Tag Archives: Germany

Auf Wiedersehen

21 Sep

So long, friends! I’m off to zee Deutschland to spend eight glorious days with Sebastian. It’s been exactly 110 days since I’ve seen my boyfriend, and I can’t wait to finally be with him again!

{picture from my first trip to Germany back in 2010}

We’ve been doing this for almost two and half years, and one thing is certain: long-distance isn’t always easy, but when you find the right person, it’s definitely worth it.

Until we meet again, Auf Wiedersehen! xoxo

Advertisements

Berlin: things to see and do

19 Sep

During my upcoming trip, I’ll be spending the majority of time in Berlin, Germany’s capital city and where Sebastian lives. I’ve really come to love this city. It’s colorful, vibrant, rich in history and always a good time. If you think about all it has been through over the years, it’s incredible to see the beautiful, thriving city it’s become.

It will be my third trip there, but this time will be a little different. When we’ve spent time there before, we were both visitors. Now that Sebastian calls Berlin home, he will really know his way around, and I won’t feel as much like a tourist.

As I prepare for my trip, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite places I’ve experienced in Berlin so far. (And hopefully when I return, I’ll have even more to share with you!)

Brandenburg Gate – This is probably one of the most well-known landmarks of Berlin and Germany. It is the only remaining gate of a series through which Berlin was once entered. I love seeing it every time I visit as it’s stunning to see, day or night.

Berlin Zoo – The oldest zoo in Germany, it’s located in Berlin’s Tiergarten, very close to where Sebastian lives. I love zoos, and this is my favorite of all the ones I’ve visited. It’s so relaxing to spend the afternoon walking through the zoo, which feels more like a park.

Holocaust Memorial – Located near the Brandenburg Gate, this is a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. It’s very calming to walk among the giant slabs of concrete.

The Reichstag Building – This is the meeting place of German parliament and home to a large glass dome, which has a 360-degree view of the surrounding city. It was freezing the last time I visited, and too cold to take pictures outside the dome. Hopefully it’s much warmer this time around.

There is still so much of Berlin I have yet to see. Here are a few places I would like to visit:

Museum Island – I’ve visited the island, which houses five museums in Berlin, but I haven’t yet been to any of the museums. It’s on my list in case we get a rainy day when I’m there.

(image via)

Tempelhof Park – Opened a couple of years ago, Tempelhof Park was once a fully functioning airport. Now you can roller-skate down a runway or grill under the shadow of an airport terminal. I’m really excited to check it out.

(image via)

Sebastian’s Restaurants – I always hear about the BVB bar where Sebastian watches soccer games or the little restaurant with the best chicken or the amazing burger stand. I’m looking forward to visiting these places in person.

We’ll also be spending two days in Munich for Oktoberfest, but that’s another post. I can’t wait for this trip!

My heart is in Germany

17 Sep

AAAAAAHHHHH! I just checked my countdown, and there are only four days until I head to Germany! I couldn’t be more excited to visit this beautiful country again. I realize my love for this place is a little biased (because it’s home to a pretty cool guy), but in all honesty, even if I had never met Sebastian I think I would have fallen in love with Germany.

I still remember my very first visit, and how I instantly loved being there. In some cities it was like traveling back in time with their old city centers and amazing architecture. And then in others, it was like visiting a city in America. I really appreciated the mix of old and new and how it fit together flawlessly.

Sebastian had already broken my stereotypical image of Germans before I visited, and it changed even more as I began talking with and meeting other German people. Before I went, I had always pictured stern-looking, serious people. I laugh thinking about it now. For the most part, everyone is super friendly and not serious at all. In fact, my boyfriend is the goofiest guy I’ve ever met – and I love him for it.

If the people and atmosphere didn’t make me fall in love, maybe it was the food or the language or the beer. Whatever it was, a part of my heart will always be in Germany.

Did I mention I CAN’T WAIT?!?! Four days!!!

Wordless Wednesday

5 Sep

I Amsterdam and a little Berlin too

4 Jan

Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s 2012 and my trip to Europe has come and gone. It was another wonderful trip though, and I’m already looking forward to the next one (fingers crossed for Oktoberfest this year).

We started our vacation in Amsterdam. I was flying there to save money, and we figured we might as well make the most of it. Sebastian had been to the city before, but it had been almost ten years, and we were both excited to explore. If you’ve never been, it really is a charming city with all the lovely canals and diversity among its residents. We spent the first day getting to know the city and the majority of time walking around. Our hotel was located in the Red Light District. The stories are true, and the girls really do stand in the windows – wearing nothing but lingerie. Once you get past that though, I have to say it is one of the nicer and more livelier areas. And home to a Burger Bar, where I had one of the best burgers and the most AMAZING Belgian Fries – freshly cut, cooked twice, fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside, delicious.

{charming canals}

After spending the day exploring, we took a candlelight cruise through the canals. We sipped red wine, ate a variety of Dutch cheeses and watched the city float by. It was a very relaxing and romantic evening.

The following day we went to the several museums including the Rembrandt House and the Heineken brewery tour. The Rembrandt House was fantastic. It’s so cool to be in a building more than 500 years old and stand in rooms where Rembrandt lived and created art. The Heineken Experience, as they call it, was also a lot of fun. The tour is very interactive and of course there is drinking involved. We spent a lot of time laughing together (as we did for most of the trip).

{Basti enjoying the Heineken Experience}

We finished the second night by trying Lieve, a Belgian restaurant – after reading a review on another blog (thanks Glocal Girl) – and it didn’t disappoint.  We chose the Living Room style dining with three courses. During the dinner, we tried potato sushi, steak tartare, grilled steak of Boeuf Blonde, deer and wild boar stew, mini chestnut cakes and an apple cinnamon parfait – amazing.

The final day in Amsterdam we spent the morning at the Anne Frank House. I read The Diary of Anne Frank when I was a young girl, and it was incredible to be in the room where she actually wrote. I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like to experience what she did, and I’m thankful the museum was created so we don’t forget those times. After that we went to our favorite breakfast spot in the city, Bagels & Beans, and spent the rest of the day sightseeing. This included a stop at the famous I AMsterdam sign and of course another meal at the Burger Bar. That night we flew to Berlin for the next part of our trip.

{me and the I AMsterdam sign}

We spent four days in Berlin and it absolutely flew by. I had already visited Berlin before, and Sebastian is frequently there for work, so it was nice to relax and not feel pressure to see the city. We stayed at a hotel that offered apartment-style rooms, which means we had a kitchen. Almost every morning we  went to the grocery store, bought food for the day, and came back to our little kitchen to make breakfast together. I can’t express how nice it is to do day-to-day activities with Sebastian. These are rarities for us and it’s nice to enjoy them.

{the Brandenburg Gate – looking stunning as usual}

Of course we didn’t spend all the time relaxing. We ate at some great restaurants, visited with a friend and did some sightseeing, including the Checkpoint Charlie museum, Brandenburg Gate, the Museum Island and the Reichstag building. We returned to the Brandenburg Gate on New Year’s Eve (along with one million other people) and it was crazy. The Germans sure know how to party, and it’s definitely a night I won’t soon forget. New Year’s Day was our last day together and the following morning it was back to the States.

{Happy New Year!}

I already miss Sebastian, but it’s a new year, and I’m excited to see where it will take us. Cheers!

‘Tis the season

5 Dec

Can you believe it’s only 20 days until Christmas?! I can’t, but I’m so excited. This is definitely one of my favorite times of the year. I love the music, I love the atmosphere and I even love the snow. And since it’s December, I decided that is was time to get into the holiday spirit. I spent the past weekend Christmas shopping and pulling out the decorations.

For the second year in a row, I took the liberty of decorating the artificial tree in our piano room. The theme is purple because it’s one of my favorite colors. I think it turned out pretty snazzy if I do say so myself. We still have all the other decorations and the real tree to put up, so this should be a very fun week.

And in other BIG news: I’ll be spending New Year ’s Eve in Germany! I fly out December 25 and stay until January 2 (more details to come). I am, as usual when it comes to seeing Sebastian, beyond excited. It’s hard to wipe the smile off my face. Happy Holidays!

Germany – part two

4 Aug

After the graduation weekend extravaganza, Sebastian and I woke up very early Monday morning to finish packing and drive to the Frankfurt airport. We were flying to Mallorca (Majorca) and I was beyond excited. This was my first visit to Spain, and although it wasn’t the mainland, I knew it was going to be an amazing trip.

It was nice leaving early because, after arriving, we still had the whole day ahead of us. We picked up our rental car and headed to Sebastian’s godmother’s house located in a little village called S’Arraco. We passed by the capital, Palma, and a few other towns and villages, before arriving at our private getaway. The house was fantastic. We entered through the back and my first views were of the  garden. Words won’t do it justice so check out the pictures below.

house entrance[house entrance]

the terrace[the terrace]

view from our room[view from our room]

Shortly after arriving, it hit me, I needed sleep. I crashed for about four hours and woke up feeling a lot better. Note to self: don’t stay up all night before a day of traveling. After the nap, we decided to head into Andratx (the bigger town nearby) to buy our groceries for the week. By the time we returned, we were starving. My boyfriend happens to be an excellent cook (thank God because I’m certainly not). He whipped up steak and potatoes for a late lunch/early dinner. It was awesome. And then we finally decided to head to the beach in Sant Elm. It’s a ten minute drive through the mountains, but totally worth it.

The views from Sant Elm are breathtaking. People who live there have no idea how lucky they are to wake up each morning and look out onto the Mediterranean. The beach there is small, but never very crowded, and I fell in love with it by the end of our trip.

heading to the beach[heading to the beach]

first view[first view]

I'm in love[I’m in love]

That night we made spaghetti and then went to bed early because we were both exhausted. The following morning, Sebastian made breakfast (seriously my bf rocks) and then we headed back to the beach. It was a wonderfully hot day, and I spent several hours soaking up the sun. Unfortunately, so did Sebastian without any sunscreen. By the time we finished dinner that night, he was in a lot of pain. His skin was so hot that we were putting ice packs all over him. But he eventually cooled off and managed to fall asleep.

I was worried that we wouldn’t go to the beach on Wednesday, because Sebastian couldn’t enjoy the sun, but he didn’t want me to miss out. He sat in one of the outdoor cafés and read the paper, while I swam in the bay and soaked up the sun. We didn’t stay at the beach too long because we were going to Palma for the evening. The capital city is old and beautiful. We walked around and sat outside to do some people watching. And then we went to a little side street restaurant for dinner, where we ate an absurd amount of tapas. Wikipedia it. They’re amazing.

Palma[Palma]

old statue[old statue]

side street[side street]

tapas[tapas]

After another delicious breakfast the following morning, and some more swimming at Sant Elm, our wonderful trip in Mallorca was almost over. We headed back to the house, cleaned up, packed up and left for the airport. We boarded the plane with all the other tan tourists and headed back to Germany.

My last two days with Sebastian went by way too fast. On Friday we relaxed all day and went into Frankfurt that evening to go to the movies.  We ate non-buttered popcorn (in Germany there is sweet popcorn or salted popcorn, but with no butter) and saw the new X-Men movie (which wasn’t half bad). It was a rainy evening, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying a beer outside afterwards and taking in the city atmosphere.

On Saturday, we went to Rüdesheim, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany. We drove to the Niederwalddenkmal monument and walked down Drosselgasse, a narrow cobblestone avenue in the western part of town. To end the day, we went back to the OW for a schnitzel dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. And then it was time to pack and head back to States.

pretty view[view from Niederwalddenkmal]

me and Basti[me and Basti]

goodbye[Auf Wiedersehen Germany]

The trip was amazing, and as usual, it was hard to leave. But Sebastian will visit this fall, and I’m sure I’ll be back before I know it.

Germany – part one

20 Jul

It’s still hard to believe that only five weeks ago, I jumped on a plane and headed to Germany. My trip was over in a flash, and now I’m back to the weekly grind. But the memories are still fresh, and I’ll hold onto them closely until I get to see Sebastian again. So here it is, a look back on my trip to Germany.

On June 9, I headed to the Pittsburgh Airport ready for a long day of travel. My flight to New York was delayed, which wasn’t a big deal because my flight out of JFK didn’t leave until 9 p.m. I arrived at JFK, had a new boarding pass issued, purchased some water (it was crazy hot in that airport) and sat on the cool floor to check my e-mail. The hours passed quickly, but unfortunately, a thunderstorm hit New York right around 8:30 p.m. We boarded the plane anyway and sat on the tarmac for another two hours. Singapore Airlines was amazing though and made sure everyone was comfortable. They came around with blankets, pillows, snacks and anything you wanted to drink. Needless to say, my seven hour flight ended up turning into a nine hour flight. By the time I landed in Frankfurt, I was so happy to be off that plane. I grabbed my carry-on and headed to customs and then on to baggage claim (but not before stopping  to freshen up – nine hours on a plane does nothing for one’s appearance).

The first picture we took together

Minutes seemed like hours waiting for my bags to come, and finally I saw my last one, grabbed it and headed through the doors. I scanned the crowds and found what I was looking for – my boyfriend, waiting for me. We both just smiled, walked toward each other and then he gave me the longest hug. (It’s weird how some of my favorite moments have taken place in airports). We stood there for another ten minutes and then decided we should probably leave the airport. First we exchanged some of my traveler’s checks for Euros and then went to Wiesbaden for some pasta from Vapiano, and a quick stop at the train station to pick up his roommate, Marc. Then we headed for his apartment in Oestrich-Winkel (which I lovingly refer to as the OW) to relax before the big Friday night dinner.

Around 6 p.m., Sebastian’s family (Mr. Blumenthal, Mrs. Blumenthal and his twin brother Thomas) arrived at his apartment. So did Max’s sister Amelie (Max is Sebastian’s other roommate). All of us headed to this lovely little winery to meet up with Marc’s family and Max’s parents. The rest of the night was a blur as the jet lag began to set in. But I had a nice time, and as far as I could tell, so did everyone else. However, after all the wine, and German conversations I couldn’t quite follow, I was definitely ready for bed.

We woke up early on Saturday to head back to Wiesbaden for the graduation weekend extravaganza. The day started with Mass. To be honest, I have no idea what denomination the church was, or if it was technically Mass, because the entire service was in German. I probably would have fallen asleep except Lukas, Sebastian’s good friend, was sitting next to me and kept “translating” the speech. According to him, it was a rant about the United States, which included phrases like “death to America” and “that Satan country” and “may they all burn in hell.” It made me laugh and kept me awake. There were also some nice musical intermissions from the EBS band (a student band named after the university: European Business School), and the songs were in English. My favorite song, however, came at the end of Mass when we all stood and sang “Oh Happy Day,” which the pastor mentioned was from the acclaimed movie “Sister Act.” Don’t get me wrong, they did a really nice job, but I just couldn’t stop myself from laughing.

Sebastian and Thomas after Mass in Wiesbaden

After Mass, we headed to the Kurhaus for the graduation ceremony (you can read about it’s history at the link). Straight from the Kurhaus website it says, “The Wiesbaden Kurhaus, a site of marvellous historical architecture combined with up-to-date conveniences is an experience by itself, a successful synthesis, a harmonious blend of beauty, functionalism, and recreation facilities.” And they aren’t lying – it’s gorgeous inside and out. I was happy to sit and take in the surroundings (especially since my heels were starting to kill me). I sat between Mr. Blumenthal and Thomas and waited for the ceremony to begin. All of a sudden loud music started playing and the graduates began walking in to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme song (and no, I’m not joking). It was dramatic and interesting and defintely different from the usual “Pomp and Circumstance.” However, shortly after the big entrance, my jet lag started kicking in again, and I almost fell asleep a few times. Luckily, Mr. Blumenthal decided to translate parts for me, so I was able to enjoy some of the ceremony. Thomas and I also had a nice time laughing about the music choice while the diplomas were being awarded (it was like carnival music from a merry go-round). And finally, Sebastian walked up on stage to receive his diploma. He looked really happy, and I was proud of him.

The traditional hat toss after graduating

So after 250-some students received their diplomas (which lasted a little longer than it should have), we were finally done and ready to enjoy the day. We headed out into the main room to eat pretzels, drink champagne and force Sebastian to take many photos (which my camera-shy boyfriend was not all too happy about). And then we went outside to the Biergarten (beer garden) to spend the afternoon in the sun.

The happy graduate - one of the nice pictures he took

Enjoying the biergarten

Around 2:30 p.m., I headed to my hair appointment. That evening we were attending the graduation ball, complete with tuxedos, evening gowns and a fancy dinner. I was not going to do my own hair. Sebastian’s friend Sonja was kind enough to make an appointment for me and even translate for the hairstylists how I wanted it done. It was a nice salon, and my hair looked great, but I was a little shocked by the price: 90 Euros! I didn’t understand why it was so expensive, but they simply told me it was because they had curled my hair. I politely cursed them out handed over the cash. It did look really great, so I got over it quickly. It even turned out to be a funny joke as the boys kept reminding me how much my hair was worth.

After my hair was done, we headed to the hotel to finish getting ready and then headed back to the Kurhaus for the graduation ball. It was spectacular. The evening began with more champagne and continued pleasantly from there. The food was great, the never-ending supply of wine was fantastic, the entertainment was entertaining, and I had a wonderful time. It almost made we wish I had gone to their school… almost. After the four-hour dinner, with entertainment intermissions, the real party began. Most of the parents left for the night, and the rest of us headed across the hall for the dance party/drink fest. I met many of Sebastian’s classmates, laughed a lot, drank too much and even danced a little (after Sonja and Amelie dragged me out on the floor). I honestly can’t remember the last time I had so much fun. We finally made our way back to the hotel around 3 a.m. and called it a night.

The three kings of the OW (Basti and his roommates Marc and Max)

Inside the Kurhaus ballroom

My favorite picture from the night

The next morning we awoke with slight headaches, but still in great moods from the previous evening. We checked out of the hotel and headed to the EBS campus for a graduation brunch (like I said – weekend extravaganza). I was a little sleepy, and out of it, but it was a beautiful afternoon outside and the brunch was nice. We stayed for about two hours and finally went back to the apartment to relax a little. But not for too long. Sebastian and I were flying out at 3:30 a.m. for Mallorca, Spain, and we still had to pack for our trip.

We did manage to squeeze in a coffee break with some of his friends and dinner that evening at a little Italian restuarant. There was even some excitement when Max realized he had left his passport in Munich… when he was flying to Morocco with Marc the next day. He sorted it out though and everyone went to bed. Sebastian, the smart one, went to sleep while I decided to stay up. I finished packing and finally crawled into bed shortly before my alarm would go off. I couldn’t sleep though. It was a wonderful weekend, and I was too excited for our vacation in Spain. (More to come in part two!)

Side Note: When you visit another country where you don’t know the language, it is extremely intimidating and even overwhelming at times. I want to say thank you to a few special people who have never treated me like an outsider and have always been so welcoming: Mr and Mrs. Blumenthal, Thomas, Lukas, Kathrin, Max, Marc, Sonja, Amelie, Tobias, Johannes and of course, Sebastian. You guys are the best!

Say yes to the dress

18 Apr

I decided to start looking for dresses to wear to Sebastian’s graduation ball this past weekend. I’ve been searching online for some time, but nothing really compares to going to stores and trying them on.

Pink Poofy Prom Dress - courtesy Google Images

Pooftastic Prom Dress - courtesy Google Images

The search turned out to be quite challenging. This time of year, it’s prom season in America. While there are many dresses to look at, the majority are brightly colored, poofy and covered with beads. And while my own senior prom dress fits this description, I needed something a little classier for the graduation ball.

Even at The Winner, a store filled with hundreds of gowns, I had difficulty finding any that I really liked. I left empty-handed, feeling defeated and not really wanting to keep looking. But, I decided to make one final stop at my local mall.

I was browsing dresses at Dillard’s, not really finding any, when I saw my dress. It was simple and elegant, and perfect for the graduation ball. And when I tried it on, it felt like it was made for me. I can’t find any pictures of the dress online (and I’m too lazy to take one), so you’ll just have to wait until June to see it. But, I promise it won’t disappoint.

Days until Germany: 52

España

8 Apr

Dating someone from Europe can definitely have its perks. In Ohio, people head to Florida for warmer weather. In Germany, you head to Majorca, Spain.

Check out these pictures of where I’ll be from June 13 to June 16.

Majorca, Spain

Majorca, Spain

Majorca, Spain

They are so pretty, I just had to share. Happy Friday! :)

Days until Germany: 62