Next Stop, Charleston!

11 Jun

Y’all. I can’t even wrap my brain around the fact that by this time tomorrow, we will be on an airplane over the Atlantic Ocean on our way HOME! My Dad and I have actually been counting down the hours since Sunday…He gets up in the mornings- so about lunch time for me- and sends me a text. 104…77…51… I love it.

We’ve had a really good week. John’s been really busy at work with all the project folks- from here, from Stuttgart, from Charleston- convening for the quarterly Design Review meeting all week. Yesterday was his day to lead the meeting and he said it went swimmingly (my word, not his- he probably said, ‘yep, it went great’ and then went to look for the gummi bears, but…), so that gives him today to tie up loose ends and say his temporary goodbyes. (Regardless of what we decide, John will still be working with the same peeps, either from here or during travel to here.)

Our new digs for this week. That's us on the second floor- all the windows you can see are in our apartment :)

Our new digs for this week. That’s us on the second floor- all the windows you can see are in our apartment 🙂

Neve and I are loving the location of our ‘new’ apartment- we just step outside and it’s like being on King Street in Charleston. Granted, it’s not ideal at 5a when all the restaurant vendors are pulling in to ridiculously-noisily unload their replenishments, nor when she’s trying to nap in the afternoons, but for getting out and about? Awesome. We’ve done some shopping, some playground hopping, some exploring and a whole lotta walking. Speaking of walking, once again, we three of us LOVE being able to walk to dinner!

A blessing or a curse. A McD's- Neve's unfortunate favorite- within site of our front door. She loves McFlurrys. Plain. Ummm?

A blessing or a curse. A McD’s- Neve’s unfortunate favorite- within site of our front door. She loves McFlurrys. Plain. Ummm?

Dinner on Italian Alley. Carbonara and Gorgonzola Gnocchi. Ahhh...

Dinner on Italian Alley. Carbonara and Gorgonzola Gnocchi. Ahhh…

After dinner at the Italian restaurant.

After dinner at the Italian restaurant.

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The highlight of the week was definitely Tuesday when we finally made it to the little riverside town of Rudesheim. Been trying to get there since Day 1, but for one reason or another…Rudesheim is a winemaking town in the Rhein Gorge, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s known for its beautiful vineyards (you’ve never seen so many in your life!), its romantic architecture and its gorgeous setting on the banks of the Rhein. Founded around 1000ad by the Franks, archeological finds of glass suggest that they were already making wine here at that time, in addition to timber rafting.

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It’s such a lovely little town and I’m so glad Neve and I decided to rent a car for the day and make the 45 minute trek to visit. Coincidentally, one of the friends we made at the playground during our first week here and have continued to see ever since, had told us about Rudesheim being the starting point for some neat Castle Tours, so that was a must during our visit. Boats run all day, every day up and down a stretch of the river that is particularly inundated with castles- some in ruins, some converted into museums, and one even renovated to be a hotel! There are five different lengths of cruise, depending on how long you want to be on the boat- the longest being a full day and seeing all the castles.

We opted for Rudesheim (at the bottom) up to

We opted for Rudesheim (at the bottom) up to Trechtings-Hausen (third X up on left) and back.

thumb_IMG_4369_1024Our cruise was about two hours and we saw six castles, several towns and lots of vineyards. So Much Fun. Neve loved being on the boat, floating down the river. We had a swan named Freddy who met us at each stop (there may or may not have been 5 different Freddys- that, or Freddy was one helluva swimmer 🙂 ). She loved all the castles, especially one in particular that was clearly Rapunzel’s. Seriously, though, the castles- and the scenery in general- was fabulous. Once again, I was reminded of just how new the United States really is. Here we are, looking at a castle that was built around the time that Jesus was alive, and just imagining what life was like then- how incredibly intelligent and hardworking and inventive and advanced those people were to have built such wondrous buildings- and cities, for that matter. How many years have people been floating down this very river than we’re floating down today? I was in such awe.

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Windy day!

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Our favorite castle was the Rheinstein. For me, it’s exactly what I picture when I think of a castle- stately, commanding, regal, heavy and beautiful. It rises up from a rocky cliff right at the edge of the water- you have to really look to determine where the rock ends and the castle begins. This was also the one that Neve thought looked like Rapunzel’s because of its towers.

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It’s beautiful, right? The other one I really liked wasn’t actually for the castle itself- although it’s pretty snazzy itself (it’s the one that has been turned into a hotel)- but for the fabulous trailer park going on in front of it, right on the river bank! I can honestly say that it’s the first trailer park I’ve seen in Germany and that it just looked like a terrific place to live. Mostly large campers, each with a landscaped, fenced yard and windchimes dingling in the breeze. We even saw lots of the residents sitting in lawn chairs watching us pass by. Call me crazy, but the whole thing made me smile and was almost like a little slice of Americana! And this is the truth: I mentioned it to John as an idea for our housing if we decide to do this! Ha! (I know y’all aren’t even wondering his response.)

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We used the trip back down river for a little selfie sesh. I can’t describe how much I’ve enjoyed these last two months with Neve and how much I’m going to miss this when we get home. I know, it’s not like I won’t still see her every single day, but it’ll be different- so many more demands on our time other than each other. Yes, it’s real world, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still wish for just a little bit more of it!

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thumb_IMG_4409_1024John gave me the greatest compliment yesterday. He always says that I’m a good mom, but walking home from the store last night, he looked at me and said, ‘Your patience with Neve, and with just about everything, has grown so much since we got here. I never think you can get more beautiful. And then you do.’ I melted. There’s nothing nicer he could’ve possibly said to me at that moment. Being in this situation for the last two months has been a challenge in every sense of the word, but especially for me in the role of Neve’s mom. At home, we have our village- she goes to school, to swim lessons, to Goddess and Poppy’s, to Grandma’s, on playdates with her friends…Here, it’s just me M-F. Responsible for stimulating her, playing with her, growing with her, building her imagination, encouraging her creativity, teaching her, challenging her, loving her…I knew coming into this that it would stretch my comfort zone and be an eye-opening experience for both of us- and I can honestly say that I’ve done my absolute best to make our time count. I knew I could feel the growth Neve and I had made in our relationship- and that I’ve made as a mom- but to hear that it’s visible to the man whose opinion matters more to me than anyone’s…I have no words.

Alright, alright- enough with the sap! 🙂 Last night, a big group of us went to the biergarten for dinner- great to finally meet some of the folks on John’s project that I hadn’t met before. It was also a nice midweek change of pace- haven’t been to dinner with a group in ages! Laughter and conversation and sausages and clinking glasses…Lovely. Today, Neve and I are working on getting things packed and the fridge cleaned out with a Smurfs marathon going on in the background, courtesy of Netflix and high speed internet (finally)! Ha! I’m sure we’ll head out in a bit to find some lunch and a good play spot…

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That’s it- our last Week in Review from German soil! For now. We’re definitely making some headway in the decision-making department, hallelujah, so hopefully we’ll have something to report in the coming weeks. 🙂 I’ll definitely touch base this weekend to let you know that we made it home safely. The time change actually works in our favor this time- we leave just before lunch and get home in time for dinner! Ha!  Unfortunately, John’s still flying separately from us (we all leave and arrive within an hour of each other, though) and going that direction tacks on an extra hour (9 hrs the first flight, 2 hr layover, 2 hr final flight), but hopefully the adrenaline that comes with getting closer to home overshadows all that! Oh, and Dad…38.

3 Responses to “Next Stop, Charleston!”

  1. Wendy June 11, 2015 at 2:50 PM #

    Safe travels home my friend and John is a ONE IN A MILLION! Love you all!

  2. Kim June 11, 2015 at 2:11 PM #

    Erin…I have loved reading your blog! It sounds like it has been a wonderful trip! And what a wonderful compliment from your husband…Safe travels!

  3. Eleanor June 11, 2015 at 1:39 PM #

    I will see you soon for a great “catch-up” visit. Safe travel home. Terrific blogs. Love you.

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