Tag Archives: vacation

allein in einer fremden Stadt

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At the end of February I took a few days off of work and met Rick in Amsterdam for the day. We arrived around the same time on Thursday morning, but since had (literally) just flown from America, I gave him a few hours to nap and wandered the city on my own. After accidentally walking through the Red Light District I treated myself to a latte and the most delicious sandwich (goat cheese and hummus and honey and zucchini) at a cafe called Staalmeesters. Which does not seem to have a website but by no means does this mean that I do not recommend it!

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After seeking out the famous big yellow clog (near Dam Square in front of a souvenir shop, for anyone who is wondering), we spent the afternoon at the Heineken Experience. Of course it was very touristy but you get some free beers during the tour and my dad even bought me a bottle of Heineken with my name on it, which was pretty cool.

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We rounded out the day with dinner at Winkel 43 which, if you will recall, I went to the last time I was in Amsterdam. We had actual dinner but really went there for the apple cake. Delish.

The next day I was left to my own devices, as Rick had to go back to America (no rest for the weary!) After staying in the hotel as long as possible (thanks for the free lodging!) I headed out for a day of wandering. I stumbled upon some real gems, notably the Eichholtz Delicatessen, which was utterly overwhelming, and Kitsch Kitchen where I had to really restrain myself from purchasing any household items. I also fell in love with Hopjes (coffee-flavored candies), and would not turn down a bag of them from anyone who visits Holland in the future (!)

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Eventually it was time to go home, along with my backpack full of American treats my mom sent along and enough Stroop to last me the 2:45 train ride home.

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Sometimes I have little moments where I need to step back and say to myself “Self, your life is really a lot more awesome than you give it credit for.”

Most of the time my life is pretty much the same as it would be living anywhere else: I commute to and from work 5 days a week, I go to the gym and have to force myself to do laundry and don’t vacuum as often as a woman of my age probably should. But when my weekend plans include (for example) going to Munich and not seeing a single touristy thing because I only went to hang out with my friend (and I’ve been there, done that with the tourist stuff anyway) sometimes its easy to forget how cool my life really is.

Here’s a quick recap of the best stuff that happened to me in 2012. Because who doesn’t love a wrap-up in February.

One year ago: I got my nose pierced on a whim on my birthday while on a three-week vacation in India. I would lose it in July sometime during an open-bar-at-a-wedding-induced blackout.

pre nose-piercing

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In April I went back to Hannover for a long weekend. I visited all our favorite spots from the year I lived there: sang karaoke, drank entirely too much beer and had a tuna melt from Henry’s.

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In May I took myself on my first solo vacation, to Nice. And in June I returned to Freiburg only to have my phone stolen whilst I was sleeping.

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In September we had a team-building activity in which we climbed and flew between trees many meters up in the air. I was terrified, hated every second of it, and I will never do it again.

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I had many heart-to-hearts with my dear friend Kelly; some were awkward and some were not. I ran seven-tenths of a 10K through a park at night in September before succumbing to wrenching knee pain, and started wearing contact lenses in October.6

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I’ve already got some crazy things lined up for 2013, we shall see how it pans out!

staycation

Last weekend I had the pleasure of hosting a dear friend of mine over her birthday weekend. I love the opportunity to show off my favorite places in Cologne, as well as try out some new ones, and these 5 days were surely no exception.

Highlights include:

Thursday: Madeline arrives! We sip Kölsch while sitting in a Strandkorb by the Rhine. Take a tour of the city center via Bimmelbahn. Eat Schnitzel and Käsespätzle before going to bed early.

Friday: We spend the morning waiting for the Klempner, followed by shopping at some of Germany’s hottest stores. A thrown-together bean salad for dinner, followed by meeting my creepy Russian neighbor, too many beers, and discovering Ham and Cheese flavored snacks at the Kiosk.

Saturday: Another lazy morning, including brunch at a new-to-me French cafe. The rest of the day is spent at my friend Kedar’s, where we enjoy homemade Chole and too many bottles of Yellow Tail. A late-night Döner rounds out the evening.

Sunday: Madeline’s actual birthday! We eat a disappointing (to me) brunch across the street from my apartment, take advantage of free admission to the Chocolate Museum on one’s birthday as well as some boozy hot chocolates. Peek into the Mustard Museum on our way home, to sample the three nastiest-looking Joey’s pizzas (in the name of science!) and watch Snapped in my bed.

Monday: Last minute souvenir shopping, followed by some packing and lounging. A farewell German dinner, including entirely too much beer for a Monday night and befriending our server, Holger, who claims to be the father of four illegitimate children. I am barely coherent when Madeline leaves my apartment at 430am to catch her flight back to America. I spend the first half of my Tuesday at work with a questionable level of sobriety.

ramblin’ (wo)man

I just spent at least half an hour trying to make a Google map of all the places I went while I was in the US for 2 weeks. Epic fail. Suffice it to say, I was all over the PA turnpike, to Baltimore and back and seemingly everywhere in between.

I saw a dear friend get married, and at some point in the evening my nose ring disappeared.

I visited my favorite place on earth, in Middle River, MD and got to see ‘adoptive’ family members in MD and PA (I am well-loved by my friends’ families)

I ate a whole pack of Taylor Ham and got my hands on some sharp cheddar cheese and Thomas’ English muffins to go with it. Additionally I enjoyed crabs smothered in Old Bay, sweet corn on the cob, Italian water ice, gravy fries,  a crab-stuffed monte cristo, a huge Italian hoagie, and enjoyed an avocado and bacon omelette while surrounded by dismembered baby doll heads and millions of PEZ dispensers.

I also saw my actual family, and it always surprises me that my young cousins remember who I am after I abandon them for a large majority of the year.

All in all, not a bad way to spend two weeks in July.

here comes… the groom

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Well now that I’ve been back from my trip to India for 11 weeks, I guess I can write a little something to keep the crowd entertained and informed.

The main reason that I went to India for three weeks was to attend the weddings of two of my good friends. The two weddings were in completely different parts of the country, with different customs, foods and levels of extravagance. At both, however, I was treated with so much hospitality and kindness, it was overwhelming at times.

As a guest of the wedding I was put up in a hotel, as well as fed at least one meal per day of the wedding (which for the second wedding was six days). We were loaned (and gifted) saris to wear by the groom’s mother at one wedding, and it was insisted that we sit with the immediate family for meals at the other.

The weddings themselves were unlike anything I had ever imagined. At one wedding, the groom arrived on horseback at the back of an hour-long procession with all the attendees, as well as two bands.

The venue was redecorated daily, each day with fresh flowers, a new color scheme and a buffet with enough food to feed an army. We quickly learned to eat only a little bit at each meal, because it was guaranteed that the evening would consist of every auntie and uncle asking if we had eaten yet, and insisting that we eat more, regardless of how much we instated that we were full.

While we usually did not understand what was going on, there was always someone around willing to explain (or at least attempt to explain) and we were practically forced to take part in every part of the ceremony, including performing in a sangeet, getting mehndi done before the marriage, and staying up until 4am to watch one get married (since this ritual can only be performed when the stars say so).

I am so grateful that I was able to take this trip and spend these special days with my dear friends. It is a trip I will surely not soon forget, and one that I hope to take again soon when more of my classmates get married off in the coming years (hey, I have to wear all these sarishalwar kameez  and Choli I came back with!)

very Nice

I was very nervous to take this ‘solo’ vacation to Nice. So nervous, in fact, that I was considering rescheduling it, and when that seemed financially inefficient I was really not looking forward to going at all.

I am so glad I went! I had an awesome time. The best part about going on vacation with no one is you can do whatever the fuck you want.

Sit on the beach for a few hours reading Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter while the spray occasionally spritzes your face and you think ‘damn this is awesome’? Check.

Climb to the top of Le Château and get a sunburn on the left half of your body while watching tourists come and go for a few hours? Check.

Have ice cream three times in two days because this place has too many interesting flavors it’s just not fair…? Check.

Go in search of dinner at 830pm, and after wandering aimlessly for a while and only finding tourist-trap restaurants selling 11 euro margarita pizzas, have a dinner of takeout fried rice while watching people celebrate the new French President? Check.

If only I had not decided to spend my nights in a hostel (where the average age seems to be 14) this could have been the best vacation ever.

Nice

départ & ankunft

I returned from Nice this afternoon. While it is currently sunny in Cologne (shocking, I know) I would like to share this short photo collection to emphasize my disappointment at returning from my 3-day weekend on the French Riviera.

View of the airport on the way out of Nice this morning.

Landing in Cologne 1.5 hours later.

Once I get over this sad realization that I will no longer spend my days sitting on a pebbly beach, eating baguettes and trying each and every flavor at Fenocchio’s, I will write more.