I spent the day doing yard work and going to the dump with my dad. Later I had a touch of the stomach flu while Rob fell asleep the minute he got home from work and forgot to call! All in all- not the best anniversary, but if you keep reading you'll see that the 2nd part of my travels more than made up for this one poorly spent day.
Day 18 (Aug 1st): Happy Birthday to Wendy-- just wish our schedules had worked out better to get together this trip.
Day 19 (Aug. 2nd): Happy Birthday to Andrew.
Day 20 (Aug 3rd): It was Rob's 1/4 birthday and we celebrated (even without him) by having family and friends over for a pot-luck BBQ at the lake. Thanks to Uncle Terry and my cousin Shawntel, I was able to borrow one of their kayaks and take it for a go out on the water.
Day 21- 25 (Aug 4- 8): Not sure exactly what we did- probably a lot of HGTV watching, shopping and I do know there was 2 full days of garage organizing in there. We went through and better labeled all the boxes and found 9 boxes of my stuff! (2 of stuffed animals, 2 with collectible dolls, 2 with clothes like my prom dresses and ballet costumes and 3 boxes with books.) I took pictures of all my things so I can remember just what I have being kept at the Pickett Storage Co. -- I have been told that my contract is up once mom & dad decide to move again so hopefully we can get stationed nearby in the next few years.
Day 26 (Aug. 9): Tonight we went to Noe's Birthday party. (Gosh I love the Molina Family!) My other mom, Sam, makes wonderful Mexican food and is the sweetest person you will ever meet. My "sister" Mia (well, if we share moms we must be sister in some form, right?) and I had unknowingly coordinated in green for a picture together. That same night I saw someone at the party that I had known from Mannheim!-- small world after all it seems.
Day 27 (Aug. 10): Went to Maple Valley Presbyterian (where Rob and I met going to youth group) and had the joy of hearing one of my high school classmates giving the sermon. (The sermon was amazing and I can't wait to listen to all 3 of the sermons in the series when Mom Holt sends them on CD.) After church I was treated to salmon at the in-laws for lunch (yummy!) For dinner I went with mom, dad and Chris to the Bull Pen Tavern where they have bingo every Sunday. None of us won anything- but that isn't so bad since the prizes range from a loaf of bread to a bunch of bananas. LOL.
Day 28 (Aug. 11): It was another day in Seattle- only this one was spent shopping and having lunch with mom after helping her move from the 27th floor to the 8th floor of her office building.
Day 29- 33 (Aug 12- 16): *More than 1/2 way.. bear with me* I went back to Camp Sealth to work for a single session. I had been a camper here growing up and a counselor in the horse camp the 2 years that Rob was down range and I had so much fun I just had to go back.(On the beach at Camp Sealth- my crocs have Care Bear Jibbitz now!)
I was suppose to simply sub in wherever they needed me but God had orchestrated something even better. There was a Deaf girl coming for just those 4 days and they did not have an interpreter-- so instead of doing kitchen work I was able to be a part of a 4th & 5th grade girls group and help out there. The girl was 11 and had only been adopted from Ethiopia a year before- that was amazing to me because her English and signing levels were pretty darn good. And her personality and love for anything fun was pretty darn good, too. So, all in all- I had a blast at camp.
Day 34 (Aug. 17): Church and lunch again with the Holts. As an anniversary present they gave Rob and me a 12x12 inch digital picture frame (now displaying pictures from our trip- we love it! Thanks again Mom & Dad!)
Day 35 ( Aug. 18th): Last full day with mom and dad at Angel Lake.
Day 36 (Aug. 19th): Happy Birthday Lindsey! A week earlier I was able to visit my high school friend, Lindsey and her new--adorable-- baby girl- Peyton Elizabeth. I just wish we could have had longer to visit together.Day 37 (Aug 20th): I arrived back in Germany. Rob had received the suits he had ordered while I was away and decided to dress up in order to pick me up at the airport. It was a nice surprise to have a dashing man in a suit come pick me up and take care of my heavy, stuffed luggage.
Day 38 (Aug. 21): Drive to Edelweiss Lodge & Resort in Garmisch, (southern) Germany.
Day 39 (Aug. 22): We drove to Innsbruck, Austria. On the way we saw an older gentleman crossing the road wearing traditional country clothes and hat. It just made my day- knowing that he wasn't dressing up for the tourist but was simply dressed as he always is for the day.
On the way home we passed by Fernsteinsee and I fell in love. It was the cutest little lake with water so clear the small boats looked like they were floating above the surface. There is a castle ruin on an island there that we need to go back and investigate next summer.
Day 40 (Aug. 23): We took the cog train to the top of the Zugspitze- highest point in Germany. It was freezing temperatures up there with frost a few inches thick covering everything. We also went to Tirol, Austria as the border runs right along the top and we were able to simply step over into another country. We took the gondola down which had great aerial views and was much faster.
Day 41 (Aug. 24): Rob and I had a lazy day of massages at the resort's spa followed by a nap and dinner out in Garmisch at a traditional German restaurant with a live dance show.
Day 42 ( Aug. 25): We left Edelweiss Resort and drove through Austria to the Lindau-Bodensee (a beautiful big lake bordering with Germany and Switzerland as well). Then it was down to Vaduz, the capital of Lichtenstein. The old castle was amazing but, unfortunately, we were not able to go inside as the prince and princess still live there! Then it was the most relaxing, scenic drive through winding roads in Switzerland before returning home.
Day 43 (Aug. 26): This was our 6 year anniversary of the day Rob proposed to me on the Oregon coast. We spent the day running laundry, having a lunch date at the commissary and doing other errands to prepare for the second half of our travels.
Day 44 (Aug. 27): Since I would be missing the kick-off for PWOC I simply had to attend the board meeting this morning. Because there was so much to cover and we still had some packing to do, and a couple of "oh we forgot this or that at the house" turn arounds- we got started late (about 1:45pm) on our drive to Copenhagen, Denmark where our cruise would be leaving from the next day.
Day 45 (Aug. 28): We arrived just after midnight and finally found a hotel room to crash in. Later we went to Tivoli Gardens (one of the first amusement parks in Europe and fortunately not bought out by 6 Flags and, so, is still charming on its own). We went shopping along the pedestrian streets and had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe (I know, typical tourists.)
We were able to book a room for the night we would be getting back to Copenhagen and were able to go to the Parking Dept. and get a parking pass for the 10 nights we would be gone on the cruise for about $18 - instead of 10 Euros a day to park normally. (So glad I had looked this up before we left!)
And so, we parked and had the silly thought that we could park and carry the luggage to the cruise boat ourselves-- not realizing we had to lug it up and over a pedestrian bridge and down the road. Well, we made it over then were told our boat was waaaay over to the right. Well, luckily, I happened to see only the very top of a boat just to our left that had a symbol of a lady's hair blowing on it. I couldn't imagine the chances of there being more than one Princess cruise boat at the port that day so we gave it a shot- and it was our boat! I wouldn't have been a very friendly person if we had walked all the waaaay to the other docks only to realize we were wrong and had to walk back.
So we got onto the boat, checked out our room, the 24 hour buffet and the variety show they offered that first night- and fell in love with cruising by the time we started to leave the harbour.
Day 46 (Aug. 29): It was a day at sea. We had our first of 2 formal nights and enjoyed dressing up for dinner and simply having the time to explore the BIG boat.(Dressed up for a formal night on the crusie- Rob's suit is brand new- how dashing!)
Day 47 (Aug. 30): We arrive in Stockholm, Sweden. We explored on our own and this is now our 2nd favorite port call of the trip. The highlight was the Vasa Museum and seeing the mighty sunken ship that was brought up from the bottom and so very well preserved in the less salty harbor waters.
Day 48 (Aug. 31): Hello to Helsinki, Finland. It was a nice enough city- but simply another city all the same. We enjoyed the shopping most- both in the stores and at the market. We also were able to get Rob a free cup to keep from Robert's Coffee (the Starbucks of Scandinavia it seems.)
Day 49 & 50 (Sept. 1 & 2): St. Petersburg, Russia! We had 2 full days here. We saw many churches and other such sites- including the basement were Rasputin was poisoned and shot. (Makes we want to watch the animated Anastasia movie again.) We enjoyed a Russian dance show the first night and souvenir shopping the 2nd day as well.
Day 51 (Sept. 3): Happy Anniversary Mike & Wendy. Today we went to our favorite stop of the cruise- Tallinn, Estonia. It was just the right size for a walled-in city with so many old walls and buildings to see. We saw the equivalent to the White House- only it is quite literally the Pink House! We enjoyed the Market here as well and the exchange rate (10 Estonian Croons to the $1). We spent the rest of the night daydreaming of someday moving to charming little Tallinn.(Tallinn City's Main Gate- also known as "Fat Margaret" for the large, round tower on the left side.)
Day 52 (Sept. 4): We arrived in Gdansk & Gydynia, Poland today. We took a tour because things were fairly spread out. After visiting the city we went to Malbork Castle- and simply loved this huge, old fortress. We only wish we could have had a week to fully explore the castle and its grounds.
Day 53 (Sept. 5): Another day at sea. (We had our second formal last night- even better than prom.) We spent this day on the water taking over 200 pictures of all the murals and artwork (and fruit sculptures) throughout the boat- so anything we might have missed before we were now able to see- including the putting course.
Day 54 (Sept. 6): Happy 30th birthday Chris! We went to Oslo, Norway today and visited the Viking Ship Museum and Frogner Park with over 200 sculptures of naked people! Oslo sure is interesting. It is now the world's most expensive city- having recently beaten out Tokyo for the title- and we were told McDonald's workers make about $30 an hour! Later, back on the boat, we played two rounds of putt-putt as the sun was going down before the live entertainment show started (I beat Rob both times a mini-golf.)
Day 55 (Sept. 7): A very, very sad day today. Our cruise is over. We enjoyed a nice buffet breakfast before we had to leave the boat. This time I stayed with the bags while Rob fetched the car. Then it was off the airport where the only Starbucks in the area is located in order to get a city mug. Afterwards it was to the hotel and dinner at a Chinese buffet.
Day 56 ( Sept. 8): We leave Copenhagen and make our way to Haarlem, Netherlands (near Amsterdam). We get a big hotel room with free parking and is right on the bus line.
Day 57 (Sept. 9): This was our day in Amsterdam. We took the train in from Haarlem and got tickets for the hop-on hop-off canal boats. Our first stop was The Anne Frank House where I was shocked by the almost non-existent line and the speed at which we were able to get in. Our luck ran out, though, when we reached the Heineken Experience Museum to find that it would be closed for updates until October. So it was off to Hard Rock for lunch (again, I know) and more sightseeing and shopping in the city.
Day 58 (Sept. 10): Haarlem today. We went to the Corrie Ten Boom House and even crawled into the hiding place ourselves. Then it was a most scrumptious lunch at the pancake house (not just for breakfast in this part of the world) and shopping at a store nearby. We even found the perfect chair to go with our antique school desk. Of course that meant the chair went with us all the way on the bus to the airport and back in order to get... (yup, you guessed it) another Starbucks city mug! Then it was back into the car for our drive to Brugge, Belgium through Delft (the city that makes the famed blue and white porcelain of the same name) and our first of two nights at the Royal Stewart Bed & Breakfast owned by sweet (and Scottish) Maggie.
Day 59 (Sept. 11): It was a full day in Brugge. Rob fell in love with the town (as I knew he would) only 2 minutes after we arrived at night and saw the bell tower all lit up withan eerie full moon glowing behind. We climbed to the top of that bell tower this morning- all 366 steps- and were rewarded with a clear view of the city below. Then it was some window shopping- and more window shopping- before lunch and a trip to the Gruuthouse Museum and some ice cream. It was then (about 5pm) that our wonderful weather wore out and the sky got dark and cloudy- fast! It rained and rained. We waited out the worst of it- donned matching blue ponchos and a big striped umbrella and made our way back to the room in style before getting dinner and calling it a day.
Day 60 (Sept. 12): The last day of our trip. With the rain still coming down we said goodbye to Maggie and donned our rain gear to do some last chocolate shopping in Brugge before meeting up with our messing, full car at the train station parking garage (only 2.50 Euros a day for parking!) and headed out for home with a stop in Tongeron for Belgium antique shopping.

And you --if you actually made it through all of that-- have reached the end! Thank you for bearing with me through all of that catching up. I will try to never, ever (ever!) get so behind in my blogging and will supply more details from the trip as they come to mind at a later day- for I'm sure you've had plenty to enjoy for now.