My 2014

December 30, 2014

The older I get the faster time goes by. 2014 blurred by at the speed of light! Is the the clock going faster or am I less able to cope with change? Or is my life busier? Regardless, 2014 did have it’s higlights. Here they are in no particular order.

  • Danube river cruise – We take a BIG vacation every other year. This year was a Danube River Cruise with extended stays in Frankfurt and Budapest. We enjoyed every second and definitely plan on taking another river cruise. Its a simply marvelous way to tour an area. For more detail: European Vacation
  • 50th high school reunion – Seems like 1964 was just yesterday. 39 of us graduated in May 1964. 27 are still with us and all but 4 were able to make it to the reunion. The venue was old Alexis High Gymn which brought back many memories. I had a wonderful time catching up on the last 50 years with a bucnh of really good people.
  • Austin born December 29 – Our 5th grandchild born December 29. A healthy boy weighing in at 8 pounds, 4 ounces. Mother and baby are doing well,  Dad is recovering. I’m sure he will grow up to be healthy, wealthy, and wise.
  • Big brothers visit – My older brother and his wife visited us this year. My youngest brother and his wife live in the area. I really enjoyed spending time with them. Made me realize how precious famiies are.
  • Remodeled house – It all started out when I mentioned I’d like to tear out the shower and replace it with a walk in shower. Before I realized what was happening we remodeled the bathroom, kitchen, pantry, patio, and replaced all the carpet with wood floors. I glad we did it but would not want to live through is again.
  • Old Crow concert – We saw the Old Crow Medicine Show at the Dallas House of Blues. I don’t go to many live music concerts but can’t imagine any being more amazing than this group.
  • Nashville trip with son’s family – We and our son’s family packed our bags and headed out on a road trip to Heber Springs Arkansas, Memphis, and Nashville this past Summer. Ate great barbecue, ate great breakfasts, attended The Grand Ole Opry, and generally had a wonderful week. For more detail: Nashville Vacation
  • Cub game on the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field – On our way to my 50th high school reunion we watched a Cub game in their 100th year at Wrigley Field.
  • WineThirty – My oldest daughter and her husband opened WineThirty, a wine bar in Murphy Texas, this year. We really enjoyed our weekly trips there to enjoy a glass of fine red wine and even finer conversation.
  • The road to Master Gardener – I became a certified Master Gardener this year. The journey encompassed most of the year. It involved taking classes, manning the help desk, pulling weeds, spreading mulch, planting, taking measurements at the research garden, and enjoying the company of a group of really fine people.

My rules writing this post were:

  1. Write down the 1st 10 things that pop into my mind.
  2. Don’t change any of the items after the thought popped into my head.
  3. Write only one of two sentences for each item.

European Vacation Olson Style (not Griswald)

September 4, 2014
Matthias church, Budapest

Matthias church, Budapest

Just back from 15 exciting and fun-filled days in Europe.  Our first destination was Frankfurt/Wiesbaden Germany where we met my brother-in-law Kevin and his wife Trish for a few days. Next we flew to Budapest and after a weekend there we boarded a Viking river boat for a seven night/eight day cruise up the Danube River to Nuremberg.

My top 3 memories in no particular order were:

  • Budapest
  • The Wachau Valley
  • Wiesbaden/Frankfurt area

I have a 10 page version of the entire trip for anyone with a death wish.  It was so boring even I couldn’t read it all so I’m publishing the condensed version.

Budapest

Budapest straddles the Danube. “Buda”, the older part is on one bank and “Pest” is on the other.  Our hotel was on the “Buda” side in the castle district which rests on Castle Hill (those Hungarians are really creative with names) which is the oldest and most picturesque district of the city.  We spent the weekend exploring the district, taking a moonlight dinner cruise on the Danube, and touring the city with our very own tour guide.

Its one of the largest ( 1.7 million) and oldest cities in the EU.  It was settled before Christ by the Celts and was later a Roman settlement. Because of Hungary’s strategic position in the middle of the continent it has been overrun numerous times including by the Ottomans giving birth to a very diverse and interesting culture.

Budapest Castle District at night

Budapest Castle District at night

Wachau Valley

The Danube flows through the Wachau Valley between Vienna and Melk Austria. It is by far the most scenic stretch of the river between Vienna and Nuremberg.  The weather was in the mid-70s and the morning we traversed the Valley was perfect day to recline on the sun deck and experience the picturesque villages, ancient castles and cathedrals, and vineyards on steep hills for mile upon mile.

The Valley is 40 kilometers in length and was added to the  UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in 2000. At one end of the valley lies the village of Melk which is home to a Benedictine Abbey founded in 1089AD.  The village of Krems is on the downstream end of the valley which is surrounded by terraced vineyards.

Also in the Valley is the village of Durnstein with the ruins of Kuenringer Castle on an overlook of the Danube. King Richard the Lionhearted was imprisoned here in 1192-1193 on his return from the Crusades by the local Duke and held for ransom because according to legend he had sold the island of Crete, which at the time was owned by the Duke, to some Greeks.

Wachau Valley vilage

Wachau Valley vilage

Wiesbaden/Frankfurt

We stayed at Weinhaus Sinz in Frauenstein which is a borough of Wiesbaden.  Trish has known the proprietors and been holidaying there most of their life.  Its a great place out of the main tourist realm with a top-flight restaurant.  We thoroughly enjoyed our stay there and would go back in a New York minute given the opportunity.

Besides touring the surrounding area and taking sampling the fare at several restaurants, the best of which was Weinhaus Sinz, we traveled to Heideberg to visit the castle there.  The castle was very interesting but no where near the excitement of driving the wrong way up a one way street up the hill to the castle only to be met by a huge bus and have to back the car back down the street all the while fearing I would go too far to the left and tumble down the hill’s sheer cliff.

The next day was market day at Wiesbaden so we hopped the bus and toured the market. After the market we dined at an outdoor cafe in downtown Wiesbaden which is pedestrian traffic only.  This pedestrian only concept would work pretty good for cities in the U.S. as far as I am concerned.  I’m thinking of Fort Worth which would be pretty cool if they cordoned off a few streets around Sundance Square.

We also spent a fun day walking around Frankfurt and riding the local rapid transit to a great restaurant on the outskirts of the city (Schuch’s).

Heildelberg

Heidelberg

See Danube River Vacation for more photos