Monday, August 17, 2015

A Visit from Mike and Alyson

Kristin's brother Michael and his girlfriend Alyson spent a great week visiting us.  It was their first time meeting Natalie, and Alyson's first trip to Europe, so there was lots to do while they were here!  We met them at the train station in Stuttgart and started exploring.

Don't be deceived by these photos.  Alyson was holding Natalie about 90% of the time.
Our first trip was to check out the palace in Ludwigsburg, which we visited previously.  The gardens are spectacular and Mike was able to show off all of his gardening knowledge as we roamed the grounds.
Can you tell it was 95 degrees out?  Mike let us know about 1,000 times during our visit.
Lots of work for a backyard garden.
Even the flamingos were toasty.
15 Euros worth of water later and we were all feeling a bit better.
The next day we headed to Alsace, one of our favorite parts of France. Alyson is a big fan of bubbly wine, so we wanted her to taste some Cremant, which is the bubbly wine from this area of France.  We started in Colmar and had a great lunch of tarte flambée (thin, wood fired French pizza with onions and bacon) in the Little Venice area.  

We got an overview of the city on an abbreviated this-is-what-I-remember-off-the-top-of-my-head-version of the Rick Steves tour.  There isn't much to remember though, since a visit to Colmar really is centered around taking in all the cute, brightly colored buildings and the prolific flowers.

That's a Natalie taco.
Our next stop on the Alsace Wine Route was Eguisheim.  Eguisheim is a tiny town surrounded by vineyards farmed by some amazing local vintners.  It will also be henceforth known as the town where Mike and Alyson got engaged!  Yay!  We are so excited to welcome Alyson to our family.

Photobombing the newly engaged.
The happy couple and some wine barrels.  

Michael had let Kristin know a few days before his arrival that he wanted to propose on the trip.  A beautiful ring was hidden in his pocket until just the right moment!  So fun!  After Alyson had officially said "yes!", we headed over to our favorite winery in Eguisheim, Emile Bayer, for a glass of bubbly.

Cheers to Mike's future wife! 
Some bling.

After all the excitement the previous day, we took it easy and headed to the Zwiebelfest in Esslingen.  Esslingen is located about 10 miles down the Neckar River from Stuttgart.  It still boasts numerous exposed timber houses and the oldest sekt (bubbly wine) producer in Germany.  Since Stuttgart will jump on any reason to have a festival, Zwiebelfest celebrates the onion harvest.  Lots of restaurants from Esslingen set up dining rooms on the town square and serve drinks and onion-themed dinners.  The signature dish is Zwiebelkuchen, which is a dense onion cake.  Delicious.

Enjoying some beer and some bubbly from Kessler Sekt.

On our last day with Mike and Alyson we decided to take them to Munich so they could have a proper Maß (liter) of beer at a beer hall.  Munich is an easy 2 1/2 hour train ride from Stuttgart (which is a lot better than the drive and its potential for terrible traffic).  We decided to take in some culture before drinking and stopped at the Marienplatz to see the glockenspiel.  

We headed to the Hofbräuhaus, a huge beer hall in Munich.  Hofbräuhaus is owned by the State of Bavaria and operates one of the largest tents at Oktoberfest.   

Checking out the beer scene with special guests Justin & a different Mike.

 We ate some surprisingly good food and drank our fair share of beers before heading back to the train station for the trip home.

We were sad to see Mike and Alyson go, but knew they were off to bigger and better adventures in Paris.  Thanks for visiting us! 


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