Sunday Snapshots: Gourdy

Franconia, 2011

If you love a gourd, look no further than typical cafe decor at this time of year. If you want to bedeck your own doorway, it’s easy enough around here. Just drive out of any town and you’ll find farm fields with wagons of green, yellow, and orange Kürbisse ready to come home with you. Most of these places operate on the honor system though, so don’t you forget to put some cash into the box!



Norway Road Trip 2017: Bergen in Color

Over hills and across water, another epic drive led BV and I into Bergen for our third road trip stop. We had booked a very sweet condo on Airbnb, which, while lacking a primo location (20-minute bus ride to the center and overlooking a fairly industrial area), it compensated with a real bed (not bunk beds), and a washer/dryer. This was a strategic choice on our part.

We figured on having two nights to explore the city, but after our morning in Vik and the long drive that followed, we were too wiped to do much on our first night besides enjoy some home comforts, do laundry, and watch bad movies on Norwegian cable. No regrets there.

Refreshed and relaxed the next morning we watched the bus to the city appear promptly at the bus stop visible from the apartment every 10 minutes without fail. Our hosts had left us tips on what ticket to buy, as well as a few sights to check out in the city, and armed with that information we were off.

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Since Last Monday…

Well, if he gets lucky, a boy finds a girl

To help him shoulder the pain in this world

And if you follow your feelings

And you follow your dreams

You might find the forest there in the trees…

~Tom Petty

I feel guilty saying this, but last Monday was a really gorgeous day.

BV and I had just spent the first of our two nights in Reit im Winkl courtesy of the public holiday on Tuesday. Our apartment was darling, and if it had a flaw, it would be that we didn’t have any internet. Service in RiW isn’t particularly great, which meant no LTE, no 3g, and only sometimes E.

I managed to connect for a few minutes on Monday morning, just long enough to upload a picture, note that it seemed to be raining in every other part of Germany, and that’s about it. Not wanting to waste precious roaming data, I opted to take a book onto the balcony with my camera and coffee.

The rest of the day was spent hiking through a sun-soaked fall landscape that left me feeling incredibly happy and refreshed. After having to change our plans several times, it seemed that we had really lucked out. High atop a hill, I took a couple of shots with my phone, noted that I had LTE (!), and uploaded another picture while I had the chance. Then it was back into the valley, through pastures and forests, stopping at Alms for drinks and snacks.

Hours later, the clouds were starting to roll in and we were back in our apartment getting showered before dinner. While BV was readying himself, I scrolled aimlessly through the internet… bored enough to risk using that data. I saw the news about Vegas, put the phone back down, and picked up my book again. Not now, I thought.

BV and I decided on a restaurant that we hadn’t eaten at before, and settled ourselves into the cozy interior of the former blacksmith. The building dates from 1496, and from the first step we took inside, we knew that we were in for a treat. We were nibbling on our appetizers when my phone vibrated the first time. Then again, and again. I subtly checked my wrist and the Fitbit display showed me that it was my best friend writing. We correspond regularly, but rarely does she text me three times in the span of a few minutes, especially if I haven’t answered. She also happened to spend about eight years living in Las Vegas, and has friends and family there.

I apologized to BV, as we usually have a rule about no phones during dinner (especially at a restaurant), and told him about the news that I’d seen while he was in the shower. I looked at the messages, and sure enough, she knew one of the victims, and so did I. Barely, but still. It was a guy we went to college with, the ex of her first roommate when she moved out there.* A friend of a friend of a friend situation, yes, but still.

Back at the apartment, I tried not to look at the news.  I tried to concentrate on a book, mostly unsuccessfully.

Tuesday morning dawned gray and rainy. We had thought that perhaps we could do a small hiking tour before we left, but it was absolutely pouring down rain. Instead we slowly ate breakfast and packed up for the drive home. Trying to check the weather for the drive, I found myself wandering to social media again, and saw the news about Tom Petty.


I’m sure it was a combination of factors, the most obvious ones being my sadness at having to leave the mountains  after such a short trip and the pouring rain, but at that point, I could have sobbed.

Back on network, I spent the whole drive home scrolling through the internet reading all the grisly details of what had happened in Las Vegas, and the beginning rumblings from every possible angle about how/why this happened. I couldn’t stop, even though I was exhausted by the thought of reading more.

That pretty much sums up a lot of how I’ve felt over the last months. The news has been so constantly, relentlessly insane that we haven’t gotten a break. Every day has brought some fresh new hell of insanity, defying logic, defying reason, defying the rule of order. It’s everywhere, it’s constantly breaking and sometimes it feels like it will break us before long.

I wish just checking out was an option, but in this world of 24-hour a day information, how realistic is that? Not very. Additionally, I teach adults, not kids, and you better believe, they are watching all of this too. They have questions, and therefore I should at least try to be able to answer them. It’s just exhausting sometimes.

Generally speaking, things are good here. I am generally happy here. It’s just been that kind of week, and those kinds of weeks have been more and more frequent these last months. It’s just hard to watch so much insanity in my home country from over here, and feel so helpless.

The world is a beautiful and amazing place, but I guess what I’m saying is that I’m having a hard time right now finding the forest in all of the trees.


*He’s still in the hospital, but seems to be on the road to recovery. Thankfully.

Sunday Snapshots: Some Assembly Required

Fürth, 2015

What’s that? You thought we were done with festivals? Never!

This Ferris Wheel may look slightly questionable, but have no fear. This picture was taken during the set up phase for the Michaelis-Kirchweih  in Fürth. When it’s fully assembled, it looks much more reliable than this. And if you’re in the region, you can see it in action from this weekend until October 11th.

The Michaelis-Kirchweih is somewhat unique to other festivals of its size, as it takes place all throughout the city center of Fürth rather than on a dedicated festival ground. It’s incredibly popular with the locals, who will defend its superiority to other nearby festivals (see: Nürnberg’s Volksfest, the Oktoberfest, or the Erlangen Bergkirchweih), with an almost religious fervor. But, to be fair, the good people of Fürth get that way about a lot of things… never bring up the Fürth/Nürnberg football rivalry unless you have a good amount of time on your hands.

More info here (in German): Michaelis Kirchweih


Sunday Snapshots: Drying Out in Dresden

Dresden, 2016

Not dry, weather-wise, mind you. But after all those fest-related posts, it’s time for a change. Today’s picture comes from last year’s trip to Chemnitz/Dresden for our anniversary. We stayed in Chemnitz for a few nights, and took the train into Dresden for a day. One day was definitely not enough, and we pretty much just spent the day wandering around the city ogling all the grand architecture, as you can see in the above photo from the Zwinger palace.

The most German part of this picture to me, however, isn’t the palace. It’s the background. Check out all those cranes. Seems that no matter where you go in this country, what city or village you are in, the cranes are everywhere. Building, building, building.

Sunday Snapshots: More Fest

Nürnberg, 2014

Nürnberg, 2014

If Oktoberfest seems more chaotic or rowdy than your taste, consider coming to the fair city of Nürnberg this month. From the 14th until the 25th of September, the Altstadtfest will be taking place, primarily on the Insel Schütt right in the center of town. There you can find all sorts of delicious brews from around Franconia, as well as some traditional cuisine. A word of warning… the menus do tend to be written in Franconian dialect, so if you don’t know what something is, ask the waiter or a neighbor! I once wound up with jellied meat, so… yeah, it can be dangerous. After you’re all fueled up, head to the Hauptmarkt, where you’re find the fall market for all your random kitchen appliance and basket needs. Oh, and more beer and sausage, of course.

Want more info on the Altstadtfest? Course you do!

Altstadtfest Nürnberg (site only in German)


Norway Road Trip 2017: Vikøyri

The second stop of our Norwegian trip was a short but sweet night in and around Vikøyri, a village on Sognefjorden. The main reason for our visit was sheer logistics, as my original plan to drive to Bergen went out the window when we saw that the short distance on the map would take us nearly nine hours. Instead, we opted for a projected four and a half hour drive from Sæbø, which ended up being closer to eight in reality.

Why so long? Because driving in Norway is winding, twisting, up, down, and SO RIDICULOUSLY PRETTY THAT YOU WILL STOP FOR PHOTOS CONSTANTLY.

Don’t believe me? Click on to continue the tour!

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Sunday Snapshots: Prost!

Watch the bottom right corner… wait for it…

Munich, 2011

And Prost!

Munich, 2011

Ah yes, it’s a mere six days until the first barrel of Oktoberfest 2017 is tapped, and I have no doubt that the residents of Munich are battening down the hatches (or searching for last-minute flights) to escape the onslaught.

I’m not sure a visit is in the cards for me this year, and to be honest, since I haven’t purchased the deer-covered Dirndl I fell slightly in love with last month, it’s okay. I can hold out for now. But if you are planning on going and need something to wear, allow me to direct you to some other ladies who have you covered with everything you need to know about Dirndl…

Starting Over in Stuttgart: The Dirndl – An Explanation

Starting Over in Stuttgart: 5 tips for buying your first Dirndl

Now that you know what to look for, have a look here for some truly gorgeous fashion if you’re looking for something a bit more unique…

Arts in Munich: What to wear to Oktoberfest

Happy shopping and festing!

Norway Road Trip 2017: Sæbø on the Hjørundfjorden

The first stop on our Norwegian adventure was in Sæbø, a small village about an hour away from Ålesund in western Norway. The Storfjord is the main fjord in the area, and many people pass through here on their way to and from the Instagram/Pinterest-perfect UNESCO Wold Heritage Site that is the Geirangerfjord, which branches off of the Storfjord. However, that was not on our list. We were invited to a wedding in Sæbø, which is located on Hjørundfjorden, another branch. Got all that? If not, check a map because I can’t say fjord that many more times without hitting myself. But there are pictures, so click on!

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