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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Outfit Details: 

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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Outfit Details: 

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

I’m coming home…I’m coming home…Tell the World I’m coming home.

It is finally time. After waiting over a year, I’m finally returning to Europe to see family, friends, and to spend a full month back where everything feels right.  I was in Germany this past February for 10 days, however, when you haven’t seen loved ones for over 2 years it is a glorious feeling to finally go back. I leave this coming Monday – August 7th and will not be returning until September 4th. Sweden, Denmark, Germany.

Starting out in Sweden – spending a full 8 days in the Swedish capital Stockholm and surrounding areas (Mariefred and Uppsala). Traveling by train, we then head to Denmark and spend two days in Copenhagen. From Copenhagen we are off to Berlin via train/ferry; we spend four full days in Berlin and the Brandenburg area. Next it’s Munich and Bavaria – for two weeks. During this two weeks, we will take 3 days to visit my family in the neighboring state of Baden – Württemberg, we will take a day or two to visit family in Bavaria, and of course visit friends and family in Munich.

Looking forward to posting when I return – Have a great rest of August and beginning of September!

Weekend at Lake Tahoe

I just returned from a 5-day weekend getaway to Lake Tahoe, which straddles the border between California and Nevada. What can only be described as a breathtaking experience, is in itself an understatement.

Our journey started out last Thursday at 4:30am. We looked at the pros and cons of leaving at such an hour, it really wasn’t so bad in the end; knowing we wouldn’t hit any traffic in Los Angeles, and we would avoid most of the heat of the day from the Eastern Sierras. After a grueling 10 hours (driven entirely by yours truly), we made it to the pristine blue shores of Lake Tahoe at South Lake Tahoe, California. What lay before us is the largest alpine lake in North America and the second deepest in the United States; it boasts clear blue waters tumbling over large smooth granite boulders, surrounded by pine forests and snow-capped mountains…heaven.

If you’ve never heard of Lake Tahoe, the pictures accompanied by this post should be taken with a grain of salt, as it would seem no photo is worthy of capturing the awe-inspiring beauty that one can only truly experience in person.

Over the course of the next few days we kayaked, hiked, swam, walked, and circumnavigated this lake region. Each town, cove, shore, park and peak offered something different for the senses – a mix of sights, sounds, and smells. My favorite activity I think was hunting down the giant Sugar Pine cones. The Sugar Pine is the tallest and most massive pine tree, and has the longest cones of any conifer – some even being quoted at 26 inches long! I was lucky enough to find one measuring in at just 12 inches in length (and might I add in perfect condition).

Ending our journey, we took an alternate route, following the I5 south from Sacramento back home. We have seen a large area of our new state; not surprisingly, we plan to do a “Californi-cation” every year. Whether it be HWY 1/101, Redwoods, Big Bear Lake, Los Angeles, etc. we will be traversing our great state in some form to discover all of her many facets.

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The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range – Eastern side.

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Lake Tahoe as seen from Logan Shoals Vista Point.

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Chimney Beach area of Lake Tahoe’s Eastern Shore.

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Sugar Pine cone measuring 12 inches in length. 

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Kayaking at Zephyr Cove. 

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Emerald Bay on the California side – southwest corner. 

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Vikingsholm Estate on Emerald Bay 

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Secret Cove / Beach – a naturist/nudist local with crystal blue waters. 

 

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).