Europe 2017: Sweden, Denmark, Germany

Life is finally getting back to normal – of course, that depends on how you measure normal or define it. I think it is amazing how we get so wrapped up in how busy we are, that we do much of what we do without really thinking about it. Getting the mail or watering the plants, doing laundry, washing dishes, etc, etc, etc. After being gone for an entire month it astonished me how much work I had to catch up on that normally didn’t phase me. In the end, it is finally all done and life is going on like clockwork (I just wish those dishes would do themselves…).

Now back to the fun stuff, what I really want to write about. In this post I am going to write just a tidbit about each place and then let the pictures do the talking.

We left San Diego on August 7th. The bags were packed, the itinerary planned, this was the day that we leave for Europe. After flying via LAX, we landed at Stockholm Arlanda at 10am, grabbed the bags and took the express train to Stockholm.

Stockholm is a gorgeous city. Lake. Sea. Islands. I fell in love with Stockholm; and I think Sweden for that matter. It probably wasn’t just the perfect combination of cityscape and nature that got to me, maybe it was also the fact that I filled up to my hearts content with cinnamon rolls and meatballs. Highlights include Gamla Stan (the Old City), the Vasa Museum, the ABBA Museum, Stadshuset (City Hall), day-trips to Uppsala and Mariefred. I truly believe Sweden is one of those countries that has something to offer everyone; whether it be a foodie, history buff, ABBA fan (or fan of music in general, fashionista, someone outdoorsy. The list could go on and on – but I think it holds true – Sweden is dynamic and open for all.

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After Stockholm, it was a five hour train journey to Copenhagen, Denmark.

Copenhagen was probably not given the time it deserved; planned only as a stopover on our way to Berlin. In my original plan Copenhagen/Denmark was getting a full three days. Nevertheless, for the little time it was given, Copenhagen delivered an array of things for us to do within brief stop. We of course saw The Little Mermaid, the Marble Church, Amalienborg Palace, colorful Nyhavn, Danish National Museum and lastly we ate at Ida Davidsen (famous for her exquisite open-faced sandwiches). In all honesty these are just a few of the highlights; our stopover was a full 24 hours of jam packed touring. Copenhagen surprised me in the sense that I didn’t expect more, and I didn’t expect less – it was just right (especially for a city in which I didn’t use public transport at all). My expectations and experience matched up and that made it very enjoyable.

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We left Copenhagen for Berlin via ferry across the Fehmarn Belt and Hamburg. Have you ever been on a train that was loaded onto a ferry, cross the sea and then have the train drive off again?

Berlin – you either love it or hate it. I for one am in the gray zone on that one. We made room for three full days in Berlin before we’d spend the next two weeks in southern Germany. Like I said – for me it is a gray zone feeling on this city. On the one hand it has great history, food isn’t half bad, sightseeing overload, great public transport……but it’s also pretty gray. Compared to Hamburg or Munich (both of which I’m more fond of), Berlin just doesn’t live up to standards fully and it’s just not my kind of vibe. That being said Berlin is growing on me – those three days made a difference. We of course went to the top of the Fernsehturm, walked along the East Side Gallery of the Berlin wall, took in the government quarter of the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate, etc, etc, etc. I had been to Berlin before, so for me much of this was a recap, but nonetheless enjoyable. I think however the one major transition for me was seeing “The One Grand Show” at the Friedrichstadt-Palast with costumes by the famous fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. This revue show changed my opinion of the city and I can see myself once again going to Berlin…maybe just not for a few years.

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From Berlin, it was on to Munich and southern Germany.

Coming to this corner of the globe always feels like a homecoming. I get to see my family, my friends, and of course the beautiful city of Munich. It feels like a dream sometimes and you wake up at the airport and feel overwhelmed that you wish there was more time. This part of the trip was great as we spent two days with my family in the Black Forest, a day with my family in rural Bavaria, and I spent time with my aunt in Munich. I also met up with a friend of mine for lunch and caught up with each other after nearly 20 years! Some highlights also included a day trip to Neuschwanstein, sightseeing around Munich, and last but not least; all the amazing beer, pretzels, and Bavarian food I could eat for two weeks.

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Update…

Hey Readers,

I am finally back from Europe (Sweden, Denmark, Germany) after what seems like a whirlwind month of travel, family/friend visits, and of course new experiences. I hope to post about it all within the next few weeks, but of course there is so much catching up to do in every other aspect of life right now (you can only imagine the pile of mail I have to sort).

So until then, I hope everyone had a great summer vacation, and I’ll be posting soon,

Thanks!

Blue Bow Tie Project

Downsizing…

This week I’d like to focus on the task of downsizing. I think we all go through a phase where we have too much stuff and not enough space (or perhaps have filled that space with meaningless items); and then we begin to purge. Lately I’ve been thinking more about downsizing and how I want to get back to what is important.

Last week I went through my closet – which I’m sure you all can picture is set up like a temple. Everything has its place, matching wooden hangers, shoe boxes stacked to the ceiling, drawers meticulously hold folded sweaters, accessories and miscellaneous all neatly arranged. I realized two things while looking at what to keep and what to sell.

First I realized life is too short to wear anything that doesn’t fit properly (that eliminated a good chunk as I am a very slim guy – 5ft 8 / 115 lbs. / 26-inch waist). I’d been buying clothes for years that were a little too big because nobody in the industry sold slim extra-small dress shirts/t-shirts. Pants/jeans were far and few between because again the 26-inch waist wasn’t a thing until recently (and even then, getting a 32-inch length inseam combined with that is impossible). Once I eliminated what I didn’t wear, I realized that I was basically wearing the same pieces repeatedly – why? – because they were all slim/extra small or within my waist size and fit properly (thus I looked better in them). I held onto so much stuff purely because I spent money on it (way to drink the total Consumer Kool-Aid).

The epiphany I had was that I also needed to shop differently. I can still get a new piece here or there – but going forward it must fit properly – otherwise it’s a no.

The second major thing I noticed as I decluttered my sanctuary to the fashion gods, was that I double up and don’t wear something for fear of ruining it. I have two jackets that are almost identical (but different price points; one cost double than the other) – which do you think I wear more? It’s something I need to acknowledge because going forward I need to be more aware of what I’m buying, and I need to lose the fear of wearing something just because it was more expensive.

After finally rummaging through my closet and reaching the back wall, I started looking around at the rest of my apartment. When you take the time, you notice everything you are not actually using and it begins to feel like you are empowered to change it. I had a stack of pillows that needed new shams – they are finally getting onto the couch.  Old laptops that needed to be recycled over a year ago – gone. So much that could be used or perhaps should have never been purchased in the first place – it was a relief to go through and re-evaluate everything.

Some items will be donated, some sold; and others recycled; in the end, life is going to hopefully get much simpler.

What is cluttering your life? What could you do without? Is your closet on the verge of exploding because it is packed to the walls?

Vacation Season

June is literally around the corner and I think to myself it is that time of year again; I call it the fifth season – Vacation Season. Some might say that it coincides with summer, however I define this fifth time of the year from the beginning of May until the end of September. We are currently in the upswing as students are finishing another year of school, and us adults are thinking of far away destinations, or perhaps a stay-cation. June is when it really picks up and people really have vacation on their mind. 

For me this time of year comes after what can be months of planning. Flights are booked, hotels picked, the research has been done; and now it is time to just do. This year for me can only be described as a bumper crop of travels. Starting in February I returned to Germany for 10 days. The ticket was too good to pass up; for a short trip to Europe it was a nice needed break. This however fell outside my normal traveling time and so I will focus on Vacation Season and my travels ahead.

Looking ahead to July, my partner and I have a 4 day stay in Lake Tahoe planned. An 8-hour drive north of us, straddling California and Nevada is North America’s largest Alpine lake. This is a very unplanned vacation for us, as all it requires is the car and a hotel which we’ve already taken care of. For once we are playing everything by ear, no set plans other than when we will arrive and depart the Lake Tahoe area. What we need is some real nature again – having lived in Wisconsin and now San Diego, we are missing the outdoors.

August on the other hand is completely different animal; one that has required the last 6 months of planning. Originally planned for May of 2016, my trip to Sweden and Denmark was cancelled a week before departure (a fact I am still a little sour about) due to our moving to San Diego. However, that trip has been resurrected and we will now be spending a full month in Europe – from Stockholm to Munich. What I can only describe as the longest journey I have yet to plan (and yes I plan/research everything down to the detail), this was a bigger undertaking than any trip prior.

Once we have crossed the fly-over states and wide ocean; 10 hours later we land in Stockholm, spending a full 7 days in the Swedish capital (including Mariefred and Uppsala). Crossing the Oresund via train, Copenhagen gets 1 ½ days of sightseeing before we are whisked away to Berlin for 4 ½ days. After Berlin, we board a train bound for Munich and southern Germany. The bulk of our time (13 full days) will be spent visiting family and friends besides sightseeing (mainly for my partner, as I have been to Munich/Bavaria many times).

This may all seem straightforward, however think about the journey times between these destinations, coordinating trains, etc. It is a bit daunting keeping it all organized, and with a less-flexible itinerary; it requires a lot of research as to when everything is open, how much it all costs, etc. Nonetheless I am beyond excited, as most of the work is already done; and now one can truly enjoy a very stress free getaway (with hopefully very few unwanted surprises).

One Blog Post Per Week

My original intention when I put together this blog was to write a post at least once a week. I figured that one post a week would be enough to keep me busy without being overwhelming, allowing time to edit each post before publishing, as well as take and edit photos. Without a doubt the project has fallen to the wayside many times since I started. My goal and plan for the remainder of 2017, is to re-affirm my output of one blog post per week.

 

About the writer…

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Hey, my name is Wade; I am the guy pulling the strings behind The Blue Bow Tie Project. Let me start off with a warm welcome again to my blog and new project!

I recently transplanted to San Diego, California from a small town in Wisconsin, and since I feel like I’m starting the next chapter in my life (making new friends, adjusting to a new job, new city), what better way than to open up and share my passions with the world.

Let’s start off with some background…ok so I covered that I moved to California from Wisconsin (born and raised – lived there 25 years)…what else…starting the blog… I know, let me fill you in about what I do in my spare time. It would be understated to say that I LOVE travel. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a passion for other cultures and languages. You’ll find this out soon enough if you continue to follow my blog and what I’m doing. I also dabble in acrylic painting and interior design, speak German fluently, cooking, and if I can get near some snow; enjoy cross country skiing. One of my favorite activities is getting dressed for work or going out; planning outfits is a source of inspiration for me.

We’ve touched on hobbies and interests…next let’s talk about family. Most of my immediate and extended family is back in Wisconsin, all living within the same city/county. I also have family in Wyoming, Florida, a few extended relatives in Germany, the Czech Republic, and Canada. I’m a very family oriented person, and keeping those connections is now more important than ever since I am further away from them.

So there you have it, a little bit more information me and what I’m all about.

Thanks for reading!

Wade

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