Clearing the Bucket List: 2016

So I’m back!  It’s been an extremely busy 2016, but I’m back with my first vlog.  The vlog is from an area that I’ve been wanting to visit for quite some time: Burlington, VT!  It’s short, simple, and my first time vlogging.

Enjoy the vlog and I’ll follow-up with more blog posts in 2017!

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Clearing the Bucket List, Part 7

After checking out Paris and Brussels,  it was time to head back to Germany.  On the way back home,  we encountered a routine border check.  Oddly enough with all the countries that we had driven through,  this was the first time that we were pulled over.  Definitely a change versus traveling through the US and Canadian border.

Before heading out to Oktoberfest, we decided to grab some Turkish food in the heart of downtown Wittlich.  The small shop offered some decisions Turkish pizza, as well as some Pommes Doner.

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Our trip to Germany wouldn’t be complete without having a genuine Oktoberfest experience.

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Although this wasn’t the official Oktoberfest,  it was still amazing.  We were greeted by the locals dancing on tables with beer steins in hand.

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Along with German songs being played by the band,  we were also treated to classics from Journey,  Backstreet Boys, and Take That.

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Overall,  the trip to Europe was simply amazing.  Having seen the sights and sounds of Europe,  I can definitely see myself working abroad to take in the full experience.  That’s it for my Bucket List of items for 2015. On to my traveling plans for 2016, and a chance to further trim down my Bucket List. 

Clearing the Bucket List, Part 6

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After spending a few hours at a well maintained service stop in France, our next stop was supposed to be Germany. However along the way, a last minute decision was made to go to Brussels, Belgium. Although not initially planned, it was the best decision that we made on the trip.

From the get-go, Belgium was simply beautiful. Arriving in Brussels, we received a very authentic European experience. Although the city was much smaller than Paris, it was great and just felt much different.

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Once we settled in and found a parking spot in downtown Brussels, it was time to explore. First on the list, Belgian Waffles!!!

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Unlike French Fries, it was nice to see that Belgian Waffles were truly a Belgian food item, and it was definitely delicious. After that we had a chance to try some Belgian chocolate, as well as grab some authentic Belgian beer.
Moving on in our search of lunch, we caught of view of the Peeing Boy. Definitely something that you wouldn’t see in America, but it was unique and somewhat expected in Europe. We later had a chance to grab some beer at a Belgian pub, which sealed the deal for our experience in Brussels.

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Next up on the European tour, our final stop in Wittlich for some authentic German Oktoberfest, but beer was needed before leaving the great country of Belgium. The beer was simply the best that I’ve ever had, and cheap compared to how they would be priced back home in America.

Clearing the Bucket List, Part 5

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Moving along to the next part of our journey,  we decided to stop by the City of Lights,  Paris! Paris is a city that I’ve always dreamt of visiting and had to include on my Bucket List.

Taking the scenic route via our Opel van,  we drove through the countryside of Germany, eventually driving through the beautiful country of Luxembourg.  When arriving the Paris metro area,  we opted to park at Disney Paris,  and then take the metro into the city.  Finding the parking garage was the easy part,  but fitting in the garage was another.  The ramps and entry points were clearly built for Mini Coopers,  not for any other type of vehicle. 

After finally getting the van into the garage and finding a parking spot,  we finally started our adventure into Paris.  Knowing a little bit of French helped save us from going the wrong way.  Our first stop in the city was Notre Dame.

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The view around the area was amazing and exactly what I expected when visiting Paris.  On the downside,  the streets lacked traffic lanes, which was one scary sight.

After scoping out Notre Dame,  we want out to taste the local eateries.  We stumbled upon a local Vietnamese eatery,  so pho and vermicelli were a must.

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While the food was definitely not worth the money,  the area was picture perfect.  The architecture was fresh out of a social studies book, and there were bakeries galore. 

Moving on from grabbing lunch,  we ventured out to the Arc De Triomphe and The Louvre.  The attraction made the visit well worth the wait.

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Simply amazing when you take into account the history behind the Arc,  as well as the crazy 10 lane round about that circles the Arc.

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Next on the attraction on list,  The Eiffel Tower!

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When you think of Paris,  there’s no other attraction that comes to mind more than The Eiffel Tower.  The views were stunning,  and the lights around the city were priceless. 

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Compared to the rest of the city,  the area around The Eiffel Tower was relatively calm and safe.  Outside of the people constantly trying to hassle tourists with beer,  wine,  and souvenirs; it was a nice area.

After a long day it was time to head home.  Although along the way,  plans changed,  leading us to our next stop.  Beautiful Brussels,  Belgium!

Clearing the Bucket List, Part 3

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

On to Day 2 in London, we were out to conquer the rest of the city.  After enjoying a great sunny day with some slight overcast, the next morning brought on the typical London weather.  Clouds were grey, and we encountered some nice rain showers.  Being from Austin, we’ve had a bit of a drought, so seeing rain like we did was truly rare.

After adjusting to the time zone and neighborhood, the next stop on the trip was Madame Tussaud’s.  While waiting for my daughter and sister in-law to find wax figures of their famous celebrities, the rest of the gang had the chance to enjoy some time away at a traditional English café across the street.

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The fries, or chips I should say, and café latte were some of the best that I’ve ever had.  The service staff were amazing and definitely provided us with a warm welcome and great service.

Next on the list, Emirates Stadium!  For those not familiar with the stadium, it’s the home to my Arsenal Gunners.

Emirates Stadium!

Emirates Stadium!

Having never have gone to a professional soccer or football stadium, this was truly an amazing experience.  I had the chance to enjoy the experience with my son and two brother in-law’s.

Emirates Stadium pitch

Emirates Stadium pitch

Having the chance to view the pitch, sit-down in the stands, and view all of the locker rooms and merchandise surpassed my expectations.  The neighborhood that also surrounded the stadium was exactly what I was expecting from London when choosing to visit.  A nice inner-city feel with small streets and tube stations in close proximity.

Once we finished tackling the Emirates Stadium, it was on to Piccadilly Circus.  We almost completely missed this area, but lucked out in finding it via a tourist shop that had a painting of the area.  Arriving at Piccadilly Circus, the scene was simply amazing.

Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus

I’ve never been to Times Square in NYC, but this was definitely close and very similar to it.  We encountered vibrant lights, traffic galore, and all the entertainment and restaurants within walking distance.  To take advantage of the area, we enjoyed some fish and chips at a local pub.

Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips

The fish could’ve used a little more salt, but that’s probably just the American in me wanting things to be over seasoned as they do back home.

Moving on, we finally got a much closer look at Big Ben, and some night shots of the London Eye.

Big Ben

Big Ben

Having only seen these attractions in movies and on the Internet, it was definitely an amazing sight and very surreal.

The London Eye

The London Eye

The architecture in the area was unlike anything I’ve seen before.  While there is some history in Texas, the architecture is not as rich as London, which I can definitely appreciate.

To close out the final night, we made a trip to Sainsbury’s.  In one word, the store was simply amazing!  The store offered beef Cornish’s, Jamaican patties, great mixed drinks, and cheap beer.  After getting our fill of food and drinks, it was back to the flat to sing some like karaoke, recap the trip, and then back to Frankfurt, Germany in the morning.

Overall, the trip to London was amazing, but pretty pricey.  I’ll definitely be going back, and plan on conquering more areas of the city, as well as touring more of the UK. I love the pulse of the city, the amazing transportation system, and just the way that the city connects with each area.  Our return to Germany would later result in running at Stanstedt Airport to catch our flight, but it was worth every minute.

Next stop..Germany and then Paris!