Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bikes and Castles

Today we had breakfast at our place, rode bikes to Bingen (south about 15 km), took the river cruise to St. Goar (1.5 hours on the Rhine), toured a castle, then rode bikes 13 km back to Bacharach.

Our room at Pension Lettie. Lettie cooks us waffles and eggs every morning.

The view of Bacharach from the boat cruise down the Rhine.

Bikes (complete with basket).

Mystery meat lunch. Wurst of some kind...

At the Rheinfels Castle in St. Goar. Self-timer has become our new buddy.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

One Week In


So sorry for the delay. Paris was a sightseeing blitz...we jam-packed every day with crepes, great views, lots of unsuccessful communication exchanges, and long walks (often getting lost) in the winding streets of the city. A few highlights:
- An evening tour on the Seine where we got to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night
-A beautiful 360 degree view from the top of Notre Dame (close up gargoyle photo-ops included)
-Leisurely two hour lunches at sidewalk cafes throughout the city

We were so busy trying to figure out the best cafe for lunch that we bypassed the (few and far between) internet cafes for the sake of packing in the sights. From the grandeur of Versailles to the bohemian vibe of Montmartre, we saw it all. I will miss Paris.

Now, a high speed train ride away, we are in the pages of storybook Germany. We are staying in Bacharach, a tiny little town along the Rhine, about an hour and a half from Frankfurt. Along the one main cobblestone street are gingerbread looking houses, small shops selling beer steins and embroidered table cloths, and a handful of local restaurants. Last night we wandered past the old church and the castle on the hillside (seriously) to another small town up the road. We came across a neighborhood wine fest where the local specialty--Riseling--was generously flowing. We tried a sampling of vintages along with some bratwurst and currywurst while attempting to converse with the locals and listen to a live German cover of "Save the Last Dance for Me." It was one of the most surprisingly delightful nights of the trip.

One difficult transition is from one country's pronunciations to the next--in French, you see lots of letters in a word and only pronounce about a third of them (s'il vous plait = see voo play). A good rule in German is that all the consonants and vowels count. Even in a word like fussballweltmeisterschaftqualifikationsspiel.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Eve of Adventure

My unofficial last day of work at #10395 was yesterday, and I was anything but calm. After grinding the morning coffee without anything to catch it (grounds on the ground....), I later tipped a tray of eight brownies where they fell to their death in the very same spot as my earlier failure. All of my excitement, energy and jitters for the upcoming trip were manifesting themselves in outbursts of jumps, squeals, and whispers of 'I just can't believe it!'. 

As for the whole 'carry on' bit, I am my own new hero. I decided to ditch the checked baggage idea after I read numerous times that Rick Steves strongly recommends cramming everything in a 20x14x9 inch toothpick box of insanity. (To go against the word of Rick Steves would be a rookie mistake...a sure fire way of complicating your trip even before handing your passport over to the airline employee.)  

Well call me Mary Poppins because I've fit all of my trip belongings--with room to spare (!)--into a nice, gray carry-on roller. (Now if only it could look like a carpet bag...then I'd be practically perfect in every way.)

Off to Paris tomorrow via Syracuse and JFK. Stay tuned for more adventure updates!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Highlights from Niagara

I forgot to post pictures from the holiday weekend....here are a few.

Before we got soaked.

Poncho = salvation from pelting mist.
Foreground: American Falls. 
Background: Horseshoe Falls. 
Niagara Falls is only the city name.

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Little of This, A Little of That

I toss a travel-sized bottle of shampoo in the Europe pile. Shorts, sunglasses, passports. Rick Steves guides, a novel or two, cribbage board. My dilemma: fighting the (okay, let's face it--predominantly feminine) urge to completely over pack for a vacation.

+5 points: I've narrowed down my shoe selection to two pairs. Keen Whisper sandals that provide breathability, a hard rubber toe, and are great for walking a lot (I picture myself hiking, bike riding, and exploring in these shoes). The second pair I just picked up yesterday. They are black flip flops by Sanuk and in one word: incredible. The bottom part is made out of a yoga mat (they make the same kind for men but market them as beer cozy flip flops and nix the whole yoga thing). Yoga, schmoga, you may be thinking. But walk in these and dare I say my feet are in a state of nirvana, or whatever some free-spirited yoga instructor might say.

-5 points: I am travelling with a roller suitcase this time around instead of a backpack, and there lies the dangerous temptation to overpack... I think to myself, 'maybe I'll bring my hairdryer!' or 'now I can fit even more clothes!' Hopefully Mr. Voice of Reason will step in and delicately assure me that I've packed enough already. Besides, I've got to leave room for any purchases abroad, right?

6 days!