the past two weeks jon and i were greatly privileged to take an extraordinary vacation, traveling to both germany and the united kingdom. it was an overwhelmingly fantastic trip, full of seeing great sights, eating good food, and most awesomely, visiting some of the greatest friends that we have.

we spent the first week in germany visiting rachel and adam. they live in eralangen, which is in bavaria. on the plane trip over there i realized the only thing i knew how to say in german was danke schön, which i of course, thanks to mr. wayne newton, thought was pronounced 'dank-a shane'. i'm still not one hundred percent sure, but i now think it's closer to 'dank-e shoen'. umlauts are weird. i mostly mumbled my way through it.

by the end i could also say please, order two coffees, and knew the words for train station and airport. not much progress, i know, but i blame adam for being way too good at german after only five months of studying.

germany was surprisingly cute. i'm not sure why it was surprising, i guess i had just never thought much about it. all of the buildings had red roofs, all the houses had flowers and well maintained gardens, and people traveled everywhere by bicycle (my favorite was the cute old lady on the vintage bicycle with a basket full of potted plants).

see, so cute!

this was in bamburg. evidently it's a thing for people to put locks on bridges as a sign of love, true love. i think we should start this in cincinnati. it definitely has enough bridges.

one day, the four of got a rental car and drove to the edge of the black forest. luckily rach likes driving. the autobahn scares me. i think we hit one hundred twenty miles per hour, and in a ford no less. rach was quite disappointed when we didn't get a sweet european rental car.

this was the view from the inn we stayed in just outside of baden-baden. why yes, those are vineyards in the back ground. and yes, that is the black forest further on.

the next day we went for a lovely jaunt through the vineyards and then up through the black forest to the yburg castle. it was a bit rainy, but oh so scenic. a couple of grapes may have been eaten along the way. shhhh.

you just can't beat those views. we were pretty certain you could see france in the distance.

on the way back down through town, we saw a couple of katzes (yes, i know katzen is the proper plural, but it's not nearly as fun of a word). this made jon and adam super happy. they attempted petting but were unsuccessful.

the two pictures above kind of show one of my favorite things about germany--the vegetable gardens in everyone's yards and all of the colorful flowers.

when we got into town there was a guy with a giant vacuum sucking grapes into a building. we like to think these were from the vineyards we trekked through.

our trip through the black forest ended with a visit to burg hohenbaden. it was a great castle--crumbly, overgrown and completely left to the imagination to recreate its former glory. and while we were there an impromptu a cappella concert broke out in this main room (german flash mob?). the open space had incredible acoustics and, even though it was a german group, all of the songs they sang were in english, which was pretty great.

there was so much more awesomeness in germany, but there's only so much i can subject you people to in one blog post, and i haven't even gotten to week two of the vacation yet. i'll save our united kingdom adventures for a later post.

auf wiedersehen! or, for those who never watched the sound of music with closed captioning on, al veed-isane. (yeah, i had no idea it was spelled that way until i saw it on a sign. german is crazy.)