When Sarah and I lived in Britain way back when the Verve blaired on repeat in every store, the locals referred to mainland Europe as "the continent." At least I thought they did, but when we mentioned to our professor that we were heading to the continent for spring break and he retorted that if we were referring to the continent of Europe we were already there.
Anyway...flash forward to this past summer, and we, again, were in Britain and traveling over to "the continent." Below are the deets...
That means details! See! I'm down with the cool slang! From like 1997!
After finishing up our brain-exploding professional learning in Croydon, we hightailed it over to Germany to check out the baroque audaciousness of Bavaria.
I know what you're thinking. "Do your kids think that some random German with a camera off to the side is their father that they're trying to smile for his picture? Oh, and that church isn't that audaciously baroque." And you're right. Except for the German father thing. But wait until you see the inside. I mean of the church. Not the German not-my-kids'-father guy.
Yeah, right? Now you're thinking, "whoa! It took me way too long to even notice the huge crucifix on the wall. But where are the gilded skeletons threatening cherubs with scissors?"
Yup, Munich has it all, if by all we mean ostentatious curly columns, great berries, a permanent surfable wave in a local park, and Pride Day celebrating civic buildings.
After a mellow 36 hours in Munich, we started the rest of our trip on a somber note in Dachau. The kids had learned about concentration camps at school and in family conversations, but being there in person made all of that theoretical knowledge feel very immediate and concrete, even for the adults. It is a topic that we've brought up several times since, and we're so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit this site.
Our next stop felt like the Disney version of Germany. We made it to Rothenburg ob der Tauber in time to catch the über popular night watchman tour.
Rothenburg is, of course, the quintessential storybook medieval German town, and consequently demands that it be documented pictorially. Brace yourselves.
Our next stop was Rick Steves' favorite castle in all of Germany: the Burg Eltz. The hike from the parking was long but relaxing and perfect for a selfie.
Then off to stay in way-too-cute Chochem on the Moselle river.
We made a last-minute decision to try a hike in the "Little Switzerland" section of Luxembourg on our way to Reims, France. We're glad we did! It was an awesome place to wander.
We arrived at our AirBnB in Reims a bit after sunset. From our apartment we could spy the (bigger-than-Paris' Norte Dame) Reims Cathedral. We toured it the following morning before heading into the City of Lights.
Our few nights in Paris were as amazing as we'd hoped. Our home exchange was a house converted from a storefront and basement; it was as weird as it sounds, but centrally located (and you can't beat the price!). We loved the Paris by Mouth Food Tour we did as a couple back in 2014, so we splurged and signed up the whole family this time.
Afterwards the rest of the family was too focused on digesting fancy head cheese to join me in my wander of late afternoon Paris.
And if the food tour wasn't opulent enough (though it was), the next day we enjoyed the granddaddy of European opulence, Versailles.
"That's all nice and well, little bro, but let me show you how it's done."
"That's all nice and well, eldest son, but let me show you how it's done."
And lastly, after a long day of experiencing French aristocracy and a nice Tunisian dinner, we had to hit the other biggie at dusk.
By the time we actually reached it (it's really big! It's still 9.4 kilometers away in the picture above! Though that's only about a half mile) and figured out the options for going up it was pretty late. The boys were obsessed with taking the stairs the whole way, while the ladies were, uh, not. Due to unforeseen obstacles and long lines this resulted in them not actually being able to go to the top while us menfolk were the last group to make it on foot.
A late night was made later by the fact that, even though it was midnight, the streets were awash with Algerian fans gloating over their win of the Africa Cup in soccer. The local Metro stops were mostly closed and it took a while to figure out how to get to our temporary home. But we made it!
After too-few hours of sleep, we were ready to hop on a train under the Channel to meet up with Sarah's family back in Jolly Old England for the last of our summer adventures!