Friday, April 7, 2017

Europe Trip 2017 - Day Six

Tuesday was kind of a free day for us in that we hadn't made any set plans besides a dinner meet-up. So, in the morning, we decided to drive 30 minutes to Liege, Belgium. Might as well visit another country when you're this close! A famous tourist attraction in Liege is the Montagne de Bueren, which is a 374-step staircase. If I was going to keep eating all those waffles, I needed to burn some calories! The four of us had some pep in our step when we first started the ascent, but the pace definitely slowed a little as we got higher and higher! We all made it without any trouble, though, and the view at the top was pretty cool.

My biggest question was...who delivers the mail to those houses? They all had mail slots!

Going back down was way easier.

Rewarded with a view.

After conquering the steps, we walked into the city center of Liege. This was a bit of a culture shock for us. We definitely felt like we looked like outsiders, because it was full of residents going about their daily lives, not really a tourist hotspot. We also noted some military personnel walking through the streets, armed with high-powered rifles. We took that as our cue to leave. 

From Liege, we drove to the Designer Outlet Roermond back in The Netherlands. It was another opportunity to do some shopping and walking around. I was bummed, though, because the Nike store there was under construction. I had specifically wanted to visit a Nike store in Holland because they have a partnership with KNVB, which is the governing body of football in The Netherlands. You can find cool Nike KNVB gear in Europe that you definitely can't get in the States. While at the Outlet center, we ate at a restaurant called Schnitzelparadies, which as you may have guessed, serves schnitzel! Lucky for me they had a vegetarian option, so I was set. 

Our next stop would be the Lindt factory store in Aachen, Germany. We needed to get there before they closed, so Meezy took advantage of the lack of speed limits on the autobahn.

The Lindt factory store is basically a chocoholic's dream. While you might be used to seeing a few high-priced Lindt products in your local store in the US, this place offers every single product they manufacture, at very low prices. This is a small sampling of what I'm talking about:

Pictures couldn't do it justice, so I took a video. This is ALL Lindt chocolate, y'all! 

After we stuffed our carts with gifts and goodies, we headed to the next destination. We were scheduled to have dinner with our German friends in Cologne one last time before we left Europe, but we discovered there was a Nike Clearance Center in Kerpen, on the way. I wanted one last chance to get some Dutch Nike gear, so the gang agreed to stop there. So glad we did, because I hit the jackpot! Not only did I find a ridiculous amount of orange shirts to keep Dutch clothed for the next 5 years of his life, I also picked up some unique tops for myself and a really cute drawstring backpack. Nearly everything I got was between 5 and 15Euro apiece, which made it even sweeter.

Feeling content, we made our way to Cologne to meet our friends. Traffic had picked up by then and trying to find parking in the middle of the big city was a bit of a disaster. We even had Fabian come out of the restaurant and help direct us to a nearby parking garage! We arrived about 20 minutes late, but they understood. We ate at Vapiano, which is a cool restaurant where each person gets a card that they bring with them to various food preparation counters. You order what you want, a chef prepares it right in front of you, then they load the item's cost onto your card. You turn your card over to a cashier when you leave, and you pay for everything you loaded onto your card. We enjoyed a wonderful meal, but the company was even better. Kim's mom and step-dad had driven into Cologne from their home about 2 hours away, just to join us for the meal. I hadn't seen them in about 7 years, and this was my sister and her husband's first time to meet them. It would also be our last time to see Kim and Fabian on this trip. It was certainly bittersweet, but the bond we've made with these people is unbreakable! I look forward to seeing them again, whether it's in the US or Germany.

After dinner, we made the 2 hour drive to Eltville, Germany, where we'd be sleeping for just a few hours! We stayed at the Parkhotel Tillmanns because literally everything in and around Frankfurt was booked solid or priced 4x higher than normal because of a large conference going on. This hotel was more of a bed and breakfast, and 25 minutes outside of Frankfurt, but all we needed was a place to lay our heads until our early flight the next morning.

On Wednesday morning, we departed Eltville, returned our rental car to the airport, and started our journey home. Luckily there were no crazy mishaps with flight delays or changes, and we actually got to enjoy the extra room in Comfort+ seats this time, so the trek home wasn't too bad. We ended up landing at DFW about 30 minutes ahead of schedule, which meant I got to hug my littles even sooner! What an unforgettable trip we had. Can't wait to see what's next for my crazy life!

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