Jun 25, 2012

Three Hundred Sixty-Five Days of Deutschland {and a giveaway!} *CLOSED*

Well, folks. There you have it. One year of expat life for Team Coté is now in the books! I know. Shut the front door...how has it been ONE YEAR already?!? I keep asking myself that daily. Time has flown by. F-L-O-W-N BY. It seems like just yesterday that D and were packing our suitcases, saying our goodbyes, and hopping a plane to Germany. Life has changed so much in the last year that it's almost unrecognizable from our life back in the states. Imagine having everything you've ever known, from laws and rules of your country, to simple everyday things like navigating a grocery store become warped into something unfamiliar and, quite frankly, scary.

Moving to a foreign country causes you to have to start over from scratch, like you're an infant learning how to walk or talk or eat or interact with the world around you. It's quite a strange feeling, walking with baby steps and re-learning life. Yet among all the brain rewiring, you still carry on as a family. You still cook dinner and talk about your day. You still go grocery shopping (albeit a bit differently now) and take out the trash. And you still keep up with little traditions and fold the laundry together. Big things change, but the at the heart of it all, you're still you. We're still us. 

I'll be the first one to tell you, this whole moving to Europe thing hasn't been a cake walk. We've had our fair share of embarrassments...like the time we were throwing away our food scraps in the wrong trashcan for 7 MONTHS before our landlord kindly told us which one we're supposed to use...and we've dealt with all the stresses of living out of a suitcase for 3 months straight. We've also found out who our true friends are and those who...well, weren't even friends at all. Funny how distance can reveal these things. But I can honestly say, I wouldn't change a darn thing. Through change comes strength, and with strength comes growth. It seems to be the circle of life for our little military family. Besides, among all the changes and trials this move has brought us, we've also gotten to do some pretty wicked cool stuff. I'm talkin' visiting 7 different countries over the course of 12 months kind of cool stuff. Yeah...pinching myself has become obsolete.

While I'm feeling a little nostalgic reliving the past 365 days of Germany in my head, I thought it would be fun to go all David Letterman and make a Top 10 List recounting our favorite memories during our first year living in Germany! 

{Oh, and make sure you stick around 'till the end of this post for a little surprise!!}


41 days of uninterrupted hotel living can really start to make a person go crazy. Case and point...hotel room planking. During this time we made a lot of important decisions, like where we were going to live, what we were going to drive, and who was going to the nut house first. David won, contrary to photographic evidence. Boy doesn't do well cooped up in one 12' x 14' room. Precisely why we made it a point to GET OUT and start traveling ASAP!


Celebrating 4 years of wedded bliss in what is, quite possibly, the cutest little German town in the entire world was a breath of fresh air. We finally got to see the rich history and Old-World charm that our new home was so famous for. This was the beginning of our love affair with Germany!


We fell in love with this 1,400 sq ft. slice of German real estate the moment we laid eyes on it. It oozes character (including our German toilet with poop shelf) and has been the perfect fit for our little family since the day we moved in. The apartment gods were smiling upon us, that's for sure! As fun as living in a hotel can be, we were so ready and very thankful to finally have all of our belongings back and put in their own place. Suitcase living complete.



I don't know what we did to deserve such an amazing group of Christian people to call our friends, but I'm thankful for them just the same! They've made our transition to life in Germany much easier, and so much more fun!



We've visited so many fabulous places over the last 12 months, but this still remains to be true...London is my absolute favorite city in the world! No place has yet to compare. The sights, the sounds, the Royal ambiance...I'm getting heart palpitations just thinking about it. Trip of a lifetime, and I can't wait to go back in August!
 {You can read more about our trip here, here, and here.}


From the Christmas Markets and Glühwein to decking our halls and making new traditions, our first Christmas in Germany was nothing short of magical. Although we were away from our family and friends for the first time at Christmas, we managed to make the best of it. We even managed to stuff a 7.5 foot Christmas tree into the trunk of our 2-door BMW. How's that for a Christmas miracle?


Hands down one of the coolest things we've ever done. The Alps are insanely beautiful and getting skiing in them was just icing on the cake! We're looking forward to tearing up the slopes again next winter!
{Read more about our ski adventure here, here, and here.}


Seriously, did you think I'd forget about all the fabulous wine? Not possible. Living in what I like to call "Riesling Country" has proved to be more rewarding than not. Drinking our way through the miles and miles of vineyards (or Weinguts) situated along the Rhine River has become one of our favorite past times, not to mention attending the many wine festivals held in our region during various times of the year. Germans never need a reason to throw a party, but wine is an excellent one. We'll be there with bells on.

I realize this doesn't have much to do with Germany, per se, but we were living here while it happened, so it made the list! Although this never got blogged (maybe I'll get around to it one day), it was a very momentous and long awaited occasion for the both of us. After 4 years of serving our country, D was rewarded for his hard work and dedication with a promotion to Captain! I absolutely couldn't be a more proud Air Force wife! He's the bee's knees, that man!

AND FINALLY...

This is kind of a big deal. 10 of my crazy close family members, 3 countries, 2 weeks. Fun and insanity all wrapped up in the same whirlwind vacation. We. Are. Rockstars. Be looking out for multiple blog posts recapping this unbelievable family feat soon!!

THE END.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Whew.
Since you've stuck around to the end of this insanely long blog post, I've got a little reward for you! In honor of making it ONE YEAR living in Germany, I've decided to do my first blog giveaway{YAY YAY YAY!!}

Guys, in all seriousness, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the kind words and prayers each of you laid on us during this exciting chapter of our lives. This little blog of mine has been a nice way to keep family and friends up to speed with our new life in Deutschland, but little did I know it would grow to have a following {100+ and growing!!} of such supportive and uplifting individuals who I've never even met in real life! The blogging community has completely embraced me and made all the picture taking and story-telling of our adventures abroad even more worth while! Thank you, each of you, for clicking on 'We Took the Road Less Traveled' everyday and leaving love. You guys seriously rock my face off! 

Now, for the swag! One lucky winner will receive a gift box straight from Deutschland FULL of my favorite products & goodies made in Germany including:

A jar of Nutella (I swear it tastes better here!)
3 bags of German gummie bears (I PROMISE they taste better here!)
Scarf from my favorite accessories store 
One nail color, lip gloss, and face mask packet from my favorite beauty kiosk
Mini bottle of blueberry schnapps made by monks in Bavaria (shhh, don't tell customs)
Bottle of Currysauce made in Wiesbaden 
One jar of Joghurt Dressing (the traditional salad dressing of Germany)
A bag of Eranuss Piccos (spicy corn chip covered peanuts), my favorite airplane snack
One box of German Spätzle (traditional German egg noodles) with sauce packet
A postcard from Wiesbaden, our current city of residence
A bag of my favorite German butter cookies
Variety of German chocolate bars
Jägerschnitzel sauce packet
AND
A mini 'Das Boot' from Bavaria

{A few items are missing from the photos. Someone...ahem...left them in the car.}

Follow the prompts in the Rafflecopter widget to enter!
{You must be a follower of this blog through Google Friend Connect to enter. Not a follower? It's easy to become one! You don't have to have a blogger account to follow. Just look over in the sidebar on the right under the 'Followers' tab (where all the tiny picture are). Click "Join this site" and follow the instructions in the pop-up window.  Then you can begin entering the giveaway below. Simple as that!}
Giveaway closes on July 2nd at 12:01am. 
Winner will be announced on Monday, July 3rd!
Good luck, everyone!!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jun 21, 2012

Face to Face with The Robe of Christ: Trier, Germany

Many months ago I had a friend tell me that the Robe of Christ was going to be displayed for public viewing in Trier. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. After spending some time Googling, I came to realize she was talking about the robe that Christ wore at the time of His crucifixion over 2,000 years ago. This robe is said to be kept in a reliquary underneath the Dom (Cathedral) in Trier in a sealed wooden shrine and is only brought out for special reasons. Since the time the robe, also known as the "Seamless Robe of Christ" or the "Holy Tunic," was brought to Trier by Empress Dowager Helena in the 11th century, it has only been seen by the public 16 times. Its last pilgrimage was in 1996. After 16 years under the Trier Cathedral, the robe was brought out in plain sight for one month (April 13-May 13, 2012) in celebration of the 500th anniversary of its first pilgrimage in 1512.

Now, this is where the skeptic comes out in me. How do they know this is the true robe that Christ wore? How has it survived this long? And why in the world is it in Trier, Germany, of all places? Truth is, no one is 100% sure of its authenticity. Believers of the Western world hold this story to be true, although the Eastern Orthodox Church has preserved that the robe Christ wore was torn and divided among the soldiers presiding over His crucifixion. They believe to have Christ's true undergarment (to which they call the Shroud of Turin) in Italy. All I know for sure is that this is what the Bible says of the robe:

"When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom," 
John 19:23-4 (NIV) 

 Seems pretty cut and dry to me. Only problem is the Western and Eastern religious worlds can't seem decide on who has the true undergarment and who has the "fake" relic. No matter the scientific studies, I doubt we will ever know the truth in our time. Either way, this robe has come to be a symbol of unity among Christian denominations and after seeing the insane amount of people coming to view the robe first hand, I'd have to say it's doing its job. 

But, let me back up bit. Since their was much more we wanted to see in Trier, we decided to make a day of it...starting with a hearty lunch and walk through the Porta Nigra.

Before we even got into the Porta Nigra for our tour, we saw the beginning's of the believers pilgrimage to the Robe of Christ.

 


Watching the pilgrimage from the Porta's window.



All of those people were making their way here, to the Dom Trier. The sun started peeking through the clouds, so we finished our tour and made our way there as well.


This was the line to see the Robe of Christ. Completely unbelievable. Among us were monks and nuns chanting and singing, world travelers (like us) snapping their cameras, and school children on field trips. It was truly amazing to see such a wide range of people from all walks of life there to pay homage to our Lord.


We still have no idea what the colorful sticks and flags were about. Although we did notice some sticks had a little wooden ornament with a date of a previous pilgrimage written on it. They made for pretty waiting photos. Sadly, once inside the church, there were no photos allowed. If you are curious to see what the Robe of Christ looks like, you can click here.



After 2 hours of waiting in line and FINALLY seeing the robe, we continued our tour of Trier by making our way across town to see the famous Roman baths and Amphitheater. 

 Tired feet and wet clothes ended our day in Trier. I feel so fortunate to have been able to visit this Roman town in Germany during such an important time. To see the Robe of Christ, real or not, was definitely humbling. If you're ever in Germany 16 years from now, stop by Trier and see the robe for yourself...and while your at it, explore all the other historic sights that beautiful Trier has to offer.

Jun 19, 2012

Frolic Among the Tulips at Keukenhof Gardens

There's not much to say about the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, Holland. Well, not much except that it's amazing. Miles and miles of flowers, ranging from the traditional Dutch tulip to the exotic blue orchid, all for your viewing pleasure. Another unexpected pleasure? The smell. I wasn't expecting to be able to smell such an intense floral aroma all around the gardens. It was ethereal. Pure bliss. Not to mention the fact that we visited the gardens on Easter Sunday. I couldn't have imagined a better way to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord than enjoying some of God's beautiful creations. Go, people. Go and bask in all it's colorful glory! The flowers begin blooming in late-March and are in full bloom around mid-April...a small window of time, but well worth the trip. 

Now, less words, more photos. I only wish there was smellovision. Enjoy!

{Tulip fields on our car ride to the Keukenhof Gardens}

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