I've been toying with the idea for years - but in May it became a reality. My friend Heather moved to Germany three years ago and has been telling me I should visit for the past three years. One Friday in early May, we made the definitive plans & within six hours I had my PTO approved and my plane ticket... To depart 2 weeks from that day. Crazy.
This post is for my reflection on the trip - as I'm pretty sure no one reads this anymore. So I'm going to sum up the different countries:
My time in Germany was amazing. I managed to make it to three wine fests during my stay. Since Heather lives in Germany - she picked me up from the airport, we spent days there together, took a day trip to Paris, spent more time in Germany, took a weekend trip to Alsace, France then we flew to Ireland and came back to Germany again for one last wine fest before leaving. So Germany was where I mainly stayed during my visit. Heather had me stay in her guest bedroom in her lovely 3 story German house. The first week it was just us (both our husbands were in the states - Kevin didn't come due to the fact that I have double the PTO that he does - and her husband was in the U.S. for work). We went to Trier (Germany's oldest city - which has awesome Roman ruins that I got to see), the Heidelberg castle, took a Rhine River afternoon cruise to see all the old castles, visited Frankenheim, etc. We had lots of wine and cheese... Stayed up late watching chick flicks - which Kevin doesn't watch with me. My family would always watch romantic comedies - and I never thought I was particularly into them but now I feel like it's nice to have a sweet movie with a happy ending to watch. Anyway, the wine fests were amazing. One of the ones I went to was to celebrate white asparagus. Seriously – whit asparagus. They celebrate everything. The wine fest was so cool because it was in the vineyards. Just walking around all day in the vineyards with your weinschorle (wine schorle – which is a .5 liter glass filled 2/3rds with wine and 1/3 with sparking water. Germans drink this at wine fests to be able to drink all day, stay hydrated and keep cool. They are delicious.). Every so often in the vineyards there would be food vendors and more vendors to buy wine from. Needless to say, downing .5 liter weinschorles made you have to need to pee. Yes, I totally peed in the vineyards. LOL :-x Oops. Bathrooms are interesting in Germany – and Europe for that matter – in that you have to pay to use public bathrooms. It does not cost more than 1 Euro but still. You carry a little “Charmin on the go” roll with you everywhere you go. They even sell these in America, too. Check the travel section. :) Also – most places do not have A/C – the summer doesn’t last long enough to warrant A/C. The air was crisp and cool the whole time I was there – my hotels in both France and Ireland did not have A/C – but they had windows that opened. Oddly, there are no screens anywhere in Europe that I saw. There seem to not be many bugs, though – Or at least during May there aren’t. Interesting fact: I stayed in Kaiserslautern. The week before I got to Germany, they found a bomb from WWII that had not detonated yet in Kaiserslautern while doing construction. So that means a live bomb has been sitting there for decades. Apparently this happens a lot in Germany – so crazy to think about.
France: I took a day trip to Paris. I was outside the Louvre and Notre Dam... But I did not have a chance to go inside because my tour took up so much time. My tour included an air conditioned double decker bus, lunch at in the Eiffel Tower and a Seine River cruise tour. Paris was lovely. All the food I had was delicious... Although I couldn't eat like that for long without gaining some serious weight. Paul came home about a week into my trip - and the three of us went to Alsace for the weekend. We were in Riquewihr (a wine village that we did a bunch of tastings in) then we went to Strasbourg. Holy hell. The food was soooo good. There's a pastry shop that I literally had 4 pastries from... In one day. Their éclairs are filled with chocolate instead of custard - which I had to have. I thought it would be awful but it is infinitely better. Like a chocolate pudding inside or something absolutely delicious. I love the architecture in France. A French guy told me that France has more beautiful old buildings than Germany since Germany was heavily bombed in WWII. I believe that. Driving around Germany – there are places that look crazy old and then other places that are quite new looking. I’m a geek for history… France, specifically Paris was super interesting. Back in high school, I had the best European history teacher ever (Mr. Pritchard) . In fact, I took AP European history with him – and because of him Paris was a gold mine to me – just full of historic places to see and visit. I really, really want to go back to visit the Palace of Versailles (12 miles from Paris) since I didn’t see it. Luckily for me, Kevin wants to do this… So this will hopefully happen soon. :)
Ireland: Heather & I stayed in Dublin while in Ireland – right off of Temple Bar (huge party area). We took two day trips – one to Cork (12 hour tour) and one to the Cliffs of Moher (14 hour tour). The other two days we were there – we did some on foot sightseeing. We saw the Guinness brewery on our first day and did an Irish music pub crawl that evening. We were tipsy probably the entire time we were there. We also saw Trinity college – which was awesome. The people in Ireland are SO damn nice. It’s incredible. When we told our husbands how nice everyone was – they both said, “Of course everyone is nice to you! You’re two cute girls running around the city!”. We legitimately thought everyone was nice, though. The only downside to Ireland was that one of my most anticipated parts of our visit, the Cliffs of Moher, were not viewable due to the heavy fog. Fail. We were standing there – and literally you could not see 20 feet in front of you. We made the best of it – laughing out asses off and taking photos while pointing at the fog as though we could actually see the cliffs. Heather has a great sense of humor, good energy and all around is a ball of optimism. I nicknamed her “Happy Heather” because of her good energy (which is a play on “Negative Nancy” or “Debbie Downer”). No matter what the situation – she makes the best of it. It’s so refreshing to be around & I love her for it. While in Dublin, we actually met up with some of my friends from Orlando as well – who just happened to be backpacking through Dublin at the same time we were there. We had dinner and went to Temple Bar – it was a really good time.
People ask me which country I liked the best… I honestly cannot answer that. Each country is cool for a different reason. It’s like asking me what my favorite band/artist is – well, that depends on my mood. :) I want to say Germany but I think it’s because of Heather. To be truthful, the thing I miss most about my trip (aside from drinking at 11am & that being totally acceptable) – is Heather. I was totally devastated when she left for Germany three years ago… And now I feel like she moved all over again: a painfully fresh void that was just filled perfectly. Most of my friends from Orlando have moved away – I only have a few remaining - and I don’t see them often either. It was so nice to hang out at her house in the evenings, drink wine, have caprese salads and watch chick flicks – and not even finish them because we keep pausing the movie to laugh and talk our heads off. I miss having this kind of relationship. Once people are married – it’s usually double dates and that’s awesome – I love that, too. But I miss having girl time. I do meet new friends in my zumba and yoga classes – but none of them click like Heather & I do. Hopefully one day we’ll live nearby again.
I took a super long lunch to write this. Back to work I go. Peace & Love!