Where oh where has the last month gone?? Our trip to Germany was nothing short of spectacular. We joke that Germany is a lovely country with a major PR problem. A couple of our friends were like, “Why would you go there?” Well…the trip started with one word: OKTOBERFEST. Any questions? Seriously, I truly had no idea what was in store or what my eyes would behold as I am by no means the resident trip planner. Hubster spent some adolescent years there while his Dad was stationed in Germany. I too had essentially two images of Germany in my mind–Beer and Hitler. Those two don’t necessarily coincide to create a happy-go-lucky combination. Lo and behold, we witnessed a bit of each.
In the 2 1/2 weeks we were there, we witnessed drunken men in Lederhosen at Oktoberfest, we took a Night Watchmen Tour in Rothenburg, stayed at a castle for three nights on The Rhine, sampled German wine and beer, hiked several forest-covered miles to Burg Eltz, toured and visited King Ludwig’s castles, climbed up almost 800 steps to the top of the world’s tallest church steeple, rode bikes in Heidelburg and Rothenburg, took a tour into the Salt Mines of Austria where we got to slide down into the caves, swam in the swim center of the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, hung out at clothing-optional German Spa in Baden-Baden, and even took the “Sound of Music” Movie Tour in Salzburg, Austria where Shawn and I danced at the infamous Gazebo! To try to recap the trip would be impossible. Even now as I type this, I know I’m forgetting some amazing moments. We spent a day in Shawn’s childhood city of Landstuhl and also spent a day at Dachau Concentration Camp where 30,000 people lost their lives courtesy of Hitler. Of all of the fun and relaxing moments we had, the day at the Concentration Camp left the most profound impression. How could it not? Regardless of religion or ethnicity, it is incomprehensible to think that humans were (and are) capable of such acts. Needless to say, every day was filled with something more fascinating and interesting than the next.
Aside from missing the kitties, I was still not ready to come home. I embrace the European simplistic way of life–and the fact that they don’t have speed limits on their Autobahn. I swear we were driving 100 mph and would be passed by a car going 140 like we were standing still. The roads were in impeccable shape. And the bike/walking trails…Oh the trails were EVERYWHERE because people actually walk and ride their bikes to get from one place to another. One morning I went for a run and the bike/running trail had more “rush hour” traffic than the actual street. It was lovely to experience. Even the crosswalks had images of bikes on them. The weather did turn and we witnessed our and Germany/Austria’s first major snow of the season. Even that didn’t stop us from walking and hiking to our destinations. It put the kabosh on a couple of small bike rides, but we still got up and walked/ran as much as possible. Actually, even one night we didn’t stair repeats in the stairwell of our hotel because it was raining so much outside. I’m sure they thought we were crazy, but we both needed and wanted to do SOMETHING. Why not climb and descend some stairs for 45 minutes??!! Crazy stupid Americans.
I’m happy to say that I also had some pretty decent runs/hikes while there leaving me with a renewed sense of encouragement with my hip. Shawn ran 19 miles one morning while I ran 13 (most since my June Ironman). I also did a couple of other shorter runs with relatively NO pain. Could it be a turning point? Have I found my limits? Seriously, I was very hopeful (up until some runs this weekend that have left it sore and irritated again).
Food was an interested challenge to say the least, especially when the culture of Germany pretty much centers on pork and dairy. The major cities had some AMAZING vegetarian/vegan restaurant options. We ate at two restaurants inspired by Guru Sri Chinmoy. One was called Waves in Heidelburg and the other was called Heart of Joy in Salzburg. We ate at a vegan Indian restaurant called Spicy Spices (interesting name) and two others in Munich called Prinz Myshkin and Kopfeck. Even the castle we stayed in on the Rhine provided me with my own “special” printed vegan menu every night that included eggplant steaks one night and zucchini/squash served over pasta on another night. Talk about feeling like a princess!! I got used to looking for and asking for Gemuse, which is German for “vegetable.” However, most of their vegetarian dishes featured kasespatzel (German Mac and Cheese). There was a cool restaurant that had spatzel and lentils. Yum… Most hotels served some form of breakfast so I would fill up on cereals and fruit. I did have some milk as most places don’t even have soy as an option. I did carry around soy milk for a couple of days, but grew weary of looking like a dork.
Another awesome trip has come to an end and I actually spent this weekend entertaining some friends who were in town from Ohio. We took the Haunted Austin Ghost Tour downtown (hokey and fun at the same time) and even took a Bat Cruise on Town Lake. We hit up some Tex Mex, BBQ and visited Austin classic dive bars Donn’s Depot and the Broken Spoke. Needless to say, after a month of traveling and entertaining, I’m happy to be home and catching up with friends and life. Even if it is only for a couple of weeks. After all, Shawn is running the California International Marathon in December and then it’s time to start training again for Oceanside 70.3 and IM St. George.
Until then, I’m still in vacation/slacker mode!