Feeling at home when we travel is important to me and Andy. We love the change of scenery travel brings, but at the end of the day we want to be comfortable, and where we sleep at night has a big impact on that. Whenever possible we like to rent apartments when we travel since it gives us more space, access to a kitchen, usually access to a washing machine, and a small look at life outside of the touristy areas. But it’s not as simple as just picking an apartment instead of a hotel.
Our weekend in Poznan was sort of a spontaneous change of plans. Originally we were planning on going to Dresden so we could explore another German city and its Christmas markets. But when we started looking for a place to stay, everything was really expensive, much more than the hotel we booked in Hamburg. Rather than set ourselves up for a pricy weekend, we decided to check out what our options were in Poland. I saw Poznan was in the west side of the country, found that a direct train would get us there in under three hours, and our decision was pretty much made. I spent the whole weekend not only enjoying the city but marveling at how inexpensive it all was.
Poznan, Poland was not somewhere I expected to visit anytime soon. I didn’t want to go to Poland until we had a few weeks to explore several different cities. But when our plans for a weekend in Dresden fell through, we started looking for somewhere else to go, and Poznan seemed like the perfect fit. It turned out to be a wonderful city with pretty architecture, lots to do, and friendly people.
The air was frosty, which was appropriate given the event that was about to take place. Big platforms were set up all around one side of the square but remained empty. People were starting to gather near a small stage set up near the clock tower, so we followed. We assumed this was where the day’s ice sculpture competition would take place. Sure enough, a few minutes later a group of men, and one woman, dressed in black and orange coveralls, each with a different country across the back in bold black letters, came to the front of the crowd and posed in front of the stage for photos.
With three full months to spend in Berlin, we decided we had time to do some other traveling during a few weekends. I haven’t seen as much of Germany as I’d like, so we started looking at which cities were within two hours or so from Berlin. Number one on our list was Hamburg. I’ve always heard great things about the city, and it’s where Andy stayed for his first study abroad trip when he was a teenager. In mid November we hopped on a train and spent three nights in Hamburg, and here’s what our costs looked like.
While it’s impossible to see all a city has to offer in just three short days, Andy and I did see quite a bit. Hamburg seemed like a really fun city, and we noticed it has a more distinct German vibe than Berlin does. The weather was cold, windy and overcast the weekend we were there, but we pretty much expected that for November and we dealt with it as best we could. Here’s a summary of our weekend in Germany’s second largest city, of course with lots of photos.
I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll mention it again. I miss Mexican (or Tex-Mex to be completely accurate) and Germans aren’t so good at making Mexican food. But Berlin kicks Freiburg’s ass at making Mexican food. I still haven’t found anything to rival my beloved Nuevo Laredo Cantina in Atlanta, but the places I tried in Berlin are so far ahead of the pathetic offerings in Freiburg, I’m not sure how I’ll deal with returning home. In order from my least favorite to most favorite, here are the Mexican restaurants I tried during my time in Germany’s capital. At each one I ordered a chicken quesadilla because it’s my favorite dish, and I thought it would be good to judge them all based on the same meal.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how much I’ve accomplished. Looking back over the year is a good way to remind myself of how far I’ve come in the past 12 months, as well as look ahead at what I’d like to accomplish next year. 2013 was full of ups and downs. As usual this year involved lots of travel, but it also involved some big changes.
The place in Hamburg for the best views of the city is St. Michael’s Cathedral due to the height of the bell tower. Since we were only in Hamburg for three days, we didn’t have the luxury of waiting for a clear day like we did when we went up Berlin’s TV Tower, but it was still nice to see the city from up there. Hamburg is a port city, and we could see water from almost every viewpoint. They didn’t have the neighborhood descriptions like in Berlin, but I could still see distinctly different parts of town pretty easily.
“Hey, there’s a museum with model train sets!” Andy said to me while we were researching our weekend trip to Hamburg. I like trains, but I have no real opinion on train models. But Andy LOVES trains, so of course I agreed to go. He read me a few things from the website, but I honestly didn’t pay much attention. Once we got to Hamburg, he picked up a brochure for Miniatur Wunderland from our hotel and told me about the different places represented in this museum with the largest model railway in the world. Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Scandinavia, even the USA. But still, we’re talking about mini trains, how exciting could it be? (Hint: this post has more pictures than any other post on my site.)