First I was sick, then saw a waterfall

I had all sorts of plans for last week. I was going to write up a whole bunch of posts about my recent knitting and what’s been going on in my life that’s not knitting-related. Then, Tuesday morning, I woke up with an extremely sore throat. But, after several Sudafed-loopy days, I am feeling quite a bit better and back to bring you fresh! creative! posts!

Ok, probably nothing all that interesting, just what you’ve come to expect: self-deprecating humor, knitting project summaries, and some words-only list posts.

But, first, some photos of a little excursion we took yesterday, the first day I was really feeling like myself. After a quick check of the SunsetWx set, Matt recommended we switched out our normal evening routine for dinner out followed by a trip to Great Falls for sunset. The forecast was correct, it was a nice sunset and not too warm/not too cold outside. I knit and entertained Lizzie, he did his photography. All of the photos below are mine from my phone; he takes way too long to post his.

First I was sick, then saw a waterfall

Germany, Part VII: Berlin

Berlin wasn’t what either of us expected. As the capital city, we expected lots of tall buildings and little open space. It’s much more like DC.

No, really. It’s like DC. Berlin is as the official capital, but not the center of everything. It’s where the government is headquartered, but not the finance center (which is Frankfurt). There’s few tall buildings and lots of open areas, with some pavement but lots of green space in those areas. There’s tons of museums, including some of the best in the country. And it’s diverse like DC, in terms of age and cultures and ideas.

Not surprisingly, we went to lots of museums and ate lots of different cuisines while in Berlin. I did lots of knitting in parks. Matt took sunset photos. We learned even more than we already knew about the Berlin Wall and the DDR/GDR. We spent most of our time in former East Berlin because it’s where most of the museums are and home to some very hip neighborhoods, like the one we stayed in. We ate at a Michellin two-star restaurant with an Asian menu and a very well-priced, local Reisling. We toured the Bundestag (German parliament building) at night, which was really interesting (good tour guide) and beautiful (old and new architecture combined)..and I got bit by a spider in my sleep. Don’t worry, I won’t share a photo of that. I recovered through time, ice packs, Advil, and Benedryl.

Even though we spent five nights there, I feel like there’s still tons of the city to see. I’d really like to go back again.

 
[The German version of the Executive Office Building, where the parliament members have their offices.]


[The Chancellary, where Angela Merkel and her staff have their offices.]


[Brandenburg Gate, sort of famous]

[From the various museums]


[Not sure where I took this, but I guess I liked it enough to take a photo.]


[Inside a very modern church]

[Bundestag, during the day]

[During our tour. You go all over the building, even onto the parliament’s viewing galleries. It’s lots of glass and very open, not at all like the US Capital.]

 

[I’ll pause between photos to explain – the original building, used as a palace for Peter the Great, I think it was, has a giant glass dome on top, that you can climb up via a one-way, double-helix ramp.]


[Bundestag, at night]

[It was the first night of Oktoberfest and the Bavarians had set up their own tent outside of the Berlin train station. I convinced Matt to stop by for a few hours after our Bundestag tour.]

[Matt spent about an hour and a half taking photos here, amongst all of the other people doing the same. He was the only Canon guy in a sea of Nikons. I spent most of the time on a bench, knitting and people-watching.]

In Closing

We really had a great time in Germany. The people are lovely, the food good, the beer excellent, and the museums all over.


[Us on the way back home]

Germany, Part VII: Berlin

Germany, Part V: Wurzberg, Erfurt

We left the car once we got to Nurnberg, so it was really something that we made it to two different places on our trek from Nurnberg to Erfurt. I have photos from Wurzberg but zero photos from Eisenach.

I’ll admit I was grouchy after Wurzberg, because of the Eisenach stop. It’s a bit out of order, but I’ll share the story now. We took a train to town, threw our stuff in a locker, and headed out to see Warzberg Castle, where Martin Luther translated the Bible into German. Strike 1: Expensive taxi then VERY steep walk up to the castle and then missed the last bus and had no way to call a taxi (no service) so had to walk all the way back to town. Strike 2: The castle was kinda meh and the room where he did the translation – the sign said something like “Only the whale vertebrae is from Luther’s time.” It had other random things like a writing desk, but apparently they weren’t his, at all. Strike 3: There was some sort of train work so we had to take a Dresden city bus the 90 minutes from Eisenach to Erfurt. See, not a happy camper. But I digress.

Wurzberg

We were going to spend more time but only spent a half a day touring Wurzberg. We toured the palace, enjoyed the mostly quiet town. Lunch was spent at a wine bar with very good, hearty food that overlooked a bridge. A bridge where a very, very bad sister duo was singing as part of an outdoor music festival. But the wine and food were excellent, as I said, and we bonded with a group of Germans who agreed the singers were horrible. We walked back to the train station but stopped to listen to the second half of the set from an excellent quartet that calls themselves Sax Shop (had to type that carefully!).


[From the palace gardens. I too photos of all of the statues like this that surrounded a small open area. The flowers were just gorgeous still.]


[Sax Shop, from Manheim I found out later]


[No clue where we took this. But it was that afternoon of the many stops. Aren’t we cute?]

Erfurt

Erfurt is a large town in what used to be Eastern Germany. It’s famously, for Germans, the home of a much-beloved children’s channel (think PBS Kids or Nick Jr in the US). You can even pose with statues of its most famous characters, which I insisted on doing as we came across them on the Rick Steves walking tour. [Those photos – all on Matt’s camera or cell.]

I took, oh, zero photos and the only other thing I remember about the town was the giant portions at the Schnitzler restaurant. We split and order and it was still huge. So that’s something.

I’d recommend skipping the town altogether. It’s nice and all but, obviously, not memorable.

Next time: quick stop in Leipzig and Dresden

Germany, Part V: Wurzberg, Erfurt

Germany, Part II: Bavarian Alps

Welcome to the second installment of my Germany trip in review, Bavarian Alps. We spent two nights but most of two days here, so I’ll split up my rambling as it makes sense.

Leaving Munich, Going up the Zugspitze

We left Munich via rental car, picked up at the main train station. (If you’re ever doing the same, realize the rental car places are up in an upper gallery, sort of by Burger King.) We got something besides a gray or black rental car, a dark brown Opal that served us quite well between its cargo space and amount of power. We drove straight to Garmish, where we were going to get the cable car up to the top of the Zugspitze.

So..yes, I still hate heights, but I went very close to the top of Germany’s tallest peak. You have two options to get up and down: one super long cable car, or a funicular train and short cable car combination. The single cable car is much faster but, for folks like me, more terrifying. I chose to get the long cable car out of the way first.Once at the top, the views are amazing though it is a serious temperature difference from the bottom.  There’s little gift shops on both the German and Austrian side plus a few places to eat. We did lots of picture taking – and I did some freaking out about the height, even getting dizzy at one point – and ate a simple lunch of soup and sausages before heading back down.

Photos don’t need captions here, so I’ll just toss them in and then continue blathering in a bit.

Exploring Alpine Towns

We stayed in a little bed and breakfast in Garmish, the largest of the towns in that part of the German Alps. We were the only non-German guests but everyone was very nice and spoke enough English that we didn’t have to rely on Google Translate. It was really relaxing after the hustle-and-bustle of Munich, especially with what turned out to be the coolest weather of the trip and a lovely balcony off our room, overlooking the owner’s gardens.

Having the car, we took the chance to drive all over to nearby towns that Matt had researched. My notes aren’t super clear, but I can tell you we went to the following places/cities from our base in Garmish, in order: Mittenwald (best. ice cream. ever.), Obermmergau (where I bought some sock yarn and needles), Ettal (big abbey, good lunch across the street), Schloss Linderhoff (over-rated former home of “Crazy Ludwig”).

Apparently, I didn’t take any photos worthy of keeping while in Garmish. So, we’ll skip ahead..

…to Ettal

…to Schloos Linderhoff (no photos inside, but it was just all too ornate that I wouldn’t have taken any, anyway)

Germish to Rottenburg

I was going to put this in the Rothenburg post, we really enjoyed our time there so there’s tons of photos to share. Again, few notes from this part of the trip (think I got bored of my note-taking and was working on my socks, at this point). We stopped at lots of different places in a day: Weiskirche (Rococco cathedral), Schloss Harburg (castle which is mostly intact but which we didn’t pay extra to go inside), Nordlingen (where we wandered around quite awhile and I bought more sock yarn, at a place with the awesome name Woll Lust), and Dinkelbuhl (only note is that we ate ice cream).

[No clue where this was. No geotag as that’s actually a camera photo, not an iPhone photo.]

[Harburg Castle from it’s parking lot.]


[Views from the castle courtyard.]

Third post will be all about Rothenburg, which is corny, sure, but in a good way.

Germany, Part II: Bavarian Alps

Germany Part I: Getting There, Munich

I’ll be posting about Germany for the next few days because, well, you cover a lot of a country when you spend three weeks in it. It’ll be lots of words then photos with captions. (If you don’t like to read, just scroll down to the photos in each section. I’ll never know.)

We’ll start with the trip over and our time in Munich, where we spent 3 nights.

Getting There

We took Icelandic to Munich from DC, stopping off in Keflavik (airport outside of Reykjavik). Yes, they do really try to sell you on the “Iceland stopover” – their perk where you can spend up to four days there without any additional flight fee on your way to/from other destinations. It was about like any other airline, though I think there was more legroom than normal. (I’ve only got a 30″ inseam so YMMV if you’ve got longer legs.)

Our first slight was nearly 6 hours – we watched movies, listened to music, read, and I knit. We’d thought ahead and brought along sandwiches from a local place; bring your own food if you fly with Icelandic, they only sell food and it’s, well, airplane food. The transfer process was easy in Keflavik, as it’s a tiny airport and EU passport control had tons of lines open. We mostly tried to stay awake and enjoyed the free airport WiFi. Second flight was 3.5 hours, where we both attempted to (and were successful-ish at) sleep.

Munich – Day 1

After the usual blur of pick up bags (we’d checked them, making the gate agent’s day), getting cash, taking public transport into town, dropping bags at hotel, and freshening ourselves up as much as we could in a tiny hotel lobby restroom, we were off to explore. We did, as you’ll see we do almost anytime we get to a new city/town, the Rick Steves walking tour. Matt read as I sort of listened/sort of ignored him because I’m not too into history and more into finding out what a particular building is used for.

My highlights, as recorded during lunch:

  • Found a large stationary/office suply store to check out later (I did – on our last day there. It was AWESOME.)
  • Picked up pastry for breakfast
  • Purchased SIM cards for phones from T-Mobile (Rant: I’m still annoyed that they set mine up wrong – the data on my phone turned off after 10 days of minimal use because it was the 99 Euro cents per day for unlimited vice however long it takes you to get through 500 mB of data for 10 Euros.)
  • Sat and relaxed in Marienhof, a small park lined with shops

Speaking of lunch..we ate at the Hofbrau Haus, expecting it to be packed with cold beer and eh food. It was only about half full in the biergarten under the chestnut trees, the beer was quite cold, and the food was about the best we had the whole trip in a biergarten. I splurged on a giant pretzel being hawked by a woman who highly resembled Matt’s cousin. Did the usual biergarten food – schnizel, sausages, light beer for me, dark beer for Matt. [I’ll skip descriptions of biergarten food in the future, just assume we got this same stuff, more or less.]

After lunch, we visited the Residence, basically a palace in the middle of the city. We’d been there last time (more than 11 years prior) and I actually recognized several of the rooms. We picked up the pass that lets you into tons of Bavarian castles/palaces for a single, rather low, fee while there. After walking through the building, we relaxed in the formal gardens for awhile. They’re basically a can’t-miss part of Munich for me.

Then we did our first split-up: Matt toured the Penotiek Museum (which was mostly closed for critical repairs/renovations) and I hung out in the lobby and knit/people-watched. (I learned the German word for knitting beforehand and it came in handy, as this was the first of many times I was asked what I was knitting.)

At last, we were able to check into the hotel and change. Amazing how much a quick shower and clean clothes can make you feel after traveling! We did some shopping then headed back to relax in the hotel before dinner. We try to stay up our first day without naps, but I just couldn’t handle it.

Dinner was at the same Italian restaurant where Matt proposed back in the summer of 2005. It was still the very non-romantic place it was then – loud waiters shouting at each other and the kitchen staff, tons of guests packed into non-matching tables and chairs, and really tasty pizzas and pastas for next to nothing. Matt surprised me by giving me an early anniversary gift – a Tanzanite ring. He’d snuck it into his camera bag before we left and brought it along to dinner. And, yes, we did not resist the joke that I need to go back there again, as I’ve always gotten a nice ring when eating there!

…and we crashed.

[Taken at some point along our journey. Probably before the second flight? Matt usually wears contacts and I wear glasses to read, but we went for the easier approach on the flights.]

[Some building used for something. Don’t remember.]

[The new Munich synagogue.]

[Shopping street.]

[Biergarten in the morning.]

[Outside of the Hunting and Fishing Club, I think it was called. They also have a bronze fish outside, but Matt had to pose with his true love, the pig.]

[Yep, no idea what this is. Church?]

[We were in Munich just before Oktoberfest. There were stores selling “festwear” all over the place – and random people wearing it as they went to work or running errands.]

[I always take photos of buildings with flower boxes.]

[We randomly went here our first time in Munich, 10 years ago. We’d visit another of their locations later in the trip.]

[I would be like this guy if I worked in Munich. Go to this peaceful art installation/fountain to relax when stressed.]

[Lighting candles in churches to focus prayer is always very powerful for me, not being from a church tradition which uses candles in association with prayer.]

[Loved the stained glass.]

[I think this is the outside of the church where the above photos were taken. Don’t bet on it, though.]

Munich – Day 2

We slept in, played on our phones without talking (yay, introverts!), and finally dragged ourselves to breakfast around 9. Tons of breakfast options, but I was most happy about the make-your-own fancy coffee station.

I really wasn’t feeling well (sinus issues) so we had a more relaxed day. We visited Schloss Nymphenburg, a beautiful palace in the suburbs with lovely gardens. The rest of the day was spent getting up to (S-Bahn, bus, then steep but short climb required) and relaxing at Kloster Andechs. It’s a still-working monestary with a chapel you can tour plus, the real reason 90% of people visit, a very, very good biergarten. We hung out all afternoon, drinking beer and chatting, with some reading (Matt) and knitting (me) thrown in. We’d had lots of lunch – at the Augustiner biergarten a bit outside of downtown Munich – so went for a variety of meats and cheeses with another giant bretzel (pretzel). Everyone seemed to be there to just hang out, with most bringing impressive picnic spreads, complete with real silver wear and even place mats. Before heading back to the city, we stopped at a little beach named Panorama for Matt could take some photos of the sunset.


[Dinning hall – or was it ballroom? – at the Residence.]


[One of the many neat ceilings at the Residence.]


[The view as you walk up to Schloss Nymphenburg.]


[Artsy fartsy version of the view, from closer up.]


[Loved the chandeliers, which were different, room to room.]


[Not a great picture, but I love that she’s rolling her eyes.]

Munich – Day 3

Okay, so we didn’t actually spend the day in Munich, but half of it. We got up early and took our already-reserved train to Regensburg, about 90 minutes away. We walked around town – stopping to tour the Palace of Turn and Taxis, had lunch at the world’s oldest bratwurst stand (got a table!), and walked through two different churches. We walked over to where they were holding Dolt, basically a local fair like we have in the US with no livestock and add one or more GIANT bierhalls. We walked around, feeling very out of place, then shared a liter of beer before going back to Munich.

This is when I finally got to visit the big stationary store, where I limited myself to only a Lamy Demonstrator and some light blue cartridges for it. Matt took sunset photos while I did that and, a bit later, sat and knit. Dinner was at the Hacker-Pschor biergarten which was far fancier than any of the others we’d visit.


[Starting the German-only tour of the Palace of Turn and Taxis. Our guide was great, though, telling us a bit more than the English audio guide as the other guests filtered between rooms. The family started the German postal service back in the day and still live in the palace.]


[Inside a Regensberg church.]

Next Post: Bavarian Alps

Germany Part I: Getting There, Munich

Old. New. Borrowed. True. #1

[Curious what this is all about? See the Features page for a description.]

Old

I’m back in my hometown this weekend which is always very strange for me. I left when I went to college and never really came back to live at home for longer than a week or two. I’m from one of those towns that is small enough that you really notice big changes each time you go back. Like every time we go back, I have my list of old places I want to visit: downtown (with a trip for garlic knots), favorite BBQ chain, church I went to growing up, a football game at my HS, that great Cuban place one county south. And now we’re checking them off as we go.

New

I’m going to cheat a little here. Going back home is also my something new this week as it’s the first time we’ve taken Squirms on an airplane and the first time she’s ever been to my hometown (or the state of Florida). She was really good on the way down, not much more irritated than if we were to hold her for three straight hours at home. And the airport security process was quite easy, after we figured out you flip the seat upside down to get it through the scanner.

IMG_0294.JPG

Borrowed

This is lame but I don’t really have anything to report borrowed-wise this week. Other than the tip to have Squirm suck on a pacifier or eat while we took off and landed. That seemed to work though I’m not sure if her ears would have bothered her, anyway.

True

I really do love to write. This last week, I spent a lot of my time writing. Writing for the blog. Writing in my notebook/journal. Writing a packing list for our trip. Writing keeps my hands busy and keeps my mind from having to keep track of everything. If it’s written down, I can find it again to remember something I need to do.

So, that’s how this week has gone for me. How’d it go for you all?

Old. New. Borrowed. True. #1

Take me Away (to the Alhambra)

[Quick update from yesterday: I didn’t actually end up writing at all in the evening. Instead, I sat and talked with Matt for a good while and just relaxed. Still not great because I didn’t follow-through on my commitment to myself but, hey, Matt and I got some time to talk and we didn’t just talk about work or Squirms, which is quite rare. Also – I did write a little this morning so that’s something. I’ll try to take time to write again tonight, as I wait for the laundry to be done.]

In keeping with my lack of creativity on what to write about – let’s move on to Day 2 of WordPress’s latest go-round of Writing 101. The instructions for day 2 are:

Today, choose a place to which you’d like to be transported if you could — and tell us the backstory. How does this specific location affect you? Is it somewhere you’ve been, luring you with the power of nostalgia, or a place you’re aching to explore for the first time?

Today’s twist: organize your post around the description of a setting.

I’ll be honest with you all – the very first place that popped into my head when I read this was “anywhere dark and quiet but that has cell service so I can play on my phone.” Because – right now – I have a blistering headache that’s trying to become a migraine except I’ve downed some Advil and a half of a Diet Coke so I’m winning this battle.

But, if I ignore my present state, where would I want to be if I could? No thought is even required – the Alhambra.

(This is a VERY photo-heavy post so you’ll want to come back when you’ve got a fast internet connection and probably on a regular computer or tablet to the photos at teeny tiny.) Continue reading “Take me Away (to the Alhambra)”

Take me Away (to the Alhambra)