Saturday, December 20, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Neal Family

Seasons Greetings from the Neal Family
To be truthful, the making of the family photo was not one of Bob’s favorite things, but given this is our last year in Germany, we HAD to have a family photo in traditional Bavarian clothing and I think Bob looks so cute in his lederhosen!

We have been so blessed to live in Germany! Our appreciation of different cultures, different political points of view, and different histories has increased 10-fold.  Our sympathy for those who can’t speak the language of their host country has grown; our appreciation of those who have been patient as we stumble over our words is profound. 

We have experienced painful growth, but have enjoyed the blessing of travel such as we never would have been able if we had not left the comfort of the United States.  Our family relationships are stronger and our reliance on the guiding hand of our Heavenly Father is deeper.  

We are disappointed to leave Germany and so we wanted to share some of the favorite things we will miss when we return home next summer.  Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes…okay, not really.  Here is the real list…

Castles, fresh bread—I’ll give pastries and desserts to the French, but the German’s win in the bread category!  Farming fields, farmers markets, the “thinking/reflecting” place (benches randomly placed in fields for contemplation).  May poles, charming towns & villages, and unique traditions like bringing the cows out of the mountains at the end of summer.  The “on your honor” pay system.  Beautiful landscapes, pretzels, FAST autobahns, biking trails, hiking trails, running trails, busses and trainsAnd above all, being able to publically celebrate Christmas for the Christ-centered holiday that is.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Missing in Action

I've been totally missing in action lately and it's because I've started a new job! After 13 years of being a SAHM, I am back to work, full time, at the girl's school as a teacher's assistant in grade one.  I am really enjoying working outside of the home, but to be truthful, it has really thrown a wrench into my once very predictable schedule and we are still trying to get things figured out.

So, the blog has suffered and it's a pity because we've done some really fun things this month and I'm dying to share them while it's still holiday season.  But, I can't promise that is going to happen because we have friends with 6 kids descending upon our house next Friday and then the following Tuesday we are flying to Israel for our Christmas holiday.  Anyways, if I don't make it back before next Wednesday have a very merry Christmas!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Munich Monday: Hiking behind Neuschwantstein

We've attempted to hike behind Neuschwanstein twice before and have been thwarted for one reason or another, so I was thrilled when I was finally able to accomplish the hike.  The views of the valley below are incredible and you get to see the front vista of the castle with it's red door, which is not as common.
The hike is pretty straight forward--get to the Marianbrüke or bridge behind the castle, cross it and stay on the trail that zigzags it's way to the top of the mountain.  

Parking: Depending on the time of year, you can park in the paid lot (€5/day) or you can park along the road that leads into the village.  From your car follow signs for Marianbrüke.
Trail: The hike is pretty straight forward--get to the Marianbrüke or bridge behind the castle, cross it and stay on the trail that zigzags it's way to the top of the mountain.  Follow the red/white/red stripe that is painted on rocks and trees heading towards the Tegelberg.
Time: Allow 3 hours
Difficulty: Medium--if you stay on the zig zag path you will gently climb the mountain, however more direct (and steep) paths have been beat into the ground. We encountered families on the trail.
Tegelbergbahn:  Once at the top you will see there is a world of hiking options available to you. Keep going or sit and have lunch at the Tegelbergbahn cafe which affords stunning views and "good enough" food.  We chose to save some time by taking the bergbahn back down the mountain (€12).  From the bottom, we walked about a mile back to the parking lot.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Christmas 365 Days A Year--Seiffen, Germany

Last week I highlighted my trip to Poland, today is the final installment of that fantastically fun girls trip.  On our 3rd day we hit the road early to be in Seiffen by 10am when all the stores opened. Seiffen sits on the eastern border next to the Czech Republic in the Erzgebirge--or Ore Mountains.  It is a delightful German town that prepares for Christmas 365 days a year--artisans work from January to September filling their shelves with every kind of of wooden ornament, then from October to December they sell, sell, sell and when it's gone, it's gone.  My friend went back last week and she said some of the items we bough a month ago were already sold out, so it pays to hit Seiffen before the Christmas rush, which begins in November.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Silent Sunday

Not the most thrilling pictures, or even great quality, but I just wanted to capture how this small Greek Orthodox church built 1000 years ago has been preserved and built over by the modern sprawl that is Athens, Greece. 
OneDad3Girls Silent Sunday @ Nicer Than New
Unknown Mami