Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ultimate date night

Dear Grace,
One of the best parts of vacationing with Grandparents is being able to have occasional date nights knowing you are being taken care of by family. During our European vacation, Daddy and I went on two dates. The first was an evening in Prague and the second was *into the Alps of Austria. 

*When I say into, I literally mean into. 

Cheers, Mummy

Date #1: We shared a romantic evening in Prague. We walked hand in hand (I know- we're cheese balls) back up the cobblestone streets towards the castle grounds. We stopped along the way for a glass of the house red at a vineyard located near the top of the hill. Good company, good wine, and a great view of the city below at night.
Surprisingly, we discovered that the castle grounds were open until midnight. We were able to walk around and check it out while it was lit up at night and had very few people. We wanted to capture this moment so we decided to play with our camera's timer. 
That's our silhouette in front of the Castle Church.
Date #2: We shared an adventurous afternoon exploring the Alps of Austria. We saw castles, beautiful views of the mountains, and toured the world's largest ice cave. To date, this is the coolest thing your Dad and I have ever done. Our tour guide was one of the best we have ever had and we met a fun group of Australians who kept us entertained. 
We stopped to enjoy the view (and take pictures) about half way up our second hike.
Our view just outside the entrance to the ice cave. Daddy and I kept saying our friend Alana and Vinny Miller would be so proud of us. They are our most adventurous friends who go on the wildest vacations.
Once opened, that itty bitty door had a massive rush of cold wind that would come through. Sometimes, up to 90 mph, depending on the time of the year. The entrance to the cave was referred to as the gateway to hell, which is why it wasn't thoroughly explored until 1880.  
Since the cave was pitch black, every couple of people were given an open flame carbide lamp to light our path. They had to be relit once we were inside the cave due to the initial massive gust of wind. The main source of light came from our guide who had a long magnesium  flare. The flare looked like the world's largest sparkler stick.
The average temperature inside the ice caves was around the freezing point. Since this wasn't a planned event, selecting our outfits for the day was very interesting. We compiled the warmest clothes everyone in our group had and were able to complete our get up with Grandpa Den's coat and Uncle Matt's sweatshirt. Layering was key because we were sweating during our hike up the mountain (huffing and puffing due to the high altitude and thinness of the air) and freezing inside the cave- watching our breath as we climbed the 1400 stairs.
You weren't allowed to take pictures during the tour due to time constraints. People are only allowed inside the ice caves for a set amount of time due to the extreme temperature. Oops- Daddy isn't a rule follower in these types of situations. I spy an elephant made out of ice...
The coolest part of the tour was going under one of the ice formations through an ice tunnel. 
I'm not sure which was more breathtaking- the views during the hike up and down the mountain or inside the ice cave.
If you're interested to see more of our adventure, this is the best YouTube clip I was able to find. It did a good job showing the cable car and hike up as well as clips of the actually hike inside the ice cave. Enjoy the cheesy advertisement and feast for your brain!

Thanks again, Dennis and Maureen for an adventurous anniversary gift we will always remember. I'm not sure it will ever be able to be topped.

Prague day 2/2

Dearest Grace,
Our second day in Prague was just as memorable as the first. We were fortunate to have another amazing sunshine filled day. Out of our entire Nierengarten European vacation, this was the day we did the most walking. Starting at our hotel at the top of the hill, we continued to walk up and then down the castle grounds- eventually ending at the Vltava River while the sun was setting. 

Love, Mummy

You do your flirtatious head tilt for Grandpa Den more than anyone else. 
Daddy with Grammie Mo. What a gorgeous backdrop. 
Uncle Matt and I had a great time walking arm and arm up and down (and up and down again) the streets of Prague. He is such a gentleman- always offering me his arm and opening doors for the ladies. 
If you haven't noticed, we have this obsession with doors. It happened to be one of the first things we noticed when we started traveling after our wedding. It's been fun to see how different they are everywhere we go. They also make a pretty and simple backdrop for baby pictures...
Our pictures from inside St. Vitus Cathedral, located within the Prague castle grounds. 
One of our favorite parts of the day was walking through the mini village within the castle walls. It was  a long street filled with antique store fronts at the bottom, but if you climbed the stairs up to the top level it became a museum. They did a really great job with this part of the castle. We weren't able to explore as much of the museum as we would have liked to due to our group. (i.e. having a baby with a big pram). Lots of steps and narrow passages. 
The picture below was of a popular statue for the female tourists. Apparently rubbing the shinny part brought you luck. As soon as we walked away a large group of loud and excited women came over and left with lots of luck.
The day continued with a long walk down from the castle grounds to the river walk. Your Daddy and I worked out a lot- carrying you and your pram down endless old cobblestone steps. The views made it worthwhile. Prague is definitely a city you need to walk through the entire time. Even if you have a pram- skip the public transportation. 
Our traveling group did a good job of asking each other what we wanted to do in each city. When we asked your Uncle Matt, he pointed to advertisements of puppet shows. Our timing was impeccable as we walked over the Charles Bridge...
...and on to our river cruise at sunset. I am getting really good at my negotiating skills. I was able to get one of the tickets for free.
You loved watching the water. Maybe it reminds you of the 'ocean' setting we have on your Sleep Sheep (white noise machine) in your crib.

We left Prague with such wonderful memories and hope to go back one day... What a romantic city filled with history and lots of character. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fall day

Dear Grace,
I really enjoyed our mommy-daughter time we shared today. We didn't do anything out of the ordinary, which I loved. Things have been nonstop lately with traveling that it has felt good to just hang out and get back into our normal routine this week. Daddy didn't get home until late tonight because he had a work dinner so it was just the two of us all day. I'm exhausted, but equally happy, sitting here reminiscing about our day. It was filled with lots of smiles, baby giggles- just because, singing (I like to pretend that you participate now too, bah...bah...bah...), tears, frustration, curiosity, and mostly happiness. 

In between your two naps, I decided we needed to check out your Secret Garden. It had been way too long since we were there for a visit. I grabbed our camera and your mini pumpkin in hopes of fallen leaves. It was the perfect fall day with a cool breeze, wet grass and beautifully colored leaves! I tried getting you to smile. I would have even settled for eye contact, but you were too curious. Determined to eat a leaf, inspect with your pumpkin, and just play in the dirt, I had so much fun watching your curiosity lead our way. 
You spent so much of our time in the garden looking up, smiling and waving at the leaves blowing on the trees. Pure joy! 
Needless to say, we went home and into the bathtub to wash your adorable dirty baby feet. After a quick nap, we spent the rest of the afternoon (2.5 hours) on Skype with your Godmother. It felt like we were all in the same room. Hanging out. Doing absolutely nothing, except enjoying each others' company. Note to self: we should do that more often. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Prague day 1/2

Dear Grace,
We went on an amazing European family vacation with the Nierengartens. Our first stop was Prague, which is part of the Czech Republic. When your Daddy and I were daydreaming about the places to travel around the world with you we thought it would be really cool to visit the countries that we're from. My Grandma Marian (Grandma Patti's Mom) was Czechoslovakian and Michael thinks his Grandma Rosie (Grandpa Den's Mom) was also partially Slovak. We'll have to double check with both of our parents and then update this post later. least we're honest. 
Prague is one of our favorite cities we have ever been to. It is up there with Positano/Capri and Santorini. Our memories from our two days spent in Prague consist of antique car rides everywhere, pretty views of the steeples, bridges, the Vltava River and the token hot air balloon. Daddy and I just missed the ride by 5 minutes! A great lunch was spent in the Old Town Square just around the corner from the astronomical clock. River boat cruise at sunset. Marionette performance and a Pinocchio purchase.  An AMAZING date night. The Charles Bridge and the castle church at night. Lots of walking through windy, narrow streets. Endless character, memories and amounts of pictures. Enjoy!
Love, Mummy 

An appropriate picture of the boys framed by the Czech guards. 
Entrance of the castle grounds, which overlooks the rest of the city below. Uncle Matt loved their changing of the guards.
When uploading pictures of the church on the castle property, we noticed the striking resemblance to that of Notre Dame in Paris.  I wonder if they used the same architect?  Possibly the first CEO of Pulte homes???....j/k.

            Prague castle church (L)     vs.       Notre Dame (R) 
            Prague castle church (L)     vs.       Notre Dame (R) 
Outside the castle church.
Another part of the castle grounds. 
View of part of the Prague skyline. 
Look who we found in the Old Town Square! Who can I get to make a pair of sweet jorts like this for me? (jeans + shorts = jorts; for those who don't know) We were so sad we didn't get to see 6 other people join this friendly fellow for a bike ride around town. 
We didn't expect to see a "German like" market in the middle of Prague- filled with handmade trinkets and homemade treats, which we had to sample. 
Uncle Matt found the candy stand, Grammie Mo found a Pinocchio marionette and I found these delicious donut sticks. They tasted similar to a cinnamon donut which you untwisted as you go. Thank you Prague for this scrumptious memory. 
Old Town Square and a zoomed in picture of the astronomical clock.
Here's a link to the filming of the 600th anniversary show celebrating the construction of the clock. 
Grace you're becoming such a big girl-wanting to walk with us through the streets of Prague and sit up all by yourself. 
Marionettes were EVERYWHERE! How fun is this cool store we stumbled into?
Sweet, Amazing Grace...
The token air balloon at sunset. 
Grammie Mo, Grandpa Den and Uncle Matt headed back to the hotel after a long day of traveling and sightseeing. You fell asleep and snuggled into your pram while Daddy and I enjoyed the sunset over the  Charles Bridge on our walk back to the hotel. 
A lady made these neat hair clips and sold them on the Charles Bridge, which I just had to buy. She was so kind- I'm a sucker for listening to people's stories (and then buying their trade). 
We fell asleep as our three heads hit our pillows and dreamt about day 2 in Prague. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...