1 Weekend – 3 Countries
Last weekend Stew and I celebrated our first anniversary! And what a celebration it was. A complete surprise and a wonderful adventure!
I can’t actually believe we have been married for a year already! It feels so strange because so much has happened, it feels as if we’ve been married longer. But on the other hand, I remember our magical day like it was yesterday. Sometimes it still feels like we are engaged and have a wedding to plan!
But, here we are… 1 year later, in a new country and on a new journey. I must say, it has been such a wonderfully action-packed year that this first chapter of our story (if it were ever written out) would be quite long! Here is a quick run through for you all to understand why I say that.
A summary of the last year:
We were married on the 27th of May 2017, followed by an EPIC 2 week honeymoon road trip in Italy. Back from honeymoon and straight to moving into our first flat! I started a new job shortly after – yup lots of firsts and new starts! My sister had her beautiful baby boy (AJ) in September and I am blessed to be his God Mother. Stew then got the news that he was chosen to be part of a research program based in Germany – to start in February 2018. Beginning of 2018 I was diagnosed with Endometriosis and had a small op just a few weeks before we left for Germany. Lots of farewell dinners and parties and off we left for Germany on the 21st of February. Since arriving we’ve been to Austria, Switzerland, Amsterdam, France, and Luxembourg! BAM…. Yup, I do feel a bit tired haha.
Marriage has been an adventure – to say the least. But it has been the best adventure. There have been many struggles and each of us has had to adjust slightly – as most people warned – but they have been minimal compared to the joys, excitement, opportunities, and fun we have shared together. Even when faced with difficulties or struggles, we choose to turn them into opportunities to learn about each other, to grow as a couple and as individuals, to practice patience and love, and best of all we get to live this life TOGETHER! And I would do it all again if I could (literally, can we get married again?).
Okay, but I will write another blog about marriage soon. This blog is about our epic anniversary weekend and the awesome adventure we had, so let’s get to it!
Something is coming…
Having just moved to Germany there is a lot of admin and other things that we need to sort out. The most important part – finding a place to stay from July (our lease for the current place we are staying in will be up and we need to move). Along with the new place to stay, will be furnishing the place etc. – basically, we have a lot of saving and expenses we need to handle. Having said this, we decided that we would keep our anniversary very simple to save money. No gifts, just a simple dinner.
A week before our anniversary Stewart messages me and tells me he has made a reservation for our anniversary dinner so I shouldn’t. Obviously, I asked where and he said it was a surprise. Naturally, I was excited and also a bit bummed cause I wanted to plan the surprise, but mostly happy. The week leading up to our anniversary, Stew gave away a few signs that something strange was going on. Changing our meal plan (I plan the week’s meals so that we make sure we keep the grocery shopping simple), questions about defrosting meat etc… quite odd. But I didn’t think too much about it.
On Friday morning, 25 May, we got up early as usual and went to the gym. PS: I am NOT a morning person so getting up at 5:30 is tough! We come back and I start to make breakfast when Stew puts a letter on the table. Surprised – because I thought he was giving me a letter for our anniversary early – I opened it.
In it was instructions about a SURPRISE GETAWAY for the weekend, to pack LIGHT, pack breakfast goodies and be ready to go after lunch! This was honestly something I have dreamt about since I was a young romantic, as I am sure many girls have. I cried a bit and obviously smothered him with hugs and kisses! I didn’t expect this at all! Stew isn’t normally a romantic, but he has his moments and when they happen they mean the world to me.
Naturally, the morning dragged because I was so excited for our trip!
First stop – Trier
Lunchtime FINALLY came and we were off! The beauty of being in Europe (and the blessing of having a car) is that everything is so close and so easy to access. Just a 2 and a half hour drive and we arrived at our surprise destination – Trier (Che? – I also hadn’t heard of it before this). Why Trier? Stew chose this place because of the old Roman buildings that still remained AND because it was perfectly positioned to visit 2 more countries. 3 countries in 1 weekend – how lucky am I!
We stayed in a BEAUTIFUL Airbnb that felt more like a fancy bed and breakfast or hotel room – The Backyard. Modern and funky, with bread and condiments for breakfast, a Nespresso machine with a few capsules and just awesome everything! I highly recommend it if you are ever in Trier and I would definitely stay here again.
Trier itself is very small but full of character. It has an air of relaxation about it – calm and at ease. Everyone seems to be happy and enjoying life. There are a few tourists because of the unique sites the city has, but definitely worth it for a day trip. The beautiful river Moselle runs through it with stunning homes along the banks and the perfect place to cool down in the summer. There are lots of shops, cafés all around and a number of wonderful sites to visit. Not to mention an epic park that everyone seems to relax in!
Some of the sites we visited were:
- Ponta Nigra a long-standing Roman Gateway
- My favourite was the Cathedral Trier – the oldest church in Germany! It was commissioned by Emperor Constantine the Great and built on top of a palace of Saint Helen, his mother. So you can just imagine the history that lies within these walls – not to mention the walls themselves!
- Karl Marx House – we all know about the father of modern socialism and communism right? Well, this is his birthplace and the best place to get to know him better.
- The Trier Imperial Baths – designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. A must see!
We spent the rest of the Friday just exploring the city and relaxing – which was much needed!
The thing about choosing a restaurant…
So Stew and I usually look on TripAdvisor or google restaurants in the area to check their ratings. Often we find great ones, but sometimes we end up choosing one and going somewhere else last minute when we don’t like what we see. The struggle is real. The thing that we tend to look for is how many people are eating there when we arrive. If the restaurant is empty, we immediately change our mind. Probably not the best way to determine if a restaurant is good, but yeah, we’re strange like that.
When we finally made a decision to eat pizza for dinner, we arrived at the restaurant and found it empty. Yup – we went for burgers instead! Hahaha, typical.
But the burgers were great! An epic way to end of a very exciting day!
Next Stop – Metz (France)
I have never been to France before, so this was an extra treat on top of the surprise getaway! Literally another hour’s drive from Trier, through Luxembourg and VOILÀ – you are in FRANCE! Our French destination was a small beautiful town called Metz.
What a stunning place!! With tons of bakeries (obviously) and patisseries (of course) to enjoy all the croissants and coffee our heart desired. Rivers running through, plenty of exquisite cathedrals and churches to see, and that French feeling all around. Stew and I both found ourselves thinking “We could live here for sure!” We arrived there Saturday morning so there was a huge market happening. Fresh cheese, bread, fruit and vegetables and clothes all around us. Everyone seemed to be there doing their Saturday shopping.
The first thing we did…
…was buy a pain au chocolat before beginning our wanders through the city. The first site we stumbled upon (well it’s actually so massive you walk right into it) was the Metz Cathedral. It is truly spectacular! The details and stained glass are magical. There is something about unrestored Cathedrals that are stained from centuries of use that leaves me speechless. It allows you to reflect on the history of the building. To think about how they built such magnificent buildings in those days and all the people who worshipped in them is quite staggering.
We next went to see Le Temple Neuf, which is perfectly placed along the river and has such a peaceful surrounding. Next, we went to find the Porte des Allemand, the city gate of Metz, which is a great place to go for a walk in the park and learn about the culture and history of Metz.
We also managed to find the Temple de Garnison – which was built as a temple of worship. What’s so interesting about it, is that it looks as though the main part of the building has been removed or destroyed. Leaving the temple structure standing alone. Really strange but quite incredible.
Our time was quite limited because we had another destination to get to, we didn’t manage to see all the wonderful sites that Metz has. And there are a lot! So I found a list in case you want to check it out – here. Like I said though, Metz really is enchanting and I would love to visit it again and see more of what it has to offer.
So there it was, my first French experience, topped off with some DELICIOUS pastries because, well, when in France one must eat pastries. AND a macaroon… don’t forget the macaroon!
Next up – Luxembourg
By this point, we had walked quite a bit and were rather exhausted. Not to mention frustrated with my allergies, which left me sneezing and sniffing through the streets of Metz. But our adventure did not end there… because driving back to Trier meant driving through Luxembourg. So yes, we had to stop!
Luxembourg is really not what we expected…
…although I wasn’t sure what to expect really. It is beautiful and fancy if that word can be used to describe a city. It was packed with tourists, snazzy restaurants, and boutiques. Needless to say, it is horrendously expensive. We weren’t really sure what to look for so we settled for just wandering.
We found the Grand Ducal Palace, home of the Grand Duke, with very diligent guards marching proudly in the heat. It definitely is stunning – I wouldn’t mind staying there myself! And right across from a chocolatier. Guess what they can have for breakfast!
We also got to see the Cathédrale Notre-Dame, which I am so glad about. Walking inside I allowed myself to picture what it must be like for Dukes to be married in such a beautiful Cathedral. I do that often, picture myself in the shoes of previous visitors who also experienced the splendor of the buildings. It makes it more real for me, gives it meaning. Stew also managed to overhear a tour guide mention that Luxembourg is 90% Catholic, which was quite interesting to know.
We then came across the most spectacular view of a sort of the Pétrusse, an absolutely incredible park that you can walk and cycle through. And of course, the Adolphe Bridge that crosses over it. They have recently added an awesome walk bridge right under so that you do not walk on the road part of the bridge. How cool is that! It really is something special!
The one site I wished we had seen is the Castle Vianden, because I am absolutely obsessed with castles and this one looks like it comes right out of a fairytale! It isn’t in the city, however, but if ever you are in Luxembourg, do not miss it!
What a day!
After a bit of driving, a lot of excitement and exploring 2 cities, we were pooped! A much as I wished we could see everything, I couldn’t go on. 3 countries in 1 day are quite a feat! And so after an expensive yet delicious ice cream, we drove back to Trier to have a bit of a rest before enjoying a fantastic pizza dinner – which was just what we needed!
Yes, yet another case of finding a restaurant online, see one that is fuller and change our minds. But damn that pizza was massive and satisfying! If you are in Trier and looking for pizza – try out Pane Vino.
The weekend adventure ended on Sunday, our anniversary day! We had a yummy breakfast complete with love letters we wrote for each other and made our way back home.
A bit boring for the actual anniversary day? Well, hold on to your hats because our adventure did not end there. On our way home Stew spotted a sign for a castle called Burg Eltz. A quick decision and detour through some beautiful farm towns later and we were in the parking lot to go see a random castle. Which turned out to be quite famous by the way (we had no clue).
To get to the castle you have to walk through a forest (so enchanting and exciting because in one of my other lives I live in a castle in a magical forest). We had no clue what was waiting for us. It was MAGICAL! Snow White’s Castle for sure! Nestled between green hills, the castle was a splendor! Honestly, I felt like I was floating on a cloud of castle dreams come true! It is unscathed by wars, built on a rock and is still owned and cared for by the same family who built it!
You can hike through the forests around it and have a drink in the café beneath it. It even has its own little bridge at the bottom! If you had asked me what I wanted to see on our anniversary or my birthday, the answer would be a magical castle (or Hogwarts). So wish come true, and it was a complete flook! That is the best part about traveling by car through Europe… you never know what you will stumble upon. It is full of possibilities and adventure!
A magical end…
So that is the tale of the grand anniversary celebration of Mr. and Mrs. Leith. 3 countries, a castle and a delicious spaghetti Bolognese dinner later! It was more than I could ever have dreamed. I truly am so blessed to have an incredible husband, a wonderful journey ahead of us and a God who always has a plan.