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Fall Break!

I’m off for a week and spending most of it in Germany.  Woo hoo!  I sooooooo need this time off to breathe and reflect and enjoy the beauty of living.  Joe and I joined some friends for a long but fun drive to Munich where we spent the weekend sipping, strolling and eating.  Today, Joe is off to Prague with the friends, and I am off to Hamburg to spend time with family.

I always love being in Germany, and I still hope to one day find myself getting transferred to a school here.  It won’t be much closer to most of my family since none of our locations are up north, but Stuttgart is near my niece and sister — so, fingers crossed, one day.

That is not to say I don’t also love Belgium.  Germany is just so much easier for me since, well, some of it is in my DNA.  I’m more at home here.

We were blessed with beautiful weather yesterday.  Munich is ablaze with autumn colors.

But the long, dark, cold, wet days are right around the corner.  I’m okay with those too because it means candles, hearty stews and soups (a fat girl’s heaven), and the holiday season — whoop whoop!

My sister Angie and some of her family are visiting from Virginia; we’ll meet up again today.  Her first few days here I was so busy with work I didn’t get much chance to enjoy time with them, so the next few days will be all about fun, family time.  We head back to Belgium on Halloween where I’m sure more fun will be had, and when they leave Shannan arrives to spend a few weeks with us.

Sooooo, I’ve got plenty of cheer ahead of me.

My only complaint is I won’t get to spend Halloween again with this little guy..

But, isn’t he adorable in the space suit I bought this summer?!  Cannot wait to see him in December!  He’s hobbling along now, so he’ll be running all over the Christmas markets.

Well, I’ve got to pack up and get myself ready for the train ride to airport.  Happy Halloween and Harvest cheers to all of you!

p.s. I’m including this photo only because it’s a rare good one of me (lol I’d make a terrible model with my crazy facial expressions).  Thanks to Joe for knowing the right angle to snap his wife at! AND, hello?  I’m outside in Munich this time of year without a jacket on — in short sleeves!


Will walk (and walk, and walk) for beer!


We had fun on our our mini vacation lol visiting Mini and her family in Bavaria.  One of the highlights was our kind of workout:  the Funf Seida Steig, a 10 km hike that includes five breweries in the Franconia area of Germany.  Our hike turned into a much longer one when our guide got lost, but now that we’re no longer huffing and puffing and thinking we’re gonna die amongst the hills and fields it’s all good — we burned lots of calories and imbibed more.


Beer on a comfy lawn while earning our brewery stamps worked for us!


And who doesn’t love walking through fields, forests and hills on a sunny day!


Brewery hiking isn’t all that we did (although beer was a theme!).  Joe got to spend a day in Nuremberg with Mini’s son while Mini, a friend of hers and I went pottery shopping in  Poland.  I now have a slew of Boleslawic cups, plates, bowls, you name it prettying up the innards of my kitchen cabinets!  Plus, we got to spend the night in a quirky, burlesque art-like hotel, so of course a good time was had by all.


And yeah … more bevies and lots of Polish grub were also part of the journey.

Joe finally got to see Munich, but since it was a rainy day we pretty much just dried out (while wetting our insides) at The Brauhaus, and did more of this…


Another lovely day was spent strolling the streets of Regensburg (aargh those pics didn’t upload, but you get the idea:  beautiful buildings, greenery, and, well, beer!)

We even got to cruise a bit on the Danube to, big surprise here, an Abby with monk-brewed beer.



But, most importantly, we got to spend quality time with friends, and that’s always a good thing!

I’m a bit rushed because we’re taking off again for our next adventure.  Tomorrow we’ll be in Dublin, and then it’s off to our big trek to celebrate Jordan and Wilber’s upcoming nuptials!  In between all of that is World Cup Fever (Belgium keep it coming!) and more quality time with old (lol not age-wise, but we’re getting on up there) friends.


May none of us end up this way!

Choo choo chooing our way across borders

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Catching the train to Munich was easy.  We even got to sit in our own little train room to watch one farming village after another blur on by.  So far it’s been a pretty stress-free trip.

But, wait, there was a bit of stress thanks to a lil Swiss, retired history lecturer our guide to Neuschwanstein Castle.

He demanded that we ask questions. After a few folks got shot down with long, harsh responses.  Ericka pipes up with an easy “Where do you come from?”

“Not your concern.  It’s not important.  I don’t ask you personal questions, you don’t ask me.”  Insert Colonel Clink voice and you’ve got a good impression of our man. (although through our sleuthing abilities we learned where he was from and what he did for a living — ha! we won the tour bet that he was a history teacher)

On the two-hour train ride to the castle, we (along with the other passengers who were not part of the tour) learn that we will be eating at an “Ala Fast” place not “Ala Carte,” which he explained rather harshly is a restaurant and it would take too long, so wurst only for the poor souls who paid the price of this tour (although it was very good wurst).  After getting verbally abused (use your brain, so you think Ludwig had a wife? I’m not going to do all the telling for you) we learn that crazy King Ludwig had 18 “men lovers,” that he was not truly a king because his alleged father had syphillis and an Italian had to step in to impregnate the queen (while I shit you not Sheffano thrust his fist into the air for emphasis) “twice!”

“You vill not hear ding, dong fairly tale stories from me.  I vill tell you the truth and you vill not like it!”

Best of all is he really didn’t tell us much — other than exactly how many minutes we had to walk each section, or else!  My favorite is when we came upon a musician, and our guide asked him to sing a folk song about Ludwig’s death.  “I will translate for you.”  Song over, and our guide gets up, after enjoying the serenade, and says okay, we go to entrance now, never telling us the story.  Priceless.

DSC_0412 DSC_0418 DSC_0420 so you see the sun hat with the sun visor on top of it, below our bard, that’s the head of our guide…

Luckily, the castle and its town were beautiful, as was everything else in Munich.  I absolutely loved the park where you can sit at a small canal and dip your toes into frigid water, walk a bit more and you can jump into the water and float rapidly to your next spot, or bring your surfboard and ride the wake under a bridge.  OR, you can just watch it all and be entertained by others fighting the current.

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There’s also plenty of beer and carbs to put some more poundage on my ever-sagging frame, but my tastebuds are loving every bit of it.

Today, we spent most of the day hopping trains to get to our adorable lil place in an old, walled town called Rothenburg ob der Tauber.  We just got here, and I’m antsy to get out there and walk its cobblestones, so time for me to sign off, but I’ll try to post this and pics before going to bed tonight.  Auf Wiedersehen!

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