The picture above is the village of Lupburg, our home away from home while in Bavaria. Our house is on the right, below the onion dome church . The people are friendly, helpful and best of all, love to keep things "in order."

Cruise Day 2

August 8  Day at Sea, Kiel to Stockholm
We returned to the ship in fine form after our day of sightseeing in Kiel and got dressed for dinner. We had 2 tables in the L'Hibiscus dining room, a table of 8 and a table of 4. This proved a bit of a challenge because we had 7 adults and 5 children. We decided to rotate who sat at the "little table" with Tim drawing the lucky spot for night number 1.  Our servers, Adriana and Lucas, kept us entertained with incredible food and magic tricks throughout the evening.  Since MSC is an Italian-owned ship, each evening featured dishes from different regions through Italy.  I have to admit, they all started to taste somewhat the same by day 4 but we still enjoyed the opportunity to choose from the menu up to 6 courses, with dessert always being a highlight.
Our day at sea was absolutely perfect.  Lots of sunshine (even on the Baltic Sea), warm temps, refreshing pools and a rousing game of mini-golf on the top deck.  Will and Troy spent hours preparing an "Olympic games" competition for our time on the cruise which was great fun until we discovered that supplies for events (like ping pong and suffleboard) were a bit limited.  Not to fear...as the sun began to set, all of us were a bit weary from the day's tiring schedule of sunbathing and drinking tropical drinks. Following dinner each night, the entertainment crew put on a gala spectacular in the ship's theater.  It reminded me a bit of Vegas, a little opera, death-defying acrobatics and even an appearance by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
Safety first! The kids enjoyed practicing for disaster

That's Amore!

Day at Sea...perfect weather and plenty of things to do on board

I won a contest and was treated to a meal from the 5 star restaurant on board. Only drawback, I had to eat it at 11am!

Intense competition on the mini-golf course

The man in charge of the score

Ahhhh...Troy takes the Nestea plunge

Girls ready for the show

Stephanie and Bryan, Troy and Quinn

The Postma girls

Scouting the Divine

Goofing around at dinner

Purple Rain...our drink of choice

Ping Pong champs
"That's right...Who's bad?"  Michael Jackson

Baltic Sea Cruise Day 1

7 Aug Kiel, Germany We slept well last night, rocked ever so slightly by the waves as we chugged toward Germany.  The day started off grey and cloudy and by 6:30am we were slowly pulling into the port of Kiel.   Everyone was anxious to get off the ship but first, we had to visit the never-ending breakfast buffet.  Most of the fare was European standards...bread, cold cuts, cheese and traditional yogurt.  But, Lindsey managed to find the cocoa crispies and of course, there was a station dedicated to pancakes.

Our goal for today was to disembark in Kiel and  take the train to the town of Lubeck, an hour long journey through German countryside.  MSC conveniently had shuttle buses available for cruise passengers wanting to get to the train station (hauptbonhof) and we happily accepted the transport.
The Holsten Gate: the gateway to the original Old Town. 

Upon arrival to Lubeck I consulted my Germany guidebook and learned about this UNESCO world heritage site.
Lübeck is the city which, more than any other, exemplifies the power and historic role of the Hanseatic League. Founded in 1143 by Henry the Lion on a small island of the Baltic coast, Lübeck was the former capital and Queen City of the Hanseatic League from 1230 to 1535. As such it was one of the principal cities of this league of merchant cities which monopolized the trade of the Baltic and the North Sea, just as Venice and Genoa exerted their control over the Mediterranean.

Wilhelm has a commanding presence

About 20% of the city was destroyed during WWII, but the 15th C Holsten Gate with its leaning towers and the city's  Rathaus still stand. We sat at the outdoor Niederegger Cafe and enjoyed tasty marzipan coffees and traditional German pastries while listening to the classical tunes from a brass quintet based out of St Petersberg. 
Yvonne, a master at wrapping gifts, Niederreger marzipan shop

In front of the Rathaus...Enjoying the sounds and tastes of Lubeck on a glorious Sunday morning

Inside the Niederegger Shop...marzipan fashioned into all sorts of unique shapes. Lindsey holds up a cruise ship

Stephanie and Bryan on the train ride back to Kiel

Baltic Sea Cruise: All Aboard!

Day 1: Leaving Copenhagen aboard MSC Orchestra
Our last morning in Copenhagen was spent touring Rosenberg Palace, the favorite home and place of death for King Christian IV.  It is an intimate castle with every room used and designed for comfort.  It seems King Christian was a bit of a jokester--he had a chair built that made fart noises and wet the person's pants when they sat down and he had a room completely covered in mirrors (including the floor) in order to see up women's skirts.  I was most impressed by the King's throne which was made out of narwhal tusks (first thought to be unicorn horns)...it absolutely glimmers in the light.  The Palace is also home to the royal treasury so the kids enjoyed getting an up close view of tiaras, crowns and massive pearl and diamond necklaces.
Copenhagen loves their favorite King...his crest is found everywhere

On the palace grounds, Rosenberg Palace, Copenhagen

The Little Mermaid, a gift from the first owner of Carlsberg breweries to the city.  Located at Langelinje pier.  

Before Lauren experienced life as a mermaid in Copenhagen's waters

Following the Palace tour we drove over to visit the Little Mermaid. Lindsey conveniently cued up the Disney song on her laptop as we drove by.  The kids and I hopped out to get up close and true to Lauren's nature, she fell in the water to be super close with her kindred spirit.  Surprise to us...the Little Mermaid is actually quite little.
Our cruise ship was docked fairly close to the Mermaid so Tim dropped us off with our luggage and went to find the parking garage for the cruise terminal.  This turned out to be about a mile away; sounds close when you're driving there but then you have to walk that same distance back to the ship.  Tim made it in record time and we proceeded to check in to our cabins, find the rest of our party and hit the buffet.
The kids enjoyed a little fruit treat while they waved to cool cars driving by

The Grand Staircase...lest you be confused by the other staircases where one would meet.  

Doing our nails on deck...it's important to have good cruise nails

Lindsey's favorite traveling companion

Baltic Sea Cruise

Exploring Copenhagen 
The morning offered plenty of sunshine and we headed to the Netto boat cruises for the hour-long harbor tour from the best vantage point, the water.  The Danish language is a bit difficult to decipher but it wasn't hard to learn that "København" is Danish for the capital city.  First documented in the 11th century, Copenhagen became the capital in the beginning of the 15th century. During the 17th century, under the reign of King Christian the 4th, much of the city's waterfront took on a Dutch flair as the King sought to bring a bit of Amsterdam's charm to his town.  
Tall ship in Nyhavn

Can't miss this Danish beer outpost on the canal

The "Black Diamond"--public library. It shimmers in the sunlight

Opera House, Copenhagen

Fabulous apartments with canal (former torpedo bay) running through 

Our Savior's Church, spiral tower

The harbor cruise is a great way to get acquainted with the city's layout.  Some highlights include the Opera House and the Black Diamond, Copenhagen's public library.  
My favorite spot was cruising through Nyhavn where the houseboats and original waterside buildings still stand.  Following the cruise, Lindsey, lauren and I climbed the church tower of Our Savior's Church, a massive spiral tower which has the adventurous walk on the outside of the tower on their way to the top.  While the girls delighted in seeing the city from on high, I simply touched the last step with my foot and immediately turned around to go back down.   
Following the church climb, we made our way to the Danish National Museum and saw some really cool old stuff.  This free museum is chock full of ancient goods including mummies found in old coffins and Runestones, memorials to deceased men with colored runic writing (like hieroglyphics) dating from the 6-7th century. While we first thought Denmark was land of Vikings, we now know that Vikings were much farther north and Copenhagen remains a thoroughly "modern" city having been radically impacted by Christian IV in the 1600s.  
Runestone, 7th Century

Ewww...old braided hair found in peat bogs given as part of  religious ceremony

Practicing the "Lindsey pose", National Museum

"Chariot of the Sun", Bronze Age

For dinner, we met up with the rest of the Postma gang and enjoyed a meal at an Italian restaurant.  We were surprised to learn that the Danish don't "share meals" and we each had to order a meal from the regular menu.  Good thing we weren't spending more than 2 days in the fabulous town.
Grandpa gives Lilly a piggy-back ride around the plaza

Bummer! Lindsey is still at the "kids table"

Statue dedicated to all the Fish women who sold their husband's daily catch in days gone by.

Cruising the Baltic Sea

August 6-13 2011 Baltic Sea Cruise

Starting Point: Copenhagen The Postma Family gathered in Copenhagen Denmark for a week-long cruise of the Baltic Sea.  Mom and Dad played it smart by first flying to Geneva to visit Bryan and Stephanie and kids and allow jet lag to slow them down BEFORE heading on the cruise.  Tim, the kids and I drove to Denmark, taking the autobahn and stopping for the night in Hannover, Germany.  We planned to arrive 2 days before the cruise left allowing for some sightseeing in one of Europe's most expensive cities.

Our "home" in Copenhagen was the Hotel Jorgensen, a hostel/hotel catering to down-on-their-luck tourists. We secured a family room which consisted of metal bunkbeds, a tiny metal cafe table, 2 chairs and a large flat screen TV mounted to the wall.  I brought sheets, blankets and pillows to give it the feel of a college dorm.  This wasn't successful. It was still a bare-bones room but at least we had our own space.

The first evening we headed out on the town. It was a short walk from the hotel to Tivoli Gardens and the Town Hall.  We enjoyed watching people, listening to street musicians and eating the long weiners that Denmark is known for.
Lilly bites into a tasty dog...she wasn't as fond of the ketchup 

Much like the cows and pigs in other cities, numerous artistic elephants are scattered throughout Copenhagen

Home Sweet Home! Hotel Jorgensen in it's finest glory

Our room