Hallo! My name is Kelly. I grew up in New Orleans, LA. I married my husband Billy in Oct 2000 in N.O. We have three children and have moved from Abita, Springs, Louisiana to Stuttgart, Germany. This is something we have dreamed about and it is our first expat experience. I hope everyone enjoys reading about our adventures because I am very excited to share.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Berlin, Germany

Actual Dates of this event: September 11 - 13

This trip was actually supposed to be my dad and I but since he got sick and was unable to visit and everything was booked and paid for it became another Kelly and Billy adventure.  We felt a little weird considering it was my dad who chose this but we couldn't waste the money that had been spent.

We trained it to Berlin, about 6 hours.  As usual it was very relaxing, we had our wine and sandwiches, essentials for our travels:). We arrived early afternoon into Berlin's main station and I must say we were AMAZED!!! This train station was built a few years ago and was a city in itself.  There was a sushi restaurant down to cookie places and everything in between.
The funny part about this station was that it was the hardest for us to maneuver.  Considering we have figured out the train systems fairly easily in every other country but couldn't figure out the trains in our own country was frustrating.  This made me a bit glad it was Billy and I and not my dad because he would have been flustered and I wouldn't have known where to go.  Luckily we finally figured out the train we needed was not in the actual station, ha!!! Weird!!!! 
Finally, we found our train and from there everything got easy.
Our hotel was ideally located right outside of a train stop and our room was great minus the fact that it was 2 separate single beds, since it was reserved for my dad and I. Oh well!!

Billy and I decided to head out and find some great drink spots along with some food.  We wound up at a hole in the wall super old bar and had the best burger we have had yet in Europe.  Great spices, bleu cheese and bacon. Yum yum!!! We have found some good burgers in Germany but not like the states, they are just different.  We found Berlin to be super Americanized , like a New York.

After dinner we wandered to Checkpoint Charlie, the American line, super neat. They have actors posing as guards and you can take your pictures with them, of course I did.

Then we stumbled on the Sony Center. Cool Cool Cool.  This huge dome filled with an IMAX , an Australian restaurants and many other neat looking restaurants. 

 We opted for these crazy drinks at the Australian place.  Then we turned in.

The next morning we were surprised to have the European and American breakfast at our hotel, super yummy.  Then we did a hop on hop off bus tour.  We were hoping for bike tours but the weather had different plans for us.  We saw everything Brandenburg Gate, the East side,  and the West side.
Brandenburg Gate
 Jewish Cemetery

That evening we had passes to tour their government complex, neat to see where the laws are made.  

That night we wanted more American food so we sought out the Hard Rock Cafe and had BBQ and vodka!! WOW!!!

The next day we did another tour since Billy bought the 2 day pass and we went to the wall.  Unbelievable and in my opinion well worth the trip.

At first I didn't care for Berlin, I felt as though I was back in America, didn't have the European flair.  By day 2 I really liked it and we are looking forward to returning with the family.  Lots more history to see, lots of underground things.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pisa, Italy

Actual Dates : July 2 - 6

We decided to travel to Pisa, Italy for our July 4th beach getaway.  

We flew from Frankfurt to Pisa but not without sitting on the runway for 1.5 hours.  AND let's remember you have to pay for any drinks or snacks, you get nothing with the flight.  Luckily we bought enough things that during the actual flight, the flight attendant came up to the boys with a candy basket and let them choose which candy bars they would like.  That was really nice.

Notice the LARGE Pepsi .
We actually didn't wind up arriving in Pisa until about 11pm, was supposed to be closer to 9 and we were starving.  We were nervous about eating because here in Germany food shuts down fairly early and then you are out of luck, not to mention we had no idea what our hotel was near.
It was recommended to us by a friend to stay at The Grand Hotel Intercontinental Pisa.
Well, when we arrived we couldn't believe it was seriously like the middle of the day.  There were markets going on, gelato stands open and people everywhere.
This was great for us and we made our way to a super delicious pizzeria around midnight.  I will say though we ate there again 2 nights later because it was so delicious.
Our hotel was good because we had a humongous pool and we were on the beach, rare to be directly on the beach.  Other plus we had air condition, not great but European style air condition, which is one of the things Americans have way better than Europeans.
The boys loved this pool.
This was strictly a relaxing trip, only sight seeing we planned to do was to see The Leaning Tower of Pisa.  Other than that this was our plan
And his was our view
So for days that's all we did.  We would walk off the resort at night to have dinner and one day we visited the Leaning Tower.  This is the only picture worth posting fm the tower.  Check out he boys faces

The day we visited the Leaning Tower we were miserable and thought we may die of heat stroke, it was awful.  
The boys actually wound up getting sick from the heat, definitely proving they are not true southerners, don't know how they will make it through another Louisiana summer.  We had about a 30 minute bus ride to this attraction and it's everything you would imagine. Hot and winding roads, I would have captured the moment but we were trying not to become ill.

That was our one adventure:) and back to swimming and sunning.
At dinner one night Trey did order octopus and squid, very interesting after the snail eating in Paris.
Our last night there we had a great dinner in the hotel.

Overall this was a great trip.  Very relaxing for us and very active for the boys.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bastogne, Brussels, Caen, Normandy, Reims

Actual Dates of this event: June 14 - June 18

This will be another fairly short post which will be difficult because there is so much to cover but again I'm trying to post the highlights so I can catch up.

Billy's parents visited us for the month of June and it was the 70th anniversary of Normandy.  Although this was not my idea of a fun vacation , Billy and his dad were really excited about it.  I must say I learned a lot of history his particular weekend and it was a very moving trip.

First, we drove to Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, Belgium.  We toured the new museum which was a nice tribute to those that fought in this battle. Battle of the Bulge took place from December 1944 until January 1945.  Many were killed but 19,000 Americans were killed in this battle in such a short span. The United States bore the brunt of this attack and incurred the highest casualties for any operation during the war.

In this region of Belgium there was a whole lot of farmland and many cows, which were so sweet 

After a day long drive and a tour of our first war ridden place we went to dinner.  Surprisingly the memory I have of that is not so friendly Belgians:( fortunately for the boys there was a small carnival nearby and they could let out some energy.  We had them put inside of big large balls

The next morning Billy reluctantly drove us 45 minutes to Brussels for some fresh Belgian waffles
These were our first try, they were ok but not quite the warm fresh ones we were hoping for.

We continued through the market and finally found the man with the truck
Delish!!! Everything I ever dream d of!!

Let's not forget The Belgian Chocolate Shop. More delicousness

That day we drove to Caen, France where we spent the next 2 nights.  First thing in the morning we visited the American Cemetery.  Pictures do not do it justice.  What an emotional day this was

And then of course we walked the beaches of Normandy where our troops fought a hard fight.  It was June and let me tell you it was cold on those beaches and windy.  I can't help empathize with them and imagine what these conditions were like to fight a war in.
The cliffs our men climbed up.
An old bunker

That is what they were able to look out of.

We visited the museums and saw many documentaries and it is honestly something I wish everyone had the opportunity to do.  It is NOT a fun vacation but I think it puts some things in perspective when you are actually able to stand where the fighting took place.

Driving through Normandy we came across an old graveyard which fascinated me..  It was the o old to make out but so neat

Next up was the lovely town of Reims, France .  Would love to make it back here one day but not sure if that's possible
This is such an old place with so much character.

This church was bombed in the war but they have left the remains

And also in Reims, a beautiful cathedral 

The last day we visited Mont Saint-Michel
This is located on an island in France and is still a working Monastary.  They have since built a small road for buses to transport people to a drop off point where you then tour the island for the day.  There are no cars but many narrow walkways with shops and restaurants until you finally come to the Monastary.  We were lucky enough to be able to see a mass that was going on as we were walking through.
Look at the narrow walkway

In the Monastary 

Our wonderful cozy lunch on the island

It doesn't appear that Trey ate but I promise he did:)

This turned out to be one of the best trips yet and I could probably teach a history course after this trip!!!

Interesting:  the original number of fatalities on D-Day was once thought to be 2500, now estimated to be 4,413, of those 2,499 were Americans.  This is just a D-Day fatality piece of info and in no way refers to any other aspect of the war.