Of course it was raining. It seems like it always rains in Germany, and this summer especially was colder and rainier than normal. We were in Nuremberg for a long weekend for WEBMU, which stands for Whiny Expat Bloggers Meet Up, an annual gathering of expat bloggers in Germany. Andy went a few years ago while I was on my round the world trip, but we haven’t been able to make it since then. I was excited to see a new city, and even a day trip to nearby Bamberg, but of course that rain followed us around most of the weekend.
It’s been about a year and a half since Andy quit his job and became a freelancer. A year and a half since began our Beyond Vacation life. A lot has happened in that year and a half, but like most things, they have happened gradually enough that we don’t always notice how far we’ve come until we look back on how much we’ve accomplished. My 400th post seems like as good a time as any for reflection.
One of the many things I like about living in Europe is that there’s so much history all around me. The US has plenty of history, but there are buildings here that are older than the US, buildings that were built before Columbus ever even thought about sailing west across the Atlantic. And to me, the best reminders of that history are castles.
Recently I spent a couple of days in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland and nearby Interlaken. I was visiting my friend Gigi (and her adorable dog Luna) for a fun girls weekend and, as a bonus, I got to see a little more of Switzerland. I could never live in these small towns – sometimes Freiburg feels too small for me – but I certainly don’t mind visiting now and then to relax and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.
Being only 45 minutes by train from the Swiss border, I seem to find myself in Switzerland a few times a year. And now that my good friend Gigi lives in Lauterbrunnen, a little over three hours from Freiburg, I have an even better excuse to go down there. So a few weeks ago, I packed a bag and spent a couple nights in the Alps. I’m not really much of an outdoorsy person, but the Bernese Oberland region, where Gigi lives, is just gorgeous.
This spring I visited Munich twice. The first time was by myself and just for two nights. About a month later, Andy and I both went to Munich, and we spent four nights there. I didn’t really track my spending during the first visit, but I did track it while Andy and I were there together. Munich is not a cheap city, but it’s well worth a visit if you’re coming to Germany.
Munich is a beautiful city, especially when the weather is cooperating. The day after the disappointing visit to Neuschwanstein Castle, the weather improved dramatically. While Andy and I were wandering through Viktualienmarkt that day, he looked up and noticed a church tower where we could just barely see people at the top. Since we both enjoy seeing cities from above, we decided to go in search of this tower.
Germany has been feeling like fall since mid August, so it seems fitting to already be talking about fall and even winter plans. I make no secret that I am not a fan of winter. I didn’t like how cold it got in Atlanta during the winter, so dealing with an actual winter here in Germany is really tough for me. We’ve been talking about where to spend our winter for awhile now, and we finally have it (mostly) decided.
During my second visit to Munich this spring, I told Andy I wanted to see Neuschwanstein Castle. It’s the most famous castle in Germany, and even though I knew it was overrated, I still wanted to see it. It was a holiday weekend, but the holiday was a Thursday, so my friend Andrea, who was staying in Munich for three months, had to go back to work that Friday. Andy and I choose that day to go see the castle, a couple hours outside the city.
“By the end of this tour, you will understand why Munich is better than Berlin could ever hope to be.”
It was one of the first things our guide said to the group. I looked at my friend Andrea with doubt. Berlin had already stolen my heart when Andy and I were there for three months last year. Even though I could believe Munich had a lot to offer, I wasn’t so sure it would beat out Berlin in my mind.