Our Germany Travel Wish Lists: A Link Up

A few weeks ago, the lovely Cynthia over at adventurings did a great post about places that she’d like to visit in the Czech Republic if (in this whole weird world we now live in), the borders remained closed but domestic travel was possible. I thought this was a great idea, and it certainly encouraged me to think a bit more about the places we might want to go if we can travel. Sure it might not be as far as before, but what was still possible? 

 

The two of us decided to make this post a link up, so I picked a few places, she picked a few places, and we thought it’d be fun to choose which of the other person’s was our top choice. As a side challenge for myself, I decided to avoid the Alps. There are still places there that I haven’t been, for sure, but at some point I should probably branch out, right? 

Having said that… my picks are after the jump! Click on…

1) Hamburg

Hamburg has to top my list as 1) I’m pretty sure it’s the opposite of the Alps, and 2) I have yet to hear anything bad about it. I’m intensely curious about what a German city with a Scandinavian vibe could be, and the maritime history, proximity to water, and the ready availability of fish stuffed into bread (for BV), definitely don’t hurt. I’ve also heard many a tale of the musical scene (Hamilton auf Deutsch, what?) or the Miniatur Wunderland, but I think I’d prefer to wander along the waterways, look up at all those brick facades, and then have to chase down BV every time he gets a whiff of grilled fish.

2) Sächsische Schweiz 

Aka, the Saxon Switzerland. We’ve spent a weekend in Chemnitz, and a day in Dresden, but more time in the wild, rolling hills of Saxony sounds like a great idea. While it lacks the high peaks, the incredible rock formations can be seen all over ze Instagram travel feeds. I still remember the first time I took the train between Prague and Berlin, and the way that the train rolled through the hills along the Elba, rock formations popping in and out of the greenery… I could kick myself for still not having explored that area more. 

3) Sylt

Ummm… rumor has it that Germany has beaches? And having seen those Strandkorb all over gardens and in the garden furniture section of the OBI for the last nine years, I think it’s time I saw them in their natural habitat? Personally, I’m a big baby when it comes to cold water so I’m a liiiiitle nervous about the possible temperatures at the North Sea, but look at that beach! I’ll probably live, even if I can just lie out and read a book or ten on the sand. 

4) the Triberg Waterfalls

The very first trip that BV and I ever took together was to Freiburg and the Black Forest. It was a quick weekend getaway, and though we’ve driven through, and stopped in Freiburg since then, I feel like it’s only a drop in the bucket. I’m especially interested to see the place that is billed as having “Germany’s highest waterfall.” It seems that it isn’t really, but it’s relatively easy to access, so that helps? Either way, it looks lovely, and I do think that I really need to revisit the Black Forest as the first time we were there, we went to the highest mountain and got to see this…

At the Feldberg summit, 1493m.

Ah yes, the good old days when I hiked in beat up sneakers and jeans. It did clear up a tad, as the day went on. But I need to see more! Preferably, of the falling water variety.

At the Feldberg.

5) Aachen

Sitting right near the border with the Netherlands and Belgium, Aachen is rumored to be another city with a great mix of culture and history. Though Charlemagne is long gone, his influence remains. I’d love to have a poke around the cathedral and its treasury, or spend a day walking the Route Charlemagne. And if you’re not in Germany, you can do it virtually

If you missed the link up at the top, Cynthia’s posts can be found right here, and as for me, I’m adding the Spreewald to my list. Berlin is always worth a visit, but I’d love to see where the Berliner’s go to escape the city life. We might even get crazy and rent a kayak. Who knows? 

Second choice goes to the Baltic coast, as the unexpected beachfront continues. Being able to smell the sea air on Rügen, as opposed to just seeing postcards of it or hearing about it, would be a welcome change of  pace. 

And you? What’s on your Germany wish list?

 

16/52

31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 9

*Sweet sigh of relief*

I love May. Tomorrow is yet another public holiday, in this case Ascension Day/Father’s Day, and officially my first day of a 12-day break. We started the party this evening, with an assortment of Italian meats and cheeses for dinner, with a hefty bottle of Teroldego to get us ready for next week in South Tyrol.

BV has got a day up on me though, as he had today off too. Since we finally had all the cats (CATS) out of the way, he got started on a couple of things that we need to do which are basically impossible with a pet. Before my parents visited several years ago, we laid down some pressed wood in the hallway, after we had a water incident and had to toss the laminate. However, we put it down just a day or two before they arrived, and didn’t have time to properly seal it. And with the cat, we nearly never had more than a day or two with her out of the house to take care of it. So that was step one. BV sanded the wood, and sealed one half of the length. Hopefully tomorrow it’ll be ready to seal the other side, as we do need to able to walk on at least half of it to get around the house.

It was also a good opportunity to open up all the windows and get some air circulating in here. I plan on some fairly intense vacuuming, which is easier without cats flying in every which direction. In a perfect world, I’d drag out the piles of stuff that I want to put up for sale online, but I feel like that’s a multi-day, preferably BV out of the house task. I’ll settle for a decent deep clean of the pantry and some bathroom tile scrubbing, in the meantime.

Then it’ll be the usual ritual of pre-trip laundry, and the packing of stuff. The forecast for our week isn’t looking too hot, so it’s going to be a lot of layered hiking gear, and a pile of books in case it really does rain all day every day. Cross fingers and press thumbs, if you don’t mind.

*****

Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

Monterosso al Mare in Pictures

The first part of our summer vacation was spent exploring the villages of the Cinque Terre National Park in Italy. The original plan was to hike from village to village, but as some parts of the trail were closed, we ended up hiking some days, and making use of the highly efficient train system on others. I do have a lot of thoughts on Cinque Terre in general, but to start off, I’ll be posting a brief synopsis of our visit to each town, along with photos. So enjoy!

Monterosso's beach in New Town

Monterosso’s beach in New Town

Monterosso al Mare is the northernmost town of the five Cinque Terre villages. We hiked there from Levanto (more on that later!), and stayed one night. The village is split into two parts, the old and new sides, and we spent our evening exploring the new side after we ate dinner. We wandered the beach and promenade, enjoying the quiet evening atmosphere. As we learned, the Cinque Terre villages nearly empty at night, but are no less lovely.

monterosso al mare2

The beach at night is perfection…

monterosso al mare3

…but watch out for lounging couples!

monterosso al mare4

Rides at rest.

monterosso al mare5

Samoyeds forever!

We slept like rocks after our night of driving and day of hiking, but were up bright and early to head to the next village. The second day dawned much cooler so swimming was out (for a bit, anyway), and instead we took some time to wander the streets of the old side of town.

The most-photographed rock in Monterosso al Mare.

The most-photographed rock in Monterosso al Mare.

View from the promenade.

View from the Old Town promenade.

Monterosso alleyways.

Monterosso alleyways.

Italy in a nutshell.

Italy in a nutshell.

Shops setting up for the day.

Shops setting up for the day.

Balcony color.

Balcony color.

The quiet beach in Old Town.

The quiet beach in Old Town.

 

Have you been to Monterosso al Mare? What did you think?

Italian Month: An Antipasti

Ah, July. You are here, which means our summer vacation has already come and gone. The good news is that we were able to spend all last week eating and drinking our way around Italy from Cinque Terre National Park to Lake Garda. It was glorious, but I have to apologize to anyone who will be heading that way. Sorry kids, but there is no seafood or wine left. We consumed all of it, and our food babies will therefore be named Francesco and Francesca.

Since I’ve got quite a lot to talk about from this vacation (plus 1300 pictures from just last week!), not to mention our trip to South Tyrol back in May, I thought I’d make this month ‘Italian Month’ on the blog.

For today, I’d like to start off with antipasti… something that will hopefully pique the interest of my dear readers. I thought the best way to start would be with the first picture that I took from each trip. So without further ado…

The first order of business when we arrived in South Tyrol was to stretch our legs after the drive. We walked from the village that we were staying in to the nearby town of Dobbiaco/Toblach (most towns have both an Italian and German name), and this was the view as we came into Dobbiaco.

Dobbiaco/Toblach

Dobbiaco/Toblach

Mmmmmm… mountains.

Last week Sunday, after our loooooong drive, we arrived in Levanto on the Italian Riviera. The first glance of that gorgeous blue water had us bouncing around the car like dogs all the way down the mountain.

The beach in Levanto

The beach in Levanto

After almost three years of no real exposure to the salt air and sea views, I can’t even tell you how good that felt. If only we had our swimsuits on and ready to go!

I’ll leave it there for tonight, but there will be more to come!

So, what do you think… which place appeals more?

Can I Get a Thumb Press?

Or a finger cross, or a knock-on-wood, or whatever you prefer?

As I wrote in my last post, I am eagerly awaiting a letter which will enable me to pick up my new residence permit. My last appointment was on December 12th, and the woman at the foreigner’s office said it should arrive in 2-3 weeks. Tomorrow is the absolute last possible day that the letter could arrive, we could go to the Amt, and we could still get away in time for the New Year. Did I mention that I’m dying for a vacation? Because I am.

Last night we were sitting here googling cheap flights and AirBNB possibilities, because we thought we could maybe even fly somewhere if the letter had arrived today. Which it didn’t. I’ve been creeping out the window watching for the mailman like a hawk. Or a dog. (Incidentally, the same way we lurked in the window while waiting 2+ hours for our pizza to be delivered on Saturday night.)

So tomorrow. Please, please, pretty please (or pretty bitte) let it get here tomorrow. 2014 was a good year, but it majorly lacked in the vacation department… and I need to see this…

santa lucia1 toscana…immediately if not sooner.

 

So virtual folks… press those thumbs, please. And if anyone happens to see a Deutsche Post person with a letter for me… tell them to get a move on!

2013 Recapped

Some bloggers are kind enough to post regularly, and keep their readers up-to-date on all the goings-on in their lives. I…. am bad at it. December was chock-full of things to do at work, things to do at home, things to do out and about, and so here we are with more than a month between posts. How time flies when you’re having fun. Or doing mountains of paperwork… could go either way in my case. But luckily I’m nursing a massive hangover from a little too much New Year’s celebration last night, so post time!

Since 2013 is coming to a close, I thought I’d take a cue from every other blogger out there, and try to figure out what in the world I’ve been up to all year. So hop on into your time machines and let’s journey on back…


January:

We rang in 2013 in Tuscany with hiking, sight-seeing, and eating more than anyone should probably ever eat. Thankfully we even saw the sun in Italy, because we supposedly had the darkest January on record back in Germany. It was looooong and dark.

February/March

I have nearly no recollection of February or March. I’m guessing the weather was still crappy and I protested it by watching too much bad TV. In good TV news though, my episode of House Hunters International finally aired, and Courtney and I didn’t seem like total spazzes, much to the relief of friends and family. 

April:

The clouds lifted and we celebrated with some weekend drives to the Franconian Switzerland.

May: 

Germany came out of hibernation, which meant it was time for my balcony to get prettified. I also found the cutest Gartenhaus in history.

We took another drive to the Franconian Switzerland, where I made a tiny friend.

Across the street from the horses, we visited the Felsengarten Sanspareil. Today it’s a forested park filled with huge rock formations, a natural theater (above), and wandering paths, but in the 1700s it was a pleasure garden.

Katie, my old Prague friend, visited from the States over BV’s birthday weekend. We took a big group beer hike, and Katie made friends with some locals.

June:

May ended with us on a plane bound for San Francisco. We had a great time visiting my college friend Aaron, before we hopped another plane to spend a few days in Las Vegas with my friend Courtney. We wrapped up the trip with a week in Wisconsin. We did some hiking, visited German history at Old World Wisconsin (above), and I stood up in my friend Angie’s wedding. I even managed to not completely botch my Maid of Honor toast, thank goodness. At the end of June, my great-aunt and great-uncle stopped in Nürnberg on their European river cruise, and we gave them the local tour.

July: 

In July we visited my friends in the village and their ever-growing menagerie. The goats always provide some entertainment if the kids, rabbits, and cats are too boring for you. We took an accidentally long hike and found this crazy purple field, before we spent the evening at a local wine fest which could give Oktoberfest a run for its money in the crazy department.

Another weekend was spent hiking in the Allgäu, where I found one of my happy places. With marmots!

August:

I turned 30 in August, and decided the only possible way to deal with that number was to run away from civilization for a few days. We drove to Berchtesgaden, spent a day at the Königsee, and then the next few days hiking up and down the Watzmann. We also hosted a small barbeque with friends to celebrate, lest anyone think I’m an anti-social weirdo. 

September

Of course, September means Oktoberfest, and this year I even made it there on opening day with the ladies. It was such fun that I even went back a few days later when my buddy Karl was visiting us for a week. He charmed our table mates and pledged to come back as soon as possible. We might even get him to buy some Lederhosen before the next visit…

BV and I also celebrated our first anniversary, and prepared for moving in together. Somehow I seem to have acquired a lot of stuff for a person who moved abroad with two suitcases…. 

October:

I officially moved out of my apartment in October, and in with BV. We also took a trip up to Gladbeck for a family party, I got to meet a bunch of his extended family, and learned that dance parties can go all night even if I can’t.

November:

 BV and I took an impromptu trip to Brussels and I absolutely loved the city! We will definitely be going back, because we didn’t get a chance to do all the museums and touristy things we had planned on. 

One thing we did manage to do was drink a lot of tasty Belgian beer, including this one for the pretty price of €15 per bottle. Thankfully it was delicious, and got us bonus bar snacks. They were very necessary as the beer has an insane 10.2% alcohol content.

The reason for the Brussels trip was a concert, and it was great show! I’ve loved Jimmy Eat World for years, but never got a chance to see them live until now. It was well worth the drive to Belgium, so thanks guys for the excuse!

December:

December was spent buried in a sea of paperwork, and hunting for additional work for 2014. I came up for air a few times though. My village friends visited Nürnberg for an afternoon at the Christmas market, and a week later I visited them (and goats) at their new place outside Regensburg, so we could do a little cookie-baking.

BV and I got our Christmas tree and the tree man even remembered us from last year.

Work finally ended and I got to spend some time enjoying the city. Christmastime in Nürnberg is really nice, but I’d advise against coming on the weekends….

BV and I spent our second Christmas together with three days of family celebrations. We hosted his dad and brother on the second day and I introduced them to some exotic American specialties… or, biscuits (thanks for the recipe Allie!). 

We ended the year at our favorite Greek restaurant in the city, eating and drinking far too much. Clearly far too much, as I’ve spent most of today horizontal. Ouch.

Looking back at all this, 2013 was a pretty darn good year. Here’s hoping 2014 is the same… and best wishes to all of you reading! 

Happy New Year…. any favorite moments from 2013 to share?

Brunch in San Francisco

One of the most-discussed things in the expat community is food. What you can get, what you can’t get, and what you’re going to have for your first meal whenever you head home. Technically brunch was our second meal upon arrival in San Francisco, but since my stomach didn’t know what country it was in when we got there, I only had five bites on our midnight burrito run. Those five bites were delicious, and I’m already regretting not having been able to eat more of it. Damn you stomach and airplanes and jet lag!

Saturday was our first official day in the States, and we headed out for a leisurely brunch. My friend Aaron was our gracious host in SF, and he promised to take us to one of the best places in town. Off we went on the train, passing about a thousand other options on the way. I had no idea what to expect, but I certainly didn’t expect to arrive at Zazie to see at least 50 people waiting outside! It’s such a popular place that reservations are pretty much out the window.

I didn’t get a good crowd shot, but you can see a guy awkwardly standing there waiting, as well as a girl waiting to get her name on the sign-in sheet. In the doorway, the manager in the white belt is checking names off of the sign-in sheet. This is how it works: when you arrive you add your name and headcount to the sheet and then you wait. You wait, and you wait, and you wait. We were a group of three, and two was the magic number for the day. He must have called out the names of two dozen couples who had signed in and then left before their turn. Sucks to be them if they just ran around the corner to get a coffee! 

We must have waited at least an hour, but at least the people watching was good. Finally it was our turn, and we were escorted to a table right in that front window. I was parched at that point from our long stand out front, and was oh-so-happy to see a magically refilling pitcher of free water on the table. Welcome to America! Woo! Water! 

But more importantly…

Hello, Bloody Mary, my old friend. I’ve missed you so. Aaron claimed that they had a Bloody Mary at this place that came with tiny sliders on sticks in it, but I didn’t see this magical unicorn. 

The menu was pretty awesome, full of classic breakfast items with crazy twists. (Or at least crazy to someone who’s been in Germany eating nothing but sausages for the last thousand years.) I finally settled on their gingerbread pancakes, with lemon curd and bosc pears.

And because my stomach had finally joined me in California, I got home fries too. Word to the wise… ask how big things are first. You could choose 1-3 pancakes, and I went with two. One would have been more than enough because as you can see, they were huge, and THICK. Lesson learned. Yet another one of those times when you want to eat something so badly and just can’t do it. They were delicious though. Since Nürnberg is famous for its gingerbread, I feel like this would go over well here.*

BV opted for the french toast with an orange cinnamon butter, and it was also fantastic.

My only complaint is not about this restaurant… it’s a general complaint in all American restaurants. We weren’t even finished eating when the check arrived, so then we felt a bit hurried. But the line outside was still there, and we even witnessed two girls sneaking in and stealing a table. They were kicked back out to the curb pretty quickly, but it’s clear that Zazie is in some major demand. I don’t know about the rest of the time (and Aaron hadn’t been there for anything besides brunch), but the menu looks good so I’d be interested to hear if anyone has been there! 

If you go….

941 Cole Street
Oh, just a side note: 
If anyone has been trying to leave comments lately and had problems, please drop me a line via email. I was forced to put the captchas back on due to a ridiculous amount of spam comments that wouldn’t stop. If anyone has some advice on how to curb those, please fill me in! 

*Hear that local restaurants? Hop to it!