The benefit of having the Mock Dock, for me, is that I get to use it to write about whatever I want. :) That’s not a benefit to YOU, of course, because sometimes I’m gonna write about stuff you don’t care about, but I can’t tell you how many times I have referenced old posts I’ve written about my kids, or past trips – and it’s super handy to have TMD serve as sort of my online diary.
Which is why I’m about to recapture my entire European vacay here, whether you choose to read it or not. I hope you do, but if you don’t, that’s cool too, because I’m pretty certain I’ll be looking back at this several times over the next several years to remember it all.
From a traveling perspective, this was the worst trip ever, because we had endless flight troubles and rental car troubles and just logistical troubles in general. Getting to and from our vacation was awful, and as of right now, we still don’t even have our luggage back, even though we arrived late last night. But despite all of the hassles and rescheduling and re-reserving and re-paying and refunds and reorganizing and recalculating dates/times, we ended up having a truly spectacular time everywhere we went.
We started off in Stuttgart, where we arrived around 1pm in the afternoon, but due to the aforementioned glitches we didn’t have our rental car till around 4, so we were involuntarily sequestered in our hotel room at the Moevenpick (one of our faves) for a few hours before we could go exploring. Once we had the car, we had a lovely evening exploring downtown Stuttgart and eating at a great little steakhouse. And then we crashed, because Day Two was all about the Porsche Museum (otherwise known as Mr. Mock’s happy place). We spent several hours there on Sunday, and Mr. Mock became fast friends with one of the guides there, who let him into the workshop, which was a huge treat.
After the museum, we went to the huge square in the middle of downtown, where people were lounging on the grass and enjoying the beautiful weather, and we grabbed some McDonalds french fries, and chilled out with a friendly duck near the fountain.
Day Three – we headed south of Stuttgart about a half hour to visit Hohenzollern castle, which is amazeballs. Here’s what it looked like from a distance:
And the view from the top? BREATHTAKING:
We left there to head to our next castle stop – Heidelberg castle – in between Stuttgart and Cologne:
And here’s another view with the Rhine river in the background:
After visiting Heidelberg, it was time to make the trek to Cologne, where we had reservations at the Excelsior Hotel, which turned out to be a 5-star hotel right across the street from the Cologne Cathedral. Our travel agent had told them it was my birthday, and they upgraded us to what had to have been one of their most beautiful suites – with three balconies all with a spectacular view of the cathedral, which apparently took over 600 years to build and is so impossibly enormous we couldn’t even capture the entire thing in one photo frame. Here’s the view from one of our balconies:
The staff at the Excelsior was amazing – and since we arrived around 9pm and were too tired to go out to eat, we ordered room service, which they provided with all sorts of 5-star fanfare and fanciness.
Day Four – There’s a bridge in Cologne over the Rhine river which is called Love Lock Bridge, where couples attach locks symbolizing their commitment to one another, and then toss the key over the bridge into the river. There are THOUSANDS of locks attached to the fence of the bridge, and it looks gorgeous and colorful and a lot more awesome than what this photo could capture:
Mr. Mock surprised me by presenting me with a lock he’d bought and engraved a month or so ago, which totally made me bawl. We found a spot on the bridge and added our lock, and threw the key into the river, and now we’ve made our mark in Cologne!
After that, we went for a one hour cruise on the Rhine river in the Cologne area, and met the sweetest pair of folks from Atlanta – a guy who took his mom on vacation, and had apparently done so several times in the past. We all became fast friends. I adored them – Brian and his mama Carolyn:
Day Five – we decided to take advantage of the included breakfast at the Excelsior before heading to the airport for Edinburgh, and HOLY COW WAS IT FANCY:
And if the gigantic fancy buffet of treats wasn’t enough, they brought me a birthday card and a special assortment of yummies:
It was a glorious hotel, and I even had a favorite bellhop:
After breakfast it was time to head to Scotland. Here was the view leaving Germany from the plane:
When we arrived in Scotland, Mr. Mock had to quickly acclimate himself to driving on the left side of the road, AND figure out how to find our hotel in a foreign city, AND do it without killing us or anyone else in the process. And he did it! We pulled up to a doorway of what looked like a forever long building of townhomes, which turned out to be the Howard Hotel:
That was the entrance to another 5 star BEEEEEYOOOOOTIFUL hotel with just 18 rooms, and 24 hour personal butler service. When we got to the reception area, we were presented with a letter explaining how we could use our butler, because obviously we were clueless. These butlers are trained to unpack your luggage and then repack it for you, which we found hilarious and completely unnecessary, because I didn’t want some random stranger going through my undies and whatnot. That was just one of their many services. We were presented with champagne for my birthday, along with a special delivery of the Robbie Williams VIP tickets we’d pre-ordered, and so I was basically the happiest person ever at that point. When we were put onto the elevator to get to our 2nd floor suite, we made room for the butler to get on the lift with us, and he said, “Butlers always take the stairs.” And by the time the elevator reached the floor, there he was ready to greet us and show us our room, which was totally exquisite. And the bathroom looked like this:
We freshened up quickly to go explore the city, and headed straight for Old Town Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Castle. BEAUTIFUL. See it in the background at the top of the hill?
And here’s what it looked like when we got there:
We spent the evening exploring the sights and sounds of Edinburgh, and then having a lovely birthday dinner at Steak Edinburgh. I am so freaking spoiled.
But it only got better, because the next day was spent exploring more of the lush, green, beautiful city, and then it was off to see Robbie Williams in Glasgow.
Now, I should tell you that we decided to get tickets for Robbie through this agency which specializes in charging you a fortune for tickets, but you’re pretty much guaranteed to get really good seats. After seeing Robbie in Stuttgart last year and being in a huge stadium where he was forever far away, I was determined this time to get closer. So I spent a LOT of money on our tickets, and opted to buy the “inner pit” access, which is standing room only, versus getting actual seats. Because I wanted the opportunity to get as close to him as I possibly could.
I had no idea how awesome of an experience the whole evening was about to be. We were checked into a VIP hospitality suite, where we were immediately given champagne and seated at a private table for two in a lovely banquet room, and were were served a 3 course dinner menu (salmon salad, lamb, and a chocolate cake for dessert), and unlimited alcohol. Robbie’s album was playing in the background, and it was a super yummy dinner, and I was appropriately liquored up (but not too much), and was making best friends with one of the agency representatives. We were then personally escorted to the inner pit of the concert hall, which is when I realized that OMG I AM GOING TO BE SO CLOSE TO ROBBIE WILLIAMS HOLY CRAP. Because honestly, I imagined that I’d be among HUNDREDS of other standing people, and that the area I’d be standing in would be in front of the stage, but I was literally ONE PERSON behind the stage. It was a security dude, and then a person, and then me. So when Robbie first made his appearance on stage, it looked like this:
That’s pretty much when I nearly passed out with joy. The agency representative had promised me I would be able to see his eyelashes flutter, and she was totally right. He was magnificent. And I SWEAR we made eye contact on like 3 separate occasions.
Seriously, one of the greatest nights of my entire life. It wasn’t until about 2 songs in that I even realized there were dancers and a band, because I was so completely transfixed on him. And after the show, we were allowed back into the hospitality area for more drinks and snacks, and we were given a copy of the official program and a copy of the CD from the evening, and I don’t even know how I went to sleep that night because I was so completely giddy with glee.
The next morning, we started our trek back to the states – from Edinburgh to Paris to Atlanta to Cincinnati to Indy, and we STILL don’t have our luggage back from Delta, and likely won’t until Monday. So that’s the downside of the trip, but it doesn’t even matter because LOOK HOW CLOSE I WAS TO ROBBIE WILLIAMS, you guys. It was worth every cent we paid that agency, and I would do it again and again and again.
I’m leaving out a zillion details because I’m jetlagged and kinda cranky and because it’s entirely likely no one is reading this anyway. But this was the main stuff we did. Best trip ever, but so busy. Next year, if we’re fortunate enough to be able to vacation again, we’re going to a beach where we have nothing to do but lay around, because as much as this vacation rocked, it was GO GO GO the entire time. And I’m ready to stop.