Thursday, May 22, 2014


At the end of our time in Asia, the grand plan was for Ken to retire (though somewhat reluctantly) and we would start a new phase of our lives. As we learned early on in his career, "Never say never." In the fall of 2013, Ken was approached about taking on another expat assignment.

Fast forward to March 2014, and we are now living in Munich, Germany. Life certainly has a way of surprising you. And when the surprise is a great one, relax and enjoy it. The new blog will start shortly. The new blog address is Sorry it is so complicated, but everything I tried was unavailable. Once it is bookmarked it's easy to find.

For now, Auf Wiedersehen!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Home Sweet Home

As the old adage goes, all good things must come to an end. So too, did our Hong Kong adventure. After nearly two years and thousands of miles of travel, we arrived back in Grand Rapids at the end of March. Family and friends welcomed us home and we were happy to spend time with the familiar faces and places again.

It is difficult to sum up what the past two years has meant. First and foremost, we have made so many new and wonderful friends. Those we met were warm and welcoming and helpful and fun to be with. Even now a year later we all keep in touch and have even visited when the opportunity arises. These friendships throughout Asia Pacific are truly the best highlight of our amazing adventure.

Dr. Seuss wrote a book entitled Oh The Places You'll Go!. I think he wrote it for me. As a child growing up and even till today I have always been a voracious reader. To have the opportunity to actually visit so many of the places I have read and dreamed about is a gift beyond measure. To find so many more places that were so magical was even better.

With all of the turmoil in the world it is sometimes difficult to remember that by and large the everyday people of any country are just like you and me. We may have different cultures and customs, but at the core we are so much more alike than different. To know this intellectually is one thing, but to experience it first hand is enlightening. If you ever have the opportunity to live in another culture, even for a short while, do it. It is the best education anyone can get.

The opportunity to live in Hong Kong has enriched our lives and expanded our horizons. It has been exhilarating, educational, awe inspiring and filled with friends and laughter. We will miss it so.

The Palace at Versailles

As a huge history buff, Ken had put Versailles on the list of must see spots as soon as we decided on a stop over in Paris. We had a sunny if cold day to make our visit.

No matter what you think you are going to see, nothing quite prepares you for the immenseness and opulence of Versailles. After nearly three hundred photos, we still experienced only a small portion of what was there to see. The gates alone can make your jaw drop.

It is nearly impossible to get a shot of the entire facade without special lenses and lots of people moving out of the way.

Each part of the building holds its own allure and everywhere you look there is something new and different to see.

We got in line for our tickets and a wonderful lady suggested we sign up for the guided tour. It was only 1 Euro more than general admission, but it got you into the Palace without waiting in line and you could see areas not on the general tour. You also were able to go into many of the rooms that were cordoned off to the general tour groups. Once we saw the lines for general admission, we realized it was one of the best Euros we spent on the entire trip.

Since we had some time before our tour started, we spent a bit of time in the gardens. It was still March and most of the greenery was in its winter dress, most of the fountains were not working and the boats, bikes and carriage rides had yet to open for the season. Even so, it was a beautiful sight. Once again the sheer size of the grounds was mind boggling. A friend told us she tried to walk to the far end of the property and after two hours decided she had best turn around.

Marie Antoinette's personal estate, the Petit Trianon, and gardens are toward the back of the property. We did not have time to see this and so it is on the list for next time. The very small portion we did see was quite grand and elegant.

Ken decided to play real estate agent. Has he got a cottage for you!

The tour started in some of the private chambers. Everywhere you looked there was another clock, piece of furniture, painted ceiling, sculpture, china and more to catch your eye. 

We traveled some of the "back" stairways which I quite liked for their simplicity. Simplicity is a comparative term here.

Another area not on the general tour is the opera house. It was used for private performances for the royal family. There are even screens for those who wanted to watch but not be seen.

Once the private portion of the tour ended, our group joined in the general tour to see the remainder of the palace. Room after room revealed new treasures. Hallways, too.

Perhaps the most famous room in the palace is the Hall of Mirrors. It really does sparkle everywhere.

Even peeking out the windows was a treat.

That last one makes you wonder a bit.

Lots and lots of bedrooms in this place with lots and lots of furnishings.

The dining area was beautifully set with some very impressive napkin folding going on.

There is so much more to see and experience at Versailles, you will just have to go and see for yourself.