Germany was kind of our home base while we were in Europe.
Our wonderful friends lived in the tiny town of Otterberg which was about an hour southwest of Frankfurt. Germany really is exactly how I imagined it to be…lots of stucco, brick and terra cotta roofs:
There were a few things that kind of surprised me about Germany:
-The autobahn is crazy, yet efficient…I believe our average speed was about 90mph!
-People do not drive old cars. (Every car we saw was made within the last ten years, or maybe even less. They have super strict standards.)
-Eventhough the houses are super old, a ton of them had solar panels on their roofs.
-Wind farms are everywhere.

Our first meal in Germany consisted of Schnitzel, fried mashed potato log things, and gnocchi with a creamy gorgonzola sauce:
(don't judge.)
The oldest house in Otterberg:

They had an awesome bakery at the end of the street:
(I'm pretty sure we had a chocolate crossaint every day while we were abroad)
We took a day trip to Heidelberg which is where Gage and Jessica had just moved from and they said we had to see it. Heidelberg has a river that runs through it and a castle up on the hill…it really is as beautiful as everyone said it would be.
Us with Remi:
Coffee in Heidelberg:
(our first stop of course)
Kisses for Remi:


A view of the castle on the hill:
The outdoor shopping area was awesome and huge:
(Chris and I even splurged on some sweet European kicks!)

Lederhosen are sold in the department stores in Germany:
(not the technical term, but I'm sure mine is better anyways)
Our lunch spot:
Pretzel-shaped bread:
Not the castle…just someone's house:
(no big deal)
Back at the house in Otterberg, Chris took me for a ride in Gage and Jessica's bakfiet:
He's serious about it:
(this always reminds me of Flight of the Conchords)
Jessica made a raclette dinner for us. We had no idea what it was but we were pleasantly surprised.
Raclette is in the same vein as fondue, but instead of dipping, you cover the grill with cut up veggies and sausage while your slice of raclette cheese gets warm and gooey in your little tray slot under the grill. 
Once everything is cooked, you take whatever you want and put it on top of your potato, then scrape the melty cheese on top of the veggies, then you top it all with hollendaise sauce.
Not something you would eat all the time, but it was amazing and fun.
(Chris and I actually re-created this a few weeks ago with our griddle and broiler…an actual raclette grill would be so much easier but our makeshift way worked great in a pinch.)
And our last meal in Germany was a kebab salad of sorts, with the best tzatziki sauce for the dressing. It was from a little hole in the wall gyro place down the street from Gage and Jessica's house...apparently the same restaurant has a cart somewhere in Portland and I'm determined to find it.
(It's amazing we didn't come back home 50lbs heavier, but we walked everywhere for 9 days so I guess it kind of cancelled it out. The food in Europe was also a major factor for me deciding to get my gall bladder out…there's no way I would've been able to eat anything I did on our trip otherwise. Also, we never eat like this but we were on vacation!)
And because we hadn't had a true pretzel in Germany, we got one at the airport and ate it on the plane as we were taking off to head home:
(we flew out of Germany at the very end of our trip…but I still have more places to share!)
Next up: PARIS!

Stay tuned...

Like I said in my last post, so many things about Camping Zeeburg were awesome…but I think my favorite thing about it was the fresh baked bread/pastries each morning. The smell of it baking wafted throughout the campground and I was practically drooling as I would get ready in the morning.
Baguettes in the oven:
A Zeeburg breakfast:
(we had to pay for the peanut butter and jelly and even the plasticware and napkin…it felt wrong to throw them away!)
Jessica and Remi getting ready to go:
Besides once in college, I hadn't been on a bike since I was little.
I was so nervous to ride, let alone compete with those Amsterdammers in their fancy bike lanes.
(they put portland bikers to shame)
I almost crashed right after I got on (we were trying to rush so we wouldn't be late for our Anne Frank tour)  but I pretty much got the hang of it after a while. There was also one other incident where I attempted to get on my bike (which was a little big/heavy for me anyways) sideways on a sloped street. It's not technically "crashing" until you are on your bike and going right??
We made it to the Anne Frank House which was the one touristy thing we wanted to do while in Amsterdam.
It was amazing to actually see where everything took place. It was somber, surreal, and something I will never forget. We stood in the spot where Anne's desk was and saw the pictures she glued to the wall. We walked up behind the actual bookcase that hid the secret annex and we saw Anne's actual journal that she had written in while in hiding. I definitely recommend going if you will be visiting Amsterdam…and get your tickets ahead of time online so you don't have to stand in the crazy long line.
Since most of you won't be traveling to The Netherlands anytime soon, you can go to the website to see a virtual tour of the secret annex. 
The three buildings in this picture are just to the right of the Anne Frank House. Otto Frank (Anne's father, and lone Frank family survivor) was intrumental in saving the house from demolition. The houses adjacent to it didn't fair so well, but they have since been turned into a museum space: 
After our tour we hopped on a boat for a canal cruise.
It was pretty awesome, and I loved seeing the city from a different vantage point.
There's no way we could have seen so much just by bike. 
Before our trip I thought Amsterdam only had a few canals, but there are actually 165 of them!  
The canal tour was amazing and I definitely recommend one if you're visiting.

We were always back to Zeeburg before dark, but I'm sure Amsterdam is lovely at night…especially all of the lights on the canal bridges:

There are a lot of house boats on the canals, and I think it costs a hefty amount to own one:

Best houseboat award:
We loved the mix of architecture (both old and new) in Amsterdam:
(how cool is that cantilevered building?!)
Their amazing library:
(we only saw it from the boat, but I want to visit it next time)
After the canal tour we hopped on our bikes to find some lunch.
We rode through awesome neighborhoods and a lovely giant park called Vondelpark filled with ponds, playgrounds, trails and restauraunts.
It felt like we were kids when we were riding through this park, it was so beautiful and so much fun:
We wandered through the Jordaan area (which is where I'd totally want to live) in search of a coffee shop that I'd heard was great. Sidenote: in Amsterdam there are "coffee shops" and cafes,  "coffee shops" are on every corner and do not sell coffee; but rather marijuana…which is completely legal. Cafes are much harder to come by. 
We finally found Moods Coffee Corner and it didn't disappoint:
Isn't this spoon a genius idea?:
They also had the world's smallest receipt:
(what is this a receipt for ants?!)
When walking through the neighborhoods, it's quite obvious that the houses aren't exactly standing straight anymore…a large amout of them were build in the 1600's and it's crazy that they are even still standing.
A very crooked house:
Jess and I on the Prinsengracht:
(My oldest friend, and a bridesmaid in my wedding; Jessica and I have been friends for 25 years. We met on the tire swing the first day of first grade. We've only lived in the same city for 4 years but we have shoeboxes full of letters on Lisa Frank stationary to prove that the distance never came between us. Love that girl and so glad that they are moving back to The U.S. in just a few short weeks, after living in Germany for 5 years!)
Navigating the shopping areas on bikes isn't easy, you don't want to get your tires stuck in the tracks and you don't want to run into people. I'm so glad our bikes had bells!

Food in Amsterdam was pretty good, but it definitely depended on the restaurant.
Greenwoods was our last (and favorite) meal in Amsterdam.
Carrot cake, an amazing scone with homemade jam and clotted cream, a latte and hot chocolates to start out our breakfast:
 (when on vacation you can do what you want…and calories don't count, especially when bikes and walking are your mode of transportation)
Chris got a traditional English Breakfast, complete with baked beans and I got the most perfect scrambled eggs and homemade soda bread toast with a side of amazing potatoes that I couldn't finish.
It was all so, so good:
Even the parking garages are cool in Amsterdam:
(yep, those are chandeliers)
You can't help but notice how close the cars are parked to the canals. There are no rails or curbs to keep you from accidentally backing in. You better be a good parallel parker!
And this is how much space you have to get out of your car:
One last thing I thought was interesting about Amsterdam is that a lot of the houses have hooks at the top of the roof to help with moving giant modern furniture. After seeing how ridiculously narrow and steep the (many) staircases were in the Anne Frank House, there's no other way you'd be able to do it.
(you'd better hope you like your furniture arrangement)
Right before we left Amsterdam we got to witness a few cranes trying to squeeze things into people's houses through the windows. I'm not sure what was in that box but I can see that going horribly wrong. We also saw a piano being lifted into a house and it was pretty crazy to watch.

Amsterdam was a highlight of our trip and we will definitely be going back sometime in the future.
(even if we are 80 darnit)