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Linds Across Europe, Days 9-11

October 29, 2014

The past three days were kind of a blur, because nothing happened the way we expected, but in the end, we are now HOME in France.  So, let’s back up to immediately after I posted the last blog post…

I posted the blog about Heidelberg, then Matthew and I proceeded to look at pictures we uploaded from the camera.  Meanwhile, an older gentleman asked to sit in the couch across from us in the hostel lobby.  We told him no problem.  Once we were settled after photos he began a conversation with us.  This is one of the more fascinating people we’ve met.  At the age of 86, this Canadian gentlemen from Victoria, BC, regularly travels to Europe, stays in hostels in shared rooms, takes the public transportation, just because he likes it.  So inspiring!  He commended us for taking advantage of living in Europe to show our kids the history of such a continent, even when traveling with ones so young is so difficult.  Once we told him our plans for the next few days, he had a recommendation – the small German town of Freiburg, which was on our way back toward Switzerland and France.  He said it’s his favorite town in all of Germany, and with a man so well traveled, we decided to take him up on his recommendation.

So, we restructured the next day, found accommodations (full disclosure: we didn’t plan the entire trip, because we wanted to be able to make discoveries) and made a few plans to see the last bits of Germany.  The full nature of the day meant we weren’t able to drive north to Heidelberg to visit the church, but alas, without any German vocab, we probably weren’t missing much anyway.

Sunday morning, we headed out after breakfast at the hostel and drove south.  We pulled off into Freiburg around noon and found [free] parking and began to see what all the “fuss” was about.  Oh my, he wasn’t kidding – Freiburg is beautiful!  He described it as a work of art.  The town was utterly destroyed during WWII, but as it was rebuilt, each brick laid was artfully done.  Of course, pictures still pending…I promise they’re worth the wait!

Plus, our Germany tour book that we borrowed described the church in Frieburg’s center as one of the most beautiful in all of Christendom.  And you know, as we turned a corner and discovered the church…the book may be right!  The cathedral is majestic and gorgeous…words cannot describe the art put into it!

We wandered around the town for about an hour, then piled back into the car, ate some snack-y lunch food and continued south, over the border into Switzerland and then crossed into France.  To get to our hotel, in Thonon les Bains, we passed through the resort town of Evian (yep, the bottled water – we even saw the headquarters building).  The town was lovely to look at it and seemed entirely uppity.  It looked more like it belonged on the Mediterranean, instead of a mountain lake.  And it was crowded with people, and traffic, so on we went.

The lodging we had booked for the evening made us a little nervous – the booking seemed very strict and we wondered what awaited us…but we were happy that at least we were back in France.  We found the hotel, figured out our room (the front desk was closed, but they had prepared it for us) and discovered the best thing…this cheap hotel wasn’t as up-to-date as others, but the room was HUGE, they had provided the requested baby bed AND we had a balcony that overlooked Lake Geneva (Lac Léman, as it is called locally) – all for a very low price!  We had a kitchenette, which meant we could make our own dinner and breakfast for less money than eating out.  And did I mentioned a balcony?  It was great!

We got a decent night of rest and headed out the next morning back into Switzerland, about 45 minutes away (staying in France meant no changing currency, as Switzerland is not part of the EU).  Our goal for the day was at the recommendation of Matthew’s mom: Château Chillon – a castle dating from 1000AD built into Lake Geneva.

We arrived, ate a picnic lunch overlooking the lake and the castle, then headed in to explore.  The great thing about this castle is that you are able too see most of it (and, yay all three kids were free again!) on your own, including many rooms inside.  Being there on a Monday meant it was practically empty.  Axel, once again, ate some crumbles from the wall, bringing his castle-eating experiences to TWO.  Lord Byron was once imprisoned here and a famous poem is written about it.  The furnishings, paintings on the walls, and entire experience generally is from the 13th and 15th centuries.  It was so awesome!  We spent nearly four hours exploring the castle before heading out and driving home.

The drive home was terrible.  We got turned around, the French tolls are HORRIBLY expensive (which is one of the reasons we didn’t road trip through France, by the way), and it was awful.  But, to be home was very nice.

Yesterday, we unpacked, did beaucoup de laundry, caught up on some other things around the house and took advantage of the car to do some major grocery shopping at the large, Walmart-like store across town.  While we enjoy walking to the store twice a week for our food, it’s nice to grab the heavy bulk items and drive them home.

We have one more short trip planned for tomorrow, but it’s mostly business and we hope to include some pleasure after the business is done.

The remaining days of our break include a lot of little things, like studying French, driving to some of the stores across town we’ve never seen (we rented the car through Friday), working on some ministry partnership projects, and catching up around the house.  Also, we have to retrain Axel to stay asleep at night.  He was doing so well, but now wakes nearly every hour and has trouble putting himself back to sleep…exhausting for everyone!

And now, to work on a picture dump.  Because, none of this is exciting without the photos!

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