Sunday, May 29, 2016

Upcoming Travel Plans

Last June I posted about my travel plans for the summer of adventure that was to follow. This summer there are definitely more adventures to be had, yet they are much more flexible and spontaneous and, quickly approaching as they may be, not yet finalized.  So while these are as close to solid plans as we've got right now, we'll see where life takes us this summer.

Mini-trips and Free Time

At the end of June my current job ends and my extended summer vacation before the new job starts at the end of August begins. I put a lot of thought into when I would end my current position and worried a lot about my German visa situation, but as even that obstacle turned out to be a non-issue, I'm extremely happy with my decision and looking forward to unwinding before taking on the next big challenge.

I plan to spend the beginning of July taking care of some bureaucratic business I've been putting off (German driver's license being the biggest bit!) and doing some home improvements in the apartment.  The summer season is a bit busier for band and choir, so I'll be spending some more time than usual at rehearsals and performances. I would love, however, to be able to sneak away on one or two ''mini-trips'' to other towns in Germany, even if just for a weekend or even day trip.  On the wish list right now are Karlsruhe, Bamberg, Heidelberg, and Esslingen to name a few.

Ukraine

While Mario and I will be traveling further East, I'm planning to leave almost a week before him in order to spend some time in Ukraine. I'll probably spend most of the time in Kiev, but a trip to Kharkiv is on the books as well.

Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan

From Ukraine it's onward to Russia and beyond - all over land! Train travel in post-Soviet countries has always been a highlight of my journeys in the region and I'm looking forward to spending some more time in platzkart and exploring some new destinations.

Jordan, Lebanon, Cyprus

This part of the trip is still very much in the planning phases, but we'd like to hit up a few more countries on the way back to Germany and these are looking like the three most likely.  Mario is trying awfully hard to get a couple of others on the list, but considering that I'm slightly less than enthusiastic about said additions, we'll see what comes of it.

Bologna, Italy

Starting in September Mario is studying in Italy for 6 months.  At the end of August is when he'll move down and I'm sure there will be several trips down to visit during the semester.


Here's to hoping that June passes by stress-free and that everything comes together for the summer!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Little Brother in Munich

Way back in early autumn last year when it was finalized that my little brother would be studying in Russia for the spring semester, I began concocting a plan for him to visit us in Munich as well. Unfortunately one-way tickets back from Munich came with a hefty price tag, but after a bit of searching around I happened upon a ticket with an overnight layover in Munich and quickly sent the link my brother's way. And that's how it came to be that I was fetching my brother from the airport Sunday evening and heading to the city to cram as much Munich into his visit as possible.

To the city we go!
I would say we did a pretty good job exploring the main sites of the city center and finished off at the famous Hofbräuhaus.

First stop, Marienplatz!


It may not be the Bolshoi, but it's still pretty

Don't let the spring flowers fool you, it was very chilly!



The famous Munich surfers

Bavarian Government Building

Trying a spicy Döner

Hofbräuhaus

When in Munich...

''Musicians Table''
Back at home we shared music, stories, pictures, and laughs until I was nearly falling asleep at the kitchen table. Whenever family or old friends come around there is such an overwhelming sense of normalcy and no matter how long it has been, when these people are around everything is good in the world.  It brought to mind memories of my mom and her siblings sitting around the table at my grandparents' house until all hours of the night. And while my current apartment situation makes hosting guests somewhat of a challenge, with a bit of improvisation we made it work.

The next morning we packed away the make-shift bed which we had constructed in the kitchen and gathered around the table again for coffee and breakfast cake before heading to the train station and bringing a short, but very sweet, visit in Munich to a close.

Until next time!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Day Trip to Würzburg

Cold weather and rain is unfortunately again upon us, but in the first week of May something like spring made a short appearance and had me itching for a little travel.  So on a gloriously sunny Saturday morning I met two girlfriends at the Central Station and set out to Würzburg via a short train switch in Nürnberg.  Lucky for us, Würzburg is reachable with the Bavaria ticket and we found two other travelers willing to let us have the ticket afterwards for the return journey, so both there and back cost us a grand total of 8.60 each!

Off we go!
The first order of business when we arrived in Würzburg was lunch and what looked like a nice little Italian restaurant turned out to be something amazing when we discovered their sunny terrace overlooking the river Main.  As I sat there basking in the sunshine and sipping my weinschorle I was once again reminded why I choose to call Europe home.

Maibaum (Maypole) which is raised in the city center on the 1st of May

Main Square of Würzburg

Sipping weinschorle in the sun 
Lunch with a view
With our bellies filled up we began the hike up to the castle with many a picture taking stop along the way. And while I would have been perfectly content to spend several more hours perched up on the castle walls overlooking Würzburg's historic buildings, we eventually decided to head back down into the city to check out the Residence and the gardens behind it.  Our timing was even perfect to catch the bus down, which we could also ride using our Bavaria ticket.

Würzburg, you're a gem!
Best friends and beautiful views

I'll just stay up here all day
After checking out the Residence we wandered back to the central station where iced coffee was enjoyed before starting our journey back to Munich.  I leaned my head against the window and let the sun shine on my face as I alternated between watching the passing countryside and dozing off.  We went to Würzburg with absolutely no plan and only the expectation that we would enjoy a stress-free day. I'm sure there is much more to do in and around Würzburg if you have the time, but what we saw and did in the half a day we spent there was perfect for me.

So, when do we move in??

Colorful gardens