Monday, August 31, 2009

A Month In Review

Well, it's about time I caught the blog up on the past month's adventures! The month of August is a ghost town in Milan as all the Italians close their stores and leave for vacation for the entire month. I was wisely advised to get out of the city lest I go crazy. 
So, the Greenwiches and I loaded down the Multipla....literally. You can't really see it here, but there was not a spare two inches of space!  

Thus we embarked on another road trip through Switzerland, Austria and Germany. The scenery wasn't bad. 

This is around the boarder of Germany and Austria, but technically in Austria if I remember correctly. 

This was our hotel. The Germans know how to create a comfortable place to stay. It wasn't stiff and formal like many hotels I have stayed in. The rooms were so comfortable with really nice bedding and the food was a-mazing. 

And this was the view from our hotel. It took my breath away every time I saw it and I stood in wonder of God's grace. 

Another demonstration of God's grace were all the wonderful friends I was able to spend tons of time with!! It was SO amazing to be with a whole group of Americans who live in Europe and are experiencing very similar things every day. 

G.I. Jane with her baby, Noah. 

Saw this on a walk and thought the girl looked JUST like Heidi from afar. 

The German houses had flowers cascading. So cute. 

Yea, I would totally live in this. Especially if it meant I could sleep on one of their down blankets every night and eat German breakfast every morning. (with Italian coffee though...)

We just went on a simple walk and were assaulted by unbelievable scenery wherever we went. 

Taylor and Josh, two of my fellow Intercambio colleagues in Rome. 

Me and my dear friend, Christie, who lives in Belgium. 

Wonderful friend, accountability parter, and the only one who truly understands my seminary jokes. She also lives in Vienna and sings opera. 

Jason and Emily...gotta watch those Neopolitans. They have good pasta but I'm told you will die from trying to cross the street before you can eat it. Might make a trip down there to see if it is true. 

Three more blessings to me: Christina, who makes me laugh and also speaks truth and encouragement into my life, Addison, her way cool daughter, and Libby-licious, her other crazy girl. 
My friend Jen who lives in Bonn and is a professional massage therapist. I totally hang out with the right crowd. Regardless of her amazing skill-set that I totally take advantage of, she is one of my dearest friends. 

Chatting after one of our German feasts. Del and Timon in the back live in Marseilles and Spain. 

Going on a walk to a German-style agriturismo. 

Amy is my artist friend who lives in Dresden, Germany and Sarah lives in Belgium with Christie.

They really liked the Jello shots. 
and S'MORES made with German chocolate and marshmallows from the States. Two amazing worlds collide. 
Check out that spread!

Sarah and Christie. 

Me and my boyfriend. 

Intercambio folks. 

WHEW. So, after all that fun, I caught a plane to Bristol, England, to spend some time with Caitlin and Artur Lieder!

Our first excursion was to lovely Bath. 

And guess what??? They have Ben and Jerry's in England! While there is NOTHIN wrong with Italian gelato, it was nice to taste some familiar flavors that took me back to my late night runs with Bekah during our college days. 

Baby Gabby. 

More of the city. 

Felt like I was in Northanger Abbey...which I finally read. 

Photoshoot for Lael. This little one speaks German like a pro. And to her "German/English ear" Italian sounded hilarious. So, the trick to getting her to belly laugh for the camera was for me to talk to her in Italian.  

We went to Erin's for a big, fat American meal of bbq ribs, grilled chicken, potato salad, peach cobbler, etc, etc, etc. It was SOOO yummy! It was nice to eat a big meal and sit around and enjoy each other's company and watch the kids play. 

Aidan is a mess! 

Joshua is really growing!

So is Gillian! 
And Lael sure loves her cousins. 
Then, we went to Wales to see Tintern Abbey. 
I took advantage of the amazing scenery. 

Totally a Papa's girl. 

Gorgeous Abbey. 

And....the grand finale. I got to welcome my brother to Europe!!!! We did not think it was going to happen since he was still waiting on his visa while I was up there waiting for him. Then, at the last minute, it arrives and he hopped on a plan. He arrived at the train station where I was waiting one hour before I left for the airport! We we so grateful for that one hour since it was much more than we were expecting. Another manifestation of God's goodness. He just bought tickets to come to Milan next week so we will continue our time together then! 

It was a wonderful, refreshing vacation for me though I have struggled a bit with re-entry. When I got back to Milan, there was NO ONE here and everything was closed. The scenario did not help my re-acclimation after being gone and immersed in english for almost 3 weeks. Now things are so much better with every having returned. Regardless, my cup was running over with the way God blessed me with the refreshing break and encouraging time with friends. 

Now, back to work!