Sunday, January 30, 2011

Over 100 Entries... and our Hump Day is Behind Us

Although our blog is in its third year, things have certainly picked up since we came to Europe.  We have enjoyed accounting for the many adventures we have embarked upon here in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein.  In spite of the obvious benefit to our beloved friends and family, we are also happy that this blog acts as a sort of an online journal for reference and reminiscence.

Another milestone has also passed: our hump day!  In other words, half of our current European adventure is behind us.  We have less than six months left, and we are still enjoying our lives in this corner of the world with so many international borders.  We are grateful for this opportunity on so many levels, but are also looking forward to the next phase of life: finishing grad school in Arizona, where we will return in June.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Neuschwanstein Trip: Part 4 - Wrap-Up

Four different blog entries for a single trip might be a little overkill, but we had a blast, and we wanted to account for the details.  Once we were inside the castle, we were confronted with absolute grandeur.  It was beautiful.  There were tapestries, paintings, carvings, and other gaudy baubles.  It turns out that King Ludwig was arrested here, and died shortly thereafter under very strange circumstances.  He was found drowned with the doctor who declared him insane, but he was a great swimmer and the water was only a few feet deep.  His death must have had something to do with his debts and insatiable drive to build castles.  When he died, all building projects were halted, and although the exterior was finished, only a third of the rooms were completed.  It was fascinating, and the ballrooms, throne hall, and personal quarters are unbelievable.  If you are ever in this neck of the woods, it is worth the trip, even though it is a well-known touristy area... we would recommend it anyway!

We weren't technically allowed to take pictures inside the castle, but we couldn't help ourselves! 

Another picture we snapped in secrecy... quite a view, huh?  That is another castle in the right of the picture in Hohenschwangau.

Another view on our way back down the hill. 

All of us posing for a quick shot before the sun went down. 

This time a little closer. 

From the path back to the town.

The powdery snow added a pretty effect. 

The hotel and restaurant on the way down had a tower in the Fachwerk style; the sunset and the snow laden trees added a nice touch.

We walked all the way down to the town, where the car was parked, and by this time, the palace at Hohenschwangau was all lit up, and the waning light made the sky turn dark blue.  Awesome!! 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Neuschwanstein Trip: Part 3 - The Inner Courtyard

I apologize if there aren't any faces or people in these pictures, but the view was pretty fantastic. A new desktop-wallpaper-worthy picture resulted from anywhere I pointed the camera and pushed the button. What's more, the pictures do not do the place enough credit. It was gorgeous.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Neuschwanstein Trip: Part 2 - Walking up the last stretch

The carriage drops you off with a short walk to the top. The way up was awesome, and there were some beautiful views as we led the boys up the snowy path. This place is so beautiful and it is obvious as to why the folks at Disney decided to use this castle as a model for its famous princess castle. The boys were awesome the whole day!

The castle peeking around the trees.

One of the towers caught our eye.

When you are standing next to the castle, a craned neck is necessary. The castle dominates the scene when you are up close!

The boys and Delaine are rounding the final turn...

The Snow was awesome, it just seemed to rest on the trees and everything else to add to the effect!

Neuschwanstein Trip: Part 1 - Hohenschwangau Palace and the Carriage Ride

We decided to take a car ride up to Neuschwanstein (the Disney Princess Castle) in the Bavarian Alps while Mindy was here. We picked a wonderful, but freezing day to hit the road. It was more picturesque than we all thought. Even Steve, our resident German expert, was impressed at the beauty of Crazy Ludwig's extravagant alpine hideaway. These pictures show the ride up to the palace itself.

But before we get too far into the details, none of this would have happened if we weren't informed immediately of the imminent closure of the ticket booth, which is not inside the castle but at the bottom of the mountain. How this makes any sense at all is beyond our understanding, but we sent Steve to work his German magic, and luckily he caught the last ticket booth employee before he closed for the day.

As a note, the Palace at Hohenschwangau below Neuschwanstein is also pretty impressive, although we didn't have the time to take the tour.

Here we are in front of our noble steeds.

There was some traffic on the roads on this day!

All bundled up on the coach ride to the Palace.
Here are Liam and Steve in front of the palace at Hohenschwangau. Pretty cool, huh?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Miscellany in Liechtenstein

Mindy, Delaine's mother, visited recently, and we wanted to post a few images of some of the things we have done during her visit. She certainly got a real taste for our day-to-day lives here in Europe. We are so glad that she made the journey despite a busy schedule of her own. The boys were happy to have Oma Lister with them here, and we all had a great time. She seemed to have brought the nice weather with her in the beginning of her trip, but by the end, winter had certainly returned.

Mindy with Liam on her lap. The snow gear was a necessity.

Liam and Everett on a "Double-Deckah" bus, as Liam calls it with his New England accent.

Mindy and the boys in front of the street by our apartment.

Liam and Everett are partaking in the sweet goodness of the pastries of Austria!! Mmmm...

Everett playing Legos, his game face is on...

Everett is so proud of his latest temple picture...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Vaduz with Oma Lister

So, Grandma Lister is in town, and we took her to Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein. We have blogged about the main drag in the town, but it must be said that Vaduz is awesome. It has lots of Bronze statues, cool buildings, museums, and shops. The boys can run around without fear of getting run over by the passing Lamborghinis and Ferraris, because it is a pedestrian zone. Grandma had a great time as the boys showed her all the cool stuff to see.

This is the world record holding Swiss Army knife... it has the most functions of any pocket knife... and it costs almost $2,000.00 so save your pennies.

Here is the flag of Liechtenstein with a couple of local fans.

Liam and Everett are Matchy-Matchy as Everett likes to put it...

They both decided to sit down in the Tourist Center downtown.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Manu and Esther Barthel - Auf Ewig

One of Steve's favorite people in the whole world, Manuel Barthel--a former mission companion , married his sweetheart, Esther, earlier this month, and we happily drove to Stuttgart for the reception. The newly minted Barthels are so full of joy. It was so sweet to see a newly wed couple who got married for the right reasons, to the right person, in the right place, and under proper authority. It was such a fun event. There was the typical dining and dancing. Liam and Everett danced the night away! The food was excellent. One comment: man, those Europeans know how to dance! They were waltzing around to utter perfection, and Liam and Everett were interweaving with some of their own special dance moves. It was a privilege to attend. We are so glad that we made the trip, but more importantly we are so happy for Manu and Esther!

Esther's father singing with his daughter, the new bride!

Manu is doing his best Godfather routine...

Manu and Esther, what a beautiful pair!

Daddy dancing with his boys.

Mommy and Everett strike a quick pose.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Killer Party with Gemeinde Dornbirn (New Year's)

There were more fireworks than at the Fourth of July. There were teens throwing them at each other, booms blasting across the landscape, and a celebratory spirit in the air. Yes, this was our first experience of New Year's in the Rhine Valley. Every time a firework would explode, Liam would open his mouth wide and say the German word, "Feuerwerke." The ward threw a wonderful party that was put on by the Young Single Adults, but everybody was invited. We all had a great time, and it was a nice way to wrap up a wonderful Christmas vacation for the Smith Family.

Here is Everett enjoying a little refreshment at the same table as his buddies from his Primary class, Aurelia and Zoe...

Everett chasing a balloon in his favorite color.

Liam is practicing his King Kong routine, he still needs a little practice.

Our boys are not shy to bust a move... as Liam demonstrates his break dancing skills.

Delaine is surrounded by her good friends, Kirsten Vuissa and Tabea Griell. It is so nice to have such wonderful friends around us here in the ward!

2011 Return to the Blogosphere... Gingerbread sounds good!

After a several week hiatus, we have decided to post a few things. The first post of the year 2011 is not a treatise on the power of New Year's Resolutions, but rather it is one final yuletide memory: gingerbread house decoration. We found a great kit, and even though most of the frosting didn't make it past Everett's face or Liams belly, we had a killer time!

Everett is a perfectionist as he plasters the seams of the house.

Just imagine the sound coming out of Liam's mouth... Yup, that is the sound, all right.

The boys in the family are building with sweets!

Does this smile look forced?