Friday, July 25, 2014

A Bite of Rothenburg and Sample of Vienna


_IGP9238The next stop on our journey was to the romantic walled medieval town of Rothenburg, located in the beautiful Bavaria region of Germany. This quaint little town is best know for its shops filled with beautifully handmade Christmas ornaments and their highly popular, but extremely overrated “snowballs.” You can walk the ramparts, explore the shops, listen to a street minstrel, sip some fresh pressed cider, munch on a handful of roasted chestnuts or stop in to one of the many small restaurants to eat a delicious homemade meal of local fair paired with some wine from the hillside vineyards. The best part was that the cool autumn breeze was rustling the fallen leaves down the cobblestone streets, almost sweeping you back in time with them.


The snowballs are Rothenburg's pastry specialty.They are everywhere and although they make look good they are almost nearly inedible. It’s basically just a big ball of fried, over-worked pie dough pieces masked in different toppings and fillings. But seeing as we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into at the time we had to try one. I got the traditional cinnamon and sugar while Matt branched out with a chocolate covered one filled with a pistachio filling. I got through about half before it got the best of me. Matt tried his best to help finish mine. The best part of the snowball experience was eating it in the town square with some freshly pressed apple cider to wash it down, while watching the tourists and vendors bustle about.


We spent most of our time in Rothenburg just wandering about exploring  and taking pictures the small beautiful details of the city.

The view down one the main streets of town


The chestnut roaster made to look like a steam engine

Some artisan truffles and candies

We walked though the park and just enjoyed the colors, the beautiful day, and the crisp fall air


We were both a bit nervous when we walked into our cute little room and at first only saw one twin bed…


We then noticed…well there are two beds… on the the opposite sides of the room from each other. Not what I would call the best couples room but it was cute and comfortable and we both slept well away from each other.

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We then went on a walking tour of the ramparts

The view from the city walls

_IGP9340Our time spent exploring Rothenburg was great. It is a fun little town with lots of history and charm but after having been to San Malo and Carcassonne it just didn’t have as much of the magic of the walled cities we’d been to previously. Now maybe we were just getting a bit worn out at this point of the trip too. All in all it made for a great way just to relax a bit and build up some more energy for the adventures still to come.


 _IGP9470Our visit to Vienna was as brief  as our time in Rothenburg. It really was more of just a sampling of the city and was really just a stop over on our way to Slovenia but we made the most with the time we had and saw as much as we could. We didn’t have much time for the museums or the concert halls which is what Vienna is probably best known for. I’ll have to go back to Austria some day as I don’t think with the short time we were there that I truly got to really experience the best things the country has to offer.

Inside St. Steven’s Church




On our walk to the Palace we ran into Gonzaga Street!


The Palace gardens

_IGP9466My favorite moment in this city was spent wandering through the rose garden. Even when we are hustling and bustling on trains, crisscrossing from one country to the next, worrying about reservations, time tables, and seat numbers, I will still always take the time to stop… and smell… the beautiful Austrian roses!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

More Castles & More Beer in Munich

_IGP8739The next leg of our journey led us to Munich, Germany. Here we lived it up the German way and made sure to stuff ourselves whenever possible with plenty of beer, brats and homemade hot-out-of-the-oven bretzels. Of course, we also made sure to toss in a few castles, some river surfers, a Glokenspiel, and of course a trip to an iconic beer hall complete with music and, it goes without saying, more beer!

One thing we learned the hard way is when traveling trough Germany with a EuroRail pass is always have the pass cover with your pass. To give you a little back story, when the three month railpass arrived before we left, Matt and I both expecting some kind of plastic card or in the least something laminated. I mean for the price we paid and for the sheer fact that we were going to be shoving it in our money pouch for three months straight you’d think it would be, I don’t know, a bit durable. This was not the case. When it arrived we were both shocked to see that it was just a basic flimsy paper ticket with this equally flimsy paper cover/log. It says right on the ticket that that it is invalid without the paper cover but unfortunately we accidently left ours with our friend in Paris by mistake. Since they mail it to you ahead of time it isn’t easy to get a replacement. So she was going to mail it back to us once we returned to the US. The incentive for doing this is that once you’re done and mail it back, the EuroRail company will send you some kind of swag. The main purpose of this cover really is so that the company can track where travelers are going and what train services they are using. So, we made sure to track all our train trips in our journal if we were ever to run into any problems with a ticket agent.

It had all been gong fine and dandy until we got to Germany. The strict German train conductor stereotype didn’t falter with this one. Even after calmly trying to explain our circumstance of our missing cover and showing him our temporary itinerary log in our journal, he still wasn’t having any of that. In fact, he was convinced we purposefully threw it in the trash just for fun. It got borderline scary when at one point he was even threatening to charge us a 100€  fine each, plus the full cost of the current train tickets, then kick us off the train at the next stop, detain us and if he had it his way I was fully sure he’d deport us too. After quite a bit of sweet talking and explaining, we were finally able to convince him into letting us slide by just this one time, if and only if, we promised that at the next train station we immediately went to the EuroRail folks and obtained a replacement cover (We didn’t. Ha!). Word to the wise –  when traveling on German trains with a EuroRail pass, always carry your passcover and try not to piss off the ticket agents because a kind smile and the “I’m a stupid American” routine won’t convince them into bending the rules. I think we just got lucky!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


The next stop on our journey was the small alpine town of Gimmelwald. I didn’t really know where we were going or what the town had to offer but Matt insisted that with how much Rick Steves’s raved about it, it was going to be worth the trek to stay there. It took us four trains, a bus, and a cable car ride to get there but the moment you step out of that gondola, take a deep breath of that mountain air, hear the gentle chiming of the echoing cow bells and get a glimpse of the jaw dropping view…POW…you are surrounded with true pristine picturesque beauty and know instantly it was worth the trip!

Friday, February 21, 2014

First a View, then Fondue!

I’ve always had a love for the Matterhorn ever since I was seven years old.

I can remember it as if it were yesterday.  It was my very first trip to Disneyland, and we showed up right before the gates opened for the magical morning. I can remember the music echoing over the loud speakers, the big Mickey Mouse flower garden, the whistle of the train, and as I walked around the bend I saw it… the Matterhorn. I grabbed my dad’s hand and ran. I ran as fast as I could, with dad staggering behind me, right down Main Street, past the shops with windows full of candied apples and sweets, past all my favorite characters dolling out hugs, even past the vendors with mouse hats and Mickey shaped balloons. At that moment nothing else mattered. 

I’m not really sure what sparked me to make a mad dash for that mountain but I did. And at that moment, when I stood there and looked up at that magical mountain, never in my wildest dreams, did my seven year old self  even think that I’d be standing at the base looking up at the real one twenty years later. And let me tell you… it’s just as magical!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Off to the Castle of Carcassonne


The next stop on our journey was the walled medieval city of Carcassonne.

The first glimpse of the city is magical. It’s almost as if it was ripped from the pages of a storybook the way it sits perfectly lit painted into the skyline atop the hillside.
The moment you walk over the drawbridge and through the main entrance of the massive city walls It feels like you’ve just stepped back in time to the lands of kings and queens, dragons and fair maidens and knights in shining armor. As we walked through the city, I was halfway expecting little wooden horse-drawn carts and wagons to come rattling up the weathered cobblestone roads behind me.

The whole time I was there I just wanted to swing open the shutters of our little window, look out over the little square and bust out singing…

There goes the baker with his tray like always…the same old bread and rolls to sell….”

Actually, near the end of our trip, I couldn’t resist anymore and just did it. The folks down in the restaurant across the square all gave me kind of odd looks but I didn’t care. It was true Disney-esque kind of  moment and for a bit I felt just like a princess in a castle!

Monday, February 17, 2014

¡Bienvenidos a Barcelona!

_IGP7067From the very first Spanish class I walked into, my goal was always to travel to Spain. Why Spain? To be honest, I really have no idea. I mean there are lots of other countries that speak Spanish and why I had this ingrained fascination with going to Spain specifically never had a defined origin. I hadn’t studied much of the history or culture other than what tiny fragments or bits were in the margins of my grammar books or from movies in class. All the years I’ve studied the subject, it was kind of an unspoken rule that if you studied Spanish then you went to Spain. Studying abroad was the mark of true commitment to a language and for Spanish, Spain was where you were supposed to go.

I did my best, studied hard, and did go to Costa Rica in high school but things changed and other things got priority and Spain came and went. So, when I found out that there was a study abroad program in Granada at Gonzaga I thought that it was meant to be – I would have a second chance. Again, priorities changed and I did go to Africa but once again Spain came and went.

When we started planning our big trip and naming off countries to visit one of the first things out of my mouth was, “I want to go to Spain.” Matt’s response of was, “Why? What is there you want to see?” My response, of course was, “I don’t know but I want to speak Spanish. Because I’m supposed to.” And he said OK.

So, we made seeing just a bit of Spain a priority so that I could cross #50 off my Bucket List and Speak Spanish in Spain! We had heard that Barcelona was a pretty neat city but didn’t really have any plans of  where we were going to go or what we were going to see. But, some of the best adventures are found when you lose your map, delete your schedule, or make up your plans as you go. I did know that I was going to be able to speak Spanish and that’s all that really mattered to me! Everything else was a bonus!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Seabrooke…I miss you already!



Dear Seabrooke,

I am absolutely at a loss for words and completely heartbroken by the tragic news that you are no longer here.

It’s been so long since I’ve seen you but I miss you just as much as if these photos were taken yesterday. You have always been one of my closest and most dear friends.

You radiated kindness and joy with a single smile and your zest for life made every childish game or endeavor a new and exciting adventure. Your sense of humor and laughter could bring light to even the worst days and your unwavering faith and love of God was always an inspiration to me.
I will forever cherish all the fun times we had building Barbie cities, getting dirty and making mud, going to campfire camp, painting and doing art projects, passing the Game Boy back and forth trying to beat Mario 6 Golden Coins, going to Oaks Park for Halloween, having dinner parties, sleep-over's and celebrating birthdays.

I know life is so short, each day is precious and friends come and go but I never imagined I would lose you so soon or that it would be this hard. I will never understand why God decided it was time for you to go and even as I write this and tears drip down my face my only peace is knowing that you are now with Him in the kingdom of Heaven.

My thoughts and prayers go out to your Mom, Dad, siblings, and family. I hope that with time they will be healed.

May your beautiful spirit live on in the hearts of everyone who loved you because I know it will live in mine.