Tag Archives: rides

Happy (Just About) Summer!

25 May

Greetings, all! Fancy seeing you here- it’s been a while! Let me start by saying a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has made the move with me over to Treats, Travels And Truths– there’s absolutely no other place I’d rather start the journey than with you guys who have been following our shenanigans for all this time right here.The new site is coming along so nicely- growth is slow, but steady, and I’m learning more every day about the ins and outs of blogging on a larger scale. Most importantly, I’m having a really good time with it and that’s really all that matters, right? Please, please, please continue to help me spread the word and get the site out there- sharing it on Facebook or Instagram, sending the link to friends in emails or just telling them about it. I SO appreciate it. And you. ❤

So I just wanted to share some pictures from our last month or so. We’ve been really busy- and in a really good way for the most part! Y’all know we’ve had some visitors- my mom came for my birthday at the beginning of April and then John’s sister, brother and his family came a few weeks ago when we all headed to Greece (phenomenal vacay, btw). Other than that, we’ve been kinda all over the place- waiting for spring to arrive and taking advantage of days when it teases us (see the snow pictures below that were taken mid-April!), getting Neve registered for Kindergarten, Fruhlingsfest (the largest spring festival in the world!), rock climbing (Neve is in LOVE), celebrating Mother’s Day…Have a look!

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She’s really taken an interest in drawing- and is pretty darn good!

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Anybody else think these are the best kinds of lunch EVER?!

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Bedtime Stories ❤

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Fruhlingsfest

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Chocolate-covered fruit on sticks…

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What better last weekend in Germany than homemade pizza from scratch?!

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Morning waves from school ❤

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Mother’s Day Breakfast at Kindi…

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Found a huge rock climbing gym less than 20 minutes from the house! Neve has really started showing an interest and is really good at it!

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What do you do when you’re out walking the pups on Sunday afternoon, but a storm is rolling in? Find the nearest biergarten and wait it out 🙂

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All doing our best impressions of the ‘Ears Up’ pose 😉

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Waiting out the storm at the biergarten, overlooking Stuttgart…

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Good Lord. He is mine. ❤

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Just finished with Kindergarten Orientation on base. Safe to say that all three of us like the school, the teachers…and the playground! September can’t get here soon enough for this kid!

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We make Countdown Chains for so many things. This one marks when Daddy gets home this Saturday (the link with the stars) and when Uncle Andy arrives (the link with the smiley faces). This is the first chain that Neve made entirely by herself 😦

I told you we’ve been pretty dang busy! Lots of fun, though, and some pretty exciting stuff (how do we have a Kindergartner?!). And I’m happy to report that the weather is *finally* cooperating for the most part- we’re at least reaching 70/75F most days! Ha! I swear summer can’t get here soon enough! Speaking of which, our next adventure begins in just 5 days! We’re headed for the Canary Islands next week to do (hopefully) a whole lotta nothing- sun, sand, waves, drinks with umbrellas…Ha! This family needs some summatime, dammit! My little bit of planning is officially done (see selfie below where I reconfirm that I’m a nerd and must write down everything!), John gets home Saturday (he’s been in the States for work since last weekend), and Uncle Andy gets here Monday (he’s needing some Canary Islands in his life, too!) Life is good, friends. Happy Memorial Day weekend!

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Volksfest!

6 Oct

…Otherwise known as Stuttgart’s better version of Oktoberfest! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- the original Oktoberfest in Munich is fantastic, but the one here in Stuttgart- called Volksfest- is just a little bit better. On the surface, they’re identical. Both are giant fairs complete with oodles of rides, games and greasy foods. Both have 12+ huge tents serving up fest beer, German food and live entertainment. So what gives Volksfest the edge? Well frankly, the tourists. Or lack of them! Munich has become such a ‘bucket list item’ for so many people- mainly Americans and Brits, according to the stats- that it just has a bit more of a touristy vibe, and beyond obnoxious crowds. Higher prices year after year, marketing to everyone but the locals, more souvenir stands full of useless crap, cuisines moving away from traditional Bavarian style…Volksfest just feels a bit more ‘real.’ In fact, most predict that it will take over the top spot (it’s currently the #2 beer celebration in the world) within the next decade.

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Volksfest, attracting about 5 million people each year, takes place over three weeks in late September/early October- coinciding with Oktoberfest happening a few hours away. Let’s take a quick look at it’s really cool beginnings…

In 1815, a gigantic volcano eruption in Indonesia led to a climatic catastrophe even in Europe. The explosion hurled rocks, ashes and dust into the sky. These were distributed by the jet stream around the world and caused crop failure and famine in Europe. The winter of 1815 in Wurttemberg was the coldest in history- snow until May, no summer, alternating rain, whipping hail and thunderstorms continuing into the growth season. This made harvesting crops in those years impossible. Throughout Germany, people were starving. The little existing flour was stretched with sawdust and the planted potatoes were dug up again. When Wilhelm became King of Wurttemberg in 1816, Czar Nikolaus of Russia, helped with deliveries of grain. Then, in 1817, when the first harvest wagon from the region was finally brought in, King Wilhelm celebrated by throwing a harvest festival for his people. He donated cash prizes and honorary awards for outstanding agricultural accomplishment- the festival was designed to encourage the farmers. Today with around 350 companies, Volksfest is the biggest carnival-festival worldwide.

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On the train, headed to Fest…Thank God for public transportation!

We were really pumped to get to do two Fests this year- the first a few weeks ago with friends in Munich and this time here at home with our girl and Uncle Andy ❤ Neve LOVES fests- the rides, the lights, the tents, the music, the dancing…She was in Heaven, and this time, she had her own dirndl like Mommy!

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My favorite pic of the night ❤

The rest of us had a pretty kickass time ourselves, too. Unlike a few weeks ago, this time, being in the tent wasn’t the main objective. When Neve goes with us, we usually get there in time to (hopefully) find seats in a tent (we lucked up on the third tent we tried!), eat dinner and have a beer or two, then spend the rest of the night riding the rides, eating fair food and marveling at all the festivities. And you know what? I 100% love both ways of doing it! There’s definitely something akin to Christmas morning about watching the wonder and the pure joy through your daughter’s eyes.

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We ended up in the Dinkelacker tent. Coincidentally, this is the brewery that’s a block from our house and we can use our keen senses of smell to tell when they’re brewing 😉

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Some friends back in Columbia, SC, are doing a school project where ‘Flat George’ travels the world and returns home with stories and pictures from his adventure. Tonight, Flat George joined us at Volksfest!

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Never, ever, ever has there been a cuter little ‘German’ girl. Or one who loves Fests more. ❤

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Sweaty and out of breath from dancing and singing on our table ❤

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Dad and Andy about to be slingshotted into the night sky!

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Just try to get this kid off the rollercoasters!

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Have you ever ridden fair rides in a dirndl and lederhosen? Ha!

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‘Twas definitely a fun, fun night here in Stuttgart. And one that almost didn’t happen- at least not as we’d planned as I’m sure many of you know that there’s a hurricane headed straight for our hometown, Charleston, SC. Well, at the last minute, the predicted storm track shifted just a bit eastward and the projected speeds slightly lowered. That coupled with the uncertain airport closures and insane parking lots that are currently the roads in the Lowcountry helped my parents make the decision to stay with us through the weekend as originally planned, which meant not only our fun night at Volksfest, but also John’s early birthday celebration scheduled for tomorrow night! Yep, we intend to keep the shenanigans going right up until they board that flight! ❤ (And yes, that’s another saga in itself- can’t even imagine this house without them here by this point, so I’m not even going to go there yet! Telepathic hugs appreciated! ;))

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Oktoberfest!

25 Sep

Show of hands- how many of you have a visit to the world famous Oktoberfest on your Bucket List? Well, it was definitely on ours and had been on my parents’ ever since we moved here, so after a decade of being in and out of Europe, we’ve finally crossed it off! And it was totally worth its spot on the list, too. SUCH a fun experience!

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So to kick off this little picture post, y’all know I’ve got to get a bit nerdy and give you some backstory. Don’t judge. Oktoberfest is the largest beer festival in the world, complete with a traveling fair. It takes place for 18 days in late September/early October every year in Munich, Germany (about two hours from us in Stuttgart). Other cities around the country also host similar festivals (stay tuned for my post on Stuttgart’s own Volksfest- our personal favorite- in a couple weeks!), but Munich’s was the first (held in 1810, as a wedding celebration for King Ludwig and Queen Therese) and is still considered the most popular, drawing more than 6 million visitors each year and serving nearly 7 million liters of beer (!).

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Our tent for the day, Schutzen Festzelt. Each tent is known for different things. Ours was known for good food (especially pork) and good, modern music by live bands. It’s one of the larger tents, holding about 8000 people.

So what does Oktoberfest look like? Well, it’s basically a giant fair- complete with rollercoasters, giant stuffed animals to be won at games, and greasy fair food- with ‘tents’ (ie. giant wooden restaurants) throughout, each serving its own kind of food and drink. I tell you what- these ‘tents’ are more sturdy and better put together than many a house I’ve been in! That’s how permanent they look and feel! The majority of tents specialize in whole roasted chickens and beer (each tent is sponsored by a different brewery), but there are also wine tents, dessert tents, wild game tents, etc. In addition to varying cuisines, tents range in size from smaller (2000ish people) to massive (10,000 people), as well as style (traditional, progressive, rowdy, older crowds, etc.) So in other words, choosing which tent you’d like to spend your time in is big business and there are lots of things to consider!

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So do you just choose one and walk in? Well, yes and no. There are two different options for getting into the tents. The first is to go during slower times (ie. weekdays, earlier in the day) and hope to find a seat inside. Sometimes you luck up, other times you don’t. (You can’t be served food or drink without a seat.) If you tried to do this at night or on a weekend, you’d have about a 0% chance of this happening. The second way is to round up 10+ people and buy a table reservation in advance (this isn’t an option for smaller groups). With reservations, you choose one of three ‘shifts’- morning, afternoon or night- in the tent. Although we’ve done it both ways, this time we opted for Option 2 and it couldn’t have turned out any better! We always prefer the afternoon shift for various reasons- less being exhausted before it’s all over, more stamina, slightly more ability to hear ourselves think, more stamina, less vomit from surrounding patrons…so that’s what we went with this time. Plus, half of our group was leaving the next morning for their Ireland vacation, so…yeah 😉

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Of course we’re embracing the culture! With the number of fests always going on, we had to splurge for a dirndl (it’s three separate pieces- the dress with built-in corset, the apron and the blouse) and lederhosen. Traditionally, the placement of the apron bow denotes married/single/widowed and the symbol in front of the suspenders is the region you’re representing.

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Walking through the front door of Schutzen Festzelt at noon and already a madhouse. Each tent has its own decor, its own colors, its own placement of stages and tables…Fest tables are typically long and skinny with benches down each side to accommodate 10 people each.

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View from our table on the second floor. BEST seating we’ve ever had! (And yes, this is how packed it is on a Thursday afternoon!)

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Festival beer is sold in one size and one size only. Each masse holds 1 liter.

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Can I get a hallelujah for whoever invented the pushup bra?! They make them here specifically to go under dirndls- and to add 2+ cup sizes! 

We realized while we were home this summer that our good family friends, the Heaths, were also planning to cross Oktoberfest off their Bucket List this year, so the coordination plans began. Our two families go way back. My mom and Susan worked together in the operating room at Trident Hospital in Charleston in the late 80s. When I was in middle school, and the Heath boys in elementary school, we started vacationing together, along with two other familes- the LePines and the Forinashes. In other words, we’ve all been close for the last 20+ years <3. Harrison, the youngest Heath, graduated from West Point a few years ago and is now stationed in Germany with his wife Sammi, so just like my parents, his parents and his brother, Kyle, are in town for a visit. What better excuse to plan some awesome joint ‘fest’ivities. (Ha! See what I did there?!)

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Our tent sold Lowenbrau beer, one of the most popular breweries in Germany.

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When you discover the table behind you is also from N. America…Canada, but close enough 😉

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Finding the perfect hat 😉

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The Heaths

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View from the deck…

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FUN ❤

One of my favorite things about doing the afternoon shift is that when you leave the tent, the sun is just going down and the fair is in full swing- all the lights and sounds and smells that can’t help but make you happy! No, you don’t always necessarily feel like riding loop-di-loops after 5 hours in a tent, but walking around and just taking it all in sure is fun in itself.

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Missing our girl- Neve’s favorite ride at every fair!

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We really did have such a fun day- and to get to share it with my parents and our great friends from home was just icing on the cake…er, gravy on the schweinehaxe! Ha! Definitely an experience- a little trip to Munich- we’ll never forget. Next week, Round 2 at Stuttgart’s Volksfest!

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Just in case you were wondering what one eats for dinner after a full day of festing…We plan ahead ❤

And to quote another girlfriend who also just got back from Munich, “Rick Steves said it best: ‘Fest is about people getting together to celebrate culture, happiness, and embracing life.'” Yes, it surely is. ❤

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