Europe - part 1

 Alright, here we go......this might take me until next Christmas to get all the pictures uploaded, but I'm determined to do it.  We've been really focusing on family history in our stake the last few months, and when I look back and read this blog, I'm so happy I keep a record like this.   It's our families journal of all our adventures, and someday my kids will be happy they have this (I think/hope).  
We were conveniently in Hurricane for Eli's wedding the weekend before we needed to fly out of Las Vegas to Europe.  Worked out nicely.  As we were leaving Hurricane, like literally about 30 minutes before leaving, we found out Luke and his girls had strep throat!!  One of my biggest fears when traveling, especially internationally, is one of us getting sick.   We quickly called grandpa Mel and got everyone antibiotics to take in case we got it.  I was SOOO surprised that not one person got sick in the 2 weeks!!  I don't know if it's because we had a full day of flying, and they had already started their antibiotics, but the girls were awesome.  You would have never guessed they were sick.  With driving, airport waiting time and flying time, it took about 15 hours to get to Denmark.   Everyone did surprisingly well on the long flight.  Luckily each seat had little T.V.'s that the kids could control themselves and watch movies or play games.  I think Ava watched movies the entire 10 hour flight.  Here eyes were super blood shot by the time we got there.  :)  Our family didn't sleep that much on the flight, and we arrived in Copenhagen at 9:00 am (we missed a night in there somewhere).  We had to wait at the car rental desk for about 45 minutes and finally got our 'vans' (more like small SUV's). 

Copenhagen, Denmark - December 16
Everyone rides bikes in Copenhagen.  On our way to find breakfast we saw this beauty, a jazzy pulling a boat!!  Awesome!
We ate breakfast at a little corner cafe (muesli, croissants, eggs and avocado toast).  The kids were exhausted so they mainly just complained.
We went back to our hotel (Scandic Sydhavenen) to take a quick nap, which turned into a 4 hour nap.  When we all woke up it was dark (4 pm).  That was probably the most surprising thing about Denmark - the sun doesn't rise until after 9 am and it starts to get dark around 3:30.  I don't think I could live there in the winter. 
Another thing I noticed is that most of the toilets are off the ground, no base AND no tank.  LOVE THIS!!  Seriously wish I knew about this before the plumbing was done in our cabin.  Think about it, you can mop under the toilet, no need to clean off the that stupid base with all the curves, and no nasty bolts to clean that hold the tank.  Genius, I tell you.  Why hasn't this caught on in America?!  Another observation:  most of their showers are flush with the rest of the bathroom, so only a curtain separates it from the rest of the bathroom (my brother has this in his bathroom).  I thought I would like this, but water does get everywhere.  
 We drove downtown to the Tivoli Christmas market.   This market had an entrance fee, but all the other we visited were free.  Denmark is quite expensive, we realized.  Everything from gas, food, water, activities were about 3 times the price as Germany. 

 There were lots of little food shops to choose from.  We picked this pasta and sandwich shop.  We watched him put the bread thru the press machine and make the pasta right in front of us.  The Europeans are not so much about the quantity, but the quality.  Multiple times during the trip we commented how they don't run their businesses to work more efficiently or make more money.  They do just enough to by.  This isn't a bad thing, just something we noticed.  One example, is everything closes pretty early, even though there are thousands of people still out and about needing to eat and shop.  Also, on holidays EVERYTHING closes.  Sundays most things are closed as well.  We were in this little town on Christmas Eve and nothing was open, but there were 5,000+ people in town for one event.  You would think they would like to open and make a lot of revenue, but nope, they'd take the holiday.

 We also got some chocolate Ebelskivers for dessert.   We make these at home and usually put stuff inside them, but we were surprised to find out that the Danish Ebelskiver is plain and then they add stuff the top, like chocolate, sugar, strawberries, etc. 

 Lots of their flower displays were brussell sprouts and cabbage. :)
 I loved all the Christmas decorations (especially since I didn't have to put any up last year).  Think temple square caliber, but everywhere you turn, and a little more old fashioned.
 I thought these huge hanging tree baskets looked like my mom.
 After we walked around awhile, we found this fun climbing structure that the kids played on for a little while.  They didn't come down after a few minutes and when Michon (we went with Luke and Jana and their 3 1/2 girls - Jana was pregnant, and also Jana's cousin Michon and Matt and their 2 kids) and I went up to find the kids, they were playing on this fun playground hidden at the top of these tall houses. 
 Bikes everywhere!  There is a separate bike lane all over Copenhagen.  They even have their own street lights.  You have to be careful walking, because the bikers are zooming down these bike lanes and you can get hit.  Cars are very cautious with the bikers too, because if you hit a cyclist the car driver gets in serious trouble.   We went back to our hotel and tried to sleep.  We slept until about 2 am and then we were pretty much wide awake.  Even though we were in a non-smoking room, for some reason we would get strong whiffs of smoke in our room, so that made it hard to sleep too. Adam took the kids down to the lobby in the wee hours of the morning to walk around a bit, and then as soon as breakfast opened at 6, we headed down there to eat.  Jet lag is a bugger.  I've never really experienced it too bad before, but it took about 3 days before we were all sleeping at normal hours and not dead tired. 
(Apartment building in Copenhagen - most of them look similar to this)
After we ate breakfast we loaded up and headed to our next destination, Hamburg Germany.  Sorry, long(ish) story: all of our cars were equipped with GPS's (a little tricky to use at first), so we all typed in Hamburg (each GPS said a little over 4 hours) and set out on the road.  We tried to stay by each other, but the minute we left the hotel (it was dark, mind you) we couldn't see Luke or Matt.  We figured we'd better just follow the GPS and we'd find them later.  About 5 minutes into the drive I told Adam I don't think this is right.  The signs keep saying Malmo.  We figured it was taking us to the right freeway eventually.  I kept texting Michon and trying to call Jana (our phones weren't working that well over there either), and finally Michon texted back. We confirmed that we were on the same freeway, so we thought all was well.  Nope.  Both freeways we were on had the same name, but a different letter (E20a and E20b, or something like that).  By the time we figured it out, it was too late, once you're on that freeway there is no turning off it (seriously, how dumb is that, no turn offs for miles).  We had not choice but to continue.  We ended up going across a big bridge and then under the ocean (underground tunnel) to Malmo, Sweden.  When we got to Sweden we had to pay a $50 toll (again, why is there not a turn off or place to turn around?!!?!) to pass thru.  The officers told us how to turn around and AGAIN we had to pay $50 to get back to Copenhagen.  Seriously, so frustrating.  We spent about 5 minutes in Sweden.  As soon as we got back to Copenhagen we hit horrible traffic.  Our GPS kept rerouting us to different places trying to avoid the bottlenecks.  2 hours later!!!, we drove past our hotel where we originally left, and started all over again.  We were able to see a lot of Copenhagen this way. :)  Luckily our kids were so tired and jet lagged, they slept thru most of the drive this day.  Later we found out you have to switch countries in the GPS - it was taking us to some Hamburg in Sweden.
 The architecture is amazing and the scenery is unfamiliar, so I didn't mind the detour.  I just felt bad for Adam who was driving.  He was pretty chill about the whole thing.  The map below shows you where we are in this journey so far.  This is the long bridge from Copenhagen to Odense, Denmark.

Driving picture - somewhere near Odense, Denmark.  Once we hit Germany, Adam was excited to speed on the Autobahn.  I always thought the Autobahn was 1 small road in Germany, but the Autobahn is all the freeways in Germany.  When driving thru towns, they have speed limits, but otherwise you get to drive as fast as you want.  Everyone is very good about moving over except to pass, minus Matt, because people come speeding by at ridiculous speeds on the left.
We finally made it to Hamburg Germany about 8 hours later.  We stayed at the Leonardo Hotel Hamburg Stillhorn about 15 minutes from downtown Hamburg.   Luke and Matt and their families only beat us by an hour, so they went and got pizza and brought us some back.  We needed a walk so walked up the street next to the hotel. 
Cool mossy thatched roof

The architecture is so cool here.  I could walk around and look at houses forever.

We ate pizza in our room and then headed to the Hamburg Christmas market.   Each street is decorated with different lights. 

Town hall building was amazing.
One of the market booths
Bratz everywhere!!  They eat their bratz on kaiser rolls.

Lots and lots of candy booths to choose from.

Adam loved seeing the signs that, in English, mean something different. We saw Ausfahrt (assfart) everywhere, because it means exit, and I think he chuckled every time.  Sparkasse, is a bank.  Boys and their humor.
Inside the town hall.
These Christmas markets are super busy at night, and Adam quickly loses his patience in crowds.  We were all tired, so we went back to the hotel and Luke and Adam brought back food from a grocery store to eat at the hotel.  Ha, I think they brought back a nasty packaged pastry, some apples and crackers.  Our bodies were still messed up as to what time it was and when to eat, so we weren't too hungry anyway. 

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