Category Archives: Travel

Jenny, M, and the 12 Dwarves

You might recognize the Mirabell Gardens from The Sound of Music. The kids run past the Pegasus fountain and through an arched hedge while singing “Do, a Deer.”

This is me being excited about the Pegasus.

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Jenny finally found a unicorn of her very own, and that was exciting as well.

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Remarkably, Fräulein Maria did not circle up the children for a sing along in the Dwarf Park, which is up a set of stairs next to the Pegasus statue. Allegedly, someone created the park in 1600 to honor some individuals who served the prince archbishop (A government leader who holds religious office too- what can go wrong?), and each statue represents an actual person and his or her actual style of dress.

Jenny and I feel it’s too bad the Von Trapps didn’t get a chance to sing in this garden, and we set out to prove that Dwarf Park is a fantastic place to shake off one’s totalitarian home life.

The entry way is guarded by these 2 very scary ancient volleyball players.

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Inside, we met this gentleman with his tongue sticking out. He’s way ahead of his time since this is how most frat boys pose in photos these days.

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Then we met this saucy lady. She looks like she has all the dirt on everyone.

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This guy looked like he needed some help, so Jenny obliged.

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When you see a statue dancing, you have no choice but to dance back. He looks like he’s fun at parties. I am also fun at parties, FYI. Usually after some wine, but still.

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This guy knows what I’m talking about! That mug is bigger than his head!

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I would not invite this guy. Who wants to hang out with someone about to rip a head off a dead bird?

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And then we have the guy too tired to party. He carries the weight of the world on that shovel. He also looks like the mascot for Ole Miss, right?

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This fellow is climbing a tree barefoot, which you have to respect. I am doing my best impression of a Von Trapp poised to sing a song about cuckoo clocks.

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Jenny is trying real hard to get a game of leap frog started, but this guy won’t budge.

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Fist bumb!

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And what is that? This poor guy is memorialized with a massive zit in his forehead, and that just seems remarkably unfair.

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We think this guys used to be holding nunchucks, which would explain the empty holes in his fists. It seemed only right to honor him with martial arts.

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And finally, only the second lady statue in the bunch. Relegated to food service, of course. Not that we cared by that point. Shortly after this, we went in search of gelato.

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And this is the gelato, something else the Von Trapps are lacking.

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Delay in Blog

I meant to post a long blog tonight about our first day in Salzburg, but I forgot to ask for a wifi password at the hotel desk and they are now gone and I am wifi-less. I’m using the cell network on my phone right now, but I’d rather not write a long blog here.

So, don’t worry, we are fine and I’ll post some things tomorrow. To whet your appetite: today there was mystery meat, a surprise wine festival, a really large pretzel, hide and seek in a garden, and a pack of ladies who call themselves “The Traveling Grannies.”

For now, so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night….

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My Plane Did Not Crash!

Guten Tag! Apologies for weird formatting and spelling errors. Blogging from the iPad is proving a challenge because it keeps autocorrecting me.

I am here and quite jet lagged! The flight was unremarkable. Watched Batman, ate pasta, goggled at drunk ladies next to me who had a Bridesmaids moment when the flight attendant wouldn’t let them use the first class bathroom… the usual.

I’m a bit too brain dead to provide much commentary today, so here are some snapshots from our afternoon of sightseeing. Jenny took me for a stroll around downtown Munich, also known as Altstadt, to help familiarize me with the area.

We started at Viktualienmarkt. This is German for open air market stuffed with local cheese, produce, and food stands. If I lived here, I might be more likely to eat veggies all the time. They all look delectable.

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Jenny then directed me toward the sausage stand. This town is a sausage fest in a good way. We had bratwurst semmel, which is essentially pork sausage in a bun. This is a great way to eat hot dogs for lunch and feel fancy.

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After fortification, we set off for typical tourist stuff: old buildings, clock towers, manicured gardens that used to be the king’s backyard and so on. I was most impressed by this church, Theatiner Kirche. My travel boyfriend Rick Steves doesn’t even mention it, but I thought it striking. I might be breaking up with Rick over this. And would you look at that sky?

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After walking forever and ever until I felt like I might just walk back to the US and crawl into my soft bed, we made it to the English Gardens, which is like Central Park but with more nude sunbathers and patches of daisies. You know what you don’t think you will find in an English Garden in Germany?

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A Chinese pagoda. Jenny says the Chinese gifted it to the Germans. No one does this anymore, and it’s a shame. World Peace might be easier if we were all still donating buildings and oversized statues. Anyway, the pagoda stands over the Chinese Biergarten, and this is where Jenny made me drink a beverage the size of my head. I suppose I didn’t exactly fight her on that point. We drank Radler, light beers with lemon soda. This is an excellent way to make your jet lag seem funny.

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This is Jenny with our empty mugs. She’s quite small, so you can assume she did not drink both.

We also saw these lions that are allegedly good luck if you rub them as you walk past. I’ll let you know if I meet a modest German heir with a killer smile and a reading habit who falls in love with my awkward post-airplane hair and whisks me off to his chateau in Bavaria.

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We are now cooking dinner. To be fair, Jenny is cooking dinner and I am helpfully choosing songs on my iPod that fit the mood while drinking white wine and snacking on bits of real German Gouda. We will be trying Spargel, white asparagus that make the Germans crazy this time of year.

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They look like fingers in that picture. Hopefully, they don’t taste like fingers.

Tomorrow we head to Salzburg where I will hopefully be better rested and more interesting in my prose. Now excuse me, I need to choose a broody song to match the feeling of the chard pasta Jenny is sautéing.

Airplane Essentials

I find myself with some extra time in my travel prep this morning, so here’s a bonus travel post to start your afternoon. I’ve previously written extensive rules for traveling which you can see here.  Today’s list: airplane essentials!

Item #1: Appropriate moisturizers for skin and mouth. You dry out like a prune on trans-Atlantic flights and I mean to look glowy when I land.   I can’t afford the fancy stuff, but Neutrogena works okay for me.

Someone got a Norwegian gift pack for Christmas. Can you tell?

Item #2: Sanitizer. I prefer the variety than I can spray, and this one is non-toxic if I accidentally drink it. That’s unlikely to happen, but you never know.   Anyway, planes are notorious for germs and I refuse to spend my vacation laid up at Jenny’s apartment.

I might spray this on my seat neighbor. Is that weird?

 

Item #3: Playlist designed especially for this trip- “Germany-Wanderlust.” I started off choosing dreamy, broody songs and then I started picking Britney Spears songs. It should be an interesting listen.  Important for blocking out sounds of unruly children and loud talkers.  Not pictured: headphones! Essential!

You can’t see this, but my playlist included much of The Hunger Games soundtrack. I plan to spend boring moments making up stories for myself in which Katniss becomes a Games mentor instead of leading a revolution.

Item # 4: Snacks!  I don’t trust airline food, so it’s always good to have a plan B on a long flight. I actually have a stash of Luna bars for this reason, but these cookies photograph better.

I will only eat these in desperation. If we crash land on a desert island, I am going to be very popular.

Item #5: Trashy reading for take off and landing.  I always go for Entertainment Weekly for this purpose.  Not pictured: iPad loaded with entertaining yet easy books: Insurgent by Veronica Roth and the latest Cassandra Clare entry in her Shadowhunter series.

Thank you, Lmac, for sponsoring my pop culture addiction by giving me a subscription to this.

Item #6: Gum! Good for popping your ears if that is a problem for you and also good to freshen your breath before landing if you don’t have a  toothbrush handy.  Don’t worry, Mom, I will only chew it long enough to serve its purpose and then I will spit it out. I will not look like a cow chewing cud like you warned me I might.

Especially important in case of a handsome bloke as a seat neighbor.

 

Item #7: Podcasts for times when the playlist doesn’t cut it and I feel like getting educated. I like This American Life, Stuff You Missed in History Class, RadioLab, and a few others. I also downloaded some specific to Germany and German history.

You will notice Rick Steves in the list. He is my travel boyfriend.

 

Other items not pictured:

– Cardigan sweater: the plane will eventually be cold and I will be ready for it. Doubles as a blanket in a pinch.

– Airbourne chewable supplements. More germ combat.

– Medications. Just because they lose your bags doesn’t mean you can’t keep your body heathy. Ditto extra underwear.

– Hair holders. For when I inevitably give up on looking cute.

– Make up. For when I decide I do want to be cute.

– Glasses. For when my contacts give up on everything.

 

That’s just about it for the carry on list.  Other suggestions in comments?

Auf Wiedersehen

My German odyssey begins tomorrow, and I’ve spent much of tonight making final preparations.  Here are some last minute things I did:

Last American Meal for Nine Days:  bbq pork taco with queso dip

Well, it’s technically Tex-Mex, but close enough.

Last Minute Baked Goods for Hosts: Unicorn Poop Cookies. Assuming German Customs allows this in the country, I’m giving my hosts techni-color sparkly sugar cookies in thanks for their hospitality. There’s enough food dye and edible glitter in these to make my holistic-medicine-loving cousin lose her marbles.  You might think this an odd choice, but my friend Jenny enjoys unicorns and I enjoy a good baking challenge.  Recipe here.

I captured a unicorn! At last!

Last Picture of Loyal Schnauzer: My neighbor and friend N will dog-sit for Heidi in my absence. N encouraged me to take my little monster with me so she can see her “Mother Land.”  We tried to ask Siri of the iPhone if schnauzers are common in Germany and Siri told us she can’t  look for things in Germany.  I think Siri is way more helpful to Zooey Deschanel and Samuel Jackson in those commercials  than she will ever be to me.

She is stalking my luggage, looking for the opportune moment to stow away.

Last minute panic attack:  Do I have three copies of my passport? Is three enough?  Did I write down Jenny’s phone number?  AM I SURE?  What if someone steals my laptop while I’m gone? Should I leave it at N’s house? What if the whole building burns down? Is it too late to get an external drive and then take all my files with me? Probably too late, right?  What if my plane crashes and I lived my last day at work at my job instead of spending time with family like I always say when people play the “Last Day on Earth” game? What if my parents fight with N about who will get custody of my dog if I die? What if that weird thing in Heidi’s mouth explodes while I’m gone?  Did I remember to put her flea meds on her? Did I count my pills to make sure I have enough? Is my jacket heavy enough? I should bring a sweater, right? Why do my sweaters  smell strange? DO I HAVE BLACK MOLD?

You can see that I desperately need a vacation.    Good thing I leave tomorrow. Next stop: airport!